Friday, March 31, 2006

Mongo So

Mr. Zhou mentioned a few days ago about a new Guangzhou singer - Mongo So - who is the first mainland artist to release her debut album under Creative Commons. That is awesome! It's even more awesome that her music is super cute too ^_^ I rarely hear cute, light, and funny indie songs coming from mainland, but Mongo So reminds me of funky Taiwan/HK indie artists, and her voice reminds me of Huang Hsiao Chen a bit. Another unique thing about Mongo So's sound is that her songs are very diverse - I hear indie pop, bossa, electronic, reggae... all mixed into cute, light happy songs.

Go check her music out! Her album is available for download under CC at the imagine corp website ^_^

Another thing: I got a radio blog yay! Been meaning to get one for awhile, but didn't have time to find a good free host until this week. Most of the songs on there are songs that I'm currently listening to ^_^
I hope you guys/girls will enjoy it :o)

Sample Song (from the Imagine Corp site): P. Yo Bunny

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yang Nai Wen

After reading Cao Fang's blog entry & her interview with Cheer, and after David wanted to know whose music they listen too, I decided to check out the artists Cheer & Cao Fang mentioned. First stop: (Faith) Yang Nai Wen - an awesome alt. rock singer from Taiwan. Wow, I can't believe I didn't listen to her albums earlierer, since Cheer did write a few songs for her ^_^

Yang Nai Wen was mentioned by Cao Fang in her Cheer blog entry - Cao Fang started to listen to Yang Nai Wen about the same time as she started liking Cheer's music. In a way though, Yang Nai Wen and Cheer are opposites. Cheer has a soft, clear voice, Yang Nai Wen has a deep, almost haunting voice. Cheer sings soft rock, and at times, Yang Nai Wen's rock songs are upbeat & heavy - I love both! ^_^ Hmm, Yang Nai Wen'll probably be on my playlist quite often from now on ^_^

Sample Song: Monster

Awesome rock song - great head banging material :o)

Sample Song: Queen

There are so many good songs on this album, but here's another rock song hehe, because Cheer actually did a cover of this at her 2002 Groupies concert :o)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

L.A.M.N. (line And Meter Nova Society)

Sample Song: Spangle call Lilli line And Spanova - HEAT OF THE MOMENT

Oh boy, I've been listening to so much Japanese music during the last month, and discovering so much new great artists. Of course, I've always been in love with Spangle call Lilli line's music, so when I found this album I was quite happy. L.A.M.N. is a collaboration album between SCLL, spanova, and speedometer. It is a beautiful 4 song mellow eletronic/post-rock album, and listening to it brings me a warm feeling. I've never heard of spanova and speedometer., so it's nice to find out that they have a similiar sound to SCLL. J-indie music rocks ^_^

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


What happened to Sweater?! *_* It has been 2 years since they last released an album...and now, their official site doesn't even work anymore... I miss them.

For those of you who don't know Sweater already, Sweater is a Korean band that makes mellow alternative rock/pop music. They remind me a little of Loveholic and Roller Coaster, but their sound is lighter & with a funk + bossa twist. I also love Earip's voice - so... dreamy & soothing. I hope they will release an album soon...

Sample Song: No. 7

I actually started to listen to Sweater after I became addicted to one Earip song on the "Bus Stop" Ost (A Korean movie that I still haven't watched yet but loves the ost *_^). Of course, I did not know who she was then, but because I played the "Bus Stop" ost countless times, I recognized Earip's voice when noodz-shi introduced Sweater...and then started to love Sweater's music. Thanks noodz-shi!

Sample Song: Earip - 누구도 일러주지 않았네 (소희 THEME)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lim Giong (Lin Chiang)

As a DJ, an actor, and a musician for more than 15 years, Taiwan's Lin Chiang is a very talented guy. I find his music interesting because of his use of many traditional Chinese instruments, adding a oriental flavor to his electronic music. I also listen to his music when I need to relax - the mellowness of most of his electronic/chill out songs puts me into a sleepy, serene mood on a Sunday night.

