The music-of-last-year rundowns on this site invariably include a strong contingent from Fukuoka and Kyushu, and mostly this is a simple function of me having a lot of friends there and as a result getting more information about what’s going on. It’s also, however, because it’s a city that consistently has an unusually strong indie scene with a lot of distinctive and talented musicians. tepPohseen have been around forever, but this album on Osaka’s Gyuune Cassette label (it’s a CD — ignore the label name) is the first “proper” release that’s crossed my path. Some of these songs have been around in various forms since God was a boy, and — coupled with the fact that some of them hover around the eight-to-ten-minute range — this serves to add an unspoken caveat to the title Some Speedy Kisses of “but, y’know, also some really drawn-out, lingering ones”.
There is an interesting interplay between band leader Ryo Asada’s deadpan vocals and drummer Kumiko Shiga’s sweet yet matter-of-fact delivery. Long stretches of the album are instrumental though, and Asada certainly seems more comfortable letting his guitar do most of the singing. That’s also where he is at his most powerful in expressing himself, teasing out wails and fusillades both tortured and joyous, melodic and discordant, finicky and free.
There’s clearly a lot of something like Sonic Youth happening in the formative soup from which these songs emerged, not to mention odd little snatches of new wave (the bassline from Roka is straight out of New Order’s Blue Monday). It’s when they slow down and get into the serious songwriting that tepPohseen show their colours most strongly as children of the holy trinity of 2000s Japanese indie rock though, with Eisei / Yadorigi reflecting echoes of Supercar, Number Girl and Quruli, as well as drawing from the deeper well of Japanese rock songwriting dug by Happy End.