Nasty Wizard Recordings

Nasty Wizard Recordings: the diverse sounds of modern pan-Asian shoegaze, all in one compilation

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I think I found a new favorite label – Nasty Wizard Recordings is a Beijing-based label that specializes in a range of noisy and out-there underground music (self-described by the label as “mostly evil music”). Last year they put out a release featuring HN favorites Chinese Football, so you know they’ve got great taste.

The label’s latest release is a collection of songs from some of pan-Asia’s most beloved modern shoegaze bands.

From Bandcamp:

“This May the gnarliest tape label in China, Nasty Wizard Recordings, is back with their first epic release of the year, a pan-Asian compilation of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Japan’s shoegaze scenes. We’re talking ground zero for the blistering, reverb-drenched genre that has taken the continent by storm over the past few years! Featuring tracks from Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Xi’an the Asia Shoegaze Compilation Vol. 1 is a must have for anyone looking to get their head lost in the clouds.

With a love for making destructive noises with their guitars and array of electronic effects, Tokyo’s Oeil has been a constant presence in the Japanese shoegaze scene for over a decade, and while the band has been relatively quiet since their widely popular 2014 EP ‘Myrtle’ we were fortunate enough to have them share two of their latest tracks.

Next up it wouldn’t be a shoegaze comp without a bittersweet farewell. The Pillow Man, a trio out of Hangzhou, otherwise loftily known as ‘Paradise on Earth’ didn’t even make it to two years as a band. However that fleeting, affecting touch is captured brilliantly in the band’s few surviving tunes.

We then head down to the Pearl of the Orient aka. Hong Kong where Sea of Tranquility has been creating dreamy shoegaze pop since 2014. The five-piece, with an abundance of piercing guitar noise and pulsating reverb, continues to convey the starry romance of the genre to ravenous listeners.

Finally, we head to the old Qing Dynasty capital of China where Xi’an’s Endless White resides. The young quartet, fresh off their debut EP, relishes in jangly guitar work, wispy vocals, and sublime walls of sound that engulf the band and enrapture your ears — the perfect closer.

Links below to Hangzhou’s The Pillow Man, Tokyo’s Oeil, Hong Kong’s The Sea of Tranquility, and Xi’an’s Endless White”

Nasty Wizard Recordings: Facebook SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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The White Tulips

The White Tulips: Chinese noise-pop band’s self-released debut gets a reissue via Qiii Snacks

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Qiii Snacks, one of my favorite labels, is reissuing the White Tulips’ 2015 self-released debut ‘Fondle’, which you can now stream. The White Tulips are from Amoy (also known as Xiamen) and sound like your favorite indie noise-pop band.

The White Tulips/Qiii Snacks: Website Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Cambodian Soul Sounds

Cambodian Soul Sounds: tracks, stories, and compilations highlighting Cambodian psychedelic rock & soul from the ’50s to the ’70s.

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Cambodian Soul Sounds is a Stockholm, Sweden-based label that shares compilations highlighting songs and stories from Cambodia’s thriving psychedelic rock and soul scene from the ’50s to the ’70s. The compilations, curated by Richard Rossa, raises funds to support organizations that are trying to preserve and rebuild Cambodia’s cultural life. My personal favorite is Vol. II, which includes what might be my favorite cover of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

From Richard Rossa via Facebook:

“The music scene in Cambodia during the 50s to the mid-70s was swinging hard! Khmer musicians of the era were influenced by western rhythm & blues, rock n’ roll, and music from Latin America. Musicians like Sinn Sisamouth studied these musical styles when traveling abroad, many Cambodians also tuned in these songs on US Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War and got influenced by the western sound.

The combination of styles and culture created a truly unique touch to the vivid rock music of Cambodia.

But…It all ended on April 17, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh. With many others – the artists were executed or sent away to prison camps to die. Cambodia fell into darkness.

During these years pretty much every original recording and master tape were destroyed. Listening to this music would have got you killed. But thanks to vinyl collectors who risked their lives concealing or smuggle their records out of the country there is still a bunch of them out there ready to be restored and archived for future generations to enjoy.

Cambodian Soul Sounds vol 1 is a compilation of old songs I managed to pick up myself when traveling in Cambodia. Even if the recordings presents a charming distorted sound, songs were also really low, but with a lot of high frequencies cutting through, making it somehow unpleasant at loud volumes. As a DJ and producer, I took matters into my own hands and reworked the recordings to give them a warmer and more suitable sound for your earphones or the DJ to blast at maximum volume at the local psychedelic soul party. Just as I do.

