May 232015


The recently concluded All That Matters conference (which includes Music Matters) once again brought music industry stalwarts and luminaries to Singapore, a city notoriously unfriendly towards its own music industry. It’s always eye-opening for a Singapore indie artist like myself to appreciate the sheer size of the global music industry even though it’s no longer what it was say twenty years ago.

And whilst, the music industry has always been Western-centric, that is slowly changing as Asia begins to assert itself strongly as a consumer base and down the line as content creators and drivers. But unlike USA and Europe, Asia is not culturally homogenous music-wise and to this day, the industry is trying to make sense of the Asian market. This dilemma is exacerbated for Singapore where we have neither quantity nor quality of audience to justify any kind of attention from the global players.

And this point was hammered home by none other than Sandy Monteiro, (President, Universal Music South East Asia), who at the Music Matters Academy could barely hide his disdain for Singapore music artists. Don’t waste time if you haven’t got what it takes to be a successful music artist was his message. Go back to your day job, in other words, if you haven’t got what it takes!

But seriously, can you blame Monteiro for having this negative attitude towards Singapore music artists? From his corporate music perspective, it’s all about bottom line and results, especially in these challenging times. The fact that his label only signed Gentle Bones because of a grant from the Economic Development Board (EDB) was particularly telling. But fair play to Monteiro for admitting that he had never heard of Gentle Bones until the hits starting appearing at #1 on the iTunes Charts. I found his candour and straight talking at once disturbing and refreshing but exactly the sort of bitter pill needed to wake up our moribund music scene!

So it’s no point for Singapore indie artists to whine about how major labels ignore them. The goal is to create a viable mainstream of Singapore music so that an alternative can thrive. By whatever means necessary! So yes, it’s fantastic that the EDB is incentivising major labels so that the likes of The Sam Willows, Trick, Sezairi (SONY) and Reuby (Warners) can be at the forefront of a new Singapore pop mainstream. Add to this THELIONCITYBOY at BMBX and of course, Gentle Bones at Universal and we have the beginnings of something new and something different in Singapore!

(Kudos again to Branded Ltd for making all this possible!)

… still there’s more … 


May 202015


The last two years have been amazing for superhero comic book geeks. In the wake of the mega-success of The Avengers, superheroes have gone from strength to strength with Arrow and Agents of SHIELD setting the pace for superhero TV as well. But it is with The Flash, that geeks can truly see the potential of TV series that are faithful to the core values of the original comic book. From the very beginning, the folks behind The Flash have been committed to the tone of DC Comics’ Silver Age – superheroes created by science, tongue-in-cheek reference points without sacrificing the crucial human element – by getting the casting right (Grant Gustin must be the find of the season!), ensuring quality writing on the episodes and giving something back to the diehard geeks on a consistent basis (Mark Hamill saying the line “I am your father” for one!).


Could the much anticipated finale live up to the hype? Yes it could and how! The pacing of the finale kept keen watchers on tenterhooks for most of the duration as Barry Allen tried to resolve the conundrum – should he change the past and lose his present? The emotional resonance was kept to a reasonable degree but that didn’t stop me from crying buckets at different points. Along the way, the writers also offered glimpses of things to come in Season 2, even as The Flash made his critical decision to pursue justice instead of mere sentimentality. Still that did not prepare me for the shock twist at the end! A brilliantly conceived denouement that brought about a catastrophe that left Season 1 on a cliffhanger.

And so, we are left hanging and looking forward to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow before The Flash Season 2 speeds into our lives! Can’t hardly wait!

May 172015


Tzang Merwyn Tong’s Faeryville is a dystopian teen movie, a stylish coming of age film about youth making sense of their idealistic dreams in our increasingly surreal world – a fictional manifestation of very real issues prevalent in the Post 9-11 world. The movie features an original score composed by Alex Oh.

