Perhaps no Japanese artist has had as much staying power in -- or gained as much respect from -- the American underground as twee pop auteurs Shonen Knife. Earning a tribute record (1989's Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them, which included Cleveland's Death of Samantha covering "Redd Kross") before they even had a U.S. album, the sisterly pair of Atsuko and Naoko Yamano received indie rock adoration for their idiosyncratic, Ramones-meets-1960s-pop charms.
Unfortunately, cutesy song titles such as "Fruit Loop Dreams" and a sugar-spun cover of the Carpenters' "Top of the World" often unfairly pigeonholed them as a novelty act, and the mainstream never really perceived the band as more than a kitschy alt-rock footnote. Nevertheless, as Shonen Knife tours the U.S. for the first time since 1998, it has much to celebrate. Their synth-punk ode to the tomboyish Powerpuff Girl ("Buttercup [I'm a Super Girl]") was a highlight of the 2000 movie soundtrack and presaged their 2003 Japan-only album Candy Rock and the recent domestic release of last year's Heavy Songs.