When I started listening to Korean music transferring from numerous Japanese genres, I wasn’t even sure where to start looking for information about the different genres or styles. Considering that Korean uses ideograms rather than romanized lettering, that made things even more difficult to start with. My Korean is pretty basic. I can read most everything, but don’t have the vocabulary to decipher actual words.
So to make things a little easier, the editors at Koreanindie.com thought we would highlight some of the bands that we are fans of. Mark posted his short history of Korean Indie and it’s a great intro for you to read.
Since the review section of the site is still growing, I’ll be linking to my site at wakesidevision which can explain a little more in my short form reviews. My list isn’t chronological or consist of any real order, it’s just bands that I found really amazing in the two years of reviews and listening to different music.
The band Huckleberry Finn have been around for a long time. Releasing albums since 1998, the band finally returned with a full-length in 2011. The music of the band is both standard and non-standard rock. The normally female-fronted vocals produce an amazing power that I don’t really hear from a lot of bands, female vocalist or not. But the band uses male and female vocals changing the tone of songs.
Black Tiger is my favorite album by Huckleberry Finn, but 2007’s Deep Impact contains my favorite songs from the band. Huckleberry Finn is one of the best Korean rock bands and now that they’re making music again, it’s the perfect time for rock fans.
Currently moving in a different direction from standard rock and experimenting with electronica, Peterpan Complex are a band that have continually evolved their sound. It’s a very interesting music journey going from their first album Radiostar to their fourth album, Love.
The course of their music went from indie rock to a strange Radiohead-esque second album to a lighter pop rock fourth album. Each album is a great listen and they are releasing new music again. I would advise in listening to all their albums because each one has a different theme.
Loro’s are different. A mixture of Korean rock and shoegaze (a music style that I really only learned when listening to Korean music), the band only has two albums. The male members returned from the military and the band have been playing shows again this past year. The two albums are incredible. The non-standard addition of cello adds a new dimension of melody to the music.
It’s hard to describe the music and really just needs to be listened to.
I’ve mentioned it many times, but Donawhale is the band that convinced me that Korean indie music was worth exploring. I had just listened to some Kpop song and then found Donawhale’s Dive to Blue and chanced a listen. The next hour blew me away with how good the music was. Dive to Blue really showed me that there was something special about Korean music that I never gave a chance before and I had to explore more.
The light melodies combined with different rhythms and tempos opened my eyes to music that I never considered really important. Donawhale was my gateway band and remains one of the bands that never leaves my side.
It’s unfortunate that the band took a break and haven’t released anything since 2009, but the albums still remain classics.
Next to Donawhale in the trio of important Korean bands to me is Apollo 18. Donawhale showed the lighter indie side of Korean music and Apollo 18 illustrated that hardcore and post-rock also existed. Each of their releases have shown incredible growth in the music and skills and their live shows are even more amazing.
I would recommend starting from their first album and moving forward because there is a lot of music to listen to and digest before getting into Black. Apollo 18 is growing in Korea and getting a lot more notice outside of the country as well and hopefully they will be able to tour internationally in the near future.
This is just one set of introductions to Korean bands. There are a lot more and Anna and Mark will be highlighting their favorites as well. The posts will continue in the future so keep watch for more introductions.