Music


I’m about to head out to Seattle.  Stopping through Portland and LA, I will be arriving to NY eventually as it would be my primary visit this summer.  As a pre-New Yorker, it brings me back all the strange indescribable emotions whenever I visit that city.  I’m staying at unfamiliar neighborhood, still meeting new friends and old friends, adventuring out more.  Still, New York is what it is.  A city with lifestyle whiche you won’t find anywhere else in the world.  I was listening to LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You. But, you are bringing me down”  – a greate lyric.  You will understand truely if you were once a New Yorker.

New York, I Love You. But, You Are Bringing Me Down
by LCD Soundsystem

New York, I Love You
But you’re bringing me down

New York, I Love You
But you’re bringing me down

Like a rat in a cage
Pulling minimum wage

New York, I Love You
But you’re bringing me down

New York, you’re safer
And you’re wasting my time

Our records all show
You are filthy but fine

But they shuttered your stores
When you opened the doors
To the cops who were bored
Once they’d run out of crime

New York, you’re perfect
Don’t please don’t change a thing

Your mild billionaire mayor’s
Now convinced he’s a king

So the boring collect
I mean all disrespect

In the neighborhood bars
I’d once dreamt I would drink

New York, I Love You
But you’re freaking me out

There’s a ton of the twist
But we’re fresh out of shout

Like a death in the hall
That you hear through your wall

New York, I Love You
But you’re freaking me out

New York, I Love You
But you’re bringing me down

New York, I Love You
But you’re bringing me down

Like a death of the heart
Jesus, where do I start?

But you’re still the one pool
Where I’d happily drown

And oh.. Take me off your mailing list
For kids that think it still exists
Yes, for those who think it still exists

Maybe I’m wrong
And maybe you’re right
Maybe I’m wrong
And myabe you’re right

Maybe you’re right
Maybe I’m wrong
And just maybe you’re right

And Oh..
Maybe mother told you true
And they’re always be something there for you
And you’ll never be alone

But maybe she’s wrong
And maybe I’m right
And just maybe she’s wrong

Maybe she’s wrong
And maybe I’m right
And if so, is there?

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Sound Day: Island City

Sound Day

Last weekend was somewhat very music oriented…. Anna tipped me on “Sound Day” at Hongik University area. I’m familiar with the Club Day which is held last Friday of every month which I never made it due to my lack of physical energy. The Club Day is pretty famous and it’s one of the reasons that I often avoid Hongik University area on that Friday. I heard there are some good DJs and for about $15, if you can go any of 30 clubs all night, it’s not a bad deal. Many foreigners appear in the street during the Club Day. Last Club Day, while I was still recovering, I’ve got a text message from foreigner friends who were visiting Seoul for work… ‘Club Day?’ My answer was, ‘I don’t think I’m capable of that kind of activities tonight’ Later, they told me it was great.

In the other hand, the Sound Day isn’t as known and it’s not that crowded either – more reason for me to like it. It’s more laid back environment & it usually goes from 9 pm to 12 am although the schedule says until 6 am – I believe it’s DJ club thingy after midnight. If you pay $15 equavalent Won, they will give you a wrist band, a schedule of bands & a map. That covers a free drink and any live bands (Indie bands) at any participating clubs. Sadly, there aren’t that many clubs participating or neither big crowds participating. It was a reality showing how poor environment indie bands are thriving in Korea. No wonder the TV is covered with boy bands and girl bands mostly.

We went to the first club where fusion Jazz band, “Water Color” was playing. They were pretty good. I wanted to listen to young rock indie band so after reading reviews of bands, we picked, “Island City.” It was an excellent choice. It got crowded when they just began to sing. This band is formed with 3 girls and 1 boy. A cool looking drummer girl, base guitarist girl and a vocal who plays acoustic guitar and sings like Jaurim. She has a great voice. The lead guitarist is a boy. I sat back while drinking a glass of screw driver and enjoyed their performance. I will follow this group. They definitely have a potential.

My New Guitar, “FLOW” & The Musical Instruments Market

The very next day, I was in a mission to buy my first (perfect) guitar. After harassing my TA who is a lead guitarist in a band (who can play Muse songs very well) for a couple of times, I finally managed to gather some experts who I trust & who agreed to go to a musical instrument market in Seoul downtown. I’ve never been at that market (it’s called Nakwon Market and it’s a three floor huge building where you can really get lost among numerous musical instrument stores. If you need a piano, guitar, drum set or something else, this is the place to be. Note that store owners aren’t so friendly & will try to rip you off so you’d better bring some expert with you.)

