New Releases: SUBS, Wanderlust, Carsick Cars/Flavor Crystals, Haystack Folk Compilation Vol. 1


Seems burning all that ghost money has left us with a stash of new releases to get giddy about – thanks deceased ancestors! Enjoy these royalties in the form of the fifth album from art punk sensations SUBS, the latest Genjing Records spilt featuring Carsick Cars and US-based Flavor Crystals, the newest EP from electronic duo Wanderlust, and the first compilation from Haystack Folk. Check it out.

Amidst all the reshuffling, which included ditching the bass altogether, adding in a keyboard sampler, and finding a new drummer, punk rock outfit SUBS, led by the ‘Queen of Fucking Everything’ Kang Mao have gotten around to releasing their fifth studio album, entitled yoU aRe yoU, which as per usual with the DIY-supporters, was self-recoreded and self-released, thanks in part to a kickstarter-esque fund raiser. If last years’ performances’ weren’t enough of an indication then let this album be the war cry for SUBS new intergalactic digs, which infiltrate the album’s ten tracks, giving it a spacey, psychedelic tint that’s offbeat, imaginative, and at times jarring. Tracks like ‘Chocobo’ and ‘Tomorrow Knows The Answer’ come across as an art punk  version of the Dirty Projectors with its eccentric guitar work and Kang Mao’s farce cute girl voice. Granted, the rock em’ sock em’ appeal of SUBS’s earlier work loses its luster a bit, but Kang Mao still manages to inject her wonderful trademark whirlwind mania in each of the tunes. In fact, her voice stands out all the more now, allowing her lyrics to cut deeper, and allowing her voice even more infections, if that was even possible. This is especially true on opener ‘10000 Arrows’ and ‘Much’. This may not be the SUBS we all remember, but I’m digging the new path that they’re going down. Give it a listen over here.

Tianjin electronic duo Wanderlust, who jumped ship last year for greener pastures and are now based in Ottawa and California, continue to get expand and develop their electronic skills with their latest EP, entitled Irrational Obsession, which explores some new ground for the duo, namely making vivid Technicolor video game soundtrack music Seriously, try not imagining playing the sci-fi stage of Crash Bandicoot whilst listening to the funky charm of ‘Extra Creamy Spy (Strawberry/Blueberry/Double Chocolate, Toasted)’ and the synthpop restraint ‘Nebula Flashback’ and ‘Persian Robots’. Just saying, if these two ever find a career working for Squaresoft making quirky video game music I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. Spin it, purchase it, all over here.

‘Trees anywhere grow slow and sturdy’ – that’s the logline to the Haystack Folk Compilation Vol. 1 which was officially released last weekend at Mako Livehouse. The eleven track compilation includes cuts from a host of up and coming folk artists such as King Zhou, Jasmine Monk, Li Jin, Ga Jin, and Mayu Yang, and serves as a bittersweet reminder of the ever-evolving folk scene here in Beijing, which some might attribute to the Greenwich Village scene in NYC back in the 1960s (at least they do). It’s a sublime collection of story-based tunes that ease their way through your ears – welcoming but never too eager. I particularly like Li Jin’s lovely ballad. Purchase it over at Indie Music Store.

Genjing Records continues busting out the seven inches, with this latest 7’’ spilt between noise pop favorites Carsick Cars and Minneapolis psych-rock vets, Flavor Crystals. Side A finds Carsick Cars, who recently released their much third album and hit the North America road, at their most shamelessly popish with ‘Yoko’ – ‘driving repetition, clean, Figurines-esque vocals and an anthemic, balls-to-the-wall resolve that unexpectedly launches the track into the stratosphere upon its incessantly rhythmic conclusion’. Meanwhile, Side B gives the US band their moment to shine with ‘Mirror in My Mind’ – ‘a drone smeared, carefully considered, morotik ripper that mines the depths of exploratory shoegaze with aplomb, not unlike an auditory visage of one of Frederik van Eeden’s exercises in lucid dreaming.’ Damn, gotta love Genjing’s descriptions. Purchase the sucka over here – only 500 units being sold. Gonna be hard to beat that cover art.

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