Taiwan Music Writing Group, a collective blog for music commentary, has published a roundup of the music scene in Taiwan in 2013. Here is a collection of 12 of those artists and groups, accompanied by music videos from YouTube.
The most distinctive feature of the year in music coming out of Taiwan was a strong touch of reality, according to the blog:
Countless songs that reflect the social reality of Taiwan have emerged against the backdrop of political debates and problems. The whole Taiwanese island is suffocating with a sense of melancholy and depression. Musicians can only express themselves in music […]
1. Chang Chen-Yue
With the tension between environmental protection and economic development in the east coast of Taiwan, even the playful Chang Chen-Yue presents his Amis origin and sings: I am Ayal komod [Ayal komod is Chang Chen-Yue’s indigenous Amis name].
2. Tizzy Bac
Remember the evening party during the protest [anti-nuclear], that is the first time I heard the new song from Tizzy Bac, “Feel the Pain”. Their message is straightforward.
3. Lin Sheng-Xiang
After Lin Sheng-Xiang got all the awards he wanted, he and his band returned to folk rock. Their album “I-Village” almost seems like the autobiography of the lyricist, Yung-Feng Chung. It can be read as a rural sociology textbook.
4. Village Armed Youth
The Village Armed Youth, an activist music band involved in Taiwanese social movements, has suppressed their anger. In their new album, “Where is happiness?”, the songs are full of anxiety. What is our future? The future is like a flowing river, and you can't see its end.
搖滾之外，更令人驚喜的是嘻哈樂圈，繞舌歌手們能從更另翼的角度切入社會 […] 蛋堡的＜仇人的孩子＞亦不惶多讓，畫出一幅破碎的家庭圖像，不論中產與底層，這樣的悲劇似乎一直都在都市各個角落裡發生，他的《你所不知道的杜振熙之內部整修》聽來霧氣瀰漫，就像不停雨的台北城，坐在出租房間裡的男子自白。
Apart from rock bands, hip-hop circles are full of excitement. Rappers tell stories about society from another angle. […] Softlipa’s “Enemy's Kids” depicts broken families from both the lower class and the middle class. Such tragedies kept happening in the city. His other song, “The Unknown Renovation Inside Du Jen-Shi” sounds foggy, like a man talking to himself in a rented apartment in rainy Taipei city.
The 2013 music scene also sees the reemergence of avant-guard singers of the 1980s and 1990s, like Ciacia, who released a new album “She & Me”.
7. Sugar Plum Ferry
Sugar Plum Ferry also released a new album, “Hometown of Glitter”.
8. Ming-Yu Hsieh
9. Sonic Deadhorse
While the seniors returned to the stage, new faces could not wait to show up. They do not constrain themselves to the conventional four major music instruments, and their music genre is not limited to folk, shoegaze, post-rock, or post-punk. They are more willing to combine digital acoustics in their music […] Sonic Deadhorse has been hidden underground for a long time. They finally issued their new album. The edgy audio-visual performance has very good reviews from music critics.
The young artist Chiu-Pi composes his music using an iPad and sings in a simple style a love story, “We Must Love.”
11. Baobu Badulu
Baobu Badulu’s first album, “Love Taiban”, reminds people of the ocean. The acoustic guitar on the album is simply appealing.
12. Fred Van Hove and Shih-Yang Lee
The Music Writing Group's pick for jazz music is Fred Van Hove and Shih-Yang Lee's “Galactic Alignment: Piano Duo Improvisation”.
More reviews of Taiwanese albums in 2013 can be found in other articles published on the Music Writing Group: (I), (II), (III), (IV), and (V).