Saturday, June 30, 2007


photo credit: kid ampersand

Piana recently released a new album after 1 & 1/2 years called "Eternal Castle." Although I would've liked to hear more on the album (there are only really 8 songs), I love it nonetheless. As many of you probably already knew, Piana is an internationally known Japanese electronic/acoustic pop artist. I went to see her concert last summer in Hong Kong, and it was one of the best things I've experienced - it was just Piana, Datsuko Hatano on the violin, and Piana's laptop. And her music was so...calming and beautiful sit in a dreamy trance. What I enjoy most about Piana music is that she uses light electronics mixed with violin, piano, cello, and a bit of organ and, then, adds on her calm, almost kiddish voice to create a sort of simple, perfect harmony. Her songs are good for lying on the grass (or beach haha) in the summer and daydreaming about our pasts & future. She's beyond awesome.

Sample Song: Beyond the Season

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ming Ming - A Cinematic Soundscape

I'm a huge fan of soundtracks. For some reason, I'm drawn to how instrumentals not only create the mood & (most of the times) make films even more of an enjoyable experience, they're (the good ones I mean :P) also great to listen to even if one hasn't seen the movie yet. It's also interesting that soundtrack instrumentals usually aren't classified as say, classical, or new age, they're a genre of their own.

I listen to lots of soundtracks, nowadays, mostly Asian soundtracks. I guess I'm more drawn to Japanese & Korean soundtracks, probably because I enjoy Japanese & Korean films/dramas tremendously. I know I know, I'm Chinese, it's ironic that I don't watch as many Chinese/HK/Taiwan idol dramas haha. Well, no offense...but they're just too generic *_^ Even the music!

That's why I was super, super delightfully surprised when I finally listened to the Ming Ming soundtrack (a new Hong Kong film starring Zhou Xun and the yummy Daniel Wu). Well, to put it short, let's say it's almost a People Mountain People Sea (HK alternative label) artist compilation album: fully equipped with my favorites: Pixeltoy, at17, Material Girls, Arumimihifumi, gayamyan, and even a track from Fu Lu Shou's (Mavis Fan's side project that I mentioned awhile ago) album. Since I haven't heard of new songs from Pixeltoy (a lovely HK electronic duo) for awhile now, hearing their new song "Write a Poem" made me very, very happy. And even though most of the other vocal songs on this soundtrack was featured in each artist's previous albums, it was still nice to kind of "hear back" from them again *_^ (err yeah I have too many music to listen too...) It was also amazing that all these songs fit together with the overall mood & the instrumental tracks of this soundtrack. I can't wait to see the movie. Lastly, a lot of these songs are "Mandarin" versions of originally Cantonese songs. Nothing against Cantonese, but since I speak mandarin...yay ^_^

Overall, when do we ever see a big budget Chinese film's soundtrack produced by an indie label??!! Well, I guess since Zhou Xun (the versatile Chinese actress & singer) is in this movie, there is indeed hope :o) (ok ok the director Susie Au played a big part in deciding the music too hehe)

Photo credit: yangon

Whooppee!!! Finally something from Pixeltoy, one of my favorite HK artists/duos. A little bit mellower & slower than their usual upbeat electronic songs, this is nice & relaxing. Fits with the whole mood of the soundtrack.

Sample Song: Pixeltoy - 写一首诗 (Write a Poem)

Photo Credit: ah-block ®

Originally featured in their "Bian Bian Bian (Change Change Change)" album, this is an acoustic + mandarin version of their song "After 3 minutes (三分钟后)". Simple, soft, and nice.

Sample Song: at17 - 请你不要睡好吗? (Please Don't Fall Asleep)

Arumimihifumi, another local HK indie artist, is just too cute for words xD I absolutely love her mix of bossa, piano, silly lyrics and a kiddish, cute voice. This song was originally from her Thundering Queen album.

Sample Song: Arumimihifumi - 黑衣人 (Black Coat Guy)

Material Girls is Sandee Chen's (Taiwan) project with a People Mountain People Sea artist - Veronica Lee (HK). Their debut (and so far only) album is filled with electronic songs mixed with various elements such as rock, dance, disco, bossa, etc. that got them the best group awards at Taiwan's 17th annual Golden Records Awards. This is not my favorite song on the album (considering that each song on the album are in ways quite different), but again, it fits into the overall mood of the soundtrack quite well - all thanks to music director Anthony Wong & Veronica Lee. ^_^

Sample Song: Material Girls - 蝶恋花 (Butterfly Loves Flowers)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Summer & Cheer

