Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 14 News List

CD Reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

MC Hot Dog

Wake Up


He might be fast becoming the old man of local hip-hop, but MC Hot Dog remains undeniably at the top his game. His latest album, Wake Up attests to this in spades and along with his bad-mouthing buddy, Chang Chen-yue (張震嶽), MC Hot Dog has come up with a masterful piece of vinyl that deserves applause.

Sure, it's not wholly mainstream and at times could be considered offensive, especially when the hard working hip-hop star goes out of his way to ridicule a popular local model as well as several other celebrities of note. But then, hey, who really cares? This is the world of MC Hot Dog. Enter if you dare.

The album is at times soulful and at other times comical and altogether works well enough to put him in the running for top honors at this year's Golden Melody Awards.

Some of the finest moments include the rather self-serving, yet undeniably brilliant I Love TW Girls (我愛台妹); the gnarly, guitar-driven slice of hip-hop social commentary My Life Is a Struggle (我的生活); and the clever bubble-gum pop meets hip-hop Welcome to Our Party (我們的Party最扯).

The most comical moment, however, is the sidesplitting parody I Grew Up at TU (我小時候都去TU), which pokes jerky rhythmical fun at that long-serving bastion of nefarious Taipei nightlife, TU. It's not nice, it pokes fun at several stereotypes and could be considered racist in places but you can't help but laugh and sing-along with The MC.

Chen Ming-chang (陳明章)

A Heap of Guitars (一堆吉他)


I conic crooner Chen Ming-chang (陳明章) returns to record store shelves this month with an aptly titled album on which the one-time rebel rocker-turned-mainstream-folk idol showcases his prowess on a range of guitars.

Featuring a myriad of sounds and styles, the album will appeal to both those with prior knowledge of Chen and his music, as well as those for who know Chen as the guy who penned the Kirin Beer commercials.

Not all of the material featured on A Heap of Guitars (一堆吉他) is new but this shouldn't deter listeners from enjoying the moody and pleasing selection of tunes. The album kicks in predictably enough with -- yes, you've guessed it -- the theme tune for Kirin Beer.

There are four versions featured on the album and while the original TV version is great, the "flute," "waterfall" and "tea leaf picking" variations are entertaining. The best version is the "tea leaf picking" number, however, which features Wu Bai's band China Blue. It's a mere 50 seconds long, but even in that short space of time Chen's masterful songwriting prowess manages to impress.

After the excitement of the Kirin theme tune, listeners are graced with a myriad of moody folk tunes and traditional Taiwanese min ge (民歌) material on which Chen manages, even when playing the ear splitting yeuqin (月琴), to sound at peace with the musical vibes he is creating.


Love Tank (愛的坦克)


Released three weeks ago, Love Tank (愛的坦克) is the second studio album by the power-pop five-piece Zayin and, like the combo's 2004 self-titled debut, showcases the band's ability to blend fiery alt-rock riffs with more mainstream Mando-pop hooks.

Formed by five Taiwanese guys who met while living in New Zealand, Zayin started life as a "garage band" and shared stages with many of the nation's far less talented rock acts at spit-and-sawdust dives and outdoor festivals.

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