Sunday, December 27, 2009
I sadly however am going to be putting a hold on running this blog for the time being. Time sadly is the reason. The real occupation is getting busier, and I'd like to focus any excess time into playing/writing with my band.
I have enjoyed doing this however and would like to come back to it one day.
If in the mean time anyone wants to continue writing for konghongrock, and is willing to do it for nothing but passion and a place to chat shit, then let me know.
Till next time friend.
When one thinks of music /musical activities around Christmas time, the common man would probably not think about an assortment of metal/hardcore bands to go and watch, but that is just what we had on the 19th of December, when Underground introduced it's new series : Underground Heavy. A move that I think is a smart one. There have been many times that I have been at an Underground and when the heavier then most acts come on, it is clear that there is always a fraction of the room who are either confused/bemused or downright unhappy. This is a shame, because although yes, these bands can be painfully loud and or aggressive to those not used to such genres, they are still quite skillful, even more so then some of our favourite rock'n'roll acts. There's thrashing about and making noise, but then theres the art to harnessing the brutal energy into structured interesting and most importantly tight songs. The first UG Heavy, no doubt offered such examples. On the bill were In Love & Pain, Protoss, Mensheng, Maniac and, lets not lie, the reason why most of the crowd had showed up (band members included) King Ly Chee.
In Love & Pain:
So this is my attempt to write a none biased review about In Love & Pain. These guys are my boys, and I love their work, every time I watch them (which I'm sure I can count on two hands now). This Screamo/Punk group, are in my opinion, the hardest working act in town. If you have these guys on your Facebook, you see basically a post a week from them promoting their latest gig. IL&P are a four piece act that interestingly all share the vocal duties. The best thing about them, is their ability to perform a high energy show and spread this onto those who come out to see them. On this particular evening, IL&P struggled a tad with their general sound. Whether this was out of their hands or not I am not sure, but they will probably agree that they didn't sound as powerful as they usually do. Most bands, would probably be dejected by this, and thus merely 'go through the motions' for the rest of the set. Not an industrious band like IL&P though. They powered through and still rocked out as if they were playing at Wembley. Their six song set contained many great sing-a-long anthems, that all get the blood rising. They go in and out of melodic and heavy moments. All their songs with have just the right balance of both. Check these guys out.
The next beast to take to the Rock School stage was the 5 piece Metal crew known as Protoss. Which of course is a race in the popular video game: “Starcraft”. Not the broom broom kind, but the people-identefier-er-thingy. You know what I'm talking about. The Protoss, are known for their advanced technology and their strict religious code of conduct. I'm guessing what the band took from the name, was the 'take no prisoners' in war time policy. And thus play some pretty brutal music. Good 'fuck you' screams were bellowed by their front man. They work best during their real sludgy cut tempo breakdowns. Recommended for those who are after an ideal head banging opportunity and those with an interest in badass riffing. The guys are very tight and also started the evenings first Circle Pit, which means they do their job in getting the crowd going. Kudos! The Protoss legion (referring to the band here) have interesting song structures and go places sometimes one would not expect. Dare I say , advanced, Protoss? See what I did there?
Another 5 man strong group who are making their Underground debut appearance. I bet they were over the moon when they found out who else was going to be on the bill for their first UG outing. They took to the stage like seasoned veterans, well they have after all been going since 2004. They play a fairly straight forward mix of metal core, complete with all the expected tastes and trimmings. Good guitarists in this band who trade off quirky lead parts which is exciting to watch and hear. These guys have a good front man who is constantly bouncing round the stage and hyping up the crowd. Their songs are long in length and also move around in an interesting fashion. Everyone is completely engaged the whole time, and look to be having a real good time. During the outro stages of their finale, the singer switches from screaming to Thom Yorke trademarked soprano wailing. Which of course was a surprise, a pleasant one, which worked very well and rounded off a good set.
So it's looking like the average players for a metalcore bands is 5, as confirmed by the 5 men of Maniac who are next to continue XmasMetalFest09. The start of their set had caught everybody by surprise. They kick off with an electronic song being blasted through the house sound system. For a moment, we could very well be at a hidden rave party! Just when you're about to run to the closest 7-11 to get your value pack of glow sticks however, the distorted axes and beatings of the double kick riot through and we're back to moshing and slam dancing. Well not me of course, I'm naturally at the back of the room tucking into Chris B's Cajun French Fries. Which are amazing by the way. I'm constantly in fact waiting for Chris to go on another Cosmopolitan run so that I may jam a fistful down me. But no one wants to hear me go on about my barbaric feeding rituals. Speaking of barbaric however, Maniac are the first band of the evening to get the famous 'wall of death' going. If you are unfamiliar with such a feat, I highly recommend that you youtube it immediately. Not much to say about the music though. It is of course played very well, and you can tell the band have done a lot of work to get it tight, but it's pretty much everything you expect. No real surprises. Maniac perform a good show, and I've realised that if you are to play real heavy music, you need to sell it, and each band tonight has done just that.
King Ly Chee:
From the very start of the night, their was a buzz about the room and I have a feeling it was largely due to the fact KLC were at some point going to unleash hell amongst the Rockschool sanctuary. All the other bands would mention King Ly Chee's name at least thrice during their set and everyone would applaud with great enthusiasm. When the hour finally arrives, there is even a crew who take to the stage to help the guys set up and suddenly the room is quite packed. We are all informed that it is the bands 10 year anniversary, which is an amazing accomplishment for a band from this neck of the woods. The players, and roles within have changed, but the ideals and music have stayed pretty constant. To play heavy as possible, and have people captivated by it. KLC have a strong following, and its their fans which make it a complete package to watch, It is just as interesting to watch the musicians as it is watching some guy nearly breaking the lighting fixtures due to his crowd surfing participation. The guys must be the only band in HK who refer to their audience constantly as mother fuckers, and they lap it up. Riz is constantly running round the stage making sure everyone in the crowd is going nuts. True story here, I once had a guinea pig called Riz, and when the KLC singer is running round the stage, it would remind me of my once furry pet running round his cage. Pretty random I know, but that's what was going through my head. The music follows a simple pattern of, head banging beats, then a freak out section, then repeating, with an occasional breakdown thrown in. It's nothing special but KLC do it well. Very well. They also sound good, which is amazing. It's no secret that the sound system at Rock School isn't currently the greatest, but for some reason KLC sound real crisp and clear, whilst still being heavy as hell. Everyone is singing along to the songs and getting well and truly involved. For me it's an awesome sight to see a band in HK have such a dedicated following. It's like we're watching an international headliner. During the last song, Kevin from Hardpack who has been drumming in this town for ages takes to the stage, and rips out the ending with the band, while a massive circle pit is taking place. What a set, hail to the King!
Looking back on this night, I remember it being actually a lot more fun then I anticipated. The musicianship of all the bands was much more then I expected. Although not my main cup of tea, I truly had a good time. I may even be at the next Underground Heavy.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Our maiden act are a five piece that play songs that are distinctively of a Brit pop variety. They work well with dynamics, starting off the set quietly with a single instrument being heard, then slowly the rest start layering riffs on top until they all join together, and introduce the band. A nice sly way of doing a quick levels check as well ;) Yes , I read through your plan FAD. This smartly turned out act, have interesting titled songs that do well at capturing emotions. The singer would indicate before the start of a song that 'This one will bring you down' or 'This is a simple, naive and happy song' and they were exactly that. The other thing these guys do well, is the interplay between the bassist and the lead guitar. Their riffs feed and play off each other very well. I would strongly encourage the singer to do vocal warm ups before taking the stage, as there were times that the falsetto notes he were reaching for, were, well clearly being reached for. Work on it my friend. On the whole though, a good start to the evening. A good way to judge a band is to look at the audience. For a while they seemed a little disengaged but for the most they were locked on. Well done.