Sample Song: 无所谓 (Indifferent)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Humming Urban Stereo

(thanks ori for the pictures! ^_^)

Very very happy day - Humming Urban Stereo's 2nd album recently came out! HUS (DJ Jeereen) from Korea makes funky light electro-pop music. Listening to their songs makes me happy and want to dance. I love their first album, and now I'm enjoying "Purple Drop" too ^_^

Ahh, I wish I could understand their lyrics... their song names sounds so fun *_^

I really like KBS World's description of HUS:

"Humming Urban Stereo uses the mere trifles of everyday life as it’s material for creating music. The band was created by Lee Jeereen, a 24-year-old man who is inspired by familiar things in life such as books, movies, food and friends. Thus, the lyrics of the band’s songs include lines from French movies. Sometimes, the songs are named after the title of a book by a Japanese poet that the composer had enjoyed reading. The ideas of kitsch-style by Lee Jeereen seem to lack seriousness but many times, include fun thrills. Listening to Humming Urban Stereo’s music, one naturally reflects into his or her own life. The band’s music can be simplified as something like a salad of mixed musical genres like bossa nova, acid jazz, lounge and house. The band’s music is light, smart and delightful."

Sample Song: Stalker

Banana Shake MV @ Youtube:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Doing a Cheer search always brings me happiness ^_^ For some reason, today I was searching Cheer again *_^ and the 108music site came up. From what I've read so far, 108music (Taiwan) is made up of two artists - Goson and Emerson - who are college friends (they're still in college). And "108" is just an old dormitory number for them. I find it cute that Emerson does all the song arrangement/recording/producing for Goson's albums, and vice versa :o)

Since Goson's 2nd album is available for download at 180music, I immediately grabbed it ^_^
The reason this site came up during the search is probably because on Goson's 2nd album, he has a song called "Cheer Chen." It's actually a very short "practice" song, but I still enjoy it very much. (both Goson & Emerson likes Cheer Chen's music) Goson's 2nd album "The weather will be fine" is definitely not perfect (considering that he is a very independent artist w/ no label & limited resources-almost like me singing & making an album, although that wouldn't turn out so well *_*). However, I really enjoy the simplicity and pureness of the album. It has a refreshing, relaxing, "Taiwan" feel to it. Go get it now!

Sample Song: 2100

In "2100" Goson sings about a dysfunctional cellphone. The lyrics cracks me up ^_^

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cao Fang Single/Songs

And with that wonderful interview comes two Cao Fang songs ^_^

Cao Fang released her first single "Di Da" after her first album "Black Perfume." Unlike her second single "I Don't Care Anyway," this song was not featured on her second album "Meeting Me." Like all of her songs, I enjoy "Di Da" very much. The chorus is awesome.

This is what Cao Fang says about the song:

Can't sleep, listening to the di di da da sounds of the clock

Can't sleep, listening to the di di da da sounds of the rain
Can't sleep, listening to the di di da da sounds of my mood/thoughts  

"The past is nonexistent, because it's no longer here. The future is nonexistent, because it is not yet here. Only the present matters. If the present in the past is memories, the present's present is ponderings, then the future's present is anticipation."

Listening to "Di Da," it's ok to be sleepless, it's ok to think about anything & everything, of course! It's also ok to not think about anything.

Spending this 3 minutes & 58 seconds (song time) together is the most important thing.

Sample Song: 滴答 (Di Da)

I don't know if this song is a single or a pre-album version of Cao Fang's "Lonely Monologue." It seems like she changed the song title in her second album because I think it was originally titled "西双版纳" (Cao Fang's hometown). Regardless, it's a nice song ^_^ I love "Lonely Monologue," and I also love this new take on the same melody. Cao Fang rocks...!

