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Oct 022014
 

Songwriters Open Circle

SGMUSO is proud to present SONGWRITERS WEEK

Our friend Adam Lyons (Lyon Apprentice/FAIRCHILD, Alumni of Music Matters Live) has informed us that he will be coming to town for a week in October for a songwriting collaboration project with a few Singaporean acts at the amazing Beep Studios! At his request, SGMUSO will be helping to facilitate a couple of side events to open up the opportunity to even more Singaporean musicians to get together, know their community, perform and also encourage cross-collaboration amongst each other locally and internationally.

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SONGWRITERS OPEN CIRCLE

7th October 2014, TUESDAY
7PM – 9.30PM
LITHE PARALOGUE STUDIO

We will be kicking off the week with an intimate SONGWRITERS OPEN CIRCLE, a sharing session in which we would like to invite all songwriters, producers and music-makers to join us for a chat and jam. We hope to provide a small creative space for everyone to get together to know their community, discuss and exchange ideas, stories and processes, tips on getting ideas on paper and then in the studio, to collaborate musically – all in an relaxed and improvised setting. The intimate vibe of the songwriter’s circle will allow for a unique discussion and improvised performance. Musicians can choose to bring along their own instruments to share a couple of songs at the open circle. Musicians that attend will be encouraged to sign up for our open jam at the Songwriters Night at Timbre Barbershop at the end of the week. Special guest, Adam Lyons will be present to drive this Open Circle session!

Big shout-out and love to Lithe Paralogue Studio for letting us use their lovely space!

*Limited seats only. Send your RSVPs to info@sgmuso.org by 6th Oct to reserve a seat!

Bring your own food and booze!!

Songwriters Night

… still there’s more …

Oct 012014
 

Glass Animals - 2

As you can see from my blurry pictures, the Biltmore Cabaret was absolutely packed and rocking for Glass Animals last night. Playing songs mainly from their lovely debut LP - Zaba – the quartet hypnotized the young-ish audience with its dynamic mix of indie pop and EDM vibes. Everything seemed to happen in a slo-mo trance as frontman Dave Bayley bedazzled the crowd with tasteful melodies & sharp guitars whilst the insistent groove keep the momentum going into 7th heaven. Songs like”Black Mambo”, “Gooey” & “Walla Walla” had the kids in dance extacy!

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Sep 292014
 

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Singapore born and raised hip hop duo Trick blew the crowd away at Hood Bar and Café with a fast tempo heady rushed of lyrics. Supported by AMPed and hosted by Gerald Koh, the place was teeming with girls who were trying to catch a glimpse of their idols. Often resembling Jay Park and T.I., the duo threw the crowd of their feet with covers such as “Ringa Linga” by Taeyang.

Trick showed us how covers should be done, as lyrics were being changed to fit their personal styles into the songs. It is not something which every band is doing hence making them unique.

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Keeping the crowd “Up All Night”, with hits such as “BPM” and “The Life”. My personal favourite was “BPM” as the high energy level brought out the essence of the song together with the hypnotic groove which left the audience sashaying their hips away.

To commemorate their success, champagne bottles were popped and a cake was being presented upon to the duo by die hard fans. Some lucky fans were fortunate enough to have themselves sprayed with champagne by Richard.

Ending their set with their latest single “Sunshine” an acoustic strip down approached was being adopted. The audience were certainly in for a treat as they smiled widely when the performance drew to a close. Excited fans started to flock to the meet and greet both to have their photos taken with Trick.

Trick certainly gave it their all as they interacted with their fans, whose live set was a dynamic blast of  pop music that remained engaging throughout.

Photographs by Cherlynn Lian – www.onefiftythree.com

Thanks to SONY Music for making this review possible. 

(Nikita Wong)

Sep 282014
 

Directed by Omori Tatsushi. 
Starring  Eita, Matsuda Ryuhei, Maki Yoko, Masatoshi Nagase, Kora Kengo, Maro Akaji, Omori Nao, Iwasaki Miku.

Caught this excellent Japanese movie’s world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Brilliant story telling in a matter of fact style. The plot itself started out slowly enough but once the key factors were introduced, the movie felt like an emotional roller-coaster in slo-mo. Actually, the 2nd movie of a trilogy, Disconcerto revolves around the antics of odd couple Tada (Eita) and Gyoten (Ryuhei) as they try to come to terms with their past and deal with the pressing issues of the present.