A four piece act that I need to apologise to, as I wasn't able to hang around for more than three songs of their set. I had to instruct a friend how to get to the difficult-to-explain-where venue. For your information, 'Near a 7-11 opposite a roadside eatery' is apparently not considered good guidance. Anyway, back to Cycle. They started with a cover, SHOCK HORROR! but! it was a Beatles medley, going in and out of songs such as Twist'n'shout and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Actually I can't really remember if there were other songs, so it may just have been some interesting blend of these two. It was good, which it would of had to have been if you were ballsy enough to cover the Beatles outside of a band room. The originals I got to catch, had a true canto-pop/rock sound, that seem to build up to the moment the lead guitarist ripped out a killer solo. Very good guitar work bud. Sadly that's all I have down on my notes before having to go outside. Sorry once again Cycle.
Another 5 piece that you can tell listen to a lot of Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Then again I guess everyone sort of does. Although here in HK , a lot of musicians seem to feel very connected to the works of Thom Yorke and co. whether it can clearly be heard in the music or if songs are straight up dedicated to the man (as earlier band FAD did). Homeless Alien are a bit of a fan favourite, as everyone seemed very happy to be there listening to them to play their songs. Homeless Alien who of course were on one of the UG compilation CD's. I KNEW I had heard them before! Very tight instrumentation with a guitarist who has great control over his sound, choosing and tuning his effects wisely. Some of the tunes are dreamy with flanged guitar lines, and some are funky with a leading bass line that makes you want to get down. They play a song which was very similar sounding to Becks 'Loser' when it came to the chorus. This to me was their best song. Sadly though, there are times when the tight musicianship is let down by a lack of performance and a pitch finding vocalist. Nevertheless an Encore was being asked for, so job done.
A 3 piece with a guitarist who could have been the Hong Kong Kurt Cobain. I swear the sweater he was wearing was identical to the famous one that Cobain wears in the highly documented Unplugged show. What I liked about Amino Shower, was their explosive start, it was sort of like, "yes, the bands before us were good, but Hi, we're here to start the rock." A lot of their songs make you think of bigger names, and their music seems to be one big blend of all these names. For a quick example, their first song sounded like a mash up of Muse and The Black Rebel Motorcyle club. Amino Shower, have a song that everyone seem to know called My Facebook Hero, where the crowd sang along to. That's always nice to see. Versatility is one of the top virtues this band have, as every single song was very different. We had a generic punkballad (Think Simple Plans 'I'm just a Kid') then a song where we hear reggae type upstrokes on the guitar. These guys put on a good performance as well, that kept the audience focused and entertained. Nicely done.
THE DAVID BOWIE KNIVES
No seriously. I've had the pleasure of watching many a DBK show, and they have always been nothing short of great. On this particular night, they somehow managed to outdo their own high standards. Maybe it was due to the late starting time allowing for more beers to be had, pure speculation , but they were really on form. With no disrespect to the other bands, the difference between the DBK and the other acts, was night and day. In fact, I'm sure if you asked the other acts, they would honestly agree. For those of you who aren't familiar with the music the Knives play, it's good old rock'n'roll that makes you shake your hips and let your hair loose. All the songs tell interesting, VERY interesting stories. My favourite song, is surprisingly their slowest one called Money. I have no idea why as well. I think it's because I'm always hella broke. What the Knives do is, play all the small things very well, making their greater sound , tight as hell. Some may say, it's all very simple, but dear reader, simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve. I feel like I've said that too many times before. One of the pinnacles of the mammoth set, was when the Sound Engineer came onstage with his Saxophone and played an amazing little solo. It just added to the fun and good vibe that the Knives always bring, and it can be seen in the audience. My buddy and I were watching this beautiful Chinese girl who was smiling from ear to ear dancing along to the tunes. Her boyfriend was behind her also enjoying the music, and trying from time to time to dance with her, but she wasn't having ANY of it. I think now I truly understand why they call themselves Sex Rock. In a nutshell, The Knives are the only band in HK who can sing "I'm gonna fuck your sister", "Don't suck the dick of that gastropod" and chant 'Bukake"several times, and not only get away with it. Everyone laps it up. Ku-fuckin'-dos.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I predicted they would be in the top 3, so woohoo!
Runners up were: FBI
2nd Runner up: Tai Tai Alibi
Gonna be a cliche American sports movie here and say: 'HK indie music was the real winner on the night'
Friday, October 23, 2009
So tonight, once again is the GBOB HK final. A massive night for the HK indie scene. You best come out kiddies.
The hard working crew for GBOB have recently released edited versions of all the finalists 'Heat' attempt.
The youtube channel can be found here.
Konghongrocks prediction for top 3:
Runner Up: Gong Wu
2nd Runner Up: Qui Hong
See ya all there!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
So without further delay:
Of Moths & Stars:
Chris and Nate make up the total number of band members for this act. An acoustic rock duo who somehow manage to put on more of an energetic show than a lot of bands that I have seen with twice the personnel. The lads have quite a unique sound, it drives like some 'The Maccabees' songs while having the flow of 'Radiohead' melodies. Chris is efficient on the guitar and the whole time I was watching him , waiting for a string to snap. The guy must use picks made out of feather, 'cuz he sure strums the expletive out of that thing! Because vocal parts are shared quite evenly, there are times when Nate isn't involved with the music. Yet instead of standing there like a fruit, he valiantly rises to the challenge and is seen constantly dancing or constantly dancing + playing the tambourine. My favourite thing about OM&S is the contrasting vocals being heard at the same time. Nate's voice is a lot more 'clean' whilst Chris's is quite raspy. Together they compliment each other quite well. Songs were interesting to listen to, with tales being told and even an odd homage to The Beatles' A day in the Life'. There are moments you want to sing a long to, and moments you listen intently to the story. It's no wonder these guys came out of nowhere and are now in the GBOB HK final. Never a dull moment, nice one chaps!
Next up were the four piece of Halycon. A guitarist, bassist, keys player and drummer. Vocal duties were the responsibility of the guitarist with the keys player adding good harmonies. I'm a big fan of female harmonies (the keyboardist is in fact a lady) in rock music. The tunes fall into the genre of Powerpop or Pop Punk if you will. They are quite light on the cheese though so that's a good thing! It kinda makes you want to run at 1000MPH. Whether or not my avg top speed is 5milimeters a minute has anything to do with this imagery is a complete other discussion! All the musicians play with the tightness that comes from being in a band for a while. My only criticism would be the delivery. If they upped the stage presence and showmanship a bit, these guys could be a great reason for leaving your house!