After struggling to find my dear colleague, DS who agreed to help me out in the streets outside of the building, I understood that this market is as large as being able to connect two subway stops. Of course, I’m clueless which direction is Jongro 3 ga or Anguk. For e.g., DS told me to meet him near the entrance on the Jongro 3 ga side… I was like, ‘Huh? I see the several entrances on this street but, could’t tell which side was toward Jongro…’ After we met up and waiting for more hands-on experts, we decided to look at guitars. Everyone I talk to told me that the first guitar has to be pretty and I have to like the look. The idea is that I have to love the look so I will pick it up more often to practice. Also, if I’m hopeless, at least it will look cool on the wall. 🙂

I loved the Music Man but, I was more into Gibson then, I decided on Gibson equevalent brand that is affordable, Epiphone. However, regular Les Paul was too heavy for me and I didn’t like the shape of SG. I wasn’t crazy about Fender except light blue custom one which was … at least $2500. So, I was also considering Ibenez guitar because there was one model which I love the shape. After few hours of us wandering floors of this market, my guitar expert TA guy came with a group of school band kids who were looking for a drum set. That’s when I met my new guitar displayed at the corner of the window where they have many Gibson and Epiphone guitars. I asked the owner if I can see that. I’ve lifted it and surprisingly lighter than regular Les Paul. Then I read, ‘special edition’ written on the neck. Cool. So I requested to hook it up with a large Marshall amp and my TA guy had to play it for me to make sure. I’m not sure if he was good or it was a good amp to plug in …or both, it sounded good. After asking everyone’s opinion & glancing at the owner’s annoyed face front of bunch of musicians who are playing in his store, I decided. I already loved that guitar but, I managed to hagel a bit. ($50 off)

It is just pretty.

That’s how I met my first guitar, cherry color Les Paul, special edition. It’s thinner than regular Les Paul so it fits someone tiny like me. We went to celebrate my new guitar afterward, my treat of course. It was freezing on the way home but, my guitar case on my back kept me warm. I still keep smiling whenever someone asks me about Flow. (yes, his name is Flow.)

mmm, only problem is to keep my left finger nails short. I’m finding it’s extremely inconvenient without fingernails covering my fingers… can’t pick up things anymore. I wonder how boys live with short fingernails.

More List:

The Back Room

This hidden bar owned by an actor has a secret room in the back of The Back Room. The cocktails are really good and good crowd during weekdays. I haven’t checked this place during weekend so can’t tell.

Rockwood Music Hall

A good indie music venue on Allen street where you can appreciate American Indie band scene.

Freeman’s

This is an awesome restaurant located at the end of alley at Freeman’s Alley on Rivington street (Note that this alley is not on the google map) Their foods are great, one of the best Bloody Mary I’ve tasted and the restaurant decoration is quite odd but, it works. I had a brunch, “smoked trout” with a cappuccino and a Bloody Mary…and I thought about going back there for a dinner.

Vbar

Their WiFi is unstable but, it’s lovely to sit there with my laptop and a glass of wine and work during late afternoon. Great selection of beer and wines and coffee.

OK, just to see how insanely I’ve been exploring around New York City last 10 days, I’ve decided to list where I have been so far… this list will continue on:

Lady Sovereign & DJ guy

Lady Sovereign 07.07.07

It was at Spiegel World Theater, a strange place in South Street Seaport… near the deck where you can recline to see brooklyn bridge over East river. It was supposed to start at 11 pm (no opening band, yup!) but got delayed to after 1 am… right! But, beer and brooklyn bridge water front view kept us all from complaining too much. Once the DJ guy spin some music, Lady Sovereign came out. She seems really young and small but, her performance was awesome. Since it was a small theater and a small crowd, I was able to stand pretty close to the stage. The crowds were very very young… like high school kids. Hmmm… if you want to learn more about this artist, go here >>>

The Boredoms / 77 Boa Drums 07.07.07

With every free concerts in NYC, it always involves with long lines and a park. However, 77 Boa Drums sounded really cool especially with the group The Boredoms… As I suspected, there were lines of people waiting in line from early on that circled the park.  I was with some people who I barely knew but, it was alright.  It was 7 pm but, sun was really strong and hot.  I looked around and the crowds were, you know the crowds I expected to be at this event.  New Yorkers… some with notebook, some with camera.

