Nintendo Generation Blues - Love In Vain EP

by Don Quan

In pop culture, there’s plenty of credence to the adage “everything old is new again”. Stuff that was cool quickly goes out of style, but becomes hip again in a cycle of about twenty years. If this phenomenon holds true, it is probably high time that the whole Madchester/Baggy thing makes its comeback (which can only be expedited by The Stone Roses’ recent reunion). For Taiwanese fans of the genre, there’s just the band to champion any such local revival.

Taipei-based Nintendo Generation Blues’ music pretty much sounds like four lads who probably should have grown up in The U.K. Their debut 3-song EP, “Love In Vain” unabashedly pays homage to all those Manchester bands that defined an era in music and created new sub-genres along the way.

The leadoff track “Golden Gate” features many trademarks of that fabled Madchester sound: the funk-derived bass line, syncopated rhythms and tinges of psychedelic groove. “Love In Vain” opens with a droning riff that sounds like it was played through Billy Duffy’s “Love”-era guitar rig. Lyrics of a relationship gone wrong, great melody, a simple chorus and jangling guitar fills make this the standout track on the disc. However, the version on this EP has been trimmed short, omitting the chaotic coda present on the original recording and in the live show. The final song, “Why Don’t You Sleep?” sounds like an outtake from “Magical Mystery Tour”, with the opening lyrical line “Let me take you down” and an almost identical melody to boot. Obvious nods to The Brothers Gallagher are also present, particularly in the chord progressions, the structure of the guitar solos and the lyrical passage “let me take you on/on the shoulders of giants”. As a whole, the EP can either make you play ‘spot-the-influence’, or wonder if this is how that whole scene would sound like if it never went away.

One thing of particular note is that all of the songs are written and performed in English. This is attributable to the fact that singer A-Chang has pretty much listened exclusively to western bands since he was very young, and he feels that singing in English is easier for him than singing in Mandarin. This is still somewhat of a novelty amongst Taiwanese bands, but is a telling indicator of where the scene is headed. Should local bands start ascending to an international stage, look for Nintendo Generation Blues to be one of the first amongst the pack.

Don Quan is an independent filmmaker, proprietor of The Mercury Bar in Kaohsiung and longtime supporter of indie music in Taiwan. When he grows up, he wants to play in a rock and roll band.

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