Oh is one of Singapore’s most prolific and versatile film composers. His philosophy to scoring is telling the story of the film through music. In his career, he has scored many award-winning features, ranging from comedy, family-oriented, action films like Taxi!Taxi!, My Dog Dou Dou, Imperfect, It’s A Great Great World to darker films like Bait 3D, Rule Number One and The Maid . He was nominated for Best Original Music Score from Asian Television Awards in 2004 for the TV Series, The Frontline.

Oh’s music score complements the movie perfectly with its edgy synthesiser ambience and choral nuances providing a contrast between innocence and danger. Also included is the dynamic driving “Baptism of Fire” which feature Jessel Yam and Alan Chan on guitars, Meryvn Lim on bass and John Ho on drums.

Read below what Oh thought and felt about working on Faeryville.

As the film’s composer, you’re probably one of the first few people to have seen Faeryville, edited and cut. What are your thoughts when you watched the first cut of the film?

Faeryville turned out beautifully. It has lots of depth. I like the characters, the Nobodies, Laer, Chloe, Belle, Fraternity members. There are debates on whether society is becoming or has already become dystopian. I like how Tzang uses the film to address certain issues we are facing in our society. In that aspect, I think he is successful in bringing these to light, as many will find after watching the film that they can relate to it someway or another.

Do you have a philosophy bout your music scoring?

I try to find where the heart of the movie is. I will watch the film with the Director and talk about it. I want to understand the film from his/her perspective and hear what he has to say. Why he/she wants to make the film? What is it about? What is it the story that he’s telling? Once I have an understanding about the film, I will let the film speak to me. I do not want to come with any pre-conceived ideas.

Continue reading »

May 162015


If discovering exciting new music is your thing (and it should be), then you must check out Music Matters Live 2015 to be held at Clarke Quay from 20th to 23rd May.

Here are Power of Pop’s recommendations.

Jaime Wong (SG)

Courtney Conway (AU)

Continue reading »

GEEK OUT! DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – First Look – YouTube

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May 152015


CW and DC up the ante in the Superhero TV stakes with a super-team of time travellers. This is really ambitious but if done properly could be a game-changer and force Marvel/ABC to look beyond the lame grey super-spy concept of Agents of SHIELD. It’s a good time to be a geek!

… still there’s more …

May 142015


Well, with the successes of CW’s DC superheroes, it was inevitable that Fox would jump on the bandwagon with their stable of mutant stars. Guess Marvel will counter with New Inhumans, eh???

Source: Fox Mints ‘The New Mutants’ X-Men Spinoff; ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ Helmer Josh Boone To Direct

May 092015


KAMCO Music is pleased to announce that it will release on all digital distribution platforms worldwide the following albums –

FAERYVILLE OST (by Alex Oh) on 19th May

ILLUMINE SYMPHONY – Life on 22nd May

LYDIA LOW – Wrecked till Further Notice on 2nd June

… still there’s more … 


May 052015


The problem with Tzang Merwyn Tong’s FAERYVILLE – if one can even call it a problem – is that the movie might be too ambitious for its own good.

FAERYVILLE is a movie with a strong message, in fact there are quite a few to go around. These themes are expressed in the context of a surrealistic satire on modern life. The title refers to an imaginary fairy tale like setting and in particular, a tertiary educational institution.

Within this context, there are two main competing factions/power bases viz. the haves and have nots. Tzang wants us initially to sympathise with the Nobodies, a group of outsiders (ostensibly led by Poe – wonderfully played by Lyon Sim) who spend their time being rebellious by committing illegal albeit harmless pranks. The group is joined by the mysterious Laer (a moody performance from Aaron Samuel Yong) and then the stunts turn dangerous and events spiral out of control.

The group’s antics are contrasted with the bullying tactics of the Calvary (the frat boys equivalent of the college) who lord their authority over everyone else – seemingly with the acquiesce of its principal  – which often turns very dark without warning. This conflict invariably and inevitably leads to disaster, tied in inexplicably with former anarchist Belle, before panning out into a disturbing conclusion.