Ah, good old Transnoodle. I wonder if it's difficult being in band where people expect nothing short of solid gold from you. I don't know if it's just me, but these guys are great. There's the HK indie music scene, and then there is Transnoodle. On first glance they probably couldn't look anything less like a band, but thank god appearances don't me jack. I've reviewed 'the noodle' a couple of times now so don't really want to go over any old news. Briefly though, its 'Latin ska folk' sounding. What they do well is capture moods/atmospheres. One minute you're in a pirate tavern sipping rum, the next minute you're wanting to shout 'Mazel Tov' at a 'Barmitzva'. One of the many reasons why I think this band is great, is how, in their tunes, they go in and out of more familiar/famous songs. On this night we heard glimpses of Michael Jackson/The Beatles (yet again!) and George Michael. I'm sure those names have never been associated with 'Latin ska folk' before. Stellar performance once again, you can't go wrong when you wear a great hat!
At this point it was time to get the ear protectors in. These guys are HELLA loud. On another night when I wasn't awfully fatigued I would have really digged this 5 piece nu-metal outfit. Yet I was still able to point out what worked for these guys. If you like bands like 'Disturbed'/'Godsmack'/'Linkin Park' (circa 2002) you would really like these guys. Their set was well thought out from start to finish. It included air raid sirens being played as an intro and programmed drum loops for an outro. In terms of song writing, its sacrificing flashiness for good/interesting songs that move to different places. Thank god. When I saw them setting up , I was expecting instrument jerking off. If instrument jerking off is your thing, I apologise for any upset caused (sorta). The lead singer carried the band well and involved the audience a number of times. One quick word of advice here. Dude, good work with the vocal pedal, but make sure when you check the levels, you make sure you don't feedback when the volume pedal is pressed fully down, as feedback is exactly what happened. And thats not fun for anyone! Guitars both had the great tones you'd expect from a band who brings their own gear. Kudos goes to the drummer here who absolutely slays it behind the kit! Included in the set was Zoundz own arrangement of Beat It. You couldn't moonwalk to it, but it was still great nonetheless. What was with all the homages this evening! Coincidence or conspiracy?
To take it home was 5 piece glam act Paranoid. I loved it, as soon as this crew took to the stage, everyone in the room was trying to work out the sexes of each of the band members. I can honestly say, to this moment, I am just as clueless as I was on the night. They all looked very glamourous regardless. I wonder what takes more time, re-stringing a guitar, or getting the hair spot on for show time? The songs are all very dramatic and dark with occasional 'hope' sounding moments shining through. I naturally didn't understand what was being sung, but I felt that I still got the idea/mood of the songs, which means that they do a good job in song writing. Unless of course, their songs are about a bunch of rabbits having a picnic in the Garden of Eden. In which case they would be completely off the money. Best thing about the songs, are the control of their dynamics. At one moment it can be near silent with the vocalist singing in an almost Siren-esque voice. Then the next ,the world is ending with thunderous happenings. All in all, they were fun to listen to and intriguing to look act. Job done I would say!
And then that was it! Rockschool has its pros and cons, but overall I'm pretty sure we'll see some great shows come out of it as it solidifies its place on the HK indie circuit. Shows that are coming sooner than you may think. For example a little ordeal some may call the Global Battle of the Bands -HK Final ;).
Till next time dear reader!
Pictures and other reviews available at:
Monday, October 12, 2009
As I am in an extremely generous mood, I have put together a little preview package so that you can learn about the 15 finalists and choose your favourite. Then of course, you and all your friends will turn up at the final to support this band! So here it goes:
Live Fast Die! (Heat 1)
Trash 21 (Heat 1)
This 4 piece are a 'nu-metal' band first and foremost, but they claim there is more to their music than just the generic stuff from this genre. After my own investigations, I will confirm no lies were told. Their track titled 21 sounded like it was going to be a Korn song but then their vocalist Guy, starts screaming, and Christ, what a scream! The second track they have put up on their myspace is very different to '21' this one is sung and is quite melancholic. It's clear that Guy, KC, CK, and ReD are versatile with their music writing. Apart from hardcore, I hear a bit of goth, emo and alternative influences in their sound. Generally the head bangers dream.http://www.myspace.com/wuahthecrow
TRASH 21live in Nset
TRASH 21 | MySpace Music Videos
Peri M (Heat 2)
This 5 piece 'melodic heavy rock' group have been winning fans over with their rocking yet catchy sound. Their lead singer, Aeolus, can definitely carry a tune, and her timbre has hints of Amy Lee (Evanescence) in it. She is vocally very spot on! The music is all quite familiar, and dare I say generic, but I guess not much isn't these days! Either way 介傑 , Turn B, 真吾 , Aeolus and Eunice do it well! Sometimes radio friendly , sometimes very reminiscent of Nightwish (Listen to Light of Candles). They also do a pretty decent and or dramatic cover of Zombie by the Cranberries.
Qiu Hong (Heat 2)
Basically meaning Red Autumn, Jan, Lun, KC, Hippo and Hin have been kicking ass whilst taking names since 2002. They kinda remind me of a HK version of Refused (when listening to 'Serving People'), at least in they way they get the blood flowing and the body to fight and or flight! Very tight metal/rock sound. May I add that they have a great drummer! Whether or not they match your musical tastes, their on stage energy and performance will h
ave you entertained.
The Corners (Heat 2)
An interesting yet slightly embarrassing problem here folks. I have never heard of these guys before, nor can I seem to track down any of their music on line. I have however deduced from pictures and information on their Facebook page that they are have a guitarist (Clement), bassist (Julian), drummer (John) and vocalist (Jehan). This foursome play Pop Rock and have made it to the HK final. If anyone has any more information about these guys or where we can hear their music, do let us know!
Tai Tai Alibi (Heat 3)
Well well well, if it isn't my grunge rock pals! I cannot say I am surprised that these guys made the final, they seem to get better every time I see them. Ok so it's not like I see them a lot but you can tell they have found their sound and know what they are good
at, and thus capitalise on it. Alice in Chains reference from some, I'm still sticking to the Theory of a Deadman comparisson. Great song writing, even better string shredding, and not too unpleasant on the eye. From a purely hetero point of view of course. Keep your eye on this foursome consisting of Tim, Chris, Matt, and Rafael. They made it to the final last year, will they do better this time round? Stay tuned.
Senseless (Heat 3)
Kenny, Elliot, Sailim, Raymond and Yuren make up this Cantonese Pop Punk act. I've seen these guys at an Underground gig before and remember them having quite uplifting music. The way pop punk should be! These guys though having not played scores of shows, have been at it since 2001. With their infectious hooks and catchy quirky melodies, it's no shock they impressed judges enough to get to the final. Good on em!
Ah! The gang with the attitude and skills. Li, Lawrence, Gavin and 江湖 have been simultaneously 'raising a collective middle finger' and stealing the show for a while now. All four are skilled musicians who rock out. These
guys are probably the favourites to win this whole thing! Their tunes are hard rock served with a wedge of funk. Hella powerful. Not much more to be said really!Facebook Group
O.T.O (Heat 4)
These guys were harder to track down information wise than The Corners! I have however found out some stuff about them from the UNDERGROUND website. Mainly that they are from Macau! Get this, they are also family ties in the band. The drummer and vocalist is Fabio, while his sister Jools is on bass. Their mother Shelly Grace is the keyboard player! I love it! Again, I wasn't able to hear any tunes, but the reviewer on the UNDERGROUND describes it as 'soft rock with a bit of lounge feeling and also fantastic vocals' Colour me intrigued. Please share info if you have!