My feeling was that it would have been better to listen on the Brooklyn Bridge but, oh well, I was just following my crowd. 🙂

The Golden Bridge 07.08.07

My friend and I decide to meet up for Sunday brunch… then instead of brunch, we decided to go dim sum in China Town.  Hank picked “Mandarin Court” and I’ve invited Tina to join with us.  5 min to Mandarin Court, I got a phone call from her. “Dude, it’s close for sanitary violation”  Hmmm… When we all gather together, Tina said she has an idea & we decided to trust her due to her Taiwanese friends & she probably went to dimsum more than I did.  So she picked “The Golden Bridge”  We walked in through red carpeted staircase.  “You know, red carpeted staircase is a good sign of real dimsum place…” Tina said & we gave her 1 point.  Oh, unfriendly middle age woman hostess who will yell at you to wait and point you where to go… Tina, you got another point…We also found that place is for the chinese wedding bangquet scene… Wow, we didn’t have any doubt that this is the place to be.  Dimsum was delicious by the way.

Bar Pitti

Strangely enough, this lovely Italian restaurant has different treatment toward customers. When I went there with my american friend, they served us sensibly but, when I went there with my two other Korean girlfriends – apparently we spoke in Korean, the waiter was pushy and unpleasant. (big rolling eyes here)

Core

Happy Hour Brunch Bloody Mary & Mimosa for $3… It’s a hard deal to break in LES. Not to mention they have back garden which is a trend for restaurants and bars nowadays. (Poor residential neighbors who have to put up with noises on their back gardens..)

Grotto

A pleasant Italian bar / restaurant with great Mojito. Food was delicious and service was great and the backgarden was lovely with Chinese red lanterns hanging(??) I would say it’s a bit pricy but, it’s LES… Nothing is priced moderate here. It’s either cheap or expensive here, no middle ground.

I have gotten about 8 mosquito bites at the garden by the way.

Essex

I always wondered how that place would be like whenever I passed by and finally, I’ve managed to go there for some bites with Sonia. Salmon was delicious but, magrita was too sweet to my taste.

The East Side Company

It’s a hide bar established on Essex street near Rivington street. They specialized their signature cocktails with fresh fruits and stuff. It’s cozy and nice but, don’t ask anything else than the cocktails on the menu. 😉

1492

My favorite Spanish(Portuguese?) Tapas bar in LES. They do have back garden and friendly staff who spoke (I think Portuguese… not sure though) Anyway, great tapas food and Sangria! I’ve been there twice already and I would go back. This place writes over Sala on Bowery street

Heathers

Low profile bar with worn out wooden floor, bar and tables… my E. Village friends like this grundgy bar where it isn’t too crowded during weekend. Cheap Beer.  I prefer the 4 seat table next to the window.

Boxcar Lounge

http://www.flickr.com/photos/absurdee/761543001/My friends’ by far favorite bar on Ave B. Their Happy Hour is great with Stella draft – not to mention back garden. I used to go there a lot during winter and sat by a fire place with my friends to drink late at night. Now, it seems to be more popular.

Esperando

Great Brazilian/cuban restaurant. Great wine, Mojito, seafoods dish. Everything I had tasted for multiple occasions were delicious. I’ve visited there twice already…

The Cake Shop

This free WIFI coffee shop on Ludlow street reminds me of Seattle whenever I visit. I don’t know why but, old vinyls and old chairs, indie bands posters and etc. They do have their own cup cakes which I’ve been addicted since I tasted for the first time.

88 Orchard

I’m hooked to this lovely free WiFi coffee shop with large windows all around and high ceiling. I go there almost everyday for their capuccino… mmmm, also pretty comfy to sit there for hours and work on my laptop. It gets a bit too crowded around 11 am though.

Guss Pickles

Right across 88 Orchard… Their pickles rock! Especially freshly made one reminds me of cucumber kimchee. If you think pickles tastes like those you buy in the bottles and cans, you should try to taste Guss Pickles. You would never go back. This is what Korea truly is missing. Pickles they served at Italian restaurants weren’t really pickles… awfully weird tastes – somehow my friends who were trained with that taste seem to like them.

Jeeb

Please read “Back in Lower East Side, NYC

Hasaki

By far, the best affordable sushi place. I love sitting at their bar.

Clinton Bakery & Co.

Great food and generous amount but, you need to wait really a lot for them.

Pink Pony’s

My regular brunch, late night drink place… I visited again to have a brunch on first Sunday I got here.

I’m not up today regarding current music scene or new aspring music artists in the world… due to my old fashioned style of listening to my 14 GB of music on my ipod that are mostly…from 80s and 90s…. except TV on the Radio, Decemberist, Gorillas and etc.

There is a good sum-up of UK sound of 2007 at bbc online. Read here for the full article.

Among 10 aspiring artists from UK, two of them caught my interest.

Mika – who scored #1. He is from Beirut and has Freddie Mercury’s voice. Oh I miss Queen. Here is his interview.

