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2013 IN REVIEW: PART III

Hey, we've made it. We're at the end of 2013, about a year and a few days after the world should have ended on December 21st, 2012. Remember that? It all seems so very long ago. And here are the final team of raconteurs helping us piece together the fragments of the year that remain in our memory. Many thanks to all who contributed and Happy effing New Year to you all.

Rabshaka Shakalaka

Rabshaka Shakalaka plays guitar in Friend or Foe - check out their latest courtyard session. He also writes Rock With Chinese Characteristics, your monthly guide to what Chinese bands are up to.

Best Release

Rainbow Danger Club Souvenirs is just amazing from start to finish. The songs are interesting, textured and creative, but really the lyrics are where this album just hits so hard. Best lyrics I've heard in years. Anywhere. Summer's End is just incredible. I used Human Cannonball to teach narrative structure. So concise and evocative. I'm still discovering new ripples 8 months out.

Best Gigs

Rainbow Danger Club release party for Souvenirs. They played an spellbinding acoustic set. Then they followed with a rocking electric set where even the bass player's Dad got up and belted out a tune with a powerful set of pipes. A feel good release from an impressive band.

Other great gigs were the last show for Rainbow Danger Club and Adam Gaensler. So many bands. Battle Cattle and Nao Hai were awesome that night too! The first night of Rat On Swamp Dog was great, with the improved sound system allowed Pairs and The Other as well as God Bows to Math to really shine. Also Death to Giants' last gig was special as well, because that is a creative unique gem of a band, and they played a hell of a show.

Favorite Newcomers

The Psyders. Only saw them once but my ears are still recovering from the loudness of Mizusu's guitar. Serious surf rock that I hope to see out more in the upcoming year.

Predictions

Hopefully next year will see a resurgent scene full of fresh faces. The decks have been cleared and we've lost some nice bands over the last few years. Those of us still here are ready for some new stuff.

Archie Hamilton

Archie Hamilton is the bossman of Splitworks, the folks behind the JUE Festival and bringing over a ton of touring bands. He dropped some truth bombs earlier in the year here and here.

Best gigs

Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Just a privilege to be involved in that show

Rat Dog on Swamp Tail (are you sure? - ed) (the God Bows to Math version). All the bands were great, and I was really digging Harley's feel.

Demdike Stare - because it scared me (in a good way)

Memorable and defining moments of 2013, highlights of the year

Metallica in Shanghai was pretty unbelievable. If anyone told me 5 years ago that we would see Metallica play an arena in Shanghai in 2013, I would have thought them clinically insane. That's how far we've come.

The screening of our "From Wrexham to Wuhan" documentary at JUE in March. It was the culmination of a year of hard work between Dostav, the Daedelum Films crew and the bands and it was amazing to laugh and cry with 200 friends at a world premiere in Shanghai

Favorite newcomers

Spice from Hangzhou were the absolute standout for me. It was on the Sunday night of our Wood+Wires festival and I was completely exhausted. I took a seat in a conveniently placed beanbag and slipped in and out of consciousness watching an incredible noise, light and video show that was one of my favorite this year

Predictions for 2014

There will be many more shows in the first half of the year with very few people attending. Then lots of promoters will go bust and there will suddenly be a lot less stuff coming in. There will be many lovely but empty new spaces (theaters, concert halls, live houses)

Nichols

If you've been reading the previous couple of entries (and if you haven't, why not? Go back and start at the beginning, you crazy person!) you'll have realized that Nichols' leaving has been a big deal for people this year. He's played bass for Rainbow Danger Club and Death to Giants/Ponies, and has also released a series of mashups as Ren Min Beats. We went all This Is Your Life on him earlier in the year here!

Best releases

Souvenirs by Rainbow Danger Club

Best gigs

Godspeed You Black Emperor

Japandroids with Death to Giants

RDC Souvenirs Release Party with Duck Fight Goose

Memorable and defining moments of 2013, highlights of the year

The night there were like 4 great concerts going on the same night and I actually had to make a tough decision about what I was going to miss. Perhaps Shanghai no longer suffers from poverty of choice.

Favorite newcomers

Xiao Xin Yi Yi - With the addition of the new drummer this year, I think this band has potential to win more fans.

