PoP10 – PAPER THE OPERATOR

 

Jon Sebastian (far right) provides the answers…

1. Why play music? 

Writing a song is very satisfying. It gives you a chance to show people a side of yourself that they would otherwise never know about, and to bring them into your world a little bit. Performing music just feels good. I always feel a sort of satisfied exhaustion afterward that is unique to playing shows.

2. Who are your influences?

Guided by Voices, Paul Simon, Failure, Nirvana, Cat Power, Throwing Muses, The Beatles, The Promise Ring, Spoon, Low and Smashing Pumpkins to name a few. 

3. What is success?

For me, as it pertains to music, there are two types of success: artistic and financial. I feel like I’ve had a lot of artistic success, in the sense that I have a pretty nice-sized body of work that I’m happy with. When it comes to financial success, I’ve done extremely shitty. I want to quit my day job.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Because I know they’ll like it. 

5. Who do you love?

My wife, my family, my friends.

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?

I don’t have an agenda with my music, as far as trying to relay a certain message or change people’s minds. I’m more interested in having people connect with it on a personal level, wherever they’re at in their lives. I think music should be interpreted on an individual basis. As a listener, a song should mean whatever you want it to mean at any given moment. This is what most people do anyway, regardless of how direct or indirect a song’s message may be. As long as they can connect with it somehow, I’m happy.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Our friends, and people with nothing better to do. 

8. What is your favorite album?

Tough to say. Probably Limbo by Throwing Muses. It changed the way I look at rock music completely. It’s simultaneously pretty & ugly, mellow & manic, soft & hard, dreamy & nightmarish. Kristin Hersh actually wrote the last song on it in a dream. The production is phenomenal, and every song on it is amazing.

9. What is your favorite song?

Impossible to say. 

10. How did you get here?

What?

Paper the Operator’s Solemn Boyz EP is out now.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

 

“My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances.  While everyone else was aging, I was getting younger, all alone.”

This is the premise that underscores The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, clocking a few minutes shy under three hours.  It is a third time lucky for director David Fincher and Brad Pitt reteaming after Se7en and The Fight Club with Pitt as the title character. 

The film has been nominated for 13 awards at the upcoming Oscars including nods for Best Picture, Best Achievement in Directing for Fincher and Best Actor for Pitt.  It was adapted by Eric Roth from a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald.   Coincidentally Roth was also the screenwriter of Forrest Gump to which some similarities between both movies exist.    

The film tells the story of Benjamin Button who was born in New Orleans around 1918.  Although an infant, Benjamin bears the looks and health of an 80 year old.  Abandoned at the step of an old folk’s home by his biological father, he is adopted by Queenie, a Negro woman played by Taraji P Henson.  As time passes by, Benjamin starts to age physically backwards and embarks on a journey which involves an affair with a wife of a British Diplomat played by Tilda Swinton, and fighting in World War II.       

The core of the story however rests of the love between Benjamin and Daisy that spans over decades from the time they met at the old folk’s home when they were children with Benjamin all wrinkly in appearance.  The lives of Benjamin and Daisy intersect from time to time over the years.  There were lost opportunities in love due to their physical differences, but they would finally meet at the mid-point of their loves.  It is at the love between Benjamin and Daisy that provides the film’s most heart-tugging moments over the adventures that Benjamin has.

The film relies on CG effects mostly for the first part of the movie where Pitt’s head is superimposed on other performers and slowly shed as Benjamin ages backwards.  Pitt delivers a credible performance but yet fails to let the audience into the heart of Benjamin.

Henson is effective as Benjamin’s mother, though the role seems to be rather archetypical.  The best performance of the film would have to go Cate Blanchett’s role of Daisy.  Blanchett successfully fleshes her character’s inner turmoil and turns in a heartfelt performance that gives the movie its soul that at times it lacks at times, especially in the first half of the film where the film feels like a slow ride.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an ordinary story about an ordinary person with an extraordinary circumstance.  It is about life as much it is about death.  It is about what Benjamin states as “our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss” and indeed there are some lost opportunities in film.   

(Darren Boon)

LIVE N LOADED S1E2

I honestly did not think that that excellent debut episode could be topped so quickly but episode two sure did kick arse! Credit must definitely go to Vertical Rush and A Vacant Affair for delivering blistering sets that had the in-studio audience tearing the place apart. VR certainly looked like they were up to the challenge of opening this week’s fun-filled segment. Marcus, in particular, was simply hyper-kinetic and the band was mesmerizing and enthralled the crowd. There is something about a live recording that pumps up band and audience alike – it is something special that has to be experienced first hand.

AVA closed the program with a bang as the moshing and body-surfing began in earnest. As Matt held court, adoring fans lapped up every word, every syllable as the band behind him pummeled us into abject submission. For the uniniated, it must seem slightly mystifying to witness Singaporean kids behaving in this manner. Flaying limbs, running in circles, bodies heaved into the air, even presenter Utt got into the act stage-diving into the audience as AVA launched into We Are Not the Same! All of which got me a little misty-eyed, considering that an activity that was previously banned altogether was now being played out on national TV! Even after the show went off-air and the PA was cut, AVA continued to rock! Totally punk! 

