Listening to Foster Parents’ newest album, Idle Archipelago, released on Guangzhou’s Qiii Snacks Records, is like being wrapped up in a warm blanket in front of the fireplace. Even as it tickles your earlobes with its math rock time signatures and wildly inventive arrangements, there’s a tenderness at the heart of the Shanghai duo – perfectly rendered through their pop culture-filtered, autumn-hued instrumental jams that manage to evoke a simpler time in broad emotional strokes that hit you straight in the gut. It’s a nifty magic trick – a trip down memory land that’s sensually rich and dense in its details, not afraid to lean into its pop punk earnestness or its Midwest emo roots. Nothing’s taken for granted and every opportunity is seized, leading to a cohesive sound that’s pure, genuine and devoid of pessimism. Math rock you can take home to your parents.
Ran Music has been keeping busy as ever this past year, but the one release that I’ve had on repeat has been the third LP release from groove collective Flash Beats Bone. Shaped between electronic producer Shen and drummer Lucas Chao (known to most as the drummer for Cui Jian) whose acute rhythmic arrangements lead the charge on the irresistible and lively Urban Truth, it’s a blast of an album. Filled out with colorful modular synthesizers and rich instrumental loops, the heavy grooves at hand are downright palpable – touching on everything from neo-soul, to funk jazz with heavy dabs of breakbeats, footwork, and drum n bass. Lush in its ornamentation, meticulously assembled, and propulsive in its conviction of rhythm and harmony, it’s hard not to get swept up in the raw power and spirit of Flash Beat Bones.
Chengdu bedroom pop duo All Romantic Days bring slick C86-styled twee pop pleasures to the forefront on their delightful glossy debut May I Waste Your Time, out on Letter Records. Looking to capture the affecting but fleeting moments of daily life, and evoking bands like The Sea Urchins, The Fairways, and Bubblegum Lemonade, there’s a casual indie pop sweetness at the center of the duo’s EP, which finds solace in the soothing jangle of its guitar, the repetitive pull of its drum machines, and the bubbly sing-along shared vocalizations between its two musicians. Not an ounce of fat – just four tightly wound singles that burst with cool-headed romance and colorful aplomb that’ll have you humming along long after the dust settles.