There are definitely a bunch of Chinese bands that deserve to be talked about in China. Unsurprisingly, styles abound and range from death-metal to ambient. The first gig my friend RPM took me to in Shanghai actually also happened to be a performance of a bunch of his death-metal friends - a lively underground set to say the least. But the concert of experimental Beijing singer Zu Zhou during his 2003 performance in Shanghai remains the most hallucinating set i have ever witnessed.
They'd be so much to say about Chinese bands, for now i'll just throw down a bunch of names for your reference and online searches. Note that in piracy-clad China, most of the underground artists can hardly expect any income on CD sales and their approach now often consists on putting free mp3 online for people to get familiar with their sound and draw them to their gigs, where a little money can be made on the tickets. It's actually difficult in Shanghai to find any CD from such bands (pop CDs are at every street corner though). Thankfully, Beijing does play its role as the country's cultural capital and there are a handful of shops that distribute CDs of these not-so-popular-but-talented Chinese artists (look out especially for the CD shop on Dong Si Nan Da Jie, just north of the crossing with Jian Guo Men Nei Da Jie - Dong Dan metro stop). If you're not around Beijing, try your luck on the web!
I uploaded a song or two should you want to sample some sound 'made in China'... I personally liked the following bands:
MODERN JAZZ [Dou Wei and Bu Yi Ding] AMBIENT [Dou Wei and FM3 / Hu Zi / Wang Lei] ROCK [Er Shou Mei Gui (Second-hand Rose) / Zi Yue] PUNK [Wu Liao Jun Dui (Boring Contingent)] METAL [She Tou (Tongue)] EXPERIMENTAL [Zu Zhou / Hu Ma Ge] HIP HOP [Yin Tsang]
Many thanks to RPM, Sun Men Jing, Johnny, Donovan, Jin and Jessica for providing insight and opening doors into that amazing world (not to mention the odd CD here and there)!