No time to stop as we offer the eighteenth post in our KBS band survival show Top Band 2 band introduction series. Sharing their opinions together with me are Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Xtian aka drowningn00b with Ranya of K-Underground Sweden also providing some input. What are your thoughts on these bands, both in general and with regards to their Top Band auditions?
Modern rock band Mary Story formed in 2005, released a single, an EP and in 2007 a self-titled full-length album. In July the same year they were nominated for Hello Rookie and later that year the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism named them Best Rookie after netizen votes. A second album from Mary Story is currently in the making, but for the audition they’re performing the same song that won them Best Rock song at KMA2008.
Mary Story – “너없인 행복할수 없잖아”
Anna: When Mary Story released their first album they quickly gained so many fans it looked like they were about to become the next big thing, but for some reason they failed to follow through. I had completely missed that Mary Story were plotting a comeback and it is with very mixed feelings I see them audition for Top Band. I used to love their audition song to pieces and even with this lousy version I’m getting overly emotional. I can’t even bring myself to check out their recent performances on YouTube since I’m stuck repeating this song over and over again. I’m not sure I even want to see more of them at risk of tainting my surprisingly fond memories.
Lightinthemind: It was the summer of 2009 when I first heard of Mary Story. One girl who was into the Korean music scene gave me their album. I was walking with them in my mp3 playlist for half a year, which is really long. For some time I didn’t hear much about them, until this summer when I discovered their performance at a festival. I was really excited and relieved that they were still active. And now listening to the audition song I’m melting as if I met my old friend whom I haven’t seen for years.
Dahee: I’ve heard bits and pieces of Mary Story over the years, but for whatever reason never gave their music a proper listen. Listening to them now, I regret that. I totally dig them, and it may or may not be because I am such a sap when it comes to this style of rock ballad. They’re not even all that original, but I’m still falling for it. Excuse me while I go look for their album.
Xtian: Boo! I thought Mary was a girl. Fail number 1. This clip is super old! Their live performance for CyRock Indie Master of this song was better, though the echo kept bothering me. They at least had more stage presence than they do on this audition clip. But I like this song. Loud in all the right places and the singer is right there with the noise. I’ll keep an eye on these guys.
IIndian formed as a duo in 2007. Going for a soft, trendy synthpop sound the two members released their first album in 2009. Since then IIndian have transformed into a trio and end of December they changed direction to an alternative rock sound. They’re currently planning to make a second album.
IIndian – “Maniac”
Anna: How could IIndian have gone under my radar? After my first disappointing encounter with Synth Boys four years ago I tried to find some real Korean synth music, but apparently I missed them. Or I had already stopped looking. I found their synthpop stuff a bit meek though enjoyable, but have yet to hear any of their rock stuff that I like. Considering that they already had their synth riffs down I’m very surprised they didn’t go for the now so popular electro rock sound instead.
Dahee: Yeah, I’m also surprised they didn’t add some electronic elements to their newer sound. I think it would make it more interesting. ‘Tis a shame, because I like their synth stuff a little better. Overall, I think they’re okay. Some songs I thought were kinda fun, others I found lacklustre. I have to say, though, I’m disappointed the vocalist chopped off his amazingly long hair. I want some androgyny, dammit!
Lightinthemind: If they’d stay as they were I’d totally fall in love and make posters with the vocalist to hang on the walls of my room. But this change to plain rock is far beyond my understanding. Imho while the rest of the world is enjoying electro they are betraying it. For what? Suddenly I had a strong willing to find them and to shake them until this thought would disappear from their heads.
Xtian: So confused by their name. Two Indians? But I see three dudes… They aren’t the first to confound me with their name. There’s a Kimchi, Espresso, Macciato, Blueberry, Mini Skirt, Americano… The list goes on.
Wow, super rough video. Love the hair on this band! Asymmetrical, shoulder-length wavy and fau-hawk. As for “Maniac”, they need to do more to make that title believable. The song is cool, but my expectations of the song based on the title were not met. Oh well.
