Girls with Guitars #7


IMG_6877.JPG What a great start to 2015! Not only did we find LOTS of girls on guitars, we even found a guy who doesn’t play guitar hahahaa. Our first event at Orange Peel & lots of thanks to Carr on sound and to the staff there for providing our thirsty audience with ​ ​ Jägermeister, Singha Beer & JackDaniels Cola ​ all through the night. VOLCOM, you were awesome, dressing Chris B and Yan Yan from After-After Party and giving us goodies to give away! Huge t hanks to Becky & ​Vivian​ on the door, to Calvin, Angus, Ewa & Sunil​ on the floor. Huge love to GFM.FM for their support as always. See you all ​at The Underground x Parsons Music Battle of the Bands​!

love Chris B xx

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Jules O’Brien

1. Paperwork
2. Love Affair
3. In Between
4. You won’t be down forever
5. Chopsick
6. Red Eyes
7. Gold
8.We’ll Both Look Back

With her dark bangs, winged eyeliner and quietly sweet demeanour, Jules O’Brien is the Zooey Deschanel-esque manic pixie dream girl of Hong Kong. Acoustic sets often eventually meet with the inescapable fate of being boring, but here, even though Jules employ the same indie-folksy tune throughout, the variety of styles she takes on, from heartfelt and honest to quirky and naughty, keeps the audience enthralled throughout the night. In Chopsick, she sings of heartbreaks (“I miss you all the time but I hate to think whose hand you’re holding.”) and evokes images of Paris in the rain in “(song before Chopsick)”, and takes on a darker battle-hymn tone in “(the song with the lyrics out of heaven into hell)” – a personal favourite of mine that evening. Her voice is one of those you want to listen to over and over again – clear, crisp and her lack of deliberate flourishes makes the whole listening experience immensely enjoyable and easy on the ears. Her songs usually follow the pattern of starting off with slow and soft fingerpicking, then progressing into a chorus or bridge of intense, impassioned strumming, and her emotions flow easily like syrup from a maple tree. A great way to start off the night, a superb girl with guitar indeed.
– Karen Cheung

為當晚揭開序幕的,是貼題的一個女孩和一把結他:Jules O’Brien。她玩的是Acoustic 和Country Folk的類型。第一首《Paperwork》的首句已把她甜美的聲線表露無遺,把很多人日復日的苦悶工作唱出來,相信觀眾頗有共鳴,Jules更拍結他作rhythming。第二首的《Love Affair》,是一首country感覺更重的一首,只用一把結他營造歌曲的高低起伏更顯她的技術。第三首《In Between》是一首柔和的歌曲,亦有陽光的氣息,她彈的chord melody是吸引的,隨後再以較輕鬆的《Red Eyes》帶動氣氛,第五首的《You Won’t Be Down Forever》有著挺特別的前奏,來到第六首《Chopsick》,她多用低音區,而且編得很有層次,隨後的《Gold》也有著有跳脫的節奏,最後一首《We’ll Both Look Back》的chord progression已散發著歡愉的氛圍。總的來說,一個女生拿著結他在台上唱歌永遠都是好看的,而Jule更擁有甜美的聲線,加上她的曲風,聽著像一個唱歌的精靈,一開頭就為這次Girls With Guitars #7施上魔法。
– Sidick Lam

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1. Philip the Buster
2. Time In My Galaxy
3. Whatever
4. Street Fighter
5. That Day, I Went to His Funeral
6. Double Nono

The next band on, despite it being their first Underground show, were clearly different right from the start. For one thing, they spoke to the crowd in both English and Cantonese and this continued throughout the set, which puts them in a category with very few other bands. I’ve always thought it would be a great idea to seriously court both Anglophone and Cantophone audiences, and this band seems to be well on the path to doing just that. At one point in the set I was thinking how much their approach was similar to that of bands like Chochukmo when it came to light that the lyrics for the following song (Time in My Galaxy) were written by Jan Curious, of the very same aforementioned Chochukmo! For a start, this is really top-drawer musical networking by these girls, so kudos in that regard. Second, if they’re the sort of band that would attract the likes of someone from Chochukmo, it’s fair to infer that they’re a band that sounds very indie, fresh, modern (I’ll try to explain during the course of this review) and are the sort of band that has a recognisable style to their songs.
And as it turned out, my suspicions were right with regard to their sound; they have a characteristic sound that mixes (broadly) two styles of music to produce something offbeat. Generally it’s thick and loopy basslines, mixed with syncopated drums, overlaid with guitars that are usually staccato and almost plinky like a piano in their sound. There are just a few stretches of continuous strumming in their songs, as the guitar is treated more as sonic embroidery than the basis for the sound. Their singer has a clear and very earnest voice, and she is of my favourite variety of singer in that there’s very little artifice in her style; no forcing 10 notes where two would do, no unnecessary shows of skill to merely impress. She’s a singer who doesn’t let her technical vocal skill get in the way of sounding good, and that’s wonderful. Which isn’t to say that she doesn’t take her chances to take the vocal flourishes when the music demands them, more that the vocal flourish is used judiciously. Backed up by the sweet voice of their guitarist, it makes for a saccharine vocal section. They use a lot of light pop-jazz/bossa nova, and intersperse it between the Noughties rock bits of their songs. The overall tone is dancey and light, and this adds a lot of levity particularly to their jazzier songs (jazz being perceived as a style taken unnecessarily seriously by a lot of people this is not only a good thing for their sound but also the band’s image).
However, they have a song-writing problem that I have most often seen only in metal bands; their songs are divisible into easily perceptible “parts”, and these parts lack continuity between them. Like the uneven divisions between the Dutch and Belgian border at Baarle-Nassau or badly hacked-down timber, this is just jarring and unnecessary. If style is to change violently in a song, it should be well-earned, and certainly not done in every song; I say just write two songs if the musicians like both styles so much. However, they did figure out how to make variations on a theme very well in Whatever and That Day, I Went to His Funeral; the parts vary in tone and feel but the connective thread between them is strong, as if they were micro-movements in a symphony instead of very different bits that don’t sound like the same song. Their lyrics, while generally strong, did sometimes descend into sounding like adolescent poetry occasionally (Whatever….but then again, that may have been the point of the song). Aside from this, they are a fresh-sounding band with a very endearing stage-presence and are really, really tight, especially considering some of the rather complicated musical manoeuvres they pull off. If you’re looking to hear something different but dancey and fun, you should definitely try catching a show by these girls.
— Shashwati Kala

