So Rock! Magazine (我爱摇滚乐) CD Archive Project
Table of content:
We previously talked about 1990s rock magazines in China, as « Punk Generation » (朋克时代) or « Freedom Music » (自由音乐). They pretty much all disappeared after one or two years. One fanzine however became so popular that he was distributed in major Chinese cities, and lasted for more than a decade… I’m talking of course about « So Rock! Magazine » (我爱摇滚乐, literally « I Love Rock and Roll »), published from 1999 to 2013 in Shijiazhuang (yes, you didn’t misread, Shijiazhuang the home of Omnipotent Youth Society [万能青年旅店] and probably one of the most boring city in China).
So Rock! was essential to the musical education of Chinese youth in the 2000s, it featured tones of articles on domestic and foreign bands, scene reports, mostly written by the readers themselves. It also featured social and political commentary (a speech by the then President of Taiwan Chen Shuibian!), but also letters from the readers and articles about anything sub or counter-cultural (like an introduction to the French journal Hara-Kiri, the ancestor of Charlie Hebdo). One of the most important role of So Rock! was to include with each journal a CD (or cassette tape at the beginning) of more or less 10 tracks, featuring obscure or more well known Chinese bands. Some of them obviously recorded their songs at home, but at least they could share their music with the public at a time when internet was not that popular (and not that fast).
The purpose of this article is to display digitalized version of all the So Rock! CDs or cassettes that I have (something like a hundred), with a brief presentation of the bands (fortunately, inside the magazine, So Rock! included a short bio or even interviews of the bands). So this page will be updated constantly (well, at least if I have the courage to do so).
Before CDs, there were cassette tapes. This is the oldest tape I found, from the issue 18 of So Rock!, in 2001. It was a « Punk Special » issue, so you can find quite a few important Chinese punk bands of the early 2000. Since it’s a cassette tape, the sound is not very good:
Here’s the punk tracklist:
|1. 瑞路 – 改变娱乐习性
2. Anarchy Boys – A Head Without Freedom
3. 泼耳吐司 – Our Battle
4. Mika Bomb – Contact Tokyo
|5. 洋娃娃7号 – Get Rid Of
6. 生命之饼 – Lazy Punk
7. 反光镜 – Han Song
8. 脑浊 – 欢迎来到北京
9. 地下婴儿 – 转变只是在一瞬间
1. 瑞路: Saying that Lucky Way is a punk band is a little far-stretched, but well this blues-rock band was formed in 1994 in Beijing, and their debut album was produced by So Rock! in 2003, entitled « 测试 » (« Test »).
2. Anarchy Boys: Do I need to introduce Anarchy Boys? Like three other bands on this tape, they were part of the « Wuliao Jundui ». You can find more about them here.
3. 泼耳吐司: Unfortunately I don’t have any reliable information on this band.
4. Mika Bomb: A London-based Japanese pop-punk band.
5. 洋娃娃7号: Yang Wawa Number 7 is a ska-punk band formed in Beijing in 2001. Two of their songs were featured in the Beijing Punk Vol. 2 compilation made by Scream Records in 2004.
6. 生命之饼: Do I have to talk about SMZB? The best Chinese band, period.
7. 反光镜: Like Anarchy Boys and Brain Failure, Reflector is part of the famous « Wuliao Jundui ».
8. 脑浊: An early version of « Coming Down to Beijing » by Brain Failure. Nice.
9. 地下婴儿: « Everything change in the blink of an eye ». UnderBaby too. You can learn more about UnderBaby here. This song will be published in their latest E.P., « 蜕变 », in 2012.
Here’s the tracklist:
|1. 卢小旭 – 传说从前 00:00
2. 孟奇 – Dub In The Rain 04:53
3. 公羊-13 – MM残酷真理 11:03
4. 张希 – 我的夏天 14:39
5. 黄杨 – 格式化 19:06
|6. 揭 – 幕之歌 24:45
7. 韩丁 – 2004夏日赞歌 29:40
8. 206和思想者 – 第一月章地狱 33:31
9. 修之吐 – 旋月 42:00
10. Lowspirit – Sink Into The Ocean And Ride On the Moon 47:28
1. 卢小旭 – Lu Xiaoxu writes that « This song was recorded in early 2004, and consists of a electronic beat, a female voice, a guitar riff and a solo of piano that produce a mysterious atmosphere ». He also adds that « he participated lately with a friend to the establishment of a new record label, ‘She Dance Music’ (喜糖音乐) ». It’s funny because « She Dance Music » – renamed « She Dance Culture » – is now sponsoring e-Sport teams: http://www.shedance.net/
2. 孟奇 – Meng Qi: No information available for this Ambient Drum & Bass band.
