Top Band 2 Auditions: Vending Machine, Zebon Bros, Ishtar, Ynot?

It’s one week before KBS band survival show Top Band 2 starts airing as we continue to have a look at the bands that made it through the first round of auditions. Today I’m joined by Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle, Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real and Xtian aka drowningn00b as we share our opinions on the auditioning bands. Not always in agreement, what do you think?


Vending Machine

Alternative grunge band Vending Machine formed in February 2007 and started playing clubs in Hongdae half a year later. The female fronted trio has yet to release

Vending Machine – “독구”

Anna: Vending Machine were boasting the powerful female vocals in their presentation and it’s not difficult to hear where that’s coming from. I like her singing, but am more ambivalent about the band’s sound. Wouldn’t mind seeing more of them though.

Dahee: Sure, the vocalist is hot, but their music just isn’t for me. This song’s okay, but “Let’s Go” was just annoying, and felt messy and overly simplistic. Frankly, I don’t think they’ll last very long on Top Band.

Lightinthemind: When I first heard Vending Machine I was impressed to find Korean woman with such deep voice. Though I already heard Huckleberry Finn and Smacksoft, at that time I was totally annoyed with the high-toned Korean pop and indie singers’ voices and was going to avoid any bands with women on vocals. But Vending Machine made me return to search. Feeling upset that no records were released by the band and all I had is their MV for “Let’s Go (가. As for live performances I like “S.P.R.“.  Be sure that this band isn’t doing anything special, but they are putting together intriguing rhythms, unusual voice and charisma. I’m still waiting for the record.

Xtian: I’m a big fan of grunge, so this is up my alley. This song is just okay, though. U-Ju’s rough delivery near the end is working for me, but the instrumentation seems so basic. It doesn’t help that I’m grooving on last year’s Top Band contestants Broken Valentine’s “Down” and Nickelback right now, but take that for what you will.


Zebon Bros

Named after their leader, Zebon Bros formed in the end of 2011. They call themselves a tough and sexy rock band with tough and sexy feeling to their music. Zebon Bros did not list any achievements with their application, instead saying this is just the beginning.

Zebon Bros – “My Power”

Anna: I couldn’t find any other videos of theirs, but this kind of rock takes some getting used to for me so I’m not sure whether I’d think any differently if I had. These guys need to work a bit on their presence, but even though I don’t like their music much right now I think they’ve got something to build on. Could be interesting to see them on the show.

Dahee: I couldn’t find any other videos, either, which is annoying because I hate having to judge a band based on one song. In this case it does not work in their favour, because that vocalist is SO ANNOYING. My god. He seriously cannot sing, and has this tendency to trail off at the end of notes that drives me INSANE. This kind of music requires a more powerful vocalist than this. The song itself is okay if rather ordinary, and the ending where they raise their arms like little kids is cute.

Lightinthemind: With the first accords I thought that there’s something interesting. But when I heard the vocals… Sorry, wasn’t able to endure even for 2 minutes. At least they are having fun playing together, this one thing is good.

Xtian: “Tough and sexy”? I’ll be the judge of that, Zebon Bros., thank you very much. Oh, y’all kill me! This is neither tough nor sexy, but I love his voice! It’s unique, rough and not the conventional rock or pop voice. I was reminded of Björk, Jung In and ALi (not Ailee) because I feel the same way for all four voices, rough for some ears but different enough to get me hooked. Apart from the extended guitar solo, “My Power” has a groove that I’ve heard before. I had a fun time listening to this, so I’ll keep them on my radar (I should probably make a list…).



Metal band Ishtar describe their music as “a meeting of the heaviness of the thrash metal, the lyricism of the gothic metal and the classicalness of the vocal music and orchestra”. They formed in 2006 and have since released a single, an EP, and last year a full-length album. Ishtar were nominated for Hello Rookie in September 2011. The audition song is an unreleased take on Händel’s aria “Lascia ch’io pianga”.

Ishtar – “Laschia Chio Pianga”

Anna: I actually don’t know of any other Korean symphonic metal band, but even though I’m reasonably fond of music of the kind I never gave Ishtar much of a listen. Partly because what little I have heard barely even begin to compare with their European counterparts, or Taiwan’s Seraphim for that matter. Given my general affinity for the genre I’d be interested to see them on the show, but I fear the covers they’d present would be more off putting than engaging.

Dahee: What glorious hair they have. As for the audition song, I winced throughout the entire thing. It was Butchering of Classics 101. And unfortunately, none of their original songs that I listened to grabbed me at all. The only thing I really like about them is their headbanging. That’s pretty sad.

Lightinthemind: I’d better put ‘+1’ to Anna’s opinion. Though I’m all into gothic metal and symphonic metal (other styles included) I can’t be totally satisfied with Ishtar. Just because I listened too much to European bands. Hope that they could bring in their own beautiful impact to the show.

Xtian: I know the description was their cover of an aria, but I was not ready for th=ose strings. Much better than La Piata! At first I was afraid it would sound like the wanna-bes on Opera Star, but that lady has some pipes! She pulled off the operatic moments while at the same giving her voice the edge to keep up with her band mates, sound-wise. Wow. But it seems I’m part of the minority opinion on this one (again).



Funky rock band Ynot? formed in 1998 and released their first full-length album in 2002. After that followed a series of mini albums before following up with another full-length album in 2009, and yet another one in 2011. A couple of months ago Ynot? released a 2CD live album

Ynot? – “Livin’ in Today”

Anna: Ynot? is another of those bands that really should have nothing to do on the show, but I suppose they if any band should get a chance to show their worth to a more mainstream audience. I’m still hosting resentment towards FNC Music for “defending” themselves in the CN Blue파랑새”/”외톨이야” plagiarism case saying if they had indeed plagiarized they would’ve gone with a better, foreign song… Anyhow, I used to be reasonably interested in Ynot? in spite of their funk sound thanks to occasional glimpses of brilliance such as their cover of “Cherry”, but then a couple of years ago I somehow found myself attending no less than three (or was it four?) gigs of theirs over the course of just a week. I still don’t like them all that much on record, but now I know they’re a fantastic live band. Jumong has an amazing stage presence and the entire band is extremely charming. They should do very well on the show.

Dahee: Ugh, another veteran group selling their souls. At least they’re not at The Koxx levels of popularity, so it’s a tad more understandable and Ranya probably won’t need to throw any more computers out of windows. I am also still pissed at FNC Music over that whole plagiarism debacle, and can’t look at/hear CN Blue without being reminded of it. (Don’t tell my friend the CN Blue fan.) Anyway, I’ve never really been into Ynot?, but I think they’re a fun and endearing band, and should bring some interesting things to the competition. This performance, for example, is pretty awesome. I hope they do really well and gain lots of fans and gag FNC Music with their middle fingers.

Lightinthemind: Can I avoid commenting here? I like them just because who they are. I appreciate that they are still active and give fun and precious moments to listeners. Don’t want to talk about plagiarism thing and just wait for a good performance.

Xtian: I’m with Lightinthemind on this one. I never heard of Ynot? until Anna wrote about the double live album two months ago and have been loving their sound. Funk doesn’t get much love in indie music, so I love it when it’s done right. This clip shows that well, but I also like their harder stuff, like “Freedom to the Power” (sorry that’s the only clip I could find), and “Run, You’d Better“. The only thing I’m pissed about was the wait between releases of the double live album.

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