F.B.I (Heat 4)
'What the hell dya want from me?' ah! The F.B.I gang. Who still have the catchiest song in town in my opinion (Man Love!) Another band I wasn't surprised to see make their place in the final. This pop/rock/funk blend is made up of Cain, Jerald, Archvictor, and Nice. The
ir songs tell stories and when they perform they make sure thats what they damn well will do, perform!. Another favourite I would say to win this. Actions speak louder than words, so check these guys out.http://www.myspace.com/firebirdinternational
Gun You (Heat 4)
This group is one of those bands that mix a whole load of influences together in creating their sound. After watching one of their songs on the stage-tube platform, they reminded me of Peri M a little. They are very tight and posses good song writing skills. It is quite hard to describe their sound. It's very epic, with lots of different sections. Great guitar work can be heard and equally impressive keys. We've got Karen, Leo, Sunny, Mike and Morris in this one.
Tie Shu Lan (Heat 4)
This Hardcore act consists of Sunny, 啊瘋 , 文偉 and 子通 . From checking out their videos on youtube, it seems these guys have quite the following. Classic dropped tuning guitar with growly vocals stuff. Done well though, their songs move through interesting structures and they also rock out on stage. There seem to be quite a few of the hardcore acts in the final this year, so who will be the best out of em? Tie Shu Lan are definite contenders.
Nocturnal Rose (Heat 5)
I watched these guys do their heat performance and boy were they good. They somehow managed to take hold of the sound system and make it sound like we were at their concert. Very dramatic songs, played by skilled musicians. It would be interesting to see who would come out in a head to head with Gun You, as they both have similar sounds. Nocturnal Rose are Karl, Shawn, Cedric, Milk and Zorace.Facebook Group
Of Moths & Stars
This two piece consisting of Nate and Chris are newcomers to the HK scene. This didn't put them off from entering the contest however, and good thing they didn't as they easily made the final. An acoustic act that actually put on a good performance and have great catchy tunes. The combination of their voices blend well together at the same time as being completely different. It's rocky, melodic and catchy. Win win win.Facebook Group
....Well this is awkward. I'll Just say Party Rock. Driving guitars with catchy chorus's. Also new to the scene and just released their debut EP titled Broadcast. Shotgun Politics are Jimmy, Freddy, Niall and Timmy.Facebook Group
There ya have it. All in all, it will be a great night for local inide music and lets be honest, silly if you aren't gonna be there.
Friday 23rd October
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The next three days will see the final places for the HK final being decided in the final three heats.
The poster is a bit blurry so here's who's playing on what days:
Thursday October 8 @ Backstage Live Restaurant:
The Private Broadcast
Cold Air Blue
Friday October 9 @ Backstage Live Restaurant:
Tai Tai Alibi
The Jeff Caylor Band
Saturday October 10 @ The Melting Pot
Tie Shu Lan
Monday, September 28, 2009
It wasn't that long ago that I remember being at the Hungry Ghosts goodbye show to be honest, but hey, I'm not complaining. Just like the other 30 or so people in the container that is Bassment, we were just happy to be hearing their songs live again. That is after all, the best way to hear Hungry Ghosts tunes. The night wasn't entirely about the Ghosts being very briefly back however. The Mooches themselves have had somewhat of a lengthy break from playing their millisecond long songs. They were also celebrating the gig as their first one out of The Wanch, so kudos to them for that!
The Mooches took to the ... it seems silly to call the allocated corner of the room complete with practice amps set up on red plastic tables, a stage, but anyway, they got up there at about 10PM to kick off the evenings entertainment.
For a make shift set up, the sound was surprisingly quite balanced and generally not bad at all. The vocals were a little quiet but you can't win them all right? The Mooches set played out more like a jam session, but once again with the environment we were in, this style was quite fitting to the general indie D.I.Y theme of the night. Their outfit consists of scene veteran Arthur leading the charge on vocals and guitar. How many bands is this now Art? Tiffany of the Hungry Ghosts also contributes bass in this band. Jasmine, who may just be Hong Kong's equivalent of Meg White features on the drums. She shares the same preference of the floor tom and snare combination that Meg White utilities often. Adriana is the chick on the keys and Ross who plays with Arthur in Live Fast Die plays the, uhh, Washboard. It DOES have gold lettering and a pickup on it, therefore it is a serious instrument! Their songs averaged about 2 minutes in length and are generally quite quirky. Their highlights were a song that repeated the lyric 'I hate this place and the people in it.' Go on the angst! Others were their 'You Make Me Hot' song and an instrumental that was played towards the end. Good old Mooches were always charming, and seemed to have the room entertained. Good on 'em.
After the turn around and more 150 dollar open bar abuse on my part, the Hungry Ghosts started their set. It wasn't long before you realised that you missed having these guys in the scene. They offer something completely different yet very familiar at the same time. There's something to be said for their ability to control and portray emotions in their song writing and translate it to a live performance. It leaves no shadow of a doubt that the foursome (Luke-Guitar+Vox,Paul-Guitar+Keys+Vox, Tiffany-Bass+Vox, Mike-Drums) work like clockwork together, and are very talented.
One of the main factors why the band decided to put their elusive project on hold for a while, was due to Mike having to leave the country. With him being back behind the kit tonight, you can see why they didn't just get someone to take his role and continue. He is an essential piece that is the Hungry Ghosts puzzle. It's the way he drives the song's with the guitars falling into place around his drum patterns, which were always spot on. Don't wanna give the guy too much praise, but he is fucking awesome. Other things to note are the great interplay between Paul and Luke on guitar. I feel that I HAVE noted this before in a previous post so I won't go into it in detail again. But again, never a dull moment there. Their set consisted of all the usual songs that Hungry Ghosts fans have come to love, with their highlights being both versions of 'This Noise' (which featured some of the Mooch members coming up to sing along in the chorus) and what stole the night,: 'White Bee.' Some drunk bald dude not to far from me was creaming himself at how good that one sounded. And then it was all over! It really is a shame to not have the Ghosts constantly gigging anymore. But at the same time, it made this one off show a special one. If you claim yourself a member or a fan of the HK scene. You are quite simply an idiot for not turning up.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Buses, boats, traffic and decent honest taxi drivers all ceased to exist with T9 strength typhoon Molave visiting our shores last Saturday (18th July) . I'm sure other things disappeared, places for shelter while trying to get home for one! One thing that wasn't effected though, was Underground 82 which took place at California Club. What a mammoth night it was. Amongst the other great local acts, were twins from Macau 'Soler'. For those not in the know, 'Soler' have been going since 1997 , performing all around Asia and have songs released in Europe as well as regions closer to us. They are also known for writing their own music as well as producing other Asian talent. Needless to say, there was a great buzz about the venue.
CLEMENTINE IS MY SUNSHINE
To open the show was another promising young talent from these neck of the woods. 18 year old Jon Wu who plays under the moniker 'Clementine is My Sunshine' has played opening act to the likes of mega star Avril Lavigne and Swedish (with Argentinian descent) guitar maestro 'Jose Gonzalez'. Many believe that if the underground HK scene was to have a star, 'Clementine is My Sunshine' would be the hottest contender. It's not hard to see why. Wu's tunes and set on this night are charmingly pleasant. It's poppy folk music that is based around Jon's acoustic and more so his soothing voice. 'CIMS' remind me a lot of another local folk pop outfit that go by the name of 'Joves'. It's that same kind of rainy day music that makes you feel snug about being indoors. This association rings through that much more clearly with the rain starting to pour outside, hinting that the typhoon is indeed on the way. The other instruments in 'CIMS's' set are an electric guitar and a keyboard. The backing musicians do their job well as you sometimes forget that they are on stage, yet their small but vital parts help to shape and add texture to the sound that is 'CIMS.' My favourite moments of the set, are when Jon plays the harmonica for 'Dylan' type melodies. At the end of the day, its good music that most people can get into , similar to a puppy. Who doesn't like puppies come on?
