For Fans Of
Musician and social activist Andrew Koji Shiraki (or Koji, as he is more generally known), has somehow managed over the past few years to inject his indie-acoustic, social aware musical niche into the punk and indie markets. Via a handful of strategic split releases with big name bands like Into It. Over It. and La Dispute, Koji has popped up here and there in a way that has quietly nudged his presence into the scene. Although not quite fitting into any particular category, it’s Koji’s first official full-length effort, ‘Crooked In My Mind’ that finally lets up and gives fans a full picture of what this artist is really about.
Koji’s debut begins with ‘Chasing A Ghost,’ a track containing all the elements familiar to fans acquainted with his past work – that being strong, edgy vocals, soft percussion and a display of eclectic acoustic guitar work complemented by the occasional soaring violin. Here, however, his sound comes together in an altogether more collected fashion. Beginning on a bouncy, cheerful note, ‘Chasing a Ghost’ quickly lets up to a more serious tone when the violins come in, creating a wistful mood that stays for the rest of the album.
‘The Near and Far’ and ‘Spinning Silent’ are set on a darker, moodier musical backdrop with the help of plucking, reverberating guitar work that allows for the full impact of Koji’s fervent vocals to dominate. In both tracks the lyrics are simple and repetitive with Koji almost obsessively repeating “something’s off, my heart is telling me” in ‘The Near and Far’ and exposing similar doubts and fears (“I do my best to hold on…”) in the lyrics of ‘Spinning Silent.’
Crooked In My Mind is an album that is as sincere musically as it is lyrically, but also contains a stylistic sophistication throughout that sets it apart from anything else. ‘Distance/Divide’ is a fine example of this, exuding a soulful rhythm that builds to an intense electric guitar solo. ‘Fragile Times’ picks up the album briefly with an energetic pace created by varying acoustic guitar layers, stronger percussion, and a reduced, muffled emphasis on Koji’s vocals. It’s a song about home and being lost that is given that extra special touch by a sad, soaring violin crescendo.
‘Pang and Flash’ is a softer, sweeter track that impresses with the use of simple acoustic guitar and delicate piano and lends a bitter nostalgia. The lyrics take a turn for darker themes and Koji’s vocals often sound like they have been recorded in an empty hall. Finally, ‘What You Leave Behind’ finishes the album on a note that, like the entire album, is honest and pure.
Koji possesses and unassuming class and sophistication that shines through in Crooked In My Mind, and that cements Koji’s presence in the punk scene as one that, if it wasn’t already, makes a refreshing difference.
1.Chasing A Ghost
2. The Near And Far
3. Spinning Silent
5. Fragile Times
7. In The Line
8. Pang And Flash
9. What You Leave Behind