More recommended listening @ Spotify! This week we look at obscure post-punk from the late 70s/80s that fans of contemporary revivalist bands might wanna check out…
SOUTHERN DEATH CULT (1981 – 1983)
A early 80s goth rock band that is best remembered for providing singer Ian Astbury the platform from which he would form Death Cult with guitarist Billy Duffy before finding success as The Cult. Listen to its eponymous debut LP below.
I read Orson Scott Card’s scifi masterpiece when it was first published in 1985 and at the time, I was thinking that it was a superb cross of Starship Troopers and Lord of the Flies. It’s one of my favourite stories and you can imagine my emotional state as I was watching this film adaptation. Yes, I was crying like a baby. The adaptation is very faithful (I believe Card made that a condition of the option and license) and director Gavin Hood did a fairly reasonable job in getting the main plot points and themes of the book across. This achievement is aided by the strong cast with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and the young Asa Butterfield giving solid performances.
Funny how Thor (the mightiest Avenger) is probably the weakest and least interesting character amongst the stars of the Marvel Studio flicks. The first movie spent time introducing Thor and like most origin stories, the interest was kept at a respectfully high level most of the time with the key being the character development of Thor himself.
This is where the sequel falls flat. Once you understand that Thor is arrogant, brash and headstrong (and loves Jane Foster), there is nowhere else to go unless you spice things up and the writers of Thor: The Dark World fail to do that completely. Thor is utterly boring (despite Chris Hemsworth’s best efforts) and predictable – lacking any edge whatsoever. Thor’s flaws and weaknesses (evident in the first movie) are glossed over and somehow he becomes the least interesting character in his own movie.
I got into Lou Reed relatively late in life. 1989 to be precise – the release of the New York album, which I bought on cassette. That prompted me to investigate Reed (and the Velvet Underground, of course) in piecemeal form in the 25 years since.
As a rock scholar, it’s impossible not to recognize Reed’s importance to much of modern rock music – there’s really no point in setting out the sheer number of bands and artists that Reed had a tremendous impact on – suffice to say that Reed was influential. As a songwriter, Reed’s honesty and creative thinking was always challenging to me, with his lyric writing truly seminal.
His passing was hard to take – a sense that an era of rock music has ended. But Reed’s legacy will never be forgotten – the sound and attitude of indie pop & alt-rock bear his indelible stamp. Yes, Lou Reed may no longer be with us but his music will live on forever, something to cherish.
For the uninitiated, begin with Velvet Underground & Nico, Transformer and New York and work your way through from there.
“The music is all. People should die for it. People are dying for everything else, so why not the music?”
In collaboration with Gardens by the Bay, supported by TOTE Board, Ding Yi Music Company presents its 3rd outdoor fantasia at the Gardens by the Bay, Supertree Groves viz. Animal Carnival and Insect World.
On 9th November, come by the Gardens to enjoy the Animal Carnival, a concert featuring Ding Yi Music Company’s Chinese wind instruments such as the Suona, Sheng and Dizi as well as Chinese percussion instruments like Drums, Cymbals and Gongs. Ding Yi Music Company will be performing music pieces that re-create the sound of bird, bull, tiger, lion and mouse, incorporated with theatrical acting by its musicians.
On 10th November, Ding Yi Music Company with conductor Mr Quek Ling Kiong presents Insect World, a concert comprising works about insects! Listen to tunes that feature the bees, butterflies, grasshoppers and ants. If you haven’t heard familiar favourites such as Flight of the Bumble Bee played on the Erhu, or grasshoppers represented by the Dizi, then please do not miss this special concert!
Last time out, we ran the rule over the opening five bands at Camp Symmetry viz. Veronica Falls, Last Dinosaurs, San Cisco, Wild Nothing and William Fitzsimmons. We continue the lowdown with the final five!
RA RA RIOT 4.35pm – 5.20pm
American indie rock band with three albums and numerous EPs released since 2007. The band plays an energetic brand of melodic pop-rock with classical underpinnings. Comparisons have been drawn between the quartet and Vampire Weekend, Broken Social Scene and The Polyphonic Spree.
BEST COAST 5.40pm – 6.55pm
An American rock duo (Bethany Cosentino and Robb Bruno) that blends Indie Rock and Power Pop influences brilliantly. Two well-received LPs so far and the new EP Fade Away is a instant winner in my book! Definitely a crowd favourite – the party well and truly begins here. Not to be missed!