Next on stage were the quintet 'Pork'. Usually when you hear band names, you can sort of try and imagine what kind of music they are gonna play, even if sometimes your guess comes out wrong, you can still play this game. With 'Pork' though, I really had no idea what to expect. I suppose in my head, pork is quite an abrasive sounding word, so I was expecting something pretty in your face. Instead what you got was something pretty. A melodic mellow yet intricate fender sound is a good way to describe their music. It's light where the singers voice portrays many sombre moments and at times its uplifting and joyful. My rain soaked notes remind me of one of 'Porks' songs, which start with a bossa nova type beat, to which I want to compliment the rhythm section for. Other things that 'Pork' do well, are the vocal relationships throughout singing members of the bands. The harmonies were nearly always spot on, so kudos. As a member of the audience, I would have liked to seen more confidence from the 'Pork' ensemble as there were times when the focus in the room left the stage. Maybe they had swine flu? HAHA! No? Fine. Otherwise , a competent set.
Cue the girls, cause next up were 'Soler'. I gotta say with all the hype, I expected much more of a turn out, not to say that it was an empty club, but for some reason I was expecting wall to wall to be filled with bodies. No doubt our lovely 'Molave Typhoon' had something to do with this. When 'Soler' finally took to the stage though, there were enough bodies on the dance floor to ensure it was going to be a good time. It was my first time seeing these guys so I was pretty interested to see what all the fuss was about. I've also never seen Canto-Pop music performed before so it was a first for many things. 'Soler' were pretty much everything I expected. Calculated songs guaranteeing a feeling of good times, catchy hooks getting everyone jumping and the usual frills that come with this sort of music. One thing that I wasn't expecting though, was the guitar playing of brother Dino Acconci. I always just thought it was a marketing kinda thing, akin to the 'JoBros' and 'Busted'. He actually plays and plays well. I enjoyed the rare occasions when he busted out a little solo. Another thing that the bro's do well, is sing in a variety of languages, again always impressive. Lots of energy in this set, and you couldn't help but notice the smiles on peoples faces during the exodus of people after their gig. This of course was also expected!
Ok at this juncture I'd like to point out that I was intending on trying to make my last ferry home as 'Molave' was approaching fast and the usual 24 hour service was being put on hold. I of course in typical fashion missed it and in doing so missed most of 'Twisterellas' set. Which is a crying shame, because during the last number which I JUST managed to catch, they sounded good, really good. They had a very 80's synth vibe, which the dancing crowd seem to respond to gratefully. What I can tell you about 'Twisterella' is that, there are four people in the band, and that they bring the party.
THIS IS AMMUNITION
Thats right. The End.
Joking. 'TIA' are a four piece hardcore punk act. I was speaking to Joe the drummer before they took to the stage and he took my pen and wrote their review for me. 'Sexy purveyors of awesome metal treats. They bought it ... HARD' Which to be honest is a pretty good way to summarise the band. Not sure about the sexy part though Joe ... Just looking at the dudes, you knew they were gonna indeed 'bring it' from before the first note is hit. When that note did hit, you again knew exactly what was coming. What was quite interesting about Ammunition, is that, although it's definitely heavy, there's elements which 'lighten' it a little making it more accessible to listeners who normally wouldn't dig these kind of 'metal treats.' The boys put on one heck of a show with the singer and beast of a guitarist thrashing out, in amongst the crowd. Joe beats the absolute shit out of the drum kit and bassist Steve cut himself open from pounding his bass. Badass! The crowd thoroughly appreciated their efforts and head banged in return. At one point I was briefly pushed into a three man mosh pit (so more just drunken individuals flaying about I guess is more accurate). Fearing one of these poor boys may become victim to my pen (of which I was still holding) I decided it was quickly time to end it and continue my journalistic professionalism. (pfffffffffffft) Great set by 'TIA' very entertaining!
COLD AIR BLUE
Unfortunately for this next band, they had to follow a maximum energized set from 'TIA', so a lot of people were knackered and had left by this point. It was also quite late and the rain was now hammering down! 'Cold Air Blue' were a late addition to the show as one of the band members (of which there were 5) were leaving soon and they begged to play a set. Or something like that. (Booze at the time and trying to decipher rain destroyed notes now...) These guys were actually pretty damn good! I kept trying to pin point who they sound like, but it was really hard putting my finger on it. At times it was very grungy guitars and 90's sounding, but then the singer had a similar tone of voice to the 'Good Charlotte' guy. Also there are moments where there were little guitar interludes, which were dressed in delay and reverb, making it sound real dreamy. So I guess you could say these guys play Alternative Rock, but it's pretty unique. You never really knew where their songs were going next and it was interesting to watch! Nice one lads.
Wow what a long great night. Just for the record , and because it's such an epic story, I didn't get to my designated 'crash pad' till 2 hours after this gig. All transport stopped, so me and my buddy were walking around Central in the rain trying to flag a cab down that would take us home for less than 200 bucks! Crazy times! Crazy but good!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Over the past redichot weekend (save for the dooms day rain on Saturday) I did a lot of whining about the heat. That and attend 'The Terrible Twins of Rock' gig at Backstage Live Restaurant for a bit on Friday night. Two bands were on show that evening, buddies 'The Sleeves' and 'The Screaming Abdabs'
It was grand to see how many people turned out, as Backstage was rammed by the time proceedings got under way. First to take the stage were 'The Sleeves'. A quintet of five dudes packed onto the minuscule stage. The Sleeves have an interesting promotion strategy in dubbing themselves the worst band in HK and playing in a show with the word terrible in its title. You sort of expect them to come out sounding absolutely god awful. Instead what you get is a tasty blend of Blues, Rock and Britpop. Granted the Britpop comparison was always on the way, due to the accent shining through in the singing style of Sleeves frontman Turkish. (Who's name fits him amazingly well by the way) Their sound actually is quite unique. You take a look at them and you sort of half expect a 'Derek & The Dominos knock' off band to start playing, but instead their sound manages to sound catchy, relateable and fresh at the same time.
The Sleeves do well in the presence buisness side of things. Particular so to be found in singer Turkish and bass player A.G. When the smoke machine wasn't totally obstucting vision (of which many times it was) Turkish would dance in between singing his lines into the mic. I'm not talking about choreographed Beyonce moves, but the dude just goes with the rhythm to the songs. Sorta looks like he just doesn't give a toss, which is awesome! More and more people in bands should do this. A.G himself seemed to be vibing off this care free energy (you know,that or ... booze) and was swinging his bass around as well as adopting the power pose of being on his knees! Good stuff.
I was pleasently surprised in the set 'The Sleeves' put on and do reccomend that you catch them out the next time you are half and half about going to a gig and you see their name is on the poster! Nice one gents.
The Screaming Abdabs were next on and they had quite the introduction. It was a shame that it consisted of not being able to see them due to the barrier of sight the smoke machine once again created. This time a four piece and amongst the line up is the bassist from 'The Sinister Left'. The tunes however are very unsinister and are very fimiliar sounding to many britindierock bands. The singer, who I believe someone told me was Rich? (apologies mate, can't find you guys online?) had a voice very reminiscent to Richard Ashcroft. (The Verve) They infact also have similar hair. Now that I think about it, are they one being? 'Abdabs also put on a good set, however a little on the 'samey' side of things. Good Kasabian cover though!
