Good thing that relatively fewer Sinophobic posts have been popping up on my Facebook feed as of this writing compared to last week’s unfortunate aftermath of that basketball game between our national team and that of China, *sigh of relief*. However, the humble mission of this ongoing series of posts on “The Sound of Modern China” remains the same: to decently try to counter any post-2015 FIBA Asia Championship Sinophobe I personally know or otherwise by posting about some bands from China that I honestly think deserve a fanbase here in the country. As promised, this week’s featurette is all about a Beijing-based 3-piece band called Carsick Cars.
No idea at all how exactly do cars get carsick, but Carsick Cars sure is a rather quirky yet catchy name for a band.
Found out about them while checking out the real-time playlist of a program over at freeform radio station WFMU that I was listening to several months ago, did a quick search and was honestly surprised that the more aggressive, electric guitar-driven kind of indie rock sound which I am absolutely more preferential to (because fuck your wimpy crap you call “indie”) had already reached Chinese shores as I admit to having known only two punk bands from China prior to hearing Carsick Cars being played on the radio.
Carsick Cars have already released 3 full-lengths and a split 7” with Flavor Crystals (who hail all the way from Minneapolis).
As opposed to their first two albums which lean more towards the Sonic Youth school of noise rock, Carsick Cars’ most recent one simply titled “3” (2014, Maybe Mars) finds the band putting more emphasis towards jangly guitars and vocal harmonies this time around, making it a less abrasive listen. Swirling feedback and all other kinds of guitar noise from both their self-titled debut (2007, Maybe Mars/Tenzenmen) and “You Can Listen, You Can Talk” (2009, Maybe Mars/Fly Fast Records/Tenzenmen) are still technically present in “3” though used rather sparingly which is most probably a conscious decision on the part of the band to distance themselves from the shadow of being constantly compared to Moore, Ranaldo, Gordon and Shelley (who they actually did a European tour with back in 2007). Catchy basslines (c/o He Fan who also sings and plays guitar for Birdstriking) and precision drumming also make “3” the perfect record that should be included in one’s driving playlist (there’s a song called “Midnight Driver” in that album after all).
Just couldn’t help though but wonder about the degree of fortuitousness surrounding “3” as the band currently has three members and the said album was produced by none other than Peter “Sonic Boom” Kember of British neo-psych band Spacemen 3 (with assistance from legendary Flying Nun band The Clean‘s drummer Hamish Kilgour). Other than that, “3” is Carsick Cars’ most accessible record to date and one that is more confident enough in conquering bigger global stages.
Strongly recommending “3” for those who also want to start exploring the world of Chinese indie rock. And for those who usually attach connotations along the lines of poor quality to the term “made in China”, here’s one up yours:
If ever the guys from Carsick Cars decide to visit Manila anytime soon (notwithstanding that still ongoing issue as to who really owns the West Philippine Sea since that has absolutely nothing to do at all with their music), I’ll make sure to catch them and be there front and center.
Carsick Cars was mentioned in my first ever post on “The Sound of Modern China” as a veteran act, but next week’s featurette places the spotlight on an even more veteran act that had been slugging it out since the early 2000’s: P.K. 14