Sunday, May 11, 2014

Album Review: Jang Kiha and The Faces (2011)

It's been a really long while since I've done an album review. Actually, it's been a long time since I've talked about music in general in this ol' blog. Not that I'm good at it anyways. But, I've decided to change things up a bit since I've recently been loving the 2011 self-titled album by Jang Kiha and the Faces this past few weeks and I thought I would share with you my thoughts on this rather "old" album. Here we go.

I've known there's a band called Jang Kiha and the Faces (I will refer to them as The Faces from here on) for a while now. And by a while, I mean since I still listen to K-pop back in the day. But I never bothered listening to them. Don't know why. Not even one song. To be honest, the main reason why I listen to The Faces in the first place is, it's kind of weird, because of Potato Star (which I can't watch anymore because of the whole Hulu ordeal. Sigh). Jang Kiha, the leading man and namesake of the band, actually stars in the drama which is kind of weird and cool at the same time. Jang Yool is so endearing in the most hilarious way, and I feel like Jang Kiha's charisma is half the reason for this. I became really curious of the songs he plays in the drama and presto, I got hooked. I've recently (like in the past year or so) been more into band music. Not boy band, just band. And The Faces fit that bill perfectly for me.

The album I'll be specifically talking about is their self-titled second album. Is it just me that find it weird that their second album is the self-titled album? A lot of times it's the first album. Anyways, this album departs from The Faces' first album 별일 없이 산다 which is also awesome but it's definitely different. Perhaps it's because of the addition of a keyboardist and another guitarist in the second? Their first album fits into the more folky rock, thus the nickname Jang Kiha once had was along the lines of modern-day folk prince or something. I might be making this up. Their second album is, on the other hand, is more festival friendly. Most of the songs, apart from a couple few, still retain that retro feel. It just feels more lively.

Although one can say The Faces' biggest asset is Jang Kiha and his ability to belt the lyrics he sings. This is probably the most frustrating aspect for me in terms of enjoying international music in that I don't understand what he's trying to say. Now, I'm probably not the most lyrics-centric listener of them all, but I'd still to have the option of googling the lyrics and maybe decipher them if and when I feel like it. Google Translate is a great invention, but it's far from perfect. And when I read a lot of comments about his lyrics being witty and great, I just get jealous. (I was going to compare my frustration to that towards 10cm, who also make cracklingly funny lyrics on top of beautiful music and I thought I reviewed their album. Apparently I left it dusting in my draft pile. How sad.)

And it's not just the lyrics, it's also the way he sings it. Like he's sort of singing but mostly talking. It fits with the themes of his songs which are mostly about everyday occurrences that can be mundane but is nevertheless part of life. Also, the way he sings is quite unique. He pronounces each syllable clearly, sometimes even putting prominence to the consonants where others singers tend to blur it all together. It's rather cool. And when he's singing the notes, it's very clear and more projecting? Am I making sense here? You just have to listen yourself. I sometimes find his style of singing similar to, I want to say, an older style of Korean singing. I don't think it's pansori per se. But I've heard of a specific style of singing in historical dramas/movies and his singing sometimes remind me of that. I don't know what I'm talking about.

The single from this album is '그렇고 그런 사이' which can be translated to something along the lines of "some kind of relationship". I've also seen it translated to "a twosome" or "another relationship" so you take your pick. This song is pretty awesome, definitely my definition of upbeat. That keyboard, man, it adds a whole new dimension to The Faces' sound. But I think the best part of this song is possibly the music video. I just cracked up because I laugh at the weirdest things. It's basically a hand dance where hands (the band members' hand) mimic how performers strut on stage. Or at least that's how I see it. And the end was I suppose quite hilarious too if I say so myself.

Another one of the singles, or at least a song off the album that they made a music video out of, is 'TV를 봤네' which means "watching TV". The song, and video, is exactly that. This ordinary activity that we do without thinking is turned into a lullabye-esque song. I suppose mimicking what TVs do to some people, lull them to sleep. This is one of the songs off the album, others in my opinion include '그 때 그 노래' and to a certain extent '마냥 걷는다', that wasn't really retro. But it still sounds great, so who cares I say.


Here's another one, and one that's quite popular. If you ever watch the variety show Running Man, you've probably heard this song a few of times. It's the popular song '우리 지금 만나' or "let's meet now". This version is one with Leessang, the rap duo comprised of Gil and Gary. Not exactly sure exactly who wrote this song, but I'm assuming it's Jang Kiha since it's on this album. The only differences between the two is that the song verse is replaced by rap. It's a cool song and the video is also cool. Another example of how catchy a Jang Kiha song can be.

My personal favorites off this album are '모질게 말하지 말라며' and '날 보고 뭐라 그런 것도 아닌데'. They just sound good. Mostly because, I think, there's a cathartic release kind of vibe in the way that he sings those two song. Maybe it's just me. Also, I linked the translated lyrics to each of the songs because they exist on the internet! The first was already there and I didn't know it, and the second I actually requested from the lovely website of Lyrical Movement (who also translated another beloved, not-so-well-known song of mine, '추억 사랑만큼' by Brown Eyed Soul's Youngjun featuring Bubble Sister's Kang Hyun-jung. Didn't request it, they're just awesome and happen to have it. They're great, and if you want to request lyrics by internationally lesser known Korean artists, I suggest going there!). After learning the meanings of the lyrics, oddly enough they're rather of similar topic, or at least approach to subject matter. Not sure if it's because a lot of the songs off the album is passive aggressive or I have a tendency to pick songs that are, even though I don't even know the meaning of it. Just a coincidence?

Jang Kiha and the Faces are great and from what I can tell they've only been praised left and right (proof is in the pudding of their four wins in the 2012 Korean Music Awards, which some say is the only music awards in Korea worth sniffing at). All that hype is definitely worth it. Their songs are catchy as hell. If you are looking for unique without going completely crazy, I definitely recommend Jang Kiha and the Faces. Which album? Both. But again, if you like it more folksy, the first. If you like more dance-able music, the second.

Good news: they're releasing a new album this year! When exactly that will happen, I don't know. But definitely this year. They said it themselves (see picture below, that big writing says "vol. 3 definitely next year" and the concert was done in 2013 so...). Bonus video off this concert: hilarity.

Photos are from the Jang Kiha and the Faces Facebook page.


  1. I read this...thankyou ^^ im playing this album lately, their music is worth to listen.

    1. Yay glad you're enjoying it too! They're really awesome, huh?