5 bands from China you need to hear

Written for Collapse Board

Beijing is to the world in 2012 what Brooklyn was in 2010 or Manchester was in 1989: where it’s fooking at, man. Only, people have better haircuts (and, in Brooklyn’s case, fewer beards). This isn’t entirely out of the blue – we’ve mentioned Guai Li and 8 Eye Spy and Ourself Beside Me before, and if you haven’t taken time to click on those links, we’ll come over to your house and beat up your cat.

If you did enjoy those acts – that raw, punky energy and sheer incendiary vitality – then here are a few more that you’ll love. I found them via tenzenmen [sic], whose Discover China compilation is a pretty good taster of this genuinely exciting hub of great music.

1. P.K.14

The obvious starting point is post-punk rock, but there’s a mournful violin in there that gives it quite an unexpected edge. It’s the only band that makes me think simultaneously of Sonic Youth and Wire. They’re taking overdone, tired references and putting them together in ways I haven’t quite heard before, and for that I give them kudos. In common with their tenzenmen labelmates, P.K.14 aren’t immediately different but are just quirky enough to be fascinating. They’re not a hurricane like (latter-day) Sufjan Stevens, but they’re definitely a breath of fresh air.

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Fan video: Snapline – She

Vimeo user S. Dummy has made a really nice “unofficial video” for the new single from Beijing-based Snapline. It uses clips from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to great effect: the combination of haunting images and repetitive music (Factory Floor, Joy Division) is very hypnotic. Spawned as a side-project of Carsick Cars, Snapline are one of China’s fastest-rising bands. Their first album was recorded in just two days with producer Martin Atkins, who also put together a split 7″ with Pigface a few years ago.  Continue reading