Hot Toasters – “Fish and Doctor” 7”
Drag City, 1994
Acquired: Love Garden Shotgun Room, 2008
Hot Toasters hail from Japan and they are very clearly insane. In the best way. Japan is a strange and fascinating place. How would you feel if your country lived in isolation from the rest of the world up until 200 some odd years ago? You would probably be weird too. Over the years, I have had Japanese music and culture ruined for me by some really insufferable Japanophiles and I have only recently opened up my borders for things Japanese (i.e. Sushi, Haruki Murakami, anime, Japanese Baseball (which is fascinating and way more grueling than the American Pastime by the way)). I’ve always loved the great Japanese filmmakers, but that was always the exception (and Guitar Wolf, but Guitar Wolf sort of transcend national heritage). Still, my intake of Japanese music is very very limited. The “Fish and Doctor” 7” was Hot Toasters’ sole release, and it’s really a crying shame that they didn’t do more because this 7” is drop dead awesome. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a band navigate multiple genres within the same song with such ease. “Fish and Doctor” mostly plays like a jaunty, almost folksy pop song that devolves into guttural, sludgy metal halfway through before returning to the sweet, jet setting pop and then blending the two together in a really fun way by the end. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s great music. “YUKIWATARI” has a bit of a ska flavor to it provided by trumpet/saxophone/accordion, and while it’s more straightforward than “Fish and Doctor,” with more lighthearted pop verses and punky choruses until the whole fucking thing melts down at the end in a wash of guitars, bass and skronky saxophones and horse-like screams. Awesome. The other b-side, “Milk,” rolls out the metal chops once more and once more blends them with the various elements that comprise the 7”s other tracks. There’s a weird sax solo in the directly after a minute of pummeling metal chords before the song morphs into a big, catchy indie rock song. It’s unselfconscious genre bending, which is really the only kind of genre bending I can appreciate, and after listening to this 7” a few times I’m legitimately sad that this is all the Hot Toasters I’m ever gonna get.