Director Tatsushi keeps the sophisticated narrative simple whilst revealing details about the lead characters bit by bit. There is an inherent sadness in both leads that impacts their actions. Significantly, their individual plans are interrupted by little children, a lesbian couple, a cult, protesting old folks and the Yakuza! Despite all that, the duo still manage to plough through life in their inimitable manner.

But ultimately, it is the relationship between Tada and Gyoten that anchors the movie well – in this respect, one can look forward to the next installment of Tada’s Do-it-all House with anticipation.

Sep 282014
 

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My first indie gig in Vancouver was at the Future Sound Club and by the time I got there, Smash Boom Pow – 2nd band on the bill – were already on stage. This young band certainly has some intriguing ideas – at some point even blending blues rock riffs with post-punk structures – but certainly the songwriting has much room for improvement. Nothing too memorable about most of their music although there was clear potential evident.

The headliners for the night – The Oceanographers – were definitely popular with the crowd. Although somewhat generic post-punk revivalist, there was also sufficient melodic development in their songs to suggest that the quartet had the promise of more sophisticated work ahead. Frontman Clayton Dupuis certainly had the cheekbones for the part and played the part of focal point credibly as the band led the frenzied crowd through danceable post-punk numbers that at least provides them with a strong foundation for further improvement. One to watch out for!

… still there’s more …

Sep 272014
 

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I had the privilege of getting a tour of Nimbus School of Recording Arts in Vancouver. Founded by Bob Ezrin, Garth Richardson and Kevin Williams, Nimbus is a music school which emphasizes audio recording but also provides modules relating to music production, post-production, live sound and music business. Campus Director Rob Stefanson was kind enough to walk me around the Nimbus facilities, which were pretty impressive.

I managed to catch a few classes in sessions (even an exam!) and a couple of students fast asleep after a night of work (the facilities are available 24/7!). But more importantly, I learned from Rob about the impact that Nimbus had on the Vancouver music community as many bands were given valuable assistance from Nimbus students which enhanced the quality of music in Vancouver by the same token. For instance, JPNSGRLS had recorded parts of their debut EP at Nimbus as had a few other Vancouver indie bands so definitely, the music scene has benefited from the presence of Nimbus within the community.

Food for thought for our own local music scene, for sure!

… still there’s more …

Sep 272014
 

Writer Ken Sharp’s new book Play On!: Power Pop Heroes Volume One is available for pre-orders for 1 month with a cut off sale date of October 28th.

In the first installment of a three-volume series, Ken Sharp honors the musical innovators who built the genre’s foundation. Featuring a foreword by Eric Carmen of Raspberries, the 480-page book culls exclusive extended interviews with 20 artists that defined the genre, including members of the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five, the Zombies, Bee Gees, the Turtles, the Left Banke, Small Faces, the Move, Jeff Lynne and others. Also covered in this volume are representatives of the first generation of dedicated acolytes who followed the progenitors’ trail: Badfinger, Raspberries, Big Star and Emitt Rhodes.

 

Available exclusively from http://www.ken-sharp.com/power_pop/index.html

Sep 252014
 

BobMouldLive

THIS IS HARDCORE

My first proper gig overseas went without any hitch whatsoever. Got a nautical wheel stamp on my inner right wrist to indicate that I was on the guest list! (Well, it was the Neptune Theater). The Neptune was a small venue with ornate trimmings and classical ambience. Stained glass images of gods and goddesses of the sea. Arrived early and was actually carded (!) as the floor was meant for ‘+21′ only!

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Opening band Cymbals Eat Guitars started at 8pm in the dot and played a lively 30-odd minute set punctuated by energy, passion and musical endeavor. Playing mostly songs from the new LP, LOSE, the crowd was suitably impressed and for me the final two songs viz “Jackson” & “Laramie” were outstanding with singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino and drummer Andrew Dole, the focal points. Definitely a band with tremendous potential as their style mixes up decades of rock & pop influences intelligently. I would love to see them do a full set in Singapore!

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Of course, all of us were waiting for the legendary Bob Mould and I daresay nobody was disappointed with his visceral delivery of melodic alt-rock that spanned the decades from Husker Du, Sugar and recent solo material. Right from the get-go with the triple punch of “Flip Your Wig”, “Hate Paper Doll” and “Changes”, you just knew you were in for a wild ride. The crowd went ape shit as young and old in the audience moved along to the high energy hardcore punk and sang along to those catchy tunes. What a killer combination – no exaggeration to describe Bob as a godfather of grunge (on equal footing with Neil Young) or a seminal influence on a slew of 90s bands that came in the wake of Husker Du (including Nirvana & Foo Fighters).

