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Yin: Mellow Indie Pop from Xiamen Band Kirin Trio

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Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII column that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

We’ve been dipping our toes in the waters of the small but strong music scene of coastal city Xiamen for the past few weeks now, but hey, why not. Tis beach season. Following up the internet-splintered aesthetic of post-’95 rapper Lows0n and the precision electronic rock of synth+drum duo Daytrip Dormancy, here’s a brand-new four-song EP of blissful minor-chord indie pop from Kirin Trio:

 

From our Xiamen City Mix from earlier this year:

Presumably fans of Kirin beer, the 2017-formed three-piece describes their sound as indie/surf pop. If one individual in Xiamen’s music scene should be singled out for special focus, then it would definitely be Chen Zhenchao. The independent indie-pop songwriter has been a part of numerous groups, such as The White Tulips and Cheesemind, and is the guitarist of Kirin Trio.

Kirin Trio

Indeed, the guitar goes a long way to making Kirin Trio stand out from your standard twee fare. Chen borrows freely from post-rock, grunge, funk and punk in constructing the timbres spilling out of his amp. Listen for it on the track selected above, “Never Happen,” where Chen’s fuzzed out mid-track freakout roughs up the edges of vocalist Zhuang Ying’s otherwise pitch perfect delivery.

Life Holiday (人生的假日) is the latest release from Shanghai-based Shengjian Records, who are named after a type of dumpling and have a thing for bands named after drinks (see also: Pocari Sweet). Shengjian, along with kindred-spirited imprints such as Eating Music in Shanghai, RAN Music in Beijing, Wild Records in Wuhan, Qiii Snacks in Guangzhou, and Boring Productions in Shenzhen are keeping the DIY flame burning bright in the world of Chinese guitar & beat music, and I highly recommend you go spend the rest of your weekend digging through all their Bandcamps.

But first: stream/buy Life Holiday by Kirin Trio at the Shengjian Records Bandcamp.

You might also like:

Yin: Sea-Warped Synth-Rock from Xiamen’s Daytrip Dormancy

City Mix: Sound Waves from the Seaside City of Xiamen

Yin: Quench Your Shoegaze Thirst with Guangzhou’s Pocari Sweet

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.