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Lonely China Day | EP | review | alternative | Lollipop

Lonely China Day

EP (Tag Team)
by Tim Den

Although Chinese punks Brain Failure are doing quite well Stateside - and news of a Chinese metal underground appear more truth than joke - it's not completely incorrect to state that American indie rock barely exists in China. Lonely China Day, however, are among the first to bring the genre to the national forefront, filtering laptop glitches, icy arpeggios, minimalist rhythm patterns, and precious melody through a Chinese lens. Combined with guitarist/vocalist Deng Pei's gorgeous Mandarin pronunciation (there's no beauty like the Beijing roll of the "r" sound), the results are more than one would expect from a country seemingly oblivious to the American underground. Perhaps it's because Chinese blood runs in my veins, but Lonely China Day's use of "dead poetry" from the Song and Tang dynasties adds such a spine-chilling element to their music that I'm instantly transfixed the moment Deng opens his mouth. This sophisticated awareness of one's cultural background and achievements instantly feels different than the average Chinese egotistical, nationalistic attitude toward "being the center of the world." It's full of humility, self-introspection, respect for the outside world and nature, not to mention in line with the ancient Chinese's high regard for abstract, daring, progressive art making. It shines like a beacon of hope in that perhaps not all Chinese people have forgotten the true greatness of our culture; that we once prided ourselves on being humble, courteous, creatively adventurous, and so on.

Comparisons can be drawn to other highly refined soundpop artists such as The Album Leaf and Sigur Rós, but make no mistake: Those artists sound like where they're from, just as Lonely China Day sound like the product of Beijing. While they can all be linked together because they share similar aesthetics, their embodiment of their hometowns is what gives them their uniqueness. Lonely China Day might not be the only indie rock band operating in Beijing right now, but since they're the first to make it out, I can safely say that they're the sound of an ancient city learning to make modern hymns. And it's one-of-a-kind beautiful.


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