Three Bands to Know

I listen to a lot of music from South Korean and Japan. Right now, it’s about 70% Asian and 30% United States. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Western music, in fact, I like much of the punk, rock, and independent music of the US. There’s just some sort of draw for Asian music for me. What started in 2001 has been a non-stop attempt to digest and analyze tons of music from the East.

These are three bands I think any starting fan of the music needs to listen to.

Ellegarden (Japan)

This on-hiatus punk band wasn’t the first one I ever listened to, but it is the most influential. The sound of Ellegarden is 1990s straight forward pop punk. While their earlier albums contain this feel, their later albums explored more complex arrangements and diverse sound.

One of the nice things about this band is that songs are a mixture of English and Japanese lyrics. Most songs are actually entirely in English and the pronunciation is solid. There’s isn’t much missed when listening to them.

In September 2008, the band went on hiatus with the lead singer starting the Hiatus which continued the later Ellegarden sound adding in more arrangements. The lead guitarist started Nothing’s Carved in Stone as again a lead guitarist. I wonder if the band names were pokes at each other. The drummer is in a more pop punk band, whose name escapes me and the bassist is missing in action as of right now.

Crying Nut (South Korea)

Crying Nut was the first “punk” band I ever heard from South Korea. Actually, I would define them as rock now rather than punk, but the album I got by them had some much punk sensibility, that I though they were a punk band. What’s amusing is that one of their songs became really famous, being attached to a movie or show, and is now a standard in Karaoke.

With non-standard arrangements, oi-style chorus, and just all round feel good music, Crying Nut is a band I revisit ever few months to remember how surprised I was when I first heard them.

Rip Slyme (Japan)

Probably in the top three of biggest rap groups in Japan, Rip Slyme is like a pop version of rap. Rap in general in Japan can’t be compared to the United States. Possibly Lupe Fiasco is the even the closest comparison. The different in rap is so stark, at least on the mainstream popularity, to the United States. Rip Slyme have been around for a long time, constantly releasing singles and albums, working in side groups like the Teriyaki Boyz (produced partially by Adrock of the Beastie Boys), or just taking breaks.

The enjoyable thing about Rip Slyme is the positive feel to all the music. The beats are on the front of the time signature and the vocals from the four rappers is all different, but smooth and sweet. As opposed to rap groups in the United States, there isn’t one main front man, each of the four rappers and the DJ all have their time in the spotlight.

It’s actually easier to find Japanese music than South Korean music. Mainly Kpop is what is released out and about, and finding rock and punk from Korea is a search in itself. I have found some really good stuff and I’ll share it next week.

If there’s anything you want to know more about, please let me know. I’ll find something or I might have something somewhere.