Sometimes it's better to be blissfully unaware. Take listening to music in foreign languages: Do you need to know what Serge Gainsbourg is saying to know that it's a little bit sexy and a whole lot sleazy? Do you need to know Portuguese to appreciate that dusty old Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 album? Isn't it more fun to sing "La Bamba" when you failed high school Spanish? Chances are that you don't speak Japanese, but that doesn't mean you should miss out on Eastern Youth (pictured), a hardcore band who marry their native language with a proficient knowledge of Western rock. While many other Japanese imports (Pizzicato 5, Acid Mothers Temple) go for kitsch or instrumental freakouts, these gentlemen mean business and demand more serious attention.
At this point, the "youth" in Eastern Youth may be a relative term -- the trio formed in Hokkaido, Japan, fifteen years ago and have been merging the Occidental and the Oriental ever since. Even if your only exposure to traditional Eastern music has been through the overhead speakers at a South Grand eatery, you can hear the traces of traditional Japanese melodies lilting alongside the crunch of guitars and the frenetic pounding of drums. And sure, go ahead and read the English translations to the songs in the liner notes, you cheater. But you're better off letting the experience soak in, realizing that the emotion and craft of Eastern Youth's music succeeds without a shared language.
Fulfill your cultural obligation for the month and watch Eastern Youth share the stage with Omaha's heavyweights Cursive and Seattle's experimental noise boys The Blood Brothers. And leave your Japanese-English dictionaries at home. The meaning may be lost in translation, but the effect is universal.