In-between, Jack and Rai provided melody and energy with The Falala Song and a glorious Fiona, giving an alternative bent to the alternative rock that was imploding around us. At times, it seemed that the duo and band were trying too hard to match the intensity levels permeating the studio. They certainly gave as good as they got!

As usual, the program also showcased three other “Exposed” bands viz. For This Cycle – an acoustic duo that, to these ears, possessed the best sound of the night; Eden’s State – formerly Ivy’s Vendetta I believe, were rather lacklustre and unimaginative (and even played to a phantom drummer – sorry, but performing to a tape is not on if you’re a rock band!) and Shigga Shay  – a rapper (I’m sorry but to me all rappers come across as the same). Also featuring, this week’s Sonic Youth, a band from my alma mater ACS, Finding Michelle, covering Mr Brightside and sounding exactly as a band in their teens would.

Overall, the established bands thrilled us all whilst the others were mixed affairs, with work still to be done. Personally, I hope that the show will be able to cover deserving bands in the eight weeks remaining and whilst I am all for showcasing raw talent, I just wish that the selection could be a little more discerning. I’m hoping to see Leeson, Etc, Rachael Teo, Nick Tan, Indus Gendi, Allura, You and Whose Army!, Fire Fight, Lunarin, Karl Maka, Force Vomit, Stoned Revivals, the Pinholes, Astro Ninja, King Kong Jane, Peep Show, West Grand Boulevard, Shirlyn Tan, Ngak, Retro Groove, Bhelliom, MUON, I Am David Sparkle, Typewriter, Padres… *hint*!!!!

Next – Plainsunset! Marchtwelve! Kate of Kale! 

…and there’s more…

PoP10 – BORIS SMILE

 

Wesley Chung by Erin Pearce
Wesley Chung by Erin Pearce

Wesley Chung is the frontman of folk-pop collective Boris Smile, out of Long Beach, California. 

1. Why play music?

Two reasons:

-We were made to create
-Music is such a gift that it would be a shame not to play

2. Who are your influences?
Sufjan Stevens, David Bazan, Fielding, Aaron Copland, Beatles, Jon Brion

3. What is success?

Creating music that enriches life.

4. Why should people buy your music?

(Hopefully) because they love it.  But it has its utilitarian value too.  When people buy our music it enables us to keep putting out new releases (buyers become patrons of the arts [i.e. Boris Smile]… and its just part of being in a market economy).

5. Who do you love?
Sufjan Stevens and Aaron Copland
6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?

hmm… not sure.  At this point I just want to keep writing.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends, sometimes family, and occasionally fans.

8. What is your favorite album?

“Pink Moon” by Nick Drake (first artist I really fell in love with) 

9. What is your favorite song?

“Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland (the whole thing)

10. How did you get here?

Perseverence, patience, hardwork, and connections.

Boris Smile’s Ep, Beartooth, is out now.

LIVE N LOADED

Yup, that's me in the lower left corner. Really.

Yes, its the 2nd episode at 8.30pm on Channel 5 tonight.

Line up tonight – Vertical Rush, A Vacant Affair, Jack & Rai, Finding Michelle, For This Cycle, Eden State and Shigga Shay.

I will be there to soak it all in, as long as I don’t get kicked in the face from being in the wrong place, wrong time when AVA perform…

If you are keen on Live N Loaded continuing behind its slated ten episodes, make your opinions known to promo5@mediacorp.com.sg 

See you there or on the telly!

LUNAR NODE

LUNAR NODE Exploring Unknown Territory Ep (Wallwork)

Instrumental rock music escapes me somewhat, especially if there’s no properly discernible melody line. Alright, so who says, any music needs to have a melody line, in the first place? Granted, you could have a collage of sounds and call it experimental music, if you like.

But that’s not what new S-ROCK band, Lunar Node, are about. Taking its cues from Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky et al, Lunar Node, similar to other S-ROCK instrumental bands like I Am David Sparkle and Amateur Takes Control, strives to create mood, atmosphere and an emotional connection sans lyrics.

Consisting of Daniaal, Asyral and Gerald, Lunar Node formed a year ago to – in their own words – “create music that would connect people through eclectic and emotive sounds”. Well, listening to their debut Ep – Exploring Unknown Territory – I’m not quite sure if the band has achieved its stated goal, right off the bat, but by all accounts, it has certainly tried its best to.

As with any music composed mainly of guitar effects and smashing cymbals, the five songs here tend to bleed into a indistinguishable whole and thus, eclecticism may be hard to attain. Sounding very much like 60s psych rock (Syd-era Floyd), 70s space rock (Gilmour-era Floyd) and 90s shoegaze (Ride, Chapterhouse), the songs on this Ep never stray too far from that template to produce fairly engaging music. My personal favorite is the closing Voiding the Negative, with its cascading guitar appregios and explosive percussions which build up to a satisfying sonic crescendo and ultimate climax.

