As shared yesterday I’m quite excited to see what will come out of band survival show Top Band 2. Some time ago Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real suggested we team up for a commentary series to cover all of the episodes, and after inviting a few other indie music fans that’ll follow the show that’s exactly what we’ll be doing. In addition to Lightinthemind and myself, Ranya of K-Underground Sweden, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Xtian aka drowningn00b usually found writing for McRoth’s Residence will all take part of the fun.
We’re all eager to get started, but it’s a month until the show starts so with the list of participants making it through the first audition round already out we decided to have a look at all the bands ahead of the show. Starting today we’ll be sharing our thoughts on four bands a day till we’ve covered them all. Give the bands a listen and share your thoughts in the comments!
‘Hard electronic house live set band’ Analog Freak formed in the beginning of 2011. In addition to the standard Hongdae gigs they’ve already headlined the Seoul University Avenue Festival though it seems they have yet to release even a digital single. They auditioned already for the first season of Top Band but failed to make it past the first round then.
Analog Freak – “Taste My Sin”
Anna: While the name seemed somewhat familiar to me I hadn’t actually listened to Analog Freak prior to this. I’m not really a fan of house, though I have come to appreciate the electronic band concept as such over the last year or so so they might be able to win me over anyway. Their audition video sounds much better to me than what I could find on YouTube.
Lightinthemind: As for me I found the audition video a bit… plain. I’ve heard that high-pitched electronic voice many times before and can’t say that it is such a unique thing. But to my surprise I found several other songs by the band that I like. I can even imagine myself dancing to their music, for example to Get Back which is getting closer to electro-clash in style. But what is interesting how they will fight with other bands when they will have to show some voice/melody rearrangement of old songs which is a quite popular task in this show?
Ranya: Definitely enjoying their electro-punk-ish sound, though I can’t say that I am overly fond of the high pitched electronic voice and I feel that if continued, this could become an element of irritation for me personally. Fans of bands like Robots in Disguise will surely appreciate Analog Freak’s music.
Dahee: I hated their song “Taste My Sin” the second I heard it, which surprised me since it’s not like I normally hate this kind of sound or anything. Nothing about the song really worked for me, maybe because I also find the singing grating. Still, after listening to some other songs of theirs (especially “Get Back”), I like them a little better and can see their appeal. I can’t see them getting all that far in the competition, though.
Xtian: I can’t say I enjoyed “Taste My Sin” too much. That beginning was very odd and hard to follow, even after a second listen. Do like their stage look, though, with the blond hair and red-eye band look for the girls. As for the frontwoman, I’m not sure what her purpose was! She isn’t singing, but she isn’t speak-signing, either. But, like Dahee, I liked “Get Back” better.
Moody five member rock band Unside formed in September 2011 and have been playing around Hongdae since. They released a two track demo called It Could Be Fine as a digital single end of February.
Unside – “Me”
Anna: I first learned of the existence of Unside a month ago after they released their single and ended up on Bugs’ indie chart. I think their audition video shows an excellent song and really like everything else I’ve heard of theirs as well. Ahead of the show this is one of my favorite contestants. I really hope they won’t have to stand back because of the many already established bands joining the competition.
Lightinthemind: Are they really so young? And formed only in September? I can’t believe this. They sound like a team who’s been working together for rather long time. And if talking about the music I can feel that they really could become well known among modern rock fans. Moreover this band could really be a strong contestant. Would like them to release at least an EP to listen to more songs which are perfect for spring mood.
Ranya: Great audition video. The vocalist has a great voice that really fits the mood of their sound splendidly. Although not as established, this feels like a band whose fanbase could grow, not only locally, but also manage to register on an international indie radar.
Dahee: Oh wow. I LOVE them! I’d heard of them before but hadn’t really listened to their music until this, and I’m so glad that I have. I agree that they look and sound like a team that’s been around for a long time, and I adore the vocalist’s tone. I can see them eventually establishing quite the fanbase, whether they get very far in this competition or not. Should I start making banners saying “Unside Jjang!”?
