London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

LKL Critics’ Choice 2010: Saharial

Saharial rounds up this year’s Critics’ Choice series with her own picks.

It’s not been a great year for album buying for me. I’ve been doing more film and drama watching, and the constant injection of yet anther boy or girl group into the already over-packed market is frankly quite off-putting. The longer I spend watching the K-pop machine running, the more I see of the publicity stunts and the slick marketing attempting to get me to part with my cash. Nevertheless there is still some hope as I managed to glean four titles that deserve mentioning.

Leessang HexagonalLeessang 6th – Hexagonal (October 2009)
I heard some of the tracks from this playing on a k-pop radio station and was immediately hooked on ‘Canvas’, a collaboration with Tiger JK, swiftly followed by the third track ‘The Girl Who Can’t Break Up, The Boy Who Can’t Leave ft. Jung-in’, probably those two tracks alone ensuring the decision to buy. All 16 tracks feature other artists and perhaps this is what its strength is as they influence the choice of song and feel of the album. YB also feature here and the overall feel of the album is old school hip-hop with good melodies and beats. It’s definitely the album I’ve listened to most this last year and a must-have for every collection.

Next up is Yet, the second album from Naru released in July 2010. I’m never sure about how to define music like this and am often loth to, simply because it could give a wrong impression and deter people from trying something new. A singer songwriter always gives consistency to a solo album which is why I bought it, and I was not disappointed. Acoustic guitar with electronica mixed in makes a good combination.

Naru - YetKyu Won Vol 1

Kyu Won – Vol 1 (January 2010)
No surprise this makes it to my list, seeing as I reviewed it favourably earlier in the year. I’m pleased with discovering albums like this and supporting singer songwriters who are trying to show their craft and skill. It’s a nice calm album to listen to, very relaxing still for me.

Epik High Special Album – Epilogue (March 2010)
Released after DJ Tukutz left for the army, this is actually quite a good album considering one member of the trio is absent. I’m biased perhaps, seeing as I enjoy so much of their music already, but it’s interesting to hear the small change in dynamic.

I’m on holiday in Vancouver at the moment, so I know my reviews and recommendations seem a little sparse for which I apologise. It’s hard to wax lyrical about music while watching my 9 month old nephew eat vegetables which is surprisingly cute and gross at the same time. I hope next year though brings a better choice and innovation for K-pop in general. I live in hope: with K-pop it’s the best way to be!

Epik High and LeeSsang are available on iTunes. Naru and Kyu Won can be got at YesAsia.

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