FOX Japan is a band from West Virginia that makes catchy, quirky indie rock songs about television, religion and consumerism.
FOX Japan (the name has nothing to do with the TV network, although the coincidence is amusing) has existed under various names since 1993, although its members\' average age is still only 24. It\'s now a long-distance band, however. Andrew, Sam, and Pete live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where they work at a hospital, mental health settings, and a non-profit, respectively; Charlie is a grad student in music composition at the University of California - San Diego.
The band has repeatedly toured the East Coast and Midwest, playing venues such as Lit Lounge in New York; 8x10 in Baltimore; the Fire in Philadelphia; The Red & the Black, DC9 and the Velvet Lounge in Washington DC; the Church and Bela Dubby in Cleveland; Merlin\'s in Buffalo; and Cal\'s in Chicago.
The title Hell is disarmingly straightforward, and that’s typical of FOX Japan, an indie rock band that avoids the inscrutable metaphors of many indie rock lyrics and instead favors thoughts that are lucid and direct. “Thank You” is a harrowing and specific story about getting mugged with a syringe by an AIDS patient, but it’s also about the nature of privilege. Earlier on the album, the repulsive narrator of “Divorce” gets hitched without being ready to accept the responsibilities of marriage, then leaves his wife and kids with a cloud of noxious self-absorption billowing behind him. And many of the songs throughout the album (like the pounding opener “Kill Them With Kindness”) critique right-wing politics with streams of sarcasm and invective.
Musically, Hell is easily FOX Japan’s most accomplished release to date, and it harnesses the energy of their increasingly thunderous live shows, which now routinely bring in audiences of well over 100 in West Virginia and are starting to draw crowds on their tours as well. On past recordings, the band’s attention to lyrical detail earned comparisons to Pavement and Okkervil River. The country-ish elements of some of these songs – particularly Charlie’s viola on “’91” and “Thank You” – probably ensure that the latter comparison will keep coming, but there’s far more to FOX Japan. The melody to “Thank You” sounds a little like a sea shanty, “I Turn Republicans On” features melodies inspired by Middle Eastern music, and “Divorce” culminates in an epic sing-a-long.