Saturday, October 20, 2012

[interview] Apollo 18 Talks Canadian Tour, Music and Poutine.

Apollo 18 is a post rock band that's been causing quite a scene both in Korea and internationally since their breakthrough in the Korean indie scene. They're quite the decorated band; they won the "Rookie of the Year" award at the 2010 Korean Music Awards and the Grand Prize at the "Hello Rookie Award" the same year. And their Blue album is seriously one of the best harder rock stuff I listen to, if that means anything. They've also made quite the progress abroad as well, performing at SXSW Music Festival last year, and finishing their very first Canadian tour just a couple of weeks ago. I had the chance to ask them some questions about their Canadian tour and music.

Click the cut to read what they had to say about their Canadian tour, possibility of a Jellyboy album, some Korean bands they think are worth checking out, and what they thought about real Canadian poutine. Oh, and some hilarious pictures from their tour included.

[album review] Epik High - 99

Epik High | 99
October 19, 2012

1. UP (feat. Park Bom)
2. Don't Hate Me
3. 사랑한다면 해서 안될 말
4. 춥다 (feat. 이하이)
5. 아까워 (feat. 개코 of Dynamic Duo)
6. 비켜 (CD Only)
7. 악당
8. Ghost (CD Only)
9. Kill This Love
10. New Beautiful

note: This review will not cover the CD only tracks "비켜" and "Ghost" as I would never ever shell out $10+ for a physical copy of this album, no matter how much I like Epik High. I just don't have room for that on my shelf.

After the initial listen of Epik High's 99 I tweeted, half-jokingly, "I would rather listen to Block B's new album than Epik High's omg" and although Block B's latest album is nowhere close to being perfect or amazing (more on this in another post), I still stand by my statement. For real. Because this album made me want to hurl something against the wall.

When you've liked an artist for a while, it's really hard to accept the fact that their music is bound to change over time. Sometimes you may like their new sound, and sometimes it's just unbearable to accept the fact that your favourite band went from hypnotizing godly rock to making boring dupstep-fused dance music (Muse, I'm looking at you). It's something that's going to happen at one point or another during a musician's career, and something that you just have to deal with. And I know it sounds awfully elitist/snobby when you say "oh, they used to be way better than this. It's just not the same anymore", but I just. I just gotta.

"what happened" - me, after the initial listen of Epik High's latest  

Usually with follow-up albums I decide how much I like the album by looking at two general categories: 1) how does it fare compare to its predecessor(s)? and 2) how is the album by itself, out of the context of the discography? Usually most follow-up albums don't do too well in the first category (see: The Black Skirts, Broccoli You Too... the list is endless) but do quite well in the second category. It's impossible for albums to ever be free of their predecessors, but I always take their standalone quality into consideration, and most of the time, I end up really liking the follow-up albums too (again, The Black Skirts and Broccoli You Too being the biggest examples). But Epik High's new album 99... I just don't see myself ever liking it.

"no" - a friend of mine, on Epik High's new song "It's Cold (feat. Lee Hi)"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

[music talk] currently listening to...

I promised to be around more often in my last post but clearly that was a lie! Still busy, but still hanging on. I've been listening to (but mostly just hoarding) new music like crazy, thanks to my position at the campus radio station and also to my swell friends who are so nice to share their library with me. I still have a stack of obscure albums I need to sort through. I'll give them all a listen eventually. Since I'm so overwhelmed with so much though, here's a brief overview of what I have been listening to lately. Not a proper review or anything, since I've only listened to these albums one or two times (except the first three)! This is just going to be my rambling on some albums I've been listening to. I might write a review on them later, I might not, we shall see.

Holy Weather Civil Twilight (2012) 
Let's start with this lovely band I had the honour of seeing live a couple of weeks ago! Civil Twilight's Letters from the Sky is seriously one of my favourite songs ever, so naturally I was really excited to see them. They were glorious live, and I checked out this album only after seeing them. And it's such a solid album! Lovely tracks all around, and such pretty album art. Some tracks stand out more than others, but probably one of the best releases I've heard so far this year.

Armistice Mutemath (2009)
I also saw Mutemath live (Civil Twilight opened for them, actually) a couple of weeks ago and god, what a show it was. I've only listened to their first album (and loved it) so I wasn't familiar with their repertory at all, but I still had a hell of a time. I decided to check out their second after seeing them live, and although it isn't quite as brilliant as their first album, it's still a very solid album. Now I only need to give their third album a listen...

Coexist The xx (2012)
I really, really really liked The xx's first album (and this is when I wasn't listening to any western music. Their debut album was probably the only non-Korean album I was listening at the time) so consequently I was really looking forward to their sophomore effort. Although lacking immediate-faves like Islands or VCR, this album is still pretty awesome.

Four Bloc Party (2012)
Possibly the most puzzling new release I've heard so far this year. There was a period in my life that I really enjoyed Bloc Party's music, circa A Weekend in the City and Silent Alarm, but I haven't heard anything from them after those two albums. I'm still not sure what happened, maybe it was the third album, maybe it's this album, but wow - is this dramatic or what? The whole album, from the beginning 'til the end, is a hell of a ride and I wasn't expecting that at all. Maybe it's because I remember the softer songs from their earlier albums, but this was a huge surprise for me. Not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

Bitte Orca Dirty Projectors (2009)
My friends who went to see Dirty Projectors last weekend (or the weekend before? I can't remember) would not stop raving about this band, so I decided to give them a listen. Started with this album since it was the most accessible at the radio station (the album was literally sitting right there), and I heard that this was their most critically acclaimed release to date, but I'm not really sure yet how I feel about them. I've only listened to this album once though. But the album just breezed by, nothing really stood out to me. I've also listened to some of their newest songs and they were totally up my ally though.

Talk Burntout House (2011)
Onto the Korean releases, I guess! I've been listening to this EP for quite a while now but I just can't get enough of it for some reason. They sound like a somewhat-lacking copy of Cold Play and Damien Rice but I just really dig it. Maybe all the Clocks/Yellow-esque Coldplay-inspired songs are making me nostalgic. The vocal has a lovely voice. Looking forward to their next release.

Overcome Achime (2012)
I'm still trying to recover from Achime's earlier releases, so this album is a bit too much for me at the moment. I don't know, they're just something, like I really need to sit down and listen to their music, and I haven't had the proper chance to do that yet. I gave this album one listen, and I feel like it's a lot weaker than their first album, but there were a couple of songs that I liked in particular, I think. Just give me some time to really dig through this band and their music...

Yon Yonson Lee Lang (2012)
Oh god, let me come back to this. One listen was definitely not enough to form any sort of coherent opinion, so let me come back to it...

The 2nd Law Muse (2012)
Okay, so I just finished listening to this album for the first time few minutes ago and I want to laugh but cry at the same time. I mean, Matthew Bellamy's falsetto is still great and all that, but those chants! Those lyrics! And is that... dubstep? And overall, this sounds more like an electro dance album than... what is Muse, anyway? Oh, I give up.

And not an album, but Adele's Skyfall is totally my jam right now, this song is so great. Adele sounds fantastic, love the lyrics and the string arrangements, and just really really great.