All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: Tokyo Penguin - Demo

Tokyo Penguin – Tokyo Penguin
2008, Tokyo Penguin

Tokyo Penguin is the pairing of Toshi Nakayama and Chinatsu Uehara, two Japanese expatriates who met at a New York City acting class. Borrowing from the worlds of J-Pop, Broadway, American pop, electronic, Motown and anything else they can lay their hands on, Tokyo Penguin create a menagerie of sounds you have to hear to believe. Debuting at CBGB’s DownStairs Lounge in 2005, Tokyo Penguin has received accolades from both Eastern and Western audiences. Tokyo Penguin submitted a demo for review.

Tokyo Penguin is one of the most eclectic groups we’ve heard here at Wildy’s World. Their demo opens with Boogeyman, which is pure club kitsch, a very danceable tune with a frenetic beat. It sounds like The B-52’s on acid in a hall of mirrors. The Fish Monger is about a possibly unhealthy fascination with a fish seller, sung by the Lollipop Guild. Wanton Girl is an interesting mix of electric and acoustic sounds that samples eastern trills amidst Drum N Bass and distorted guitar. Astounding is an alt-rock gem with electronic elements and occasionally dissonant harmonies. Mandala/Mandala is the only song here that doesn’t quite work; it becomes something of a sonic mess. Oh! Oui Oui is definite club material. I can see this doing very well in that environment as it is an obsessively mindless song about hooking up. Ying Yang is an interesting track. Chinatsu Uehara is actually quite a competent rapper, whereas Toshi Nakayama is more flamboyant and over the top ala Fred Schneider.

Tokyo Penguin’s sound will be familiar to fans of J-Pop, and draws on enough Western influences to hold interest of American audiences. The B-52’s comparison is apt although Tokyo Penguin might even be more eclectic. With the right song or moment Tokyo Penguin could be huge. More likely they will develop a very strong and loyal if not overly large following that will keep them making music as long as they want. An intriguing listen.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Tokyo Penguin at or

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