It’s heartening to know that the Japanese groups are once again whirling around on overseas tours. The Highmarts’ World Tour was released in conjunction with the Tokyo group’s summer 2023 tour of France. The first side of World Tour consists mainly of their originals, which previously appeared as singles. Also included are some live versions of singles like “Hey Boy” and a few Japanese Group Sounds (GS) and American covers. They bring out the brightness in the old standard “CC Rider/Jenny Jenny.” With its CCR-ish intro and Beatlesque closing chord, “Hold Me” is a first-half highlight. This song demonstrates the band’s current ability to project dynamics and dimensions by ramping up backing vocals, while tracking their ongoing direction. I'm guessing their current approach has also been sparked by their perceived influences - ranging from U.S. ‘60s all-female groups the Shangri-Las, the Ronettes and the Luv’d Ones as well as ‘90s underdogs like the Prissteens and even the eyelined garage sound of 15 years ago whipped up by the Raveonettes and the Detroit Cobras.
The second half of the record is the complete Dodgy Demo that was originally released as a limited merch table cassette. They take “Test Drive” by Takeshi Terauchi and Bunnys out into fuzzy Death Valley mirage territory. A song titled “That Summer Feeling" was one of the first things I noticed when previewing the track listing. Could it be the yearning Jonanthan Richman song? It's not the Jonathan Richman song, but an atmospheric, distorted and swirling original by Suzu and sung in Japanese. Lovely melodies and harmonies shine through the sheets of sound-resonating somewhere between the ‘90s and now.
Lastly, the catchy “I’m So Sorry” could be their signature song as it’s a clear standout. The Highmarts are incorporating a much stronger power-pop element, which solidifies, diversifies and enhances their sound. These most recent finely-tuned recordings indicate they are punching through to the next level. Overall, World Tour presents the adventures of the Highmarts searching and finding their own original sound. It also might be the global garage rock record of the year. - Ted (Downtown)
World Tour (Greatest Hits + Dodgy Demo) on Freegal
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