The year is ending and it does seem that the best way to celebrate a fine 12 months of live music in Singapore is to enjoy an indie music festival. Camp Symmetry delivers ten bands and is an ambitious event put together by local outfit Symmetry Entertainment Pte Ltd. Think of Camp Symmetry as being positioned somewhere between Laneway and Rock & Roots and a positive sign for the Singapore music scene overall.
The last time was December 2012. So it has been a long time coming. Yes, folks, it’s Fred Perry Sub-Sonic Live for 2013 and it promises to be a memorable occasion for all rock and pop music lovers. In keeping with previous editions, the venue is a surprising choice, unconventional but unforgettable. This time it’s Offside located at 2 Whitley Road, which is usually a place people go to play futsal (!) – yeah really…a space of over 30,000 sq ft under a flyover ( so we’re told).
Capsule reviews of recently released EPs, LPs & DVDs
ANNA CALVIOne Breath (Domino)
There is a melodramatic quality about Calvi’s operatic indie rock that suggests an affinity for Jeff Buckley and PJ Harvey. Epic in musical scope and emotional in lyrical depth, this sophomore effort finds Calvi stretching out her musical range to embrace obtuse angular moments that reveal a strong experimental leaning in songs like “Piece By Piece”. But overall, it is the kind of pleasing arch art-rock (“Suddenly” and “Eliza”) that the kids will go gaga for.
Italo Zanzi: Roma want to be world’s best football club
According to a BBC Football report, chief executive Italo Zanzi claims that Serie A side Roma (acquired by an American group, led by James Pallotta) have ambitions to be the “world’s best football club”. In the report, it states that “Roma appointed Lille boss Rudi Garcia as head coach in the summer and have won every competitive game since then”. In that context, it is perhaps worrying that Roma had no issue with selling Erik Lamela to Spurs, albeit for a big fee. Perhaps the Italian club did not rate Lamela as much as we did and were happy to get good money for him. After all, the loss of Lamela has not hurt Roma at all and thus far, the Argentinean winger has not exactly set White Hart Lane alight. Mm.
GigOut! is a mobile app that provides its users with the latest concert information in-app ticketing purchasing and even the ability to check out who’s also going to the show! GigOut! currently aggregates music concerts/events in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines and Hong Kong.
GigOut! is now available for free download via the Apple App Store with Android and other platforms to follow soon.
Halfway through this concert film before singing The Smiths’ classic, “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”, Morrissey announces to his rapt audience that he loves them and definitely the sentiment comes across as genuine and heart-warming. Which summarizes the appeal of the English singer, 25 years since he first launched his solo career after the demise of his legendary former band.
This memorable gig – filmed at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles (where Morrissey currently resides) – finds the 56 year old in fine fettle performing solo faves like “Alma Matters”, “November Spawned A Monster” and “Everyday is Like Sunday” and of course, Smiths classics like “Still Ill”, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”, “Meat is Murder”, “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”.
Morrissey showcases four new tracks on the bonus feature, live recordings of “The Kid’s A Looker”, “Scandinavia”, “Action Is My Middle Name” and “People Are the Same Everywhere” produced by Tony Visconti. By the sounds of things, the next Morrissey album is going to be one to look out for…
The Japanese outfit is the leading pan-Asian independent music company and has recently launched operations in Singapore, whilst simultaneously beginning a partnership locally with Sony Music in Singapore and Malaysia. Hostess Label Manager Asia Nikki Mahmood-Chee had this to say about the announcement – “I’m thrilled to be part of the Hostess team after being a fan for such a long time, and can’t wait to get stuck in the process of introducing as well as connecting music fans to our artists and their music!”
BURBERRY CELEBRATES BRIT RHYTHM – WHITE LIES (Friday, 18 Oct 2013)
Two years ago, British trio White Lies had to cancel its gig at the Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore due to concerns over the devastating tsunami in Japan, which was, of course, greatly disappointing to their many Singaporean fans. So many were surprised when Burberry announced that White Lies would play in Singapore for a private event at a converted warehouse in Lorong Ampas!
Two months after the release of Emo FASCISM, I am working on my new 4-track EP, #alpacablues. Why so soon? Well, in actual fact, Emo FASCISM was recorded a year ago and most of the songs are already old news to me. I am a naturally restless soul and thus…
In any case, I don’t want to say too much about the new music but instead will let you listen to a sampler of the raw mixes so far below.
