Dixia FM is Shanghai's first night dedicating to hanging out and listening to tracks from China's underground. It's happening at Inferno (where else?) on 30th January.
To celebrate this, we're kicking off an old fashioned rate-a-record, where we will give a local luminary/bum a chance to give their opinion on a few of the songs we select from the rotation of Dixia FM.
Up first is “Old” Andy Best. He wears the same beanie all the time, yet, is of many hats. He authored Parkour Girl And Yellow Fish Car, a novel that takes place around Shanghai, including a PK14 concert at YYT. He's the guitarist of inchoate band Astrofuck (along with DJ Cavia and others), who will soon be performing their first show at that same venue. He also is king of Shanghai's music blogs, having posted more than 600 entries over at kungfuology. Finally, he is almost certainly the most knowledgeable expat (or perhaps anyone) about Chinese rock music in Shanghai, and supplied many of the songs that will be played at Dixia FM from his personal collection. Let's see what he thinks of a few of them.
The band, and especially the singer Lü Bai, started out inspired by Lydia Lunch and New York No Wave. They weren’t doing much when fellow Nanjing alumnus Yang Haisong got them to record How Damn Far To Yinma Lane. When we saw them at Yuyintang we realized they were tight, professional and full of chaotic energy. They were not a tribute act but fully realized China scene post-punk band. This song shows how they change up the song sections relentlessly without ever dropping their attack.
This song is like a sampler of Shouwang’s perfect control of his tone and style. He uses his E Bow to manipulate the magnetic field and create continuous oscillating waves of noise and feedback like robotic whalesong. It has been captured perfectly in this recording and plays like an interlude on the album. So they gave it the cheeky title about the Great Firewall of China. Nice.
This is the opening track of the album Sports. The album marked a change for DFG, from longer proggy jams to more contained, accessible songs. But they still chose to open the album with this noisy, layered thumper that is sprinkled with the tell-tale signatures of their older work. This is an amazing album in general and also one for the nerds. You don’t know it, but Han Han is your poet laureate. See also: LOS “Physics.”
This song really winds me up, actually. First though, Friend or Foe is a punk band based around irreverence, humor and great live performance. The band was conscious that this doesn’t always show up in recordings so they really went for it in the production department and this track really showcases that. It’s not the band that winds me up. I like them. It’s when I hear songs that are punk or DIY or darkly humorous it just reminds me about how many people around the scene talk that talk but start crying if you talk shit about advertising or pretty much any issue. What kind of asshole would listen to a great track like “Snortin’ Clorox” then be all like, ‘Yes, Andy, that’s all well and good but … smug smug smug.’ And while I’m on it: I don’t want to hear anyone else say that everyone should get up and play in a band and just do it, then slag bands off for not playing the right style or whatever, for fuck’s sake. Fuck you all, I’m doublin’ down.
Ah, Brian you twat. Asking me to review a song that I wrote and play the music for. Full disclosure, me and Little Punk made this album, so what can I say about it. Little Punk has an amazing unique voice and some genius decided to close out a bunch of stripped down lofi punk ballads with a waltz, to capture that fatalistic quality in her psyche and sound. We had a lot of fun making the video for this track too. It’s a minor success on Bandcamp and I personally like Friend Next Door the best. Seriously though, she’s the genius and I’m the asshole with a guitar, making clowns of ourselves on a one-way street that leads to nowhere.