Lee, Jae-Won
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Lee, Jae-Won

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The best kept secret in music

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"Online Review"

Review: Lee, Jae-Won

By Curt Riedy

On a Friday evening in late November, I was sequestered from the Lehigh Valley to a bar in Philadelphia called Doc Watson’s, cajoled into seeing the always dreaded “friend’s band.” The group was called Lee, Jae-won, and as opposed to past obligations in which I was forced to attend a musical performance of an acquaintance, the buzz surrounding the eccentric nature of Lee’s music intrigued me enough to venture into the big city.

So I went, and after about four or five bands (and about two badly executed rounds of pool), Lee Jae-won finally took the stage. The music contained within their set was a continuous, 25-minute barrage of hyper-charged musical arrangements, coming across as more of an on-going classical composition than as a series of expected rock standards.

Lee, Jae-won showcases a seemingly new formula of avant-garde independent rock, describing themselves as “thickly orchestrated instrumental music generated from the best of early ‘90s alternative rock and modern film scores.” OK, so this might mean that to fully appreciate their unique blend of lust instrumentation, pounding beats, and melodic nods to the film scores of yesteryear, you must already have the ear of a cultural elitist well versed in both music and film.

Example: Bernard Herrmann’s “Twisted Nerve” theme from the film Kill Bill snuck its way into one of their compositions that night, and one of their songs even bares the title “Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal (for all you Home Alone fans).

Odd as it may seem, this type of musical snobbery certainly doesn’t hurt the group’s appeal. In fact, the sound they’ve created actually goes a bit further than mere record/film nerd elitism. Their style emulates the raw, catchy sound of the fuzzed-out pop bliss of bands such as The Pixies and Sonic Youth, mixed with the melodic variations, classical arrangements, and dramatic shifts in tone of a John Williams score to a Spielberg film.

The sound itself was reminiscent of the obscure musical wanderings and indulgent rock assaults of bands such as The Mars Volta and Tool, sans vocals. The band seemed to take pride in consistently alternating their routine over the course of the set. This was made especially noticeable by their tendency to have each member play multiple instruments throughout their act. Strangely enough, these switchovers often occurred during the same song and still managed to go off without a hitch, making for quite an engaging and (unusual) visual.

In closing, if it all sounds rather pretentious, well, it is…but it works.


REVIEWER RATING: ??? (1-5)

Related Links:

Downloadable music, tour dates, and more: http://leejaewon.dmusic.com/

Lee, Jae-won’s Record Label: http://www.happyhomer

Recommended site for essays and more on the complexity of musical arrangements: http://www.societymusictheory.org/

The Bernard Herrmann Society: http://www.uib.no/herrmann/

For more information on the other bands listed in this article: http://ubl.artistdirect.com/
- Merge Digital


Discography

1. "S/T"(MSG) free download- http://leejaewon.fauxfetus.net

2. "We Delivery"(Starpower City)
www.myspace.com/leejaewon

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Philadelphia's youngest and freshest band is assortment of raw fish, Rx, pickled cabbage, suburbs, and high school. These four hyper, A.D.D. boys have swiftly made a name for themselves as the unpronouncable, crazy band out of nowhere who play instrumental music in an exciting and extraordinary way. The sound has been described as "harmonic noise". Those in doubt of non-vocal music have been(will be) intrigued by Lee, Jae-Won's attack on the notion that ''instrumental" means ''repetitive". Their ensemble breathes like a frantic heckler trying to buy better rice at a lesser price.

--Lee, Jae-Won's success has been in the Indie rock scene. Having put on great shows with Pattern is Movement, Medications, and Mad Action,
LJW is indie's 'thing you've been waiting for'--- something experimental yet coherent. Lee, Jae-Won is continuously proving to be one of the tightest bands in Philly. The mixture of fighting noise and frantic tonality has stimulated those who find math rock to be heady or those who find jam bands monochromatic.

Lee, Jae-Won has spent the past six months playing hard to crowds in all places. Recently they've been seen opening for Canada's The Dears and Thrilladelphia 2.0. This summer will include a southeast tour, conferences/festivals. Expect a full length release on Happy Home(Frog Eyes, Bottom of the Hudson)