What a year of music all over this planet but especially here in Asia. I thought it was going to be easy to pick my top 10 but as I was flipping through the “Releases” tab on the site, there were just pages and pages and pages of releases that I completely forgot about. If you don’t believe me – go flip through that tab HERE and see for yourself.
This was going to be hard.
So I decided that the best way to do this was to stop searching and just ask myself “What were the releases from this past year that comes straight to your head?”. That’s what you will find below…releases that were so breathtaking that I’m sitting here on December 30th still thinking about the impact those records had on me.
What were your top 10 this year from Asia? Let us know in the comments…and if you include your top 10 AND some words about each release, we’ll put it up on the site!
#10 Bloody Tyrant
Album: Myths of the Islands
It’s been a crazy year but there actually was a portion of the year that bands were touring. Can you believe that? Taiwanese folk metal band Bloody Tyrant was one of those bands who were on the road around Europe way at the beginning of the year traveling through Germany, Poland, France, Czech Republic celebrating their 10 year anniversary. The band followed up this trek with the phenomenal full length of epic folk metal glory entitled ‘Myths of the Islands’. Not only is the music emotional (folk metal has that ability with the use of unique instrumentation that lends itself to a different musical experience instead of a straight-up metal pummeling of the ears) but if you ever get your hands on the physical release, your mind will be blown. I actually don’t know that many bands who play heavy music for a living out here in Asia – very few – so when bands go above and beyond thinking through every minute detail of their band, their artwork, their image, their vision, it’s so damn inspiring. There’s no money to be made from this so obsessing over every little detail seems to be time not well spent, but that’s not the way we work and certainly not the way Bloody Tyrant works. At the end of the day, you have to have respect for your vision and version of your band that you want to put out to the world regardless of any financial gain. What you put out to the world has to be something that you’re proud of whether or not people connect with it. When I held the vinyl release in my hands pouring over the crazy artwork, even the paper they chose to use (!!!), and the most amazing lyrics sheet I’ve ever seen, I felt nothing but the utmost respect for this band.
#9 Daiei Spray
Album: Behind The Wall
I always feel bad for bands who release full-lengths way at the beginning of the year…because by year’s end their art is most definitely long forgotten. The world releases so much music every day it’s crazy difficult to keep up or even remember what you listened to yesterday let alone from January. We really had to stop and think back to the beginning of the year and if there were any records that caught our attention back then that we may have forgotten – then we remembered DAIEI SPRAY!!! Damn…totally forgot this AMAZING Dag Nasty-esque Japanese punk band had released their second full-length record ‘Behind The Wall’ – an immense follow-up to their BEAUTIFUL debut release ‘Isn’t Brazing’ that didn’t leave our turntable for MONTHS.
With this record, the band continues down their 80’s hardcore punk aesthetic in sound, songs, and production executed perfectly to a T. In terms of growth too, it’s hard to release a follow up to a debut record that was so well-received, but the band does it in fine form. Easily one of our favorite current crop of Japanese hardcore punk bands…hope to see these dudes live one day!
Check out our full review of the record HERE.
EP: The Void of No Return
3 years in the making…Singapore crossover band Deceased easily delivered one of the finest pieces of crossover work from Asia released this year. The collection of tracks on the EP clearly showed a band painstakingly going over all their riffs and song arrangements to make sure that whatever they were going to put out to the world was the best thing they’ve ever done. This band even got out a shout from none other than Riley (RIP) of Power Trip when they toured Asia earlier this year. And for damn good reason as this EP can attest. The band has just announced that they’ve signed to European label Injustice Records so it looks like they’re already gearing up for a follow-up to this EP. SICK.
Check out our full review of the record HERE.
#7 Dummy Toys
Album: Not a Puppet
Dude…I had NEVER heard of this band before but the minute I pressed play my jaw dropped so hard I thought I’d be eating off the floor for the rest of my life. The ladies in Qingdao punk band Dummy Toys are NOT FUCKING AROUND. The 12 tracks on this album are straight-up FURY to the max showcasing what an explosion of years of bottled-up angst literally feels like screaming out of your speakers. The band released this record and then hit the road all over China bringing these songs to life on stages throughout the country.
Don’t read anymore…go smash that play button.
#6 Death of Heather
Mistakes are some of the best ways to find music. I don’t actually remember how I found my way to Thai shoegaze band Death of Heather‘s music, but I’m eternally grateful for this mistake. I remember first hearing their music and being blown away with of course the layers upon layers of sonic goodness but then also just amazed by their live musicianship which the band epicly captured on their live ‘In The Box Session’. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – the sheer talent of this band from Thailand speaks volumes of the high caliber of music found there across ALL genres. I was so enamored by the ‘In the Box Session’ that when the band announced they were about to drop their debut album, I couldn’t fucking wait.
