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Apr 012015
 

ultron

Seriously folks, the real movie season begins for film buffs on the 23rd when Avengers: Age of Ultron opens!

And just like the first quarter of the year, it’s slim pickings. But here are a couple of movies to consider this month.

Based on brand recognition alone, the 7th movie in the Fast and Furious franchise – viz. Furious 7 (opening on the 2nd) – is bound to be a big hit.

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Apr 012015
 
Esther&Cock

Thats Esther on the right.

Singapore indie music fans know Esther Lowless as an iconoclastic and talented artist but may be less aware that Esther is also an accomplished and versatile actress as well! Besides appearing in Mediacorp dramas, TVCs and theatre plays, Esther is also going to try her hand at comedy in Singapore Stripped (at Paulenar Clarke Quay) where she plays opposite Crispy, the Talking Cock as they strip away Singapore’s artificial, shiny façade to reveal its comical dark side (not our words)!

SGStripped

We understand that the first two shows (tonight and Saturday night) are sold out but you can get tickets from the remaining shows from SISTIC.

 

Mar 312015
 

Max Jury

What makes new music worthy of anyone’s attention? Is it merely the fact that it’s contemporary and in a style and fashion that is popular and trendy? The pop music scene prizes glitzy superficiality over substance of any form to such an extent that the very art and craft of songwriting is in danger of withering away and going the way of the dinosaur.

Which is why every now and then, the discovery of a new singer-songwriter that adheres contrarily to the classic formats of 60s and 70s pop-rock is like a breath of fresh air, in a heavily polluted environment. Thus, ladies and gentlemen, in the background set out before, we give you Max Jury.

Jury released 2 EPs in 2014 – Something in the Air and All I Want: The Sonic Factory Sessions – and these seven incandescent songs represent some of the most promising rock ‘n’ roll (in the classic sense of that term) material of the last decade or so.

Songs like “Christian Eyes”, “All I Want”, “Black Metal” and “Something in the Air” uncannily channel the likes of John Lennon, Gram Parsons, Alex Chilton, Todd Rundgren et al through the razor-sharp perspective of a 21 year old American singer-songwriter.

We managed to get in touch with Max and he kindly responded to our queries.

How does a 21 year old get into someone like Gram Parsons who died 20 years before you were born?

I’m fascinated by the story and myth of Gram Parsons. I originally got into his solo work through Ryan Adams. And then I started listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers and his work with The Byrds.

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Mar 312015
 

SpotifyLogo

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – CHASING YESTERDAY

For some reason, this latest album from the ex-Oasis man sounds uncannily like Pink Floyd! Unfortunately, it’s the post-Roger Waters version – probably the poorest incarnation of the legendary band – with several guitar passages echoing the work of Floyd’s David Gilmour. It’s still more listenable when compared to most new modern rock though and that’s an inditement.

OF MONTREAL – AUREATE GLOOM

Speaking of Pink Floyd, psych-pop veterans Of Montreal returns with a smashing new album demonstrating that the influence of Floyd founder Syd Barrett continues to resonate strongly with the band. Fans of chronic psychedelia need to have some Aureate Gloom in their lives!

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Mar 282015
 

Someone recently asked me why I do what I do in music when the tangible rewards are … non-existent. My answer – when I finished – caught me by surprise. It was an out-of-body experience almost – I spoke the words with such conviction and persuasion and whilst it might not have completely convinced my listener, it certainly enhanced my self-belief in everything that I am doing.
What did I say? I can’t remember…

… still there’s more … 

Mar 272015
 
Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

There is a quiet self-assurance in the manner in which New York melodic rock outfit Lazy Lions approach their music. Certainly, a band has to be if it decides to play in the 60s/70s pop-rock sandbox. The pop-rock of the 80s to be more precise, as the band lays claim to the influences of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, The Cars and Crowded House. The tunes have an easy charm about them – on songs like “Tiny Little Cracks” and “Diane”, it’s not difficult for the unwary listener to begin humming to the refrains. Quirky numbers like “Let the Bad Times Roll” and “Scientific” help to keep thing somewhat interesting. Songs tend to be mid-tempo as a rule and a change in pace now and then would not have hurt. That all said, the slinky “You Can Run” and the smoky “Creep Across the Night” offer enough of a variation to demonstrate promising versatility. But if it’s straight-ahead rocking pop songs you want then “February” and most of When Dreaming Lets You Down, will not… erm… let you down. Jim Allen shared with us a couple of his thoughts about the band and their music.