It was a shame that I had to depart at this point as I was thoroughly enjoying the music. I'm sure I'll catch them both again soon though!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Recorded at: Mark-1 Studio
Recorded by: Hisakazu Koya
2.A Gloomy Day For A Funeral Of My Friend
3.Night Before The Snow Storm
4.La Chanson de Depart
5.A Very Pale Rose
Next up in this flurry of reviews, comes from a band with a great name. Velvette Vendetta. Just rolls off the tongue with all sorts of sinister images doesn't it? The double V are headed in the right direction, collecting a mass of gig dates, scheduled for playing one of Asia's largest indie music festivals and of course releasing their EP 'Beautiful Vision Distorted'. My first experience with VV came from reviewing the first UNDERGROUND compilation, of which they were the opening tracks on the CD. I remember them being HK's very own Muse.
This comparisson continues throughout the 5 tracks on the EP. To say however that they are a copy cat act without their own identity would be false. The similarities ARE striking (song structures, chord progressions, vocal style) but they have managed to craft their own sound. It's the kind of music that you could say is dramatically epic. You can sort of imagine huge stage shows full of smoke and pyro going along with the melancholic mood. Most of the songs tend to follow the formula of bringing the tune to a rising crescendo, or having quiet, almost eerie, type of verses, leading into earth shattering chorus's. One thing that got me intrigued, was looking out for the synth noises that dance around in the background. A lot of the melodies sound like they could be made for 80's horror flicks. If VV didn't have the synth and atmospheric noises, the band's sound would no way be as interesting. It's weird how such small subtle touches can make such a difference. This leads me to believe that the Vendetta have a clear vision of the mood they want to create in their music and have gone about achieving it very well. My favourite track on the EP is “A Gloomy Day For A Funeral Of My Friend” yes I know, how delightfully dark. For your information, all the titles are of a similar theme.
The physical packaging was put together very well. I love the artwork and the photo's of the guys are some of the best I've seen in HK. All 5 members are dressed in gothic black suits whilst sporting some great make up. Very very dramatic. I wonder if live they wear all the make up. That could be a cool little touch.
All in and all, a good collection of songs. Pick up if you like ambient fused hard rock.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
2.No One's In
4.Rule the World
5.Back to Life
6.Twist of Fate
7.It Brings Me Down
10.This Ship is Sinking
Produced by Nick Flavell, Rob Porter & Helium3
It's always exciting when you hold a CD that has come from your own shores. Ok this probably isn't so if you were from somewhere like the States or the UK where they churn it out. Here in HK though, with a tiny (but growing) scene, releases are like a small celebration that something is actually happening! Especially when it's put together as well as the recent release from HELIUM3 (formerly known as Skindeep) cleverly titled Skindeep.
It comes in a real CD case, with real album art, real photographs from photo shoots, and all the real bar codes, production notes, record label logos etc etc. So it looks good, but what does it sound like?
Well first of all its a full LP of 12 tracks, and if I was forced to sum it up in one word, it would have to be “pleasant.” It reminds me a little of 'Michael Learns to Rock', maybe a hint of 'Air Supply' and a trace of 'Jon Bon Jovi'. The songs are mainly uplifting and are about picking yourself up when times are down. Their intro track will tell you , that they themselves are the cure for tough times. “We recommend a radical new therapy, please collect your prescription for H3lium3” If HK actually had decent radio stations here, you could imagine many of the songs appearing on the 'drive home' show. It's very easy listening and some may call it light rock. You can bob your heads to it, but it's never going to get you wanting to slam back the jager bombs and put bricks through windows. In fact, I can picture my mum and her Sunday morning brunch club dancing along to Helium3 at somewhere like Dusk till Dawn.
Now steady on guys, I'm not having a dig, I'm just painting the scene. It's actually not bad at all. The songs are all well wrote, have interesting parts, great chorus's with harmonized singing but most importantly its fun to listen to. Which to me means, mission accomplished for these guys. My favourite track on the CD is “Rule the World” and wouldn't be surprised if they chose this as their lead single. It's got the slick Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) talking guitar effect. Commonly known as the talk box. It has a great groove to it and asks if you want to rule the world. I like! Other tracks to look out for are “Sundays” one of the lighter ballads and “Home” which starts out with an epic but short synth before kicking into the regular slow rock sound. The chorus is harmonized well and is catchy. I can hear this being the second single.
One thing I'm gonna pick fault with, is that it's beyond me why the lyrics printed in the sleeve, do not follow the track listing. Absolutely baffled.
All in all though, it's a good release. It's clean sounding, sets a mood, a little “samey” at times but mostly just good enjoyable songs. It's not flashy but it doesn't need to be. I reckon the Helium3 crew would be proud of it, and so they should be!
Purchase at: HMV, Hong Kong Records, iTunes and http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_dmusic?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=helium3&x=14&y=20 - (previews available
A bunch of awesome CD's in the mail. CD's that will be scrutinized at the very hands (or ears) or yours truly.
Today we are offering the 2nd in the compilation series that comes from The Underground. “Straight Ahead ... Back to Roots” is the title. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed/happy that a follow up to CD1 has come out so soon! This means that other peeps have enjoyed that 1st CD as much as I have. Even more impressive is the fact that the line up for CD3 has already been announced. No messing around here in the HK music scene folks!
So congratulations to the necessary people at the Underground and Mark-1 for making it happen again, and yes, it's equally awesome if not better.
So on with it!
Recorded by: Hisakazu Koya except track 3&4 by HIM, track 7&8 by Li Xu, track 13&14 by Guy Yeung
Directed by: Chris B & Hisakazu Koya
Most tracks recorded at: Mark-1 Music Center. (For more album details, purchase the CD and check out the inner sleeve =) )
01. She's The One - The David Bowie Knives
02. Crystal Clear - The David Bowie Knives
03. Dash - Kissing on the Dance Floor
04. Subtle Sexy - Kissing on the Dance Floor
05. No One - The Ember
06. The Last Call - The Ember
07. Sugar - Gong Wu
08. Back of The Line - Gong Wu
09. For My Brothers, Friends n Sisters - Quasar
10. Let it Be - Quasar
01. The Chase - Poubelle International
02. The Battle of Trafalgar Square - Poubelle International
03. Dead Air We Breathe - Homeless Alien
04. Awake - Homeless Alien
05. Rock'n'Roll Machine Part 3 - Thinking Out Loud
06. Gonna Be Famous - Thinking Out Loud
07. I Feel Fine - F.T.T
08. Ride With me - F.T.T
09. Taxi To Wan Chai - Bone Table
10. Bullet Proof Black Sedan - Bone Table
11. Port Royal - Transnoodle
12. Transnoodle - Transnoodle
The David Bowie Knives
1.“She's the One”
To kick off this musical journey, we have one of HK's current hottest acts (they will tell you, I mean literally sexy hot) I have never seen the word sex related to one band so much as I have done with the David Bowie Knives. In fact tDBK's REFER to their music as sex rock. To be honest these guys sound very brit indie to me, but its cool, I'll go along with sex rock. Mainly because I'm pretty certain “She's the one” Is about “Giving her one.” “Her hand went to unzip my fly” is actually a lyric in the song. I'm also thinking the lady in question, is one that is “professional” if you know what I mean ;) ;) Either way, well catchy tune boys. I love the harmonies that lead into the chorus, very pro. Great sound, again arguably not unique, but what is these days? One of my top picks over both the discs, strategic placement putting them on first I feel!
