As I browsed through the latest albums that were released this September, one in particular caught my eye. While many pop bands have made their debut, I have been searching for a band with a different sound. Dubstep may be fun to listen to, but the world of K-Pop is more than the most popular bands with the best clothes and composers. To truly appreciate the unique sound of Korean music, you need to dig a bit deeper. Most people stick to the main groups since they are easy to buy, get information on, and support. But the bands that are overlooked can be some of the best out there. Even though I want to review that latest bands as well, who have their own sound and style that are also unique to K-Pop, I also want to take time to look at other bands that most people have never heard of. Mainstream artists are hardworking and talented, and I still love the music that they put out, but there are bands who work hard as well, and are also talented, without getting much recognition. So, today I will be writing a review about the Co-Ed groups "4REST", and their first mini album!
4REST's 1st Mini Album, released September 13th 2012!
It is extremely difficult to find information on bands that are not very popular in the "western" market. What little I found on this band was mostly in Korean, and it took a while to find basic details on the group. So I'll say right now that I can't tell you much about the member themselves, but I can say what I did find out. The members of the group are two men, Kim Jin Seok & Kang Sung Min, and two women, Ahn Sung Mi & Park Young Mi. Jin Seok originally debuted with YG Entertainment as a part of the duo "XO" in 1995, while little is known about the musical background of Sung Min, though I saw his name under the title song First Snow's Love for The Snow Queen OST. Young mi debuted on MBC's "Riverside Song Festival" in 1989, and Sung Mi won first prize at MBC's "University Music Festival" with the group Party Cats in 2008! The band name is pronounced like "Forest", which should be obvious with their tree logo. They debuted February 23rd 2012 with the single "Man Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus", and I'm glad to hear more music from them!
The album artwork is simple and fun, which really matches the vibe of the band. I love the semi-matching clothes, the matching orange phones, and the clean white backdrop for it! Plus, I really do like their logo with the tree coming out of it. There technically is no title to the album, it's just "1st Mini Album" or "1st". It doesn't really need a fancy or creative name, and it makes it so there really isn't a "title song" either. The kind of music that they put out is really bohemian, laid back, and classic sounding. They use many different instruments and it makes for a kind of jazz lounge sound. Their genre is named Ballad at times, which suits them in a way but I feel like they go a bit beyond that simple title. Because they are older, more experienced, musicians, they have an old-school/ retro kind of sound, which is not boring in the least. It's the perfect "Indie" album to listen to when you want to relax and have a drink. I'm a sucker for that kind of music, so I obviously like them a lot. Each member brings their own voice to the songs, while still blending well with one another for the harmonies. They sound like singing groups are supposed to, they each can stand out or fuse together when singing, and there isn't a main front man because they are all equal in talent. Now that my complimenting rant is over, let's move on the the songs!
- 이별을 씻다가
Can I say that I love the use of the harmonica in this song? I'll jump to the bridge for a second and say that I love the harmonica solo! You don't get to hear that very much in music anymore, and I used to learn the harmonica so I love the sound of it. That really added a bluesy element to the song. It starts of with the sound of rain and the piano, gradually building up, and moves into a simpler sound. The English translation of this song is "Separating Wash" or "Washes a Separation". I suppose you could translate it as "The Rain Separates Us" or something similar to that. Even though it is a rough translation, I can gather what they mean. It's a sad song about separation, relating it to water or rain. Since my Korean isn't very good I can't say much else about it, and it's very difficult to find information on their songs. But the music speaks for itself. It has a very melancholy feeling to it, like a person slowly walking through the rain and remembering the person they love, who they can no longer be with. Their vocals express a lot of emotion for the song and you can feel the sadness and separation by the way they sing. The slow piano in the background, slow paced beat, and occasional cello and strings add to the feeling. The song is so complex when you listen closely, but it is also well balanced so it doesn't sound too complicated (you aren't overwhelmed with instruments and sounds). The women's vocals are very powerful, yet restrained, and the harmonies are done wonderfully! Overall, it can either be relaxing or sad depending on your mood and the time of day. However you perceive it, the song is still very beautiful, and almost delicate sounding.
- Star (별)
This song has an '80s-'90s ballad/lounge song feel to it. It's synth heavy in the beginning, and moves on to a wind and string section for the chorus. It really reminds me of the music that my parents would listen to on occasion when I was growing up. The chimes that are placed throughout the song give it a magical feel that draws you in. There is so much going on in this song, that I'm stuck just trying to describe it! It really sounds a lot more like a duet, for most of the song, as the man and woman go back and forth throughout the track. As it progresses, more voices join in and the voices get stronger and more passionate. The intro is a fun kind of throwback to older music, but I like the ending more, around the three minute mark. They start singing more as a group and the sound changes slightly as time goes by. While the only English that's in the song is "Goodbye", it's done well and suits the mood, making it a good addition to the lyrics. The song build up a lot near the end, so much that they almost sound like a choir, and then trails off for the ending with "goodbye". It may have a lounge feel to it, but it's not lazy at all. There is a lot of energy in the song, for both the instruments and vocals, yet it's restrained enough that it still retains their slow ballad mood. It has a very mature sound to it that is an acquired taste, that I like very much.
