The rousing Canadian indie rock duo Japandroids rose to widespread acclaim in 2009 following the release of their debut album, Post-Nothing. Working in the timeless guitar-and-drums format, Brian King and David Prowse forged a sound that was equal parts garage, punk, and classic rock & roll, touring heavily and earning a pair of Juno Award nominations both for their debut and critically acclaimed 2012 follow-up, Celebration Rock. After a lengthy touring hiatus, Japandroids returned to the stage and to the studio for 2017's more polished Near to the Wild Heart of Life.
Formed in 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia by college friends King (guitar, vocals) and Prowse (drums, vocals), they settled on a raw, no-frills approach that took influences from vintage garage and punk. Maintaining a D.I.Y. aesthetic, they produced two self-released EPs — All Lies (2007) and Lullaby Death Jams (2008) — before completing their full-length debut.
Frustrated by their lack of success up to that point, the two friends nearly called it quits at the end of 2008 before Canadian label Unfamiliar Records took a chance on them and released Post-Nothing in the spring of 2009. An enthusiastic stamp of approval from tastemaking site Pitchfork greatly increased Japandroids' exposure, and by the year's end the album had been released internationally by the American indie Polyvinyl and, among other accolades, received a Juno nomination for Album of the Year.
King and Prowse toured extensively over the next year, bringing their high-energy, raucous rock to stages around the world and playing major festivals like Bonnaroo, Sasquatch!, and the Pitchfork Music Festival. Returning to the studio in 2011, Japandroids emerged in the summer of 2012 with their follow-up album, Celebration Rock. Recorded in the same straightforward manner as their debut, Celebration Rock fared better both critically and commercially than its predecessor, infusing more classic rock influences into the mix, especially on the anthemic lead single, "The House That Heaven Built." Resuming their rigorous touring schedule, Japandroids notched over 200 shows in 40 countries over the next year and half.
Exhausted by the nearly constant touring, King and Prowse decided to take a break at the end of 2013, and the band effectively shut down public operations for nearly three years. It was later revealed that during parts of this hiatus period, they'd been recording new material at a variety of locations from Vancouver to New Orleans to Mexico City. Re-emerging in late 2016 with a handful of live dates, Japandroids announced the release of their long-awaited third LP, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, which arrived in January 2017 via Anti- in the U.S. and Arts & Crafts in Canada. ~ Timothy Monger