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Jonathan Campbell is over at LARB shaming Western music critics for ignoring the newest album by Cui Jian: I'm listening now (it's on Spotify). My understanding of Chinese is pretty much at a 102 level, so I can recognize when he says "have not" and when he says "we" and "if," but very little else (this is standard for me; I've been listening to Mayday, a Taiwanese band, for a couple of years now without really understanding them). Based on the sound alone, I'm pretty taken with the album and have gone ahead and purchased it to add to my playlist. I know there's some folks on this board who have spent time in China, so I assume there are folks on this board who speak more Chinese than my "Where do you live? Where are we going" level, so I'd be interested to hear responses on that front (I'm also curious whether I'm the only person around here to listen to music in a language I don't fully, or even mostly, understand). Link to our thread on world music.
I think a few of the folks here recommended 2011's Rise Ye Sunken Ships by the new band We Are Augustines. That album became a favorite of mine with its garage-y alternative sound, with a raspy soulful vocal performance by lead singer Billy McCarthy as he wrestled with the loss of his brother James to drug overdose (I think Book of James is my favorite track on the disc). They're out today with their sophomore effort, simply titled Augustines, and dropped the "We are" part of their moniker--probably a bad branding decision when no one knows who you are anyway and you're still building equity, but the album, of which I'm only a few tracks in, still carries the garage sounds forward but in an anthem stadium rock urgency. It's a little earnest I guess, but if you're hankering for a toe tapping sing out loud rip--give them a whirl. I'm sure some of our music experts could say more--both good and bad--but these are one of the few bands that I'll buy the album sight unseen and be glad I did.