It’s time, my friends. It’s time. It’s time for the big, week-long, year-end listical madness. Your SmartShanghai is spending all week condensing a year’s worth of stuff and throwing up some pithy numbers beside the paragraphs, all culminating in some sour, sad bastard taking a dump on people’s flyers.
MP3 Monday kicks off your year in review, looking at some of the local, mostly rock, music makers in Shanghai for 2010. Generally speaking, it’s way easier to steal MP3s from big-name, internationally established acts -- and it was our pleasure to do so for much of 2010 -- but this year more than years previous, local bands and producers were getting their stuff out there, and that’s a beautiful thing. Here’s some local highlights from the MP3 Monday column for 2010.
This is by no means a comprehensive list -- there’s more stuff out there -- but here’s a roundup of what we liked. It’s a subjective thing. Also, that Booji CD -- I would have stolen one of their songs to put on here as well but they’re kind of a scary band somehow, and I don’t want to mess with them. Go get that one yourself.
Actually, it was our supreme error to miss out on talking about Stegorsaurus? during the year, when they released their first album in April -- an oversight we’ll correct now. One of the more awesome bands in Shanghai, it’s tough to encapsulate the entity known as Stegosaurus? so were not really going to try. This tune is called “Brains” and it’s about the metaphorical and literal search for substance and sustenance. Stegosaurus? did it all in 2010, playing a bunch of times at YYT, a bunch of places I’ve never even heard of, a few places out of town, as well as taking a trip up to Beijing to open up for grrl punnxx legends, Hang on the Box. Stake your civic pride on Stegosaurus?, torch bearers of polyglot, mashed up, demented Shanghai rock.
Despite a line-up shuffle, given how prolific the band is with the song writing, I think it’s safe to say you can expect a Stegosaurus CD in 2011. And maybe more free pizza.
The focus of a lot of well-deserved bloggy attention in 2010, local guitar-drum shitwave (why not?) two-piece Pairs were a real treat to see live this year, not only for the memorable, spazz-out performances, but for the way drummer, Xiao Zhong, would shut down hecklers.
My favourite: “You’re the same fucker who is going to corner me in the hallway after the show and tell me we sound like The Mars Volta.”
A frequent fixture on Shanghai stages, Pairs also made it out of the city pretty frequently with well-reviewed shows in Beijing and Hong Kong, among others, spreading the gospel. This song is from Pairs, releases on Andy Best’s indie label, Qu. Given the public reaction and critical reception the Pairs phenomenon received in Shanghai and in China in 2010, expect them to have a big 2011. Some righteous Pairs world domination awaits.
Rainbow Danger Club
Since forming in 2009, Rainbow Danger Club got consistently better and better and better every time they played -- which was actually pretty rare -- combining an earnest and honestly powerful live performance set with increasingly daring song-writing and experimentation. And they were already good and interesting to begin with. This song is off their first release, The New Atlantis, which was streamed online at the end of the year. This track is my favourite, it’s a really great song, and is kind of their stand-out, straight-forward anthem track. So far, this is the one everyone in the audience goes, “oh this is a good one”, when they start playing it. Again, like Pairs, RDC gains momentum with every performance -- they were quite fantastic at the recent Rocksgiving Charity show -- and we would expect this band to have a really great 2011, as more people outside of the city pick up on the good stuff they’re doing.
Confirm-X and MINI-E
Over the year, we variously kept up with the goings-on of MINI-E, the electronic offshoot from local label, Miniless. Under the MINI-E fold is a pretty diverse group of electronic producers putting out various degrees of blips and bleeps zaniness under the credo of experimentation and pushing new boundaries. In 2010, they had a couple of label showcases, over at Yuyintang and Not Me, featuring a fairly consistent line-up of acts. Among those, my personal favourite is Confirm-X, which is an industrial duo consisting of DJ MHP and ZiSTER. We had this one up for download ahead of their March label showcase. Have a listen. It’s a pretty dark and bitchin’ and souless beat. Klang, klang. Keep up with Mini-E over at their Douban page.
Again, it’s mostly the rock on this list, but a bunch of Shanghai dance music producers had stuff out there as well -- Chacha and Uprooted Sunshine immediately spring to mind, as do icenine and the UP/ROM guys. And R3, one of our favourite produces, threw up some stuff on his Douban as well. Those are good places to start...
Duck Fight Goose
Of course, it would be remiss to not finish off with local “strange rock” outfit, Duck Fight Goose, as they’re celebrating their first EP release, Flow Out this Saturday at Yuyintang. One of the most anticipated CDs of the year, this is one of the few local bands everyone seems to agree on. You can rate yourself an Interesting Person, if you’re into Duck Fight Goose. 2010 was a pretty good year for DFG -- they did some touring, with particularly well-received outings in Beijing, they’ve finally got this CD done, and they’re finally getting some attention after consistently digging in the trenches with local and expat audiences who are always playing catch-up to the sonic terrain DFG marches on into. With this EP under their belts, they’re already planning another one, and like the other bands on this list, it’s all up from here for Duck Fight Goose.
And looking ahead to 2011: With more bands finding their way into the recording studios, early 2011 shall see a slew of local bands releasing stuff that we’re looking forward too. Local hard rock outfit Moon Tyrant have set a February release date for their first disc, and we hope the YYT re-modeling doesn’t screw with their plans too much. We’re also expecting stuff from stoner rock group The Fever Machine. They’ve put a track or two out on the internets, and their debut EP can’t be far behind. Same for Friend or Foe, who have stuff out there now, despite only being together for a matter of months. Taste some of their downloads already up at Heatwolves!’s blog. And lastly, X is Y, a band that took a bit of time for people to pick up on, has put together a string of really well-received shows these past few months and will have stuff on disc early next year.
And the last little item: came into our inbox today that local music/arts writer Jake Newby, along with his esteemed publication Time Out, are planning something nice for the new year by way of recorded music. More information, I'm sure, will inevitably surface on Jake's Kungfuology page and in Time Out, so watch for that...
But yeah, again, this is by no means a comprehensive list... there’s lots of stuff out there now if you care to seek it out. And hopefully, 2011 will be a great and prolific year for Shanghai musicians as well. Hail Satan, y'all.
All band images taken from their webpages -- linked above.