Trying to find a delicate balance between art and commerce, Tzang has had to cast his actors carefully (eye candy is in abundance – look out for Tanya Graham and Jade Griffin) and mix up his high concepts with highly charged moments (including several explosions and sexual scenes) but without compromising the underlying message, where possible. Overall, I believe Tzang has succeeded in creating a thought-provoking movie but fear that it might somewhat fly over the heads of most people in his own homeland.

Which is ironic considering that much of FAERYVILLE is inspired by growing up in Singapore but what is the saying about a prophet not being recognised in his own hometown? A brave and remarkable vision that might be a little obscured by technical and budgetary issues but for the true seeker, there is much hidden treasure to discover in FAERYVILLE.

FAERYVILLE will open in Singapore on 26 May 2015, exclusively at Filmgarde Bugis+
Tickets on sale from 7 May,

For more information, visit
Follow us on
Twitter and Instagram @Faeryville

GEEK OUT! Ultron’s Massive $188M Debut Falls Short of Avengers Record – Box Office Mojo

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May 042015

According to Box Office Mojo, “Avengers: Age of Ultron ruled the box office this weekend with a huge $187.7 million, which is the second-biggest debut ever. Unfortunately, the top opening ever belongs to its predecessor, Marvel’s The Avengers ($207.4 million)” which is a great start, of course, and continues to augur well for the future of the MCU.

The site also noted that “the Avengers sequel also continues to do strong business overseas, where it’s earned $439 million before even debuting in China or Japan”. Which hopefully means that the movie will go on to outgross Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Source: Weekend Report: ‘Ultron’s Massive $188M Debut Falls Short of ‘Avengers’ Record – Box Office Mojo

May 032015


Now here’s something completely different!

Victor Low (formerly of Concave Scream and The Observatory) has recorded and released an album of short instrumental tunes (mostly under 2 minutes), that he says were inspired by his own childhood and the bedtime stories shared with his young daughter, Ee Shahn.

These ten tracks are delightful and thoughtful experiments into songwriting targeted for children or the young at heart. Mostly neo-classical in tone with acoustic guitars (steel and nylon) at the fore, assorted percussion and the occasional cello (courtesy of Zhong Ren Koh), it’s easy to simply play through the duration of Songs of the Well and revel in its rustic sophistication.

My personal favourites are “Drip Drop”, “Swallow” and “Geckos of Eastwood” – which highlight Low’s focus on naive charm but the arty “Song of the Well” recalls Low’s time with art-rock ensemble The Observatory. It’s an atmospheric ambient song whose origins, Low was kind enough to elaborate on.

“When I was writing the songs in this album. I would often bring my guitar out of my studio to sit in the stairwell where I live, just to get a bit of a natural reverb. This really helped me to ease into the ideas and finish writing the songs (or the main bulk of it) rather quickly. A thought occurred to myself that these songs seem to be coming from “the well”, and it ended up being the title of the album. Ironically the track “Song of The Well” was the only song not written from the stairwell. Instead it was done in my studio, using music boxes, cymbals and effects”.

If there is one obvious complaint, it is that the songs are too short! I mean, once a enthralled listener really gets into the piece, it’s over!! Hopefully, Low will see fit to expand on the artistic success of Songs of the Well to give us fans more in the years to come. Please encourage that possibility by purchasing Songs of the Well.

… still there’s more … 

May 032015


Cheating Sons!

Years in the making but definitely worth the wait. 10 tracks of such instrumental sophistication and erudite witticism that it is barely imaginable that the former cultural desert of Singapore is able to produce an album that absorbs the wondrous legacy of 60s rock and pop so well.

With the songwriting template pioneered by the likes of Roy Orbison, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Band the band have also adopted the production values of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson to deliver a unique aural experience that will please rock scholars and casual music fans alike. An additional distinctive element is the band’s ability to incorporate East Asian sounds and melodies into the mix to create a East meets West amalgam that is surprising and pleasing.