Hi everyone - sorry I haven't updated this blog for awhile *_^ A lot happened second semester of school - I procrastinated, went to interviews, ran for board positions, procrastinated some more, and finally took & finished my finals! Sadly, I haven't been keeping up with new music for the past few months :( However, summer is here again, and the best gift that summer brings is Cheer's newly released "Flower" concert DVD + 2CD (plus some nice extras such as a photo book of Cheer's live performances) set. Yuppieeeee! ^_^

Of course, I had pre-ordered this as soon as I saw it listed in April. It was finally shipped yesterday...I can't wait to watch Cheer's 2006 "Flower/The Posture of Flower" concert that she performed right after releasing her "A Fabulous Adventure" concert. I have, in the mean time, listened to her 2CD concert songs - and they're awesome as usual. Aside from the simpler background music/instruments, Cheer's voice, pitch, and tone sound just like Cheer on her officially recorded albums. This just proves, again, that without the voice enhancements & the digitally modified whatever blahs, Cheer's music & voice remains pure & original. Self. I would give anything to fly over to Taiwan and go to her concert :o) Hehe, maybe my chances are increasing since my roommate is Taiwanese. I'll just bum off her & go with her to Taiwan someday haha.

Sample Song: A Little Step (Live)

A simple acoustic version of "A Little Step," I love it.

PS The first song on the blog music player is also from Cheer's live album (the song that Cheer & her bf Tiger wrote for Karena Lam).

Friday, January 12, 2007


Happy (belated) New Year everyone! Time is passing too fast *_^ Yay - 2007 is the year of the pig - my grandmother's zodiac year. There's a belief in China that when the year is your zodiac animal year, a big change (usually good) will happen in your life. When I was 12 (Chinese age) I came to the US - pretty big change haha. I hope my grandmother will continue to be healthy and happy in China ^_^

So, 2007 starts with me listening to a bunch of S.H.E (Taiwanese 3-girl pop group) ^_^ I have been a fan of S.H.E ever since their first album (which is still one of my favorite). S.H.E does sing formulaic pop music - but their songs stand out amongst the hundreds of other repetitive Chinese pop artists. Their songs are fun to sing at KTV, their upbeat songs makes me happy & want to dance, and their overall goofy & funny personality (ok mostly Ella and Hebe muhaha) is just awesome. Maybe I'm a very biased fan, but it has been great seeing how much the three girls have grown throughout these few years - their sing have definitely improved quite a bit along the way.

S.H.E just released a live album (recorded during their recent concert in HK), and I love it. Not only do they sing a bunch of their popular songs, the live album also feature each girl's own performance - Hebe's drum solo & Ella singing David Tao's "爱很简单" (Love is very easy) on the piano is very cool. Each girl also chose a song they liked and sang solo during the concert - those songs were probably my favorite in the live album. So, here they are :)

Sample Song: Selina - 还是会寂寞 (Cheer Chen's "Lonely without you")

I was definitely surprised to hear Selina cover Cheer's song. Selina's usually a pop person ^_^ Her little speech at the beginning of the song is cute - "This song, 'Lonely without you,' is for everyone that's lonely. I hope you guys/girls won't be lonely anymore." Someone actually emailed me & asked for this song's English lyrics, so I translated them at my Cheer blog.

Sample Song: Hebe - She's the One (Robbie Williams)
Hebe is my favorite vocalist in S.H.E because her voice & singing ability in my opinion is the best in the group. Not to mention her favorite music genre is alt. rock ^_^ This is a beautiful cover of Robbie William's "She's the One." Definitely a song to put on repeat.

Ella - 阴天 (Karen Mok's "Cloudy Day")

"Cloudy Day" is one of Ella's all-time favorite songs. She sang it everywhere (even at the contest that got her into S.H.E). Of course, I don't blame her - this song is one of Karen Mok's classics, and Ella's low, confident voice is just perfect for the song. Go Ella!

Just recently, Hong Kong's Khalil Fong released his second album. Soulboy is back with another perfect R&B composition "This Love" while adding new elements such as jazz, rock, swing, electronic, etc. in this awesome album ^_^ Why can't China/HK/TW have more mainstream artists like him?! I also enjoy every song from this album (as with his first album) I had a hard time picking out the sample song... boo Khalil boo :P By the way, Khalil's blog is actually written in English, so check it out (lol @ S.A.M. dark picture)

Sample Song: 唉! (Oh!)

2006 was a great year for 2005 Super Girl (China) singing contest winners - many of them released their solo albums. Of course, if you've read my previous post about Jane Zhang (she landed 3rd place but imo the best singer), I did not like the 1st place winner Li Yu Chun at all. Anyway, my favorite super girl releases are: Jane's debut album "The One", the 2nd place winner Bibi Zhou's solo album "Who moved my piano chord", and the recently released 6th place winner Huang Ya Li's "Zai Zai".