I am doing this because I know this music deserves a place in the context I am working in – as a Dj. It will help to find new listeners, promote and raise awareness of Cambodia as a whole. However, with its tragic history, this legacy needs to be treated with respect. I am doing this work to raise funds for project in Cambodia such as the work for music preservation and also to help disadvantaged children. The project is 100% non-profitable and every revenue from these track sales or streaming are going straight into these projects.

With this work, the lost musicians of Cambodia can continue to give aid back to their country long after they passed.”

Cambodian Soul Sounds: Facebook SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Moe Meguro

Moe Meguro: “Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Cap’n Jazz”

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I appreciate any Bandcamp bio that simply states “Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Cap’n Jazz,” yet Moe Meguro go the extra mile and actually pull off the description. The three band members are based around the world and each musician brings part of their home to the blend. My guess: Joseph “Jojo” Brandel, from Yokohama, Japan, brings the math-rock emo riffs; Bernie Gelman, from Austin, TX, brings the hazy drive; and Logan Bean, from California, brings the sunny pop harmonies. Extra points to the band for covering ‘Walls And Bridges’-era John Lennon with “#9 Dream.”

From the band:

“With band members scattered over six thousand miles apart across two continents and a name borrowed from the Japanese Olympic curling champion, Moe Meguro is a melting pot of disparate styles. The 3-piece band consisting of Joseph Brandel and Bernie Gelman on guitars and Logan Bean on drums (with all three members covering vocal duty) convenes once or twice a year to write, rehearse, and record music back on their home turf in the Bay Area, California. Over that short span of time, the band collaborates on crafting intricate, sonically lush music drawing from Beatles-tinged power pop laced with harmonies to hazy shoegaze and a bit of math rock.”

Moe Meguro: Bandcamp Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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No Party For Cao Dong

No Party For Cao Dong: Taiwanese post-rock for fans of The National, Interpol, and other nighttime guitar rock

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As we wait hopefully for new music by post-rock greats No Party For Cao Dong, there’s plenty of great tracks to get acquainted with. Also head over to Beehype for a look at the video for “Shanhai” (山海), one of the more creative music videos I’ve seen in a while.

From Bandcamp bio:

“Beats bouncing between Disco and Grunge, [we’re] often recognized as a indie/post-rock band with rough and sharp tone fusing with softness and gentleness.

Whispering in despair and screaming in hopeless is the vocal, leading melodies and rhythms to unexpected arrangements.

Aside from music, their exotic, passive but romantic lyrics engraves emotions deeply into your hearts.”

No Party For Cao Dong: Bandcamp Website Facebook

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Kikagaku Moyo

Kikagaku Moyo: “feeling good music” that channels sitars and Krautrock

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On April 21st, Kikagaku Moyo‘s self-titled 2013 debut will be reissued via Guruguru Brain Records, a Tokyo label that focuses on the Asian underground. And for all my fellow Brooklynites, the band will be at Rough Trade on May 4th via Aquarium Drunkard.

From the band’s Bandcamp:

“Kikagaku Moyo’s debut album exerts an elemental power. Enlivening their sound with sitars, percussive drums, theremins, wind instruments and ethereal vocals, the band manages to sound powerfully spacious and lazily serene all at once. Their songs can be light as air, or heavy as earth. Many evolve out of intense experiences of engagement with the natural world. The album’s first track, ‘Can You Imagine Nothing?’ was written over a night spent jamming on a suspended footbridge in remote mountains. As the song progressed the bridge began to sway, making band members feel as though they were floating weightless in midair.

Kikagaku Moyo started in the summer of 2012 busking on the streets of Tokyo. Though the band started as a free music collective, it quickly evolved into a tight group of multi-instrumentalists. Kikagaku Moyo call their sound psychedelic because it encompasses a broad spectrum of influence. Their music incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, Traditional Folk, and 70s Rock. Most importantly their music is about freedom of the mind and body and building a bridge between the supernatural and the present. Improvisation is a key element to their sound.”

Kikagaku Moyo: Website Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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49 Morphines

49 Morphines: the unpredictable tension of South Korean post-rock

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Sometimes music can be so vivid and graspable that it allows the listener to create a visual representation, like listening to a record soundtrack a movie that doesn’t exist. ‘Partial Eclipse,’ the only full-length release by 49 Morphines, is one of those albums.

This post-punk five-piece started playing in Seoul, South Korea in 2003. In spite of a 14-year-long career, their discography only consists of one EP from 2004 and the aforementioned LP released in 2008.

49 Morphines play an impeccable mix of screamo and post-rock, similar in a way to their Japanese neighbors, Envy – yet this sound is more complex and particular. The contrast between soft and explosive is less balanced and predictable. At first, an Explosions In The Sky-like tenderness leaks through quiet and poignant guitars that never feel comforting, as the violence that comes before and after is unprecedented. The rhythm gets fast, crammed with ever-changing drum tempos and frantic guitars equally inspired by hardcore and metal. The listener’s awareness of the upcoming tempest is enough to turn even the softer moments in a vortex of tension and anxiety.