GDJYB,一個有趣的名字,由四個有實力的女生組成的全女樂隊。她們玩的是Math-Folk-Rock的風格,把當晚的氣氛一下子推高。第一首《Philip The Buster》,主唱一開始用較柔和的聲音,然後到中段才一次過爆出渾厚的聲線,第二首來到和Chochukmo主音Jan合作的《Time In My Galaxy》,層次非常的多,聽著像在穿梭不同的世界,之前聽過Jan主唱的acoustic version,也是一樣吸引。第三首《Whatever》,是節奏較快的一首,歌曲都散發出隨意的感覺。而總的來說,GDJYB有著很多有趣的想法,Math-folk的特色也讓人很難不愛上,而且她們在台上的投入讓感染力再強了一點,就說當晚也讓全場的氣氛熱烈起來,而且她們很懂得製造不同的聲音去豐富自己的音樂,因此,GDJYB絕對是一隊不能錯過的樂隊。

– Sidick Lam

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When it comes to bands, in my experience, four times out of five you can judge a musical book by its cover; by which I mean that you can judge a band by the way they dress. This band took the stage looking like a mix between Heart in the 70s and Mötley Crüe, and indeed the glam style was pretty big on the radar during this set. However, and I rarely say this, their performance left a lot to be desired. I don’t know if there was something wrong with the sound during their set, but it often sounded like that. What they were attempting was a fairly broad-based approximation of 80s glam rock power ballads. However, for a start, the guitarist was not really audible for the first song, and afterwards played mostly in a very low register. Now that’s okay if you’re playing something like, say, grindcore, and only need a loud chugging background while you strum the guitar insanely fast. However, for songs that have a structure and need to have the anthemic feel of a power ballad this is almost useless. I would like to think that something went awry in the wiring of his guitar pedals and amp, but I saw no evidence to that effect on the night. When there was an audible guitar part, it sounded much like the tone used in most 80s Michael Jackson songs like Eddie Van Halen used in Beat It; some people might like these two sounds mixed, but it was definitely not for me.
The sort of singer a band like this demands, is one with unflagging skill to be able to sing with a strong, high-pitched voice all through the set; the singer they do have does not have this. Now, that’s not necessarily a problem, but her voice is a weak one and when set against a background that would make most singers sound pallid it makes her sound almost squeaky. On the night, she also missed quite a few notes in crucial places, and if you do that within the tyrannical regime that is metal it can sound really bad. They’ve got a pretty good rhythm section, but that didn’t really manage to save any of the songs. It sounds to me like they need a change of direction to be a band that has a distinct sound and can stand up to the quality of the bands in Hong Kong, if they want not to be just a disposable radio band that sounds like a clone of every other. The band have a lot to work on, and I wish them the best for their future.
— Shashwati Kala

當晚第三隊出場的是四人樂隊Muffy,是當晚唯一一隊唱廣東話的樂隊。他們玩的多偏pop-rock的風格,台型是頗吸引的。第一首《光》,女主音的聲音算是尖,與上一隊GDJYB主音剛好有點反差,他們的音樂一來都是強而有力的,鼓在每一首歌曲都十分搶耳。另外,他們的歌曲多帶出正面的感覺,且青春而有活力的。當晚美中不足的,是某一兩次的guitar solo不夠到位,讓聽眾聽得不夠過癮,另外主唱的聲線當晚聽著好像不夠穩定,假如用聲的技巧和穩定性稍稍提高,整體一定會大大的加分。