Electro rock band The Koxx formed on the very last day of 2008. They were nominated for Hello Rookie in 2009 and the next year gathered more attention with the release of debut EP Enter, that later was licensed for release in both Japan and Thailand where they’ve also held concerts. Last year came first full-length album Access OK which got them Best Album at the Mint Paper Awards 2011 as well as a nomination for Best Modern Rock Album (and song) at KMA2012. They were also named Discovery of the Year at the Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards and have written songs for both Brown Eyed Girls’ Miryo and 4minute. On the same day as they auditioned for Top Band The Koxx held two shows in Singapore.
The Koxx – “Trouble Maker”
Anna: Out of all the bands too big for Top Band I think The Koxx are the least suitable since they’re probably the currently most popular out of all. I’m far from a fan, but don’t mind their music and can definitely see their appeal. They’ll most likely do super well on the show. If I were to guess a winner right now it’d be The Koxx.
Lightinthemind: My bias… Caught them on radar as soon as they released Enter and became even more addicted with Access Ok. Actually I can understand why they gained so much popularity, just because they jumped on the wave which is carrying The Kooks, Wombats, Subways and other bands popular outside Korea. I had a chance to see them live when I was in Seoul (and also like fangirl to take a photo) and since that time I can’t stop liking them. Despite their steps into the kpop world. Sorry I can’t close my eyes on the to me rather strange things like writing songs for 4Minute or singing with Miryo. I know the aim, we all see results, but still I’m cringing every time they do anything like this.
Dahee: Unbelievable. My main reaction to them has always been “Huh, they’re decent,” and then moving on with my life. And it’s always been very evident why so many people flail over them so much. But this…Wow. I will bite back all of these colourful phrases that are climbing up my throat and just let Ranya’s link above speak for itself.
Xtian: Umm, should I bother listening…? Feel like it’s necessary to listen since I’m on the panel, but that jpg was something else. Let’s see what all the hollobulu is all about… Umm, I feel like I should like them. Glen Check took elements from these guys for their fabulus “Haute Couture” record, but something isn’t right here. It’s too loud and raucous. Maybe it’s the wrong song to audition with, but if this is a sample of the rest of their stuff, then I have to pass, sadly. Bummer, would’ve thought otherwise. Then again, I was sorely disappoint with their work with Miryo from Brown Eyed Girls and 4Minute.
Story Seller started out as OddEye in 2004 but quickly changed to Bloody Cookie. After a couple of self-released singles they found a label and rebranded themselves. Their first full-length album was released end of 2011. Story Seller were supposed to head on a European tour this spring, but postponed it as their new European label wants their music released on the continent first.
Story Seller – “너덜너덜”
Anna: I loved Bloody Cookie’s first single. Loved it! My first ever interview was with them and in a way they’re what triggered me to get into this whole Korean indie music blogging thing for real. That said, I haven’t really been interested in their music since they left that hard gothic rock style behind. Though I have been thinking I should make an effort to get into Story Seller. Hopefully Top Band can help me do that.
Lightinthemind: I haven’t heard them as Bloody Cookie but definitely liked XX when it came out. The strong vocals and energy put on the line with skills and experience give a really awesome outcome. Also I like their fun side, for example the song “Serva Me” which is showing latino rhythms and is a sign that they could show different sides of their skills within the contest
Dahee: I’ve known them mainly as Story Seller, and have liked a couple of their songs in the past. Digging up old Bloody Cookie videos now, I really dig that side, too. The vocalist’s pretty awesome. Finally, an all-female band I can really get behind on this show! They seem to be fairly versatile in their music, which should help them when covering songs in the various missions. I hope they last!
Xtian: Forget The Koxx, forget Mary Story, and IIndian. I’m ALL about Story Seller. Freaking love these girls and been playing “XX” on my ipod almost regularly. And based on this clip along, I want them to win over that other group the drummer’s part of (already forgot them). That girl’s, no, LADY’s, voice is rock heaven to my ears, whether she’s heartbroken, in “Hot Pants“, or just rocking on “18th Area“. Did I mention how much I love Story Seller?