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Five at 5 – Vol. 55 – The Beijing Edition

This special edition of Five at 5 comes straight from the faraway land of China.

26 Mar, 2013

Krish Raghav

Krish

The Indiecision Five at 5 is our attempt at sharing our musical tastes with you, and showcasing music from around the world. Each weekday at 5pm sharp, one NH7 writer or staffer will bring you five songs he/she is listening to on the day. Krish Raghav brings you this special edition of Five at 5 straight from his Beijing base. 

1. Rebuilding the Rights of Statues – ‘Viva Murder’
Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (or ‘Re:Tros’) are a Beijing post-punk trio who inadvertently started a gothic revival in Chinese indie. They have legions of imitators, but they’re both a notch above and a step aside from the rest. Watching them live is a masterclass in musical precision – singer Hua Dong and bassist Liu Min bring a rare professionalism to Beijing’s grimy livehouses, and a minimalist ferocity to their watertight sets. Re:tros are working on their third album for release later in 2013, and if this cut is any indication, it’s going to be a scorcher.

2. Hedgehog – ‘The Band’
Hedgehog occupies the opposite end of the punk spectrum from Re:Tros – they’re a scrappy, cheery three-piece band who play wildly energetic shows and sing in an amusing mix of broken English and the Beijing Mandarin dialect. Their compact and fiendishly talented drummer ‘Atom’ is almost a figurehead for this new generation of Chinese indie bands – so much so that her story was the inspiration for a new short film now making the U.S. festival circuit. ‘The Band’ is my favourite from their 2012 album ‘Sun Fun Gun.’

3. White+ – ‘Red’
The hottest trend in Chinese indie recently? Side projects that gain unexpected prominence, sometimes even sidelining the acts that spawned them. White+ is an electronic duo that rose from the ashes of White, a side project of Zhang Shouwang, the vocalist of Sonic Youth-esque Chinese indie superstars Carsick Cars. Carsick Cars are still one the biggest brand names in Beijing, but its White+ that’s pushing all the musical boundaries – creating a dark, frantic soundscape that’s part Krautrock, part harsh noise and part Chinese hip-hop. It’s fantastic.

4. Dear Eloise – ‘Her Song’
Dear Eloise is a Beijing cult underground favourite. A famously reclusive and mysterious side project of vocalist Sun Xia and her husband Yang Haisong, the frontman of Beijing rock giants P.K.14.  They never play live and rarely give interviews, just quietly releasing album after album of absolutely gorgeous lo-fi bedroom recordings – fragile, almost poetic lyrics sung by an ethereal female voice rising over waves of smooth static and feedback, occasionally punctuated by clear guitar lines.They’re your go-to name to drop in Beijing cafes for instant indie cred.

5. Skip Skip Ben Ben – ‘Sand’
Skip Skip Ben Ben are the current forerunners of Beijing’s venerable shoegaze lineage, creating spacey, ambient guitar-driven songs tinged with East Asian textures and rhythms. This track is from their new album Sacrifice Mountain Hills, which was released outside the mainland just last month. Their songs are severely understated, and yet manage to lodge themselves firmly in your brain.

Oh, and frontwoman Ben Ben probably has the twee-est apartment in Beijing.

Check out previous editions of Five at 5 here, and stay tuned for more picks from NH7, Monday through Friday.

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