When the self-titled album finally dropped – shit, I probably listened to it every morning on my way to work for a good two weeks straight. A lot of the songs off the live session are on this full length so it felt very familiar…but the end result was even better.
Go peep this…you can thank me later.
Malaysian stoner rock band Berdosa had me sold even before I heard their music. Whenever their press releases were submitted to the site what oozed out of every media asset was a band who were ENORMOUSLY professional. From the text in their press releases to the artwork to the well-thought-out press photos with appropriate attire to capture their aesthetic (look at that pic above!), everything about this band showed immense and careful attention to detail to make sure that every aspect of the band represented the vision they had for their art. To put it bluntly – fucking amazing.
Then when the album dropped…fuck, those fuzzed-out guitars, EPIC soaring vocals, and top-quality production to match. Every part of this release is amazing and we’ve said before in previous posts about the band, everything about the way this band does things needs to be studied in detail by bands all over Asia.
#4 Billy Carter
Album: Don’t Push Me
I will always be HUGE supporters of bands who have something to say, that’s how I got into hardcore and punk in the first place. It was always about the message with the music being the vehicle. When I first heard South Korean punk band Billy Carter it was the song ‘My Body, My Choice’ which, as you can guess (hopefully, I’d like to think that our readers are more on the liberal/progressive side), is about female empowerment. I was so in love with the band that I immediately set out to interview them for our podcast (CLICK HERE). I had to find out more about what the band was about and especially how the site could help them get the word out. The two main members of the band didn’t hold ANYTHING back. They discussed everything about issues plaguing females in Korean society.
Of course, when a band has a message it’s great, but when the music ALSO rules – that is just the most perfect combination. I don’t even understand know why labels all over the world aren’t clamoring to sign this band immediately – that’s how fucking great of a “package” this band is.
Listen for yourself…go support a band who are trying to use their platform to make an impact.
#3 Crispy Newspaper
Album: Ой Дуораан
From the Northernmost punk rock scene in Asia, Yakutsk (Russia), easily came one of the most memorable records for us this year. Go listen to this collection of inspiring as fuck punk rock! Crispy Newspaper capture that early 80’s punk rock vibe to the fucking T. The vocals, the guitar tones, the overall vibe of the band spitting rage into their mics…this is just hardcore punk done perfectly. If you have any history in Chinese punk rock from the 90’s onwards, there are SO MANY times on this record that made us think of bands like Anarchy Boys and other legendary bands from Beijing and Wuhan who were well versed in the fuck you attitude of punk rock.
Album: This Segregation Will End
Singapore hardcore band Fuse way back in April released an EP entitled ‘This Segregation Will End’ and all of these months later I still remember how the music completely took over every part of my being the minute I pressed play. From the intro, all the way down through the rest of these excellently crafted hardcore punk tracks, to the name of the album (SO DOPE), to the production on the record that beautifully captures the raw energy of a young hungry hardcore punk band…everything is pure perfection. The band quite literally raged right out of my speakers grabbing a hold of the collar of my shirt begging me to listen.
Do you know what the ultimate sign is of a band releasing something that’s important? It’s when you yourself are writing music and you go to a specific record for inspiration. This is the record that these past few months I keep reaching to play over and over.
#1 Brandnew Sunset
Album: The Machiner
If you’re a fan of the website then you probably already could guess that this record by Brandnew Sunset was going to get the top spot. One of the reasons I picked this release was because I actually LISTEN to this on the daily. You know how hard that is in this day in age? For a band to release something that cuts through all the noise? To cut through all the thousands of releases that come out DAILY? And to release an ALBUM that holds your attention from start to finish? Currently, the world’s attention span is so horrible that bands have realized the best thing to do is just put out singles because the maximum length of attention people have nowadays is a grand…3 minutes.
Brandnew Sunset has never given a fuck about your attention or any of the trends that currently plague the world of music. In fact, they have tracks on this album that are like 9 minutes long (Hex – SO GOOD!)…9 minutes of music that takes us, listeners, on an amazing journey of post-hardcore meets Beatles level of self-exploration.
I can’t say enough about this band and this particular release. It’s bold. It’s creative. It’s imaginative. It’s inspiring. The dudes in the band held NOTHING back when creating this particular piece of art.
So many honorable mentions…Hipperson, Void Turned to Message, Chepang, Arcadia, Soul of Ears, Karmacipher, Naedr, Combative Post…damn…