shanghai music scene: November 2011 Archives
Continuing with the recent spate of long interviews that are also interesting, Rock In China's blog brings you Xiao Zhong from Pairs.
Pairs are a lofi duo and they are ace. Let's do some links first:
Their Douban page has both albums, DL enabled and all for free.
And, before I talk about it, here is the full interview. It's in English and it's worth a read.
I found the chat towards the end about over-exposure, backlashes and publicity very interesting. Most telling was that RIC is essentially Beijing scene grounded and that the quote they provided mentions Carsick Cars too. This was a big thing a couple of years back, a backlash against Maybe Mars for getting plaudits. In fact, RIC ran a post/discussion that was basically a campaign to that effect.
Start here and follow the links to a series of anti-Maybe Mars manifestos by RIC staff! Blimey.
As Xiao Zhong covers, those plaudits are simply a matter of sending out a few human language sounding mails to people who honestly want to know about the bands. Then if the bands are active and interesting enough, it will go on from there.
Sleazy PR mails, sabotaging your rivals, cliques and skimming from bands by using different bookers won't get you plaudits. And if your best move is to start your own awards and give yourself all the prizes then things are not going to change anytime soon. It's just different ways of thinking. The same splits are in scenes the world over. Shanghai too, by the way.
The world of DIY culture and independent art exists to influence and create if nothing else. In Shanghai where we have no true mainstream industry of note, only fragments and advertising vultures, indie is the only way.
Twin Horizons is an independent group of designers and artists with members here in Shanghai.
The picture you see there is a preview from their upcoming line of T-shirts inspired by Shanghai independent bands. This one is inspired by Boys Climbing Ropes and the line will be called "Shanghai D.I.Y."
All the shirts will be hand printed at the Idle Beats studio. Watch their blog for more details.
Hedgehog are a Beijing based grunge trio whose career spanning four albums and shows all over China have been a microcosm of the 00's scene itself.
On the most recent album, Honeyed and Killed, the band took on a more reflective style with longer songs and a new live atmosphere with more noise, jam influence and headbands. Here's a new video from them. Go to the page to see another recent video Sparklehorse.
Note: be sure to get to the very end of the Layabozi article because there's a great gallery of the interview there for all people who know the old 'F-visa Ghetto.'
Other sites are always stepping up with good long features these days. Here comes another long form interview from Layabozi.
The guys took Boys Climbing Ropes' Morgan and Pei Pei (A.K.A. Little Punk) and had a sort of Xingfu Road nostalgia trip. It resulted in a great interview that is reflective, personal and genuinely interesting.
Here's a sample quote:
LYBZ: Going back to the songs of the album "Grow Up". It says "grow up, stop fucking around"? Has someone said that to you? Pp: I think Morgan likes to say stuff like "stop fucking around!!!" because it makes the song less serious or less poetic
M: It's like someone says some kind of criticism of your life, I find that if you take the criticism and repeat it eight times in a row to music that constantly builds, you can turn it around as, like, not a criticism anymore, to some kind of weird anthem, like "you will always be a loser."
Pp: Yeah! Totally influenced by that one. They repeat it like ten times.
M: That one of Titus Andronicus. So he takes the criticism and spins it back, and you turn it into an anthem then it's okay to be a looser, or it's okay to not grow up, it's empowering. Then grow up, stop being an idiot get your life together, stop being an idiot and get your life together, you take that and you know, you turn it into your own little thing.
Wuhan band AV Okubo have just put out a new video via their label Maybe Mars.
The band are known for their mix of punk rock, electronica and Chinese/East Asian pop culture. They have one full length album under their belt already entitled The Greed of Man. This can all be found at their page. Here.
Note. Translating the video title is tough because Ultraman is from Japan and the monster names in Chinese are very very rough translations. I don't suppose anyone knows the original Japanese name for it do they? Searching Wikipedia now - complete list of Ultrman enemies ... oh my god, here it is.
Photo note: the photo is from the band's site, I have not edited it. I am not a 'rice king.'
Second photo note: knitted crowns by LP
I was just at the Yuyintang release show for Summer and Winter Warfare, the new split album from Boys Climbing Ropes and X is Y. Both bands are from Shanghai and the album was produced by Brad Ferguson.
I want to take this post to give X is Y some deserved credit. First links:
The band have been working hard this year. X is Y play intelligent indie rock that makes detailed use of time signatures and dynamics. Since settling on a line up they have been adding an impressive catalogue of material. The Douban page now has the complete LP Shoulder, the tracks from the split album and a recording of Never Sever. On top of that, the band were kind enough to send me an unreleased track from the upcoming Miniless records release. It's great.
On the show - the band have also greatly improved their live chemistry and found a new level of energy on stage. X is Y is yet another win this year for the Shanghai DIY and collaborative model.