Laura Ingalls - He isn't new, but the Acid Pony has reinvented himself as a solo producer/composer/sound designer. The Beat Tape is wonderful. I listen to it all the time.

Predictions for 2014

X is Y and Round Eye will come out with really great albums and no Shanghainese will care. Beijing will reclaim its title as China's rock capital and a second-tier city in China (Chengdu?) will begin to emerge as a breeding ground for independent music.

Nevin Domer

Nevin works up at Maybe Mars in Beijing, the label behind bands such as P.K. 14, Carsick Cars and Hedgehog.

Best releases (Albums, tracks, EPs)

This is always super hard and some of my top favorites are Maybe Mars releases which I worked on. I can't stop listening to Skip Skip Ben Ben's "Sacrifice Mountain Hills" or P.K.14's 1984, on vinyl no less!

After Argument released their debut LP Furs of Time on their own label, Share The Obstacles, which is a killer imagining of what Fugazi would be like if they wrote an album after Argument.

It's less than a month old but I have been really digging Rolling Bowling's Marriage Is Not My Favorite Thing, they have been at it for awhile but hopefully this will inspire other kids across the country to slick back their hair turn away from the now overdone dance-punk trend for truly danceable rock-a-billy.

On the darker side, I love the Kazak-industrial of iZ's Echo and have been digging into Dou Wei's "殃金咒" where the legendary rocker throws down a single 45 minute track of impressively dense black metal, proving that he's still creating music on his own terms.

Completely under the radar but well worth checking out was the trilogy of release from anarcho-hippie coalition Nojiji; Ong's In Nature and the self-titled Raying Psychedelic Coalition and Cryptozoic. Expect some heavy noise, altered-state jams and psychedelic field recordings.

Shanghai's Death To Giants and Death To Ponies also threw down some great stuff this year.... Ok, that's a lot of best releases and I know there are some obvious ones that I am missing but these are all totally worth checking out.

Best gigs

I average around three gigs a week and the best shows for me are often young bands playing passionate sets to pretty empty clubs. I have enjoyed some of the smaller DIY festivals popping up though, especially Dalian's Dusk Dalian and Shanghai's "Rat On Swamp Dog" and although I didn't make it to them I heard a lot of good things about Qingdao's Golden Beach Festival and Beijing's Strawberry Fuckstival (the punk alternative to Modern Sky's Strawberry Festival). Lots of good touring bands coming through but nobody hit it quite as hard as Daikaiju did. For local stuff the handful of Molds shows this year were awesome! Especially the Drunk Is Beautiful show at School with the Molds and Bedstars together, also pretty much any Diders show. I don't know if anyone else enjoyed it but I had a lot of fun on Fanzui Xiangfa's China tour!

Memorable and defining moments of 2013, highlights of the year

If I can actually remember the show then I probably wasn't having that much fun. Although CRI's The Sound Stage hosted a pretty memorable music awards at Yugong Yishan when the guitarist from legendary Beijing punk band Kill Tomorrow stripped completely naked and pranced around the stage during Mi San Dao's set; confirming that yes, rock and roll is still a threat to China's state-run media. It was also pretty cool to see Andy Gill bring Hua Dong from the ReTROS and Lu Di from AV Okubo up on stage with Gang of Four for a rendition of Damaged Goods and a new track completely in Chinese!

Favorite newcomers

Not so new but After Argument did their first China tour and Xin Ma You Jiang sort of gained, lost than gained and lost momentum yet again. MeToo also returned to the stage after an almost four year hiatus back in Xinjiang. Diders have been coming into their own and lot's of people are getting hot and bothered over The Big Wave. Never Before is leading Beijing fledgling stoner-metal scene. Over all less young hype bands this year but a lot of good solid acts starting up and more and more from second-tier cities across the country.

Predictions for 2014

Reading the leaves floating in my tea I predict that the scene will continue to get bigger and more diverse, although maybe also more disconnected from itself. Smaller second and third tier cities like Xinxiang and Suzhou will cultivate better and better scenes. Vinyl will become much more popular among the Chinese audience and more and more international bands will flood into China. More companies will get involved sponsoring bands and events but it remains to be seen if they will actually pay anything. Pretty much more of everything although with the choices and options growing faster than the actual audience, at leas