Not the finished product, by any means, but it should be interesting to observe where Lunar Node move on from here. 

Check out Lunar Node’s Myspace page.

If you’re interested to know more, come down to the launch of Lunar Node’s Ep on 7th Feb (this Saturday) at 8pm at the Arts House.

BOLTON 3 SPURS 2

It’s tempting to view this match as a game Spurs lost in the last 5 minutes but really it’s a game Spurs lost due to a pathetic display for 85 minutes. Yes, apart from a thrilling 5 minute period where, inspired by substitute Pascal Chimbonda, Spurs came back from two goals down thanks to substitute Darren Bent’s 13th and 14th goals of the season, Spurs had done nothing over the course of the 90 minutes to deserve three points or even one.

It’s also tempting to attribute Spurs’ toothless performance to the absence of the injured Jermain Defoe, when the fact is that despite the presence of TWO holding midfielders, Bolton still managed to run the centre of the park and despite our documented failure to play well with 4-4-1-1 formation, Harry Redknapp chose not to revert to 4-4-2 till the start of the 2nd half and already 0-1 down.

By and large, shoddy shocking defending by all concerned led to our downfall. We seemed to lack numbers when defending and really our two centre backs were not given any protection at all by the full backs or the midfielders. Looking back at the Bolton goals, its obvious that Spurs are simply awful at defending set plays and the teams around us in this relegation dogfight will certainly be aware of how to exploit this glaring weakness.

Positives? Chimbonda’s attacking contributions and Bent’s goals. With Defoe out, it’s certainly time for Bent to step up to the plate. However, with the rumors intensifying that Robbie Keane is returning to White Hart Lane, Bent’s revival might be moot. Still, looking at Pavlyuchenko’s abject failure to win the ball in the air, what Spurs really need now is an effective target man – like Roque Santa Cruz – rather than Keane (who’s style will clash with Bent, Defoe and even Modric).

As I have said since the end of the close of the August transfer window, Spurs fans are in for a long hard slog of a season and there’s still no reason for me to change that opinion. Next up, the gooners at home! What a wonderful time it would be to finally get that league victory over our bitter rivals.

MARYKATE O’NEIL

MARYKATE O’NEIL Underground (71 Recordings Collective)

Last year’s mkULTRA Ep was a tasty appertiser for the main course, Underground, and by all accounts, its a sumptous feast! Underground (MK’s third album) encapsulates all that is wonderful and delightful about pop music. And when I use the term “pop”, I am talking in the classic sense, as in the kind of music that the world lapped up from Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Carol King, Laura Nyro et al, all those years ago. 

Thus, the eleven songs on Underground bear testimony to MK’s grasp of melody, reverential pop sense and literate lyricism. Whether intentional or not, Underground can be split into two halves. The first five songs are sophisticated, smart pop that combine technical brilliance and instinctive coolness. Tracks like the smooth Green Street (last heard on mkULTRA with the line “And I lived back in the village/Where there’s no more any sign of Dylan” prominent), the melancholy Easy to Believe At First, the countrified Nashville (resplendent with its Harrisonesque slide guitar), the provocative Saved (where MK protests against being judged), the Nyro-Rundgren channeling Mr. Friedman (and perhaps my favorite of the lot) and song #10, the Honeys produced by Brian Wilson influenced One Thousand Times A Day.

The rest of Underground tends to a little more folky, with MK’s acoutic guitar high in the mix, whilst MK either tugs at your heart strings or challenges your thinking processes. The wistful Me, the Bee and the Miner, the strident title track (“I don’t wanna leave the underground” the declaratory statement of intent), the pleading Attention, the twangy Joe Jackson cover – Different For Girls and the closing So Long, a loving tribute to the late great George Harrison – “I have found religion/I follow the sun/I don’t care a smidgeon what you are/Or who you have done”.

Simply magnificient! An essential for 2009.

Check out Marykate O’Neil’s Myspace page.

Here’s the music video for Nashville. Enjoy!

DEFOE OUT!

Various online sources are claiming that Jermain Defoe was badly injured in training on Friday and will be sidelined for a considerable period of time.

The Independent reports that Defoe has broken a metatarsal bone in his foot and will be out for 10 weeks. The report states that Defoe had been carrying this injury before he re-signed for Spurs and calls into question the medical that Defoe had undergone at Spurs.

BBC online claims that Defoe will be sidelined for only a month.

The Sun describes the injury in the worst possible terms, stating that Defoe would be out for the rest of the season!

This news comes at the worst possible time for Spurs. Defoe has been scoring goals since his return and he has been effective in partnering Pavlyuchenko up front. And with Spurs still in the market for a striker, all the available targets would have increased in value significantly. Hopefully, the injury is not as bad as it seems but definitely Defoe will not be ready for the Bolton game today, which leaves Harry Redknapp with a selection problem. Who to replace Defoe? The seriously out-of-sorts Darren Bent or the inexperienced Frazier Campbell? At least, we’ve got Palacios and Chimbonda to come in to give us the steel but will there be a cutting edge in yet another must-win six-pointer?

Never a dull moment with Tottenham Hotspur.

LADY GAGA

LADY GAGA The Fame (Universal)

In the CD sleeve, new dance pop sensation Lady GaGa thanks Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Prince, Madonna and Chanel. And listening to her hit debut album, The Fame, its the influence of Madonna that comes across strongly. Yes, you can’t mistake the 80s vibe that permeates this highly commercial effort. 

This former Interscope staff songwriter has taken a bold step into the limelight and is credited with co-writing every single song on The Fame. Nothing exceptional, I might add, the music is a typical modern mix-up of hip-hop R&B, electro-dance-pop with emphasis on the groove and hooky choruses, notably on Poker Face, Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) and Just Dance.

The lyrical concepts are also typically aimed at the groin primarily. Here’s a sample – 

“I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” (Lovegame)

“Need a man who likes it rough” (I Like It Rough)

“Let’s go see the Killers and make out in the bleachers” (Boys Boys Boys)

Disposable teen fare? No doubt. 

The Singapore edition includes Disco Heaven as a bonus track.

Check out Lady GaGa’s Myspace page.

CHARLOTTE LOURDES

Took a while for Charlotte to be properly introduced but here she is – 

A keen writer honing her craft while diplomatically trying to subdue urges to conform to the socially acceptable views of the masses. Music has always played a major role in her life and so has writing as a form of expression, communication and presentation.

A self proclaimed idealist with a penchant for intense experiences sprinkled with humour and a dash of melody (preferably from a guitar). An amateur singer/songwriter whose chosen weapon is a six string and her material based on anything from a floating feather from her pet parrot, to the solitude of a clinically depressed genius whose only companion are the words flowing from the tip of his pen and the empty syringe tossed aside.

It’s no surprise then that she loves and enjoys – Jeff Buckley, Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, The Ramones, Tool, Waits and the likes…

Always eager to reach out and connect with a chosen few.. –  So echoes the whispers of a fallen angel: Victims Aren’t We All…

Seriously though, love being able to listen to and review the artistes showcased on this site!

HERE WE GO MAGIC

HERE WE GO MAGIC Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl)

To call Here We Go Magic a band is a pretty loose term, yes they consist of three members and appear under one name, but the real driving force and creativity behind Here We Go Magic is Luke Temple and this band and album are pretty much him just under another name. Brooklyn born Temple is joined by Baptiste Ibar on bass and Peter Hale on drums but this appears to be purely for touring and live purposes, there is no doubt that this is Luke Temple’s ideas and creation.  

Originally trained as a painter and mural artist, Temple soon took a transitional stumble into music and found his true calling. Releasing his debut solo album, Hold a Match for a Gasoline World, in 2005 he showcased his undoubtable talent as a songwriter and musician. This followed with more success on his 2007 album Snowbeast, which gained awareness from a wider audience when Make Right with You featured on Grey’s Anatomy (the show responsible for Snow Patrol being EVERYWHERE during 2006).

Starting with Pieces, Here We Go Magic instantly brings to mind comparisons with Paul Simon, it has a very tribal, looping beat that repeats, layered with simple vocals that sing nothing more than a single sentence. Much of the album is like this and it works very well, creating a structured clutter of instruments for the listener, just enough that it doesn’t become too crowded or claustrophobic. Temple produces a truly interesting and unique sound, parts of the album did remind me of the whole psychedelic rock/folk sound of MGMT but you don’t get the impression that he is trying to jump on that band wagon. Fangala, the most instantly striking song melodically on the album, breezes along like a daydream, making it impossible for you not to tap to the beat and drift off beyond the walls of your room. Ahab starts with a bluesy and gritty riff mixed with softly sung, haunting vocals, truly demonstrating how varied Temple’s sound is. He is not content with staying on one particular track and delights in deviating from it. 

If I had one criticism of Here We Go Magic it would be that it does lull after the first four songs of the album. The beautiful Tunnelvision is followed by Ghost List which is an atmospheric and haunting song containing no words or beat, just sound effects and distortion. This much slower pace continues right up until the concluding track and I felt it could have been broken up with the bouncier tracks at that start. When the album does come to conclusion though with Everything’s Big you are not left disappointed from the experience, the song feels my head with images of Paris and a misty morning walk along the Seine for some reason, it is a very stripped down song compared to the rest of the album and more simplistic in it’s structure and could almost be from another artist. This is Luke Temple’s gift though and what makes Here We Go Magic work, the fact that his influences and creativity is so wide and varied. 

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Here We Go Magic’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – DRIVING ON CITY SIDEWALKS

 

Barry Mielke & Darryl Silvestri
Barry Mielke & Darryl Silvestri

Thought-provoking answers from Darryl Silvestri of Driving on City Sidewalks.

1. Why play music?

I’ve never thought about it.  I suppose because I was created to create. 

