(08 April 2000) The Good China is a rapidly emerging alternative
rock band from San Diego, CA featuring the stunning vocal work of
frontwoman Ren Zenner.
Their debut self-titled album (The Good China (USA) TGC 54321, 1998)
includes a short introduction and eleven full-length well-produced
alternative rock tracks. Check out soundbites at the band's
Self-produced by The Good China, the technical production quality of
the recording is tops, with vocals mixed clearly and well above the
balanced instrumentals. Gilbert Kuory plays guitars, Ricth 'Bloody-Bone'
Shefke plays bass and Dave Marinesi plays drums. Lead and backing vocals
are provided by Ren Zenner. She has an incredible voice and looks to
match as a photograph within the lovely booklet accompanying the CD
illustrates. Complete lyrics are also provided. Although they don't
like comparisons, the band's sound can be favourably aligned to the
new lineup of 10,000 Maniacs.
Even though "Leave The Light On" is a ballad, it is richly instrumented
and thoroughly arranged with powerful vocals making for a interesting
contrast within a song. The band's most accessible number, typically as
their demo (downloadable from mp3.com for example), is "This Is Your Life"
where evocative and melodic and spine-tingling vocals join well-arranged
guitar and lush keyboard instrumentation. "The Machine," "Funny These
Things" and "D-Day" are rocking numbers with heavier guitar-based
instrumentation, soaring vocals and lovely melodies.
Gil Koury's guitar work is a main feature of "Falling Down" whereas
lead and lovely multi-tracked vocals remind us that we're listening to
The Good China. We especially liked the sensitively sung solo vocal parts
and supporting saxophone in "Strange." Ren's vocal work dominates in
"Late Again" and "Another Day" with lead being effectively balanced by
backing vocal work. Both guitars and vocals are actually reminscent of
Leger De Main's sound
(review). The album concludes with the rocking
"Burning Up" which features an almost spoken-style vocal, lots of guitar
and crisp percussion. A sultry jazz-influenced sax-laced bonus track is
embedded within the final track beginning at approximately 4:10. Soaring
vocals and accompanying instrumental arrangements are tremendous.
The Good China's debut album is a great collection of vocally-laced
numbers featuring the everso talented Ren Zenner. Clearly the band are
at the beginning of their musical career and have a bright future. Worth
a cross-country journey for further exploration, especially for the vocal
work, the album is a must listen!