For some more in depth coverage of the amazing K-Indie scene, I suggest you check out the blog: www.koreagigguide.com/
(by Dawn Reed) Digging into a glorious pile of bulgogi at a local K-BBQ joint, you might hear the usual K-Pop bands dominating Korean radio over the speakersystem. And on a recent outing to kill a spicy pork belly craving at my fav- the Honey Pig, I heard fuzzed out lo-fi guitars instead of bubblegum boy bands. Most call it K-Indie, and it has been sweeping the underground of South Korea for years now, especially in the Hongdae clubs. But those clubs apparently have been taken over by the increasingly trendy hip-hop (not K-Hop) scene. Nevertheless, with Korean indie labels like Pastel Music and Happy Robot Records still churning them out, we trekked for some of the raddest K-indie band videos to post via the interwebs. So take that PIPA/SOPA.
Making a debut appearance at SxSW last year was the atmospheric shoegaze band Vidulgi OoyoO (Korean for "pigeon milk") who formed back in 2003. After their debut release Aero came out (US release 2008), they had a brief hiatus when some members left for call of duty and other reasons, and then resumed with the line-up of Jong Suk Lee (guitarist), Ki Hoon Sung (bassist), Jihye Ham (vocals/guitar), and Yongjun Lee (drummer) completing their latest EP Good Night Shining. They've been compared to other shoegaze greats, such as Slowdive, and have performed with the greats too- such as Mogwai just this past month! Check out the video above for "Elephant" off of Aero.
Apollo 18 is another great atmospheric/post punk rock band based out of Seoul Korea that toured North America early last year with a stop at SxSW. Formed in the summer of 2008, Kim Dae Inn (bass), Choi Hyun Seok (guitar), and Lee Sang Yun (drums) released their first EP Red shortly after in early 2009 and then their album Blue that summer. Check out the above live clip of Apollo 18 performing "Trampoline" and you'll hear why they've won both the grand prize at 2009's Hello Rookie Awards and "Best New Artist" at 2010's Korean Music Awards!
Donawhale is an indie rock band that mixes elements of eletronica and soft pop with whispery vocals from Yu Jeon Young that gives them a real college radio appeal. At least I feel that with the track "Echo" off their 2007 self-titled release. Their debut was followed by their 2009 release Dive In Blue, and as of now- that was there last album. Check out the fan created video for "Echo" above set to the film Oliver & Company with lyrics translated into English.
For some more in depth coverage of the amazing K-Indie scene, I suggest you check out the blog: www.koreagigguide.com/
(by Dawn Reed) Ciao escursionisti scena! This past week saw the return of the US TV phenom that is the Jersey Shore, from their new culla off a beaten path of Florence Italy. So get ready for a slew of new italia acronyms...TSQ? Taxi sono qui! But will any Italian bands be repped on the soundtrack of the invasion? So far, no, but there's still an epic season ahead, and here are a couple bands from 'the boot' that are semplicemente meraviglioso!
The Cut, all out on UK tour!
From Bologna, Cut is one of the bands that should easily be dominating the indie scene. Just check out this rad video "Awesome" from their last album, Annihilation Road, that proves their ability to reign in the high ranks of rock. Ferruccio Quercetti (guitar/vocals), Carlo Masu (guitar/vocals), and Francesco Bolognini (drums) have been together since 1996, and have recorded 5 albums and an EP, and have a UK tour coming up in October. In a 2008 interview with UK's The Times, Quercetti said this about the Italian rock industry, "It’s so close to itself. The problem is that it’s been hard to get Italian bands to an international audience, because there’s no structure. There are lots of good bands that lived and died in Italy without anybody noticing outside."
And keeping indie Trip-Hop alive in Bologna is the duo LetHerDive, consisting of Francesca Bono (vocals) and Matteo Trifirò aka Trif_o (beats). Filling out the live sounds, Gianluca Modica brings the bass and also contributed to some tracks on their 2010 release The Closet. A remix album of the Closet is scheduled to be out soon including remixes from PRX, Lorenzo Montana, Pois and more. Check out this live version of "The Bravest" and pop open a bottle of lemoncello because you are about to get chilled the eff out.
