Summer underground electronica to soak in, Patrick Swayze inspired power pop, mellow dream pop out of Shaoxing, and the latest improvised piece from the Zoomin’ Night team – it’s the newest releases in China including fresh cuts from Babel Records, Johnny Utah & the Utards, The Cheers Cheers and Zhao Cong. Have at it.
Power pop with its tongue firmly in its cheek – there’s something irresistible about the ridiculously named Johnny Utah & the Utards, who hail from Suzhou. Named after the infamous antihero of action movie canon classic ‘Point Break’, True Feelings is an unabashed piece of power pop in the vein of Cheap Trick or Big Star that should fall apart on concept alone. Instead, the band delivers catchy number after catchy number, full of witty wordplay whose sincerity wins out each and every time. It’s a strange balance but when you can make a line like ‘I wanna fuck you right through the wall. But how thick is the wall?’ sound earnest, then you’re doing something right. Bandcamp.
Earlier this year, Beijing based independent label Babel Records, put out a stellar compilation featuring some of the scene’s hippest music makers. This summer they returned with another compilation, with a focus on electronic music. Summer Hotel夏日賓館 is exactly what it sounds like – the perfect summer mixtape, featuring a slew of laid back, sun-drenched upbeat tunes courtesy of some of the underground electronic scene’s unsung heroes, including sususu, Joy Ginger, Lofimaker, LilAkin, VISUDY Jeffery, Angry5JaR, Radiax, ǝıןıʇnɔ bunʎ, 鹿島大王, and赵大力. Lots of good finds in this grab bag. Bandcamp.
Shaoxing singer-songwriter WangXiao Yu, frontman of shoegaze outfit City Flanker, goes solo on The Cheers Cheers. Worked on in private over the last couple years, the dream pop debut entitled Carinae, out on Shenzhen label Boring Productions, is a bittersweet slice of downtempo pop. While it lacks the bombast and pulsating energy of the singer’s main project, it’s retains a lot of it’s bittersweet romance. Mellow, restrained, and emotionally futile, it’s good showcase for Wangxiao Yu’s melancholic voice. Bandcamp.
Zoomin’ Night, the Beijing based cassette label with its head in the skies of experimental bliss, release their latest – the first solo outing from Zoomin’ Night regular Zhao Cong (known for her work on Xiao Hong & Xiao Xiao Hong, Not in Catalog). Using a cardboard tube, a microphone, a mixer, and other miscellaneous objects – Afternoon is a mood piece that uses its field recording setting (a home studio) to its fullest advantage and allows both the environment and effects to seamlessly work together – that is, until they just about cancel each other out (remember that time you lost all hearing in your ears – get ready to relive that sensation). Pretty bare bones but that’s part of the appeal. Bandcamp.