Since Korean Indie’s start in 2011, there was a form of favorite or best album lists. It didn’t really start in full until around 2013 where different writers listed their favorite albums of that year. With the 10 year anniversary, I thought it’d be fun to list out my favorite albums for each year of Korean Indie’s existence. 2021 isn’t included yet since the year isn’t up and that can be an update later on.
Yellow Monsters : Riot!
I was a big fan of Yellow Monsters when they released their first self-titled full length. The follow up, Riot!, not only cemented their signature rock mixed with punk style, but it also brought a wider range of songs. From the now classic “16th April,” “Walking in the Rain,” and “Beer, “Riot! was a high-energy album from start to finish. If there’s one thing looking back, the band’s introduction to almost every song was too long.
YUKARI : Echo
At the time, I didn’t know dream pop or bedroom electronic pop existed until YUKARI‘s Echo showed up on YouTube which lead me to Bandcamp. Echo is a perfect album. It has such a specific tone and presentation that showed me the potential of electronic music in South Korea. YUKARI is now ASEUL, but she continues to impress on every release.
feverdogs : sweet nightmare
feverdogs‘ sweet nightmare was one of my first introductions to the music coming from southern South Korea. With most of my knowledge of Korean music originating from around Seoul, Busan’s feverdogs only lasted a single full length and single before the band disbanded. I was able to talk a little with Lee Junsoo and even had him explain the origins of “경성별곡.” After his new band Astronuts released their EP, I was planning on going to Busan to meet him in person, but sadly heard the news of his passing after I found out he had a newer band, The Vastards.
Oh Chill : 57
Sadly, it seems like Oh Chill‘s debut EP isn’t available online anymore, but this EP as my first introduction to the duo was mindblowing. It showed off the abilities and energy of Yun Junhong and Kim Seol in a raw and unpolished form that was in your face even when it was quiet. Oh, Two Animals surpasses 57, but there are a lot of great memories around this album.
Trampauline : Marginal
Trampauline is indie rock, dream pop, and electronic music all mixed together. Marginal was the group’s second album and the final one that I believe came from the group. Trampauline didn’t perform drastically different from other bands, but they did have a signature in how they composed and performed. It’s hard to explain, but any time I hear one song from this album, I have to go back and listen from start to finish.
Big Phony : Big Phony
I am a pure and unapologetic Big Phony fan. This Kickstarter album allowed him to create, record, and mix an album the way he wanted, outside of his D.I.Y. origins. In terms of his discography, it feels the most complete and contains many now-classic tracks. As someone who’s been around numerous famous people, he comes across the same as the first time I met him. Also, my mom is a huge fan. He’s survived in South Korea for over 10 years and has built a more concrete family foundation there. He might not have made music lately, but you can always hear him on the Noochi Podcast.
Love X Stereo : 37A
When Love X Stereo told me about their 37 project, I thought it was kind of crazy. 37 songs in a year. The duo ultimately was able to meet that original goal a couple of years later, and 37A, 37B, 37C, and 37X all emerged from their work. In the end, every song showed off a quickly evolving musical journey that has lead to XENNIALS in 2021. 37A started the mission and surprised me a lot with how experimental they became when the timeline forced them to bring what would have just been ideas into fully realized tracks.
H a lot (에이치얼랏) : H a lot
It’s not that uncommon for experienced musicians to start new bands together. The surprising thing with H a lot was that it contained members of Yellow Monsters, CoreMagaZinE, and Nevada 51. This new group could have gone almost anywhere with the experience between all the members. Their self titled full length played to the strengths of each member to produce a debut that would be the second or third album from a less experienced set of musicians. After listening to the album, the composition of Yellow Monsters became a lot clearer because what makes H a lot so good had hints in some of Yellow Monsters’ tracks. Adding Junghun and Gyuhyun added even more to reach this high-quality album.
Hunjiya : Look After August
Remembering back, it’s crazy that Hunjiya emailed me first about Lineage. Then she released Look After August and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought she set up something great on Lineage, but Look After August is a giant “fuck you” to any expectations. She made an album that pretty much beat everything else I heard in 2019. I’m like that excited uncle who wants her to succeed and gain a bigger audience because most people don’t know what they’re missing.
COMBATIVE POST : WHITEOUT
My music origins, before Korean music, come from punk rock and hardcore music. COMBATIVE POST‘s last album was 2014’s The Ghost. Then in 2020 I saw hints of a return with WHITEOUT. I honestly don’t know if there’s been a punk rock album I was more hyped for last year. There’s a good amount of punk rock music in South Korea if you’re willing to dig for it and I celebrate everything that releases. But WHITEOUT hit different and kind of summed up my pent-up energy as an explosion of sound.