With Seoulsonic 2012 starting their first show in San Francisco in a week, I thought it would be good to highlight the three bands that will be traveling the United States and Canada and Galaxy Express, who are venturing to SXSW for the second time.
I highly recommend going to any show you can to see all the bands and support Korean indie music. The only way we can get bands to keep coming is to support their shows.
If you are going to be at the San Francisco show at Cafe Du Nord on March 11, I will be there.
One of the very first bands that I ever listened to, Crying Nut are Korean rock royalty to me. They’ve been around since the late 1990s, releasing their first album 말달리자 in 1998. Crying Nut’s mixture of punk and rock with polka-esque accordion on some songs always resulted in up-beat and fun songs.
They have six full-length albums under their belts with a break when the band completed their military service. Crying Nut have never really changed their sound which remains unique.
I lost track of Crying Nut for a few years, but when I found their later albums, I was afraid that the band might have changed their punk + rock + ska sound.
I was wrong.
Crying Nut continue to create and play the same style that they first released, only adding more styles to accent their core sound. The band is one that you should listen to. With all the years under their belt, they are a classic and important part of Korean indie music history.
I equate 3rd Line Butterfly with one of the core recognizable Korean indie sounds. Their music is simple on the surface with simple melodies and song arrangement, but the tone of songs is unique. I remember listening to Nine Days or a Million and being blown away by how different it sounded from other bands.
There hasn’t been much music released from the band since Nine Days, but each album hits a specific point in time during the 2000s. Each of the albums is a dense and somewhat intense listening experience, well worth the time spent.
What I like best about 3rd Line Butterfly is that the music always sounds fresh. Even though indie rock in Korea is rapidly changing, all the songs of 3rd Line Butterfly sound new.
I’m a big fan of Yellow Monsters. Their punk + rock sound reminds me a lot of when I listened to a lot of American punk rock. The strength of the music of Yellow Monsters isn’t just in the music, but the energy that goes into every song they play.
Having only two albums, it could be expected that the band needed more experience, but with each member coming from other long-standing Korean bands, Yellow Monsters might collectively have more experience. If you ever see any live videos of Yellow Monsters, you can see the energy and emotion that the band puts into each performance.
Their songs usually sit in fast-tempos, but their slower songs are just as impressive. I think while I’m very exited to see Crying Nut and 3rd Line Butterfly, I’m most excited to see the show that Yellow Monsters gives at the San Francisco show.
I always think of Galaxy Express as the best in garage rock from Korea. They attended SXSW in 2011 and are coming back again in 2012 for another visit to the music festival. This tour is self-funded so they are sticking close to Texas, but I wish they were able to visit more cities and show the United States that intense rock can come from South Korea.
The music of Galaxy Express is pure rock and roll and they know how to play and perform. I think Galaxy Express have some of the greatest potential to break into the United States in the indie scene, it’s just getting them to major cities to show off what they are capable of.
Seoulsonic starts on March 11 and you can get more information at News.koreanindie.com
I’d so glad you did this, Chris! I was thinking about doing the same thing, but now I can just point everyone to this article.
Originally, I was just going to do a second intro with some other bands, but thought that this would be a better way to go. Only 1 more week until SF show!
It’s so bizarre to think that Crying Nut have been around for 14 years or so now. I can remember getting drunk with the guys (1998-ish) and doing some Ssireum wrestling in a back alley way back … despite outweighing Kyung-rok by 60 pounds or so, he totally kicked my butt.
I agree about the evergreen nature of 3rd Line Butterfly’s sound. I prefer them live to their recordings, too, so hopefully you’ll really enjoy the show.
Great write-up, Chris! Crying Nut is one of those bands I really have to see (still bitter I missed them when they played in Sweden 7 years back)… Their split with Yellow Kitchen from 1996 is considered the first ever official Korean indie album. True legends.
Chris, if my e-mail doesn’t show for you, ask Mark or Anna to put you in touch with me. My co-producer Tim and I are doing a follow up tour doc on the early Korean punk scene and he’ll be filming at the SF show–it’d be good for the two of you to meet….I’ll actually be in SF later this month to do some work with Tim (I’m currently in Korea) and it’d be nice to get together as well if you have time.
p.s Mark meant to add that I enjoyed your NYT piece. I’ve recently presented a piece on the globalization of K-indie at some conferences (Anna, you get a brief mention in there!). Going to keep working it up as an adjunct to the doc…..