Posted on March 07, 2018
ⓒMetro Phoenix Export Alliance
When I was younger I used to spend all day exploring Youtube to listen to cool new music. My aim was to become a ‘master of music’. I would blindly get my recommendations from well known / respected websites like Pitchfork and NME etc. and as a result, nearly ninety percent of what I listened to was from the West. Mainly American or British music.
As I gradually became tired of listening to the music Pitchfork recommended me, naturally I became curious about the Asian music scene, and guess what? I discovered that there were really cool scenes packed full of talent much closer to home. I found that places like Japan, China, Thailand, Taiwan etc had much more vibrant music scenes that I could have ever imagined (interestingly, most of the accomplished bands from those countries went on tours to other Asian countries, but for the most part, they never came to Korea). Inside these independent music scenes I experienced both familiar and exotic sounds.
I am going to bother trying to bring subjects such as anti-colonialism to the table, nor do I see distinct countries in Asia as just part of a whole chunk, with the perspective of orientalism. It’s more simple than that. I was simply attracted to the music from these neighbouring countries, since we are geologically and historically connected. Now, I want to share some of that music I discovered with you.
It is pretty recently that I’ve experienced this great music, and there is definitely much more to learn, but I hope all the music scenes in Asia prosper along with the Korean indie scene (and that these bands start to include Korea on their tour lists!).
ⓒTime Out Beijing
Sunset Rollercoaster may sound familiar to some indie music fans in Korea as they came and played a successful show here in 2017. The band released their first album [Bossa Nova] in 2011 and participated in the Summer Sonic Festival in the same year. Their reputation seemed to be growing quickly, but they went quiet all of a sudden and didn’t reappear for four years.
With their tour in 2015 Sunset Rollercoaster’s musical career restarted, and in 2016 they released their EP [Jinji Kikko]. Unlike their previous work their new EP included synth-pop elements, which captivated indie music fans all around the world.
Recently Sunset Rollercoaster released a single called “Cool of Lullaby.” They plan to visit Korea in June, so you should definitely check them out.
*They have released their second album [Cassa Nova] on March 14th! link
* Related Korean Musician: Silica Gel, Parasol
Originating from Kaohsiung, the three-piece math rock band Elephant Gym was formed in 2012 and to date has released an EP and a full-length album. Tif on bass and vocals, and Tell on guitar are brother and sister, and were taught classical music by their mother. However as they fell in love with post rock and math rock, they decided to form a band, and so began Elephant Gym.
They signed a contract with Topshelf Records (which boasts among others bands such as Toe, Tricot, Mouse on the Keys in their stable). Elephant Gym has a reputation as one of the best math rock bands around.
They will be performing with Se So Neon in Taiwan in March, so if anyone’s is out in Taiwan around now, they should make sure to hit up this show.
* Related Korean Musician - Se So Neon, DABDA, Life and Time
Deca joins is a four-piece rock band. The ‘Deca’ in their name apparently comes from the words ‘decadent’ and ‘decaffeination’. The band’s official bio informs us that there is no solid interpretation of their name, so make of it what you will!
The essence of Deca joins lies in a melancholic mood with a lo-fi guitar tone and somewhat drowsy sounding vocals. Their music reminds me of a diverse range of artists, such as 60s rock icon Velvet Underground and indie rookie Mac Demarco.
Starting this month, Deca joins will begin their tour around the Hong Kong and Taiwan area, along with Chinese Football and Sunset Rollercoaster.
* Related Korean Musician - Parasol, O3ohn
This four-piece band, formed in 2010, exhibits dreamlike music rooted in shoegazing. Manic Sheep performed as the opening act for The Album Leaf and Neon Indian’s concert in Taiwan, and have participated in prestigious festivals such as SXSW, Clockenflap and Fujirock.
To date Manic Sheep have released two albums, and are actively playing concerts around Asia. They will be joining Korea’s very own Se So Neon at their first international concert on March 23rd, so you should definitely save the date for this.
* Related Korean Musician - Say Sue Me, In The Endless Zanhyang We Are
Midnight Ping Pong
According to their own introduction, Midnight Ping Pong is a band reminiscent of a fastball surrounded by warm light. Their music is fast punk, but somehow revives a nostalgic feeling. That’s perhaps what ‘a fastball surrounded by warm light’ means. Who knows!
Currently they are preparing for Japanese band Yogee New Waves’ Taiwan tour, as well as concerts with Sunset Rollercoaster and Deca joins.
* Related Korean Musician - Cogason
I Mean Us
I Mean Us is a relatively new band who formed in 2015. Their music is a kind of mix between dream pop and shoegazing. They have not yet released an album, but they do have four tracks available on Youtube, Bandcamp and Soundcloud for your listening pleasure. They are playing a host of festivals and opening up for a number of cool bands in Taiwan over the coming months. So make sure to check them out if you get the chance.
We hear on the grapevine that they are currently preparing for their first album, so make sure to grab a copy of that when it comes out. It is sure to be killer.
* Related Korean Musician - ADOY, In The Endless Zanhyang We Are
Written by: Jin Kim
English Translation: Robin YeongGuk Jo
Edited by: Rock 'N' Rose