HURT ‘EM: Indonesian Hardcore Metal With Punk Spirit
I get the name – if you’re not ready, Indonesia’s HURT ‘EM will hurt you with its blast of fast and furious hardcore metal. I love it. The Depok trio’s debut, Condolence, came out in January on Lawless Records and is 16 tracks long, with the avenge song time of one-and-a-half minutes. (Personal favorite is “Avarice.”) Listening to Condolence is like listening to Minor Threat’s Out of Step for the first time; though this is metal, it is as fit and shares the same energy as hardcore punk.
This Ma-Te Lin song is so delicate I’m afraid it’s going to break in my hands. What a gorgeous song. Lead singer Asha whispers in Mandarin and English over a simple composition over someone she wishes to come home. She sounds sad but grateful to know such a person. His or her return would still be bittersweet, but at least a good memory. The group’s last full album came out in 2015, so hopefully “Please Come Home” is a sign towards the next release.
What starts out slow and dreamy turns into sharp and precise, as Hong Kong “math-folk” group GDJYB ease you into their world before punching you softly with great riffs and incredible vocals sung in “Honglish” (Hong Kong English). The bass playing throughout is especially excellent, and it’s refreshing to hear it mixed so that you can actually hear it. And the video is top notch – it appears to be shot using film and anything goes in this all-white space. The group has much love in their home, though it’s time they break through here in the states.
Sure we all want to be The Clash and Sex Pistols, but how about actually sounding like them? To have that same sense of urgency and smirk? That’s the classic British punk sound and feel I hear from Istanbul’s Project Youth. I really enjoy all of Middle East for its politicalness and its desire to sound fun and alive. It feels like this group is on a mission to do something, even if that mission is just to destroy or declare that nothing matters. How punk.
Cats! Sunsets! The Ocean! Great moody electro-pop! Can’t go wrong with Taiwan duo Astro Bunny. The act is vocalist Lena Cha (formerly Cherry Boom) and producer Nu.
Cha via Taipei Times: “We named the group ‘bunny’ because I love bunnies and I forced him to like them too. I picked the word “astro” because I’m an anime and computer game geek.” Later in the interview, Cha talks about how the music is a juxtaposition of Chinese literary writing and electronic melodies – an interesting combination. “Because of the neutral nature of the synthesizer used to create electronica sounds, this seemingly lifeless music doesn’t feed you with predetermined themes. Rather, it allows you to interpret and imagine meanings according to your mood at the time.”
I don’t know what “Falter” is trying to do, and that’s a good thing. The latest song by Bengaluru’s Black Letters starts off like it’s going to build into a Portishead groove before stopping and taking a clearer, R&B-like turn. Now I hear romantic Mogwai. Now I see an endless horizon and a blood red sky going on and on and wanting to drive all through it. The song’s music video shares a similar dreamlike haze. It’s all quite lovely.
My Skin Against Your Skin: Taiwan Electro-Rock Band With All The Feels
Every time I listen to “生存的城市” (“Life is for Living”), I always expect it to first drone out into some electronic oh you listen to the Drive soundtrack cool mist. Instead, this song by My Skin Against Your Skin unfolds into an effective pop groove that reminds me of Death Cab For Cutie at its most yearning and lovely. Andrea Huang’s voice is especially strong on a deceivingly simple song.
The three-piece, originally just Huang and bassist and synth player Si-Lu Yu and now with drummer Jesse, has been active since 2010 and have a large following around Taiwan – let’s bring them to the states! Learn more about the band via their interview with Hello Asia!
Not sure if MUNIR is intentionally named after Munir Said Thalib. If so, this adds an interesting political angle to this excellent disco music. If not, it’s still fun to turn your brain off and shake shake shake it. Check out more via Diskover Records.
“DISKOVER is a sister-label of BHANG RECORDS focusing on dance music.”
Of course, when you think of fuzzy garage surf-rock, you think of crocodiles. Taiwan’s CROCODELIA, a band formed around 3100 BC, knows this, so they have perfected the art of the freakbeat with this excellent six-track EP. You can pick up Out Of The Swamp via Bandcamp.
Kukushai: musicians from South Korea and Slovenia unite in the name of experimental jazz
It sounds like insects marching towards war at first, and then Eva Poženel’s vocals come in and oh shit it’s a jazz thing but with a Fiona Apple-like stomp. Kukushai‘s explosion of sound could go off any minute, but Sun Mi Hong’s drumming keeps everything in check and Rok Zalokar’s keys move things along. It’s all theatrical, and it’s all quite beautiful and bizarre at times. Poženel, Hong, and Zalokar all met in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and they use their varying cultural heritages (Poženel and Zalokar from Slovenia, Hong from South Korea) to good use.