Known for its neatly packaged mainstream Mando-pop artists rather than for promoting self-styled indie/alternative acts, Taiwan's Rock Records recently went against the grain and released an interesting double CD compilation entitled All Star (
Featuring 18 tunes by nine acts of varying styles, influences and musical directions, All Star is an album of contrasts from the get-go. Sure, some of the tunes could do with a bit of ironing out, but for the most part Rock's foray into the alternative scene comes up trumps.
The album takes listeners on a hurdy-gurdy ride of musical genres. From bubble gum-pop to pub rock and from funk to punk, All Star has something to suit everybody's musical tastes.
The album gets off to a corking start with a brilliant piece of work by Neon and a 10,000 Maniacs-like brand of contemporary folk-rock entitled No Regrets (
A couple of other bands and tunes of note include Land of Mess (
Along with the predominantly indie/alternative artists, All Star also features a couple of tunes by popular Mando-pub rock star Bobby Chen (
Released two weeks ago, Final Fantasy (
The boys from Energy may be musically versatile, but rumor has it that yet another lineup is on the cards even before the act has had an opportunity to take the current album on the road. Founding member A-Di (
Like the group's previous releases, Final Fantasy is packed with tunes that range in style from hip-hop to the melancholy. There's no real winner as far as picking a best of, but some of the more enjoyable and together tunes include the soul-like Cowboy, the pseudo-nu-metal/hip-hop Heaven and Earth (
Of course, being what it is, the album has moments when you cringe and are forced to wonder just what the hell is going on. Numbers like the truly awful cover version of the Sister Sledge hit We are Family and the easily forgettable pop tune Holiday are two of the worst.
The bottom line with Final Fantasy is, that if you enjoy well produced, inane Mando-pop/hip-hop acts that can sing and dance, then at this juncture in time Energy is the best Taiwan has to offer.