I didn't pay much attention to Bibi while watching the 2005 Super Girl singing contest when I went back to China that summer. Even though Bibi chose songs that I liked - David's and Leehom's classics, I still believed that ability wise Jane was the best ^_^ However, her debut album surprised me - of course, she stuck to her favorite genre: R&B in some songs, but many songs on the album have different flavors: pop, ballads, rock, dance... and most of them are really catchy & nice ^_^ This summer I also went to see her debut film with Hu Ge & Cecilia Cheung "The 601st Phone Call." It was an...interesting movie - for a 1st time actress Bibi was OK ^_^ I still prefer her singing :o)

Almost every song on this album has a different flavor, the sample song is a dance/pop-ish goody. Me like.

Sample Song: Bibi Zhou - 无人岛 (Island without people)

2006 was an awesome, awesome year for Jane. She was invited to sing at countless concerts, plays, shows, she released a couple singles before releasing her debut album "The One," and she even sang the high-octave, difficult theme song for the popular TV/wuxia drama "Return of the Condor Heroes 2006," not to mention the difficult-to-sing ending song for the big-budget Chinese film "The Banquet." Surprisingly, I was a bit disappointed with her debut album, as most of the songs in there are generic, easy-to-sing pop ballads that are chosen (probably by her record company) to satisfy the majority of the audience. I was disappointed because I believe Jane could do much better than that. Nevertheless - I enjoy listening to her work, and she still have time to grow as an artist. Go Jane!

Sample Song: Jane Zhang - Take it like a Man

Ya Li's debut album is pure pop/rock/punk, cute & fun. I'm glad she chose to sing more rock-oriented songs instead of the usual boring Chinese pop/ballads. Although some of her songs on this album are only mediocre, I love her single "蝴蝶泉边." It's not rock, but a song that mix traditional Chinese elements with pop. Very catchy & a nice song to put on repeat play. I also thought it was cute how Ya Li sometimes sang like she's singing to a baby (kinda baby voice-ish) in some of her songs. She even has a song that's titled & about one of my favorite subject: "无聊"! (boredom/pointlessness haha) Good luck on your career Ya Li! Make more fun music!

Sample Song: 蝴蝶泉边 (By the butterfly spring)

Argh, there are still good pop artists to mention, but it's late... I must go to sleep as I still have work tomorrow *_^ Good night!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Studying Music: Summer Lei, Huang Jian Wei, Faith Yang

Two awesome albums came out today: Summer Lei's "the light of darkness" and Faith Yang's "Dame." Since I just started my cramming fest for winter finals, I've been listening to a lot of relaxing, mellow studying music lately (aka Cheer ^_^). Thus, these two new & very much anticipated albums gave me even more motivations to study :o)

photo credit: Sundance = 放晴

Faith Yang (Yang Nai Wen)'s new album is quite special. Not only has it been 5 years since she last released an album, Faith is the the producer of her new album - she chose all the songs (written by lots of nice indie artists too ^_^) , and even wrote a song herself - "Be in Love." Thus, "Dame" is a very personal album.

"Dame" is again filled with mostly nice & slow ballads and a couple of upbeat, catchy songs with Faith's powerful voice. However, I'm actually most impressed with the song Faith wrote herself. It diverges from what she usually sings and is a bit experimental. I love it - the dreaminess, the ambivalence...she should definitely write more songs in the future *_^

Sample Song: Be In Love + Hidden Track: 女爵 (鬼魅版) (Dame - Ghosts Version)

Summer Lei (Lei Kuang Hsia) - another Taiwanese singer + songwriter I admire, also haven't released an album for 3 years until today. "the light of darkness" is just what she does best - relaxing, calming piano/guitar melodies with her soft & semi-deep/entrancing voice. I love the beauty in the simplicity and pureness of her songs. Summer's albums are also personal in that she sings about her life, her past, her friends... sorta like a soundtrack of life. The light of darkness of life.

Sample Song: 我的 80 年代 (Our 80's)

photo credit: Sundance = 放晴

Another recently released, really, really nice folk album by a new Taiwan artist - Huang Jian Wei, is also super mellow & good study/relaxing music. Hehe I really like the description of him - "Occupational Therapist by day, acoustic guitar singer by night, singing about a simple life with his guitar on the rooftop barefooted." I wish I could do that. There really isn't a song that's not awesome on this album - including the instrumental breaks. The whole album pretty much just consists of Jian Wei's unique, soft voice and his guitar, giving me a sunny, relaxed, and happy feeling.

Sample Song: Over the Way