Xtian: Yes please! I eat this stuff for breakfast with a smile on my face. Her voice is soothing against the brooding piano. Love pouty frontwomen and these two have it in spades. If they were dudes, they’d be dirty hipsters with scraggly beards. Thankfully the amped portion doesn’t stray far from the original base melody, which is a problem I find in other artists. Keeping Unside on my radar this season. Couldn’t be more emo if they had eyeliner and safety pins in their clothes.
Emo band Queen’s Nest have been around since 2007. They released two official demos on their own and joined Estella Records, but left the label to try their wings in Japan before releasing anything more. A year ago came the band’s first Japanese mini-album and they did a few TV appearances while in the country, but Queen’s Nest have since returned to Korea and are now performing in Hongdae again.
Queen’s Nest – “Dilemma”
Anna: I haven’t really kept up with Queen’s Nest since they left Korea but am quite fond of the demos they released before that. I think their sound and style could go well over with the same part of the audience that fell for Axiz and Toxic during the first season of Top Band–two of the most successful bands that time around.
Lightinthemind: Not bad at all. I hear the influence of efforts put in to be listened in Japan. I was afraid to find just another rock band with willing to play rock but without strong idea how to bring personal touch to the music. But here is a good example of quality sound and I can’t help but listening to it again and again. Though for the audition the band submitted a live version of the song Dilemma they have a music video for the song released in 2010 and another one music video for Love Dream filmed in Tokyo, Japan.
Ranya: I do agree with Anna’s statement about them appealing to fans of Axiz and Toxic, but even so I feel like their sound is catchy enough to go home with a broader audience.
Dahee: Hmm. Catchy. I like their energy, and they seem to have some pretty good songs. I agree that they could potentially become fairly mainstream. On a random note, I like their coordinated headbanging in a few of their videos on YouTube.
Xtian: If it weren’t for AXIZ, Broken Valentine and The Breeze, I would’ve enjoyed Queen’s Nest. I dig this style of rock, but there’s only so much love I can spread around. There needs to be something else other than catchy to hook me. Sorry, guys, not a fan yet. Maybe next time.
Psychics formed a year ago but didn’t actually start performing until December 2011. Auditioning with a song of their own the band has also been found performing a few covers showing off their own mix of garage rock and electronic sounds.
Psychics – “You’re Gross, But Beautiful”
Anna: When I first saw Psychics on the Top Band 2 list I didn’t recognize the name, but looking them up right now I realized I have come across their name a few times even though I never stopped to listen. After checking them out on YouTube I found myself really enjoying “Come Around”. For a band this new to have a song that strong this band could go very far.
Lightinthemind: Honestly among all of today’s bands this has become my favorite. Despite that they have only live performances and not a single record. But if to think about contest they obviously are standing rather close to The Koxx who are now quite famous (yes, I can say so, yay) and would definitely be compared to Hologram Film (another contestant in the list to be told about). It is so cause they are stepping in the same field of electro-rock with brit-pop fleur.
Ranya: Never having heard this band before, I can definitely say that I was pleasantly surprised with this audition song. This band has the potential to climb on the list of my favourite contestants. They have this London-rock sound that is very easy to be swept away with and dance along to, a sound that has been growing rapidly popular in Korea lately.
Dahee: As soon as the song started I found myself bopping my head to the music, which is always a good sign. Listening to other songs of theirs on YouTube, I think they’re going to become one of my favourites on this show. Their sound is also very accessible, which I think could translate to good results with a fairly broad audience.
Xtian: Such a young band, and so talented (I’m sensing a pattern here)! They remind me of GoGo Star, minus the female counter-part. Much like Analog Freak, this is up my alley, but I wonder how they translate this sound to mid-tempo and ballads. I prefer Psychics’ approach to Analog Freak’s, however. Sounds more cohesive and put together. “Come Around” is so good! Another must-follow for me this season.