Monday, 20 June 2011

The East Is Shred: 13 Chinese Metal Bands to Haunt Your Dreams (UPDATED)

Since the inauguration of Chinese rock in the '80s, the darker main ingredient to China’s underground music scene has always been metal. While indie rock may steal the headlines in the international press, metal continues to steal the hearts of rockers across China. Here’s a primer to the 11 most important metal bands shredding in China today.

1. Suffocated

Formed in 1997, Suffocated are seen to be the backbone of Chinese thrash metal and well-known to anyone with an iota of metal in their blood. This Beijing quartet is one of few bands still playing death metal from the elder Chinese death metal generation.
Read on: The East Is Shred: 13 Chinese Metal Bands to Haunt Your Dreams (UPDATED) - City Weekend

Disco Duo French Horn Rebellion Electro-fies

Who would have thought that with only two singles released since 2009, The French Horn Rebellion (FHR) would have been tipped by everyone from NME to The New York Times as “the band to watch”? It’s all about the FHR’s electric live shows, and brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari are finally giving Beijing a chance to watch “the band to watch,” when they rock Yugong Yishan on Saturday, April 9.

The duo brings together two ends of the sonic spectrum: younger brother Rob was a former Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra horn player and the elder Dave is a credible producer who has engineered acclaimed tunes for the likes of MGMT...

Read on: Disco Duo French Horn Rebellion Electrofies- City Weekend Mag

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Jade Musical: Goody or Baddy?

After the death of former BB star in March this year, Jade Goody is set to make a comeback on the west end from the beyond. So the question we need to ask ourselves is: Why?

Yes it is all very tragic, a young loss of life and all, but how is it that the British public as well as the English Media are so fickle? Jogging our minds back to her earlier Essex self in 2002, when she featured in the Channel 4 show, Goody became a target of ridicule in the British tabloid press for displaying a severe lack of general knowledge for a British native. Is it me or has the British public developed a severe sense of amnesia?

Not to mention the infamous racist slurs screeched at Bollywood Actress, Shilpa Shetty in 2007, resulting in an international outcry and her eviction from the show. At one point after the controversy, Goody even appeared on This Morning revealing that Social Services had been involved with dealing with her two young sons.

Now after all this, you would think she would want to keep a low profile. However, having become involved in a "vicious fight with a female partygoer at an Essex nightclub before turning her rage onto a security guard" according to the Daily Mail; reveal that Goody had other plans. Whilst, current husband, Jack Tweed pulled a similar stunt and was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm for attacking a 16-year-old boy in 2006. Consequently we find ourselves pondering over how she was compared to Princess Diana as the “People’s Princess.”

Worldwide it is estimated that there are 473,000 cases of cervical cancer, and 253,500 deaths per year. How is it that this approximation was not even mentioned throughout her illness and the prime focus of the media was just of one case, Jade Goody? I found it incredibly amazing that Goody ‘did all to make her sons comfortable’ yet was happy to splash her ailment across the newspaper on a regular basis as a daily reminder.

So when I was getting my regular fix of news from my reliable source, the BBC one morning; I almost choked on my coffee to see “TV plan to find Jade musical star.” Yes, Goody has done an MJ and come back from the dead. But in Clifford’s words- “She was tabloid gold.”

In the end we shake our heads and scoff, and hope that Britain gets a grip on reality.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Why Volunteering at Festivals is the best way this Summer

It seems that we fork out too much for the big name festivals that the UK has to offer. Spending close to £300 for a weekend of mayhem, which could easily go towards a mini holiday abroad. So how do we get our money’s worth this up-coming British summer? The answer is simple: Volunteer as bar staff.

By utilizing only six hours each day, you can seriously reap the benefits of free food, free entry and free use of the clean bar toilets, instead of having to queue with masses of people for a tiny dung-scented trench hole. I think the operative word for festival volunteering is FREE, because it seriously is the best thing in life.

On top of it all, all the money goes to good causes so you can still get a warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach, despite spending a weekend of ill-mannered frivolity. Not to mention the countless amounts of people to encounter inside and outside of the Worker’s Beer Organisation; to put it tackily, it’s like one big happy family in your own clean campsite.

You may think, why should I exhaust my time working, when I could be getting intoxicated in a stifling tent? Well, as soon as you stop drinking you realise there is about 12 hours left of twiddling your thumbs, yes- all four of them- and stumped with thousands of other drunkards doing the same.

At the end of the four days, it’s easy to say ‘there is nowt left to do,’ having explored the vast fields of musicdom, and realising there is only three bands you actually wanted to see out of the several hundred acts. Whilst, being the happy face that is serving your saviour, Mr. Strongbow; it is clear to see how crowds may yearn for you and keep you busy.

