Recommended by: Wannarit "Pok" Pongprayoon, Stylish Nonsense/Panda Records
About them: Based in Bangsaen, Chonburi, this band formed way back in 2008 but have been performing as Strange Brew since late 2014. The five-piece—Golf Yutthana (vocals/guitar), Jay Ratchanon (bass), Mo Kritinan (guitar), Peep Sirimit (organ) and Ohm Chanutpong (drums)—have a sound that’s best described as psychedelic surf rock.
Pok says: “Strange Brew have really nice songs and a guitar sound that reminds me of Si-Tao-Ther, the Thai indie-pop legend from the ‘90s. Their music is part surf-pop, part ‘70s psychedelia, with garage-style drumming and vintage organs. They sing in Thai, about what’s happening around them, using old-fashioned language. Listen to singles like ‘Bangsaen Lady,’ ‘Starshine’ and ‘3Hours.’ The group has a sense of humor, too, as you can see by their Thai name, ‘Kha-Na-Beer-Bood,’ which means bad or expired beer. I predict they’ll hit it big in Bangkok soon. This band is a kind of time machine, a surf picture of past decades.”
About them: We first wrote about the duo of Pruet Chesadaphun and Panlop Maneekunti when their dreamy single “Air Shower” appeared on Comet Records’ first compilation back in 2013. Now that the label has put out a second compilation, the synth-oriented band is back with a much darker single “Breath.” What’s more, they’ve got more gigs and a much-anticipated full album set to launch this year.
Charlie says: “We've never really had a good chillwave band in Bangkok. But Morg is legit—it’s just too bad most people don’t know them… yet. I think the fact that they will be more active this year will see their popularity really grow. They have very nice melodies. I like the way they sculpt their sound; they’re not a sloppy band who just follow the trends.”
Recommended by: Beady Williams, founder of Mind the Gap concert promoter
About them: This rock band—comprising Wan Asvaraksha (vocals/guitar), Zung Chatkawmanee (guitar), Ap Taowti (bass) and Baboon Weerawong (drum)—formed back when they were in Mahidol University’s College of Music. We tipped them for stardom when they first popped up in 2013. And then everything went quiet. Now, the band has announced its signing to new label Tigger Music with a more mature (yet still rocking) single “Coming of Age.” A full album is expected by next February.
Beady says: “I first came across Mattnimare a few years ago at the Robin Hood pub on Sukhumvit. Despite the setting, it was obvious that this was a band with big potential. Too many indie bands shuffle on stage like roadies but these guys had a confident swagger backed up by a very slick set. They disappeared from the live scene for a while after last year's debut single ‘22’ but news of their upcoming album and the release of their latest single, ‘Coming of Age’ explains their absence. Some people have been comparing them to Slot Machine. Musically, I don’t hear it but having seen Slot Machine in a small pub before they went stratospheric, I understand the comparison.”
Recommended by: Tippamet “Toey” Kaosaiyanon, owner of 1979 Vinyl and Unknown Pleasure record store and live music venue
About them: This four-piece band is the new project of Nod Aranyanark (guitar, piano and synth), who previously in So::On Dry Flower's Lor Song, Jarupot Jaruwattanasakul (drum), Napat Malai (bass and synth) and Chittapon Wongviriyasit (guitar and synth). They have just released their first single “Black Rainbow,” a dark and glitchy piece of ambient post-rock. They’ve also performed at venues like Moose (opening for Goose) and Brownstone.
Toey says: “Even though W Map categorize themselves as a post-rock band, it’s the way they integrate ambient and trip-hop sounds into their instrumental songs that really makes them interesting. They don’t follow the trends; they’ve forged their own sound that's somehow optimistic and not too dark. They should make a very interesting impression on the indie music scene this year.”
Recommended by: Tokin Teekanun, founder of Stone Free Music Festival and The World May Never Know concert promoter, singer/guitarist in Triggs & The Longest Day
About them: This mysterious duo perform a mix of scuzzy rock and lo-fi folk, and are known for their raucous live sets.
Tokin says: “This band’s lo-fi sound reminds me of music at its purest, bursting with character. They’ve got a hint of surf rock, psychedelic folk and chillwave, plus old-school lyrics that are a bit cliche but somehow mix in perfectly. If you like late-1980s indie music such as Daniel Johnston or the Jesus and Mary Chain, you’ll probably be familiar with this sound. But not many people can replicate the style without seeming to try too hard. Live, they remind me of the Velvet Underground. I keep my fingers crossed when watching them because sometimes they randomly invite people to jam with them, even if they have only rehearsed with them once.”
