[Music Monday]: Mid-Autumn Breaks
Bona fide Americana, Dutch street punk, Cali disco house, and a double LP release from Douban's new D Force label to propel us through the Moon Cake holiday...
Music Monday is a weekly SmartBeijing column, serving up fresh audio/video streams from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever).
No rest for weary ears! Hopefully your tinnitus will have died down from the packed weekend we just had in time for the packed weekend we have coming up. Douban's new label D Force Records has Yugong Yishan booked out for both Friday and Saturday to drop a couple of shiny vinyl long-players — this is a huge deal, as Douban is the de facto owner of Chinese music social media. Will have an in-depth look at their new label operation here later in the week.
Besides that we also have some bona fide Americana, Dutch street punk, and disco house from sunny California passing through our fair city this weekend just in time for the Moon Cake holiday:
The first of D Force's two big record release shows is on Friday at Yugong Yishan, guests of honor being Beijing underground hip hop scene lynchpins J-Fever and Soulspeak. D Force has put out a few digital releases already, and thrown a few parties in Beijing, but this is their real coming out moment. They put on a little press listening party for this record a few weeks back, unveiling plans for a suite of J-Fever x Soulspeak merch — tote bags, hoodies, flat-brimmed ballcaps — as well as a deluxe, beautifully designed gatefold sleeve for the vinyl edition of their full-length LP, Color Blind.
The music itself doesn't slouch in the production quality department, either, having received the hi-fi studio treatment from RAN Music's production team. (RAN also just released a live/interview video with the duo as part of their Half Live series.)
If you're already familiar with J-Fever's work, you might be taken aback by this one. Don't go in expecting underground griminess: Color Blind is all polish and poise: "Against a bump 'n' grind backdrop of beats shaped by Soulspeak reminiscent of D'Angelo, J-Fever gets freakier than ever with lyrics that swing from playful flirtation to deep, deep lovin', all the while retaining the poetic, philosophical heart that his fans love him for."
Mmmmyeah. Here's a sample, complemented by some old-skool 8-bit video graphics:
For the release event they're turning Yugong Yishan into an "experimental theater", in collaboration with stage director Chu Zhixiong. Big budget moves. 9pm start, 100rmb at the door. More
D Force is back at Yugong on Saturday night, when they'll host the Beijing stop of a comprehensive album release tour for Chengdu electro-rock outfit Stolen. This band's built a lot of solid DIY hype over the last few years. They first came out to Beijing in October 2013, on their own dime, and proceeded to impress many of the jaded scene pundits here, yours truly included. They self-released a handful of great demo recordings and continued to steadfastly cut their teeth on their home turf, eventually attracting the attention of Douban's music department.
As part of the D Force package, Stolen was flown out to Taiwan, where their proper debut, LOOP, was recorded by D Force top dog and PK14 guitarist Xu Bo. That's now being peddled around China in CD and vinyl form by the band, who on Saturday will hit Yugong Yishan near the end of a staggering 32-date tour.
LOOP's a real stunner of a debut, too. It reveals its influences without imitating them, an effortless synthesis of after-punk modern history and electronic futurism. I don't know what it is in the Chengdu water that's inspiring the best youth rock music in China, but I want a double shot.
Catch what's sure to be a tour-sharpened, thoroughly thought out audio+visual experience from these young turks on Saturday, September 26 @ Yugong Yishan.
Elsewhere in album releases: on Friday night at DDC, Beijing's finest Americana roots music traditionalists, the Randy Abel Stable, put out their second release, Lonely to Lonesome. Following up on 2013's Stable Condition, this little four-track barn burner has been over two years in the making on account of the Stable's far-flung membership (one of them's upcycling textiles in Dali, last I checked), and their copious side projects (Yellow Hutong Weasels, Ring Road Ramblers, plus countless ad hoc arrangements gracing the stages at Temple, DDC, Caravan, various music festivals throughout this vast nation).
Randy and the boys will all be back in town for this one, so you might wanna head down to DDC to catch them in full effect. It's a rare opportunity these days. Prime the pump by streaming Lonely to Lonesome in its full glory:
That's Friday, September 25 at DDC, 9pm start.
BLOK 1A (photo by Tim Hogendoorn)
If you're wondering where all the Beijing mohawks will be on Friday night: School Bar will be hosting Dutch street punk legends Blok 1A for the kickoff gig of their inaugural China tour. Blok 1A formed in 2002 and shredded 150 gigs before stopping for a break in 2008. After a six-year hiatus, they're back in the bus and ready to rage the PRC. By way of self-introduction:
"[Blok 1A] are well known for their energetic and powerfull punk shows. Besides a healthy dose of fun punk, subjects like war, terrorism, (international) government politics and apocalyptic endings are still an important issue in their songs."
Funny, those are still important issues for my insomniac cold-sweat sleepless nights as well! Here's a little number Blok 1A dedicated to my home country in a compilation released back in 2005:
Expect an evening of loud & raw punk, with local support from Gum Bleed, Shochu Legion, and D-Crash. 50rmb ticket, doors at 9pm. More
One more recommendation for your weekend: on Saturday, Dada hosts a repeat visit from LA-based "adventurous house and disco" producer Magic Touch: "Magic Touch live sets mix the psychedelic ethos of San Francisco with the house movements of Chicago, Detroit and smatters the whole thing with a solid nod to the UK rave underground."
Feelin' it. Mr. Touch is back in Beijing for the third time on the heat of his new record for Tokyo left-field disco/house label Crue-l. Here's a track on the forthcoming Crue-L Cafe II comp featuring Magic Touch alongside Shanghai's best deceased producer, Laura Ingalls:
Support in Beijing from DJ Sacco. 50rmb ticket, 10pm start.
J-Fever x Soulspeak = FRI Sept 25 @ Yugong Yishan
Randy Abel Stable = FRI Sept 25 @ DDC
Blok 1A = FRI Sept 25 @ School
Stolen = SAT Sept 26 @ Yugong Yishan
Magic Touch = SAT Sept 26 @ Dada