Time to check out what the 2016 has to offer, and from the sound of it, we’re off to a strong start. Indie pop from Xi’an, feedback-infused noise pop out of Beijing, alcohol-fueled hardcore punk from Shanghai, and one of Beijing’s leading deathcore outfits getting their due. Here are the newest releases from Quark, Dear Eloise, PVA, and Four Five.
My CNY refuge, Xi’an, is impressing more and more with its crop of incredibly talented artists emerging from the Shaanxi capital city. The latest band to slap a big ol’ grin on my face is alt indie pop outfit Quark, a band that’s been floating around since 2010, but hasn’t really captured my attention till now. And that’s because Design, the latest EP from the group, is wonderfully laid out album featuring some truly stunning work. Tuneful, heart-warming, indie pop that never dips too far into shtick or schmaltz, the EP features three killers singles wrapped in short sound bite collages. Best of which is the opening single, ‘Unknown Artist’, a nostalgic-infused bittersweet ode to youth that gets me every single time. Dying to hear more from these cats – check out the EP over on douban and xiami.
Dear Eloise, the guitar washed, shoegaze side project from P.K 14 frontman Yang Haisong and his wife Sun Xia, and one of Beijing’s best-kept secrets, return with another bittersweet lo-fi beauty, Uncontrollable, Ice Age Stories, and it’s arguably the band’s most cohesive work to date. While many may be turned off by the duo’s borderline apathetic tone and overwhelming feedback, I’ve always been transfixed by the dream-like world the band resides in. Chaotic and soothing all at once, it’s noise pop where the beach has been replaced by a smog-ridden concrete jungle. And while there is a sense that the duo may be running out of canvas, on closer listen, one can hear Haisong and Xia employing more, for lack of a better word, rock and roll into their sound – the guitar melodies are stronger, the drums come through loud and clear, and Xia’s melodies sting a bit more. It’s Dear Eloise at it’s most accessible and that ain’t a bad thing at all — tear into it over on bandcamp.
One of Beijing’s leading deathcore outfits Four Five, formed in 2004, have over the course of the decade amassed legions of fans with their exaggerated yet melodic brand of metalcore, which combines strong metal riffs with hardcore progressive beats. So much that the band was asked to sign with Modern Sky last year. That union is on full display in the band’s latest album, Through The Darkness, ten tracks of head banging, power screaming, drum bursting, progressive combi-beat riffing that cut like a knife and hit you like a sledge hammer. Compared to their previous material there’s a lot more melodically pleasing choruses and electronic backing which cheapen or invigorate the tension depending on the track – but for the most part this is vintage Four Five. Core kids get after it over on xiami and bandcamp.
Looking for a quick and dirty twenty minutes to kick start your day? Then PVA just might be the fix. ‘Fused in the fiery pits of Shanghai, combining the fiercest essences of Hardcore, Metal and Beer,’ PVA is the latest hardcore punk trashers to emerge from China’s financial capital. Their debut, This Smile Is A Hoax, is a gut busting, abrasive, good old-fashioned mosh pit starter. And while there isn’t anything revolutionary about what PVA is doing, there’s a no-frills, fuck-all attitude to each song that’s pleasantly refreshing and often lacking in punk bands across China. Give it a spin over on their bandcamp.