Naohai 闹海 – The Crowd 乌合之众
Seasoned vets of the indie rock scene, Shanghai’s Naohai bring their rugged musicality to fruition on their gut-punch of a debut The Crowd. Volatile, lean and filled with buoyant post-punk breakdowns, noise rock reverberations, math rock theatrics, atmospheric post rock crescendos, and yes, even some Oasis-esque Britpop bravado – Naohai stands out mostly for their inability to dial it down. They aim high, go for the jugular, and lay into their instruments with a burliness not often seen in young bands – giving each a track a kinetic magnetism that grips you from the first second. Simply put, it packs a punch.
Kenja Time 空加太 – Impossible at Night 在夜里根本不可能
Maybe Mars unleashes their latest post punk acquisition, the Beijing three-piece Kenja Time, with a hell of an introduction with their debut Impossible at Night. The young band lean into the softer and looser elements of the post punk genre – injecting it with an intrepid almost post rock through-line that wrangles together some truly titillating chord progressions that’ll twist your ears into a knot of amusement. Echoes of a younger and warmer P.K14 are ever-present (most evident in Dai Shu’s wail of a voice) but there’s a playfulness here that manages to capture the heightened, ramshackle and yet jagged tones of the band’s sound.
Schoolgirl byebye – Lovers 恋人
Nanjing indie rock outfit Schoolgirl byebye, led by steadfast couple Yang Yue (on vocals and guitar) and Geng Shengzai (on drums), continue to find solace and company in the trivial trials and routines of daily life, finding maturity and lyrical resonance whilst twisting the band’s pulpy indie pop into something grounded, wistful, and romantic. While the band’s noisier 90s dream pop side still rears its head from time to time, it’s clear the band has settled into their low stakes indie pop personas, haplessly in love with one another, though not without its moments of deadpan humor.