Interesting times ahead

Local bands have been especially productive of late, with upcoming gigs and new releases sure to enliven the year's end

The last quarter of the year is always a time for celebrations around the world. Here, during the final two months in particular, there's usually a host of parties and other organised events, even if the holiday spirit has been dampened somewhat over the past few weeks by the tense political atmosphere in our capital.

It's probably happenstance, but this year the local music industry is joining in the fun with some of the bigger names in the business releasing new singles within the space of a month.

Ornaree (who brought out Sak Wan), Slot Machine (Klerm), Apartmentkhunpa (Pluek), Barbies (Plarn), Sweet Mullet (Jeb Took Lom Hai Jai), Knock the Knock (Mai Ngao Khon Diew) and Lomosonic (Keb Wai) are all currently making their way through the charts and collecting views on YouTube.

However, the local outfits generating the most interest of late are Bodyslam and Moderndog. These two bands tend to be closely watched anyway and the ongoing street demonstrations in Bangkok have only deflected the public's attention to a small extent.

As the biggest rock band in Thailand at the moment, Bodyslam certainly don't need to blow whistles to get noticed. The single they dropped on Monday, Rue Lek Kuan Ork Jak Fang (Small Boats Must Leave Shores), garnered 1.4 million views within 24 hours of being uploaded, and the counter keeps turning. And, yes, you did read that figure correctly: 1.4 million users watched the video within the space of a single day. Even by Bodyslam's standards, that's something of a record. The single is a teaser for their upcoming album, Dharmajati, which, judging by the high quality and catchiness of its first track, can be expected to keep them well supplied with laurels _ as their last album did when it came out four years ago. The melody component of Rue Lek Kuan Ork Jak Fang is complex, interesting and never alienating; it closes with some typically upbeat Bodyslam lyrics that encourage young people to pursue their dreams and all the usual drill. The music video follows the same path, a crowd-pleaser that's eminently accessible.

While Bodyslam is often compared to Linkin Park, Moderndog could be said to operate along similar lines to Mew or REM. This trio will be celebrating their 20th anniversary in the business next year; I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Those old Dogs certainly know how to keep on coming up with new tricks. During a long and creative career, these luminaries not only rewrote Thai contemporary music history by spearheading an alternative movement back in the 1990s, they have also proven that exciting music with an experimental edge can be rewarding and conducive to professional stability at the same time. Having inspired several generations of new-blood musicians, Moderndog's O-Noi-Org is another in a long list of achievements, signalling that their long-awaited sixth studio album is probably another classic-in-waiting. O-Noi-Org serves up tidy sounds yet wayward ideas that make the band more relevant now than ever; the lyrics, too, are as philosophical as always. Still, I suspect that there's a wry sense of humour hidden beneath some of those coded messages.

Lomosonic also deserves a mention, since their double album, Echo&Silence, is on my high-rotation list. Lomosonic have erased all the doubts that people normally harbour about double albums. Emotive, eloquent and energetic, Echo&Silence delivers on all fronts. With high-octane singles like Gep Wai and even higher levels of energy on display at their live performances, these boys could one day succeed to _ or at least share _ Bodyslam's throne, given the right opportunities and enough exposure.

Rumours from the Desktop Error camp suggest that the IRM outfit is also about to unveil a new album, but the timing for its release has yet to be agreed upon.

The last two months of 2013 look set to be extra exciting with both big and semi-established names getting a move on. Now, we'll just have to wait and see what the newbies have to say for themselves.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Onsiri Pravattiyagul
Position: Entertainment Editor