Since a few years ago, I’ve reached the age by which I’ve had to realize that listening to old favorites is generally more rewarding for me personally than seeking out new music. Nevertheless, I can’t really stop looking for new music to check out–much like how I will usually order my way through a menu at a restaurant before having the same thing twice. At times this is tiring, but every now and then I find myself extraordinarily excited by what I’ve come across, making it all seem worthwhile. These are the new acts that made the biggest impressions on me in 2017.
I don’t recall how I first came to hear about Busan based band Goodbye Wendy, but I’d guess Angle Magazine had something to with it. The band name is inspired by the story of Peter Pan and the similarly influenced music could be classified as modern rock, sometimes leaning towards post-rock.
Starting out in 2015, Goodbye Wendy’s first single 집으로 가는 길 (The Way Back To Home) was released in early February 2017 with second single Neverland following suit a month later. In October, just a couple of months after the band’s first festival gig, Goodbye Wendy’s original guitarist left the band. Instead of dissolving the band, however, Goodbye Wendy went looking for a new guitarist as well as a keyboardist to prepare for new songs and maybe even an album.
The music video for Night Riding’s debut single showed up on my Twitter timeline thanks to Pigibit5. I found it very captivating and returned to listen for weeks. The rhythm, the vocals, the arrangement. When I was interviewed by The Dong-A Ilbo in September I went so far as to mention Night Riding as one of my current favorite artists.
Night Riding is the alias of Park Dae-Yun, formerly vocalist and guitarist of rock band Steamboys. His first solo single, 도시의 박수소리 / 당신만을 보고 있었다 (The Clapping Sound In A City / Gazed At You) was released in May 2017 and introduced a dance-friendly electro pop sound. Three months later came his next double-title single Fade Away / Rainbow with more of an indie pop orientation. Night Riding’s first album 꿈의 도시 is scheduled for release on February 14th. New song “당신의 꿈속에서 (In Your Dreams)” has already been revealed on SoundCloud.
The first mention of DABDA on Indieful ROK is from 2012, but it’s fair to say I anyway slept on them until last year. Even after I heard their music, which ended up in my listening backlog after I spotted it in Hyang Music’s Korea Indie section, I just added a few songs to my rotation playlist without further thought. It was only thanks to PAKK that I finally woke up to the awesomeness of DABDA.
After multiple member changes, DABDA’s first EP Island of Each (저마다 섬) was released in November 2016. The band’s unique psychedelic rock sound earned DABDA recognition as Sangsang Madang’s Super Discovery 2017, giving the quartet an extra promotional push. DABDA also made it to the final of musistance‘s Independent Music Project 2017. The first full-length album from DABDA is planned for some time in 2018. Unlike the EP, where the songs were primarily written by leader and vocalist Kim Ji Ea, the coming albums should have songs written by all the members.
Bonus: South Club
I’ve been following Nam Taehyun’s career since he was a member of Winner and ended up paying closer attention after he decided to leave the idol life behind. Before long he put together a rock band, South Club, and moved to release music under his own label South Buyers Club. One of the most fascinating things for me during 2017 was to see the kind of support South Club received from fans, and all the possibilities open to a Korean indie band with the right marketing potential and name recognition. I hope to return to this at length in a future blog post.
Not only was South Club the band I saw the most of during 2017. Even though I didn’t return to South Club’s EP 90 the way I did with releases from any of the bands listed above, the ballad track “Hug Me”, which preceded the EP, was probably the song to most frequently pop up as an earworm for me in the year that passed.