Only 15 bands to go as we take on another four of the bands that made it through the first round of auditions for KBS’ band survival show Top Band 2. Commenting on this bunch together with me are Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle, Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real and Xtian aka drowningn00b. Give the bands a listen and share your opinions in the comments!
Emo band Vanilla Unity formed in 2004 and finished third in the K-Rock Championship the same year. They released their first full-length album in 2006 and with a few various releases in between the third full-length album came out in 2011. Only the vocalist remains from the original lineup, but nevertheless the band chose to audition with the championship song from 2004.
Vanilla Unity – “Hero”
Anna: I was always surprised by how many female fans Vanilla Unity have in spite of the screamo vocal style because somehow I forget just how catchy their music really is. I’ve been listening quite a lot to them, but more because of circumstances than an active choice on my part. Even so I usually like what I’m hearing. This was another of the bands I got to see that same evening when Lightinthemind and I met up in Hongdae, but what I primarily recall of them from that occasion is the fans rather than the music. I suspect they’ll have a strong support from the audience.
Dahee: I was surprised to see Vanilla Unity’s name on this list, although looking back and thinking about all the other bands on this list, I don’t really know why. Anyway, I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan. Their music is indeed catchy, and while I don’t really mind them, they’ve never caught me. Example: While listening to the audition song, at the beginning I thought, “This is pretty nice. I should give them another chance.” Then as the song progressed, my distaste grew until I once again came to the conclusion that I most likely will never be a fan. And I just can’t stand songs like “Hey Monster.” I wouldn’t really mind seeing them do well on this show, but I’d much rather root for other bands I like a lot more.
Lightinthemind: I’m still curious what the band has to attract so many ladies to concerts. That soft voice by Mr. Joo isn’t outstanding. And they are doing that sort of music which is perfect for those youth moments, like seeing dusk coming while laying in the ramp after a hard day of skating. To me there’s always been such associations with Vanilla Unity’s music. Anyway, I suppose the band can show good results while in the contest.
Xtian: Smooth intro, so that’s a plus. Anyone remember Hoobastank? Yeah, the similarities abound. The yelling is too often for me, so whatever he’s screaming on about is lost on me.
‘Stylish hard rock band’ Magnum69 have been around since 2006 but started out under the name SuckersCrew. SuckersCrew disbanded in 2009, but re-formed the next year with new members.
Magnum69 – “매그넘69”
Dahee: While their name is familiar to me, I never listened to them before now. I can’t say I like the vocalist’s tone, but this is a purely personal complaint. Otherwise, he seems pretty good, and I like that last long scream. I don’t, however, understand that part in the middle where he asks an imaginary audience to sing along. So awkward. And I was distracted during the entire video by that one guy’s colourful hoodie. Overall, I think the song’s okay. Just okay.
Anna: Awkward is the word. That aside the song is decent, but they don’t really engage me. Part of it is because I’m not really into the sound they’re trying to sell though, so they may well be able to impress others more.
Lightinthemind: Somehow I want to separate the voice from the music. The song is fairly good but it is not enough to last long. As for vocals – there should be more growling than screaming, that’s how I feel. Or I’m just really tired with the amount of bands similar to each other.
Xtian: Stylish hard rock? SuckersCrew? And now Magnum69? There’s an underlying sex thing going on, though I’m sure hoodies don’t qualify as stylish. Now this I can get behind! Vocals just loud enough to drive the song along, and love the dueling guitar solos. Reminiscent of Guns N’ Roses and similar hair bands in that respect. Lmao! I love how he does a call and response to the camera. Like a fan, and an idiot, I followed along. Getting weird looks now, so I’ll end here and say these guys got my vote. Gosh, can that guy scream.
Rock band Au Revoir Michelle formed in the beginning of 2011. The leader is guitarist Kim Sun Wook who participated in the 21st edition of the Yoo Jae Ha Music Contest and vocalist of the band is Mark Choi of Downhell fame. Like Black Bag and Guten Birds Au Revoir Michelle was one of the bands in Sangsang Madang’s fourth band incubator.This summer they plan to release their first album simultaneously in Korea and Japan.
Au Revoir Michelle – “님의 찬미”
Dahee: Hmm. I like the overall feel of this song, although I wish I could hear the vocals more clearly – I can’t tell if they’re shaky at times or if it’s just the sound quality. The song feels a tad too long, but I think they have potential, and am wondering what else they’ve got up their sleeves.
Anna: I’m trying to make up my mind about them, but I’m not succeeding very well. I like most of the song, but I’m indifferent to some parts of it as well. Maybe it is indeed because the song is a bit too long. Usually the Yoo Jae Ha contestants go on to make really soft, often a bit boring music afterwards so it’s great to see somebody take a completely different course.
Lightinthemind: Why is their name so familiar to me? Can’t remember actually. But I like the sound really adding something occult and mystic like in ancient shaman spells. And I’m afraid to think of whom they are summoning with these spells^^ So if not staying acfan I’m really intrigued to death to see other performances.
Xtian: Oh, its thrash metal. This isn’t my cup of tea. Of all rock styles, this one never got to me. Sorry, Au Revoir Michelle, but not my preference. Nothing on you guys :/
Modern rock band Peterpan Complex formed in 2001 and released their first full-length album in 2003. In 2011 Peterpan Complex saw the original bassist re-join the band and when they returned on their own label they did so with new sounds, boasting both strong electro influenced songs and mellow modern folk tunes. As Peterpan Complex released their fifth full-length album in March they launched it with a series of ten album release concerts over the course of ten days.
Peterpan Complex – “자꾸만 눈이 마주쳐”
Anna: I got into Peterpan Complex when they sounded like OK Computer days Radiohead which usually for me would mean that’d be all I wanted from them. But as I got the Showmust compilation (one of my favorite releases last year) I was very surprised to find myself liking the new Peterpan Complex even more than the old. “어제” in all its simplicity is so lovely it moves me every time I listen to it. The fifth album revealed more loveliness of the same kind, for example with “감정을 삼키고” and “사랑의 첫단계”. I like their new electro sound too on record, but am less certain about it from the audition video. To get to the point: In spite of my usual reservations I’m very much looking forward to seeing Peterpan Complex on Top Band. They’ve shown great ability to change and I’m hoping to see them do even more of that as they take on covers on the show.
Dahee: I am heartbroken. Of all the bands I hated to see participate in Top Band, Peterpan Complex is probably at the very top of that list. I was once upon a time a big fan, you see. They were probably the first Korean indie band I really went crazy over. I’ve listened to their song “You Know I Love You” something like five billion times, and I have a special spot in my heart for the music video. I haven’t been as into them with their later releases and haven’t been paying much attention to them in recent years, but listening to the links Anna posted above, they seem to have matured a lot, and in a way I totally dig. I actually think they’re one of those bands that are totally eligible for I Am A Singer (or I Am A Singer 2, as it’s calling itself nowadays), so why they auditioned for this show, I have no friggin’ clue. Still, I will root for them. Because deep in my heart, I will always be a Peterpan Complex fan. Even when they piss me off.
Lightinthemind: After Dahee’s comment I have nothing to add. I like their new sound and won’t mind any other experiments so I will just wait for what they can show at the contest.
Xtian: Of all the songs of their latest record O[ou], I loved this one the most. But I didn’t like the record. It left me feeling moody from what I remember (maybe I should give it another listen). But man, I can’t get over that bass line and the drums on this song. I miss it, so I’m glad they submitted it. Wish, though, that he had more energy as a frontman. Overall, though, I’m not a fan of PeterPan Complex. All the right elements are there, but they never clicked with me (sensing a pattern).