January 2010 Archives

bcr.jpgSo Andy was joking on the pod that I was foaming at the mouth over this gig and it's true I was really looking forward to it - even though I've seen both these bands loads of times now, I felt it would be a great show. And it was. Boys Climbing Ropes have, with production from Brad Ferguson, released an accomplished CD and last night's gig showed them at their best. Everything sounded great, the crowd kicked off right from the start and it was just an all round brilliant show.

Naturally, they played material that was mostly from the new CD, but they also slipped in a couple of old favourites. It's the kind of music that deserves to have a room full of people jumping around to it and last night it happened - they got the response they deserve. I'm running out of ways to describe just how much I like this band.

Same goes for Duck Fight Goose. I know I say this every time I see them, but they just get better and better. The bar is already pretty high from their previous performances, but each time they play, they just seem to improve on it. Again, I'm running out of superlatives for them, but they really are that good. If you've never seen this band play before, you seriously need to get along to their next show, they are outstanding. Someone needs to get those guys in the studio now.

As a postscript, I got to LOgO for Dan'sToshi's night there in time to catch some of Jehosophat Blow and the Blah Blah Blahs. I'm not going to write too much about them as I didn't see the whole show, but give that link a click, listen to their stuff and if you like it, I'm fairly sure they'll be at Yuyintang on Friday. I'll confirm that when I can...Confirmed. Details here

More Boys Climbing Ropes watch

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P1300118.JPGNot sure if I've mentioned this already or not, but Boys Climbing Ropes are releasing their new CD tonight. The CD is excellent, the band are on top form and Brad Ferguson has, as usual, done wonders. It's a top quality release and if you don't love it when you listen to it, then you need to get your hearing checked out.

I went to see Andrew Bird last night, a sell out at the Dream Factory and one of the most idiosyncratic performances you're ever likely to see, but Andy caught a gig of a slightly different nature. Read about it here.

But yeah, tonight at Yuyintang with Duck Fight Goose in support. Call it hype if you like, but I am genuinely very much looking forward to this gig. You should be too.
p386597326.jpgSo, torpedoing our exclusive on Whale Song, Boys Climbing Ropes have gone and put the track up on their Douban. How dare they share it with the masses? That was supposed to be ours. Still, check out the podcast anyway. Then, sniff, I suppose if you really want to check out a brilliant song without half an hour or so of Andy and I rambling on, I guess you can click here and listen to Whale Song in all it's glory.

Remember: Saturday. Yuyintang. Duck Fight Goose in support. Boys Climbing Ropes CD release. Enough said.

Despite their John and Yoko peace and love bed photo on the right here, Little Punk has been embroiled in a raging battle recently. At least, that's the idea behind a forthcoming article in That's Shanghai. They asked five local bands to review each others songs in the hope they'd talk shit about each other. Here's how it panned out.

Elsewhere, SmartShanghai has some photos up from the Maybe Mars showcase for those who, like me, didn't make it down there. They nabbed them from here, where you'll find a couple of different shots, courtesy of Jenn Wong.

But the really exciting news that I wanted to throw out in this post is that I have the same bedsheets as the ones in this photo of BCR. They're the cheapest ones you can get at IKEA. Now, that is the kind of exciting news you come to this blog for eh?

Series two, episode two then, looks like this: there's a look back to the Maybe Mars showcase last weekend, followed by some discussion of what they and Splitworks are doing with some of the up and coming bands in both Beijing and Shanghai. There's the fascinating story of our trip out to the new 0093 location and then there's a look ahead to this weekend's big gigs before playing an exclusive preview of Boys Climbing Ropes' track Whale Song.

Clickedy click:

Maybe Mars at MAO
Dan on Rustic
Andy's review

The Mushrooms

Chaos Mind
Six Shot
Boys Climbing Ropes
About that song
bcr.jpgJust a week to go until BCR release their new EP, Except for the Darkness (it's no longer going to be called Jingan), a release you really ought to be excited about. As a taster, you can now listen to the track Saskatchewan by hitting up their Douban page right here. This is the flyer you can see next to this text, not sure if it's the album artwork, but it's a nice photo. So there you go. Oh yeah, they're being supported by Duck Fight Goose that night too. Unmissable.

In the meantime, here's some other new tracks for you:

Fearless have a new instrumental track here.

Lezi has a couple of new tracks up, including one called Harmonious (nudge nudge, wink wink) here.

Sun Ye has a new one, right here.

The Lanterns, a band who made a comeback recently, have put a new track up here

Andy's blog will have news from this weekend's gigs by the way, get on it. 

