Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Random Notes - Vol 3, No. 2

  • I checked out some surprisingly good bands at Freebird the other night. It has been quite a while since I even thought about Freebird, but this time it had the best bands I have seen in Korea for ages.

    Most notable was ORIENTAL LUCY (sorry, I only have these crappy cell phone pics). Each song was quite different, ranging from a retro-70s-rock sound to a bizarre cover of a trot classic that sounded like something by SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. (They have a Cyworld page here, but it is one of those annoying ones you need to sign into to use, so it is pretty much useless for most people.)

    Another very good band was FRENZY, a four-man instrumental shoe-gazing band that sounded a bit like classic Echo and the Bunnymen (my friend's assessment).

    The other band was JERANG, perhaps not as good, but still interesting in their own way. A bit of an early-Radiohead, whiny sound, but not bad. I believe JERANG won the most recent Korea national high school talent competition. They four guys in the band are just 20 (Korean age, I would imagine, so 19 in the rest of the world), so they have some time to improve. But a good beginning.

  • I just ran across a relatively new-ish magazine and website dedicated to the Seoul art scene, called NEXART (actually, I think Nex Art has been around since 2006, but I just discovered it). At the moment it is in Korean only, but the website claims that an English section will be coming in March. If you pick up the 'zine around town, most of the stories have a short English intro, which is limited but quite interesting.

  • Poking around on the Nex Art website then led me to the English (and Korean) website EAST BRIDGE, another site for finding out more about the Korean art scene.

  • As long as you are at East Bridge, do not forget to check out their huge list of Korean art links.

  • I just checked out the first two episodes of THE WIRE's fifth season (through totally legitimate means, I am sure... Stealing them via Bittorrent would be wrong).

    Totally love it. Season 5 is, somehow, even more bleak than the first four seasons. But despite the depressing edge to things, it is still the best show on television, by far. Great writing, solid insights and, despite the dark cynicism, more than a few funny moments.

    In case you have not heard, THE WIRE season 5 turns an eye to the media, in particular to modern newspapers, with all the brutal insight the show has used to examine city politics, the war on drugs, schools and all the rest.

    Some early reviews have criticized the shows creator for having an exaggerated or cartoon-like perspective on the troubles facing the modern newspaper, but I think those criticisms are off-base. Sure it is not 100-percent correct, but THE WIRE is a fictional, entertainment program, not a documentary. I am guessing its view of the newsroom is as accurate as all the other institutions it has skewered over the years (which is to say quite accurate, but very much fiction).

    If you are in Korea, you can still track down season 1 of THE WIRE here and there, for just 20,000 won or so. Totally worth it. Or you can order seasons 1-4 from

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    Adam Hartzell said...


    As a shoe-gazer fan, I appreciate dropping the tidbits of bands like FRENZY to look out for.

    Concerning JERANG and your comment about them having 'time to improve'. I've heard bands have had their development stalled often because just as they start to gel, obligatory military service disrupts the bands cohesion. My friends say this happened somewhat to DEER CLOUD who were on the edge of making a CD and then their drummer's service commitment came up. Is it as much a problem as I hear or is it not that big of a disruption for most bands? What do the artists themselves say?

    btw, have you seen DEER CLOUD? (It might be DEAR CLOUD, I can't recall.) I greatly enjoy the husky depth to the lead singer's voice.