3. 公羊-13 – Gong Yang-13: This « NU METAL GRUNGE » band is composed of two people, Bai Long and Lao Zhu, and their photo is really nice. The song is about the corrupted power of money.
4. 张希 – Zhang Xi: We know way too much things about Zhang Xi. He was born in October 1982 in Xiangtan (Hunan). At 10 he began to learn the piano, and at 16 switched to guitar. He fell in love with Rock and Roll at 18, then listened to punk, and finally blues. He loves his mother and his girlfriend introduced him to the Chinese rock community. He spends way too much time alone in his room, where he thinks too much and draws weird pictures of his girlfriend:
5. 黄杨 – Huang Yang: So… In his bio Huang Yang says that he’s a man, born in May 1979 and his ID card number is 4205027905XXXXX (let’s protect his anonymity). He began to play rock music at 19 and formed a band. He independently produced 10 songs.
6. 揭 – Jie: The Death Metal band Jie comes from Shandong, and was formed in 2002. In an interview they said that humanity needs a war to produce new forms of culture and spirit, because they are fed up with this materialistic world where people only care about « which car they want to drive, how big their house is ».
7. 韩丁 – Han Ding: Han Ding is a romantic rocker. He wrote his song, « 2004, Summer Day Song of Praise » for his girlfriend, Wen Wen.
8. 206和思想者 – 206 He Sixiang Zhe: Another Death Metal band, this time from Xi’an, formed in 1999. One of their songs was featured in the CD « Xi’an Independent Music Compilation Vol. 1 » (« 西安独立音乐合辑 Vol 1 »).
9. 修之吐 – Xiu Zhi Tu: Xiu Zhi Tu was formed in 2002 in Changsha (Hunan). They started as a funk and folk band, before turning to rock and roll with the arrival of a new drummer. At the time they were searching for a label to produce their album. I hope they found it.
10. Lowspirit: Lowspirit is a musician from Hefei, graduated from China Science and Technology University. He writes his songs in English and published his first album on April 2003, « Softstar » with the help of the Hefei label « 谎言唱片 », and in May 2004 he published his second album, « The World Is Real Except Yourself ».
And the tracklist:
|1. 昏热症 -马戏
2. Oran – 勇敢
3. 椭圆问题 – 如梦令
4. 渡鸦 – 甭过
5. 獠牙社火 – 一脸老茧
|6. 染 – Punk Not Dead
7. 音弑 – 音弑
8. 枷锁 – 腐室迷
9. 苔藓乐队 – 抑郁症愚者
10. 心灵海盗 – Trapped In A Corner
11. HYONBLUD – Scream Bloody Gore
1. 昏热症: The Punch-Drunk Symptom is a funk collective, their album « Waiting For Curtain Call » (« 等待谢幕 ») was released by So Rock! Records on February 2005. They even had a full page in the issue.
2. Oran: the pop-rock band Oran has nothing to do with the city in (je t’aimerai pour toujours mon) Algeria. In fact the name of the band means 偶然 (« incidentally »). The band was formed in 2003 in Chongqing and is very much involved in the local rock scene, and particularly in the live venue « 木般 ». Their influences are Coldplay and Radiohead.
3. 椭圆问题: The band was formed in March 2003 in Shenzhen. Like many other rockers, the singer Bao She began listening to rock music through Cui Jian’s album, then Tang Chao and Hei Bao, before discovering Western metal.
4. 渡鸦: Duya is a trip-hop band formed in 1996. They released in 2002 an album entitled « 生理盐水 ».
5. 獠牙社火: A band inspired by Iggy Pop, The Ramones and Queen.
6. 染: As you might have guessed, The Infection is a punk band. What you might not know is that they formed the band in 2000 in the beautiful city of Shenyang. They practice in the living room of the singer. I guess the lyrics speak for itself:
7. 音弑: Yinshi comes from Lanzhou, and was formed in 2001.
8. 枷锁: The metal band Jiasuo (Yoke) comes from Xinjiang and was formed in 2002. Their lyrics tackle familial pressure and injustice.
9. 苔藓乐队: The metal band Lichen was formed in Dalian in 1998. They already released several albums, one in 2002 entitled « 罪证 », and another one named « 圣战 » in 2004. The last album, which literally means « Holy War », is an attack on Japanese people – as the singer puts it, the main theme is « Fuck Japanese! ». Glad to see a moderate and mentally stable metal band.
