Top Band 2 Auditions: La Piata, Square The Circle, Swingz, The Humpbacks

Continuing where we left off yesterday, here is the third batch of bands that made it through the first round of auditions for KBS band survival show Top Band 2. Sharing their opinions on the bands together with me are Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle, Ranya of K-Underground Sweden and Xtian aka drowningn00b. Give them all a listen and let us know what you think in the comments!


 

La Piata

Rock and classical music crossover duo La Piata formed in 2008. The name combines the Korean words for piano (피아노) and guitar (기타), their instruments. La Piata released their first album Symphonic Harmony a year ago, but auditioned with a Cacophony cover.

La Piata – “Speed Metal Symphony”

Anna: I’m all for merging rock with classical music, but unfortunately cannot seem to get into La Piata. When it’s just the two of them with a synth in place of a piano I find their sound rather cheesy. Through their YouTube channel I found a couple of videos where they performed together with a real orchestra, which is how the rock/classical crossover is best done in my opinion, but somehow even then they failed to be engaging. I’m surprised they made it through the first audition round.

Lightinthemind: My dear ears, please forgive me for listening to this for so long. I really tried hard to get to the end of the audition video but wasn’t able to endure this sound of fake harpsichord. Then I tried to listen to some youtube videos. With the same success. Sorry, but where is the imagination and fantasy?

Dahee: Eww, so cheesy. And dated. I usually love it when rock and classical music come together, but this is just…gross. It sounds like something out of a corny vampire movie. I half expect them to whip out the capes and start speaking in bad Romanian accents. I know that they’re trying to be experimental and stuff, but they seem to have no idea how to make it all cohesive. Yeah, they’re not going to last very long on this show.

Ranya: I spent one minute and seven seconds of this video being sceptic, I then spent the next two minutes laughing helplessly before turning the video off. I’m kind of going to let that reaction speak for itself.

Xtian: I feel like I’m at an arena and I could’ve sworn arena rock was on the down swing. The second movement was interesting. I must say, though, they can play a mean instrument. I can only imagine how their sound will be molded to fit the larger rock audience of ths show. Still confused by what they’re trying to achieve in this audition piece. As for the orchestra collaboration, it felt like ramping up to a pay off that never came.

 

Square The Circle

Rock band Square The Circle formed in March 2011 and have been performing around Hongdae since. Last week the four members self-released their first EP, Slow Starter.

Square The Circle – “Bitchquito”

Anna: I really like Square The Circle’s audition song and somehow found myself amused by the title referring to ‘a girl [that] sucks out men’s blood just like a female mosquito’. However watching their Ssamzie Sound Festival videos I’m no longer as excited, but then I’m usually not that fond of straightforward rock of the kind that Square The Circle seem to offer .

Lightinthemind: Among all of the songs that I listened to the most decent one is “Bitchquito”. Others are not bad either, but there’s a feeling that the audition song was well prepared, not like those they showed on the stage. The music by itself has quite a reason to find listeners. But only if they add some intrigue to the melody. Btw sometimes shows are helping bands to find their path. Hope this will come true for Square the Circle.

Dahee: Fun song! I got all excited listening to it. But yes, their other songs aren’t as good and feel less cohesive and confident, which was disappointing. Still, I generally like this kind of sound, and maybe they’ll ramp up their game through this show and show some more of the kind of energy they displayed through “Bitchquito.” Maybe…

Ranya: Became an instant fan of this song! When I saw the previous comments posted by the others, I decided to check their other songs out, and was sadly agreeing with them. I really hope they continue in the same direction as “Bitchquito” and that they also manage to add a bit more personality into their music.

Xtian: Love the galloping beat to “Bitchquito”! And the name of the song helps. But the frontman’s voice isn’t doing it for me. He needs an edge. It comes out in pieces, but needs more development. I liked the guitar solo and the band jams well together. As for the festival performances, I liked their “그림자밟기” performance. Bassist has an awesome riff throughout. Gotta follow.

