Shonen Knife

Little Match Girls: Japanese bubblegum-punk veterans Shonen Knife.

A little math to put things in perspective: Shonen Knife played its first Osaka, Japan, gigs in 1981, the same year the Go-Go's released Beauty and the Beat. This means that by the time the trio reduced the usually taciturn Kurt Cobain to a self-described "nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert," the trio had already been purveying their infectiously naive J-pop/punk for over a decade. Fast-forward another 15 years and the girls are still knifing away, showing no signs of fatigue, let alone "maturity." Based on the evidence of 2008's Super Group (their 16th album), the Shonen Knife recipe remains as fixed as a teddy bear's gaze: place the childlike vocal stylings and innocent lyrical concerns (toys, pets, clothes) of the Shaggs atop the infectiously distorted bubblegum hooks of the Ramones and puree to taste. Vocalist, guitarist and sole founding member Naoko Yamano sounds like she's been quaffing from the fountain of youth, and new songs like "Deer Biscuit" and the titular "Super Group" (not to mention an irresistible cover of Paul McCartney's "Jet") are just as catchy and disarming as SK classics like "Twist Barbie" and "Flying Jelly Attack." Get in touch with your inner nine-year-old girl.

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