It’s been nine years since the release of ‘Partial Eclipse’, and meanwhile, some of the band members have started new bands; Noeazy plays a particularly furious type of metalcore while Jambinai mixes post-rock with traditional Korean folk instruments. Yet 49 Morphines still play a couple of shows every year, and they might even release something new in the near future according to an interview from last year.

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
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INFRACom!

INFRACom!: discover south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music.

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INFRACom! is a Frankfurt, Germany-based label that for over 20 years has released 160+ globally-minded, eclectic productions. The label’s latest release is ‘Saigon Supersound Vol. 1,’ which celebrates south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music from the ’60s and ’70s inspired by soul, funk, and, for better or worse, America.

From the Bandcamp bio:

“Saigon Super Sound is the story of a musical era that was almost lost. The selection of tracks is limited to the period between 1965 and 1975, the so-called ‘Golden Era’ in the South of Vietnam, where – under difficult circumstances – a lively pop culture had developed.

The music of Vietnam in the sixties was shaped by three currents: Nhạc đỏ (“red music” or communist revolutionary music) had developed around the beginning of the 20th century in opposition to the French colonization of Indochina. It usually promoted independence, socialism and anti-capitalism in its lyrics and was the dominant genre in the communist North. These were mostly heroic songs celebrating the men and women who left their families to bravely fight against the French and, soon enough, also the US Army.

This collection focuses on the South, where under “imported” western influence a new kind of pop and rock music had developed: Nhạc Vàng (“yellow music” or “golden music”), Nhạc Trẻ (“young music”). Nhạc Vàng are poetic, often sentimental and sad love songs (Tình Khúc) as well as simple, easily accessible compositions which praised the beauty of the homeland (Quê hương).

This genre had also developed since the 1920’s under French colonial influence, namely the chanson that was much appreciated by the growing Vietnamese bourgeoisie. Latin rhythms and dances such as the Bolero, the Rumba, Tango and Cha Cha Cha as well as Slow Rock were also integrated into the standard repertoire…When the Americans entered the war, they also brought rock- ́n’-roll and soul music to Vietnam which became quite influential for local artists. “Young music” (Nhạc Trẻ) was performed by newly formed bands like Dew Drop, The Dreamers, CBS Band and The Strawberry Four.

There were all female bands too, such as the Blue Stars (of whom, unfortunately, no usable recordings have survived) who performed at the G.I. Clubs. They covered American rock and soul hits, translating or simply making up new lyrics in Vietnamese. Very few of these were even recorded, but many popular singers – including Hùng Cường, Mai Lệ Huyền and Carol Kim – added “imported” styles like Twist, Soul, Agogo, Surf and Mashed Potatoes to their repertoire of popular ballads.

The third, very popular form was Cải Lương, best translated into “theater music” in which pieces of music alternate with spoken word passages to form a kind of radio play. The last title of this collection, “7 câu vọng cổ chúc Tết“ gives you an idea of this genre. Its musical structure is based on a Vietnamese composition from the early 20th century, the Vọng Cổ which was (and is) very popular in Cải Lương as well as in Vietnamese chamber music.”

INFRACom!: SoundCloud Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Babel Records

Babel Records: because moody Valentine’s Day songs still sound good in March

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Babel Records is a new Beijing label I’ve begun to keep my eye on, and so far I’ve really liked what I’ve heard. The label’s latest release is a four-track Valentine’s Day compilation that still holds up even though it’s March. My personal favorite is opening track “sweet,sweet tone” by sususu;Cattzim.

From SoundCloud:

“Whether you are lonely, missing, unrequited love or despair
It doesn’t matter, because we’re still before midnight
All beautiful things will take place in this quiet night”

Babel Records: SoundCloud Bandcamp Instagram

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Oh! Nullah

Oh! Nullah: Hong Kong punks’ digital-only 2015 release will now be physically released via Sweaty & Cramped

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Our good friends over at Sweaty & Cramped are physically re-releasing two Oh! Nullah tracks from its 2015 digital-only album ‘Jaded Summer.’ Fans of S&C’s Asian Emo compilation will also dig this Hong Kong band’s melodic guitars and driving drums.

From band member Ben Tse:

“’Jaded Summer’” is a song I wrote for a friend whose mother passed away, and ‘Last of My Mistakes’ is about accepting that no one is ever immune to failure or disappointment. ‘Restitution’ is the restoration of something lost to its original owner and a concept that these two songs attempt to grasp and convey.”

Oh! Nullah: Bandcamp Facebook

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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