Podcast SE02 Ep One: Rustic and FAF

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So it's come to this. A second series.

Yup, we're back and because it's been a while, this pod's a special hour long one. Before you get too over-excited, have a quick squizz at what it's all about: we look back at the main story of the long, cold podcast-less weeks, review last weekend's gig action, talk a bit about ch-ch-changes with Hedgehog and then look forward to this weekend. Not only that, but there's two songs included. Yes indeed.

Here's your links then, click 'em while they're hot:

Since We've Been Gone
Top Floor Circus
Those t-shirts
Minter on Expo

Last Weekend
Good Jive
Good Jive review
Rock Shanghai at YYT

Noise Hit World
Hedgehog's Douban
Hedgehog's changes
B-Side Lovers

Andy's agony (including that photo)
Melodic death metal night
P.S. The Maybe Mars showcase line-up has changed since we recorded this last night

Maybe Mars showcase line-up change

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flyer1263792896.jpgJust a quickie (chortle chortle). 

There's been a change to the line-up for this Friday's Maybe Mars showcase (check out some mp3 sweetness here). The Gar have had to drop out for some reason and in their place...

Ourself Beside Me

Here's Andy's take on the last time the girls came to town.

Does that make it any easier to decide where to go on Friday? I'm not sure it does really, no.

Kaine Love X Feiyue

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P1070028.JPGKaine (aka 小K) is a super cool designer, who works with Yuyintang and at Splitworks. A while back I asked her to customise a pair of Feiyues for me and this is what she came up with. I love them.

More about Kaine Love Design here, K's blog here.

She also appears in these kick arse photos for a brilliant forthcoming event that you should definitely go to to support this site.

More photos after the jump. 

New Hedgehog material, new Hedgehog

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p54635623-2.jpgSo Hedgehog, nearly everyone's favourite band, have split. Sort of. The bassist has left, but it seems drummer Atom and guitarist ZO are planning to carry on under the Hedgehog banner. The split had been on the cards for a while now and, though it seemed as if last year's Modern Sky tour of the States had staved off such a move, it's finally come to fruition.

Nevertheless, the remaining duo have uploaded four new songs to their Douban page, supposedly in preparation for a new album. Once they find a bassist. You can check the songs out here.

At the same time, the two of them have formed a new project called B-Side Lovers. There's no music up on the Douban page for this new band, but according to Pete over on CMR, they sound like "Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins".

Whatever is going on, it seems it's the end of an era for Hedgehog, if not for the band entirely. It's a shame, Hedgehog were a great band and one of the brightest in China. Personally, some of my best memories of gigs in the country have involved the band and it's a shame that they've had to go their separate ways. I suppose we'll just have to see where Hedgehog (and B-Side Lovers) go from here.

Good Jive at Yuyintang

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bcr.jpgLast night saw the launch of Good Jive down at YYT, a night organised by Han Han to promote more experimental and interesting music. It's fair to say it lived up to that billing.

It was a decent if not massive crowd, largely populated by foreigners, who saw Rainbow Danger Club kick things off. The band are pretty new but have been formed by the guy who used to front The Living Thin way back when. They had a good sound, bringing a trumpeter on stage for part of their performance too, and played a solid set.

Boys Climbing Ropes were up next, which I was a bit surprised by - I'd assumed they'd be higher up the bill given that I'd never heard of Attractive Rootine, but anyway. Boys Climbing Ropes gave a nice taster in preparation for their album release in a couple of weeks - they were excellent. I've been listening to the last EP a lot recently in anticipation of the new one and seriously can't wait. Don't miss the release party on the 30th, it's going to be huge.

Next, the night took a turn for the bizarre with a performance from Attractive Rootine. The act consisted of a girl on a constantly feedbacking mic (it wasn't really clear if it was intentional or not) and a guy in a suit and a gimp mask flicking switches and twiddling dials on a pretty complicated looking set up. It was dancey, but no one danced. In fact, the crowd dwindled considerably - no one really knew quite what to make of it and so many just plumped for leaving.

It was a shame because they will have missed Duck Fight Goose close the night out with yet another fine performance. Actually, the crowd did seem to swell a bit again once they took the stage, but it wasn't as busy as it could have been. Regardless, DFG were on fine form.
Andy reviewed the Triple Smash gig from last weekend (here in case you missed it), but here's a video that I took from the end of the gig. It was kind of a thank you and farewell show for the band - they just got back from a tour and are going to take a break for a couple of months before gigging again - so there were lots of interludes and thanks yous etc. At one point, the band started playing the opening strains of FAF's Escape, but instead rounded out their set with this cover featuring the support band's lead singer. Check it out.
maimai.jpgThere's a bunch of good gigs this month - Good Jive kicks off at YYT tonight with Duck Fight Goose, Boys Climbing Ropes (also part of Good Jive tonight) are releasing their new CD at the end of the month and there's the Maybe Mars showcase coming to town in a week or so too.

