Just the facts, ma’am:
- We are a rockin’ melodic power pop band from Vancouver B.C., Canada.
- Members are: Tim Chan, vocals & guitar; Mike Chang, bass & vocals; Kevin Dubois, drums & vocals; Greg Kelly, keyboards & vocals.
- We’ve released four albums: our new album, Hide in Plain Sight, released October 2018, The Usual Angst, 2015, Nothing’s Not Worth Knowing, 2011 and China Syndrome, 2007.
- All of our albums were produced and recorded by David Carswell (The New Pornographers, Destroyer, Tegan & Sara, the Evaporators, Adrian Teacher & the Subs, Ford Pier Vengeance Trio) at JC/DC Studio in Vancouver.
- You could call our sound a combination of the driving pop hooks of The New Pornographers, Teenage Fanclub and XTC with liberal dollops of classic rock influences.
- The reviews of Hide in Plain Sight so far have, thankfully, been good:
- The Georgia Straight states the album “continues to showcase superb songwriting… with songs every bit as engaging, tuneful, angsty and varied in their influences.”
- The Vancouver Sun says it exemplifies “power pop done right… with a good sense of self-deprecation is always fun.”
- BeatRoute feels the album demonstrates “interesting new layers to their sound.”
- Reviews and media on The Usual Angst include:
- An August 2016 article in The Georgia Straight calls The Usual Angst, “one of the most enjoyable albums to come out of Vancouver this century.”
- The music blog, de scribe de sound says The Usual Angst “is a modern day masterpiece…”
- The Vancouver Sun, Album of the Week – “The Usual Angst is an infectious batch of rock. Each song has its own identity, blending modern and retro elements, and the production makes the music feel like a breath of fresh air.”
- The Province, CD of the Week – “…the sincerity behind such songs as “It’s Happening Over Again,” “Sorry For Everything” or “Humble Pie” [are] all supported by a strong guitar backbone and an attention to arrangements…”
- The Georgia Straight – “The best track is “My Pal Dan”… boasting fun ‘woo-oo-oo’ background vocals, a horn section, and some fantastic, hooky guitar…”
- Reviews of Nothing’s Not Worth Knowing include: The Province – “[it] exudes confidence”; The Georgia Straight – “no-frills approach to four-chord power pop”; The Big Takeover – “absolutely solid, songwriter-intensive slab of catchy, muscular Vancouver power pop.”
- We played at the weddings of two of our members…
- …which means we’ll play nearly anywhere, anytime, just ask us.
- Kevin is an artist; his artwork graces the back cover of both Hide in Plain Sight and The Usual Angst. As well, his art was featured on the cover of Spirit of the West’s album, Labour Day.
- Mike has a hiking website.
- Tim likes cats and has done a bit of modelling.
- Former members include Vern Beamish (who played on Hide in Plain Sight, The Usual Angst, Nothing’s Not Worth Knowing, China Syndrome), Scott Watts and Jesse Cappelletto (both played on Nothing’s Not Worth Knowing), Matt Gibson and Gord Berry (both played on China Syndrome) and Eric Lowe. Daniel Fortin also occasionally fills in as well.
Now for a bit of hype about Hide in Plain Sight:
The band’s muscular power pop approach provides a grounding for an album of songs reflecting contemporary life. “The album title, Hide in Plain Sight, is a line from the song, “Outta My Head,”” says singer and guitarist Tim Chan. “The song is ostensibly about falling down the social media wormhole and spending too much time looking up people and things. But how much do you really know someone based on their Facebook or Instagram feed? So much of it is carefully selected events and things.”
Other songs cover a wide range of current concerns including breaking up with the city of Vancouver (“Curated”), changing attitudes in the age of Trump (“Times are Really Tough, Dear”), the stagnation of a 9 to 5 job (“Nowhere to Go”) and making doomsday preparations (“How to Prepare for an Earthquake”). There are also lyrics about trying to find oneself (“State of Mind”), a crumbling relationship (“Don’t Waste Another Day”), the general routine and cycle of life (“Circular Song”) and the mysterious disappearance of a loved one (“Empty”). But there are rays of hope in many of the songs, including positive words of encouragement (“Diatonic” and “Don’t Stop”) and even China Syndrome’s first Christmas song, “Footsteps on the Roof,” which was originally released in late 2017 as a charity single benefitting the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Also for the first time, the band includes two instrumentals on an album, “Attack of the Chafer Beetle (AÖTCB)” and “Shona;Shona,” both written by guitarist Vern Beamish.
Hide in Plain Sight represents China Syndrome’s most collaborative effort to date with several different writing combinations within the band. This is demonstrated in the variety of styles featured on the album–from straight ahead power pop to funky Red Hot Chili Peppers-isms to proggy off-kilter time signatures and dissonance and points in-between. This eclecticism is balanced off by the band’s commitment to catchy and melodic songs, and framed by David Carswell’s dynamic production. The rhythm section of drummer Kevin Dubois and bassist Mike Chang is as locked-in as ever and provides a solid foundation for the sinuous guitar interplay of Beamish and Chan. And the entire band chips in with lush harmonies and background vocals throughout the album.
Hide in Plain Sight plays to China Syndrome’s strengths: great musicianship and arrangements, memorable songs and thoughtful lyrics. The band will be actively promoting the album over the rest of 2018 and through 2019.