Why did the four of you come together as Lazy Lions?

We had all done a lot of different things individually. I put out three records as a solo singer/songwriter, Rob had been a classical French horn player (who just happened to also be a killer guitarist), Anne-Marie had been in a band that ended up on a major label and did a ton of touring, and Sean had played with Richard Lloyd of Television besides being a singer/songwriter himself with solo albums out. To be totally honest, I just heard somebody say the words “lazy lions” one day and thought “What a great band name, I’m gonna start a band and call it that!” So I did. That’s really how it started!

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Mar 272015
 

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KAMCO Music started life as KAMCO Records in 1998 – a label through which I could self-release Popland’s Groovy album. 17 years later, KAMCO Music (physical releases are so passé) embarks on a new adventure with digital distributor Believe Digital with the re-issue of my three solo releases thus far.

#alpacablues (2014)

#alpacablues-cover-sm

Previously released only on Bandcamp, this EP is now available at iTunes, Amazon (etc) and the relevant streaming platforms for the first time. Contains the radio-friendly “I Want What I Can’t Have” and you can buy it for a reasonably low price.

iTunes

Emo FASCISM (2013)

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My first album since 2001, was released on the 20th anniversary of my first LP, Democracy (with Watchmen). Notably distinctive for containing mostly jazz-pop numbers (!) and also having a single rejected for radio play by Mediacorp Radio viz. “Beyond the Ashes”. Now you really need to pick this up!

iTunes

@midnight (2008)

@Midnight

Originally released under the Watchmen moniker (and also only on Bandcamp), I have decided to reclaim @midnight EP as a solo release. Significant for featuring a youthful incarnation of The Groovy People viz. Esther Low (keyboards), James Lye (guitars), Low Han Quan (drums) and Brian Leery (bass). Mid-priced as well! Enjoy…

iTunes

Re-issues of Watchmen, The Crowd and Popland to come in the next two weeks.

… still there’s more … 

Mar 262015
 

Ransom

Power of Pop is always on the lookout for new music that stays faithful to the 60s/70s template for melodic pop-rock or rock ‘n’ roll or power pop. Ransom and the Subset – one fine example of this – is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist RanDair Porter. It’s latest album, No Time to Lose, was released in September 2014 but it’s always better late than never when it comes to great music. For Pop Underground fans, this is really a no-brainer – from the opening Jellyfish-referencing power chords of the infectious “Anna”, it’s clear that Ransom and the Subset has got what it takes to hypnotise like-minded fans of The Cars and Weezer. In particular, the single “Million Out of Me” is an effective ear-worm that will have melody junkies hitting repeat. Read what RanDair has to say about the band and the music.

How did the band get together?

I had a cover band together for the last few years – The band was called “Subset”, because the members were a subset of a band I had in High School. The bass player lived in San Diego and me and the drummer up in Seattle. I had become interested in recording some of my originals but, for whatever reason the project wasn’t something the of the other members were able to participate in. I called the project “Ransom and the Subset” – I did this because I wasn’t sure who would be singing on the project and I did not want to name the band after a single individual. There is no one named “Ransom” in the band.

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Mar 252015
 

POPTV

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware that I am always harping on there not being enough bands/artists parlaying classic pop-rock styles into modern rock. Well actually, that’s not entirely true. I mean, in the sense that there certainly are bands/artists who like me are rather besotted with the pop-rock music of the 60s/70s, it’s just a question of discovering them. And discovering these bands/artists I have been in the last couple of days (thanks in part to Ed Khoo’s recommendation of Tobias Jesso Jr). So, of course, I’d like to share just some of these discoveries with you, kind reader.