So, in one word, why should we volunteer at Reading, Glastonbury and every other festival that breaks the bank? Because it’s FREE and we want to.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Baking Beats, best of Breakbeat

It was officially hilarious viewing, as the trivial adolescent Dizzee Rascal fumbled across the colossal stage of Wembley Arena. An unexpected support band for the likes of the Prodigy, but once underway, it was clearly understandable; it was only an amplification of their own mind-blowing performance.

The Essex-born band was the peak of the nineties, pioneering the industrial, hardcore electric music genre. In spite of my fear as a child of Mr Keith Flint’s manic head-bobbing, selling over 16 million records worldwide, it’s no wonder that crowds come in swarms rather than trickles- a little like their melodies. Expect nothing less than an explosion.

The pungent odour of sweat shrouded the arena, and despite the slipping and sliding of ten thousand fan’s dirty perspiration, it made the ambience all the more invigorating. Every Prodigy addict beamed from the rave crater, jumping in unison to classic 90’s hits such as ‘Breathe,’ followed by a full blast of ‘Firestarter.’

Sitting what seemed to be as far as India made hailing Keith Flint slightly challenging. I highly doubt that he could see my attempt at a double horn rock gesture, nevertheless with ten thousand people doing the equivalent; my work was evidently cut out for me. The atmosphere was literally electric, as dozens of multicoloured lights strobes synchronised with the psychedelic pulsations of ‘Smack my Bitch Up.’

The only way to end the night was a breathtaking amalgamation of reggae and electronika. ‘Out of Space’ epitomized the final moments of the performance, as the audience dazed to the skanking rhythms and lingered to Voodoo People; naturally polishing off with a good old fashioned sing-a-long.

Their high-quality live sets never fail to dumbfound their audiences, definitely your money’s worth.

Young Classical Close-ups at the Southbank Centre

Little did I know that the Royal Festival Hall is just one of three venues inside of the Southbank Centre, conveniently located at the heart of London. After several minutes of searching, I enter the ‘Ballroom hall’ expecting fishtails and tuxedos, instead am enticed by the decadent sounds of Xuefei Yang, China’s answer to John Williams and classical guitars.

For those students spending hours on Youtube and playing air guitar, you may know that Xuefei Yang is at the top of the directory when it comes to classical guitar music. The 28 year-old female artist is a pioneer in her field, not only as the first guitarist to enter a music school in China, to launch an international guitar career from China, as well as (yes, despite the grumbling) the first Chinese guitarist to sign with a major record label (EMI)!

I stroke my chin and grin as she starts to pluck the famous ‘Deer Hunter’ piece, ‘Cavatina’ by Stanley Myers. As desperate as I am to shout out ‘I know that one,’ I indulge in absolute finger-picking fluidity, flawless in every way. As the £12,000 Australian rosewood echoes along the festival floor, it is purely a hand-holding sort-of moment as she progresses on to prevalently known ‘Romanza de Amor,’ in other words the ‘Love Story’ theme. But if romance is not your cup of tea, then marinate your ears in Argentinean tangos like ‘La Campesita.’ My eyes seem to blur at the speed of her flamenco form, just another skill to add to her youthful array of talent.

Xuefei Yang’s popular classical repertoire does make the average so-and-so say ‘she is not that special, she only plays routine classical pieces,’ but in her own words, “it’s nice to hear different versions and dimensions to important pieces of music- you have more to prove that way.” And with that, we nod in agreement- she makes it her own with a gentle smile on her face.

Suswati Basu meets Reverend and her Maker

The first word they utter is political- and they mean business. “Our words are edgy because we make music to send out a message, not like the average indie band today.” So it seems that beyond the music industry lies more then just great tunes for us listeners, there is something to learn from the artists after all.

The ‘Reverend,’ Mr. Jon McClure has come a long way since collaborating with his present band the Makers in 2005. From Eastern influences, first band named Judan Suki to the formation of the Makers, the Sheffield band, keeping to their roots refused major record labels and signed with the independent label Wall of Sounds. Being alongside the Artic Monkeys, it was easy to get side-tracked with fame and fortune. However as McClure testifies “a lot of people don’t like the ‘sensitive’ substance we use in our songs such as talking about the ‘State of things’ these days. The music industry doesn’t like hearing the truth or going against the government and we like telling it.”

From a quick remark about ‘freedom fighters’ and all things against the war came a full-on discussion about the Reverend’s music within a corrupt society. McClure and percussionist Stuart Doughty’ frank comments about how bands are today epitomises their take on music- “they take drugs and then publicise it. It’s like who cares? But then you see them on the front of a magazine!”

Shadowing the band on stage gave a real sense of what the music was about- attitude and implications with a surface of indie-electronika. The atmosphere seems energised as the crowd and band jump in unison, the rhythms pounding and the guitars resounding- it was like the Reverend was making a sermon and the people answered “Hallelujah!”

One final vow: Reverend and the Makers are set to kick up a storm this year whether by their toe-tapping catchy tunes or priceless controversial words; you will definitely see them bless our music systems.