31 December 2010

Eason Chan Xmas song

Before Xmas is just a memory... Eason Chan's Xmas single My Private Christmas and the adventurous hedgehog insists on the nice rabbit animation version. Below Eason having fun in Vancouver speaking British and Hong Kong English to Canadians. But this is concert man! 5.45 no music wtf?

27 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Hei Wong / Amino Shower

This makes it ten, so I'll squeeze two into one. Hei Wong released his April the seventh CD this year and seems to performed most of it on YouTube. This is a song about MSN and Facebook. As YouTube video quality goes, it doesn't get much worse than this, but the sound quality is good and it's a nice song. And another song about Facebook by Amino Shower, who played a storming set at Hidden Agenda last night.

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - 在草地上/JoyTrendySound

Some happy metal from JoyTrendySound. Their CD has been a long time coming but worth the wait. 12 great tracks at just under 30 minutes means I can hear the whole CD on my way to work. And thanks for translating all the lyrics into English! This is a song called vegetables and its about surviving (on vegetables).

25 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Very Ape

I want to post something from The Underground Compilation #3 that came out earlier this year, so here is Very Ape. Any band with a song called You are just ape and we are very ape has got to be worth listening to. Very Ape rip the house down live and just love making noise. Like they say, they are really very ape.

23 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Ghost Style

Ghost Style and DJ Weezy lightin' up the universe. What you gotta do when you gotta get it done / I'm the ET originate from the sun / I tap into the power and I drink from the source / I live in the now and I have no remorse. Let's live on the brighter side, yeah-er!

18 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - King Lychee

King Lychee will never let you down... In Mandarin, Cantonese and English, CNHC. I guess it means China Hardcore. Not on CD as far as I know but you can download from their website.

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Chet Lam

We also interviewed Chet Lam about the time he released his English album, Camping. His second English album, Back To The Stars came out earlier this year. It's a concept album with every track written for a different character in The Little Prince, and incredibly popular book in Hong Kong. I'll probably be deported for saying I don't really get it, but the album works just as well without the concept and Chet shows he's probably the best English lyric writer in Hong Kong right now.

And here's a bilingual song that shows he can rock it up as well - Vancouver Skyline.

15 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Fruitpunch

A rocker from Fruitpunch, from their second CD, Wind And Sea. Release party at Hidden Agenda on 26 December. I remember interviewing these guys in a noisy corner of a shopping mall in Tsuen Wan around the time they made their first CD. That was for a book we are writing on multilingualism and Hong Kong popular music. Here's their second CD, where's our book?

13 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Corey Tam

Corey Tam has come over from Toronto to play his guitar and sing his songs. This is him talking about himself and singing Champagne Eyes (around 1:20). Also wears a hat and plays electric, which sounds pretty good in his open air videos, but I'm picking this one because the recording is better.

12 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Rachel Believes In Me

Here's a band with an album, or at least with an album release party. Nice videos of Waiting and Old Songs. I'm choosing Old Songs, because I really like the double-track vocal. Rachel Believes In Me will also get me out of the house at last - they are on the bill at Fruitpunch's show at Hidden Agenda on 26th December.

11 December 2010

Top Ten HK Indie 2010 - Kevin Kaho Tsui

Not much on this blog since last year when I was whingeing about the lack of CDs on Time Out's best of HK indie list(and I still don't get out of the house enough). So I'll have a go myself this year and I'll stick to YouTube and see if I can get to ten.

This is Kevin Kaho Tsui. He came back from university in Manchester (yeah!) last year, he's a big fan of John Lennon, (I guess Dear Florence is a nod to Dear Prudence), and he likes making videos with his iPhone. Highlights of this one: Kevin strumming on a bench in Sha Tin and the girl with the stripy legs.

Kevin does covers too and I love his Telephone, which sent me to Lady Gaga at the Brit Awards. Really, I don't get Lady Gaga, but that performance is something worth watching.

18 November 2010


A place worth visiting in Chongqing. Lots of good tea and none of that horrible coffee stuff.

07 November 2010

Fong Fong goes bowling

Josephine Siao Fong Fong from 1967 singing a Cantonese version of Where is my heart from Moulin Rouge, transformed into a song about the joys of bowling. The lady beside her was Lydia Shum and the film was shot in the Brunswick Bowling Centre in the basement of Star House TST. Siao Fong Fong made a few English songs in the '60s, and her 2 EPs were the first I came across when I started collecting. This is one of many Fong Fong clips posted by webbinthe6os on Youtube. Great work!

31 October 2010

Australia dairy

The Australia Dairy in Parkes Street, Jordan, and this is what all these people are queuing for on a Sunday lunchtime....

