While Korean rock music has been largely overshadowed in recent years by the vibrant world of K-pop idols and the burgeoning Korean hip-hop scene, that’s not to say the genre has little to offer in comparison. In fact, there are many hidden (as well as not so hidden) gems in the Korean rock kingdom, some of which have slowly but steadily gained popularity nationally and internationally. Will K-rock ever surpass K-pop? It seems unlikely. Even so, you are missing out if you don’t listen to Korean rock bands. Read on to find some must-see bands for new and die-hard K-rock fans.
Please also note that while I love bands like DAY6, The Rose, N.Flying, etc., I’ve instead chosen to highlight bands a little more removed from the K-pop scene. You also shouldn’t be sleeping on more mainstream bands or like idols, as they’re just as fantastic as the ones I’ve included here.
Winners of the 2018 Shinhan Card Rookie Award, SURL has quickly carved out a niche on the Korean rock scene over the past two years, and given their catchy songs, superb musicality and overwhelming talent, SURL is sure to continue to charm listeners near and far for years to come. I mean, how can you not be mesmerized by how the beautiful melodic lines of the guitar blend harmoniously with the warm voice of the singer? Plus, SURL knows a thing or two about creating imaginative music videos.
Would a K-rock roster be complete without Nell and their dark, often psychedelic sound? Even if you don’t know this band, chances are you’ve at least heard one of their songs: “Time spent browsing through memoriesWhich has been covered by many K-pop idols including NCT’s Doyoung, INFINITE’s Sunggyu and Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon. This critically acclaimed group played a pivotal role in shaping the Korean rock genre, with many other rock artists citing Nell as a source of musical inspiration and influence.
Jaurim is an alternative rock band with over two decades of experience under their belt and a clear taste for styles from artists like The Cranberries and Alanis Morissette. Although they were criticized for their lack of originality when they first began to take root in the Korean rock world, they have long since developed a breadth and depth to their music that although it still sounds very evocative of external sources, is in a way uniquely Jaurim.
OOO (which stands for Out of Office) are an indie band with a lot of character and distinctive sound, which makes them one of my personal favorites. I especially like OOO for the phenomenal riffs of their lead guitarist, which he always makes seem so easy. Plus, one can’t help but be drawn to the richness of OOO’s vocals, especially when it comes to the band’s softer and more thoughtful tracks, such as “Drunk again. “
Hyukoh might be a rock band, but it would be remiss to describe their music as just rock. Because the members love all types of music, they often mix and match elements of different genres to create new soundscapes, with an emphasis on what they themselves want to do – not necessarily what the masses do. will like. While it is difficult to precisely characterize their sound, what I can say is that a lot of Hyukoh’s songs have a laid-back, dreamy vibe that just might put you to sleep soundly.
What do you do when you want to listen to rock music but feel like you are going through the most heartbreaking part of a K drama right now? Listen to Buzz, of course. Known for their soulful rock ballads, Buzz were one of the first rock groups to achieve great popularity in Korea in the mid-2000s, featuring a number of hits that became staples of karaoke at the time. Listen to one of their songs and you will quickly understand why it would be hard not to want to try and sing like Min Kyung Hoon, whose passionate voice is sure to captivate most listeners.
Bursters are a metalcore band, which means you can expect to find heavy instrumentation and a lot of screaming in most of their songs. While this style isn’t for everyone, there’s no denying that it gives the band’s songs and lyrics a certain emotional depth that wouldn’t be there otherwise. That said, Bursters has some great, slower, more ballad songs that those of you who don’t like to scream much might still enjoy, like “Wherever you are. “
Not to be confused with Korean hip-hop artist Huckleberry P, Huckleberry Finn is an indie band that has been on the scene since the late 90s. Fans of classic rock may appreciate the group’s early works, which have decidedly old-school sound, while those who appreciate a more modern sound will probably prefer their latest albums. Personally, I hope that they will continue on the atmospheric post-rock path that their last album is following.
Whether it’s an upbeat track or a softer track, you can always count on Dasutt to deliver. Truly, when it comes to producing groovy and bountiful rock tunes, Dasutt is one of the best, with their melodic guitar patterns and smooth, mellow vocals. If you’re a Hyukoh fan, you’ll likely enjoy Dasutt’s music as well, given the bands’ similar vocal styles and musical ideologies.
The way the singer from Guckkasten (Ha Hyun Woo) plays the high notes so powerfully and clearly will never cease to amaze me. And while Ha Hyun Woo’s loud and full voice is enough on its own to distinguish this group from many others, Guckkasten’s energy and passion does not end with the auditory. They also love to play with bright, psychedelic visuals and fun, sometimes whimsical and scary images that take their music to an even higher level of greatness.
Which Korean rock bands do you recommend?
There is a software engineer by day and an avid K-pop fan by night. She also occasionally makes an appearance on Twitter (@_seheee).
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