Ahead of their show at the Iron Horse, I plug my purple Skull Candies into my ears, and click play on the intro track to Eddie Japan’s Golden Age. The sound of static pulls me in, reminding me of vinyl, so I pretend I’m listening on a record player, not my computer at work. “E-Cabaret /When the Morning Comes” jumps right into a blend of genres: I hear’ bits of ’70s pop, ’80s new wave, a hint of Latin, and a dash of big band, all on a bed of alternative rock with melodic vocals.
Eddie Japan is a band of many styles with members from Boston and Western Mass.
The album tells a story like a film’s soundtrack. Each song creates a scene of its own. It’s fast and upbeat and the lyrics are about life — an artist’s life.
“The End of Everything” is a soft ballad where at first you think it’s melancholy. But there’s hope in the vocals of singer/songwriter David Santos. Questioning life, and learning to live is the theme to this soundtrack. “Out Of My Skin,” I dig this one a lot. It’s the first time you hear female vocalist, Emily Drohan take lead, instead of singing in the background. It has a No Doubt-esque vibe to it and I think at one time we have all related to these lyrics “I exist out of frame/between the days and the pain/and the ecstasy.”
“When Things Fall Apart” comes on and that ’80s electro/pop/rock vibe screams out, reminiscent to Tears for Fears. And oh my god, that Eric Brosius’ guitar solo at 01:38 awoke my Pink Floyd heart. A tad of that Latin feel emerges in “Hit The Floor.”
“Golden Age,” the title track, ends the album beautifully with Drohan taking the lead. I picture her in a gold, glittery, flapper-style dress, gloves on her hands cupping the mic in darkness. Once the song picks up and she sings “In this Golden Age,” the members of the band appear with their instruments, and things start to feel like a James Bond movie.
At the show: Moments after walking into the historic Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, I’m greeted by Eddie Japan drummer Chuck Ferreira and he takes me to the club’s infamous green room to introduce me to the rest of the band. The room has a CBGB-style to it and I relish the Sharpie doodles left by previous performing arts — especially Janeane Garofalo’s addition **drool**.
Walking back to my table, the place is packed for opening band, The Curtis Mayflower. I sip on a Wormtown Be Hoppy as the Worcester-based band groove on blues/rock. They remind me of The Black Keys with a dose of ’80s Michael Jackson. They’re soulful and cool and have me dancing in my seat.
Shortly after the Mayflower depart the stage, the lights dim and “Let the Good Times Roll” by The Cars plays over the PA. One by one, each of the eight members of Eddie Japan make it on stage. The men dress like they are attending a fancy affair. Drohan looks like a flapper girl.
From the intro track, to the final title track, they play Golden Age in its entirety. It’s surprising how closely they look to how I imagined they would while I was listening to their album earlier.
For the encore they introduce special guest Greg Hawkes of The Cars on stage. Hawkes co-produced Golden Age, and you can feel the admiration the members of the band have toward him while they perform together. They play a few classic hits by The Cars before bidding farewell for cocktail hour, next door at the other The Green Room.
Jennifer Levesque can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.