Yoon Do Hyun Band / YoonBand

Why Be?

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Yoon Do Hyun Band is the Alpha and Omega of South Korean rock music, along with Seo Tai-Ji, who takes care of the metal side of things. Considering the vast imbalance of the country's scene, known primarily for its pop music, one could expect that the group would try to cover as much musical ground as possible, especially since Why Be? (the name is a phonetic play on the band's acronym YB) is a double-disc release. Indeed, in the past Yoon Do Hyun Band did try to cram a lot of different styles into their music, from the pastiche of [YB] Stream to ethnic experiments and even to a funk/soul solo album from the band's mastermind Yoon Do Hyun. But by the time of Why Be? the group reached its peak form and skipped all the detours, settling down for one clear-cut, streamlined sound. This release, the seventh one in Yoon Do Hyun Band's discography, is nothing but unpretentious and convincing rock, as well as the rarest of all birds: a double album that doesn't sound dragged and has no filler. For the most part Why Be? recalls a lighter form of stoner rock -- "Green Drake" is definitely similar to Cathedral's best moments -- but that description skips the grunge elements of "Joha Ganeunkeoya," the jazzy piano/guitar interplay of "Boat Song," the folky melody of "Arirang," which is based on a traditional song, and a huge bunch of blues/Southern rock numbers. The band never strays too far from its main style, though, adding just the right amount of dynamics to keep the album from being monotonous -- a task made easier by the strong, charismatic voice of Yoon Do Hyun, who is a prime vocalist of Eddie Vedder's level. Why Be? has no hits in the Kylie Minogue sense of the word, but, between the sunny vibe of the opener "Today" and the night-time midtempo pacing of "Feel Free" with its gloomy optimism, it's got enough great riffs for anyone into good rock to find a track -- or a dozen -- to one's liking.

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