Monday, July 16, 2012

[concert] the weeknd and metric

I took a day off work yesterday to go and check out the local music festival with some friends from high school. Although I've lived in this city for 8+ years, I've never been to it before! And it was my very first outdoor music festival experience. I gotta say, I much prefer indoor concerts or club gigs... Maybe it was because I wasn't the biggest fan of the musicians I saw yesterday, but I found the experience just okay. As I'm really into Korean music I'm really looking forward to going to the Jisan Valley Rock Festival next summer (crossing my fingers), I'm hoping that that will be better...

There was a lot of issue with going in, too, because at first the bag-check guy told me that I couldn't bring in my camera (utter nonsense... you can take pictures with your phone these days, I can't see how a dslr wouldn't be allowed. pictures are pictures.), so we ended up wandering around for a bit to find a coin locker, but instead found the side entrance. When we tried to go in through the side entrance, they let us in right away! Ridiculous. Also, there was a problem with my ticket (apparently the guy at the music store that sold it to me gave me a ticket for a wrong day), so we had to go back out and to the ticket office to get that fixed. Thank god I had my ticket because everything was fixed pretty quickly and we could go back in again. Anyway, maybe it was how badly it started, but I didn't have as much fun as I could've.

We ended up seeing The Weeknd and Metric. The Weeknd was pretty good, he was amazing live but the crowd was awful. I think he'd be better to see in a club or a smaller venue. I've only heard one album by him and I've only gave it a couple of listen so I only recognized High For This. He didn't perform my favourite song, Wicked Games either.

Metric was fantastic! Although I only knew 5-6 songs by them, it was still a really good show. The crowd was better than for The Weeknd but they were nothing compared to the audience for some other concerts I've been to... I mean, I didn't know majority of the songs they performed (I only recognized Help I'm Alive, Gimme Sympathy, and Monster Hospital, out of an hour and a half setlist. oops.) but I tried to have fun. They didn't play my favourite song (Combat Baby) either. But Emily Haines was amazing live! I'll definitely be checking out more stuff from Metric.

We missed K'naan because of the whole camera+ticket fiasco.
The Weeknd:


It was really difficult trying to take pictures with the crowd and all. I realized that all my previous experiences taking photos at concerts, I was at the very front so it wasn't as hard to get decent shots. I took a lot of pictures last night and these are the only ones that were barely salvageable. And still they are pretty awful...

Friday, July 13, 2012

[album review] eastern side kick - eastern side kick

Eastern Side Kick - Eastern Side Kick Second EP Album
released: July 21, 2011

1. 무스탕
2. 다소 낮음
3. 백열램프


Eastern Side Kick is a band that took a while for me to get used to. They're a traditional garage rock band, reminiscent of The Strokes (actually, they sound a lot like The Strokes), and I have never really listened to much garage rock to  appreciate them on the first listen. But slowly but surely, I fell for their charms and after listening to this EP for at least a dozen times, I can confidently say that I like this album, and that I like Eastern Side Kick.

After the initial listen Eastern Side Kick might not sound all that special. And I will admit, they are not extraordinary (yet). But there's this odd atmosphere to their songs that is so extremely attractive and fascinating. It's a chilly kind of feeling. Their songs aren't warm, they're actually pretty cold and at times the songs sound distant, but strangely enough, they're comforting. Perhaps because they don't sing of love? Their songs don't outright comfort you, but they empathize with you and it's like having someone walking with you on a cold winter day - you're still cold, but just having someone there with you makes it less so.

Putting my odd imagery aside, Eastern Side Kick is definitely a band to look out for. The three songs on the album rely heavily on guitar, and having two guitarists definitely help with the fullness of the sound. I actually really enjoy the layered guitars on this album, they're nicely done, maintaining the simple garage rock sound but also adding some complexity to it. It also helps that the guitarists Go Han Gyul and Ryuta are both very talented guitarists. The guitars in 무스탕 (Mustang) is a great example of their abilities. Also, the vocal Oh Joo Hwan isn't a good singer, but his rough voice really suits the band's sound, as can be heard in the title track, 다소 낮음.  The last track of the album, 백열램프, also has an interesting beat and a bassline which I like quite a bit (it's probably my favourite track at the moment). Like I said, there's nothing mind-blowing about their sound, but the band still seems to be really confident in their delivery of the sound.

But definitely the band's best trait is their lyrics. Their lyrics are also hard to explain, they're simple but have a sense of loneliness which is quite appealing. Their lyrics are extremely realistic but they're also very poetic.

