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Adventures In Tokyo

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Mar
Adventures In Tokyo
Sounds like … fans of punk rockers The Strokes or Ace Troubleshooter and rockabilly acts the Stray Cats or This Train may enjoy the developing sounds of Calibretto 13.At a Glance … positive messages set to a less-than-average blend of pop-punk and rockabilly.

The punk-rock trio Calibretto 13 has released the follow-up to their Tooth and Nail debut, Enter the Danger Brigade. Since then the group (named after the robot character in the "Battle Chasers" comic series) has had the chance to improve their licks and beats, thanks mostly to extensive time on the road with label-mates Slick Shoes and Ace Troubleshooter. Upon completion of that tour, the guys hit the studio once again to record Adventures In Tokyo, this time with acclaimed musician and producer Aaron Sprinkle (known for his time spent with Poor Old Lu, as well as a respectable acoustic rock solo career).

It was Sprinkle and the band's desire to dig deeper from a musical perspective on Adventures in Tokyo than they did on the first project. Although they clearly succeeded with that goal, Calibretto 13 wasn't exactly one of the tightest bands to begin with, so there was lots of room for improvement. Indeed, the band trades their straight-out pop/punk sound for some other genres of influence, including rockabilly, folk, and occasional acoustic renderings. Unfortunately, they still have a long way to go when it comes to blending such elements successfully. Songs such as "Why Can't I Be on MTV? and "Crusin' the Strip" may have catchy titles, but the actual compositions fall short of that mark and lean more on the annoying side. "Why Can't I Be on MTV?" is a humorous and even accurate look at the current state of MTV stupidity, dripped with acoustic guitars, occasional harmonica spurts, and a hint of This Train-styled twang. Unfortunately, the instrumental overlap seems messy, while vocalist Joseph Whiteford simply sounds unappealing. "Crusin' the Strip" continues with the group's obvious influence from the rockabilly world while Whiteford chants with rebellious, yet ineffective attitude.

"I'll Talk to You Tomorrow" features the group taming down their style to the speed of a ballad, accompanied by a string section. The somber song is one of the more appealing tracks on the disc because the group sticks with one type of sound and seeks to play it to the best of their ability, rather than bringing in an array of instruments that get garbled together. Lyrically, it's one of the most important messages on the project, speaking of all the times the band members (and all believers in general) are guilty of procrastination when it comes to sharing their faith with non-believers. It's sad to hear Whiteford sing lines such as "I'll tell you of his love, but now I'm busy / So I guess you will never know."

Songs such as "Father" and "Proposal" aren't nearly as deep, but are at least somewhat humorous and positive in content. According to Whiteford, "Father" is about the time he got a tattoo and his father got angry with him. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics fit well with this lighthearted and therapeutic teenage complaint anthem. "Proposal" has a thick bass groove, almost like the Brain Setzer-led Stray Cats or the retro groove of the critically acclaimed punk band The Strokes. Calibretto 13 doesn't pack as many creative punches as those previously mentioned, but their effort to deliver a free-flowing song about marriage and being in love is sincere.

I'm not discounting the fact that Calibretto 13 tried to put together a project that best represents where the band members are coming from musically and lyrically at this stage in their career. It's just that there are so many other bands out there doing it better. For those that have followed Calibretto 13 since the beginning, you'll probably note this is a step in a better (although not quite perfect) direction