By Josh, 2017年 2月 5日
Last November, I took part in web radio station NTS‘s inaugural Beijing dispatch, sharing a four-hour program with Pei of Bye Bye Disco, Demone of Tangsuan Radio and Guzz of Do Hits. NTS is a rather rhizomatic entity, and in China their shows are coordinated by the Shanghai promoter China Social Club, a labor-of-love DJ organization run by two Australians. They invited me to DJ this show, and I awkwardly made an on-air plug for pangbianr.com, saying I’d post an annotated track list of the set I played here.
Well, this is that, only a few months late. I decided to finally get this up since Seattle radio station KEXP has just posted a great podcast/mix of China tunes that, like mine, starts off with Snapline. Listen to that here, and stream my NTS mix below or on NTS’s fancy website.
1. Snapline – She (Martin Atkins version)
Snapline is my favorite Beijing rock band, though temporarily defunct as its singer Chen Xi has moved to the US. The song comes from what I’d call Snapline’s 1.5th album, Future Eyes, which was recorded by Martin Atkins of PiL. The band wasn’t fully behind the end result and so this never got a proper release in China. Snapline went back to the studio and re-recorded all the songs, eventually releasing the result as their “official” 2nd album, Phenomena. I wrote a whole article about this specific song in my “In My Ears” column for Douban Music; you can read that here if you want.
2. 8 Eye Spy – 装修
This is from How Damn Far to Yinma Lane?, the 2009 album by 8 Eye Spy from Nanjing. There was a pretty fierce No Wave revival thing happening in the Chinese underground music scene from roughly 2007-2010, which coalesced during those years at the Zoomin’ Night weekly gig series at D-22 and was documented by several releases on Maybe Mars, of which this is my clear favorite. 8 Eye Spy is long gone and I’m not so sure what their members are up to today, but I’ve seen the band’s front-woman Lu Bai pop up in Beijing fairly frequently in the last year. She did a guest turn on bass with a band I play drums in, Vagus Nerve, at a performance we did last October in Beijing as part of an Asian Dope Boys event.
3. Streets Kill Strange Animals – 一个演员的自我修养
This is my favorite track off Streets Kill Strange Animals‘ latest album, last year’s excellent McD Kids. You can find some thoughts of mine on that album and an interview I did with the band’s frontman Leng Mei here.
4. Muscle Snog – Think and Shit
Muscle Snog was a band formed in the greater-Shanghai area around the same time 8 Eye Spy was kicking, rough contemporaries with them and a precursor for the great current Shanghai band Duck Fight Goose. I don’t know much about them honestly, but they’re cited as a key influence for a lot of the movers and shakers in China’s noise rock scene today (Leng Mei name-checks the album this song comes from, Mind Shop, in the interview linked to above), and this song’s a ripper.
5. Boojii – Rabbit Germ
Another Shanghai band active around the same time as Muscle Snog. I saw Boojii towards the end of their run, in 2010 at D-22, and distinctly remember the “FUCK CCTV, FUCK SARFT” shirt that their leader 33 was wearing. She’s now in Duck Fight Goose. Overall Booji had a weird carnival-waltz post-punk thing going on, which doesn’t come through so much on this track. It’s from their only album, Reserved.
6. SUBS – Brother
SUBS is a big name on the Chinese festival circuit. I’ve been their drummer for almost three years now, but truth be told, I prefer the tunes they were turning out earlier in their career, when they had more of a hardcore edge, as evidenced on this track, which comes from their great 2006 album Down. I did a long interview with the band’s two core members, Kang Mao and Wu Hao, for the December 2016 issue of American punk rag Maximum Rocknroll, which you can download in pdf form here.
7. Fanzui Xiangfa – Kill Your Television
Speaking of hardcore, and speaking as a hardcore kid, Fanzui Xiangfa is China’s best, fastest & purest HC band. Their members are spread across several continents these days so they don’t play much, but this track has been a go-to for several mixes/radio shows I’ve done, mainly because of the rad CCTV sample at the beginning. Find it on their 2006-2014 discography.