About them: This melodic-pop band is something of an underground super-group. It began with Thitipat "A" Arthachinda (guitar and vocals) and Aphiwich "Doi" Khamfoo (drums and percussion) quitting the band Shadow Flare, before recruiting Chayapan "Yii" Jantranuson on bass.
Boo says: “Safe Planet are really spicing things up on the Bangkok music scene. I first met Doy when we were the backup band for Death of a Salesman, and I knew right away he had talent. Later, he sent me Safe Planet’s first single and I clicked share without a second thought. This is a pop band that’s not at all contrived, but full of melodic detail and nice arrangements. Compared to other pop bands, they’re not an easy listen, but they’re not too complicated, either.”
Recommended by: Panlert Srisroi, founder of Indie 10's music blog
About them: This is the latest project by Karnpaporn Boonput, who previously released bright and breezy folk songs under the name Snuffvideo. Now he’s traveling into twisted electronic territory with this ambient and experimental venture whose image owes something to the UK’s PC Music record label but whose sound Karpaporn dubs “whateverwave.”
Panlert says: “I think The Black Codes’ sound is a reaction to the same old boring music played by so many bands in Thailand. The music has class and style, produced cognitively and full of intention. The concept of the songs, the name of the band and the artwork are all very unique. It’s good to see a Thai artist doing something as different as this.”
About them: This dreamy electronic pop trio—Pak Jutapak (keyboard), Pun Nonlapun (vocals) and Mo Chutichan (guitar)—burst onto the scene back in 2014 with their lovelorn single “How Long.” They have an album in the works, too.
Lady Soma says: “It’s really hard to find a good all-female Thai band and even rarer to find one that plays electro-rock or dream-pop. I’m really impressed with their live performances. I haven’t really seen a good female guitarist here since the band Cuckoo —too bad she’s now in Germany. But Jelly Rocket is the real deal. I’m sure there’s a lot more to expect from them.”
Recommended by: Pakarn "Bai" Kiatpinyo, Manager Director of Sofar Sounds Bangkok, organizer of “guerilla” gigs around Bangkok
About them: Led by Nuttee Witchukriengkai (guitar/vocal), this five-piece—Jeepy Amatyakul (guitar/harmonica), Teerawat Ukris (violin/guitar), Kiatudom Kiatsungssong (bass) and Sarit Kundawong (drums)—blends folk with a touch of post-rock. The results at times are hauntingly beautiful. The band have just taken up residency at Parking Toys’ Watt.
Bai says: "They're a folk band that gets the folk right—the complex trials and tribulations of life told through simple melodies. We just had Jinta at Sofar Sounds #4. The band did a tribute song to the singer of Assajan Jakgawan who recently passed away. By the end of the song, the audience was left in tears. Nuttee's voice resonates pain in the most soothing way. His lyrics carry the weight of the world, but the melodies are as light as the wind. Other band members also excel and you can hear hundreds of hours of practice in their performances."
Recommended by: Piyapong "Py" Muenprasertdee, Community Manager and Co-Founder of Fungjai music zine
About them: This Thai-Japanese instrumental rock band—comprising Reo (guitar), Tatsu (guitar), Van (bass), Phil (keyboard) and Ginn (drums)—formed in 2012 and have since forged a reputation for their loud live performances.
Py says: “If Fungjai were to pick only one, it'd have to be Aire, an instrumental rock band with dashes of post- and math-rock. Their shows are energetic, they don't say much—guess it's because they're instrumental?—and their odd time signatures just make it so much more fun to head-bob along.”
About them: That name is no typo. This is the new band from Aimcharoen Rojthaworn, a familiar face from his country-folk projects Alone Tournament and Katuru. Now he’s back with a much heavier ‘70s psychedelic rock sound, joined by Tem Kantatree (bass), Nap Lertwattana (drums) and Desktop Error’s Bird Adisak as guest guitarist.
Pym says: “They’re probably not the first Thai band to take psychedelic rock seriously, but they’re one of the very best at it. They have such a strong sense of style. While lots of international bands might have a similar approach, the sound is very new and exciting in Thailand. Their live shows are so impressive.”