I’m inclined to say that a band whose biggest draw is the soundboard from an original Nintendo Entertainment System is, on its best days, simply riding the curious ripples of a passing fad. However, I suspect that the young men in Anamanaguchi were well aware of the kinds of preconceived notions they’d face when they began taking their unique mix of hacked 1980s video game equipment and old school guitar-driven hope metal on the road five years ago.
So far, the New York-based group has shown no signs of slowing down: since putting out their debut EP, Power Supply, in 2006, Anamanaguchi has released a proper full-length in Dawn Metropolis and provided the original soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game, along the way showcasing the multitude of ways in which a young composer and get the most out of the inherent limitations of only working with five sound channels.
In 2011, the band’s plan is to give formal physical release to a series of digital singles they offered for free last summer, the first of which is Airbrushed, on 7″ vinyl featuring an astoundingly cool lenticular cover. The title track builds heavily on what was already an addictive and excitable sound. Without much effort, it is one of the catchiest songs in the band’s small canon, while its spread of production is noticeably cleaner and wider, allowing for a more even listening experience in which the live drums and guitars are finally given identities of their own. “Penpal”, a quick rocker of a companion track , is reminiscent of the more motivational let’s-jump-some-platforms music from your favorite NES games, but it has less in common with the work of Mega Man 2 composer Takashi Tateishi than it does with Weezer or Appearances Wear Thin-era Whippersnapper. The included remix of “Airbrushed” that features a slower, more indie electronica-informed vibe – very much like “Mess”, another of Anamanaguchi’s summer 2010 singles – hints at the band’s ability to take it’s 8-bit instrumentation into different genres without much trouble.
What Anamanaguchi shows with Airbrushed is that chiptune music, as it’s been referred to nowadays, isn’t simply a passing fad – at least not for these hardworking performers and composers. While “Airbrushed” and “Penpal” themselves don’t change much in the way of songwriting approach or stylistic modus, they are easily the best and most addictive songs the band has written to date.
Airbrushed on Soundcloud (sorry, the limited edition 7″ vinyl release sold out in Pre-Sale)
Anamanaguchi is performing with Peelander-Z and The Local Skank at One Eyed Jacks on April 26, 2011