Cleave - The Circle EP
Record Label: Creator-Destructor Records
Release Date: March 6, 2012
When people think of the Japanese music scene, they presumably think of j-pop acts and the song "Turning Japanese" (which was actually penned by British band The Vapors in 1980). Cleave, however, set out to shatter any preconceived notions you may have about Japan with their EP The Circle.
How Is It?
Cleave is, essentially, Tokyo's equivalent to Heartsounds, which could explain Creator-Destructor Records owner (and Heartsounds brainchild) Ben Murray's interest in them. Don't take this as a knock to Cleave, though, as the band shows that while they may have a similar sound to another scene standout, they aren't ripping them off. Tracks such as "Skeletons in the Closet," "The Balance," and "The Circle" show the effect that bands such as NOFX and Pennywise had on the band, while "Passed Away" could be a b-side to a Heartsounds album. Don't expect great lyricism, as English is not the band's first language. However, the quotes found at the closing of the EP, from the film The Road, go a great length to convey the tone of the album: "Don't get comfortable here. You need to keep going." If Cleave can shore up their English, they could become Japan's first punk crossover. And with the talent and confidence found on The Circle EP, it sure would be nice to hear more from these guys.