Punks out of Xinxiang, math wizards hailing from Shaoxing, funk rockers in Beijing, and multi-national composers classing it up. It’s a big place with plenty of sounds to indulge in. Here’s the latest releases Pumpkins, Little Wizard, Lure, and Wu Tong.
Music is creeping out of all corners of the Big Red including Shaoxing, a small city nearby Hangzhou where math post rock kids Little Wizard reside. The up and comers back who visited Beijing last year with the help of douban (who\’s been making waves in the industry as of late) stuck around and recorded in Yang Haisong’s Psychic Kong studios and now we can get a taste on what went down then. The self-titled debut, Little Wizard I, highlights the band’s instrumental chops and gives a proper introduction to the band. Vibrant, sophisticated arrangements that invigorate yet never descends too much into the whole ‘post rock cascading’ the genre is often known for. In many ways, a restrained and equally assured album, one that\’ll have math rock kids geeking out. Spin it over here.
Xinxiang, Henan punk outfit Pumpkins, founded in 2009, have been slowly making their ways into punk fans’ hearts, and their debut Eros Is A Pimp, is the perfect love letter to old school punk. Loud and dirty, fast and sincere, it’s an album stuffed full of rowdy and ready jams that never overstay their welcome. And while the production comes off as a little too clean or even sluggish at times (punk is music that excels in live settings) there’s a looseness, scrappiness, and most surprisingly an earnestness in both their delivery and lyrics that gives the album more replay value than I expected. Xinxiang is slowly becoming a beacon of music, and Pumpkins are certainly a band to keep an eye on. Give it a listen here.
Beijing funk punk band Lure have been floating around the scene for almost two decades. After reaching critical success with their debut 214 Days and Three Vomiting Lads, the band signed over to Modern Sky and have been riding high ever since, though in their rarely makes appearances any more, minus festival gigs here and there. And from the sound of their latest release, 被捆绑的灵魂, it’s sounds like they’ve detached from the scene which borne them. The edge is gone, hollowed out by lackluster melodies, production values that don\’t know when to hang back, and an overabundance of bass – something I thought I\’d never say. I love my bass – but here it lacks any aggression and comes off as tired. Their sound works best when utilized against the more playful tracks like ‘My Brother In Amsterdam: You Still There?’ or in the more subdued ‘New Year Cake’. Yet therein lies the problem, the band seems at odds with its own self, never quite sure when it should buckle down or lighten the hell up. Give it a spin over here and here.
Looking for a little class in your music? Then look no further than Wu Tong, the massively prolific composer. One of his generation’s most visible proponents of traditional Chinese music, as well as a founding vocalist of the pioneering rock band Lunhui, a performer with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Wu is one skilled dude. Need proof – check out his latest masterpiece, the EP entitled Scenery In My Life, four original compositions from the composer. It’s pretty baller stuff, classical music with a modern bent – a wonderful combination that’s feels timeless yet contemporary. Listen to it here and grab it over at iTunes.