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.

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