The maestros of tongue-in-cheek jangle pop, Won Fu (旺福) returns to record store shelves this month with its long awaited follow-up to last year's excellent Same Name, Same Sex (同名同姓) and fans of the four-piece certainly wont be disappointed with the combo's latest selection of tight happy-go-lucky sounds. \nWon Fu's comedic lyrical outlook and its ability to switch and swap musical techniques, speeds and styles, once again comes into play and makes the band's self-titled second album a harmoniously riotous listen from start to finish. \nWhatever direction Won Fu decides to take its listeners, the simple hooks and riffs are so addictive that the melodies will be buzzing around in your head long after the album has finished. \nKicking in with the current MTV music-video hit, the warm, bouncy and brass-section infused funky pop tune, Mini Skirt (迷你裙), the album take listeners through 11 great tunes. And there's not a dud amongst them. \nHighlights include the faux punk/ska number Fat Girls (胖妞的怒吼), the power pop sing-a-long Around the World (環遊世界) and the Belle-and-Sebastian-like Peach (水蜜桃輓歌). \n \naiwan's, Asia's and -- if you believe the hype -- the world's favorite Mando-pop star, Jay Chou (周杰倫) looks set to conquer album charts once again with his fifth album, Common Jasmine Orange (七里香). \nChou's latest album has already taken Asia by storm. Released two weeks ago, record stores and online shopping sites throughout the region have reportedly received orders totaling 1 million copies. It has reached the number one slot in the UFO Radio pop charts at home and is looking set to topple F4's Jerry Yan (言承旭) as number one in Hong Kong's RTHK popular music charts in the coming week. \nIn what has become the archetypal Chou style, Taiwan's favorite son blends pop, rap, blues and a smorgasbord of esthetic elements of world music to create his dream-like never-never land of common jasmine oranges. \nThe crux of Common Jasmine Orange is, like much of Chou's recent material, rap-based. Not that there's anything wrong with this, as Chou ably, yet at times inaudibly, raps his way through tunes like the pulsating acoustic guitar accompanied opener My Construction Site (我的地盤), the slow and hypnotic The Injury of Cease-fire (止戰之殤) and the soulful Grandmother (外婆). \nSome of the album's better moments are when Chou decides to burst into song rather than mumble (whoops!) rap. The slow orchestrated love ballads Excuse (藉口) and Stranded (擱淺) and the rock inspired Desperate Fight (困獸之鬥) prove that Chou is, along with being a poster boy for a generation, a genuinely talented singer. \nh dear! Duck, get your ear plugs out and get ready to cringe as yet another soap star sets out to prove he's more than just a pretty face by singing a selection of other people's songs with the help of members of another band, which in this case happens to be power-pop trio, F.I.R (飛兒樂團). \nAs the star of GTV's hit soap The Outsiders (鬥魚), which told of the trials of tribulations of a group of deviant youths in their late teens coming to terms with adulthood and, predictably enough, responsibilities, Dylan scored big with excitable adolescent female fans. As a singer, Dylan no doubt hopes to score brownie points with both sexes. \nNot only does Don't Look like Myself come laced with emblematic mushy Mando-love songs and acoustic ballads, but it also comes padded out with a couple of out-of-place heavier moments. While not weighty enough to inspire frantic air-guitaring by Taiwan's clean-cut greasers, Faith (信賴) certainly makes Dylan standout from the crowd. \nOn the whole, however, Dylan's debut is a truly unremarkable affair, that proves that just because a rising star has a face for TV, it doesn't necessarily mean he has talent or originality for the recording studio. \nhe Champlers' Urizun Okinawa Music Restaurant is the latest in a long line of enjoyably offbeat folk albums to be released by TCM. It might be a far cry from the predominantly guitar driven, throaty Taiwanese folk that has made TCM one of Taiwan's leading independent labels, but the material is, as we've come to expect from the label both unique enough to be considered non-mainstream, yet still accessible to all regardless of one's musical preferences. \nA folk band from Okinawa, the Champlers comprises three members of the Miyagi family (Yasumitsu, Masami and their 12-year-old son, Taiki) and an assortment of equally musically minded friends. Heavily involved in the Japanese peace movement, the Champlers have performed at peace rallies throughout Japan and released its first album, Ichyaribacyode, to much acclaim in 2001. When they're not playing music, the Miyagi's are proprietors of a traditional Okinawan music restaurant called Urizun. \nA mix of upbeat, serene and generally agreeable tunes Urizun Okinawa Music Restaurant is a real gem of an album. The \nmaterial on the combo's Taiwan debut is a blend of traditional Okinawan folk tunes that have been given a makeover with a collection of contemporary styles and sounds. \nThe traditional sounds of the sanshin (a three stringed Japanese guitar) taiko drumming, a wooden percussion instrument called a samba and the fue, or Okinanwan flute, blend and glide faultlessly with those of the guitar, saxophone and synthesizer and the vocals are moving, yet earthy and sound genuine rather than pompous.
WON FU (旺福)
Depending on who you talk to, beach cleanups are valuable opportunities to build environmental awareness, or well-intentioned yet Sisyphean attempts to reduce ocean pollution. There are also cynics who dismiss such events as nothing better than backdrops against which virtue-signaling millennials can take selfies. Ryan Hevern is in no doubt where he stands. “We can’t clean it all up, and there’ll be trash there again tomorrow. We know that, we aren’t naive. But if we can help people become more mindful, so they make minor adjustments to their everyday routine, we’ll have a more positive impact on the planet,” he says.
A weekend getaway where you can escape the summer heat, commune with nature among trees that sprouted before the time of Christ or enjoy landscaped gardens and comfortable accommodations is within easy reach of northern Taiwan. Experience a traditional garden with Chinese and Japanese influences, birdwatching, ecological tours of old-growth cypress forest and one of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) namesake villas set among orchards with a beautiful view of the Lanyang River (蘭陽溪) valley, all in the Makauy Ecological Park (馬告生態園區). The Northern Cross-Island Highway connects Taoyuan and Yilan counties, passing through misty conifer forests as it climbs over the Snow Mountain
May 16 to May 22 Lin Wen-cha (林文察) and his “Taiwanese braves” (台灣勇) arrived in Fujian Province’s Jianyang District (建陽) on May 19, 1859, eager for their first action outside of Taiwan. The target was local bandit Guo Wanzong (郭萬淙), one of several ruffians who had taken advantage of ongoing Taiping Rebellion to establish strongholds in the area. A strongman leader of the notable Wufeng Lin Family (霧峰林家), Lin had impressed Qing Dynasty rulers five years earlier by helping expel the remnants of Small Knife Society (小刀會) rebels from Keelung. Lin’s forces routed Guo’s gang in just 11 days, earning a formal
“Long as I remember, the rain’s been coming down,” the song says. The last couple of weeks of wet certainly make it feel that way. The global media has recently observed the change of hitting a 1.5 Celsius degree rise in average temperatures in the next five years has risen to 50 percent. As many scientists have observed, once that level of warming is hit, the planet will reach a slew of tipping points. 1.5C is thus a major threshold. Nature has been sending us ever more urgent distress signals: murderous heatwaves across the Indian subcontinent, giant sandstorms in Iraq, collapsing