Sample Song: 孤单的独白 (Lonely Monologue) [Pre-Album Version]

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cao Fang + Cheer Interview

Sorry for the late update. It took me awhile... to translate what I'm about to say :o)

On March 3rd, Cao Fang and Cheer Chen was interviewed together! Crazy isn't it? ^_^ Cheer was doing some promotion for her new album "A Fabulous Adventure" (which was officially released in mainland recently) in mainland China. And Cao Fang was invited as a guest with Cheer on a interview by the Beijing Nightly Newspaper.

I don't usually read Chinese entertainment news, but I do drop by Cao Fang's blog once in awhile. I did that on Wednesday, and guess what I saw? Cao Fang wrote a nice and long entry of her interview with Cheer and how she felt about Cheer's music ^_^ It was lovely. What's even more interesting is that there seem to be some music critics in China that labels Cao Fang's music similar to Cheer's, and some even claim that she is a "mainland copy of Cheer." Wow, I got really confused & mad when I read that. It's even funny - these people must not understand music at all. I love both Cheer's and Cao Fang's music, but their songs are very, very different, also original. I mean, just listen to any of Cheer's & Cao Fang's song and compare - both awesome, but in completely different aspects & styles. And I don't think anyone could "copy" Cheer's songs, or Cao Fang's. I mean, pop music is easy to copy, because it's so repetitive in its style and oftentimes it has simple melodies (there are of course, quality pop music ^_^). However, I have a hard time trying to find "similar" artists to Cheer/Cao Fang (as it is my nature to look for more music similar to what I already like) because their sounds are so original and personal. Creative. One of a kind. If I wanted to listen to some Shibuya Kei music, a lot of similar artists come to mind because they all follow the shibuya kei sound. David Tao, JJ Lin, Leehom in some aspects also sounds quite similar...

Anyway, since I read Cao Fang's blog entry first, here is my translation of what she said. I hope you guys/girls will find this interesting and exciting to read like I did ^_^ Wow, I still can't believe my favorite Taiwan singer and my favorite mainland singer got together and chatted :o)

Note 1: In Cao Fang's blog entry she sometimes refers to herself in the third person - I thought it might be confusing so I changed the translation to first person. (For example, Cao Fang is her college class leader, and she sometimes says "the class leader..." *_^)

Note 2: In China, adding "Teacher" with a person's last name shows respect to that person.

Cao Fang 3/4/06 Blog Entry: "Cheer Chen"

Yesterday, I sat with her. What if… our meeting wasn’t planned? Would it have been better?

Hmm, where should I start…

I started listening to Cheer around the time Yang Nai Wen released “Piao Zhe (Floating)”. Her melodies and lyrics have a very special and direct feel to them. So simple that it makes people comfortable. After that, I started to be aware of Cheer and her albums. So, Cheer became one of the few TW singers that I persistently buy the original (none-pirated) albums. During that time, I also started to like Yang Nai Wen and Chang A-Yue.

As for the rumor/saying that “Cao Fang is the mainland version of Cheer,” I don’t know where this saying is rooted in. Up until now I’ve tried to ignore this comparison.

1. This rumor/comparison to Cheer is an annoyance (I think Cao Fang is trying to say it degrades both her & Cheer)

2. A person doesn’t need other “versions” of herself (in order to be original)

3. Cheer is the kind of person that I like – Quiet, honest, diverse, persistent, humble, genuine, and artistically talented. This kind of person’s songs cannot be replicated.

4. If I replied to this comparison/rumor, I will be jumping into people’s bandwagon. Going with what they’re saying. Thus this saying is making me feel guilty/uncomfortable/untruthful. Anyway, I’m also is a very strong and independent person. So, when I found out that someone wanted to interview both of us, I hesitated and hesitated. This caused teacher Qi to thoughtfully open my perspective/change my mind: “right now it’s not the time to have pride.” I...%¥#·* I understand everyone’s thoughtfulness, but I’m really not a proud/elated person. I only mean what I said above. I’m afraid of being bothered and bothering others.

In the end, I still went.

