Poised for stardom? Eight up-and-coming Thai musical acts to keep an eye on

Poised for stardom? Eight up-and-coming Thai musical acts to keep an eye on

Whether they're belting out post rock, art rock or hip hop, these local indie acts are staking a justifiable claim as the best soundsmiths in the country at the moment

Bangkok’s music scene has its ups and downs. Music consumption is high, but the indie industry has never been able to stabilize itself, or breach the mainstream. Most of the indie bands who have made it somehow fall into the same soundscape as the big label bands -- but with better haircuts and dress sense. 

Underground music is supposed to rejuvenate and push the industry forward, but so far it has proven futile here in Thailand. A lot of indie music these days is mundane, easy-listening pop or comes from small rock bands who try to pass themselves off as indie simply because they’re not signed to big labels. Others are just too wrapped up with their own weirdness to produce accessibly intelligent sounds that cut across different genres. 

We’re still waiting for the next Moderndog, Goose or Futon. But in the meantime, these eight up-and-coming acts are showing some promise. 

The Papers

Radiohead has inspired countless numbers of supposedly avant garde bands in Thailand, most of which are not worth mentioning. But they would likely be proud of The Papers. Fronted by Chet Chetchotisak, son of RS Promotions' big boss, The Papers doesn’t ride on big budgets nor the available media machine under daddy’s helm. Instead they choose to produce philosophical songs that warm our hearts and confuse our heads. With lyrics written mostly in English, The Papers could quite possibly go international with a bit of determination. 

Plot

Fast and furious, Plot attacks relentlessly with its own special brand of post and math rock. Still in school, the trio has honed the kind of musical skills that are rare to find in the younger generation. Jerky melodies complement jerkier lyrics that seem angry and silly at the same time. Together with their use of dissonant chords, Plot’s chaotic sound is so angular that you’d want to put them on a Milan catwalk. With vocals that often border on shouting, Plot offers a gateway to youth confusion and start-and-stop chops. 

The Jukks

The global garage band and art rock revival has struck its chord in Thailand as well. But The Jukks is one of the few that manages to not sound moronic as they probably spend less time in Topshop and Jatujuk trying to copy The Strokes and more in the studio writing actual songs. Performing cover songs regularly at Cosmic Café, The Jukks are crowd entertainers.The cheeky threesome will blow up with a full length debut earlier next year.

Pae Arak

Pae Arak is certainly not a new face in Thai showbiz. As a matter of fact, if you turn on the TV here you'll probably see his sculptured face at some point, selling deodorant or compact cars. Ever since starring in a Thai soap opera, Pae Arak has blown up beyond his initial fame with indie darling Slur. While still working on the band’s third album, Pae Arak has found time to record his solo debut. Following Bob Dylan’s footsteps closely, Arak is unleashing his folky spirits by combining his vocals with his acoustic guitar and mouth harmonica skills. Prepare to scream like a little girl when his album is released this year. Unfortunately we couldn't find any music videos of Pae singing solo, but here's a link to one of Slur's MVs

Basement Tape

Half of Basement Tape is none other than Thai favorite Stylish Nonsense, and everything these two luminaries touch turns to gold. It’s hard to pinpoint Stylish Nonsense’s musical style as they’ve twisted and turned for the past decade, but with Basement Tape, it’s lo-fi garage all the way. With their 1960s rock melodies and bright temperament, Basement Tape makes lo-fi exciting once again. 

Sixty-Nine

Sixty-Nine’s big break is just around the corner. A top three finalist of the just finished redAMP competition, a Southeast Asia-wide band contest, Sixty-Nine beat out almost 3,000 submissions across the region. The pop jazz outfit incorporates brass instruments and sunny melodies -- a sure hit with the Thonglor crowd. (Above is their audition vid, in which they start playing at the 3:10 minute mark.)

The Apostate

Art students and serious music lovers adore post rock and shoe-gaze tunes. Yet local bands who attempt to deliver the dreamy, nightmarish and enveloping sounds often end up disillusioned and eventually disbanded. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for The Apostate. Think Explosion in the Sky. Think Blonde Redhead. Think atmospheric chord progression, drifting rifts and the right amount of pop grandeur and you have a great band.

Southside

Hip Hop leader Thaitanium’s protégé, Southside will not disappoint Thailand’s hardcore hip hop fans. Straight out of the south of Thailand, the two Phuket natives retain every bit of their spicy southern flavor. Over harder beats and edges, Southside raps in English, Thai and southern Thai. It’s pure joy listening to a different Thai dialect over their dancey hip hop grooves. It’s local and international without being too real or too bling. Southside’s debut is slated to hit the stores in October.

O. Pravatti works for a major newspaper, freelances for magazines, sits around waiting for shooting stars, and runs a clubnight.
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