Backed by the amazing rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk) and bass player Jason Narducy (Verbow), there was no stopping the intensity and dynamism emanating from stage as Bob, Jon and Jason managed to present old and new songs as a coherent whole – fast, loud & infectious. Thus, brand new instant classics like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” had no problem whatsoever blending in with legendary tracks like “Makes No Sense At All” (a blistering encore song).

But for me, the most memorable moment arrived when Bob slowed things down with “Hardly Getting Over It” (from Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey) where Bob beat Neil Young at his own game – a feedback drenched country-folk ballad that sent chills down my spine and tears into my eyes. Truly incandescent. Bob sent everyone home happy with an obscure Husker Du cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme – “Love is All Around”. There was little doubt in my mind that we were in the presence of a living rock n roll legend – thank you Bob Mould!

Thanks to Jesse O’Connor/Tell Your Friends PR for making this review possible!

Sep 232014
 

Here’s a lively soul pop number with a fun video to boot! It’s awesome to see tons of familiar faces from the local music scene in the video as well (but what about moi?). That sense of playfulness is nicely contrasted with Gareth’s (and band’s) sophisticated image – y’know the suits etc. The song itself has a catchy horn(y) motif and chorus (though the song title seems a bit of a mouthful). Am glad to announce that Gareth’s debut EP will be dropping soon and the launch will be held at Barbershop at Timbre on 22nd October. This suave boy is going places so better get in on the bottom floor before take-off. Tickets available from http://garethfernandez.peatix.com/

… still there’s more …

Sep 232014
 

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Yup, boys and girls, that’s yours truly wearing a prototype VR headset experiencing a VR demo somewhere in VALVE HQ. Suffice to say that it was a life-changing experience! After all, as scifi buffs will tell you, ‘virtual reality’ has always been the stuff of science fiction – well, now it is FACT. I was privileged enough to experience quite a few scenarios based on VALVE’s award-winning games and others put together purely to demonstrate the potential of this new cutting edge technology.

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Initially, I was placed into a Portal scenario which seemed sedate enough but then suddenly I was in a room filled with characters from Left 4 Dead and my heart almost jumped out of my chest! Life-sized zombies hovered around me and even though I knew none of them were real (heh!), I could not help but freeze in my tracks! It was like living within a game – literally. Mind you, these environments were in very early stages of development but the detail was amazing.

As I left VALVE HQ, I could not help but ponder over the limitless possibilities of VR – a whole new world has literally opened up. Personally, I can’t wait…

A humongous thank you to my good friend Chris Chin & VALVE for making this article possible.

 

Sep 212014
 

On track #2 of BRONCHO‘s new album – “Class Historian” – the band unleash a hook so infectious it should be illegal. There is something indefinably timeless about the song even though it exists firmly within the post-punk revivalist milieu. I supposed it is impossible for bands like BRONCHO not to wear evoke the sound of their influences even if it is somewhat second-hand Arcade Fire by way of Interpol. At its most basic, BRONCHO parlays a generic fuzzy guitar-driven rock style into a indie pop structure that is at once familiar and unique – if that is at all possible. With Anglophile baritone vocals, drone-like bass, rudimentary mid-tempo drumming – it’s hard not to dismiss most of this album as an exercise in Velvets mannerisms but it’s hard to argue with the appealing nature of the tunes of “Stay Loose” and “Kurt”. I guess you could say that this 2014’s version of a guilty pleasure – a Bon Jovi for the post-punk set. (Dine Alone Records)

Sep 212014
 

Meritocracy is bullshit. There is no such thing. Success is often the confluence of race, family and nationality. If every human being was truly equal at the starting point of life then maybe just maybe, there would be true meritocracy.  The only people that push this idea of meritocracy are the wealthy, so that they can insist that their wealth is deserved and also to keep the poor down. But this is probably something you are aware of but also something that you know is almost impossible to do anything about.

In this cruel world, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But there is a silver lining to all this. In the final analysis, being wealthy does not make you a better person. Wealth is transient and you can’t take it with you when you die, and if you can’t use your wealth to improve the lives of others, then what is the fucking point? Amassing wealth and possessions for the sake of it is ultimately meaningless.

