Japanese retro-rock outfit the Neatbeats takes its musical and fashion cues from the sound of the '50s, sporting three-piece suits and channeling Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, with the occasional Rolling Stones vibe sneaking in as well.
The group was started in 1997 by guitarists Manabe Takashi, aka Mr. Pan (all band members have "Mr...." aliases), and Tosa Kazube (Mr. Lawdy), bassist Ura Dai (Mr. Gully), and drummer Kusube Shinya (Mr. Shenn). Manabe became the lead singer, with the rest of the band backing him on most songs. Neatbeats debuted the next year with the single "Spoilt Girl" (1998), soon followed by the first full-length, Far and Near (1998), out on the U.S. indie label Get Hip, which also handled their second album, Mercurial (1999). The next album, Everybody Need, and the EP There Now (both 2000), were out on Deckrec, but by 2002 the Neatbeats got signed by Universal. Before that, Ura Dai left the band, and was replaced by Miru Seizen (Mr. Royal), who played on the band's fifth studio album, the aptly named Golden Goodies (2002), and widely acclaimed as their best record. The album was recorded with the help of pianist Shirai Mikio from the prominent Japanese punk/R&R band the High-Lows, with whom Neatbeats played live, and supported by a Japan-wide club tour, during which time Kusube left, to be replaced by Kazuyuki Kuhara from Thee Michelle Gun Elephant for the rest of the shows. The band hardly visited the studio in 2003, but the period of inactivity was short: the next year they switched labels, moving to BMG Funhouse, found a permanent drummer in Asahara Keisuke (Mr. Shallow), and released a new album Attention Please (2004). Manabe worked in a bevy of side projects at the time, but that didn't stop Neatbeats from recording, with Big Beat Mind coming out in 2005, the cover album Rock'n'roll Christmas in 2006, two EPs in 2007, and the eighth studio album Roll on Good in 2008. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi