Best Albums of 2017
selected by William Griffith

Goodbye Honey Boy <BR> “Daydreaming Days” EP

Goodbye Honey Boy
“Daydreaming Days” EP

Beijing based dream pop trio Goodbye Honey Boy come out swinging on their airless debut EP, “Daydreaming Days”.

With an atmosphere that’s particularly dripping in honey, the release, which sports influences from Brain Eno to Beach House, is a dizzying concoction that hits all the right notes. A bittersweet delight.

♪♫ Listen: “Keelung Bay” + album stream

Goodbye Honey Boy on Douban, Bandcamp, Xiami.

Mirrors (解离的真实)  <BR> “Separate Reality” EP

Mirrors (解离的真实)
“Separate Reality” EP

A precision missile of panicky mayhem and trance-like grooves, Shanghai’s Mirrors’ debut EP is psychedelic catnip that hits you like a freight train and doesn’t let go.

It’s feral, primal and as druggy as they come – the kind of music that possesses the spirit and shakes you to the core.

♪♫ Listen: “La Duanle” + album stream

Mirrors on Bandcamp, Facebook.

Little Wizard (小巫师) <BR> “Little Wizard II”

Little Wizard (小巫师)
“Little Wizard II”

Shaoxing instrumental rock trio Little Wizard, return with their latest offering – a ramped up freight train of thundering drums, rip roaring guitars, and jaded bass lines that keeps the dial turned up.

Never overstaying their welcome, their songs strike with ferocity and precision, a blistering blend of math and post rock highs that keeps the pace tight and the thrills coming.

♪♫ Listen: “Fire” + album stream

Little Wizard on Douban, Xiami.

Chinese Football <BR>“Here comes a new challenger!”

Chinese Football
“Here comes a new challenger!”

Math rock infused emo rock smash successes show of their new drummer with four brand new songs that further solidifies the band’s tight musicianship and sound.

Effortlessly creating twinkly post emo rock jams, on “Here comes a new challenger!” Chinese Football
embrace their pop sensibilities with a gentle touch.

♪♫ Listen: “Electronic Girl” + album stream

Chinese Football on Bandcamp, Douban.

Thruoutin <BR> “Contingent of Outlying Territory” EP

“Contingent of Outlying Territory” EP

Beijing based electronic producer thruoutin outdoes himself on his latest EP, “Contingent of Outlying Territory” (外地领土), which utilizes everything from Chicago footwork to field recordings.

Creating a dizzying concoction that’s both club floor ripper and bedroom mixer, he charts into unknown territory has never sounded so satisfying.

♪♫ Listen: “Exploring The Interior” + album stream

Thruoutin on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

Faded Ghost <BR> “Moon Mad”

Faded Ghost
“Moon Mad”

A nocturnal fever dream that bewitches and mystifies with its pagan-stylized witch house vibes.

Faded Ghost, the side project from well known Shanghai singer ChaCha, finds the artist in the producer’s chair as she breathes musical life into her memories, experiences, and dreams through a combination of vocals, layered field recordings, and electronic wizardry on her hauntingly beautiful LP.

A mood piece through and through.

♪♫ Listen: “Lonely Alice” + album stream

Faded Ghost on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

Foster Parents <BR> “Grim”

Foster Parents

Playful, melodic, breezy yet instrumentally skillful and astute, the Shanghai duo are a worthy addition to the growing list of instrumental bands making their mark on music scene in China.

Far from grim, the album wears its heart on its sleeve, pulling at those heartstrings while nimbly pulling at those guitar strings. Math rock catnip.

♪♫ Listen: “Colors Casted” + album stream

Foster Parents on Xiami, Bandcamp, Facebook, Douban.

Chui Wan “The Landscape the Tropics Never Had”

Chui Wan “The Landscape the Tropics Never Had”

A little more mature, a little more assured, resident psychedelic groovers Chui Wan aren’t so much trying to shake you loose on their latest album “The Landscape the Tropics Never Had” (热带从未有过的风景).

Instead, they are asking you to tag along, as they meander through each riff and progression, twisting and turning as each song grows denser and denser, taking on new forms, and unraveling in often striking ways.

Definitely an album that rewards repeated listens.

♪♫ Listen: “Sheep’s Shadow” + album stream

ArtistName on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

The Pillowman (枕头人) <BR> “The Little Girls Says” EP

The Pillowman (枕头人)
“The Little Girls Says” EP

It’s a bittersweet hello and goodbye on the debut from The Pillowman. The shoegaze trio out of Hangzhou, didn’t even make it to two years as a band.

And that fleeting, affecting touch is captured brilliantly in their EP – a blistering, drowned out, melancholic ode to growing up – warts and all. We barely knew ya, Pillowman!

♪♫ Listen: “Air Crash Song” + album stream

The Pillowman on Douban, Xiami.

Dirty Fingers (脏手指) <BR> “How’d I Turn So Bad”

Dirty Fingers (脏手指)
“How’d I Turn So Bad”

An assault on the senses, Shanghai punk ruffians wisely keep things fast and loose with their down and out sophomore release that’s an unholy mess of ramshackle charisma, tightly wound melodies, and a carefree yet volatile attitude.

An artifact of a band in their prime without the needed assistance of slick production values or other label tricks, this is punk done right.

♪♫ Listen: “I Like Your Girlfriend Too” + album stream

Dirty Fingers on Bandcamp, Facebook, Douban.

Swimful <BR> “Pearls”


Looking for a little bubbly electronica to kick off your weekend – let the UK-bred Shanghai-based producer known as Swimful lead the way.

Nostalgic ‘sino melodies’ that burst with color placed alongside ‘melancholic atmospheres’ that drips with condensation, it does exactly what “Pearls” EP should do – leave you wanting more.

♪♫ Listen: “Call Cards” + album stream

Swimful on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

Xie Yugang (谢玉岗) <BR> “Echo in Library (回声图书馆)”

Xie Yugang (谢玉岗)
“Echo in Library (回声图书馆)”

Wang Wen’s Xie Yugang gives a lovely ambient ode to his coastal city Dalian and Echo Library, the bookstore, gallery, and above all, a piece of mind that was a safe haven for artists with his solo ambient LP.

A blissed out daydream (or better yet, a lost memory) that sinks in, it finds pleasures in the haze, waves, and lyrical currents of life.

♪♫ Listen: “Sleeping on the Reading Party” + album stream

Xie Yugang on Bandcamp, Facebook.

Hai Qing (海青) <BR> “The Flesh” (肉蛋蛋)

Hai Qing (海青)
“The Flesh” (肉蛋蛋)

Avant-garde gets a Mongolian twist on the latest from Hai Qing.

Words linger and strike down with terrestrial veracity, King Crimson-esque dissonant guitar riffs linger, loads of didgeridoo and a slew of guests add their esoteric instrumental groove to the tracks and in turn create an intoxicatingly world of mischief and curiosity.

♪♫ Listen: “Stood Up” + album stream

Hai Qing on Douban, Xiami, Netease.

The 尺口MP <BR> “Love” (愛)

The 尺口MP
“Love” (愛)

Fuzhou ‘leisure-pop trio’ THE 尺口MP also known as The Romp released this lo-fi pop gem of an EP.

A bit of jangly surf rock, some shoegaze riff raff, and plenty of dream pop reverb, it’s pretty much home made for the beach.

♪♫ Listen: “MILAJIANG” + album stream

The ROMP on Bandcamp, Douban.

Howie Lee <BR> “Homeless”

Howie Lee

Prominent Beijing electronic producer goes existential on his latest dizzying concoction of Chinese world bass.

The six track EP leans heavily into the ethnic sounds of China but Mr. Lee integrates them with the frenzy of a mad scientist, twisting and flipping any familiarity we may have with these traditional sounds straight onto its back.

It’s a jarring experience – one that leaves you feeling alienated and lost, as if you’ve stumbled upon some future civilization.

♪♫ Listen: “Four Seas” + album stream

Howie Lee on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Re-TROS (重塑雕像的权利) <BR> “Before The Applause”

Re-TROS (重塑雕像的权利)
“Before The Applause”

After years of waiting, Re-TROS return with their opus titled “After The Applause”.

It’s a sprawling genre-expanding album that takes everything from krautrock, post punk, to blistering techno and ambient pop, and not so much tosses it into the blender but molds it in their ever eccentric and unique vision.

For a band I was assured had run out of gas, it can’t be stated how much expectations were mounted and surpassed on this release.

♪♫ Listen: “Hailing Drums” + album stream

Re-TROS on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.