The Straight and Narrow


I don't really have a clever thing to say for this picture...

Japanese rock band STRAIGHTENER just released their new self-titled album and I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. STRAIGHTENER is one my all time favorite bands, so let’s check out their latest effort and see just how awesome they are.

Started back in 1998 as a duo, STRAIGHTENER celebrates their 14th anniversary this year. After adding former ART-SCHOOL axeman Oyama Jun in late 2008, STRAIGHTENER has increased their ranks to 4 godly rockers, but at their core the band is still playing the great music that made them so popular. The self-titled release marks their 7th original full length album on a major label, sweet fancy Moses is it good.

Over their 14 years together, STRAIGHTENER has always produced energetic, fist pumping, alternative rock. Sure—here and there they’ve infused that sound with inklings of other genres from electronica to pop to soul, but they’ve always come right back to that crunchy rock sound they’re known for, and this new album is no different. Underneath the musical growth and maturing skills still beats that rock spirit.

Tracks like disc opener A LONG WAY TO NOWHERE and follow up PLEIDIS give me a distinctive melancholy vibe, which to me has been becoming more prevalent in STRAIGHTENER’s work. But PROLOGUE, near the end of the album, is full of loud, tinny, chaotic guitars and Horie’s distorted, almost screaming voice that harkens back to the band’s earliest of releases. And the earlier released SILLY PARADE brings that same driving rock sound, reminiscent of their packed house shows, sweat and musical fury flying everywhere. Meanwhile, songs CRY and KINGMAKER are practically post/math rock in composition with constantly changing time signatures and intricate riffs on both bass and guitar(s). Add tracks like VANDALISM -Prototype- and VANISH -Prototype- which both offer electronica-esque drum machine samples and reloops mixed with the intensity of their rock sound, and you get one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time. For me, though, the stand out track is advance single YOU and I. I’ve been playing this song on repeat for the last month and still can’t get enough of it. The song is deceptively simple with no-nonsense guitar riffage, but still shines with Hinata slapping his bass and creating funky, impressive runs underneath Horie crooning in an almost pop-love song manner.

When all is said and done, STRAIGHTENER has really just put together an extremely well rounded rock album. Their sound has slowly grown to encompass all these different genres, but at the same time has stayed true to their rocker souls. I can’t deny that this is possibly the best album I’ve listened to this year, and after their only interesting STOUT released earlier this year, I’ve been waiting for these guys to show up again. If you’re a fan of STRAIGHTENER’s, a fan of solid rock music, or just looking for something new to listen to, I would seriously recommend picking up a copy of this album. And please, crank it up for everyone around you to hear.



released 2011.08.03

02. プレアデス
03. VANDALISM -Prototype-
05. YOU and I
07. 氷の国の白夜
09. CRY
10. プロローグ
11. 羊の群れは丘を登る
12. VANISH -Prototype-

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You can visit STRAIGHTENER’s official website at
or visit their EMI artist page at

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