10. 心灵海盗: A death metal band from Beijing formed in 2003. Unlike the previous band they seem to have no problem with Japanese people, since they admire the Japanese band « Two Pain Organized ».
11. HYONBLUD: As the title of the song indicates, this is a « brutal death metal » band, formed in 2003. This song is a tribute to Chuck Schuldiner who died in 2001.
And the tracklist:
|1. Yn Gizarm – 山川
2. 顶楼马戏团 – 朋克都是娘娘腔
3. Unregenerate Blood – Family Violence
4. Grace Latecomer – Neither Here Nor There
|5. 中国说唱兄弟 (CMCB) – 红烧胖大海
6. PB33 – Hello, Let’s Go
7. The Carteria – Over My Head
8. Zaliva-D – Chemical Climax
9. Bremen – Don’t Trust Myself
1. Yn Gizarm – 山川: Yn Gizarm define themselves as a « ethnic black metal band ». They were formed in Xi’an in 2002, and their name « Yn Gizarm » in Uyghur means « New city » or « Valorous ».
2. 顶楼马戏团 – 朋克都是娘娘腔: Top Floor Circus is certainly the best-known Shanghai punk band, formed in 1997 and disbanded only recently. At the time, the band was heavily influenced by the scandalous American punk GG Allin, as their song « GG主义好 » (« GGism is Good ») shows. The song « 朋克都是娘娘腔 » (« All the punks are sissies ») was included in their 19 tracks album « 蔕米重访零陵路九十三号 » released in 2006. As you can see, the songs are obviously ironic and provocative, and they frequently make fun of other punk band, like The Bricks in the 2013 song « 我去SPA你去死吧 ».
3. Unregenerate Blood – Family Violence: Unregenerate Blood is one of the most prominent hardcore band in China. In 2004 the bassist Li Yang discovered on hardcore internet forums videos of Hatebreed and Settle the Sores before forming his band. They quickly integrated the hardcore scene, and by 2006 they performed at the 无名高地 livehouse in Beijing and also at the Midi Music Festival. The same year they shared the stage with the French skinhead-reggae band Skarface at the New What Bar.
4. Grace Latecomer – Neither Here Nor There: A post-rock band from Suzhou, who released their first EP in 2006.
5. 中国说唱兄弟 (CMCB) – 红烧胖大海: CMCB is the one of the first Beijing hip-hop collective, formed in 2001. They released several album on the label Scream Records, including the classic « 谁动了我的炸酱面 » (« Who Moved my Zhajiang Noodles?! ») in 2004.
6. PB33 – Hello, Let’s Go: « Party Boy 33 » is a power-pop band formed in 2005.
7. The Carteria – Over My Head: The Carteria is an indie-pop band from Beijing, they released in 2006 their album « Sweet Dreams ».
8. Zaliva-D – Chemical Climax: The band describes its style as « SM Industrial Techno ».
9. Bremen – Don’t Trust Myself: This two-person band was formed in 2003 in Baoding.
|1. 窒息 – 崩溃
2. My Little Airport – Coka, I’m Fine
3. 王磊 – 馨
4. 李志 – 梵高先生
5. 分裂 – The Maker of Mind
|6. The Waker – Going Dead
7. Mortal Fools – Age of Assholes
8. 瘦人 – 非洲
9. Zoundz – Schizophrenic Berserk
1. 窒息 – 崩溃: Suffocated (窒息) is an old and famous Chinese metal band formed in Beijing in 1997. They recently toured China for their 20th year anniversary and released a new album, Your Body Is the Hardest Metal. In the interview with So Rock! in 2007 they talked about the fact that you could find Suffocated’s songs in Chinese KTV.
2. My Little Airport – Coka, I’m Fine: My Little Airport is an indie rock band from Hong Kong formed in 2001 by Nicole and 阿P. The band is very famous in the indie circle both in HK and China, even if they sing in English and Cantonese. They supported the Umbrella Movement back in 2014 and continue to deliver funny and politically engaged songs. My personal favourite is a love song dedicated to the former Chief-executive Donald Tsang, « Donald Tsang Please Die »:
3. 王磊 – 馨: According to the rock critic Yan Jun, Wang Lei’s music is inspired by European indie electronic music.
4. 李志 – 梵高先生: Li Zhi is a famous Chinese folk-rock musician who published his first album in 2004. The song included in this CD is perhaps his most well known song, « Mr. Van Gogh », and my personal favourite: « 我们生来就是孤独, 我们生来就是孤单 ». Powerful, indeed.