(by Dawn Reed) Are you in San Diego right now for the Comic Con? If you are, chances are you aren't reading this and are too engrossed with the latest Stars Wars figurines, trying to get in on a shot of AOTS, or are screening some rad movie, you lucky jerks! But hey, if you need a breather and a place to get your drink on and listen to awesome music- then step outside and head over to the Soda Bar where Impose Magazine is showcasing some seriously dope bands! Here's just a glimmer of what's going on over there over the next few days. (And here's the full listing.)
Heavy Hawaii (by Alex Kacha)
Check out Heavy Hawaii (Matt Bahamas, Sundar, Jojo keylargo, Mikey Peterson, Derek Butler, Aimee Sanchez.) A. they're name is rad, B. they do a trippy ukele cover of one of my fav 'childhood' songs "All I Have To Do Is Dream", and C. they've collaborated with Wavves to create the comic "Negative DAD." Super dope-ity dope dope. They'll be playing tonight amongst a stellar line-up (seriously Impose Mag has brought together some sick talent), so stop by to hear some wicked cool trippy surfy jams from the San Diego natives , like the track "Teen Angel" below.
Also making an appearance down the road from Comic Con is LA Vampires, the creation of Amanda Brown who used to be in Pocahaunted and co-founded the noise/drone label Not Not Fun. Her sound has been described as "witch house", an experimental mash of psyche pop, chopped beats, and gothy drones. NNF is considered the premiere label for that genre and is all about the genius talent of female musicians. In 2010, she released a collaborative EP with Zola Jesus that had critical acclaim, and also released an LP So Unreal with Matrix Metals. Check out the beyond awesome video for it below.
And on the final night of this awesome expose is LA based duo High Places, formerly from Brooklyn. They've got a new album coming out in October called Original Colors adding to their killer discography of indie electro pop tinged with worldly inspiration. I hear this album, recorded at their home studio, will feature tracks referencing Australian vegitation, Mexican deserts, and the Indian Ocean. Beautiful. The duo, Rob Barber and Mary Pearson, also create their own artwork, run a photography blog of their touring travels, and incorporate video projections into their live performances. So go get inspired Comic Con fans!
(by Metal Chris) This is my first post for Scene Trek and I hope it's not too long and drawn out, but I love talking about metal. Contrary to the popular belief of the mainstream, heavy metal is a very diverse genre and it's always interesting to me to hear how people in different locations put their own spin on this aggressive music. Recently I've spent a lot of time digging through various underground bands from all around the middle east. While the death metal band Nile has been playing ancient Egyptian inspired music for over 15 years and are probably the first metal band one thinks of in association with the middle east, the band is actually based in South Carolina and they don't really have any roots to Egypt. They did inspire me to see what metal bands actually from the area do sound like, and there's some really good metal coming from the region, though you have to dig a bit to find some of it. Orphaned Land is probably the most popular metal band from the middle east. They use their catchy music based on both Jewish and Muslim musical traditions to spread a message of peace between the religions in their homeland of Israel and beyond. Check out their song "Sapari" (below) to hear a perfect example of what I'm talking about.
Another band from Israel is the black metal act Melechesh. They are a lot faster than Orphaned Land but by seamlessly blending traditional middle eastern chord progressions and song structures within the style of Scandinavian black metal they've made a sound all their own. Their lyrics, if you can understand them, tend to involve the darker aspects of middle eastern mythology, such as ifrits and the evil side of kabbalah. Because of their unpopular subject matter to the people of their hometown of Jerusalem, the band was forced to relocate to the Netherlands. They still keep their middle eastern heritage strongly in their music, which is very apparent in their guitar work, as you can hear in their song "Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin".
Another middle eastern metal band of note is Acrassicauda from Baghdad, Iraq. They were featured in the documentary Heavy Metal In Baghdad and are working on their first full length album now. Because of their music they were forced to flee the war torn country and are now considered political refugees living in New York. They are a thrash band with heavy influences from the 80s San Francisco scene (think Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax) and like those bands they use heavy metal as a means of expressing their frustration with the world they live in. Their song "A Message From Baghdad", written when they still lived in Iraq, is a thought provoking piece from the point of view of the people whose homeland is still immersed in war, death and poverty.
Politics and religion have never been taboo subjects in the world of metal, and this is no different in the middle east. In countries where certain political and religious views can lead to persecution, or even death, there are still bands brave enough to speak out for what they believe in. Creative Waste is a band from Saudi Arabia that plays grindcore, a form of metal that takes the political anger and simple, raw aggression of hardcore punk and combines it with the ferociousness of death metal. Creative Waste use this extreme form of music to speak out against the wrongs they see in their corner of the world.
Speaking your mind in the middle east is a lot easier when you're a male though. Janaza is a one-woman black metal band from Iraq. Keeping her anonymity with the stage name Anahita, she uses metal to blasphemously speak out against the oppression of Islam. It's very raw, dark, and full of anger and frustration. Metal has given her the freedom and the voice to say what she cannot in public, exemplified by her song "Burn The Pages Of Quran." This is dangerous art that could lead to severe punishment if her identity is found out, but she's not alone. There is a loose grouping for Arabic anti-Islamic black metal that has been slowly making a name for itself, using their art as a weapon against the forces that oppress them.
(by Dawn Reed) Maybe it was my recent viewing of the classic film The Deer Hunter that sparked my interest in delving into Russia's music scene this week. You know, because of all the insane rounds of Russian Roulette between De Niro and Walken. That was some intense stuff right there dude. Equally as intense are these awesome female fronted hard rock bands that are all over the Russian Federation right now.
Right off the bat, the Moscow based band Louna got my attention with their track for "Fight Club" from their Dec. 2010 debut release, Make It Louder. Lousine Gevorkian brings her all vocally with Sergey Ponkratiev (guitar), Rouben Kazariyan (guitar), Vitaly Demidenko (bass), and Leonid Kinzbursky (drums) delivering an epic hard sound. They all came together in late 2008, and went on to earn a RAMP award (Russian Alternative Music Prize) and were named "Discovery of the Year" in 2009. Make It Louder features songs about the harsh social issues, increasing expansion of religion, threats of totlitarian views, civil rights, ecological catastrophes, and human indifference in their home country that often goes unpublicized to the rest of the world. Witness how awesome they are Live in the clip below.
And based out of St. Petersburg is Toy Fabrique, another femme fronted nu-metal band, that combines dense alternative riffs with melodic oriental motifs. Formed in 2004, each member takes on a stage name to live out a toy doll-like character in performances. Screaming melodies at the front of the stage is Natalia Rakytskyy (aka Ness), with Alex Gorbachev (Less/guitar), Dmitry Paranin (Sic/bass,guitar) and Maxim Gvozdev (Max/drums) bringing in some aggressive accompaniment. In latest news, Toy Fabrique have been working on a musical coalation to bring together like-minded bands in St. Petersburg/Russia to be more active in the music festival community, the first one taking place on July 22 with them, Hot Toys, Last Weekend, and Marj Kula. Check out their official video for "Блюз" ("Blues") below.
For a sweet comprehensive list of more female fronted Russian rock bands, check out this dope website.
(by Dawn Reed) I recently housed a friend visiting from Paris as she embarked on her first trek of the USA, and while she was here I hounded her for the details of what was going on in the French music scene. Her knowledge was so in-depth that she will join us as a contributor in the future, but for now, I'll focus on the unique avant-pop artists she introduced me too.
Such as the Paris based artist Camille. Check out the clip below to see how she takes acapella and beatbox to a whole new level by combining a genre known as "Chanson", French lyric-driven songs, and pop. If you've heard the lounge cover group Nouvelle Vague, then you may recognize her voice from such classy covers of the Clash's "The Guns of Brixton" and the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck", a killer track that was featured in the totally awesome film Planet Terror. Camille recently announced on her Facebook fanpage that her next studio release will be coming out October 3, 2011, so be on the look-out for that.
Another stellar Parisian find is As The Stars Fall, a collaboration of photography and avant electro compositions, created by highly influential French hip-hop moguls. They've described their project as "a touch of desperation, the end of a sad story…", and according to their Facebook fanpage, they've just completed the second track to their upcoming EP release. In the meantime, you can check out the most excellent tracks featured on their Jan '11 release Redux below.