We’re at post 24 introducing the bands that made it through the first round of auditions for KBS band survival show Top Band 2. Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real have joined me to share their opinions on this batch of four. Give the bands a listen and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments!
Rock band Transfixion have been around since 2000. They released their first full-length album in 2002 and were up to number four as their latest album was released a year ago. Between those albums Transfixion managed to make their name known to a broader Korean audience as they recorded a new version of their “The Shout Of The Reds” together with Big Bang and figure skater Kim Yuna to cheer on the South Korean team during the soccer world cup in 2010. For the audition Transfixion have picked the lead track off their debut album.
Transfixion – “내게 돌아와”
Dahee: Sigh. Another popular band inexplicably throwing itself to the sharks. Anyway, I’ve never liked the audition song. Actually I’ve never been a fan of this band period, probably because I find the vocals grating. I think I’ve liked one or two songs of theirs in the past, but for the life of me I can’t remember what they were, and I don’t really care, either. Especially now that they’ve pissed me off with this Top Band fiasco. They’ll have to do really well on this show for me to root for them. And by “do well” I mean in the artistic sense, not the popularity sense. Because they’re bound to be popular.
Lightinthemind: I became a fan of this band not while listening to their first records but with their last album which always gives me an uncontrolled feeling of joy. Especially the songs “Cover Girl” and “너를 원해“. Somehow I associate them with summer, with the first live video which I saw (from a festival). They really deserve more recognition and a wider audience. That’s why I can’t claim their participation in the show.
Anna: For some reason I’ve always been mixing up Transfixion with Novasonic, something that became embarrassingly clear when I was checking my facts before writing the Transfixion background info… I came to like Transfixion with their first album, so for me the audition song conjures happy memories of a time at university when I had all the time in the world. I haven’t really paid much attention to them since, but checking out some of their newer material it doesn’t seem like they’ve changed too much. A song like “Never Say Goodbye” I could easily imagine myself falling head over heals for had I only come across it at a different time.
Girl rock band Rubber Duckie formed in 2009 and after a couple of singles released their first labum in 2011. They were picked for Sangsang Madang’s third band incubator and have done a few TV appearances since.
Rubber Duckie – “Everybody”
Dahee: Yay for all-female bands! The giddy joyfulness of this music video makes me grin, even if it isn’t the kind of music I’m really a fan of. I like the audition song better, although it doesn’t strike me as being anything particularly special. They certainly have the looks and the kind of sound that could help them become very mainstream, and I foresee them gaining their fair share of male fans through the show. I myself don’t think I’ll ever become a fan, but that’s really due to personal tastes.
Anna: I did not like the audition song much, but am instead more fond of the way they sound in that music video or here in “Aniya“. First time I heard of them was on the first episode of Indie Afternoon, when they were recommended by Kim Se Hwang. I thought them good enough to look them up on my own but left it at that, probably from being distracted by something else (as is usually the case). I recall Kim Se Hwang making a somewhat inappropriate comment about their looks, so I suppose they may well charm their way to a deal with good promotion through this. Looks aside they’re skilled enough for me to think we’ll get to see more of them after the second round auditions.
Lightinthemind: I’m not fond of this high-pitched voice in the MV, so I better prefer “Aniya” or the audition song. Overall it is really hard to accept this kind of female rock for me since it sounds so… ‘귀엽다’ that I can’t stand this. But ladies can really win several male-fronted bands just for their look and gender.
Sound art duo YaYa formed between singer-songwriter Aya and drummer Siya during the summer of 2010. With a basis in world music with plenty of experimentation the two quickly made a name for themselves. They were up for Hello Rookie in September 2010 and ended up winning the title that year. In 2011 YaYa signed with Pastel Music in 2011 and released their first full-length album the same year.
YaYa – “거미의 숲”
Dahee: Well, they certainly have their own style, that’s for sure. I can’t say I like the audition song, though. It’s the vocals that annoy me the most. She’s alternating between a deeper tone and a high-pitched squeal constantly, and that bothers the hell out of me. I mean, I get what she’s trying to do, but I don’t think she’s really succeeding. Watching other performances, I’m still annoyed by her. I think she’s trying to pull off a more powerful voice than she has in reality. Still, I give her props for her energy, and I think that YaYa could potentially come up with some really interesting remakes. Even if they’re not really for me.
Lightinthemind: I do like this band, that’s a confession. I like their original style mixing sort of operette and circus music with additions of French street artists’ sounds, and accordion plays a great role here. For sure it is not easy falling into understanding their waves but that piece of craziness Siya is adding definitely deserves attention. For me their music is really mature and made for the ‘creation’ mood.
Anna: I haven’t listened to YaYa as much as I should’ve, likely because I always come across their videos only at times when I’m not really up for their kind of experimentation. They are interesting, no doubt about it, but I have yet to be as taken away by them as I want to be. Maybe they can be the Poe of this season — bringing a bit of weirdness to the show but presenting it in such a manner that audience and judges alike have no choice but to love it. Though I wonder how they will fare with just the two of them. Will they be able to pull it off at all, or will they be allowed to bring session players to the stage?
Frenzy started out as a band between highschool friends ten years ago, including Judas Priest covers in their repertoire. By 2006 the band had shaped their own all instrumental sound somewhere between shoegaze and post-rock and started playing the clubs of Hongdae. In 2010 the band released their first full-length album and were up for Hello Rookie in September the same year.
Frenzy – “Icarus”
Dahee: While I’ve heard of them, I’ve never checked them out before, probably because I’m constantly getting them mixed up with Freaky. And I’m falling in love at first listen. The audition song is just…beautiful. And I really, really dig their other songs that I listened to, too – this performance, for instance, is pretty awesome. I seriously hope they get far in the competition. In the meantime, I’m going to go find their album. (This commentary series is totally lengthening my list of new favourite bands, by the way.)
Anna: I love Frenzy. Living much too far from Korea I primarily learn about new bands from the releases they’re involved in, but somehow I had managed to learn about Frenzy even before their participation on the third Bbang compilation. I waited a long time for their album, and it didn’t disappoint one bit when it finally arrived. Frenzy are also one of my favorite interview subjects ever, among other things for proclaiming that they’d like to be called ‘elegantly pathetic’. I’ll definitely be rooting for them on the show. I also really need to make sure to catch them live some time.