Well, basically, my favourite songs and why I love them to death…
HEAVEN KNOWS I’M MISERABLE NOW – THE SMITHS (1984)
When Paul Weller broke up The Jam in 1982, there was a huge vacuum in my life that his follow-up project The Style Council could not quite fill. I needed a band that could mean the same thing to me as The Jam did. In early 1984, the ever-dependable John Peel was championing a new band called The Smiths (viz. Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke & Mike Joyce) who had just released their third single (“What Difference Does It Make”) and eponymous debut album in January and February of that year respectively.
Reel to Real is a new feature to cover non-geek films over here at Power of Pop.
Machete Kills (Directed by Robert Rodriguez)
The first Machete flick was fairly good fun as the unlikely anti-hero (Danny Trejo) cut a swath through one-dimensional bad guys with OTT cartoon violence, surrounded by buxomy babes and a host of well-known actors e.g. Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal etc. Inspired by 70s action exploitation movies, Machete did fair business at the box office.
In 2011, I interviewed White Lies‘ Jack Lawrence-Brown ahead of the trio’s debut performance in Singapore. However, the concert never happened. Two years later, I will be watching White Lies playing at a private event and thought it would be a good time to dig out the interview that never ran at TODAY for the sake of completeness.
KM: Congrats on the new album (2011’s Rituals), people usually say that 2nd albums are difficult ones, was it true in this case?
JLB: I think it wasn’t really the case. Maybe we were lucky or maybe it’s different for other bands but for us it was a much easier album to make than the first record and also a lot more enjoyable. It was a process we all really enjoyed getting into. And we were really worried about making a 2nd album but it actually happened quite naturally for us.
I love music of all kinds and generally dislike attempts at pigeon-holing. But of course, when you are trying to write about music it often becomes impossible to talk about ‘genres’. Since 80s “indie pop” has been treated as the artistic superior of pop-rock (which originated in the 70s and included the likes of Styx, ELO and REO Speedwagon – all of which were detested by the snobbish indie pop pundits) with its pioneers including bands like Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, Felt, early Primal Scream and of course, The Smiths. By the late 80s, it was fairly agreed that the defining conventions of “indie pop” was jangling guitars, a love of ’60s pop, and melodic power pop song structures” and pop historian Jon Savage traced the origins back to the 60s (of course!) and to the eponymous third album of The Velvet Underground.
Okay, wrong film but watching Gravity is probably the closest experience that most of us will have of being in space. And that unique experience is crucial to a complete appreciation of Gravity as director Cuaron draws on the concepts of the more familiar earthbound tales of survival (e.g. a person caught in a shipwreck or lost in the wilderness), the only difference being the setting.
… and we’re back! Power pop is the original basis for this webzine’s existence so I thought it’d be appropriate to highlight all you needed to know about the foundations of true-blue original POWER POP. Enjoy…
Thanks to the Breaking Bad finale, Badfinger is back in vogue. This British band originally consisted of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans and were signed by The Beatles to Apple Records in 1968. Badfinger had four consecutive worldwide hits from 1970 to 1971: “Come and Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney), “No Matter What”, “Day After Day”, and “Baby Blue” (the song featured in that Breaking Bad finale).
It’s been two months since the release of Emo FASCISM and people have asked whether I was happy with the response to the album. Well, no, to be honest I am definitely NOT happy. It’s not that I expected massive CD/merch sales or crowds at my launch gigs – but perhaps I had thought that the music scene had grown somewhat since the last time I had released an album in Singapore viz Popland’s Groovy (1998). Back then, I had pressed a thousand CDs and sold more than half (yes I still have about 200 copies at home) but this time I cautiously pressed only 300 copies and at this stage, 250 copies remain unsold.
I have to say that I was pretty much pissed off after this game. As usual, the ‘Special One’ had the last say – asking for Jan Vertonghen to get a retrospective three match ban – which was a pretty brilliant smokescreen. After all, nobody seems to be talking about how the Chavs should not have been given their equalizer to begin with.
As Mata floated the ball into the Spurs box, Ivanovic held and pushed Mousa Dembele into the box allowing Terry to ghost in onside and score easily. A clear foul – but somehow the issue is about Vertonghen? Ridiculous. And as the picture above shows, Torres should have been red carded much earlier for laying hands on Vertonghen. Typical Chavs misconduct.