2. Who are your influences?

Jesus Christ. Thrice. Further Seems Forever. Explosions in the Sky.  Appleseed Cast.  Mineral. UnderOath. Brand New. David Bazan. Emery. Brandtson. Jimmy Eat World. 

3. What is success?

Hearing someone say, “Thank You”

4. Why should people buy your music?

If they feel its something worth supporting 

5. Who do you love?

Laura, my wife.  My family. My friends.

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Connections with other human beings 

 7. Who comes to your gigs?

No one. haha.  We have yet to do gigs.  

8. What is your favorite album?

The Moon Is Down – Further Seems Forever

9. What is your favorite song?

Probably Nothing – Brandtson, OR

Some Seek Forgiveness Others Escape – Underoath, OR

Open Water – Thrice 

10. How did you get here?

I got here while i was trying to find my way home.

Driving on City Sidewalks’ new EP, Where Angels Crowd to Listen, is out now.

SPURS 3 STOKE 1

For 45 spell-binding minutes, Spurs made a mockery of their lowly position at the foot of the Premier League and played like a team chasing for a Champions League spot. Within 25 minutes, goals from Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson had placed Spurs into an unassailable lead.

Naturally, Spurs took their foot off the pedal somewhat and gifted Stoke’s James Beattie a goal but for once, Spurs were not in any real danger of losing a substantial lead. This time, anyway. 

Considering the attack-minded midfield – Bentley, Modric & Lennon all started – the combative Stoke midfielders could not take control in the middle of the park especially with Modric pulling the strings brilliantly. This game was also notable for being the debut of new goalie Carlo Cuducini and although Stoke never really tested him, Cuducini looked composed throughout. 

With Palacios and Chimbonda stil to come on board, Spurs are beginning to look like they will have the steel to match the flair as the crucial run-in begins with a tough game away to Bolton this Saturday.

BORIS SMILE

 

BORIS SMILE Beartooth EP (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Fronted by the vocals and guitar of A. Wesley Chung, Boris Smile are a collection of musicians (eight in total) and a whole community of friends who make guest appearances on their work. Based in California, their Beartooth EP offers a short but sweet sample of their music and what they have to offer. 

Opening track Beartooth (Spooky Version) is a mix of acoustic base, driven bass and machine gun drumming building to a conclusion of spooky backing harmonies. The real issue I have with this track is the vocals, there is no doubt that singer Chung has ability but the chorus is just so off key it is to the point of distracting. He repeats the words Bear Tooth and it is almost painful how Chung wanders and struggles to deliver the line. I am not one to criticize singing, I have not got the most angelic and powerful voice myself, and I can understand how in the slacker folk rock genre this is seen as appealing, but it is just not for me. 

Later tracks however do not suffer so badly from this problem. Hour of the Wolf is a melancholic and soulful song with emotional vocals and excellent female backing that really compliments the main hook of the song, Everybody loves you but yourself. It is bordering on Emo but my eyes refrained from rolling because despite this it is a very good song. 

Tut Tut is definitely the one song on the EP that made me sit up and really listen. It is a beautiful song full of melody and a cacophony of sound and instruments that draw the listener in. I had images of a Friday evening when listening to this song, knowing that the working week is done and your mind can finally concentrate on meaningless and stress free thoughts, with the troubles of the world sliding away at least for a couple of days. 

The last track on the EP, Books with Blank Pages, is quite an ironic title because the song almost feels like a non-event. It passes by without any real significance. It is a difficult song to listen to though after the previous song Program Me to Love which is an amusing robot love song about a synthetic being wishing for the emotion of love, the song skirts on the side of being too cheesy for it’s own good but just manages to save itself from disappearing over the edge.  

Beartooth EP is certainly an interesting collection of songs and shows a lot of potential. I am not completely convinced that Boris Smile will be a permanent fixture in my record collection but I am sure that there will be days that I will revisit this EP and perhaps find more to like about it, despite Chung’s vocal style and sometimes more cringe worthy moments. Will I await a full length album with bated breath? Not likely, but I certainly will give it a passing glance to see what this band is capable of with a larger scope of material to showcase. 

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Boris Smile’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – JESSIE KILGUSS

Photo by Denis Kleiman

 

It’s been a while since we had a PoP10, so thanks to singer-songwriter Jessie Kilguss, we have a spanking new one…

1. Why play music?

Because it makes me happy.

2. Who are your influences? 

Nina Simone, Marianne Faithfull, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Tom Waits, Nick Drake,Aretha Franklin, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Edith Piaf, Miriam Mekeba, Mahalia Jackson…the list goes on and on

3. What is success? 

For me it is happiness, balance, health, love, artistic fullfillment and getting joy out of what you are doing as often as possible…it is attainable and yet always changing slightly…

4. Why should people buy your music? 

Because they like it and also cause I have a dog to support.

5. Who do you love?

Ralph

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music? 