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Mar 222015
 

Been a surreal last few days after the launch of the KAMCO Music digital re-issue programme. I found myself checking up expectedly on the Youtube views when normally I don’t really care. And of course, the view numbers are pathetic but expected. When you’re 54 years old and totally unknown, nobody’s gonna be paying attention. So I am going to keep my expectations low for the rest of the programme and not give a fuck about the rest. The re-issue programme is really for me so …. just enjoy the ride, I guess. Well, not just me but for every other artist the KAMCO Music digital distribution is going to help. Also it is worth remembering that there is also exciting news on the horizon for S-ROCK fans with a project I am closely involved in, which I hope will be the starting point for whole new paradigm. Can’t say too much, at the moment but fingers crossed … and see you on the other side!

… still there’s more …

Mar 212015
 

KMVideoStill

Finally! The lyric video for “I Want What I Can’t Have” is online. I want to thank film-maker Michael Lim for putting this together in a very short time.

This video release is the first one under KAMCO Music’s distribution deal with Believe Digital and I want to thank Syaheed and Dawn over at Believe Digital for assistance with this.

Look out for the re-issues of #alpacablues, Emo FASCISM and @midnight on 27th March on all digital distribution platforms.

Thanks also to Hood Bar and Cafe for the wonderful location!

Please share if you like.

Mar 192015
 

Time to consolidate reviews on the weekly superhero TV fare out there. 

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FLASH Season 1 Episode 15 (CW)

By all accounts, a pretty dark instalment in the Flash’s story so far. Things go wrong for quite a few of the supporting characters : for Cisco as he discovers Dr. Well’s secret and for Joe as the new Weather Wizard seeks revenge, though the Barry-Iris relationship takes a new twist and in attempting to save Central City from destruction, the Flash goes literally faster than time. A critical point in the narrative.

Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 
Photo credit: Teck Io

Photo credit: Teck Io

Whatever the genre, nothing gets more attention in a song than a powerful, distinctive female voice. Dedicated music fans should be familiar with Eugenia Yip from her vocal antics with jazz-rockers The Steve McQueens. However, Ginny (as she likes to be called), also fronts electro-outfit Riot !n Magenta, ably backed by Hayashida Ken (synths), Khairyl Hashim (guitar), Sulaiman Supian (bass) and Ritz Ang (drums).

R!M have been somewhat under the radar despite having played Baybeats 2012, launched a debut EP – R3B007 – at Esplanade Recital Studio in 2013 and even opening for CHVRCHES last year. But no doubt that will all change with the release of the new EP, Voices.

The four tracks available on Voices reveals a mature sonic agenda that continues to channel a strong trip-hop-soul vibe that highlights Ginny’s idiosyncratic vocal stylings and melancholy lyrics that emphasise the damage that relationships inflict on humans.

“Love is not supposed to be a chore” (“CTRL”) and “I can’t unhear the things but you said it” (“Told You So”) – words that put the songs in perspective, heartfelt emotions hard to ignore. Supported by pristine electronic beats and ambience, it is so easy to be swept away by the music on this EP. Not to be missed.

Connect with Riot !n Magenta

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/riotinmagenta
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/riotinmagenta
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/riot-n-magenta

Mar 172015
 

RaleghLongHoverance

I met English singer-songwriter Ralegh Long last year when he visited Singapore and found him to be an unassuming, down to earth chap. You can listen to my interview with Long here. What I particularly liked about Long was the deep commitment to his craft and that he found inspiration from cult singer-songwriters like Robyn Hitchcock and Epic Soundtracks. This dedication can be seen in his songwriting, which can be best described as ‘traditional’ and ‘old-fashioned’ in that it relies on sophistication, orchestration and courageous musical choices to get the job done. Certainly not a bad combination! On his debut album, Hoverance, Long delivers a robust collection of deceptively simple songs that beg for closer inspection. Utilising tools of emotional resonance like pedal steel, a string quartet and woodwinds, Long imbues a baroque-like feel to the songs that engender a melancholy ambience that is impossible to ignore. I caught up with Long via email to get him to talk about how he put this gorgeous album of heartfelt songs together.

