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An online magazine about Korean culture, food and hallyu based in Toronto, Canada

Music I’m Listening To: HEO

HEO at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

HEO at the Seoulsonic show at SXSW 2016

As soon as I heard that HEO had a new album coming out, which was released November 28th, I knew that they would be the next band I featured in my “Music I’m Listening To” series. Their last album, Structure, is frequently in my playlists, especially my writing and commute ones, and I liked the singles they released earlier this year so I was excited to check out Actress.

I first started listening to HEO after it was announced that they would be playing South by Southwest (SXSW) two years ago (almost exactly as it was in November 2014). And man, was I glad I did as Structure was good. Each song I listened to hooked me a little more so by the time I saw them live at SXSW in 2015, Structure was on my list of CDs I wanted to buy (and I did). It was dark, dreamy and compelling. But no matter how good it was, or perhaps because of how good it was, I was keen to listen to more of their music, especially after listening to “Sleep Tight” (the song in music video below) which was one of the two singles released earlier this year.

Why I’m listening to HEO

Because they make good music. Seriously.

But that’s a simplistic reason – if you want a more fulsome answer, they make dark, moody, and often emotional music that speaks to me through the layers, complexity and vocals. I loved Structure from the first time I heard it but Actress, their new album, blows me away.

Their music is complex, layered and so full of emotion that it’s impossible – at least for me – to listen to any song on the album just once. It’s like the first time, you hear the instruments and melody, and then the next time, you listen more to the lyrics before finally, after several times playing the song/album, you finally hear the music in its entirety. Perhaps I’m being fanciful, but give them a listen and let me know what you think.

HEO

HEO is a dark electro-rock/dream-pop duo comprised of Heo (vocal, guitar, bass, synths, programming) and Kim Boyeong (vocal, keyboard, bass). For more information about them, check out the interview we did with them at SXSW earlier this year.

Album artwork courtesy of HEO

Album artwork courtesy of HEO

New album – Actress

Like I said earlier, HEO just released a new album, Actress, and it’s good. It’s really good. Sure, I was predisposed to like it as I already enjoyed their music and regularly listen to Structure. But Actress is addicting. I’ve already played it more than 30 times and it’s become one of my go-to albums to listen to while writing as it has such a creative vibe to it. Sure, it’s a bit dark but it works.

The album starts with “The World is Calm Again” and it’s a haunting song that I like more each time I hear it. “Mono Sand Hill”, one of the two singles released earlier in the year, reminds me of some of the 80’s Brit synth-pop I’ve been listening to since I was a kid. “Cave on the Shore” has such a sad vibe to it. “Sleep Tight” is an incredibly addicting song with a creepy music video. “Running Through The Night” is one of the darker songs. While many of the songs feature more of Boyeong on vocals, I like the balance of both members of HEO on “How to Hear from You”

While I love the entire album, “This Obsession” is my favourite song, although “The World is Calm Again” is a close second. Everything about the song speaks to me. Love how the song ends.

Track list:

  • The World is Calm Again
  • Mono Sand Hill
  • Pyre
  • Cave on the Shore
  • Sleep Tight
  • Eikonal
  • This Obsession
  • Running Through the Night
  • How to Hear from You
  • Actress

Actress is an album I can’t recommend enough, give it a listen if you haven’t already and don’t forget to buy it if you like it. It’s available digitally on iTunes, Bandcamp and Google Play; as well as a host of Korean sites.

Just the facts: social media edition

Want to stay up-to-date with HEO, their music and shows? Of course you do and here’s how!

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