I’d like to take people on journeys that are familiar and new at the same time and also to engage people on an emotional level….hard to answer this question without feeling like a self-involved douche…can I use the word douche here?

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends and fans

8. What is your favorite album?

Oh come on!   Just one!  Today it is Pink Moon.

9. What is your favorite song?

Seriously!  I can’t chose just one.  Today’s favorite;  Karen Dalton’s “Something on your Mind” off of “In My Own Time.”

10. How did you get here? 

A series of bad decisions.  

Jessie’s new album – Nocturnal Drifter – is out now.

LIVE N LOADED S1E1

The Great Spy Experiment by Fir

History in the making? Okay, so maybe that’s pouring the hyperbole a little thick but then again, it’s not that far off from the truth. What am I talking about? Obama’s election? Nope, something much closer to home.

Fourteen years ago, I appeared on Live on 5, the last time we had a TV programme featuring S-ROCK bands live and last night I was thrilled to be at the world premiere of Live N Loaded. As Rachael and I shuffled into the near-empty studio, with A Vacant Affair blaring over the PA, I was struck by how compact the venue was, especially with the two performing stages across each other. I looked for somewhere I could lean on and ended up in front of one stage and before you know it, Saiful, Mag, Khai, Song and Fandy walked on! 

The crowd went apeshit and for the next hour or so were unrelentless in shouting and screaming themselves hoarse in adoration and approval of our S-ROCK bands. GSE kicked it off with a fiery Siti in the City and Ling (looking and sounding great) followed up with a jaunty Suburbia. Three “exposed” bands and one “Sonic Youth” strutted their stuff viz. Kay Swisher featuring the Supreme One, Fatskunks, Sea Bed Sound and Lamp Post Shadows. Though to be honest, I could not quite get into the music but to their credit they obviously gave it 100%. 

 

 

Ling Kai by Thomas Tan
Ling Kai by Thomas Tan

With GSE upping the ante, Electrico had to be on their game and how. Oozing class from every pore, the band was augmented by the Horndogs – trumpet and sax – and delivered a rockin’ We Satellites, with William and Desmond an awesomely tight rhythm section. Before you know it, GSE was playing Class ‘A’ Love Affair (see vid below), the final song and it was over. Well, not really, as the Live N Loaded team and GSE gifted us new song The Lights as a wonderful bonus. 

Overall, the debut show was a cracking success. The give and take between bands and audience as one pushed the other to greater heights was a sight to behold. I’ve always believe that a rock audience will only get as good as they give and with the crowd giving their all, it was obvious that their energy and excitement was rubbing off on the bands and their heightened levels of performance was clear to all. The buzz around the studio was incredieble. Electrifying. Towards the end, the kids were moshing and bodysurfing, and I was thinking to myself that an activity that was used by the authorities to shut down indie gigs in the past was now being televised live on the goverment-controlled TV network. And who says things don’t change. 

One down, nine episodes to go, I intend to go to as many as I humanly can. Next – Vertical Rush, A Vacant Affair, Jack and Rai and more. Can hardly wait. Kudos to Sebas and the Live N Loaded team for a well produced show. 

… and there’s more …

JESSIE KILGUSS

JESSIE KILGUSS Nocturnal Drifter (Self released)

“I consider all of the arts to be interconnected and think there is fluidity in the boundaries between them. Many of my favourite singers started out in some other artistic discipline; Joni Mitchell with painting, Leonard Cohen as a scholar/poet, David Bowie as an actor…” – Jessie Kilguss

Classically trained actress turned singer, songwriter – Jessie Kilguss’ Nocturnal Drifter is the second album, following Exotic Bird.

This Brooklyn singer’s sultry, husky, intoxicating vocals command the tone on each track.  Collaborating with production team Super Buddha, this feast of echoes, question-like harmonies, emphasize her vocal and lyrical foray into the likes of one of her idols – Mitchell.

The first track Gristmill captures you with the easy, cabaret-like atmosphere as Kilguss laments about life in a densely populated city with savvy, lyrical flair. This is then followed by the post-rock beats of Americana, again beautifully weighed by the soulful plea of Kilguss’ vocals.

Almost all of the ten tracks on this album showcase a different character being channelled to tell a story and to Kilguss’ credit – done seamlessly and without a hitch in the flow of the desired plot. A testament to tapping into the creativity of being in character with her training as an actor and painting the desired backdrop and tapestry of each piece with her talent as a songwriter and her unique voice.

You’ll be able to find at least one track, if not three, that you’ll relate to, just because it’s been delivered to you in a manner you can’t resist nor deny. Mine would be 31.

A tidbit that made me smile: She lives with her canine companion: Mr Walter Peanuts.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

Free Download: A Little Place Behind My Eyes

Check out Jessis Kilguss’ Myspace page.

DRIVING ON CITY SIDEWALKS

DRIVING ON CITY SIDEWALKS Where Angels Crowd to Listen (Red Plane/Count Your Lucky Stars)

“Driving on City Sidewalks was formed out of a genuine love for music…” according to Barry Mielke of this two piece Ontario band.