8. AV Okubo – Heroin
AV Okubo from Wuhan are on a plane of their own, churning out salvia-warped synth-pop gems from China’s punk rock capital for about a decade now. “Heroin” is a studio outtake from their 2014 album Dynasty, produced by Gang of Four’s Andy Gill. It was released as the B-side of a Genjing 7″ whose A-side is called “Opium”.
9. Gate to Otherside – Love
This song comes from the as-yet-unreleased debut album by Gate to Otherside, a new-ish Beijing band featuring ex- & current members of Carsick Cars, Birdstriking, and Free Sex Shop. Should be officially released later this year on Maybe Mars.
10. Lonely Leary – Arsonist
Post-punk is alive and well in Beijing (see also: Snapline, P.K.14), and my favorite band doing it today is Lonely Leary. This demo was recorded when they were in between drummers, hence the drum machine, which kind of adds to the menacing effect of the whole, in my opinion. Lonely Leary also signed to Maybe Mars late last year and should have an album out with them sometime in 2017.
11. Ourself Beside Me – Bird+Elephant
Ourself Beside Me was a band led by the brilliant Yang Fan, who was the founding guitarist of late-’90s riot grrrl band Hang on the Box. This comes from their 2009 self-titled record Ourself Beside Me, in my opinion the best thing that Maybe Mars has ever released. Yang Fan put out a brilliant solo album a few years back and, more recently, has started an also brilliant duo called TOW with Liu Ge of The Molds.
12. David Boring – Machine#1
Honestly don’t know much about this band at all. They’re from Hong Kong and came through Beijing last year with another Hong Kong band called Ex-Punishment (formerly The Yours), but I wasn’t around at the time. Really like this track though. Bandcamp it here.
13. FAZI – Golden Cage
FAZI (formerly The Fuzz, they recently changed their name because I guess there were too many The Fuzzes in the world) from Xi’an pulls their influences from the China post-punk tradition and mixes that with some ambient traces of influence from the darker, scuzzier side of ’90s Brit-pop. Not really my sound, but I like this band a lot. This selection comes from their 2015 Golden Cage 7″ (released under the The Fuzz name).
14. Snapline – Paper General
This is just another go-to DJ song for me, one of my favorite Snapline tunes. It was recorded during a standalone session in 2011, in between Future Eyes and Phenomena, by visiting Los Angeles producer Manny Nieto. Kind of sat around and collected dust for years until being unearthed and released on a Genjing 7″ in 2014.
15. Dream Can – 在摇摇晃晃的时间里
This is another unreleased track, by Dream Can from Shanghai. They put down their debut album for Maybe Mars, recorded by PK14’s Yang Haisong, shortly before I put together this mix. The album’s a real hypnagogic slow-burner. Should be out within a few months.
16. Skip Skip Ben Ben – Do the R
This is my favorite track on Mirror in Mirror, the 2015 album by Skip Skip Ben Ben from Taiwan. Their frontwoman Ban Ban is one of the best rock songwriters in the Mandosphere so I wanted to include her here. Not sure what she’s up to but I think she’s been active with her folkier project Freckles lately, and I believe there’s another Skip Skip Ban Ban album in the works. Find a dated (2013) profile of her by me here.
17. P.K.14 – 故事
Obligatory track from P.K.14, the forefathers of Chinese art punk. It’s the closing track from their album White Paper, released by Modern Sky’s Badhead imprint in 2005. Recommended further listening: 1984 (2013), Music for an Exhibition (live album, 2015).
18. Dear Eloise – Control
Last but not least, another unreleased track. Dear Eloise is a studio-only project by P.K.14’s singer Yang Haisong on all instruments and his wife Sun Xia on vocals. Check out a purdy new music video for one of their songs over on NPR. This track is a cover of a song from FAZI’s latest album, The Root of Innocence, and will be released in a 7″ box set of half originals, half Dear Eloise covers of Yang Haisong-produced bands to be released by Genjing sometime this year, maybe…