Synth-layered gospel, indie pop sweetness, alt-country barn burners, and space-themed art pop – it’s a hot bed of great music to get lost in including a staggering debut from Chinese Football, the epic transformation of Alpine Decline, as well as the latest from Djang San and The Randy Abel Stable. Have at it.
Wuhan math rock emo disciples Chinese Football have knocked it out of the park with their self-titled debut. An intricately put-together album of thirteen tracks that leave nothing on the table, this baby is drenched in talent and musicianship. Raw, volatile, with a warm indie pop sensibility that never dips into shtick, Chinese Football walk the line long and hard and don’t miss a beat. Just listen to the jangly angst in their chanting of “1,2,3” on ‘Hat Trick’ or the way they grasp a moment of pause in the middle of the chorus on ‘Not Everyone Can Wear The Jersey on the 10th’ – these young men aren’t messing around. Much like the adolescent pains of being young at heart, they grab hold of you and don’t let go. Far and away, one of the best debuts to come out of China this year. Tear into it over on bandcamp.
Alpine Decline, one of Beijing’s most consistently satisfying bands – a band that is constantly pushing the envelope and expanding their sound into new territory – does it again with Ink, which trades in the band’s signature dystopian guitar \’n drums \’n buzz for a modular-synth-led choir. And it’s glorious. An atmospheric masterpiece that sucks you in, riding on cathartic waves of emotion and wonder. Where a turn of a sound or the echo of a word can elicit an immediate ethereal response. It’s menacing, brooding, and overwhelmingly beautiful at times, and is just a beast of an album. And now that the canvas has been split wide open for Alpine Decline – I’m more curious than ever to see where they go from here. Grab Ink over at Laitdbac Records’ bandcamp page — only available in vinyl.
‘The story of a goat travelling in space’ – that’s the tagline to Djang San’s most recent foray into the strange and unusual, The Goat Who Fell From Earth, which finds the Beijing-based artist jumping down the rabbit hole even further, exploring new ground. And from the sound of it, having a grand old time. A collaboration with Beijing-based composer, Christopher O\’Young aka Octavio, the concept album follows the insane story of a genetically modified goat who must save the universe – and a whole lot of kookiness in the middle, including fast food restaurants on Mars, and Neptunian police. Yeah, it’s more than a bit quirky but boy is it fun. Featuring a host of guest spots from some of the local scene’s richest talent including Matthew Parker, Carlo, Mademoiselle, Rich Barnes, and Randy Abel, it’s a compact piece of work that ranges from Djang San’s philosophically intoned ballads, to more Chanson-styled, electronically layered numbers. It’s a bit of a hot mess, but gotta hand it to Djang San – he doesn’t hold back. Relish the madness at hand over at bandcamp.
Honky tonk, country, and bluegrass – the staples of whiskey induced bittersweet wistfulness and boy does it go down smooth. You’re either in or you’re out on the latest from Beijing’s premier Americana outfit The Randy Abel Stable. The gang is back together for Lonely to Lonesome – the second official release from the veteran group whose members hail from all around the globe. Four tracks of vintage alt-country, which range from slow heart aching harmonica-filled takes, to bittersweet upbeat country ballads. And while longing is the common theme across the EP, there’s soulful optimism (willful acceptance) present throughout. Grab Lonely to Lonesome for free over at bandcamp.