Their EP, courtesy of Red Plane Records and Count Your Lucky Stars is titled Where Angels Crowd to Listen and it is an emotion-driven album with a heavy emphasis on psychedelic post rock-infused guitars and raw vocals on some of the five tracks.

For someone who started recording music in his basement about a year and a half ago, the journey of the band seems to be a story out of a fairytale. Actively promoting their music on MySpace and being discovered by a French Label – Red Plane Records, both Barry and Darryl have set their sights on moving ahead with their brand music.

The track that stands out on the EP in my opinion would be Farewell to knowing it all. A 9 minute offering that leads with dreamscape-like soft guitar notes and kicks up the intensity by more than a couple notches with a steady flowing rhythm of crash cymbals and cranking it out in the final two minutes with brazen, heavy guitars.

This is definitely one not for the masses but the beauty of it is held in the originality of its offering and in the quiet stirrings of the story being told. 

An interview featuring Barry is featured on Stereosubversion.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

Check out Driving on City Sidewalks Myspace page.

LARS HORNTVETH

LARS HORNTVETH Kaledoscopic (Smalltown Supersound)

Much is to be said when time has to be scheduled to listen to an album. It’s been a long time coming and that is what Kaleidoscopic had me doing.

Kaleidoscopic is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed debut album, Pooka, by Jaga Jazzist and The National Bank leader Lars Horntveth.

Comprising of one composition spaced out in 36:47 minutes, Kaleidoscopic can be very easily labelled as cinematic – One can’t help but see various scenes play out before your eyes as the strings and horns blend and bleed from one emotion to another. Guided by 41 members of the Latvian National Orchestra led by Norwegian conductor Terje Mikkelsen, with Lars himself playing piano, horns and clarinets – your senses are immersed in the electro-tinged ambience, orchestral carpet rides and a frantic race to a place only you know.

This album is above all an auditory trip that harnesses a listener’s visual power – a little frightening even but beautifully seamless as the shifts and switches in moods with key instruments, paint your inner world with a touch of noir, epic and vast horizons, tranquil and forest-lush hideaways, and even a simple side walk at dusk, with just a pluck of a harp. My favourite ride on this journey began at the 27thminute mark –  strings and Horntveth’s own piano playing wrap up the trip over the final ten minutes. An album that will be savored by any ardent fan of visual music journeys.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

Check out Lars Horntveth’s Myspace page.

CAW! CAW!

CAW! CAW! Wait Outside (Slanty Shanty)

A young band that starts off playing punk-influenced, textured rock and roll before expanding their canvas and horizons to include dreamily ambient, atmospheric experimenting?  We’ll ignore the obvious temptation to reference the four lads from Ireland here and instead tell you that underneath all the alien-sounding pyschedelia is a very well-honed pop sensibility that ensures the record remains firmly rooted in Planet Earth-style accessible melodies. Besides, Caw! Caw!’s brand of experimentation is much closer sonically to the art-rock of Radiohead anyway.

The record opens with a little patch of outer space and twinkling star guitars coloring the soundscapes on Escape The Red Giant, before rollicking drums intrude and set up the song for the entry of lead vocalist Tim Tsurutani’s half-whispered, half-drawling lyrics. It’s followed by easily the catchiest track on the album, Organisms, one that deftly blends indie-style sonic colors and irresistible tunefulness. Wrapped Up Neat In The Bible is equally catchy and cosmo-spacey, but towards the end of the track there is some truly virtuso screeching-guitar work that would make both Eric Clapton and The Edge proud. 

There’s some really solid songwriting on display here, but at the same time an unconventional approach to song structure that will keep you on your toes, such as on the rocker number Work, which is probably the closest thing to modern radio alt-rock you’ll find on this record. Penultimate track Rotten Ghost is a dark and brooding number teased onto a razor edge, and the album closes on the sprawlingly gorgeous piece, Sheets. 

A gorgeously beautiful record at times and unbearably catchy at others, Caw! Caw! might be a bit too loose and unstructured for the mainstream, but one gets the feeling that something might be lost if they were to work within the confines and rigours of a traditional songwriting structure. Underneath the experimentation though, is a intuitive pop discipline that will definitely serve them well in future. A brilliant record worthy of every praise. 

(Samuel C Wee)
Check out Caw! Caw!’s Myspace page.

THE SAFES

THE SAFES Sight of All Light (Self released) 

There’s much to be said for doing some research about the album you’re about to review before you go into it at full volume. I say this because my eardrums are still ringing from the aftershock of being blasted with the raw garage-rock opening riffs of The Safes’ latest EP, Sight Of All Light. (In my defence, I was attempting to listen in on the dialogue of a particularly stubborn Youtube video earlier on my headphones.)

