Rainbow Danger Club's new album sails off the edge of the world

Rainbow Danger Club's new album sails off the edge of the world

After starting out in a dank basement bar in 2009, Rainbow Danger Club are set to release one of the most anticipated albums in Shanghai rock’s recent history

Rainbow Danger Club - albumb launch - liver barBassist Dennis Ming Nichols inspires a branded fist-pump.Rainbow Danger Club don’t actively seek the limelight, but with the release of their new album -- "Where Maps End" -- on Friday, it’s about to find them.

“They're doing something different to most Shanghai bands at the moment,” says Shanghai rock writer Jake Newby, “and have really developed their sound through their live shows and experimenting with their own songs.”

Dangerous rainbows and riffs

Guitarist Jesse Munson and bassist Dennis Ming Nichols lead the band, with Munson handling the bulk of the songwriting, affixing signature riffs, unique thematic angles and odd time signatures.

Nichols handles production and has proven himself adept at using the studio as an instrument. His work on the bass is an integral part of the band’s sound, allowing Munson to explore melodic textures.

Drummer Michael Ford conveys more with fewer strokes than anyone in Shanghai rock right now, while trumpeter Michael Corayer lends vivid color to the band’s sound.

They have played more and more shows to increasingly larger audiences since their humble opening salvo in a basement bar two years ago, including a jam-packed show at Live Bar at the end of February with Pairs, X is Y, and Boys Climbing Ropes.

Everything comes to a head again at Live Bar this Friday  with the release of their new full-length album, “Where Maps End.”

Your average album about sailing off the edge of the world

Furthering the sound of “The New Atlantis", their 2010 EP,  "Where Maps End” leads to uncharted fields. Its aesthetic is atmospheric, but anthemic.

The album was self-recorded at Munson’s apartment and Juju Studios.

Mastering was done by Adam Gaensler of Luwan Rock fame, who also provided guidance throughout the recording process.

The band took a creative route for the cover art, launching a design contest with the help of NeochaEDGE.

“'Where Maps End' is a collection of songs cut from an imaginary world," says Munson of the new album. "A lot of stories inhabit this place. The world at that time hadn’t been figured out, anything was possible, and so it’s an attractive place in that way.”

A wide range of themes and motifs inhabit this musical landscape in the new 'Where Maps End,' including sailing to the end of the earth, the past in its relation to the present and future, and love and its relationship to death.

Although the album is meant to be experienced as a whole, a few key tracks stand out among the madness.

The songs “Passages," “Welcome to Cloud City," and “We Can Be Friends” can only be described as creepy, designed to scare those listening -- yet they won't know why. 

Jay Gatsby could have sung “Enduring Love” to Daisy Buchanan during the Jazz Age.

Finally, the album’s epic tracks, “Live on in Photographs," “Neighbors on the Rooftops," and “Babies Grow on Trees," are simply too good to not be experienced first-hand.

Come out and play

The band will showcase their idiosyncratic hymns in the flesh on Friday at Live Bar in Hongkou.

A typical Rainbow Danger Club performance involves the band putting guitar, bass, drums and trumpet to good use, but will also showcase synthesizer, as well as an extra dollop of floor tom.

Part of their signature sound is bass and guitar played with a bow or stick that also uses a floor tom on songs like “Battleships” so hard that you almost feel sorry for the poor thing.

For the “Where Maps End CD” release show, the band will be supported by local cut-ups Pairs (in a special collaboration with The Dudettes) and Friend or Foe.

Still humble

Despite the accomplishments they have made in the past two years -- the EP release, numerous big shows, scene insiders ranking “Neighbors on the Rooftops” as 2010’s song of the year, being recognized on the Guardian’s music site, and now the new album -- the band remains low-key.

“We have no super high expectations," says Nichols of the band’s future prospects. "I've always said that I would be happy if a dozen people really, really love the album and still listen to it 10-20 years from now and that still holds true."

Based on the merits of “Where Maps End," it’s safe to say that they will meet this modest goal -- plus some.

Rainbow Danger Club “Where Maps Ends” release party, March 18, Live Bar, 9 p.m., RMB 35, Wujiaochang West building, 800 Guoshun Dong Lu, near Shuangyang Bei Lu 国顺东路800号, 近双阳北路, +86 21 2833 6764, www.chinalivebar.net