What were your inspirations for the mood and atmosphere generated for the album?

The mood and atmosphere came from sounds I’d had in my head for a while. I’ve always heard woodwinds in particular as a kind of synthesiser. I guess the pedal steel element came more accidentally. I asked Jack Hayter (Ex-Hefner) to play on a song called “Elizabeth” off my previous E.P The Gift and then we worked more and more closely together until he now plays in my band.

Continue reading »

Mar 162015
 

TheWalkingDead514-1

Am beginning to despair at The Walking Dead. Group characters are dropping like flies in Season 5. A bit of an overkill, I would argue. Yes, I understand the dynamics of this dystopian future reality but it’s still ultimately a TV show. It’s almost dark for the sake of being dark. As more is revealed, we discover that Alexandria is not the paradise we imagined (as expected) and in sharp contrast to our group, the Alexandrians are not willing to sacrifice their lives for their fellow man.

With two episodes left till the end of the season, the series is building up to a climax that will most probably end in tears. Who will be left standing? I shudder to think.

Mar 162015
 
IEHAC

Daniel Sassoon, Nelson Tan, Sujin Thomas, Jordan Cheng, Amanda Ling

One of the perks of being a rock journalist is getting advances of new releases and it’s even more satisfying when you get a chance to listen to cutting edge rock music that is made by good friends as well. As regular visitors to Power of Pop will be all too aware, I have been a rabid fan of In Each Hand a Cutlass since the early days and whilst guitarist extraordinaire Daniel Sassoon (Livonia, Electrico) has always been the band lynchpin, the musicians Sassoon has surrounded himself with over several lineup changes have always been some of the best in the business.

IEHAC’s debut A Universe Made of Strings was a powerhouse in its own right but seems almost like a kindergarten school outing when compared to the new album, The Kraken. As dynamic as those individual tracks were, they cannot hold a candle to the cohesive ambition displayed on this astounding work. Helmed by the legendary L.A. producer Brad Wood, there is a consistency running throughout the LP that compels the listener to sit entranced for the entire duration, breathless at the wonder and awe that the music evokes, somewhat effortlessly.

As its centrepiece is the mammoth title track, broken down into four parts, for easier consumption. “The Kraken” is almost a treatise on rock music itself, finding ways to incorporate diverse strands of the best rock styles that have inspired millions over decades. Once again, this is progressive rock in the best sense of that term – not merely a genre identifier but a statement of artistic intent. Equal parts post-rock, prog-metal and psych-rock, this epic number brings the unwary listener across dimensions, a witness to interplanetary warfare and the birth and death of galaxies! One never questions the lack of lyrics for even a micro-second as the music speaks volumes.

If the album only contained “The Kraken”, it would already be worth the price of admission but add to that the power and majesty of tracks like “Ouroboros” and “Heracleion” and the picture is perfect. Essential but you already knew that.

IEHAC launches The Kraken on 24th April 2015 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets available from SISTIC.

In the meantime, listen to the first single “Satori 101″

Connect with IEHAC online

Web http://www.ineachhandacutlass.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IEHAC
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/IEHAC
Bandcamp http://ineachhandacutlass.bandcamp.com/

Mar 152015
 

Here’s a review from February, 2003.