But there's also a great experimental night coming up: RESO 10, organised by Mai Mai. He's been hard at work of late, putting up a new track on his personal Douban (the bottom one here), two new turntable solos as the Asthma Writers Union (here) and finalising the line-up for the tenth RESO. If you've never been to a RESO night before, this could be the one to head to. In addition to Mai Mai himself, the night will feature three quarters of Duck Fight Goose (33, Han Han and Shen Shu) as well as Sun Ye, performing in various combinations. Definitely worth checking out in other words. It'll be on Sunday 24th and there's more details here.

Random other news: Because I can't think of anywhere else to put this, I'm also going to mention here that Sonnet are working on a new EP. The plan is for it to be out in March or April.

Expendable release Paris '68

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expendable.jpgSo posts have been a bit slow recently (sorry Morgan). Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated and normal service will be resumed shortly - I promise. In the meantime, Andy has blogged last weekend's shows at Yuyintang. More importantly, his band Expendable have just released their latest song, Paris '68, and it rocks. Go check it out right now here. No, really - right now. 

Go, go, go.

Got any plans this weekend?

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If so and they don't include the below then drop them, drop them now. This weekend is a cracker. Check it out:

Friday night has instrumental rock outfit Triple Smash returning from their tour to play a special thank you gig. FAF are in support. Yep, the band featured here and in the video embedded in this post.

Saturday sees Beijing's TOOKOO combine with Bigger Bang! for a potentially explosive night. Last time Bigger Bang were in town it was a great show and some people got pretty excited about them at Zhangbei too. TOOKOO are a quality act as well. More on that here.

Sunday has brilliant Canadian folksters Great Lake Swimmers in town. Should be a good 'un.

And that's just at Yuyintang. MAO Livehouse has Joe Chou on Friday - check out an excellent article about him by friend of the blog Tom Mangione over on SmartShanghai by pointing your mouse here and using your clicking finger.

Then they've got Sonata Arctica on Sunday, while Live Bar has the band with the fake CV on Friday (actually, you might want to give that one a miss) and Bremen, Rainbow Danger Club, Truth and Unlucky Bear on the Saturday.

So much musical goodness. Sod the cold, get out there.

Vote for bands at Midi 2010

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Picture 1.pngI'm not sure anyone knows where it will be exactly yet or, given previous years' dramas, whether it'll take place or not, but Midi is inviting bands to sign up for Midi 2010 at the moment. Obviously, they'll pick the big bands themselves, but lesser-known bands (i.e. anyone who is not multi-award-winning Miserable Faith) can sign up now for a chance of playing the festival.

There's even a MySpace minisite where bands can put up a song and have people vote for them. Last time I checked, Shanghai was fairly under-represented, with only Joker and Bremen in there at the minute. I'm not sure how binding the voting system is, but getting exposure at Midi could be a big help to a band, so if you're on MySpace, go login and get voting. The site is here.

Bring the noise

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bjnoise.JPGA while back, we mentioned the slightly puzzling dearth of music blogs in the capital. Being based in Shanghai, we have to endure constantly being told that the music scene here isn't as good as, or as developed as the Beijing one. Fine, but given the huge amount of international attention the scene up north receives compared to us down here, it's always seemed a bit odd that there was no regular English-language blog covering the scene up there. Incidentally, when I say covering the scene, I mean in a similar way to what we do here - bits and bobs of news, new tracks and gig reviews etc - China Music Radar of course gives Beijing plenty of excellent coverage on their side of things. 

Anyway, what that overly long and rambling paragraph is prefacing is the news that there is now an English-language blog on the Beijing scene. It's called Beijing Noise and you can find it right here if you want to stick it on your RSS or reader or whatever.

It's early days yet and so far posts have been geared largely toward rounding up forthcoming events etc., but there's a couple of reviews and some videos up there too, which suggest other regular content could be on the way. One to keep an eye on anyway.

Back to school at Yuyintang

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yytclassroom.jpgThis is why Yuyintang is a great boost to the Shanghai music community. They're running free music production classes for anyone who's interested, the only requirements are that you love music, that you have your own equipment (i.e. a computer and the right software and/or a MIDI keyboard) and that you have the time to do it. Not bad. 