Believe me it’s difficult to point out any particular highlights here as every track is an entity to itself but I will say that songs like the ghostly Beatlesque “Mercy of Cain and Abel”, the atmospheric folky “Patriach”, the country bluesy “Blood the Prize” and the Orbison-Teresa Teng channeling “Honeymoon” certainly deserve special mention.

In an amazing year for Singapore rock so far, this eponymous album is a definite standout and a statement of intent that hopefully will bring forth more exciting music from this wonderful band in the years to come.

CDs and digital albums will be available on and CDs also at Curated Records and Roxy Records & Trading.

May 012015


If you have read my spoiler-free review, you would be aware that I loved Avengers: Age of Ultron and consider it by far the best superhero movie ever so far. However, based on numerous online comments, it has become de rigueur to label the movie as a disappointing sequel to the first movie, with the common criticism being that the movie has too much going on. My first reaction to this is — have these people ever read an actual superhero comic book before? Probably not. In that regard, I believe that director Joss Whedon made Avengers: Age of Ultron for us geeks and for that I am certainly grateful!


Continue reading »

May 012015


During a discussion with a student about pop music – which revolved mainly around me dissing modern pop – Raj (that’s his name) challenged me to cite worthy music from the new millennium (he was born in the late 90s, after all) and so, here are ten examples (and yes, many of these artists started before the year 2000, but why should that matter?). Enjoy.


Continue reading »

Apr 302015

How seriously should we take what a person posts on social media? Well, if it’s something interpreted as seditious in the eyes of the law, very seriously but what about something short of that measure? I have been guilty myself of posting irrational emotional rants on social media when I allowed heart to rule over head but I am not talking about that. I am talking about the offensive Facebook comment or Tweet that is coldly calculated to offend.

Most recent examples of course, are the online reactions to a video of the controversial Youtuber Amos Yee being slapped by an unidentified stranger. The fact that there are ‘keyboard warriors’ who are cheering on this assault as some form of vigilante justice is bewildering no doubt but is there more to this that meets the eye? Do these commentators wilfully commit these indecent acts as a means of rebellion – a way to transcend their pathetic, mundane existence and get public attention well beyond their normal means?

Surely, in a face-to-face situation, most of these ‘trolls’ would probably not dare to fire a verbal shot in anger but emboldened by the apparent lack of accountability for a social media comment, take the plunge without any thought of the consequences. It just comes too easy. I sometimes think that responding with some kind of admonishment of this kind of anti-social behaviour serves no other purpose than to egg these ‘trolls’ on. I believe the best medicine is to cut off the attention the ‘trolls’ craved, deny them the glare of the public spotlight and they might simply wither away.

GEEK OUT! Superman vs. Batman? DC’s Real Battle Is How to Create Its Superhero Universe – Hollywood Reporter

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Apr 302015

Warner Bros. is employing a different strategy than Marvel as it hires five writers for ‘Wonder Woman,’ has no clear leader and deals with new frustrations in its struggles to craft a compelling 10-movie world.

Source: Superman vs. Batman? DC’s Real Battle Is How to Create Its Superhero Universe – Hollywood Reporter

What the hell is Warners up to? They need to back off and let the editors at DC Comics determine the creative path of the DC Universe. If not, Warners and DC are headed for financial disaster.

Apr 282015


Let’s get real, shall we?

When it comes to stories presented in words and visuals, the visual aspect will always trump the word aspect. That is why movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction and Furious 7 are able to do well at the box office despite not having very good stories. This also applies in comic books, which is – like film – a graphic medium and very much dependent on the visual quality for its appeal and success.


