Smart, Fast Punk, Japanese-Style

Hi-Standard pump out goofy lyrics and punk-rock beats in the vein of fellow Japanese punksters Shonen Knife -- only these three boys do it faster, smarter and better.

With song titles such as "Pathetic Man's Song," "My Sweet Dog" and "Shy Boy" off of their newest release, Angry Fist, Hi-Standard manage to glean more poignancy from their simple lyrics than you'd ever expect from a band whose musical attack rivals the aggressive guitars and snotty harmonies of bands such as NOFX and the Vandals.

In Angry Fist, Hi-Standard employ that magical combination of distorted guitars, hand claps and bratty vocal harmonies to make one of the most honest punk records I've heard in ages. Without a trace of irony, Akihiro Nanba and Ken Yokoyama's lyrics explore love, political freedom and life on the road. In "Endless Trip," Nanba and Yokoyama are unjaded in their assessment of the touring life: "Like being in a strange dream, somehow we're in the wrong van... A cool guy with tattoos driving, he has a thick pierce in his tongue. No reason so we just keep moving, making music everyday. Yeah, gonna make it work and find the power inside us. Yeah, gonna make it work, nobody can control us. We'll be changed by this endless trip."

Angry vocals that, unlike some of their punk contemporaries, seem justified by the band's sincerity, searing bass lines, tight guitars and straight-ahead punk drumming make for what will probably be the most enjoyable 33 minutes of your day.