Archive for the 'music appreciation' Category


An update on my blogs…

One reason I haven’t posted so much on this blog is because I’ve been covering my passion for indie bands in Taiwan, China and east Asia in general on another blog which I named ‘Indie Baibu‘. ‘Baibu’ is Japanese for ‘vibe’ (in katakana anyway). There’s definitely an emphasis on post rock and electronic indie.

However, I haven’t forgotten Aussie bands. Currently I’m listening to Dappled Cities, with the vid below.

I’ve also kept up my cartooning on ‘Munhwa Experience


Taiwanese not-so-indie: Jay Chou.

When I was in Taiwan in the early 2000’s I was a dedicated rock fan searching out the local indie bands (like the Chairman, Tizzy Bac, etc…) and I generally pooh-poohed the Taiwanese pop scene. I especially found the girl bands like S.H.E. and the young rapping upstarts particularly nauseating. I’d also heard of a hip-hop genius songwriter called Jay Chou but I generally turned my nose up at the tought of such ‘commercial pulp’. (You may have heard of Jay Chou from his role in the film ‘The Green Hornet’.

Fast-forward a few years later back in Australia and I had a bit of a ‘bored-with-rocknroll’ crisis, so I bought a couple of Jay Chou albums down at the local Chinatown. Since then I’ve come to appreciate his songwriting and production skills (in partnership with lyric-spinner Vincent Fang). With a background in classical music, he’s managed to fuse this with hip-hop and pop as well as create well-crafted love ballads. Furthermore he’s been known to add traditional Chinese instruments to the modern pop mix.

He’s also hardworking having produced 11 albums in 12 years and generally sticks to the same variety of songs each album -a few hip-hop tracks, a couple of love ballads, a parody/humorous song or two and maybe a pop-rock number. He’s latest effort is no exception, which I also picked up in Taiwan when I was there. However, the marketing of the album with it’s bubble-gum cartoon sailor theme is a little bit of a turn off for me.

So yes, I have indulged in some Taiwanese pop as a guilty pleasure, but don’t worry, the next album I’ll share about (that I found digging in second-hand stores in Taipei) is a Chairman album…


tag gag for the day….

It’s not always easy to tag one’s music with the right genre tags, especially as the use and description of genre has become more refined, more specific and more niche… so I did a gag about it.


Burgeoning Brisband Scene…

I have a coursin in a Brisbane band that has had some popularity recently.  The irony is that all the members were in other bands, slogging it out, and they just go together for fun, and from there they had a spark with some some local interest. They came down to Sydney recently where I caught them at a gig… But the great thing about Brisbane is that it’s small enough that almost all the musos know each other, which fosters a scene. Unlike Sydney, which makes it all too easy for the up-coming band to get lost in the ether…

Anyway, the Keep On Dancin’s were lots of fun and they’ve just released an album. Their Myspace describes them as ‘pop, visual, surf’… For me, they reminded me a little bit of the Cramps but less rough… , ( the Cramps was one of my fav bands in high school). I’m not really into the genre, so I’ve got to relate them to something I’ve heard…



Update on my iTunes Experience…

I’m getting into tonnes of Asian bands that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to, such as Cui Jian (‘godfather of Chinese rock’), Carsick Cars (one of the latest indies out of Bejing) and some Taiwanese and Japanese indie bands. I’m also a fan of L’Arc-en-Ciel, but there are so many versions and spellings of their names and they’re not coming up in the itunes search. Surely that can’t be the limit to itunes? L’Arc-en-Ciel has got to be one of the biggest Japanese rock bands since the 90’s -from what I know anyway…


New demo

I’ve got a new demo up, another instrumental. you can check it out here:

Also, met my old drummer the other day at church… nice to catch up. We were in a band together in the 90’s, but things have changed a lot since then, and we’ve all gone out separate ways. Music is still my passion even though it’s just a hobby. I don’t have a band now, but I enjoy just arranging and working on demos… Now I’m more into the songwriting process, and I have my other hobbies that keep me busy, such as blogging and cartooning (Munhwa Experience).

The drummer enjoys a bit of tapping, but he doesn’t have a kit these days -he’s more focused on saving and the corporate ladder. Sometimes I think it would be cool if the band got back just for a reunion bash -I’m still friends with the singer, but his passion is home brewing now anyway. And we’ve lost contact with the other member  -and half the band is all married with kids.

Interesting seeing other bands that were gigging round the scene make it now -I mentioned to my drummer that we’d supported a band back then that’s quite successful now -COG. I’m full of admiration for those guys because we saw from the beginning how dedicated and focused they were. At that gig in the southwest of Sydney the pub was virtually empty (this was the late 90’s) -for them it was probably more just a practice gig. For us it was the usual. We’d forgotten to bring the ride with the drum kit and they kindly lent us theirs.

The message for me, (which I was telling the drummer), was that success is attainable for the truly dedicated and persevering. Many bands have the talent, but it’s putting in the hard yards and developing the sound. But COG sounded great live back then, imagine how they sound now!

But the toll of touring must be heavy, and that was something our band wasn’t willing to do, which was the next level for us to shoot for -hire a van and tour up the east coast of Australia on a shoe-string budget. We were all too nerdy, conservative and cautious…

I feel we had the songwriting and the tightness, but we didn’t develop stage presence and work on our live act, and every member needs to have the same commitment -it’s like a chain being as strong as its weakest link. And a few albums on we would’ve developed the songwriting into something special, instead we never got past the 12 song demo stage…


Escaping boring music

  It’s funny how different types of music can either excite us or bore us. There are so many different facets to appreciating music, so many reasons why we appreciate music and a lot of the time it’s not just the music, it’s the image and the associations and the lyrics etc…

That’s why I’m skeptical about music ‘scientists’ trying to find a formula for why some music is ‘good’ and other music is ‘not good’. Music appreciation is more than just listening to a bunch of notes and ‘aural vibration’, more than just ‘the C chord’ followed by the ‘F chord’ with a nice melody thrown in.

That’s kind of what punk rock proved back in the 70’s -anyone can pick up a guitar, any kid can join a band and rock out. And they became popular not so much for their musicianship but they clicked with their audience. In fact, rather than the puncy rock stars who became separated from their audience, they were part of their audience.

And that’s important for youth -searching for your identity and people you can connect with. I was from the ‘grunge’ generation but personally I connected more with Jimi Hendrix and the 70’s punk bands, and kids today still get into Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

But now as I’m well into my thirties I’m searching for new types of music, such as traditional Asian music. That’s a completely different appreciation -I don’t have any relationship with the musicians as such because I don’t know who they are, but I relate to the music from living in Asia and getting into things like Taichi.

Since I like songwriting I find I’ve got to keep exploring music to find inspiration, whether it’s bebop jazz, 80’s pop, hiphop, post-rock, Taiwanese indie bands etc…There’s so much out there to explore and learn, and I think it’s important to have an open mind.

Besides, rock just gets boring after a while. Unless the songwriting is good or they’re exploring interesting harmonies or bringing in an outside influences, most rock bands are boring. Especially commercial rock where they churn out the same safe melodies -they’ll be catchy for 15 minutes then thrown on the waste-pile of wannabe hits.