I work at a record store where garage rock is king. My co-workers worship at its altar and play it day in and day out. I’ve really come to hate garage rock.
My record store is located in a city with a strong country and roots scene. Even though we sell lots of garage rock, our reputation is built on selling country and roots music. I hear it day in and day out. I don’t mind it so much.
What does any of this have to do with Yuki’s second solo album, Commune? Simply put — when you listen to this album, you’re listening to the soundtrack of my day at work.
Like her solo debut Prismic, Commune wanders all over the musical map, albeit not as widely traveled.
Whereas Prismic felt like a mixed tape fronted by one singer, Commune focuses on more a specific set of styles.
There’s garage rock Yuki, as exeplified early on the album with “Naki Soo Da” and “Good Times”.
The former captures the essence of Yuki’s collaboration with Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her’s Higurashi Aiha on “The End of Shite”. The latter contains a shocking conclusion that really forces listeners to take notice.
There’s fifth Beatle Yuki, as featured on “Strawberry” and “Funky Fruits”.
“Strawberry” has an ending familiar to anyone who’s listened to “A Day in the Life”, and those sitars on “Funky Fruits” scream George Harrison.
Oddly enough, there’s alt-country Yuki, as demonstrated on the three singles from the album, “Stand Up! Sister”, “Sentimental Journey” and “Hummingbird”.
The slide guitars on “Sentimental Journey” alone are enough to run Onitsuka Chihiro’s Nashville leanings out of town.
In those few tracks, Yuki has manage to chart the course of in-store play at my workplace — rock, country, country, rock.
Every so often, someone in the store will put something different on, much like how Yuki throws in dub (“Koibito Yo”) or a sparse instrumental (“Swells on the Earth”) or some folk or world music (“Sabaku ni Saita Hana”, written by Kicell to sound like a lost Japanese folk song).
After a full day at work, I will have listened to a lot of stuff. Yuki, somehow, has managed to summarize those eight hours into 51 minutes.
Yuki’s raspy voice may not appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying how well it fits into a myriad of contexts. “Koibito Yo” stands out not only for being the only dub track on the album, but also for how nicely Yuki handles it.
Once again, Yuki has managed to thread a wide range of styles into a confederacy of music. Much a like commune, no?