Of course, I am not saying that the writing does not matter in comic books but even the best work of my favourite comic book writer Alan Moore, was enhanced by the sterling work of his collaborators viz. Steve Bissette (Swamp Thing), John Totleben (Swamp Thing, Miracleman), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) etc etc. Which made Moore’s Supreme much less than expectations due to the artwork of Rob Liefeld!


Which is why ultimately I believe that Jack Kirby deserves more credit for the success of the Marvel Universe than Stan Lee. Moreover, Kirby had significant input in many of the classic Marvel Universe issues as plotter! It’s impossible to imagine a single modern-day Marvel film without the contribution of Jack Kirby and yet, only with Avengers: Age of Ultron, was Kirby credited as a co-creator, alongside Stan Lee. This was, of course, due to a recent settlement between Marvel and Kirby’s estate.


However, to the layman movie goer and naive self-professed fan of the Marvel films, Stan Lee will always be thought of as the creator of the Marvel Universe, with each succeeding annoying cameo being shoved down everybody’s throat. But whilst Lee’s hokey self-aggrandisement continues to reveal the huckster that he has always been, the Kirby legacy can be seen by all – unwittingly – in every costume design and most importantly, every powerful fight scene!

Long live the King!

Apr 282015


Kyoto based alternative rock band tricot announces their Hip Step “A N D” Jump Asia Trip 2015, returning to Singapore for a one-night-only show at The Substation on Sunday 31 May.

All-girl math-rock outfit consisting of three diminutive Japanese ladies sounds like an unusual proposition but tricot is indeed the real deal. A concept that sounds like its worth the price of admission already.

Get your tickets:

… still there’s more … 


Apr 262015


This is quite an astonishing line-up of top top #sgindie bands. And all for a good cause – support local!

Pre-sale tickets can be purchased via


Apr 252015


Why so serious?

The Joker in Suicide Squad makes no sense to me at all. Can you imagine the Joker as a team player? So for me, that whole concept is already somewhat of a non starter.

But of course, Warners wanted a character that would conceivably sell tickets (nobody else in the Suicide Squad has that profile – Captain Boomerang?) and thus the rationale becomes crystal clear.

Remember the last time, geeks kicked up a fuss (pre-movie) about the Joker? The late Heath Ledger gave the performance of his life, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award (f0r a superhero film, no less). Therefore, as much as the tattoos seem very un-Joker-like (“Damaged”? Really?), seeing is believing and let’s watch the Suicide Squad before going ballistic.

I mean, it’s only a superhero comic book movie…

STAN LEE GRAPHIC MEMOIR | Robot 6 @ Comic Book ResourcesRobot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

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Apr 242015

Stan Lee is collaborating with writer Peter David and artist Colleen Doran to create his graphic memoir, billed as ” the story of how modern comics came to be.” Revealed last week by Doran, Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir will be published in October as a hardcover graphic novel by Simon & Schuster.

Look at the characters in the background, do you know who co-created them with Stan Lee? Would this graphic memoir make any mention of the manner in which Stan Lee has taken almost all the credit all these years and left nothing for Jack Kirby? I sincerely hope that this memoir will go some way to repairing the damage Lee has done to Kirby’s legacy.

Source: Stan Lee teams with Peter David, Colleen Doran for graphic memoir – Robot 6 @ Comic Book ResourcesRobot 6 @ Comic Book Resources


Apr 242015

The actors found “repeated insults” in the film’s script.

Seriously, have these actors ever seen an Adam Sandler movie? Didn’t they know what they were getting themselves into, in the first place?

Source: Native American Actors Exit Adam Sandler’s Movie — Vulture


Apr 242015

So here’s my TODAY interview with Jaime Wong. Now, I hope you figured out that that headline came from my editor! But to be fair, I chickened out from coming up with one, so….

Check out the article and don’t forget that Jaime launches her EP on May 15, 7.30pm at Lepark, People’s Park Complex rooftop. Tickets from You can buy the EP on iTunes (

Source: Jaime Wong: Singapore’s soul sister | TODAYonline