Below are my reasons:
1. I am not an arrogant person 2. I like Cheer 3. Last summer after Cheer performed at Beijing’s Ri Tan center, we’ve already met there. This time, Cheer came to Beijing again, thus I should treat her to dinner. 4. There are many diehard Cheer fans among my college classmates, thus I, the class leader, can also do my classmates a favor by meeting Cheer and give her their messages. So I brought "温室LOMO" (this is a person's username online I think who gave Cao Fang Cheer albums) + my self bought five Cheer albums/EP and went to the interview!
As I expected, Cheer is easy to get along with. After we greeted, we weirdly sit together. Our conversations occurred intermittently. Because our meeting was decided so abruptly and unexpected, we were not well-prepared. Our conversations consisted of only occasional eye-contacts. What’s even more scary is that little C (Cao Fang’s cute doll) is carried away to play by a coworker, making me feel uneasy. 3 minutes later, I said to Cheer: “What should we say? I’m a little nervous, feeling weird.” Cheer said “Yes, I also don’t know why I’m so nervous.” After that, we smiled at each other, and started to understand each other more. I tell her “a lot of my classmates in Xi An love you, they all want to come and meet you.” She said “Really? I had no idea.” I said: “Will you remember 温室LOMO’s name? It is she who sent me your ‘A Fabulous Adventure’ limited edition.” She then says, “yesterday I saw your MV, three people already recommended “Meeting Me” (the album) to me. It’s very special.” I said, “You play guitar very well, I’m lazy, I play poorly.” She says, “My abilities are also limited.” A very humble person. In-between, Xiao Lai says, “I think you guys have the same ideas, your conversation is very interesting.” After that, our conversation became informal/relaxed. When the reporter is asking questions, Cheer always thoughtfully leaves time for me to answer questions. I also did my best to not interrupt her when several reporters ask her special questions. In-between the reporter questions, we also had small-talk/asked each other a few personal questions. After the interview ended, Cheer gave me her recent “Sixteen Days” DVD, with “to dear Cao Fang with love, thank you~let’s work hard together!” written on it. Of course, I also gave her a copy of “Meeting Me” with my secret message ^_^ I also took out my prepared five Cheer CDs, and on every copy Cheer wrote some special words. When Cheer is writing on “Sentimental Kills” I said, “please write a message to my classmates who die-hardly supports you.” So she wrote, “College classmates, thank you ah!” Hmm, this is my (the class leader’s) gain for her classmates! But which classmate should I give this to? Let me think more…

I was going to invite Cheer to eat Yun Nan dishes, but because of bad traffic, we ate Gui Zhou dishes. Also because of many factors, after dinner we said our goodbyes in a rush. After a crazily busy day, Teacher Chen was tired. She pointed to her black eye circles and said “what should I do?”........ ^_^

We agreed that when we’re not busy we’ll properly have dinner. Let it be. I wished her a good dream, and good luck to her new album’s promotion.

Another story: Yesterday during my meeting with Cheer, it was unusual that Mr.柯尔沁夫 (I think he is a Cheng Du music critic/judge person) was absent. It was he who introduced me to Cheer for the first time (at the concert she went to?).

Story 2: Yesterday a Yun Nan old friend text messaged me that the local radio station said that I was copying Cheer’s music. I said “Who cares. I am me, not someone who’s defined by people that she (I) doesn’t respect. Like you who understand me and is mad with that comment, because this comment is untrue and irrational, so, people who really understand my music will know who Cao Fang really is.” Also, I hope the people who puts me and Cheer together stop their act. “A fabulous adventure” is a very honest/sincere album, and so is “Meeting me.” Also, they’re very different.

Classmates from Xi An – I trust that you guys will give many cheers to Teacher Chen! Because she is a original, cute person liked by class leader (Cao Fang) 6_6

and here's the interview ^_^

Beijing Nightly Newspaper: "80% Perfect Conversation"

(Cheer has a new song called "80% Perfect Life" ^_^)

Let’s start with the topic of “the mainland version of Cheer Chen.” Many people think you two’s music are very similar. You two also heard each other’s albums. What do you two think about this?

