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Danny Katz - Japanese Satellites

joe vena   (35 reviews)

Posted: 10/11/2010 | Comments: 2 | Rate:

I couldn’t find much out about Danny Katz, or really anything at all. From his vague website bio, I can assume he is a Japanese-American, or at least some sort of Asian-American, singer-songwriter. “Japanese Satellites” is his seventh studio release, and apparently his first Japanese-English bilingual album. I’m not sure if that means the first incorporating English or the other way around, but it really doesn’t make a difference in terms of the music. What we have here is an album full of mellow, acoustic-laden radio-rock in the vein of Coldplay and Ben Folds. I’m not really sure what to say about this record – I mean, it’s not bad by any means. The dude is obviously very talented musically, touting a strong singing voice as well as guitar and piano playing abilities. However, there isn’t much, if anything, to his music that hasn’t been done hundreds of thousands of times before. It’s simply background music – the kind of song you’d hear on the radio or a mix or something and either skip after fifteen seconds or let play without paying any real attention to it. The record is described on his website as 80's tinged folk-pop, but I don't really hear the 80's in any of these songs. Katz is obviously trying to make a name for himself in the pretty over-saturated and generic "singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar" market, but without any real distinguishable songwriting abilities that would put him into the limelight.

The third track, “Sacramento” is a perfect example of this good-bad duality. The song is a slow tempo excursion that makes use of standard acoustic chords laid underneath whirring, minimalistic guitar lines with the reverb and effects pedals cranked. Katz’s voice is mellow and crooning, not really attempting to go past his register or take a stab at any sort of unanticipated vocal trickery. I can’t even really hear any distinct bass line and the drumming is also minimalistic but effective. Everything goes together perfectly to make a cohesive, airy ballad I feel like I should be floating on a cloud while listening to, but it just doesn’t catch my attention and doesn’t call for a second listen. That’s the inherent problem with Katz’s music. It’s good, but has no replay value. To further my impression of the album, the next track, “Limitations,” was so similar to “Sacramento” that I didn’t even realize it was a new song until I clicked the iTunes tab again. More shiny ballads that just get really trite and really boring, really fast pop up throughout this album. I feel like this record would be better suited for my pseudo-intelligent 60-year-old uncle while he’s drinking wine with dinner and passively talking about fine arts.

On “Japanese Satellites,” while Katz is obviously a proficient musician, the instrumentation is just too generic and reminiscent of the “dude with a guitar sitting in a NYC bar” style that’s been done to death. One song runs into the other and there’s no way that Danny Katz is going to make a splash with anyone, anywhere unless he finds a niche and starts writing interesting songs, experimenting with different sounds, and turns off his Coldplay iPod mix.

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I have no legs!
1 Posts
Thanks much for this review. Not only is it well written, it's HONEST. And since I've been having a hard time getting folks to give brutal assessment on my material, I really appreciate that. And "I feel like this record would be better suited for my pseudo-intelligent 60-year-old uncle while he's drinking wine with dinner and passively talking about fine arts" is one of the best lines I have come across in a long long time. :-)
4,621 Posts
no problem my man. definitely interested in hearing some of your future material.

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