All this is easier said than done, of course. But there is no use in lamenting your lack of wealth – if you can learn to be contented with your  lot in life, then your financial position will have no impact on your emotional state and you can be happy in any and every circumstance. Surely, that must be the objective of every human being and thus, I have resolved to find the good in every situation and to live every day as if it were my last….

Sep 212014
 

RAGLANS – “White Lightning”

This Irish band has released a fabulous music video for its “White Lightning” single (off new eponymous album). Directed by Finn Keenan, the video contains a couple of inventive visual gags and the song itself is great guitar rock in its own right. At almost 3 minutes, it’s a dose of classic pop-rock that certainly deserves your attention. Check it out!

Raglans available from iTunes.

Sep 202014
 

Other Sounds is presenting American singer-songwriter and guitarist Bill Callahan in Singapore this November. Callahan is probably best known for his work in the lo-fi genre of underground rock, with home-made tape-albums recorded on four track tape recorders. Leslie Low will provide support.

Details: –

The Substation Theatre (45 Armenian St)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Doors open: 8pm

$35 (early bird, limited quantity), $45 (standard), $55 (at the door)

TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW VIA PEATIX

http://www.billcallahan. peatix.com

 

Sep 192014
 

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My first ever indie gig in North America! It might have been a modest affair at the LoFi Performance Gallery in Seattle but there was genuinely exciting music making going on in this low key event. It was $6 at the door and the crowd in attendance was sparse on a Wednesday night but there was no mistaking the passion the three bands had for their music.

I was particularly impressed by The Crush, who actually sounded even better as a live outfit! A very tight performance marked out by Jacob’s astute guitar playing, Daniel’s timely drumming & Kira’s stage presence. And the songs were good fun – flavored with melodic color and powerpop flair – the kind of wonderful pop music nobody seems to make anymore. Jacob worked his red Rickenbacker perfectly, optimizing its use with Byrdsy arpeggios, Paul Weller crunch & Mike Campbell virtuosity – a handy package to possess! Guess you could say I have a crush on The Crush! Haha!! (Facebook)

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Sep 192014
 
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Stephen Christian by Aloysius Lim

I often use observations at gigs in Singapore to comment on how things have changed. And this final show of Anberlin’s in Singapore certainly revealed a lot about how far our indie music scene has come. I first saw Anberlin in 2007 and whilst the crowd then was exuberant, that show did not come close to the excitement displayed by the audience at TAB last Friday (12th Sep). In addition, the opening band this time round – Caracal – were rapturously received by an audience that easily accepted a local band on stage unlike say 7 years ago when local bands were tolerated at best as a necessary evil.

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Caracal by Aloysius Lim

By the large, the main takeaway from this was the obvious mutual love between band and its audience – almost every song was sung in gusto, moshing broke out every and then & at the very end, the band was presented with a fan-made video that brought everyone in the venue (especially the band) to tears. All very sentimental, you will agree, but considering that Anberlin consists of men in their thirties (by and large) and is not a bunch pre-pubescent K-pop boys, the adulation is commendable.  That Singaporean indie rock fans are able to make an emotional connection to a band beyond basic functionality proves that there is indeed hope for the future of arts and music appreciation in our formerly cultural desert of a country.

Kudos to everyone who made this performance a smashing success. Take a bow!

Thanks to Upsurge Productions for making this review possible. 

Sep 182014
 
Pic by Ger O'Donnell

Pic by Ger O’Donnell

If like me you are besotted with classic pop and love the music of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, ELO and XTC, then my question to you is – why aren’t you listening to Pugwash? And if this is the first time you have heard of this awesome Irish band, then your timing is impeccable.

A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash (to be released on 23rd September) collects songs from the band’s 1999 origins through the present day and when placed together in one place like this, is probably the closest a classic pop fan will get to heaven in 2014.

Pugwash A Rose In A Garden Digi

It is impossible not to fall in love with perfect pop songs like “Be My Friend Awhile,” “Apples,” “Answers on a Postcard,” “Fall Down”, “It’s Nice to be Nice” and so on and on and on. These 17 tracks constitute some of the finest pop music made since the new millennium and deserves as much attention as possible, if there’s any justice left in this cruel world.

I was lucky enough to catch the band live last year in London and believe me, it’s a wonder to behold. That Rickenbacker sound, those harmonies and infectious tunes will have you singing along in no time, unfamiliarity be damned! So check out the US tour dates below to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun, PoPies!