The idea is to help young bands and artists get an understanding of the basics of music production and enable them to independently produce music. Given the importance of the internet and the ease with which bands can potentially get their music out to big audiences these days, such self-production expertise is an important step in the development of a band. 

Often on this blog, I link to band's and artists' Douban pages and the quality of some of the tracks on there are amazing. Bands like Double Control Where (here) and FAF (here) are just two recent examples of how having a quality demo on your site can be a real boost in addition to your live shows. Having some basic production knowledge is clearly a massive help.

So yeah, well done Yuyintang for offering it up for free. Check out the full course details here (in Chinese) or contact YYT direct through their website

Han Han launches Good Jive

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e175425.jpgAndy and I have spoken/written before about the search for a new Shanghai sound, or at least the attempts to shake off the cheesy rock label handed the city in the late '90s and early '00s. One emerging sound is emo, as Andy has written here. Definitely check out the FAF video here too, it's a corker. If you like what you see/hear, you can download the track for free off their Douban page

But the real reason we started talking about this was because of the crop of Miniless-affiliated bands in the city. Muscle Snog produced a fantastic album late last year, Boojii had a record out too (brilliant band, but I'm still to hear the CD) and the emergence of Duck Fight Goose led us to ponder whether Shanghai might become known for more experimental rock. 

Now, Han Han has launched Good Jive, an organisation whose aim is exactly that. Good Jive is a loosely defined organisation but, according to Han Han, the idea is to promote more interesting types of music in Shanghai and act as a counter-weight to what he sees as too much pop-rock in the city. 

If you're still not up to speed on who Han Han is, he's in Lava/Ox/Sea and Duck Fight Goose and recently joined Boojii. Originally based in Hefei, but now living in Shanghai, he also helped found Miniless records and has a fantastic approach to music and the community here. This was his view on the aims of Miniless when I interviewed him back in June last year:

'Hmmmmm...maybe to spread something, but only spreading, not pushing. It's a little hard to explain that "something", I'd rather say we are trying to bring young people an option. Yes, an optional option. This is also the mission. And I hope this option could help the growth of a certain "Scene", which is totally different than the others in other countries'

Check out a great interview with him here too, from a year previous to mine. 

With such views and with Han Han at the helm, it'll be interesting to see how this goes and what impact Good Jive has on the local music scene here - whether it can help foster more experimental bands in Shanghai. 

Good Jive's first event will be at Yuyintang on January 15 and will feature Duck Fight Goose, Rainbow Danger Club, Attractive Rootine and Boys Climbing Ropes.
wenjun.jpgThere was no sign of the police last night thankfully, which meant we could get on with the music. There was no risk of a crush either, with a decent, but far from full crowd at Yuyintang. Until about half way through their set. the headliners had been underwhelming and seemed a little put out by not playing to a packed venue. Then, for the last five or six songs, lead singer Wen Jun came alive and started performing with the energy for which she is renowned. It was a rousing last twenty minutes or so, it was just a shame the rest of the set had lacked such force.

Until that point, Bang Bang Tang had been the band of the night and had actually shown Guai Li up. This was the first time the band had played Yuyintang in nearly a year following their break from gigging for a large chunk of 2009, but they made a fine return. Although their sound was still fairly indie pop as usual, there was more of an edge to their performance than when I've seen them before. Xiao Bai looked and sounded stunning and the band were really tight. In short, they rocked.

Although Bang Bang Tang ended up being quite suitable as a support act with their edgier sound, it had seemed like an odd line up on paper. So it proved when Joker came on after Bang Bang Tang. I like Joker a lot, they're a good band, but they seemed out of place as a support act for Guai Li, especially on the back of a high energy Bang Bang Tang set. They were in their four piece mode last night and played a solid set, but the crowd wasn't really feeling it.

A few things to listen to and watch

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...so here's a round up of what's been put up on Douban recently.

There's a new track up from the Curry Soap, one of the acts that this blog likes to follow closely. It's called Old Hong Kong and you'll find it here.

Another track comes courtesy of Runaway Snail. Their's is called Argentinians' Melancholy and can be heard right here.

Army in the Cupboard is the name of a new track from Sun Ye, which you can have a listen to by following this link. It's pretty different from his other stuff, but as always I recommend you give it a go.

Chaos Mind have added a recording of Fxxk Me Hard taken from a practice session back in August. I'm not sure what Fxxk could mean, but it certainly rocks hard. Check it out here. They've also put up some videos of their recent YYT show, one of which is embedded on the right here. The rest are here.

