The Learners - Learners High
In a country where people go through great lengths to dress like it was the 50’s and dance in public to rockabilly music, it’s no surprise that rockabilly bands also exist. One of these is The Learners, and they’ve built a reputation on rockin covers of classics like “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Rhode Island is Famous for You.” As Japanese people are wont to do, they’ve absolutely mastered the sound through dedication, research and respect, but where to next? The hopeful answer is writing their own songs, and here on this EP “Learners High” we get a glimpse of their future and a showcase of their talent in just six songs.
The first two tracks, “CASSIS OOLONG” and “TAKE A TRIP”, are extremely promising as originals written by member Matsuda “Chabe” Gakuji with additional arrangement by the band. “CASSIS OOLONG” is an instant classic about a lonesome girl who uses a cocktail of cassis liqueur and oolong tea to get by, and “TAKE A TRIP” is a sunny jingle for seeing the new world, but more like in the 80’s when Japanese tourists were everywhere and things were still full of wonder, before the Instagram armies ruined it for everyone. Both songs are super catchy and thankfully sung in Japanese to give it that nostalgic Showa flavor. The horns also give it a little lift over a classic rock set up (and get us this much closer to ska). The EP also contains a cover of “Walk Like an Egyptian” which given its popularity we probably don’t need, but are no poorer for having it. In contrast, the covers of Brigitte Bardot’s “Moi Je Joue” sung in French and Fairground Attraction’s “Allelujah” are heartfelt tributes and performed with gusto. The other key highlight of the EP is the cover of The Looking Glass’ “Mirror Man”, translated into Japanese and sung by Hideki Kaji, which is just perfect as a Shibuya-kei spin on an old favorite. On the strength of this EP, The Learners are definitely ready to graduate into the big leagues.
1, CASSIS OOLONG
2. TAKE A TRIP
3. WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
4. MOI JE JOUE
5. MIRROR MAN (feat. Kaji Hideki)