5. 分裂 – The Maker of Mind: The Divide (fenlie), is a very D.I.Y. electro/noise band.
6. The Waker – Going Dead: Formed in 2005, The Waker is an « artistic trip-hop » band.
7. Mortal Fools – Age of Assholes: An Old-School punk band from Shanghai, their name « Mortal Fools » is written in Chinese « 大傻冒 », which is funny. A band that sings « asshole » (傻逼) seven times in a song deserves my respect.
8. 瘦人 – 非洲: Thin Man is a old rock band, formed in Beijing in 1997. This new song released in 2007 is very different from their old, classic more heavy sound.
9. Zoundz – Schizophrenic Berserk: Zoundz is a nü-metal band from Taipei, formed in 2001. A band from Taiwan, another from HK, this CD has a strong « Greater China » vibe! The song of Zoundz is very interesting, it talks about the schizophrenic relation between China and Taiwan (« A mind stands on a line, separated by two countries/We’re sharing out the same body but treats ourselves no harmony ») and criticizes China’s policy toward the island (« Since the first day our mind has split/There are no way we can back together/You just trying to kill me »)
|1. Last Flight – War Is The New Peace
2. Prophetics – This Is My Church, Please Play With Matches
3. Niko – The Sun The Moon The Stars
4. 风滚草 – 放手
5. 瑞王坟 – God Save The Poors
|6. Point Blank – Right Here Right Now
7. 低苦艾 – 挽歌
8. 寂寞 . 夏 . 日 – 一
9. 便利商店 – 世界
10. 惘闻 – 思乡病
Some international acts in this CD, mostly Western metal bands, but also a lot of famous experimental Chinese bands. A good selection I think. Let’s dig into it:
1. Last Flight – War Is The New Peace: a metal band from Italy, formed in 2000 in Milan by the friends Giorgio and Marcello. They published their first EP « Have a Shot » in 2003. I must say I didn’t find anything on the Internet about the band.
2. Prophetics – This Is My Church, Please Play With Matches: a great song title by a Norwegian death metal band.
3. Niko – The Sun The Moon The Stars: Niko is an American lover boy: « You are the sun, the moon, the stars / You are the light inside my world ». Love it.
4. 风滚草 – 放手: a heavy-pop band formed in October 2001 in Beijing, influenced by hip-hop, EMO, world music and nu-metal. Indeed, you can hear all these influences in one song.
5. 瑞王坟 – God Save The Poors: RWF is a punk band formed in Beijing in October 2005. They are heavily influenced by Western bands as Rancid and The Clash. Their song « God Save the Poors » is a direct reference to the Sex Pistols, as the lyrics show: « God save the queen / Let people have something to live on […] Sex Pistols we have nothing, but we are on the train ».
6. Point Blank – Right Here Right Now: Point Blank is an international punk oi band formed in 2005: the singer Thomas is French, the guitarist Josh is American, the other guitarist Chen Hao, the bass player Wang Hui and the drummer Zhang Luyin are from Beijing. They performed together with the French skinhead band Skarface at the What Bar in 2006 (and if you remember correctly, we already talked about this concert with Unregenerate Blood). They published their first album, « Made In China » in 2007, you can listen to it online.
7. 低苦艾 – 挽歌: Low Wormwood is a folk and experimental rock band from Lanzhou. They are well known for their second album, Lanzhou Lanzhou (兰州兰州) published in 2011 by Maybe Mars.
8. 寂寞 . 夏 . 日 – 一: the famous band Lonely China Day was formed in Beijing in 1996. Their first song was featured in 1996 in the collective album Made In China (摇滚工厂). In 2007 they performed at the SXSW festival in Austin. They have produced beautiful and poetic albums, such as This Readily Assimilative People in 2010.
9. 便利商店 – 世界: Convenience Store is a power-pop band formed in Beijing in 2001. Their first album, Five Star was released in 2004 and their second, TV Monkey in 2007. Unlike 7/11, Convenience Store is not open at night.
10. 惘闻 – 思乡病: Wang Wen, the pioneer of experimental rock from Dalian – even if the lead musician Xie Yugang is originally from Tianjin, and moved to Dalian to go to university. Wang Wen’s songs are haunted by the grim atmosphere of Dalian, like Shijiazhuang for Omnipotent Youth Society. Wang Wen really started a new wave of experimental rock, math rock, indie rock in this city bordering North Korea. Now, Xie Yugang has other solo projects, including one with the French guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay.