Friday, 12 August 2016

Top 10 bands that I don't understand

Being British born, albeit to an Israeli mother, I never really excelled at any other languages and only since moving to Israel have I become somewhat semi-bilingual. With music being an international thing, there are many bands in the world making music that I like but singing in languages I don't understand. Some bands have managed to gain success abroad, such as Rammstein (German), Babymetal (Japanese) and let's not forget frickin' PSY (Korean) but here is a top 10 list of bands that I listen to who I have no idea what they are saying.

Disclaimer: This also includes bands who might be singing in English but have very strong, unintelligible accents, thus qualifying for a band I don't understand.

10. Freedumb

I discovered thrash/punk band Freedumb from Norway very recently due to their latest album, Feeding The Tapeworm, being sent to me via Toxic Online to review. Although the majority of the album and their material overall does include English songs, they do have a good number of songs in Norwegian that I simply don't understand. They actually turn out to be the better songs, as the singer is saying the words with more conviction. This gives the song more meaning, even if I don't know what that is. Playing music along the lines of Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and Municipal Waste, Freedumb are worth a listen.

9. Shitty CT

This is cheating a little as Shitty CT are an Israeli band and I do understand Hebrew. However, I did not understand Hebrew when I discovered them after only just moved to the country. They also sing the Hebrew in slight Russian accents at times, so that can also be confusing sometimes. The band itself mixes rap, punk, metal and electro which confuses many people but I dug it from the start. Their latest song, Kayfuyem, is basically hip hop, sampling the song of the same name by singer Arsen Petrosov with rapping, all in Russian. Russian, for me, will forever be a confusing language.

8. Shabak Samech

Similar to Shitty CT, Shabak Samech, one of the most legendary rap/rock groups in Israel, sing in Hebrew and I also discovered them back when my Hebrew wasn't all that great. Because it is rapping, it is still pretty hard to follow it completely without having the words in front of me somewhere. This goes for other Israeli rap artists like Peled, Muki and Lukach.
Shabak Samech's early work is the stuff that I really like. It is more along the rap-rock lines, as apparently they were influenced by the likes of Dog Eat Dog and Beastie Boys back in the day. The last stuff they brought out was also good but more hip hop based. I don't think old school fans were all too impressed.

This song is called Al Tagidu Li (Don't Tell Me).

7. Sand

Along with mentioning bands I technically do understand now because of my improved Hebrew, putting Japanese hardcore band Sand on this list might be a bit of a curveball. I mostly know Sand through their music videos and that's the only way I can understand them. They luckily have the lyrics come up on screen so that we can follow. This is not a translation, however, as the band actually seems to be singing in English just with the strongest, most unintelligible Japanese accent. Not anyone's fault, to be fair. I tend to flick in between finding these guys to be a joke to just loving it regardless. Either way, the music is tough as hell!

6. Netral/NTRL

Netral, now known as NTRL, are, in my eyes, the Indonesian Blink 182. I discovered these guys through a video of a kid drumming along to their song Cinta Gila and thinking to myself "I like this! This is nice." Upon further research, I found other songs just as nice and even others more punky. They have great melodies and are just great musicians. I think it's actually quite a crime that they are not more widely known. Their latest album, 11/12, came out last year.

5. The Blue Hearts

Back to Japan (you'll be seeing a lot of Japanese bands on here, actually). The Blue Hearts are a really old Japanese punk band. I discovered them through a cover of the song Linda Linda that Andrew WK did. Turns out, a few other bands have also covered it, as it is quite a classic song. I listened to some greatest hits of theirs and just really liked them. Haven't a clue what they are saying or even what most of the song titles are, but I know what I like when I hear it!


A little break from Asia now, as we head over to San Juan, Puerto Rico where the band PUYA originated from. I still can't quite remember how I discovered PUYA. I think it was by accident or just when going through a bunch of rap metal bands on Youtube. However it happened, I somehow saw the video for the song Fundamental and was simply kicked in the balls by its amazingness. The song flicks in between latin music with brass section and full on shouty rap metal. I downloaded the album of the same name, which is mostly in Spanish. Even though I learnt Spanish in my teens, I don't really understand it. At all. But the music is amazing. The band apparently had great success, especially with Fundamental. Their latest release was the live album Vital back in 2014.


3. Maximum The Hormone

Along with Babymetal, Japanese nutcases Maximum The Hormone are now quite widely known. I discovered them quite late through a video that started to go viral. I still don't know what the song is called, but it's the song where the only English in it is "Stop, stop, whinny upload." Apparently it's about an old software...I don't know. The song was just a big bag of genres and the video was pretty crazy with strange imagery and effects.
Maximum The Hormone are simply mental. Both lyrically, musically and on stage. Some people are familiar with them because their music has been associated with the anime series, Death Note. I wish I could understand Japanese because if the responses from their Japanese fans are anything to go by, they are bloody hilarious.

2. Back Drop Bomb

Another band that I don't quite know how I discovered them. Back Drop Bomb started out like the Dog Eat Dog of Japan. They played rock/rap crossover music and had a saxophonist. In more recent years, the band have reached into territories that bring to mind 311 and even Linkin Park. They are still incredibly creative and enjoyable to listen to...I just haven't got a clue what they are saying, most of the time. I think, like Sand, they are actually singing in English for a majority of songs. It's just hard to tell. Regardless, their earlier work is simply some of my favourite stuff to listen back to every now and again. They have a split EP coming up with the band Husking Bee


1. Mad Capsule Markets

And finally, still over in Japan, the band I consider my number one favourite band I don't understand. Mad Capsule Markets hit the UK market big time in around 1999 with the album Osc-Dis. With digital music channels like MTV2, Scuzz and Kerrang TV, videos for songs like Pulse, All The Time In Sunny Beach and Good Girl got a fair bit of air play in the UK. I never actually got into their albums back then as I was stuck in a bubble of local hardcore bands but I always had a fondness for those hits. I started listening to their discography later in life and they are now a massive influence on me.
They developed their sound throughout the years, but it's always been punk with an industrial leaning, later being also considered digital hardcore. I love them because they have many genuinely catchy songs and just an amazing intensity. Even when songs titles are in English, the songs are mostly in Japanese with the odd English bits thrown in. There are other songs where the song might be in broken English with some Japanese rap parts thrown in.

 Such a shame they are no more as I would have loved to have heard what they would come out with now and see them live. Former vocalist, Hiroshi Kyono, did continue with his own digital hardcore project, Wagdug Futuristic Unity, which is also very impressive.

Are there any bands here that you guys also love? Are there maybe any bands that you think I should be listening to? Do you know any good Korean hardcore bands? Does that exist? Let me know.

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