October 2012 Archives

Hollow Shadow live @ Yuyintang

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xiaoyu hollow
I just got a time-flies-by type shock when I looked up my review of the YYT IDH show and saw it was just short of two years ago now. Shit.

So, it was the weekend before Halloween and Yuyintang had two seasonally appropriate shows on. Saturday was the now traditional dress up tribute band show ... and Sunday was the Hollow Shadow show: a side project of IDH's Xiao Yu that is a detailed tribute to Bauhaus, goth and darkwave (with mostly original material).

There was a strange choice of opener. A Japanese solo performer passing through on her one woman tour called Naoryu. Actually, she was extremely talented, using vocals, taps and looping to create layered beats and backing ... then adding flute and guitar lines, and finally she was an excellent technical singer. The Douban blurb reveals that she has even won competitions hosted by Boss for looped live compositions. Unfortunately she committed the unspeakable act of performing Utada Hikaru's First Love in a rock venue and shall be shortly appearing in the International Criminal Court.

Xiao Yu's Hollow Shadow set was really inspirational although the audience was sparse and people who seemed to know and appreciate it even sparser. He started out with a synth and effects set up that was surprisingly equipment heavy and varied. The opening tracks captured the pace and sounds of darkwave perfectly. Some tracks were instrumental, some had vocals. All were long, methodical and unafraid to slowly build ideas. The vocals, Xiao Yu has got the genre's vocal sound down pat like an expert impressionist. True to his usual form, he played a long set and changed up to guitar and loops at the end. Xiao Yu created a detailed genre world for an hour and half that was heaven for those who like the sound ... all five of us. Hopefully some of those at the venue who heartily and genuinely applauded First Love learned a thing or two about real layering of tone and emotion.

Video: Pairs Hotel MV

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Here is another one of the Redscale Studios videos from the Pairs album Grandparent. This one is for the track Hotel, which is my favourite on the album and a noise-punk anthem.

Video: 15 years of Reflector = die hard fans

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Beijing based pop-punk band Reflector have posted this video from their 15 year anniversary tour. They are very popular on the scene. I saw them at Yuyintang a few years back and the place was crazy filled to the point of danger, with fans you don't see at the other shows.

In this video we see them playing Little Bar in Chengdu and it's unsurprisingly packed and includes crowd surfing and sing-a-longs. The track is 只有音乐才是我的解药 Music is my only medicine (my liberal translation.)

PK14 record new album at Electrical Audio

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pk14 chicago
PK14 are the legendary post-punk band from Nanjing. They are based in Beijing and currently on Maybe Mars. 

The band have just given us an update at the page on their new album.

Original post (Chinese language)

The band have now completed recording their fifth studio album. The producer is still Henrik Oja, but this time they have recorded the material at Chicago's Electrical Audio studio and it was engineered by Steve Albini himself. I'm a fan of his band Shellac and a well-known example of something he did in the studio is Nirvana's In Utero. 

The post says that the album will be out early next year.

Meanwhile, in other China post-punk news, Henan's The Fallacy are touring. No Shanghai date announced yet though, maybe someone could get on that? They are great. Go to the page to listen.

Skip Skip Ben Ben live @ 390 Bar

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Skip Skip Ben Ben is the latest project of Taipei native and Beijing based Ban Ban, formerly of the ass-kicking shoe gaze band Boyz and Girl.

Quick point. In a recent post I mentioned them having a new album out. It's done and tracks are available but whole thing is not available to buy until the end of next month. 

Recently opened 390 Bar brought the band to Shanghai for a show and I was there to check it out. The band play an interesting mix of garage rock, Chinese post-punk, dreamy shoegaze vocals ... and what I'm going to call lofi psychedelia. 

There wasn't an opening act and the band led off with the track Last Light, which you can hear at the Douban page. Ban Ban's guitar sounded great, as usual. She manages to use dirty fuzz and reverb, filling out the sound, but at the same time picking out clear and clean lines. The only complaint was the vocals being a bit quiet, due to a busted speaker, but they got a great loud sound in the smaller bar. Having seen them before and being familiar with the songs, I think my brain must have been filling the vocals in a bit too. Anyway, see this band if you get the chance they are one of the current highlights of the China scene. 

Pairs MV Gig of the Week

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Pairs worked together with Redscale Studios to create a video for each of the tracks on the new album Grandparent. You can get the album and all the videos on a custom USB key/card from the band. I got one, it's ace. And you don't get the slight quality loss you get from Chinese vid sites like Youku. 

I may be biased, and I like noise punk and lofi, but I think the following video would be cool and would rule on any particular music site you care to mention globally. Before you disagree, remember that those sites love Karmin and Sleigh Bells.  

Here's track one: Gig of the Week

Pairs new release Grandparent

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pairs grandparent
Popular Shanghai noise/punk duo Pairs have a new release out. It's called Grandparent, it's their third and you can download it for free from one of these two sources:

It was recorded a while back now, with engineer/producer Manny Nieto. In fact, it has taken so long to emerge that the band have since written, toured and recorded another album: which should also be out soon. I've heard a track of the next one, it will be the best yet.