Most readers know I don't really do 'reviews' and I only really preview shows I'm going to myself. There are exceptions.
Well, firstly, Dan has first call on blogging the recent releases in Shanghai:
Now. Friend or Foe, the Shanghai space-punk band. Yes, I just made that genre up, have made their new album available on Bandcamp. Bandcamp is great.
I'm a fan of Burnt Out Buildings myself. As well as being a good track, it made me want to make another song called Burn All Buildings. Shout outs: production by Acid Ponies and Nicholls, art by Ivan/Twin Horizon.
This Wednesday, BCR/X is Y have their release show at YYT.
Beijing's Maybe Mars label has just put out two music videos for the alt-folk artist Xiao He. One of them The Nineties 《90年代》has a cleanly shot short movie, complete with subtitles, as the vid. Well worth checking out, even if you're not so into Xiao He's thing (shame on you).
Also, while looking about the label's Douban site, I noticed that they have taken The Molds under their wing. The Molds were brought down to Shanghai by promoter Abe Deyo back in the day and played with The Subs at the Dream factory. They are a Cramps inspired nihilistic rockabilly band ... kind of ... check them out here, scroll down for the demos.
And now, the Xiao He vid.
Thursday night and oddly three decent shows on. A rock opera at Mao - I shit you not, an annoying glorified advert at Shanhai and the Wooozy night at Yuyintang.
I love both the Beijing bands appearing at said advert too. Retros and White+. Coincidentally, I saw them at Uptown buying vinyl earlier in the evening. Vinyl is crack for Beijing musos I'm told. Uptown is full of it, and also affordable players too.
So, this was the third Wooozy.cn night at Yuyintang. The aim is to have a monthly show that brings in a new and upcoming Chinese band from another city. This time:
Wuhan's Xiao Huo Che Xin
Shanghai's Next Year's Love
There was just about enough people in as things got going. Next Year's Love now have a decent set and some good new tunes. They seem to have kept an equal balance between the retro-shouty uptempo tunes and the dis-chordant experimental tracks. Xiao Huo Che Xin were really interesting. I don't think they had the best night for sound or performance but every song had a completely different stylistic approach. They had everything from retro electronica to Gish era Smashing Pumpkins style moody plodding. It was linked together by humorous Chinese samples and recorded clip conversations. By the end of the set you felt you'd been on a journey with the band.
The team behind this night are doing a good job and this is fast becoming my go to night for something different and surprising.
We're often banging on about label Zhu Lu He Feng at Kungfuology Towers. They are a local label who formed and then immediately signed a roster of Shanghai bands. They have Pinkberry, Sonnet, Joker and Plastic Chocolate among others.
Founder Lezi's biggest achievement was to break into the universities for the first time, in a meaningful way. He now has regular tours of city campuses that include multiple stops. This was genuinely ground breaking.
A lesser known part of ZLHF's business is their sister imprint ZLHF Folk. Where Beijing is famous for its strong folk scene that features trad folk acts with strong northern influences such as Mongolian folk music, ZLHF Folk is centered on young singer-songwriters.
The newest addition to the roster is Hama:
Here's a video of her during recording sessions for her upcoming EP on the label.
Photo from the Douban photo event/meme 普通青年VS文艺青年VS二逼青年 where a three part vert aligned photo shows 普通青年 (normal youth) 文艺青年 (creative youth) and 二逼青年 (lit. stupid c*nt youth, my scouse translation: dickhead youth) from top to bottom. See whole gallery here (1000s of them)
This is a long one, please follow after the jump.
A couple of months back a one line update quietly made its way onto the Douban page of Shanghai pop-punk band Little Nature (小自然)
小自然(Little Nature)于2011年6月4日暂时停止活动So, they split up. Which doesn't come as a surprise as two of the original three members had already turned up in other bands lately.
From 4th July 2011 Little Nature will cease activities
Little Nature started out at the beginning of 2008 as a young student three piece playing pop-punk tunes of their own making with the traditional power trio line up of bass, guitar and drums. They were A-bao (阿爆) on Bass and lead vocals, San Gui (叁鬼) on guitar and Xiao Zhong (小钟) on drums.
I still have blog issues of many kinds. In the last post I gave out some clues for using Douban to track bands. Here's a few things floating around.
Label Zhu Lu He Feng are starting round four of their university tour. I can't stress the importance of this. This is completely new ground that label head honcho has cracked then built up to the point of being able to put on a 12 date campus tour - in about two years.
Here's round four
L.A. two piece Alpine Decline have done a handsome Furs and relocated to Beijing: here's their new Douban page.
And here's a video of Pinkberry at one of the many festivals across the summer. It's Shanghai, there's a beach. Must be Zebra.