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coverpic flag Hong Kong - Full Moon 175 - 12/21/10

Noughts and Exes
The Start of Us
Noughts and Exes / O&X

This is the first time I check out a band from Hong Kong. The sextet Noughts and Exes are labelled " of the most creative bands in Hong Kong..." (they're not doing the regular band stuff only, but also make their own music videos, create their art-work, does the photography and web creation work), and filed under 'indie-folk pop band'. They operate the musical landscapes as The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Damien Rice, and the late Elliott Smith, to name a few. And, they do this very well.

The Start of Us is their second album, following their 2008 debut. Act One, Scene One. Noughts and Exes (Os & Xs) started as a side project for a group of friends, now being a full scale melancholia pop band. Joshua Wong (vocals, guitars), Gideon So (piano, keyboards, melodica, glockenspiel), Kerrie-Anne Butler (vocals, glockenspiel, percussion), Alex Bedwell (drums, percussion, vocals, typewriter), Marianne Bunton (cello, vocals), and Winnie Lau (bass). On the paper it seems like Arcade Fire. They sound more like the aforementioned names. Opening "The Crime" is almost like hearing a lost Elliott Smith song. "A Time For Love" is quite Shins-ical. And, yes, for several of the other 7 songs it's easy to namedrop a closely related band or artist. Yet, it doesn't matter. Because The Start of Us is so well-written and well-done, all through. Written and recorded by the band in Hong Kong (they're an East-meets-West-band, but the references hail from the Western pop world) - mixed, mastered and produced by Martijn Groeneveld at Mailmen Studios, Utrecht, Netherlands.

The Start of Us gives an overall feeling of warmth and beauty. Sweet and delicious pieces of music, just perfect now with christmas at the front-step.

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