I'm really happy to hear this one. I had a good laugh with Xiao Zhong on his vidcast about the track New Blowjob and I think Hotel is on a par with the first album favorites too. Check it out and spread it around.

Pinkberry officially announce return

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pinkberry at mao livehouse
Ambitious Shanghai pop-punk group Pinkberry were filling local venues at Zhu Lu He Feng events, playing festivals and university tours ... and then, they were suddenly gone. Their hiatus started exactly when label Zhu Lu He Feng had their own troubles.

Check the band's debut EP Go! Boom! at their page here

And now, the band have released their first public statement in exactly one year. It announces, among other things, that they have finished recording an as-yet-unnamed new album, have found a new drummer - and will play a comeback show on the 20th at Zher Bar.

Here is the full post (Chinese language)
Here is the event page for the comeback show

Video: Banana Monkey Double Trouble MV

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Shanghai retro-rockers Banana Monkey have been on and off since their 2006 heyday when they momentarily ruled the scene. One of their oldYYT shows was a real highlight of my time here. Now they are on again and have posted up a video for the track Double Trouble. The song is old but the vid is new and cut from a YYT performance. Check it out.

Duck Fight Goose L.A. Fender sessions

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Duck Fight Goose went to the SXSW festival earlier this year. Part of that trip was a session out in Los Angeles at Fender's studios. The videos from those sessions are up on Youtube now. Below is "Beacon." You can find the others here at the Fender blog.

Naohai debut EP out

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Shanghai indie band Naohai have completed their debut EP, the self-titled Naohai.

Originally describing themselves as a 交大乐队, a Jiaotong University group, they started to appear on bills at Yuyintang last year and branch out a bit. Now they have their first recording which was done at Post Tape Studios and is a Miniless release.

Douban / Mandarin savvy readers can use those links to get the album. Two tracks are streamed at the band page for those who can't. 

What we really want to do, of course, is support local acts. So we can get along to the release show and buy a ticket. 

And here's the track listing for the EP:

1.virgin killer/维京杀手

Skip Skip Ben Ben album and Shanghai show

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Beijing based indie band Skip Skip Ben Ben are the current project of long time Taipei / Beijing scene fixture 'Ban Ban.'

They play dirty sounding China scene indie mixed with Ban Ban's signature shoegaze/dreamy vocals. And they rock live. Now they have a new album out and are coming to Shanghai to play a show.

The album is called Sacrifice Mountain Hills. Go to the Douban page here:

... now scroll down past the show flyers and you'll see an MP3 player with two tracks from the new album. They are Sand and Last Light. These will be familiar to anyone who saw the YYT show. The production captures their style and feel perfectly. 

The show will be on Saturday October 20th at 390 Bar. Here is the event page. See you there.

Liveblogging Ballard's Crash Chapter Twelve

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crashcoverTo access the whole series of posts just click on the tag crash at the bottom.

Vaughan's presence in their lives has invigorated Ballard's sex life with his wife Catherine. It has also triggered multi-layered psychological games.

In this short (four-page) chapter we see it in practice. Catherine takes Ballard's almost self-righteous obsession with Vaughan and first shows him that he is possessive over it. Then he realises she gets off on the fantasy herself ... but her pushing of him, and near goading of him to extrapolate on the admiration into homosexual attraction strikes a chord. He has thought about this and Catherine reaches another level of fantasy visualizing them. 

Ballard and Catherine are now willingly immersed. What we are waiting to see in the narrative is if this will lead them back into the physical and dangerous part of Vaughan's world. That is assuming that Ballard has ever been away from it since his first accident.

Streets Kill Strange Animals album on Modern Sky

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sksm album
Update: go to the band Douban page and scroll down, Insomniacs Song (Album version) is the 4th track down.

Not too long after I saw Beijing's Streets Kill Strange Animals on tour at Yuyintang, I received their new album through the mail. I got it through the label (Modern Sky) Taobao page. Before I go on, here's all the links up front ... except none of them have the whole album for listening to.

Talking of Modern Sky, Streets Kill Strange Animals are not added in on their Douban page and nor is the album. The album also does not appear the dot com site either. The most recent offering there is the Good Luck Good Bye album from 2011 ... and next to nothing has been heard from that band since. Shame.

On to the album. It's called Plan B: back to the analogue age and it's awesome. It is the China scene post punk style that got going with P.K. 14. For me, every song echoes both the scene and the urban existence here. The lyrics are more symbolic and surreal than their counterparts though. The opening intro track repeats, "If I was the last dinosaur, I wouldn't tell you where I was, because I just want to live freely." (My on the fly translation) The track that really brings together the musical style, lyrics and Yang Haisong-esque Mandarin vocals is Insomniacs Song. It totally entranced me at the gig. Perhaps it's a misleading comparison, where Yang Haisong is all angst and poetry, SKSA demonstrate a wider range, both in song and vocals. They flip between the clipped jerky riffs and shouts and slowed down, lo-fi-psychedelic passages.

This is my favourite release of the year here and is the best example of something non-genre that feels like a real product of it's cultural surroundings. If that matters. 

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