 

Swingz

Three member girl rock band Swingz formed in Daegu in 2009 where they won a number of music contests. They’ve also done a number of TV appearances and are now located in Seoul where they play the clubs of Hongdae. First EP Beginning of Swingz was released in October 2011.

Swingz – “Let’s Dance”

Anna: When I first saw Swingz on the list I wondered if Top Band had also opened up for hip hop groups, but turns out I just had them confused with Swings. I used to fall easily for any kind of female fronted pop/rock band, all girl bands in particular. I liked the way the bassist and guitarist were moving together on stage in the audition video and thought the song decent, but then I had a listen to EP main track  “찌찌뽕” and realized this band is not for me.

Lightinthemind: Here’s a confession. I’m not fond of women vocals accompanying (pop)rock music. And if I’m listening to a band with a front-woman it should be something outstanding. This band is just average. And if the audition song is a sort of  ‘ok, not a bad attempt’ then “찌찌뽕” goes out without flowers. Maybe judges were just moved with the little ladies trying to stand on the scene alongside rude guys?

Dahee: I am always on the lookout for all-female bands, so whenever I discover one I get excited right away. However, while I like Swingz’s energy onstage, I don’t think they’re really my style, which is disappointing. And I’m not impressed with the vocals. Their song “찌찌뽕” is just annoying, and feels amateurish.

Ranya: Here in Sweden we have something called “Popkollo”. It’s basically a summer band camp for young girls and each year, by the end of the summer, they have their graduation concerts at various local festivals. Where I’m getting with this is that this group gave me the feel of being at a Popkollo graduation concert. They seem very young, and what they seem to lack in skill, they make up for in energy (even though I thought the synchronized hopping was a bit funny looking). I’m sure that they’ll manage to lure in some fans who enjoy energetic girl-bands, but for me, they still have some way to go.

Xtian: Almost thought this was the rap artist and producer, until the legs and hair from the still came on my screen. These girls are tv-ready, and in the world of youth and looks, I can see these girls going far on their looks alone. It’s no slight on Swingz, but let’s be honest here. They remind me of a more pop-centric Story Seller. The mane on that drummer is awesome! Looks like a lion eating her dinner. Overall, though, they’re just okay. Nothing wowed me as far as “Let’s Dance” is concerned.

 

The Humpbacks 

The Humpbacks formed early 2010 and are going for something of a garage rock/post-punk sound. They have released three singles so far, the latest one in February this year, but chose to audition with a new song that will not be included even on the band’s first album later this month.

The Humpbacks – “플라스틱”

Anna: I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I have never actually listened to The Humpbacks before even though I’ve seen videos of theirs around YouTube numerous times. The audition song reminds me a bit of Apollo 18’s sound for The Blue Album, although not quite as hard. I like it, but there is something missing for me. Same thing with “알콜시인” after seeing the music video, though I suspect The Humpbacks sound pretty great if you’re actually there for the live show.

Lightinthemind: I only had the self-titled single of the band but forgot to listen to it. Many thanks to Top Band for reminding me about these guys. First decided to take a look at the music video and liked their mixed tune. You don’t know what to expect when starting to listen and it is the most interesting. For example when I almost got fierce with not changing the tempo of the song “Alcohol Poet” it suddenly jumped to a catchy melody which is in my head for two days. But as for the new/audition song “Plastic” it is made out of raw guitar riffs, simple and monotonous repeating lyrics which are not supporting first impression at all. I hope to get chance to listen more during the show.

Dahee: I think they can be summed up thus: Good, but not great. While I like them, I agree that there’s just something missing, although I can’t seem to pinpoint what it is. On a shallow note, I dig the vocalist’s tattoos.

Xtian: You know, maybe I don’t wanna dance. Maybe I want someone to rock hard and my neck to hurt from all the banging. I feel like there’s a shade to The Humpbacks that fits my need, but isn’t here on this audition clip. The clue? The frontman’s screams are out of place and excessive on this song. I wish they had submitted a hard rock song instead. I agree with Lightinthemind on “Alcohol Poet”. They had me all the way through until the tempo changed. Pass on this JYP look-alike.

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