Chinese rock trio Hedgehog is back at it again. One of Modern Sky’s most prominent artists had a very busy 2011. Not showing any signs of slowing down Hedgehog has started 2012 with a new album and a tour to go with it. Sun Fun Gun was recorded and produced in New York City last year while they were on tour in the US. When I heard that this new album was going to be recorded and produced in the US by John Grew, and Russell Simins, I was a bit wary about the final product. How could they produce and record an album with people from another country and idea set from theirs? Would it still have the same sound that I have come to learn and love from my favorite Chinese band?
It’s better. Atom, Zo, and Fun have managed to keep that same gritty sound that we have come to know while adding some new sounds as well. There are some new style changes in comparison to the normal orchestration of the old Hedgehog sound. Several of the tracks seem downright pop rock with the next track being reminiscent of grunge, early punk, or emo with a hint of psychedelic influence. The first three tracks off the album, “Heart on Fire”, “Dear Boy I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”, and “Surf with Shark” are great examples of this changing and blending of styles that is present throughout. Don’t worry though old fans will still find that this album pleases in the old ways, that made Hedgehog what they are, while allowing for musical growth and experimentation. Many other bands in the past have tinkered with sounds that made them icons in the first place, only to alienate their fan base with their “new” sound. This is not what Sun Fun Gun does. What at first, to me, sounded odd clearly turned into the realization of musical growth and something still done well. It couldn’t help but have the same type of fun and euphoria that I experience when I listen to older Hedgehog albums.
Zo and Atom as usual have taken turns on singing duties. However, it seems to me that Atom is carrying more of the lead vocals on this album instead of her normal back up duties. Along with this, Yan Yu Long from Beijing rock group Chui Wan, is featured on the track “The Loneliest Day”, and Gillian Rivers, who is an American violinist, who has preformed with bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Silversun Pickups, and many others, is featured on “Choose Whatever You Want All the Time”. These guest artists add even more credit to Hedgehog’s amazing musical and lyrical talents. Combining guest artist, blending styles, and old school Hedgehog-ness makes for an amazingly diverse set of songs with an amazingly comforting feel to it.
For me Sun Fun Gun shows the band is no longer a group of discontented youths. Finally, they are grown and ready to move on to bigger things. I often wonder when will a band that I enjoy in China so much be available to my friends in other countries. With this album Hedgehog puts out an album for the first time that I feel could do well in international markets. They can now contend with other international acts. I don’t hope to expect to see Hedgehog opening or playing the mid-day spots at music festivals in China anymore. They have been here, but with this album I think they are taking a stand and showing how big they really are and need to be treated as such, “Hello China, we’re Hedgehog, we have arrived and don’t you forget it.” Sure not every song on the album is a hit, but as a whole I can say that Sun Fun Gun is going to be the album that people are still going to be listing ten years from now when they realized how good Hedgehog really is.
When you listen to Sun Fun Gun, you will know that you are listening to Hedgehog and experiencing something new and special. For me this might be the best Hedgehog album to date. I hope they put out 2 more albums this year like they did last year and I can’t wait to see them on tour when they come back through Beijing.
Hedgehog is touring China with Sun Fun Gun, and this weekend they will be in Shanghai check the details, and get ready to rock Big time!
Find more about Hedgehog on their official website.