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The Good China CD Cover
Image © 1998 The Good China 

(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 band's mp3.com website.

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!

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