On The Scene: Yugong Yishan 17-03-2013

Yup I’m a ways behind – the price you pay for having your ridiculously awesome parents get down and dirty in Beijing – quite impressive for the retirees. Anywho, let’s play a little caught as March was the month that kept on giving.


As a part of JUE’s Emerging Young Artist Series on St. Paddy’s Day, Split Works brought together Plastered T-shirts, IdleBeats, and a host of up and coming bands courtesy of wooozy.cn, a pretty legit site offering the latest in media news here and aboard. The foursome lineup of recent signees to Maybe Mars, DICE, on-the-cusp of releasing their latest Residence A, the gracefully retro Mr. Graceless, and the dangerous minimalism of Snapline – it was too good an afternoon to pass up. Especially, when you got Yugong Yishan under the sun listening to such nuggets like this.

A fine afternoon indeed – let’s see what the bands offered up to the music gods.


First up was DICE, who have been receiving quite the good word of mouth these past months, as well as having Maybe Mars take them under their wing. So yeah, good things in store for the psychedelic avant rockers. Here’s a taste of their old school acid rock.

Pretty groovy. As easily as these bad boys could slip into rambunctious nonsense, as in the jam that never ends, they never do. They keep steady footing, and more importantly keep the momentum going. Your eyes might be rolling back in the hazy atmosphere DICE puts forth, but they’re guiding you though each tune making sure it never gets too dark.

And though I’m not entirely convinced by their more vocal numbers which take the swamp-psychedelic feel a step too far, I’m gonna keep my eyes peeled for what DICE has up their sleeve.


Well, Residence A, looks like I’ve found you more converts. As is always the case when the foursome play, this is the band that has everyone has to know the name of afterwards. Heck, I’m still giddy that after more than a year after their debut release they still have the goods to come out swinging for the moon each and every time.

That’s the title track off their forthcoming EP. Just righteous, no bullshit, friggin good music that engages, excites, and plasters a grin across that face. However, what has me antsy is the band’s continued interest in the beast that is electronic music.

Yeah, it leans a bit too heavily on the echoed vocals (Zhaozhao’s voice doesn’t need any altering in my opinion) but I’ll be lying if this new avenue hasn’t perked my curiosity as well as get my feet moving. As the band is in the midst of a nation-wide tour, it’s fair to say Residence A is just getting started wowing audiences.


Mr. Graceless wear their hearts on their sleeves. Loud and proud – there’s nothing ‘cool’ about these guys. These are nerds who grew up of the Beatles, Velvet, Weezer – bands who knew how to make catchy, effortless indie pop. Mr. Graceless has taken the tired-old formula of geek rock and made it their own.

These are shamelessly melodic, joyful and heartbreaking, youthful yet wise songs that ease their way in. It would be easy to wince at their whole demeanor, toss off their music as ‘corny’ – but they’d be missing the coy fun wordplay, the wink in their eyes, and skillful guitar work.

Pop rock hasn’t sounded this genuine in years, and Mr. Graceless have the genres down to a tee. It’d be a shame if they ever start worrying about their image. Geeks are all the rage anyhow.


Now for something completely different – Snapline – who have been infecting my membrane since last year, are on a rampage of sorts, playing just about everywhere nowadays. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that, as Snapline has slowly emerged as one of my favorite bands.

There’s something dangerous about Snapline’s music that digs under ones skin. As Chen Xi mentioned in a short interview we had upstairs, there’s nothing safe about their music – in fact, that’s one of the bands’ objectives in making music. I couldn’t agree more.

It’s off-putting, void of direct emotional relevance, and peculiar to say the least. Subtle with an iron fist, their music can be a chore to sit though – however, as with a lot of the best music out there, once you get on their wavelength, it’s a whole other world. Snapline don’t play it safe, as it well should be, and I couldn’t be happier.

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