March was a month for trying new things. The winter was slowly thawing, but the chill remained, so things were still a bit dark and a bit heavy. That said, March may have been the most interesting month so far in terms of k-pop and the indie scene. The amazing Glen Check “Haute Couture” record came out, Prepix’s track with G.NA is still rocking my ears, and the combo of 2NE1 with powerhouse Japanese dance duo m-flo came with mixed reviews. But for this Lesser Stuff, got a few indie picks, returning artists and electronic classical? Let’s begin!
Mars – “Sweet Heart”
A debut single that’s big in sound and wraps you in like a bear hug. The dance-rock combo creates a rising tension and drone waves that you dance and sway at the same time. The chick singing on “Sweet Heart” goes in there and takes rein over the whole thing and commands your attention. Her voice rises and falls without strain and effort, which is exactly how a singer elevates a vocal-less track to one worth singing along to. Not much is known about Mars just yet, just a YouTube channel HYOZIICHANNEL and the teasers therein, but I can’t wait to see where Mars goes from here.
JeanGreen – “Milk Tea” Feat. Ean
A little indie sweetness to calm the nerves, “Milk Tea” is an indie song in the traditional sense. It has the calm guitar playing and the male-female duet of other songs, but it adds more. It has a long and tranquil guitar solo, much calmer than I’ve ever heard a solo to be, and JeanGreen raps in the middle of it, adding a touch of k-pop to the indie landscape. It’s such a sweet track that’s unobtrusive, but winds you over with its aegyo.
Park Wan Kyu – “Protection”
It wouldn’t be a Lesser Stuff without a male singer in here somewhere, and Mr. Park didn’t disappoint. “Protection” is a rock love ballad, with strings for effect and a wailing guitar to take you with along the four minute track. What’s interesting about this track is in the set up of the verses. The rim shots and cymbals play on the off-beat, giving you the sense that the “protection” alluded to isn’t fully there. The emphasis on the off-beat symbolizes what Wan Kyu wants to give his beloved, but hasn’t been able to give. Speaking of which, as a vocalist, Mr. Park isn’t as crystal clear a singer as, say, Kim Bum Soo. A rocker at heart, Mr. Park’s rasp gives the song an earthier tone that would’ve been missing if a pop vocalist sang it. Just a lovely and aching track.
Kim Ji Yun – “If Stretch Out Hand”
The required R&B track, “If Stretch Out Hand” won me over. Returning artist Park Ji Yun’s 4th single takes the pop ballad structure downplays the strings and amps up the drums for the effect her voice doesn’t provide. That isn’t a bad thing, ladies and germs, because Ms Park’s honey vocals take precise steps throughout this song, never trying to outdo her own limitations but being dynamic enough to not bore you. The bass backbone on “If Stretch Out Hand” nails the heartache just right and the rest of the composition only adds to that emotion. Next time that rainy day comes along and you want to be emotional by yourself, I got just the thing.
Violet – “Mascara”
And now for something completely different, musician-virtuoso trio Violet released their second EP, titled “Mascara”. I didn’t know a thing about them, just judged them to be another girl group that failed to grab attention with their previous material. But I was wrong! This isn’t your mother’s girl group. For the most part, there is no singing (except for “Sunflower (Retake Ver.)”), just a cello, violin and a flute playing furiously along a dance backing track on the fantastic single “Mascara”. For musicians, Violet is very talented. The string work is highly technical and powerful, akin to “Let Your Head Down” and, more closely resembling in its classical approach, “Sixth Sense”. Classical-pop, or classical-dance in this case, has its place in the pop realm, Violet’s “Mascara” nails it right on the head. So good.
I love these tracks and hopefully one of these grabbed your attention, or will soon. 안녕!