Two rock bands rose to the top recently with their perspective mini albums and different approaches to rock music. Romantic Punch with their latest EP, ‘It’s Yummy,’ bring a different take to each track, but keep their humor intact. On the other hand, T.A. Copy’s ‘The Restoration’ takes pop-rock on a straight road with great peaks. If you’ve been itching for a rock fix, both of these acts might just be the cure.
‘It’s Yummy’ is an exploration of different rock styles. The EP opens with the intro track “Romantic Punch”, a guitar-heavy track with electronic flourishes, both features that are highlighted within the set. The EP is set perfectly with the lines “Romantic Punch! We’ll rock them all!” The set begins in earnest with the electro-rock track, “야미볼 (It’s Yummy)”, a catchy, up-beat tune making you want to dance. The track bounces with an understated bass line and fervent drum playing that brings it to life. “야미볼 (It’s Yummy)” reminds me of the Scissor Sisters – piano-rock music fit for a party and falsettos galore. With lines like, “Try this one; it’s yummy”, you know you’re in for a good time.
The party slows down with the ballad “커튼을 닫아요, 에이미”, a burner of a track akin to the classic rock ballads of the 70’s and 80’s. Here is where Ben Hyuk shines as a lead singer. He nails the emotion in this heartbreak song, and even though his voice is purposefully distorted, the pain still comes through. The instrumentation is spot on, letting Hyuk take center and highlighting the experience he’s singing about. “커튼을 닫아요, 에이미” is the best track on this mini and one not to be overlooked (Listen: 커튼을 닫아요, 에이미).
Things pick up with “치명적 치료”, a bass-driven number with light acoustic guitar playing sprinkled in the verses, a great guitar solo, and impressive high-end singing. The song has ska influences, though not as chaotic. “치명적 치료” alternates between soft, bass verses and loud, full-band choruses and bridges. This arrangement matches the manic sentiment of the song, with lyrics like “Give me a shot/Give me some pills/Call me a doctor/ Help me, my savior,” (Listen: 치명적 치료).
The set’s album-ender, “Appointment”, is a straight pop-rock song, with a rolling melody that’s pleasing to the ear. As good as the track is, however, I can’t help but dock them a few points for it. ‘It’s Yummy’ is a record of varying experiences in rock music, and “Appointment” takes the least risk into roads less traveled (Listen: Appointment).
Overall, ‘Its Yummy’ by Romantic Punch is a great take on rock music. With the influences littering the mini, ‘Its Yummy’ hits many of its notes well. Ben Hyuk is a fantastic rock singer, wailing when appropriate and nailing the various emotions in the record. ‘It’s Yummy’ should be on your radar, if only for the awesomely dark and funny album cover. (Maybe by mistake or not, but Ben bears some resemblance to the girl on the cover. Just saying.)
The first thing that hits you on T.A. Copy’s ‘The Restoration’ EP is Kim Jaeguk’s nasal voice. He sings with emotion and it comes through in the songs. Also, T.A. Copy, unlike Romantic Punch, plays straight punk rock music. No electronic touches, no genre crossovers touch this set. ‘The Restoration’ hits hard and fast, so let’s delve into this set, shall we?
The first track is also the lead single off this EP, titled “렛 잇 레인 (Let It Rain).” It begins with a driving guitar riff and Jaeguk singing loudly, clueing you in to the up-tempo madness that’s about to come. There’s a fantastic guitar solo at the halfway point. It is a loud and frenetic track, with a slow-down bit near the end to calm you down. I wished they ramped it up at the end to finish the song; however, “렛 잇 레인 (Let It Rain)” is a rocking good time and a great comeback single for T.A. Copy.
The pace slows down just a tad in “술이 문제야,” in what I consider to be the angrier of the tracks, with its urgent guitar playing. Not much stands out on this one except the instrumental solo on the last 30 seconds. It has that screaming “If nothing else, you’ll remember this!” sense of urgency. And boy, do you ever.
The best song on this set has to be “베이비스타 (Baby Star).” All of the songs on ‘The Restoration’ start the same way, with a guitar lead-in and Mr. Kim beginning, but what’s different here is that his voice is louder and sounds much better than on any other track. His vocals are comparable to that on “렛 잇 레인 (Let It Rain),” but he sings his nose out on “베이비스타 (Baby Star).” There’s even bassist Lee Youngtaek as back-up adding a fuller effect than a solo singer would produce. And not to be outdone, the band plays amazingly, slowing down at the right moments, producing great build-ups at the chorus. The first guitar solo is a bit lackluster, but the second near the end hits it right for a good finish. “베이비스타 (Baby Star)” is the star of this set.
“Be Greedy” is the album-ender with not much going for it. Clocking at over 5:30, this is a long track. Jaeguk’s voice is distorted throughout various points of the song, but because the instruments are so loud, his voice is threatened to sink behind the noise. The song ends with a 1:30 stretch of two lines repeated over and over again and slight changes to the instrumentation. It is a solid track, no doubt about it, but coming off the high of “베이비스타 (Baby Star)”, this pales in comparison.
T.A. Copy is a rock group through and through, but ‘The Restoration’ brings in enough pop to create a solid EP and (hopefully) get attention from the mainstream pop crowd. Sure, the record trips on itself at certain moments, but when the going gets good, T.A. Copy brings it. With the highlights “렛 잇 레인 (Let It Rain)” and “베이비스타 (Baby Star),” ‘The Restoration’ is worth your time for those two alone.
Romantic Punch and T.A. Copy are just two examples of what rock sounds like within the larger Hallyu Wave. It is still rock, but with the emphasis on pop elements that both groups are able to bring in their music to help warm up the pop crowds to rock music. These two records are influenced by many aspects of the genre and it’s clear they have a passion for it. If you already like the poppy CN Blue and FT Island, let these two bring you in closer to Korean rock. Heck, you might just agree that it’s yummy.