Saturday, June 9, 2012

Inbox: Lowdown 30 - Jaira

New for me


The first time I heard about Lowdown 30, it was on Mark Russell's 2010 music picks for London Korean Links and didn't think of them again until some live renditions of their music showed up on PlasticTV's YouTube channel earlier this year and then I was fascinated. Here was a Korean band, playing a style of grungy blues rock that I never would have expected outside of the US and UK, carving a sound that's related to Ohio's The Black Keys and doing it well. My interest piqued, I had to go and see about getting their debut album and I'm quite pleased with the results.

Lowdown 30 specialize in a kind of sweaty, grungy kind of buzzing guitar blues rock that sounds perfect for a sweltering club on a hot summer night. The band manages to really capture a specific sound clearly influenced by classic blues rock bands from Cream through Stevie Ray Vaughan. And what's more impressive is just how well lead vocalist Yoon Byungjoo really captures a kind of blues in his own voice, which isn't deep, nor especially gritty, but yet carries a strained intensity well. The album opens up with the steamy, murky buzzfest of "습지의 추억" before cutting into the more rocking "데빌맨" and finally settling on the mid-tempo, more positive shuffler in "괜찮아". I will admit that in terms of blues rock sound, Lowdown 30 doesn't really break any new ground, but they approach the classic sound so effectively that the music never seems tired, filled with appropriately bluesy rocking instrumental solos or, in the case of the two tracks in the middle of the album, instrumental tracks, which really shows off the band's understanding of the music that they're pulling off.

In "중독", Yoon's voice is put through a filter, further giving the track a bit more of a dirty edge to go alongside the hot guitarwork. What's more, Yoon actually handles some of the bits and pieces of English he uses in his music well and once the band reaches the grinding "I Saw the Devil Last Night", the lyrics are all in English, indicative of the band's ties to their influencing music. While the album isn't especially long, clocking in at under forty minutes, the band makes good use of that time, varying up their tracks between the slow burners and more rocking tracks, pulling them all off well. In fact, if you weren't paying attention to the Korean lyrics, you might even think that the band were native to the US or UK, simply because that's how well the band has adopted the blues rock sound. Even more, every track is well crafted, performed with gusto and recorded pleasingly, hinting at how hot their live performances probably are. And maybe that's a sign of a really good album for this band--Jaira makes you want to see Lowdown 30 live. Hot stuff. 8/10.

Tracklist:

  1. 습지의 추억
  2. 데빌맨
  3. 괜찮아
  4. 괜찮아 (반복) (instrumental)
  5. 벨라 고다이버 (instrumental)
  6. 아임 고잉 다운
  7. 중독
  8. 어느 작은 날
  9. I Saw the Devil Last Night

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