- Habit (습관)
The Saxophone for the intro? Brilliant. I miss saxophone music, a lot. That smooth jazz, Kenny G, sound should never be lot in my opinion! Even though it has a strong Jazz feeling to it, it's balanced out with the violins in the background. It's as if they don't want to fit one genre, and instead combine different ones to give their music a unique sound. If you can't get to a Jazz Lounge, you can always synthesize one, for at least 4-5 minutes, in your home with this song. I find the best way to describe this song is Classy. It just sounds like classy music, it makes me feel more mature and refined by listening to it! Each member of the band really shines as well. The whole track is up and down, with high and low notes, fast and slow parts, and different opposite elements throughout the song. The song fades out slowly, with the instruments and vocals still going strong, until it goes completely silent, which is a different sound than the build at the beginning. I am so glad they are a Co-Ed group, because the contrast between the male and female vocals, especially in this song, bring more depth to their music.
- Will You Marry Me? (결혼할까요?)
This song is translated "Will You Marry Me" or "Let's Get Married". It's a great love song about wanting to marry a person, obviously! So far this is the most "group" sounding song out of the bunch, most of it is sung with all of the members in harmony. You get some more, well played, harmonica in this song, along with the mystical and bright sound of the chimes. The whole song sounds like they are smiling as they sing, it has that kind of happiness to it. I guess a good way to describe it would be that, to me, it reminds me of a blushing man or woman when they are confessing. It's really sweet and innocent sounding, while also being sincere. The vocals stand out the most to me, the music is lighter than in the other songs. You really get to hear their talent in the song, and how well they work together musically. There are a lot of harmonies throughout the song, between two woman and men, a man and a woman, and all of them together. It sounds like the end of the album, and since this is the last of their new songs on the album that makes sense. It seems to end abruptly, the last instrument you hear is the harmonica and the song is silent for the last couple seconds. I think this would make a wonderful live performance to end a concert, it has that sing-along, last hurrah, feel to it. It's a great addition to the album, and I like it very much!
- Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
(화성에서 온 남자 금성에서 온 여자)
As the album comes to a close, you get their first single to end with. Most artists will put their single on their first album, if they made a single before it, and it's nice to get all of their music so far on one disc. This song is really fun and matches the personalities of the members. It's a foot-tapping, head-bobbing, kind of song that puts a smile on your face. It has a kind of flirtatious and sarcastic kind of sound to it, if that makes sense. As if the men and women are poking fun at each other, not in a kind of upset or mean way, but in a friendly way. Like the last song, you really get to hear their voices and ability to harmonize well. Each member has a powerful yet restrained voice, with a slightly different tone than the others. It sounds more like a jam session with friends than a professional song, in the best sense. If I saw them performing this, I bet they would have huge smiles on their faces and I would have a lot of fun watching! In fact, for your viewing pleasure, I was able to find a recording of a live performance of this song Here! I wish I could have been there, because they have great stage presence and it looks like so much fun, I was really drawn in! (The quality of the recording isn't the best, but it's still worth watching.) I wish that I would have heard this song when it came out, because I like it very much, and I am very glad that it's on their album.
The final songs on the CD are Instrumentals of the first and last songs. I love instrumentals because, well, you can listen to the instruments! It's wonderful being able to listen to the music apart from the vocals, because you can appreciate it more, and it makes listening to the full track more enjoyable. You can also use them to sing Karaoke if you want!
That is the first mini album by 4rest! They have a cool bluesy, jazzy, sound to them that I love! Older and more mature artists like this put out great music, and I really recommend listening to the album at least once. While not much is known about them, I felt like I knew what kind of people they are by listening to their music. They really put their heart and soul into what they do, and you can tell. This isn't a strictly Indie, Jazz, or Blues album at all, it's a 4rest album. They have a unique sound to their music that sets them apart, and made me take the time to write about them. Out of a long list of groups that released something lately, they stood out the most. It may not be everyone's taste, but it's worth a shot. I'll say right now, if I ever see that they are playing live near me I will be there! Because their music and personalities really shine and draw me in. It's just good music, I don't really know what else to say! The whole album is well balanced and each song is connected without sounding the same.
Now for the bad news... While their single is available on iTunes to download, their album is not (at least currently). I really wish that it were because I would snatch it up right away. You can buy the pysical album online at different stores. I was able to find one Here for about $12-$14 with shipping.It's on my "to buy" list. The seasons are changing to Fall and Winter, which is slower paced and overcast, and this kind of relaxing album is perfect for it! So check it out, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,