Very tasty and the milk and egg puddings are good too, but this is not a place for a leisurely Sunday lunch. The egg on toast arrives within seconds of ordering it and the bill arrives seconds before you finish eating it, quickly followed by the people who are about to take your table. But, of course, that means that the queue moves pretty quickly too.

24 June 2010

Cantonese opera in English

Back to the grindstone after a great two-day conference on Asian popular music here in Hong Kong. My paper turned out to be about Cantonese opera as modern popular music in its day, which just made me realize how little I know about Cantonese opera. This is a clip I used at the end - the best part of the presentation by far. The one and only, late, great Sik Kok-sin being modern in a 1947 Hong Kong movie, New White Golden Dragon. Around 3:10 you will hear him speak a little English (translation courtesy of the adventurous hedgehog).

Sit: I am going out, prepare my clothes.
Servant: Which jacket do you want to wear?
Sit: Sportex.
Servant: Which shirt?
Sit: Man-hat-tan.
Servant: Which pairs of shoes?
Sit: Flor-sheim.
Servant: Which hat?
Sit: The light colour Hat-s-man.
Servant: Which cigarette case?
Sit: Ron-son.
Servant: Which kinds of cigarettes?
Sit: Big Capstan.
Servant: Which car?
Sit: Lin-coln.
Servant: Everything is ready, sir.

08 June 2010

City Beat

A while back, I mentioned that the likes of Metro - four gwailos singing in Cantonese - haven't been seen in Hong Kong since the days of City Beat. This is City Beat introducing their own video of Tolo Johnny, probably on Fizz Bizz in 1988. Tolo Johnny came out on their first album, which was interesting because side one had five Cantonese songs and side two had the same five songs in English. I believe City Beat never mixed languages in a song, but eventually they released most of their songs in both Cantonese and English versions. The guy you see introducing the video is John Laudon, who is the only one of the four still in Hong Kong, where he still works in the church and the music business. A year or so ago we did an interview with John, where he has a lot of interesting things to say about City Beat and singing in Cantonese.

23 May 2010

Os Mutantes - Baby

This is inspired by my favourite radio DJ, Vicky on WFMU's Do or DIY with People Like Us, who played an English version of Baby by Fantastic Plastic Machine on her first show of 2010. Like me, Vicky has a penchant for singers who use English as their second language. Here are the originals by Os Mutantes in Portuguese and English. Baby was written by Caetano Veloso (I believe he wrote both sets of lyrics) and both versions here are sung by Rita Lee.

The lyrics don't make much sense in either language because they were meant to be a parody of a certain kind of Brazilian middle class culture that was around at the time. The line It's time now to learn Portuguese... is a kind of mirror translation of Você precisa aprender inglês... (You need to learn English). There is an interesting New York Times article on Caetano Veloso's use of English on Caetano's website. It says that the Baby, baby, I love you that ends the song is a quote from Paul Anka's Diana, which is not exactly true because that line isn't in Diana. But I guess he quoted the melody.

21 May 2010

Crazy Lion again

The hedgehog adventurer emailed mouse from Crazy Lion with a few questions (which is what we do when we come across HK bands who write songs in English). Here's what he had to say...

Can you share your lyrics?
Sure. We got YouTube links on our Crazy Lion Facebook page. Lyrics are included in the descriptions on YouTube.

Crazy Lion posted both Cantonese and English songs, do you compose in both languages?
Yes, we compose in both languages. Mainly Cantonese and English, with some Mandarin also.

What are the reasons for writing lyrics in English or Cantonese?
Being a Hong Kong guy, Cantonese is my mother language and English is my second language.

Can you share the process of writing English songs?
By habit, I note the ideas like words, melodies and rhythm almost everyday. Those accumulated ideas from daily life and feelings can be used as rough works/elements of songs. Some songs come from free jamming. Sometimes we compose with the help of computers.

Why reggae?
I love reggae music and I am interested in the Rastafarianism behind it.

Why reggae? What a question! Crazy Lion play at Hidden Agenda in Kwun Tong on 17th and 24th June.

Thank you mouse, and now for a little Cantonese reggae.

04 May 2010


Here is something not seen since the days of City Beat - four gwailos singing in Cantonese. This is a cover of a Joey Yung song and, in fact, they start in English and then switch to Cantonese, which I believe City Beat never did.

It seems Metro used be The Dapper Dans of Main Street, a barbershop quartet performing at Hong Kong Disneyland. This doesn't necessarily mean there are now no Dapper Dans at Disneyland. It is more of a franchise performing at several parks, and even in different parts of the same park at the same time. There must be a name for that kind of group - wish I knew what it was.