I guess the only weakness of the band would be that although they may sound unique and hold their own ground as a band in the Korean music scene, when you look at them globally they're really nothing special - some may even call them a bad copy version of The Strokes or other American/British garage rock bands. Even I thought that they were too similar to some of the American garage rock bands to really hold my attention at first. But they do grow on you, and I'm hoping that they will eventually find a sound that's uniquely theirs.

Eastern Side Kick recently signed with Fluxus Music (which houses artists like Yi Seung Yeol, Winterplay and Bye Bye Sea) and they have been promising a full-length album for a while now so hopefully we will be able to hear more from them in the near future. I'm extremely excited for their next album.

Monday, July 9, 2012

[let me talk about kpop for a minute] recent releases.

Let me take a moment to just spill my thoughts on some of the recent releases (and developments) in k-pop.

First; 2NE1 - I Love You. I guess I'll start with 2NE1's new single, I Love You because I'm assuming they'll be the big thing for the next little while. I have always had mixed feelings for 2NE1. I really like their music (I still jam to In The Club and Let's Go Party), but I've never liked them thematically or lyrically. I like this song, its melody is refreshing and the lack of rap really helps (I've always liked CL as a vocalist... as a rapper, oh no). Their first live performance was mediocre, and the birds were really unnecessary and done in poor taste, but it was as expected. I've always appreciated them recorded but their lives I always found subpar, considering the "talent" in the group. I probably won't be keeping up with their live performances, and considering that this song is good but nothing too extraordinary, I'll soon forget about it.

Second; T-Ara - Day by Day. Sometimes I'm amazed at how far this group has gotten considering the lack of musical talent in the group. Sure, Soyeon is a capable singer and Hyomin and Eunjung can hold their ground somewhat but they were never, ever a musically strong group, nor did they ever have any spectacular concepts. If we are talking about lives I'd say T-Ara is one of the worst. But in recent times they did manage to be consistent musically, which I do appreciate. Like Lovey Dovey was clearly a follow-up to Roly Poly, while Day by Day is a follow-up to Cry Cry. This song, however, isn't as memorable as Cry Cry, although that song wasn't all that good to begin with. And although the new member Dani (Areum? which one? Do I care?) seems to be able to carry a tune better than majority of the members, I still don't see why she's needed in the group and it's really, really distracting. I was briefly really into T-Ara back in the day but with each song they put out I find myself liking them less and less.

Third; Younha - Run. I'm going to admit that I've never really cared much for Younha. I know she's a fantastic vocalist and there were some songs on her previous album Someday that I really enjoyed, but I don't know, her voice colour isn't something that attracts me. (I tend to like low, textured voices for female voices) I really like her new single, Run, though, it's amazing. I love the beats in this song and she sounds phenomenal. It's just really sad because she's not charting too well with it at the moment.

Fourth; Busker Busker - 정말로 사랑한다면. And finally, the wonderful faces of the image above! To be honest I've never been really interested in Busker Busker or their music (although 벚꽃 엔딩 and 여수 밤바다 were catchy as hell) but their instant rise to fame is something worth talking about. As I make it known, I'm kinda crazy about the Korean indie scene and if you could call Busker Busker 'indie', they are definitely the biggest star to come out of it in the last few years. Yes, there was Jang Kiha and the Faces who most people know by now, and 10cm, whose coffee CF with Ha Ji Won still airs from time to time, but neither of them have topped the chart for such a long period of time like Busker Busker, nor did they win on music shows. And now with two CFs under their belt and half of the stores in Seoul blasting their music 24/7, Busker Busker has truly made it. And I am somehow... proud of them? It's a weird feeling, because personally I wouldn't call myself a Busker Busker fan. But them being a 'band' and becoming so popular, and how they started off from humble beginnings as a busking band, I'm hoping that it will lead to more people being interested in band music / the indie scene.
Musically, Busker Busker is so, so fascinating. They are still somewhat amateur; their performances and their abilities with the instruments prove that. But I feel like this amateurism is what draws people to them. They don't seem fabricated, nor do they seem hard to approach. And Jang Bum Joon is definitely a musician to look out for. His attitude towards music and his lyrics are just so fantastic, and for someone who has never had proper training in music he writes phenomenal songs. Personally I found their latest hit 정말로 사랑한다면 just okay, but I'm sure a time will come when I'm truly impressed by their music.