The fun factor, it’s what reels me in, that’s what I look for in discovering music that I like. So when I saw The Good China‘s profile pop into my submissions queue with their goofy little group shot and paper doll album cover – I knew I had to feature this group on the site.
A lot of people compare The Good China to early Architecture In Helsinki. Like Architecture in Helsinki, they’ve got your more than average number of members (eight in total), they play a wide range of musical instruments (aside from your usual guitar and drums – you’ve got the violin, glockenspiel, mandolin, banjo, etc.), and last but not the least, they also hail from Australia – not Helsinki nor China, but the wonderful land of Australia. Music-wise, they also offer a bit of twee in their toe-tapping, hand-clapping first single called ‘All Nothing’.
‘All Nothing’, is a song about running away from home as a 3 year old, only to make it as far as your grandma’s house. For me, this invokes early childhood memories of wrapping up used batteries in a small blanket, putting it on a stick like a hobo, and running away – only getting as far as our apartment complex’s gate. Many of you may be able to relate (sans the used batteries) as ‘All Nothing’ offers that bit of nostalgia, a time when innocence was sweet, and problems were so minute that it’s all nothing compared to the humongous obstacles you’ll encounter as an adult.
Apart from the short childhood flashback, this song kind of reminds me of Barenaked Ladies with a little hint of the Goo-Goo Dolls.(Ok, I just realized that sounded quite funny if you weren’t thinking of the bands) I just might be having a bad case of 90’s alternative rock music craving, but somehow, I’m getting a bit of that 90’s vibe when listening to The Good China. In ’39 Black’ one the band’s newer singles, the vocals sound oh-so-Lemonheads –
According to the band, ’39 Black’ is about a local newspaper article – about a crazy lady who’d been seeing black panthers in her neighbourhood – the verbatim quote
that the article had was “it was as black as black, it had a big black bushy tail”. Now, this kind of makes you think really, if the world was littered with crazy old ladies ranting about their hallucinations – would we have more inspired music to listen to? As long as it’s from The Good China, I think I could bear another crazy old lady or two.
Since I had my junior music critic around while listening to tracks from The Good China – I set him with up with headphones and sampled ‘All Nothing’. The song was happily given the two thumbs up – which says a lot, since my little guy shows quite a distinct music taste. He also warranted it to be worthy of sharing to the family pet, and before I could stop him, he proceeded to outfit our pet canary with my oversized headphones. Fortunately, I was able to put the song on speakers before any feathers were ruffled.
As with all other bands I feature, I asked The Good China the age old question – how do you define indie music? Nick gave one of my favorite answers to date:
For me “indie” music is defined by its musicality – it’s more complex,
with jangly guitars and experimental chord voicings, delay pedals,
creative drums/time signatures, and lyrics about getting drunk, eating
loads of crisps and throwing up by a football pitch. It can also be
said that “indie” is defined by whether or not it’s part of mainstream
culture – the DIY attitude, the fashion (skinny neckties, stripes,
tight jeans), the dirty bars where indie bands often appear. From this
perspective, the key distinction comes not from instrumentation or
structure but from how strictly the indie band follows the cultural
constructions of rockist “authenticity”, which raises the paradigm of
“selling out” – which can shake a band of any indie cred they may have,
but in return for much greater exposure. It’s only a matter of time
before The Good China have tracks appear on the next season of The O.C.
🙂 (or maybe Gossip Girl since the CW doesn’t air The O.C. anymore. Their songs might be good for a nice Chuck and Blair moment. Wait, should I be ashamed that I know this piece of information?)
One of my favourite quotes on the subject from James Mercer seems
to sum it up quite nicely; “I hope that our audience is more
sophisticated than I was when I was a teenager, where I would probably
drop a band if my sister knew about them. If my sister knew about the
band then they weren’t cool anymore.”
Since I was in interview mode, I asked Nick further, on where they got their unique name:
‘With regards to the name “The Good China”, the meaning often gets
confused. It has no political connotations whatsoever, but rather
refers to good crockery like what your nan has locked away in her glass
cabinet in the living room. And your nan will always bring out the good
china for her best guests. Further to that, in Australia, rhyming slang
for “mate” is “china plate”. Which makes ‘good china’ a slang term for
‘good mate’. So we figured it was suitable, plus on top of that we can
prefix everything with the word “China”, for example; China-party,
China-house, China-merch, and my favourite, Chine-o-mite!’
Well, I always knew it was all about good crockery. You can never be a great band without appreciating good china. And with this, I hope that the group will continue to dish out excellent new songs. Get it? Dish out?. Ok, I think I’ll stop now 😉
More Chine-o-mite tracks can be found at the band’s MySpace page as well as an awesome make your own Good China paperdoll kit available for download.