Hama (her out of Second) has a new demo up as well. It's called Secret and is here. As a special New Year's treat, she's also made the track Philosopher available for download. You'll see it on her artist page as well.

Finally, Nanjing's 8 Eye Spy performed at D-22 in Beijing recently to celebrate the release of their new album, How Damn Far to Yinma Lane? There's a whole load of videos from the show and an interview with MOGO, right here

China: A Mixtape

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For a while now, I've noticed someone called Tenzenmen popping up on Douban leaving comments on the artist pages for a lot of people I like and asking about how to get a hold of the music. Turns out, it was Shaun from the Sydney-based Tenzenmen label and he was putting together a mixtape of all those artists.

You'll notice quite a few blog favourites on the tracklisting:

01 - Low Wormwood (Di Ku Ai) - Who - 5.11
02 - The Curry Soap - Little Northern Europe - 4.18
03 - Godot - No 4 - 6.26
04 - Demmy - Will You Remember Me Tomorrow - 6.42
05 - 21 Grams - 21 Grams - 7.58
06 - 8 Eye Spy - Live - 2.10
07 - Cover People - Trip To... - 3.07
08 - Snapline - Nice Dream - 3.11
09 - White - 47 Rockets (For Wan Hu) - 5.10
10 - Little Nature - Different World - 3.00
11 - Sonnet - A Nice Song - 3.10
12 - I.D.H. - Final Trial - 3.53
13 - Boys Climbing Ropes - Dirty Bots - 4.35
14 - Lava Ox Sea - Regnarts! Yeh - 6.15
15 - 24 Hours - Mr Stevenson (with Train) - 3.24
16 - You Mei You - All Talk No Action - 1.36
17 - Mortal Fools - Drink! Drink! Drink! - 2.04
18 - Muscle Snog - Think and Shit - 3.48
19 - Fanzui Xiangfa - Kill Your Television - 1.04
20 - The Curry Soap - You Keep Everything But His Heart - 1.06
21 - D!O!D!O!D! - A02 - .53

You can download the mixtape for free and read a bit more about it and Shaun here. Go check it out. One comment which is particularly telling from Shaun is this: "Even without understanding the language it's fairly simple to click around these sites [douban and myspace.cn] and discover the motherlode of music you never heard before." Exactly...

Video: ChaCha

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Happy New Year by the way. If you had a big one last night and, like me, are now feeling a little worse for wear, I recommend you check out this video here. It's the credits for a cartoon with music from ChaCha. It's perfect music for a sore head.

You can check out more from ChaCha on Douban here and by picking up a copy of a certain city living magazine here in Shanghai (the one with the heart on the front), ahem. 

The Mushrooms, Yuyintang

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pupu.jpgNew Year's was celebrated at Yuyintang with an emotastic night featuring F.A.F (Forget and Forgive), Double Control Where and The Mushrooms. It was crazily busy. It was so full that we were getting crushed stood in the second room with the tables, not even in the main stage area. So I didn't get to see F.A.F this time (though they sounded good from next door) and only caught a bit of Double Control Where's set. Of course, I fought my way in for The Mushrooms and they gave a typically strong performance. You can read a bit more about the other two bands here.

The shows were kind of overshadowed by the arrival of the police half way through DCW's set however. Apparently someone had called the police to complain about the number of people in the venue. It was probably pushing 500, which Yuyintang has seen before, but usually people spill out into the park. Given the cold weather and the state of Tianshan Park, this didn't happen last night however, creating a crush inside.

So they showed up and had a walk around the venue. Luckily by this point the crowd had thinned out a bit, but this may be because there were people out on the street in front of Yuyintang, which the police were unimpressed by too. The police walked around the venue for about half an hour, with a few more officers showing up during this time and it seemed for a while that the gig was going to be shut down. Eventually, the show was allowed to continue (unfortunately for DCW the sound seemed to be poor once they picked up their set) and people were told if they left the venue they wouldn't be allowed to re-enter as the police were most likely going to be checking on the street situation for the rest of the night.

Although the gig was ultimately allowed to continue, there could of course be further ramifications for Yuyintang - particularly if they don't sort their crowd control out and keep letting people in when the venue is already crammed full. With the Expo on the horizon, live music venues in Shanghai are going to have enough problems without attracting more attention from the police with incidents like this. Hopefully YYT will be able to smooth things out and this won't be a sign of things to come from the police. We'll see.