Sun, Nov 28, 2010 - Page 14 News List

CDS: Taiwan

The White Eyes (白目樂隊)

The White Eyes (白目樂隊)

Kiss Your Eyes

Avant Garden Records

The White Eyes (白目樂隊) have released their first full-length CD, a satisfying garage and synth rock romp that ought to please their ever-growing fan base and attract a few new indie rock enthusiasts.

Both in the band’s live shows and on the 10-track Kiss Your Eyes, the undeniable center of attention is female lead singer Gao Xiao-gao (高小糕).

Gao’s chirpy but sultry vocals, not to mention the wild and provocative outfits she dons on stage, make her the Taiwanese indie scene’s answer to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The album, which was recorded in Beijing, builds on the retro-punk guitar sound of the group’s first EP, Get My Body If You Want It. The band adds sonic depth not by turning it up to 11, but rather by bringing in different colors: So Much More Than More (比多更多) swirls with spacey synthesizers and Joy Division-esque drums.

Gao shows her versatility as a singer on this song, and another new wave-ish tune, Love Hurt (愛傷害). With these tracks, her voice is given more space to glide and hang, and she sounds sweet without being cutesy.

In contrast, the title track is full of gothic creepiness, as Gao taunts, moans and yells, leading the band into a grunge frenzy.

Despite Gao’s charisma and the band’s blazingly awesome jam, Hardcore Porn Star is the least sexiest song of the album. The lyrics don’t really go anywhere — she chants the word “porn” a lot — but maybe that emptiness is the point.

A few tracks from the White Eyes’ EP show up again on Kiss Your Eyes. Narcissism Personality Disorder (自戀人格異常), A More Beautiful Life (多美好的人生) and All The Things have been, all for the better.

All in all, this CD is worth checking out for those wondering who’s leading the pack of Taiwan’s newest generation of indie bands. The White Eyes are among a number of groups representing Taiwan’s indie scene at South by Southwest next year.

— David Chen

Anthony Neely (倪安東)

Lesson One (第一課)

HIM

Taiwanese American singer Anthony Neely (倪安東) follows in the footsteps of pan-Pacific icon Fei Hsiang (費翔, also known as Kris Phillips) by “returning to his roots” and pursuing a career in the East. A contestant who made his TV debut on talent show One Million Star (超級星光大道) last year, Neely was quickly snatched up by music label HIM based on his three perfect scores on the show and his heartthrob good looks.

Neely’s debut album, Lesson One (第一課), proves that he might not be just a flash in the Mando-pop pan. With matinee idol charm, emotive vocals and songwriting talent, Neely is one of this year’s most promising newcomers.

Produced by Bing Wang (王治平), the album showcases Neely’s versatility by roaming across a spectrum of rock, folksy pop and Mando-pop ballads. Defying his pretty-boy image, Neely demonstrates a penchant for conveying edgy emotions.

The lead single, Sorry That I Loved You, whose lyrics were written by Neely, is a ruminative gem that grieves love lost. With sparse guitar in the background, Neely achieves an emotional urgency reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. Another highlight is the deliciously catchy The Gentleman (紳士), a rock-meets-pop gem featuring velvety, suave vocals.

Neely displays a knack for delivering anguish-driven rock anthems in Happy Armageddon (末日快樂) and Fed Up (不耐煩), visits the well-trodden path of the Mando-pop ballad on The Little Things (幸福事小) and tackles the dreamy, string-and-piano Nightmares (惡夢) with atmospheric vocals.

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