27 April 2010

Kim Jung Mi

After a friend sent me a paper he has written on Korean underground rock, I went on a fruitless hunt for music by the legendary guitarist, Shin Jung Hyun, especially his full length cover of Iron Butterfly's In-a-gadda-da-vida. Instead I came up with my musical discovery of the week, two 1973 albums by singer Kim Jung Mi on the Mutant Sounds blog. Folky vocals with lots of echo and some great guitar work by Shin Jung Hyun.

17 April 2010

Breakfast in Shek Kip Mei

A Saturday morning breakfast at Nam Shan estate in Shek Kip Mei. French toast, a luncheon meat and egg sandwich, iced milk tea, iced yin yeung (coffee and tea), and what is that thing in the middle called? In Hong Kong, French toast is usually two slices of bread with peanut butter to stick them together and a slab of butter on top to go with the syrup. In Cantonese, ask for Western toast (sai dosi).

27 February 2010

Crazy Lion

They maybe the only reggae band in Hong Kong! Later, they will share with us about their music and lyrics. Stay tuned!

19 February 2010

Tacit Closet

A great new band who I'd really like to see play live, Tacit Closet were interviewed this month in BC Magazine. Jacky, the singer and guitarist, was asked why he writes and sings lyrics in English. As we have a professional interest, here is his answer.

"Actually, I'm not a very good English speaker, I'm not raised in any kind of background with English or anything. I never even knew any foreigners before university. But I listened to a lot of English music and so when I wrote lyrics all those phrases and sentences started to come to my mind in English. Also I find writing in Cantonese quite difficult; the tones in Cantonese are quite hard to rhyme whereas in English you can twist a word phonetically to easily match it with the sound of another so it's easier in that sense."

Back to the music, there are six excellent songs on their MySpace page. Not far off an album. Make it, guys, and I will buy! While I've been typing this I listened to Sleep is the enemy twice - really cool guitar break!

08 February 2010

The Lee's - Smoking on the Shoulders of Giant

This, I believe, is wing, one half of stealstealground, who made the amazing Bad Waves of Paranoia, sung by his sister pennylane (still up there on their MySpace page). You can also hear Smoking on the Shoulders of Giants, or something like it, on track 13 of My Little Airport's We Can't Stop Smoking In The Vicious And Blue Summer, which makes MLA the giants, right? Seems like at that point, The Lee's hadn't decided on the lyrics yet, but it's not that easy to tell because MLA are rambling on over the top of it. It doesn't get more indie than this! Is there more to come?

06 February 2010

Jacky Cheung - Everyday is Christmas

Jacky Cheung's English track from his Private Corner album, which came out on January 29th. For once I am not a year out of date! It is a jazz album with songs by Roxanne Seeman, including Everyday is Christmas. A bit early for Christmas, but then every day is Christmas with Jacky, right? A cool track with a little Hong Kong English in the title - 'everyday'?

25 January 2010


This is Mensheng (which means disciple in Mandarin), who put out their debut CD last year. Love the cover. Not my kind of music and I don't have the CD. But from the two tracks on their MySpace, I'd say they are pretty good at what they do. Is that what you young people call screamo?

14 January 2010


Here is Chochukmo, The King Lost His Pink, one of a hundred odd Hong Kong indie CD covers in a new Flickr set. Now, you can't just walk into a shop and buy any Hong Kong indie CD you like, so please tell me what I am missing!

Chochukmo won a Time Out Hong Kong 'we'll make your album' competition and brought out the album at the end of last year. The production is good, which is nice because there's some pretty clever stuff going on in there. Whatever indie means, Chochukmo are definitely indie because they say so on their sleeve notes: 'we're still indie and we'll stay indie'. They also say that nobody forced them to wear anything they didn't enjoy, which I guess explains the cover.

How about A-day? Are they indie? Well, they did have a track on the excellent 3-CD Come Out and Play compilation in 2004. Now they have an album and credits for hairstyling, make up and styling (okay, I'm just jealous). Some nice acoustic tracks, but overall a bit cantopoppy for me. Wish them well!

04 January 2010

Top Hong Kong indie track 2009

I am taken task for my last post by Chris B. There were far more indie CDs out in 2009 than the four I bought and I am going to hunt some of them down and post them up here. Meanwhile here's my top track of last year - Mongolia Song, the debut (free!) download only single by Modern Children. Go to their website, download it, watch the 'making of' video (love the bit where the neighbour complains about the drumming in the corridor), and tell your friends.