Right now I already received three (the same) Cao Fang albums. A lot of people have recommended her album to me.

Cao Fang:
I don’t know when everyone started to set your music as the standard to judge my songs (set the bar?). I think our similarity is we’re females (jokingly?). We both look weak outside, but inside we’re strong. You sing so softly, yet I can hear that your inner world is strong. Actually, I also wish I’m like you myself. Many people view/think of me as a quiet/elegant girl, but their perception is wrong. My inner self is opposite of what they perceive. I feel that our views/sense of music is very similar.

You’re so right. You just expressed what I’m feeling. I think Cao Fang’s album is very clean, simple. Every song represents your own thoughts, you express your feelings freely, straightforwardly. Actually our songs are very different. When I listen to your music I would think, “what you’re singing intrigues/amazes me” or “I can’t even make my own melodies flow as well as yours.” Very interesting, it’s like the materials we use are the same, but what we make/the results are completely different.

Do you girls pay close attention to the music industry market?

I know there is a saying in Taiwan’s music industry that only elementary and middle school students buy albums. College students and above just download. That’s why music labels only make music that elementary school students would like and understand, giving up on college students. I don’t agree with this view of treating all music audience as fools. How do you know what kind of music they like? For example, when I was in elementary school, I listened to a variety of music. On the other hand, the music industry is truly affected by downloading. I often hear my music industry friends’ conversations saying that such and such labels went bankrupt, and such and such label tries so hard yet the sales rate always leads to disappoint. Many people in the music industry who once were filled with hope and optimism/confidence are now very depressed. I feel very lucky that my music can sustain my living expenses. Unfortunately, if some of my friends didn’t open a restaurant or clothes shop, they wouldn’t afford to have a singer’s life.

Cao Fang:
Actually I never thought that I would be able to release a second album. When I made my first album, it was just for fun. I thought my first album was a one-time thing. But in this business, even if the market is very bad, we have to be optimistic and stick to what we’re doing. If we’re persistent things will better.

Reporter: Right now everyone says that listening to you girls’ music feels very “bourgeoisie.” What do you girls think?

Yesterday I spent the whole night trying to figure out what “bourgeoisie” means. I don’t have a big house, nor a big car, I have a little saving, at most I can afford to travel abroad. If this is “bourgeoisie,” then this life is very similar to my lifestyle in Taipei—enjoying life with limited resources.

Cao Fang:
Whether “bourgeoisie” or “elegant lifestyle,” in my opinion “life should be controlled by our own selves.” Once, I had only about 1000 yuan left, and had to pay my rent next month. But I suddenly spent money and took a trip to the seaside, when I returned I only had 80 yuan left. But I was still happy. I think we shouldn’t worry/fret about life. With 80 yuan I will live happily, if you give me 800000 yuan it’s still the same.

If you give me 800000 yuan I would be happy to death! I remember when I first left my label and started to write songs independently. When someone wanted to by my CD they just directly gave me a call, keeping me very busy. At that time, life was very hard. I had to package my CD, and then mail the package myself. That time when I carried a box of CD, tears in my eyes on the way to the post office, thinking why do I want to make life this hard? But after I mailed the packages I would feel very happy, thinking there are still people that wants to hear my music.

A lot of music is written about love. Especially female writers do this. However, in you girls’ new albums your songs mentions less about love, and even when you do incorporate love, it’s less direct/straightforward.

Right now I’m drawn to the feelings that an image creates. I want to write a song that’s irrational, not just focusing on one image/aspect. The whole song is like a montage movie, every line of the lyrics is one image/picture. This way, will I be able to tell a story? Will people understand it? I think love doesn’t have to be expressed explicitly; there must be space left for imagination.

Cao Fang:
Because I learned to draw when I was little, when I write songs first I draw a picture before I make a melody or write lyrics. I think to express love, we don’t necessarily have to use love or an example story. Many irrelevant images or lyrics actually connect to love on internally. It fits perfectly to describe someone who’s in love with a puzzle.