He sounds like a cool guy. I first thought he reminded me of Jim Morrison but, it might be his hair.

Anyway, the other musician who caught my attention is Ghosts. A good band based on London…I would say it’s soft rock. Here is their myspace link. You can check them out here >>.

I will listen to them more to see if I like them. It would be cool to discover more new music to enjoy in 2007.

The other day, I found a cool project by a M.I.T. Media Lab student on nytimes.com. It’s called Ambient Addition by Noah Vawter, consists of two headphones with transparent earpieces, each equipped with a microphone and a speaker. The microphones sample the background noise in the immediate vicinity — wind blowing through the trees, traffic, a cellphone conversation. Then, with the help of a small digital signal-processing chip, the headphones make music from these sounds. For instance, percussive sounds like footsteps and coughs are sequenced into a stuttering pattern, and all the noises are tuned so that they fuse into a coherent, slowly changing set of harmonies. (from NYTimes.com)   Here is link to read more

Many of you might say, so what?  I have watched so many those “so what?” kind of projects for last 10 years in interactive technology field, even this environmental sound mixer was refreshing enough to grab my attention.  Nowadays, you often see at music performance where they sample and mix the sound live and from old days, muscians tried to imitate sounds from nature.  I thought it might be interesting if someone record music that is sampled and composed via this Ambient Walkman in different locations such as rainforest in Amazon jungle or the Arctic.

kim yunsun, Jaurim, Chosun.com

From an Artcle from Chosu.com

Jaurim (자우림) is one of few Korean Pop music bands I listen to. I read this article that lead singer of Jaurim stirred many over-patriotic Korean fans by her comments saying that there will be death to Korean Pop Music soon if they don’t support indepently produced music. Honestly, as an outsider, I could relate to her comments. Well, some people who commented to this article even wrote, “isn’t it dead already?”

I’m really sick and tired of 20 years of copycat R&B musics by pretty faces and pretty dances – mass produced by the main stream commercial music producers who only think about their profits. (I personally don’t like R&B so I could be biased) Very often, some of my New Yorker friends ask me if there are any good Korean bands to listen to or ask me about underground & indie music scene in Korea. Well, I don’t know. Is there? Can anyone tell me if there is any? Couple of bands were introduced to me but, I wasn’t impressed. Therefore, I could only sigh~ as an answer. Where is new 들국화(Dulkukwha, wild Chrysanthemum) where is new 시나위(Sinawi)? like good old 80s?

Why can’t we stand Korean pop music on network TVs? Why? Becasue it’s all boy band and girl band dancing and singing about whatever top hit producers gave them to sing. No exploration, no invention… just safe rythme and safe melody. Something big (such as soul, social comments and art)is missing if you listen to the most of them carefully. I was saddend by the fact, that I often have to defend awful taste of Korean pop music fans to foreigners who are already open minded to foreign pop musics. I blame the mop of commerical producers who only calculate that pretty faces and shallow musics will bring money in their pockets. (I’m generalizing to point out for the majority. I’m sure there are few true music producers.)

Sometimes, I watch Korean music TV shows and think about all those truely talented gifted artists who don’t get any chances. I had to turn the channel within a minute…. sigh~

Few years ago, I stumbled into Jaurim in a small article and got CD, “Purple Heart” and I liked what I listened to. This was one band I acutally could refer to friends who have despeckable taste in music. Even Jaurim gets okay review among them but, I wanted to give them extra points for trying to make their own music with social comments and trying new things. In America, main stream pop music still sucks and real RAP music (that used to be political, social comments but now it’s all about boobs and butts) is gone but, you would still hear new good music once in a while like Cold Play, Green Day, Artic Monkeys and TV on the Radio – even Radiohead.

The reason America and UK has creative new music artists found continuously is because there are good number of underground independent music scenes in every major cities. That’s what gives young aspiring artists the nurturing environment to create and grow. Even for my neigbhorhood (LES), there are tons of live music bars and they are populated by aspiring young musicians and and their new young fans. When their music is good, you can see fans are forming rapidly. There are stages for young musicians and there are audience who refused to listen to pop music that were selected by money hungry producers.

Japan has their own Punk music, India has Bangra music, which is by the way very popular in the US and UK and influencing a lot of other artists and Portugal has good singer song writers who sings Flamenco spanish tune. What do we have? We do have our own tune and I’ve listened to some of our artists tried to integrate them with Jazz, which was cool. I want to listen to new young good Korean musicians. If audience doesn’t give a chance to new young underground artists who sing their souls without rich sponsors, who would? ok… enough ranting.

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