Crystal clear has a much darker tone than the previous track. Still pretty sexy though. Now would be a good juncture to point out the concrete Rhythm section that drive along tDBK's. Very tight, I'm not sure how long they have played together, but the bassist and drummer sound like they could be brothers. This isn't to say that front man Shaun Martin, is crap at his guitar, because ...well he isn't. He's a great vocalist also, lots of emotion comes through in the singing. He sounds a bit like the dude who sings for The Black Keys actually. Compliment. Anyway back to the song, not that we are in danger of missing it, it goes on for over 6 minutes! I particular like the “Doors” sounding break down that comes in about 4 minutes. I feel tDBK's chose this one to show off their musicality a bit more. Fair enough, it did. This one isn't as pandemically (my blog, my made up words) catchy as the last one, but that doesn't mean it's shite. Good on them for showing that they aren't a one trick pony.
Kissing on The Dance Floor.
What a delightful little band name! I believe it is inspired by the main activity that takes place at Neptunes II (self high five!) Dash starts off and I am intrigued as to whats happening. We've got a disco bass line, atmospheric guitar, effect laced vocals and a quirky rhythm keeping it together. I'm having a little difficulty hearing the vocals in the early part, but I can hear the lines “Do you remember the treasures that you are looking for” being repeated. Peculiar! 2 minutes into the song and it breaks out into a more conventional tune. It's got great lala's in the chorus of which I am a fan of. Especially when it stems from the lyric “coco cola”. Just when I thought this song was picking up however, it ends. So, next song.
This one almost sounds like its a completely different band. It's bright, bouncy and flows along like the rain being brought by this typhoon. I can imagine more making out on dance floors taking place to this song then the previous one. 1min33 is one of my favourite moments on this CD. Without giving away to much , I'm going to say one word: groovybaby. The lyrics are still fun and quirky, “Like we're running in Africa” Again though, the song ends too soon for me. In their defence though, it is the standard 3 minute length so fair enough. Overall, consistently interesting. Well done KOtDF.
Bust out the in house moshing! Our first head banging track has arrived and I am loving that the song giving it the most balls, comes from the only all girl band on the CD. \m/ (Thats the bullhorns btw grand dad) Is it journalisticly inappropriate that I point out the girls are hottt? Oh well. Should have paid for a magazine if you wanted integrity. Enough! Back to the music. It's what most people would call “emo” music. (Please save the Sunny Day comments, don't worry, I come from that school as well) Anyways, it IS fairly emotional regardless! Evidence can be heard right from the first line: “This world is full of shame, there's no place for me to hide.” I'm liking the singers voice in the chorus, she holds those high notes quite amicably. The verses remind me a lot of the band “Lost Prophets.” They have that whole melodic guitar picking married with broody vocals thing going on. Quick production kudos here, I love the sound of the kit and especially the bass guitar. Distorted guitar in the chorus's though, not so much a fan of that sound. Guessing it's a metal zone girls? Once again, this is purely due to my taste in sounds. Next song!
“The Last Call”
This one has a reduced tempo from the last one, but the emotional level has not decreased at all. We're still at Defcon 6. In fact there's more screaming and heartfelt singing in this one. This tune reminds me of some of the older “The Used” songs. Slow yet piercing. Granted not everyone is going to like The Embers style, but so what. The girls are good at what they do and in a scene where many many bands sound the same. I feel they stand out quite well, and thats not just because they are a bunch of girls. Props!
If you go to Gong Wu's myspace, its clear these guys think the sun shines out of their arse. If you make some of the comments that these dudes make, you best make damn sure you've got the music and performance to back it up. You know what? They do. They really do. Everything sounds immaculate, from the “Yeaaaahs” leading into the chorus to the funk style guitars in the verse. It's rock defined. Major attitude, Major guitars and Major(ly) sounds like it could be on the Terminator sound track. Solid stuff. It pains me a little to say it, but hats off to Gong Wu.
“Back of the Line”
Wait scratch that, this should be on the Terminator soundtrack. You can absolutely hear the Guns'n'Roses influence the guys mention in this one. Now, a quick point to detail here. I'm pretty certain the lyric I'm hearing here is “Back of the Line” but the inner sleeve lists the track as “Black of the line” oops. Musically, it's a lot like the last one. Great structure, good performance from each member, and holy shit the note held by the model come singer towards the end has the potential to shatter some serious glass. Gong Wu have been making a very good name for themselves in the scene recently. It's hard to argue that they aren't a great sounding band. They just are. Fact.
“For My Brothers, Friends n Sisters”
For the record, Sanjeev (lead singer) is my favourite singer in the scene. Even though live I feel this band can offer more performance wise, his singing is always so note perfect and has that ability to send a tingly feeling down your spine. It can be real grungy ala “Vedder” and at the same time very stadium rock ala, well 1980. This track starts off very dark with a chorus drowned guitar haunting the sonics accompanied by a mysterious bass line holding it together. The vocal harmonies are the best on the CD, but then again I was expecting this to be the case when I saw they were on the track list. There's no doubt that this is a very moving song. It looks into the harsh times of our home planet. More so on the whole war and violence side of things. It's almost a call to arms to stand up and fight for your rights. Very fitting for this day and age. 4min20 has a great bass shining moment, which has also sold the song to me as being one of my favourites. This is another one that extends the 6 minute mark. In fact it just goes past 7 minutes. Epic!
“Let It Be”
Bold, bold move naming a song that instantly identifies with “The Beatles” but anyway. This one is much happier then the last. It starts off with the trademark Quasar dreamy guitars, before the rest of the band joins in with this great tune that I am going to go ahead and say is a love song. It's very alternative rock, and extremely 80's rock at the same time. I can almost imagine a terribly embarrassing music video for it. Theres not much else to report, and thats not a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoy the mood of it, the chord progressions, the tones , the melodies everything! It's very well planned out. Another one of my top picks! I'm glad I've got to hear Quasar recorded. It has definitely boosted their ratings in my, oh so important books. Some bands DO sound better on tape.
Pretty certain it's no big secret that I heart PI, serious amounts. I was excited to see that their names were on the track listing for this CD. I was, however, a little skeptical to hear if their great live sound would translate well onto a recording. Do not panic kiddo's for it does! If you aren't familiar with PI they play indie/garage/pop. They use the formula of simple catchy songs, and they do it well. Damn well. Lots of repetition, interesting lyrics and keeping the audience wanting to dance. Dance'n'roll! This song is another one that tells a tale of lust. “If you want it, come and get it” will get you singing along and continuing to sing for several days after. Trust me.
“The Battle Of Trafalgar Square”
This one continues the trend of bands selecting two extremes of their music. I suppose thats the smart thing to do when given two tracks to show off your band. This one is a little lighter than the last one, but still bouncy and catchy. I'm digging the “Elliot Smitheque” vocal delays. The thrilling threesome stick to their song writing formula, with lots of repetition and infectious melodies. I'm trying to find fault with PI, but its quite hard. They have a distinctive sound, and execute it brilliantly, both live and recorded. Oh wait heres a fault! Both your tracks extend past 3 minutes boys. Liars! Top Pick!
