New Releases: Djang San, Jiao, Weirdo Room, The Other


Time to dig into the big wide wonderful world of music that resides here in Beijing and beyond. Grunge out of Wuhan, post rock from Xi’an, auditory chaos straight out of Shanghai, and ‘east meets west’ rock and roll from our home base, it’s a hefty rag tag team of bands and musicians on hand. Let’s check out the latest from Jiao, Weirdo Room, The Other, and Djang San.


While grunge music has been a staple of the Beijing music scene since the release of Radiant Nirvana by Hao Fang in 1996, its limitations has often kept its torchbearers under the radar. This is particularly the case for disillusioned up and comers Jiao (Banana Tree) out of Wuhan who are giving the genre a much needed lyrical boost. On Love (貳零壹伍年壹月捌日封), the band presents their utopia of dissatisfaction with seven tracks of unfiltered grunginess with a storytellers relish. These are songs that don’t go for the easy kill, and while the lead’s voice and seem way too at ease, there’s an innocence and undeniable pragmatism inherent in each of the tracks. No cheap tricks, no guileless hooks – just raw energy spewing forth. And while the band claims these are simply demos, I have a feeling this will be a band sought after in the next year or so. Give it a spin here and here (and download it here)

Djang San continues his exploration of musically crossing cultural boundaries in his latest Bridges (part 1). If his past releases were (aplenty) his essays on the topic – then this bad boy is his thesis. With an electric zhongruan in tow, Djang San strives to not only build the bridge between the east and west; between past and future; and its various musical styles – he means to cross it. The album which was recorded earlier this year by none other than Yang Haisong, is a meatier production, one infused with robust compositions, like the extended cut of ‘Gobi’, and unconventional flourishes, like on ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Cow Street’ which to me reveals the accumulation of Djang San’s two egos – the rocking beer bottle pick guitar hero and the experimental and electronica voyager. And it’s exactly where his influences find a fresh voice. Spin it here. Bring on part 2 already. Catch Djang San and company unveil their latest over at Temple next Friday, May 29th.

Post rock continues dominating the Chinese musical landscape and the latest addition to the team is Weirdo Room, out of Xi’an. The band released their debut earlier this year and while it flew under most people’s radars (including mine) it’s definitely worth digging up. We Will Be Back To Sea is a fine introduction to a band whose wear their influences proudly yet remain visceral as ever. Unlike a lot of post rock outfits in China, there’s a spark running beneath these kids, that’s gives their music more weight than expected. From the emotionally-charged vocals on ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Bright Line’ to electric buzz of the opening, or the unexpected guitar work on ‘Invisible War’, it’s clear Weirdo Room are searching for something different; something grander and more majestic in the genre and I think they’re on the right path. Give it a spin here and here and be sure to check out Weirdo Room this weekend as they perform at 69 Café on Saturday, May 23rd and at Mako Livehouse on May 24th.

Shanghai-based experimental rock project The Other, headed by Adam Cah, takes matters into his own hand with his latest endeavor, Bipolar Records. The record looks to shine a spotlight on Shanghai’s more reckless noise makers, and knowing The Other’s track record, they’ll be doing just fine bringing forth the chaos Adam and company are known for. The latest release to hit the web is Burno Inferno (Live@Inferno) – twenty-eight minutes of auditory mayhem – drums, droning, heavy guitars, and a sense that everything is not going to be alright. It’s off the cusp, it’s raw, and if you don’t mind journeying back music’s darker more fractured paths, he might just find something. Check it out over here and keep an eye out for Bipolar Records in the future.

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