Review: 草冬沒有派對 【醜奴兒】

Breakout alternative indie band 草冬沒有派對 (No Party for Cao Dong) has been floating around for a few years in the Taiwanese scene, but became widely known through the release of their first studio album 【醜奴兒】 in 2016, which went on to pick up six nominations at the Golden Melody’s, and three wins.

Described as a band that embodies the explosive lament of a generation, their songs take a gritty outlook on social issues, emotional landscapes and interpersonal relationships, tackling life questions and moods with a heavy and powerful hand. This is conveyed in the instrumental approach, the lyrical aesthetic and the vocal performance.

The title of this album, 醜奴兒 – The Servile, uses servitude as a metaphor. What are the masters of our lives? What guides our actions, our thoughts and our desires? Following these trains of thought, No Party for Cao Dong peels back the curtain for some exploration of the truly ugly.

As an alternative indie band, they don’t have a lot of material produced for them. 山海 – Wayfarer, is one of the only music videos filmed and shot for their album release promotions. In its execution, however, you get a sense that there’s a lot of thought put into having the song directly mirror the song’s explorations.

我聽見那少年的聲音 在還有未來的過去
渴望著 美好結局 卻沒能成為自己


I hear the voice of that youth, in a past that still has a future
thirsting after a beautiful ending, yet never becoming himself.

There is a frenetic energy imbued into the songs on this album. They are not necessarily emotive in a positive or negative sense, but have an intensity about them that you feel viscerally and audibly. Even when they perform with ease, they are playing with all of who they are. There is an edge of hardness in their softer mumbling approach, and their songs give off the sense that they have opinions – a lot of them. Music seems to be their preferred approach to life, whether in rebellion and defiance, or in accusation and regret, or in reflection and catharsis.

我試過握著她的手 卻還是一樣寂寞
從沒想過 原來自己那麼醜陋


I tried by holding her hand, but felt the same loneliness.
Never imagined that I would be this ugly
I turned out to be this ugly

No Party for Cao Dong in its current iteration has four members:
lead singer and guitarist, 巫堵
singer and second guitarist, 筑筑 (is a badass woman]
singer and bassist, 世暄
drummer, 凡凡 (who, for points of awesome, is a woman)

They often take a complex, multi-framed approach to complex themes. The above song, “大風吹” (The Wind Blows) is named after a children’s game, and the lyrics, modelled after simple interactions on the playground, opens up into a commentary on power, on what it means to have it, want it, or reject it.

哭啊 喊啊 叫你媽媽帶你去買玩具啊
快 快拿到學校炫耀吧 孩子 交點朋友吧
哎呀呀 你看你手上拿的是什麼啊
那東西我們早就不屑啦 哈哈哈


Cry, Scream, tell you mother to bring you new toys
Quick, quick bring them to school and show them off, child, make some friends.
Aiyah, Look at what you’re holding in your hand
We stopped caring about that dated thing a long time ago, Ha Ha Ha

Ultimately, watching them live is probably the best way to understand what I mean.

怎麼會 怎麼會 就變成了一灘爛泥
怎麼會 怎麼會 都變成了諷刺


Oh such a beautiful heart,
how, how did it become a lump of mud?
Oh such a pure poem,
how, how did it become so ironic?