10 New Music Releases That Will Get Your Blood Rushing on a Cold Winter Day

10 New Music Releases to Get Your Blood Pumping on a Cold Winter Day

If you find yourself in the northern hemisphere this time of year, the weather could be fierce. To help lift your spirit and warm your soul, we’ve rounded up a rad selection of new music releases from China!

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9:10 AM HKT, Wed February 1, 2023 4 mins read

New Music is a monthly RADII column that looks at fresh Chinese music spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. This month, we introduce you to new offerings from Nocturnes, Golden Cat Pagoda, The Pump, and more!

No two ways about it: February can be wicked cold, depending on where on the globe you are based. Now, with Chinese New Year in the rearview mirror, we’ve taken the time to round up 10 hot new music releases to warm your soul while the northern hemisphere collectively waits for spring!

1. Lonely Leary (孤独的利里) — The Last Quartet (最后的四重奏)

Beijing post-punk outfit Lonely Leary has become one of China’s most enduring acts over the past couple of years, tapping into the existential unrest of today’s youth with lyrical resonance and potent, jagged musicality.

That aptitude takes on a different shade with the release of a live set from their recent unplugged tour, where the band invited musicians like Da Wen (Lighthouse Stranger / The Diders) and Li Zichao (Dirty Fingers / Sleeping Dogs) to join. Evoking and paying tribute to the rustic and morally ambiguous worlds created by Sergio Leone and the past few years of uncertainty — it’s a beautifully realized performance.

2. Golden Cat Pagoda (金猫塔) — Mí Mí (弥弥)

One-man atmospheric black metal project Golden Cat Pagoda, based out of Shanghai, dives headfirst into the abyss in his latest, Mí Mí (弥弥), released with Pest Productions. The release explores the outer fringes of the genre with manic glee and fearless experimentation.

There’s a lot of fun in the fantastical, twisted folklore-heavy world crafted by the musician — from “fast black metal passages to hypnotic atmospherics led by traditional Chinese drumming,” a transgressive fever dream that never dips too far into the macabre and instead valiantly welcomes all.

3. Chinese Football — Win & Lose

Wuhan emo torchbearers Chinese Football close out their game-themed trilogy with their strongest, most cohesive and sprawling album yet — Win & Lose. Ambitious in both its melodic subversion of Chinese pop and its embrace of emo rock’s instrumental playfulness, the band takes the best parts of the country’s budding indie pop scene and injects genuine pathos within its twinkle.

It is hard-wired to elicit an emotional reaction from its listeners, which in another band’s hands might come off as shameless. But in the instrumentally swift and deft hands of Chinese Football, it earns its poignant power chorus every time.

Win & Lose is an early contender for 2023’s album of the year.

4. Nocturnes (曳取) — Labyrinth

Indietronic outfit Nocturnes, known for their simmering cool-hued yet emotionally rife sound, returned in January with their latest offering, Labyrinth. The album sees the band at their most cohesive and compelling. Some of this could be due to the addition of drummer Yutong, who balances out the act’s more ethereal elements with something more kinetic.

At the same time, the band seems more comfortable exploring new territory — from the spry hip hop-inflicted verses in ‘饥饿的人 (Hungry Man)’ to the glitch-filled breakdown in ‘November Salvation’ — all the while keeping their signature touch intact as singer Weidu navigates themes of confusion, alienation, and more.

5. The Pump — 众人为你起舞

Hangzhou’s The Pump lays it all out there on their mammoth debut, 众人为你起舞. While elements of new wave, synth-pop, alt-rock, psych-pop, and even ’90s-era Chinese rock all skirt around the edges of the band’s sound, the LP has a narrative thrust to it that’s not often seen in the indie scene these days.

Rustic, sincere and crafted with grave conviction and a bittersweet yearning, it’s art rock with an undercurrent of Mandopop twisted in on itself, echoing everyone from The Gar, New Pants, and Low Wormwood while building its own identity.

6. Li Daiguo (李带菓) — Pilgrimage to the Realm of Deep Baby Sleep

Avant-garde multi-instrumentalist and one of the experimental scene’s most prolific and accomplished characters for over a decade, Li Daiguo embraces his softer new-age sensibilities (as well as his new role as a father) in the tranquil and utterly beautiful Pilgrimage to the Realm of Deep Baby Sleep.

With the piano (both modern and plucked) as his weapon for choice, as well as a collection of singing bowls that resonate throughout, Li once again showcases his ability to weave tradition and avant-garde sounds into something dreamlike — both familiar and boundless, making it a transporting experience that you’ll be wanting to visit again and again.

7. Howie Lee — Event, Fact and Those which are emphasized

One of China’s most cutting-edge electronic producers, Howie Lee, is back, leaning into a gentler neoclassical mode on his latest wonder Event, Fact and Those which are emphasized.

Compared to the artist’s previous work, which was chock full of mythology-rich, dystopian-frenzied, and sino-futurist soundscapes, his new album offers a degree of decompression, allowing its traditional, albeit deconstructed elements to guide listeners into its wayward tapestry, with its electronic parts weaving in and out in playful resurgence.

It may not have the narrative or conceptual thrust of his previous work, but there is no denying the sonic majesty of the visionary producer.

8. Oops! (物普适) — Oops! We Fall Asleep Again

Oops! has officially joined the ranks of female-driven electronica projects surfacing in the humid city of Chengdu (a la The Hormones, Fake Gentle). The three-piece outfit is fresh off the release of their debut — Oops! We Fall Asleep Again — with Modern Sky.

Centered on how girls tackle the deluge of problems in their lives and how they find a bit of light and happiness along the way, the album is a humid swirl of techno, synth wave, trip-hop, and bubbly ’90s R&B.

There’s something alluring and propulsive about the way the trio transitions from one groove to another, keeping the mood sultry and colorful, though not without its off-kilter twists here and there.

9. Various Artists — Shanghai Dreams (上海梦)

Shanghai-based promoters Scandal have a long history of giving women proper representation in the music scene with their club parties, and now they’ve gotten around to releasing their second compilation.

Titled Shanghai Dreams, the album features eight original tracks by female producers in China, including LimboLimbs, Rainsoft, Gouachi, BreezyC, Huiziy, Cocoonics, and EmpressCC!

With each song offering a ‘lighter, more alluring and deceiving’ take on the Chinese Dream, it’s a stimulating, ear-opening experience that sheds light on how much of the electronic scene in recent years has been propelled forward by women.

10. 21 Grams — Modesty (你无法取悦所有人)

Shanghai post-rock torchbearers 21 Grams are one of the scene’s most highly regarded and respected acts — despite not being a household name like Wang Wen and Zhaoze.

Having been performing for nearly two decades, the band is as old school as they come, bringing a mature and intrepid spirit.

The four-piece act has been steadily putting out new material, including their latest track, ‘Modesty.’ Evocative and sincere, the 12-minute song unfolds like a heartwarming story passed down over many generations.

Cover image designed by Haedi Yue

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