Check out the video for “It’s Nice to be Nice” below…

Sep 182014
 

No exaggeration to describe Bastille as one of the biggest new acts coming out of the UK and fans will be thrilled to learn that – courtesy of Now/Live – they will be in town on Friday 9 January 2015 at The Coliseum, Hard rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa. Tickets will be available from SISTIC from 22nd September.

… still there’s more …

Sep 182014
 

Sugar Skull

If you watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you would have noted the use of the graphic novel Black Hole as a plot point, which is of course such a cool geek thing! Creator/artist Charles Burns will actually be in Seattle this Friday to sign copies of his latest book - Sugar Skull – which is the perfect opportunity for this lapsed comic book (and Black Hole) fan to get re-acquainted with the man’s work and to erm meet the man himself. Stay tuned for the obligatory photographs!

… still there’s more …

Sep 172014
 

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Day Two was spent recovering from my jet lag so I was only able to get out on Day Three. Basically spent the day with my good friend Chris, visiting EMP Museum. It’s really a pop culture buff’s dream to a certain extent. EMP expanded their scifi-fantasy section into separate scifi, horror and fantasy. In truth the latter two were boring whilst the scifi section was better, there wasn’t too much to get excited about.

The music exhibitions were what EMP was all about – with the focus on Hendrix in London and Nirvana. While both were also relatively small, the detail to attention put into the exhibitions was a wonder to behold and worth the price of admission. Viewing Kurt Cobain’s demo cassettes was interesting as well as the live-size props for the In Utero tour.

It was heart-warming to visit a museum that was dedicated to rock music with its due recognition of our beloved rock music as art in its own right. What a statement to make! I was particularly intrigued by a graphic that highlighted the various indie bands that came out of Seattle and Washington state in general. It put the idea of ‘support local’ into perspective. I am certain that the folks watching Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Death Cab for Cutie etc had no idea that their local bands would one day become superstars – but that’s how every band starts, as a local band.

More pics here.

… still there’s more …

Sep 152014
 

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Just a short update as I am pretty much frazzled from that 20 hour traveling to Seattle via Taipei. Having left Singapore at about 1pm on Sunday it’s weird to arrive at Seattle at 7plus that same night after all that travelling. At check-in, there were problems coz I forgot to register with ESTA but managed to solve it by doing so all on my iPhone in 10 minutes. The wonders of modern technology. Am going to try to convince my body that I’m am on PST now, ignore Singapore time and go to sleep.

But first up on Wednesday…

… still there’s more …

Sep 112014
 

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Come 19th September, DUNCE Collective presents Raus, a groovy electronic act from esteemed Canberra music label hellosQuare, are launching their new record, titled LP, in Singapore. This would mark the 4th gig of their month-long LP launch tour, between KL and Hong Kong.

The launch will be held at Blu Jaz Cafe from 7.30pm and will also feature neoDominatrix, Fauxe, Michaela Therese, blankverse (the solo project of IsaF, from sub:shaman), weish annd DJs, RAH (of Darker Than Wax), and Jaydah (of Phyla).

LP is now available.

RSVP

Sep 112014
 

The inaugural Y2K14 International Live Loop Asia Festival Singapore will welcome 20 local and international live looping acts to the stage at Artistry from 25-27 September 2014.

Performances will feature music created using live looping technology – equipment that records and plays back sound, to which other sounds can be added, overlaid, deleted, filtered and mixed to form an improvisational work on the spot and using no pre-recorded material.

The lineup features 13 Singaporean acts, including Bani Haykel, SA (仨), Randolf Arriola and Eileen Chai, and introduces four international acts who will perform in Singapore for the first time: Mandoman Hideki from Japan, and Stylish Nonsense, Jin Matutamtada and Kasemsmai Wongchayasilpa from Thailand. Asia-based international acts include Para Sabda from the United States, Thorsten Vieth from Germany, and Wil Kolen from the Netherlands.

More details here, here and here!

 

Sep 112014
 

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Some of the classic pop music was written in the studio, without having been road-tested in live performance. The Beatles and The Beach Boys come easily to mind, of course. Appropriately, Dave Ody (aka Mothboxer) names both bands as principal influences and it’s no surprise that his music reflects the same ethos that his more famous forebears pioneered and mastered during the 60s.

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