ForceVomit

FORCE VOMIT Give It Up For The Trustfund Rockers

Force Vomit viz. Nizam, Dino, Neng & Wan Vomit, requires some explanation for music fans unfamiliar with the peculiarities of Singaporean indie rock. Force Vomit position themselves somewhere between the punk pop of the Ramones (hence the ‘family’ names) and the colloquial Malay brand of Western rock called ‘Mat Rock,’ Force Vomit bring an alternative sensibility to what is very much mainstream Malay rock vernacular. Except that the ‘Mat Rock’ Force Vomit deals in, is more of a 60s variety, incorporating elements of Dick Dale surf rock, the Shadows’ slick instrumental rock and Buffalo Springfield folk rock into their approach.
Make no mistake, this is distinctive stuff and something many outside of South East Asia would be totally unfamiliar with its angles and perspectives. The melodies may be a tad clichéd and at times too common for comfort but Force Vomit attacks its chosen targets with verve, aplomb & yes, tongue firmly in cheek. How else could one describe such passionate guitar dynamics as found in “Liberator,” “Siti,” “Johnny Levitate,” “Aisakos Don’t Die” & “The Kids Don’t WTF”?
Guaranteed to screw up every conception one might have of what modern Western rock may achieve, let these mischievous sonic anarchists thrill, amuse and entertain you.

Mar 152015
 

CharlieLimBeep

Last night, spent time with Charlie Lim & the Mothership (and twenty plus lucky fans) as the band recorded a live in-studio performance at The Analog Factory. Organised by BEEP Studios, the idea was to provide a unique listening experience, where the music would be crystal clear courtesy of inline earphones courtesy of Aurisonics. Look out for the video to be uploaded soon!

Mar 152015
 

It’s certainly heartening to see Singapore Rock (or S-ROCK) finally begin to get its dues in its hometown in 2015. It seems that suddenly everybody in Singapore loves S-ROCK! Well, that’s an exaggeration of course but we have come a long way from 2005, to say the least. But whilst it’s great to see all and sundry jumping on the bandwagon now (including an app by that very name!), I just want to put on record that Power of Pop has been supporting S-ROCK for over 15 years and we will never ever stop! So, here’s your S-ROCK flashback for today. Enjoy!

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THE FIRE FIGHT
Big Music for the Golden Age

“Our vision and mission is such that we want to change people with our music, in a sense to bring people together and to learn how to love. Music is something that engages every individual’s emotions, very directly in fact. In this way, we can have very personal contact with the listener, even without them being in our presence. That’s what we hope our songs can do” – Josh Tan

As a mission statement, I’d wager that there are precious few corporate entities, never mind fledging Singaporean rock bands, that can boast such vision, such singleness of purpose. But that’s exactly what the Fire Fight is all about. Believe it!

Continue reading »

Mar 142015
 

At the beginning of a semester, I will tell my students that the most important lesson they can learn is RESPECT. I expect my students to respect me even as I respect them and I expect them to respect each other. There can be no deviation from this. No matter how intelligent you think you are, or good looking, or hip, or cool or entitled, there is no excuse for being disrespectful to a fellow human being. Sure, I can appreciate that people go through different situations in their lives and at times, they make mistakes and lash out in ignorance but that is no justification for disrespect. Period.

Mar 142015
 

Scandal415-4

To be honest, after the intense drama over Olivia’s kidnapping, it was hard to imagine how the series could ramp up again after that high. But this episode hints at a whole new ball game, with the introduction of Susan Ross the new Vice-President and Huck’s wife reporting B613 to the Attorney-General, there’s a whiff of something dark and sinister on the horizon.

That all said, it was rather annoying to see Olivia sulking throughout the entire episode. Yes, I get that she suffered through an awful ordeal but you would think she would be used to all the nonsense by now. Or maybe not.

Mar 122015
 

AgentsOfSHIELD212-2

Things are finally cooking in Agents of SHIELD! Asgardian Lady Sif returns chasing a Kree warrior (in disguise) and the latter explains Kree history regarding the Diviners, Terragenesis and (without saying the word) the Inhumans. Also, Skye is outed as an Inhuman and Coulson, May and team do their best to protect her but things are not peachy within the ranks. Mack and Bobbie are working against their team-mates and whilst it seems par for the course for a spy drama, it is an annoying plot device after all the HYDRA nonsense.

What is significant is that it is obvious that the Agents of SHIELD will feature strongly as a lead-in to the Inhumans movie – which is still years away though. It is great though that the MCU continues to be brought more into play – just resolve that Mack-Bobbie conspiracy ASAP!