“Dead Air We Breathe”
Cute band name guys. I can imagine some great band logos! The music though, not so comic. Not at all. In fact this is one of the most professional sounding tracks on the album. So much is going on it risks feeling over done and claustrophobic. Instead, the outcome is a very polished track. And a great one at that. The band cites “Radiohead” as being a key influence in their song writing. You can absolutely hear “Yorke” and co. in this song. It's ambient, soul stirring , and rocks out all at the same time. Great vocal melodies continue throughout this song. My favourite thing about it, is that if you listen to the background mix, there's lots of subtle interesting sounds contributing to the overall sound. Major thumbs up guys. They get the award for blending technicality with great song writing. It's never too much and at no times is it empty. To me, this is a great achievement in a song which stretches to 6min03. Top pick!
It was going to be a tough one to follow their previous song, but I was interested to see how they would go about selecting their second track. They've gone the opposite way. This one is more uplifting than the previous. At the same time though, they manage to maintain their atmospheric/busy sound. I'm seriously digging the guitars. You'll be pleased to read that yes I have found some faults. Every now and then when the notes of the vocals go high, the singer struggles a little to consistently get there. Usually this could break a band, but in some ways, it adds that little touch of character to a great sound. This track didn't have me as awestruck as the last one, BUT it definitely had more of a unique sound, as opposed to the Thom Yorke worship that took place in the last one. So props for identity.
Thinking Out Loud
Excellent! The Underground lady herself features on an Underground CD! TOL have a very interesting sound. It's grungy, poppy, funky and has a sax in it! I'm not usually a fan of brass instrumentation in rock bands. The sax solo that kicks off at about 3min16 is, well, fucken' smokin'! You can hear that each member is talented at their instrument, but it never gets too show offy, which I think is rad! A lot of people are fans of the whole virtuoso thing, but not this guy. I'm absolutely loving the sultry singing from Chris B. That little phaser that comes in every now and then on the vocals is a great production touch. I'm also digging the lyrics big time. “Psychedelic messenger from the front line” Niiiiiccceeee! Rock n Roll machine indeed. I wanna hear Parts 1+2 please!
“Gonna Be Famous”
When this track kicks in, I Immediately am getting flashbacks of that 90's teen flick “Clueless.” Particularly that song about becoming a supermodel. Cheesey class that song. Thats what makes this one interesting, as it's fairly ironic. It's bubbly and titled Gonna be Famous, but instead of a , “I'm a super star” song, it's basically a big two middle fingers up at the Miley Montanas and Britney Lavignes of our current media fed world. Attitude! Nice one guys. It's basically taken the argument of most artsy musicians and turned it into a song. I am throughly enjoying the dig at auto-tune and lip syncing. Now instead of ranting the realities of the Disney run music scene to people, I can play this song. Thanks TOL.
“I Feel Fine”
Hooray for poppy rock. Po Kei who I'm guessing is the main song writer of this band as well (he is the front man of the Good Fellas) definitely has a style of music that he likes. It's got a lot of overlapping vocal lines, singing about the joys of being happy. Thats just what F.T.T do and in a year where we are broke, unemployed and have swine flu. That's more than welcoming. It kind of takes you to a summer day driving to the beach. Or taking a taxi I guess would be the HK equivalent. There's a great high energy that continues throughout the track and it never gets boring. F.T.T should stand for Feel Two Thumbs(up). It's impossible not to feel ecstatic when listening to their tracks.
“Ride With Me”
The happiness continues straight through with this song. The music is very guitar driven, lots of repeated chords and riffs that blend over different layers of vocals yet again. This song has time for a neat little guitar solo before returning to the bouncy yay-rock. If The Beatles swapped LSD for cocaine, and were given distortion pedals, I'm pretty sure the sounds wouldn't be too dissimilar to those of F.T.T. One thing that I'm impressed with, is that theres a fine line between cheesy and joyous. F.T.T always stay on the right side of that! Nice one lads.
“Taxi to Wan Chai”
Excellent, we finally get a band who set a song in Hong Kong. If Quentin Tarantino came to direct a film in HK and had a scene in Wan Chai, I'm pretty certain this song would make the soundtrack. It's got that rootsy dirty rockabilly feel to it. Dirty and Wan Chai go together like Hugh Hefner and 7 girlfriends, very well. The song repeats the lines “Taxi to Wan Chai” and as I sit here late on a Friday night polishing this review off, this song is tugging at the strings of my Triple O's full heart. (True story, the mushroom burger I had today was scrumptious) The song's basically about a stock broker who wants to get lashed in our nations sleeze district, then take a broad back to a hotel. A cheap one at that. It's all in the lyrics, this isn't my interpretation of anything. I'm sold! Great tune. Top pick!
Bullet Proof Black Sedan
This one shows off the musical prowess of the instrumentalists a bit more. They are all very tight. The guitars in this one remind me a little of “Hendrix.” Big call I know but they deserve it. Have a listen and you'll see what I mean. The vocal melodies somewhat remind me a bit of that “B-52's” song “Love Shack.” That one I didn't like so much, this one I do. Nifty guitar solo in this one also. Now that I think about it, the guitar work on this compilation is very good. I'm proud to say we have some great guitarists in HK. Bone Table have a fantastic sound that is uncommon in HK. Except for maybe El Destroyo, but seeing as both bands share members, its understandable.
Speaking of fantastic sounds. I'm pretty certain there is no band in HK who does what Transnoodle do, at least not as well. Transnoodle have a billion people in the band which plays a blend of ,well, everything. Ska, Reggae, Bossa Nova, Samba, Punk, Rock, Pop and Pirate? Ok so I'm not sure if Pirate is actually a genre, but thats all I can think of when listening to this song. A bunch of rowdy swash bucklers getting absolutely tanked, abusing the ladies and eating their grub in a manner that would offend Prince William. In case you were wondering, yes there is a horn section, and yes it sounds just as good recorded as when you hear them live. Top Pick!
Transnoodle, by Transnoodle. Excellent. This one starts off with a Latin sounding guitar line, I'm expecting some “Gypsy Kings” to start coming out of my speakers. Instead it goes into this big band sounding song. I can imagine hearing this song in a smoky night club where everyone is smoking, in doors, ban free and loving it. I really enjoy the fact that when the singing style switches up for the chorus, the vocal melodies gives the song a completely different feel, yet it's still very distinctively Transnoodle. It's actually worth buying this CD just to hear the great sounds of Transnoodle. Amazing production on this one!
So thats it!
2 discs of some of the hottest talents in the HK indie scene at the moment. And what a scene it is! I'm not gonna get all emotional here, but when you take a step back and actually think about how many great acts there are now, it's seriously a pleasing thing.
Favourite tracks: She's the One – The David Bowie Knives, Let It Be – Quasar, The Battle of Trafalgar Square – Poubelle International, Dead Air We Breathe – Homeless Alien, Taxi to Wan Chai – Bone Table, Port Royal – Transnoodle.
The only major criticism I have of this one, is that there is no band singing in Chinese! Not that I miss hearing Cantonese or anything. I just feel one track would add a touch more of the HK vibe to it. Still though, please support and pick up a copy of this. I know there's some of you who read this blog who don't come out to shows. Get involved!
Sweet, all done...Taxi to Wan Chai!
Purchase at: http://cdbaby.com/cd/undergroundmusic (previews available!)