– Sidick Lam

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After-After Party

1. Nice to Meet You
2. Artistic Ass
3. Hell Taxi
4. Selfie 101
5. Annoying Cats
6. I Am Not a Ten
7. Happy Holiday

After-After Party started their first song (ever, really, since it was their debut) by asking the name of the guy who had consistently been undiscriminatingly loud throughout the night, which was revealed to be Mike. Singer/guitarist Yanyan proceeded to christen him ‘Mike Truffle’ and the loud and raucous soundcheck proceeded with his name as its mainstay, sounding a little like Wild in the Streets by the Circle Jerks. Right from then on there was a fun, wild, loud and noisy vibe in the room, helped along by Yanyan’s bouts of heavy metal shouting (and her subsequently paying for it with massive doses of throat pain and raspiness for the rest of the night). Their lyrics are in the classic tradition of comedy punks like the Dead Kennedys or the Descendents; from Artistic Ass and its diatribe against overly arty types who take themselves too seriously to poor taxi-line etiquette to directions to how to properly take a selfie and even to self-deprecatingly admitting to being average-looking, the lyrics are steeped in dry wit, mild absurdities and clever put-downs. The occasionally acerbic lyrics also bear a close resemblance to those of those of a certain Tyger Feb….I wonder why…
They combine the funny lyrics with their razor sharp and abrasive guitar sound, coming out of a lovely teal Fender Mustang (if my eyes were working correctly). The piercing, don’t-carish guitar is much like that used by early punk bands like The Slits (whose Ari Up also happens to sound much like Yanyan’s throaty yell), and a little bit of the loud bombast of The Dictators, backed up by a solid, thudding rhythm section. Happy Holiday, in particular, was something like reading the phone book, but you’re reading the list of holidays in HK instead of the actual phone book, of which I imagine the Dictators would be immensely proud. There aren’t many poppy moments to be had, but Selfie 101 is a little like if Bon Jovi covered a Nirvana song, and I Am not a Ten sometimes dipped into Avril Lavigne territory. BUT, otherwise a terrific first show by them, suffused with the spirit and abandon of The Ramones. Even if you don’t like punk, you could go and see them in order to get the details of all their online dating website. And end up listening to the music instead.
— Shashwati Kala

這是After-After Party的第一場演出,但他們絕對不是什麼新進的音樂人,每一個團員絕對都是資深的「band友」,只是這一次選擇弄出一個Comedy Rock的組合,以「幽默」作賣點,而的確,當晚他們成功把全場觀眾都逗得開懷。他們cutie與screaming的唱法交錯著,帶來十分有趣的化學作用,而且她們的歌曲都是圍繞生活和潮流的,例如《selfie 101》,是真的會教你如何自拍,然後更有觀眾即時走到台上跟成員自拍,這就是live的可愛和精彩之處,感覺不是演出,而是一班朋友在玩和即興唱唱歌一般。

– Sidick Lam

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1. My name is Glen
2. My House
4. Matzo Ball Soup
5. Somebody Teach me How to Dance
6. Muthaphukka I will Stab You
7. Another Friday Night
8. Never Gonna Give You Up (Rick Astley cover)
9. Fuck You, You Fuckin’ Fuck
10. What’s Up (4 Non Blondes cover)
11. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O’Connor cover)
12. Heart of Glass (Blondie cover)

Technically, this was the After-After-After Party, and there were (as promised) no girls and no guitars. There were, however, funny lyrics, the rationales behind which were unexpectedly well-detailed. There was a lot of keytar, and vocal effects, and almost immaculately-timed videos to accompany Mr JUNK! on stage, and it worked quite well for a while. By which I don’t mean the act; that was consistent all the way through. Partly self-deprecating humour, slapsticky songs with big comedic loops in the tunes to overlay the lyrics; the final effects was a little like if Reggie Watts covered a Frank Zappa song from around the Sheik Yerbouti era, with a little bit  of the Safety Dance included as well (Fuck You, You Fuckin’ Fuck in particular). The rest of the sound, I’m not equipped to describe owing to my famous (I wish) ignorance of electronic music and its paraphernalia and motifs.
No, what did only work “for a while” was his computer set up, as the computer suffered a nervous breakdown and had to go away for a while, leaving Mr. JUNK! high and dry on stage. He dealt with it with a mix of equanimity, mildly shame-faced amusement and genuine annoyance (which was pretty funny in its own way). But, after quite a few refusals of the crown, Caesar was crowned and the set could resume, which brought along some more revenge from the gods in the form of a Rick Astley cover (aren’t audiences vindictive?). Still, owing to popular (i.e. Chris B, me and one other person) more covers were done, and What’s Up and Heart of Glass were actually rendered with some affection and turned out quite well. After having been punished by the Windows king, Mr JUNK! redeemed himself by not submitting to the fates and soldiering on. In all a funny and very drunk (well, the audience anyway) ending to a great show, despite the irony.
— Shashwati Kala

– Sidick Lam

Poster ​& ​Photos by Angus Leung
海報由Angus Leung。
由​Angus Leung攝影。

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