Cavalierly tossed into genres like art rock, noise and punk by confused critics, Japanther is an art project formed by Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly, whose antics have not been exclusive to the stage. The duo has performed with synchronized swimmers, marionettes, shadow puppets and BMX bikes.
From "First of All," which sounds like an updated Ramones track, to jingly intros and deeply distorted guitar on "Lil Taste," the group is as catchy as any pop-punk band. But from the simple, droning three-note songs to the stage act, Japanther is anything but.
The group's penchant for misleading and ironic intro samples preceding thunderous punk is a nod to Vanek and Reilly's art school roots--they both attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn--without undercutting the band's gritty garage punk, throaty pop and modish synth.
Warm, driving guitar is possibly the only thing every song has in common.
Japanther is defined by their fluency and playfulness in multiple genres; rather than avoiding categories, they fiddle and experiment with them.