Puzzle? Yes, we often have this kind of feeling.

What kind of music do you girls listen to? Who influences you the most?

Cao Fang:
I like music similar to 郁东 and . I’m not sure if “folk” is a good term to define their music. Anyway, I like true, warm things. I go through phases – sometimes I listen to very soft music, and sometimes I listen to heavy music. Recently I think 谢天笑’s music is very good.

Recently I’m listening to 法国香颂 (French music). Before that I really like 张楚, 窦唯, 何勇, 唐朝 and 黑豹's music. I’m also looking forward to Radiohead’s new album a bit. When you first listen to radiohead’s album you will think it’s very weird. But right now even more people write rock music because they want to find which direction rock music is going. When others said I’m a folk singer I neither deny it nor confirm it. Actually, I like/want to express rock music very much. It doesn’t matter what kind of music, it’s what the singer wants to express (what’s in the singer’s head) that matters.

Translation Credits: me w/ help from my dad ^_^

Blog Original Text
Interview Original Text

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Who is Cui Jian!?

It has been awhile since I last wrote about a compilation album. So here's one ^_^ "Who is Cui Jian!?" is a rock compilation album with eleven mainland rock bands. Most of these bands are well-known, even internationally (1979, Hang on the Box, CMCB, Reflector, etc.), so it's a nice intro album to mainland rock music, for me at least ^_^

Sample Song: Reflector - 新长征路上的摇滚 (On the new long march to rock)

Reflector is awesome.

Sample Song: Pop Time - 一块红布 (A red cloth)

Upbeat and pop-rockish, whee!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Swinging Popsicle

Picture from Ken's Japan Live blog

We finally moved! It seems like these few days all I did was moving - moving from house to house, helping my mom move her stuff to a new office, do major cleaning/washing all the smoky glasswares... *_^

But I'm back ^_^ With internet access yay!

Onto Swinging Popsicle - Swinging Popsicle is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite (hehe did I make my point?) Japanese indie band. I first heard their Transit album (thanks noodz-shi!) almost a year ago, and fell in love with their mellow rock music. I don't know why, but I could listen to any of the songs on "Transit" repeatedly and never get tired of them. Every song is different and creative in its own way, yet they're all relaxing & make me smile :o) I also love listen to Mineko's voice. Wow.

So I wanted to hear more of their works, and after searching online, I finally found a place to buy their second album "Fennec!" No, it wasn't YesAsia. Nor CD Japan. It was Amazon (US) haha! At a wonderful price of about thirteen dollars, I was ecstatic. "Fennec!" was also an awesome album, it was different from "Transit" though in that half of the songs were more indie-pop and half were more indie-mellow rock. After listening to their first album "Swinging Popsicle," I finally understood why. It seems like over the years, Swinging Popsicle slowly transformed into making mellower indie songs, which I love. I also enjoy their upbeat pop songs - ah, I love them!

Sample Song: あるべきかたち (Proper Shape)

Sample Song: シネマニ (Cinemani)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cold Fairyland

It's amazing how many sites come up when I do a search for "Cold Fairyland" on Google in English. It seems like all the foreigners who visits Shanghai go to their shows and are amazed by them! ^_^ Hmm, how should I describe Cold Fairyland? I was first introduced to them by judy819 at the Chinese Indie group (come and join!). Cold Fairyland makes dark, dream pop music with a mix of mellow electronics, rock, and lots of traditional Chinese intruments like the pipa and erhu, which is refreshing & awesome. Whenever I listen to Cold Fairyland, I feel calm and dreamy, entranced by this world music mixed with rock and traditional Chinese sounds.

I am actually at the library right now hehe, because I still don't have any internet connection at our new house. Whee free internet! :o)

OK, now go to these links to read more about Cold Fairlyland in English! (aka people who writes so much better than me *_^)

Cold Fairyland Official Site
Cold Fairyland Description
Musical Chameleons: Cold Fairyland
Rock In China Interview

Sample Song: 黑色的翅膀 (Black Wing)