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Arts & Entertainment

Peter Stenshoel's album of the week: We Are Frank Chickens by Frank Chickens

Kevin Ferguson

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Before Pizzicato Five, before Cibo Matto, there was another Japanese female duo that rocked the planet. They were--and still are--called Frank Chickens. Kazuko Hohki and Kazumi Taguchi formed their London-based band in 1982. (Taguchi has been replaced by various others since this album was recorded).

Their songs comment most wonderfully on Japanese customs and history, using Japanese accented English. Utilizing skilled British musicians, the singers' backing band add a patina of cool perfect for the material. Most of it is intentionally laugh-out-loud funny, but they also deliver a powerful story of the Japanese experience of the atomic bomb, which they say was originally called "Pikadon," meaning "flash drop." The performance is successful because it avoids a maudlin tone and still delivers an anti-war message.

A big hit for Frank Chickens is "We Are Ninja," but the example I've chosen to represent the album is "Mothra," wherein Hohki and Taguchi pay tribute to the Japanese monster film genre as well as their predecessors, The Peanuts. The Peanuts were another singing duo of Japanese women, and they famously played the two miniature island women who could sing a song to summon the big flying moth called Mothra.

Domo arigato gosaimasu, Frank Chickens!