Music Box: February 2014
Hi-Fi Thai Country 3D
This album is the second in a series of compilations of contemporary Thai folk from the Baichasong Label, known for its high quality production and the strong musicianship of its session players. What’s particularly notable here is how different these songs sound from the scratchy folk recordings of the past and the current day renditions backed by karaoke-style keyboards and drum machines. Here you’ll find that the acoustic piano, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, accordion, congas, and upright bass give the music a warmth that recalls Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. The mood is light and jazzy, making it great for a dinner party or perhaps a lazy afternoon at Huay Tung Tao, but it nonetheless has such lovely songwriting and playing that it deserves to be taken seriously. Along with the first volume, it stands as a strong example of how very accessible traditional Thai music can be for western audiences, and with more recordings like this, maybe one day the genre will gain more attention and respect internationally.
Deepest State of Mind
Sapap Supap are riding a wave of attention that’s come with this newest album, seeing increased radio play and appearances at Big Mountain Festival and Pig Arts & Music Festival in Mae Rim. Locals Navarat Prasannate, Wongsagorn Roongsubrangsee, Puttinun Thachaiwong and Wuttanachai Khumlert make up this alternative rock band from Chiang Mai’s Minimal Records. The slickly produced songs are highly anthemic and full of awesome guitar solos, but as their group’s name roughly translates to “polite condition,” there’s a maturity level that keeps things from getting bombastic. The album is anchored by the single “Phieng Kae Raew (Only Us)” which stands out with its beautiful slide guitar work and rousing crescendos. No other song quite matches its heights, but the remainder shows consistently solid songwriting and playing.
Bangkok-based Plastic Section is the brainchild of singer/guitarist Ben Edwards, also known for his band Basement Tape, and includes Put Wednesday on drums and Pok Pongprayoon of Stylish Nonsense on bass and vocals. They play a noisy but melodic brand of rock ‘n’ roll that takes cues from 1950s surf rock, rockabilly, and R&B and brings to mind more modern groups like Jon Spencer Blues Xplosion and The Stray Cats. While wearing those influences on their sleeves, the songs never sound formulaic and the album flows well with a variety of sounds and a good mix of up-tempo and slower tunes. With all twelve tracks clocking in under three minutes, it’s a quick but really fun and engaging listen. Recommended tracks: “Shot,” “Black String,” and “The Cars That Ate Bangkok.”