The brainchild of the O’Malley brothers trio, Sight of All Light is their fourth release and second EP. Clocking in at just around 11 minutes long, The Safes waste no time in getting to the point as title track Sight Of All Light sets the pace and tone for the rest of the record with a driving drum pulse and massive, ear-filling guitar power chords that wrap around the vocals in a very 1970s Cheap Trick manner. Second track Troublemaker doesn’t depart much from the opener as ringing distortion underline the harmonies on the intro, before settling into an abrasive repetitive format for the rest of the song. 

The rest of the EP can pretty much be summed up in the same few words really, catchy, hooky choruses on top of crashing power riffs that leave no space for breathing. It’s hardly as boring as that description might suggest, mainly due to the length of the EP itself. The unprepared listener might come out shell-shocked after the 11 minutes due to the breakneck frenetic intensity at which The Safes plow through the songs, but a few repeats on the playlist will offer up some rewards as one begins to notice the subtleties and layers that cleverly underline the songs. The Sky Is Falling is one such track that will offer up its secrets upon revisitation.

A rather good record that grabs you by the scruff of the neck on the first listen and demands you stay for the rerun. 

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out the Safes’ Myspace page.

THE ORGAN

THE ORGAN Thieves (Mint)

I hadn’t realized that when I previously wrote about The Organ with respect to a free download at RCRD LBL that they had split up in 2006! So, I was a little surprised (but very pleased) to receive the all female band’s final Ep, Thieves in the mail from Canadian indie Mint Records recently. Seems the story is that after the breakup, Debora Cohen, guitar; Ashley Webber, bass; Shelby Stocks, drums; Jenny Smyth, Hammond organ and Katie Sketch, lead singer; went back into the studio in 2007 to complete certain recordings the band had started before the demise of The Organ. The result of which is this truly excellent Ep, which only makes you wonder why this wonderful post-punk-influenced band is no longer making music together.

Anyway, fans of intelligent, multi-layered post-punk should at least be thankful for the existence of The Organ’s swan song. Songs like the opening Even in the Night, with its intricate instrumental interplay and Katie’s doleful & melancholy singing is a wonder to behold. Sure, it hearkens back to post-punk but presented in a unique manner. Same goes for the ironic jaunty Oh What A Feeling, the tweeful Fire in the Ocean (reminiscent of Felt’s finest moments) and the rustic Don’t Be Angry. 

I must really find out what these gifted ladies are up to right now cos the power of this Ep cannot stop here. Will keep you boys and girls posted of any new post-Organ developments.

Check out The Organ’s Myspace page.

TO TEXAS AND BACK

Here’s your chance to support the S-ROCK scene in a very tangible way. I Am David Sparkle has had the honour of being the 3rd S-ROCK band (after Great Spy Experiment & Electrico) to be invited to the prestigious indie rock festival, SXSW. Unfortunately, part of the deal is self-financing the traveling and accomodation expenses, which according to the band is the region of $30,000.

Thus, the band and the KittyWu label has organized To Texas and Back, a fund-raising benefit for the band’s SXSW adventure, on 31 January 2009 commencing at about 2pm at the Home Club. Entry is $18, which is reasonable considering the array of S-ROCK bands and (more importantly) the knowledge that you’ve contributed to the development of our beloved S-ROCK!!!

SET TIMINGS:

FLEA MARKET STARTS FROM 2.00PM ONWARDS (OUTSIDE HOME CLUB)

Band 1: 3.00 – 3.30pm (30mins) : A Band Named Power
Band 2: 3.45 – 4.15pm (30mins) : Indus Gendi
Band 3: 4.30 – 5.00pm (30mins) : Amberhaze
Band 4: 5.15 – 5.45pm (30mins) : AUM
Band 5: 6.00 – 6.30pm (30mins) : Plainsunset
All changeovers above are 15mins each.

6.30 – 7.30pm INTERMISSION, Music by Sweetmusic.fm (Roland)

Band 6: 7.30 – 8.00pm (30mins) : Amateur Takes Control
Band 7: 8.15 – 8.45pm (30mins) : The Great Spy Experiment
Band 8: 9.00 – 9.35pm (35mins) : Muon
Band 9: 9.50 – 10.30pm (40mins) : 41 (from Kuala Lumpur)
Band 10: 10.45 – 11.25pm (40mins) : I Am David Sparkle

DJ SETS FROM 11.30PM ONWARDS:

11.30pm – 12.30am : Unpopular Music (Charan) & (possibly Sweetmusic.fm)
12.30am – 2.00am : 4 Imaginary Boys
2.00am – 3.00am : Kid Villain (Razi)

3.00am ONWARDS: SLEEPY TIME!

LUNAR NODE

Instrumental rock is nothing new, of course. I grew up listening to the Shadows and the Ventures in the 60s and bands like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Cinematic Orchestra are modern versions, that’s all. Naturally, the S-ROCK scene has its own proponents, chief of which is I Am David Sparkle.

Add spanking new S-ROCK instrumental band, Lunar Node, to the list. The band is releasing its debut EP – Exploring Unknown Territory – in February and the EP launch is slated for 7 February 2009 at the Playden, Arts House. Amateur Takes Control opens the show at 8pm.

More information about Lunar Node here.