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Sep 192014
 

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

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

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Sep 192014
 
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Stephen Christian by Aloysius Lim

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

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Caracal by Aloysius Lim

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

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

Thanks to Upsurge Productions for making this review possible. 

Sep 182014
 
Pic by Ger O'Donnell

Pic by Ger O’Donnell

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 182014
 

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

… still there’s more …

Sep 172014
 

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

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

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

More pics here.

… still there’s more …

Sep 152014
 

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

But first up on Wednesday…

… still there’s more …

Sep 112014
 

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

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

LP is now available.

RSVP

Sep 112014
 

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

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

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

More details here, here and here!

 

Sep 112014
 

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

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Sep 102014
 

Well, I woke up this morning to the news that U2 had released its 13th album – Songs of Innocence – for FREE! That news made me depressed – if the biggest band in the world didn’t believe their new album could sell, then all of us in the music industry are well and truly fucked! But thankfully, there was a silver lining from the band itself as they made a clarification at U2.com

“You’ll have noticed the album is free to U2.com’ers from the band. It’s also free to everyone on iTunes thanks to Apple. To celebrate the ten year anniversary of our iPod commercial, they bought it as a gift to give to all their music customers. Free, but paid for. Because if no-one’s paying anything for it, we’re not sure “free” music is really that free. It usually comes at a cost to the art form and the artist… which has big implications, not for us in U2, but for future musicians and their music… all the songs that have yet to be written by the talents of the future… who need to make a living to write them”.

Also, U2 have announced a second album – Songs of Experience – to be released ‘soon’. Whatever you may think of U2, they’re seldom boring…

Thanks to Alan Cross for the heads up. 

Sep 092014
 

Ex-Boo Radley Martin Carr is back with a new single and a new album. Absolutely digging the old school soul vibe! Watch the official video now!

Carr’s new single “The Santa Fe Skyway” is available at : http://tinyurl.com/l2nwffu
His new album The Breaks will be out on CD/LP on September 26, 2014.
All info here: http://tinyurl.com/k6ndgp3

Sep 092014
 

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New local promoters LivePOD got off to a great start as it brought to our indie scene, an instrumental rock event (at Hood Bar) that not only championed an acclaimed regional act – COMA – but also showcased our very own talented bands viz In Each Hand a Cutlass and NeoDominatrix.

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Sep 082014
 

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TARAGANA PYJARAMA (DEN) live in Singapore
Life Is Beautiful (99 Duxton Rd)
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Doors open: 9:30pm
$20 (available online and at the door)

TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW VIA PEATIX
http://www.taragana.peatix.com

LIVE SET (not a DJ set)

Brought to you by Other Sounds. 

Sep 082014
 

Hailing from Staten Island, New York, this indie rock quartet has three LPs to its name, the latest one – LOSE – having just been recently released on Barsuk Records. The album is a melange of tge finest pop and rock influences and nuances, with a premium placed on emotionally resonance. It’s feisty rock n roll in the sense that lead guitar solos are unashamedly thrown about without bothering whether it’s uncool or not. There is an authentic rockist vigor about the manner in which the band dives into high energy numbers like “Jackson”, “Warning” and “XR” that reference Television and Uncle Tupelo simultaneously. The rest of LOSE slows down somewhat without sacrificing power but with a greater attention to melody – the folky “Child Bride” and the dynamic “Laramie”, prime examples. Highly recommended!

Am hoping to catch Cymbals Eat Guitars open for the legendary Bob Mould in Seattle on 23rd September. Join me if you’re in the area. Buy tickets.

Sep 072014
 

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

When I first watched X-Men: First Class, I had a big issue with reconciling it with the original X-movie trilogy and even X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Most of First Class did not add up continuity-wise. If both the USA and Soviet Union were made aware of mutants in 1963 (and the power they possessed), then why was nothing done to hunt them down and destroy them? If Professor X and Mystique had known each other since they were children, why was there no indication of this whatsoever in the trilogy? And so forth.

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 Posted by at 6:44 pm
Sep 072014
 

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Noise for noise’s sake

With Singapore indie pop music on the ascendancy, it is important not to neglect alternative music that embraces more artistic and esoteric values. Whilst the success of indie pop in Singapore will still be judged by the usual key performance indicators like number of digital downloads, ticket sales, radio play, Facebook likes and Twitter followers, this form of so-called art-rock deserves to be embraced on its own terms – art for art’s sake. In that respect, local art-rock collective The Observatory has taken the lead in not only organizing its own gigs but also curating music events that aim to expose Singapore audiences to new sounds viz, the Playfreely series of 6 shows and MOHA! in 2011 and for this year, the 3 day event Playfreely II, MoE (as part of the Transitions tour).

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Sep 052014
 

4.10pm – 5.50pm Hollow Threat
5.50pm – 6.30pm Cultures
6.30pm – 7.10pm False Plaintiff
7.10pm – 7.50pm Straight Forward
7.50pm – 8.30pm 7 Nights At Sea
8.30pm – 9.10pm Tell Lie Vision
9.10pm – 9.50pm Exhibitors

Aug 312014
 

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By Nikita Wong

The usual hustle and bustle filled the streets along Orchard Road, by 6.30 pm approximately 400 fans were embracing the heat as they queued to catch the Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) Ep launch. As the doors opened, avid shutterbugs and fervent fans scouted for perfect vantage points to catch a glimpse of their idol. Held on the 30th of August 2014, TAB was teeming with mostly school girls who were die-hard fans of Gentle Bones. The crowd huddled together with approximately 700 over people within the room.

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Gracing the stage was none other than Samantha Rui, the audience was certainly deceived by her reserved and shy composure. Being captivated by her soulful voice that held a great semblance to Ellie Goulding everyone was left awe inspired. The forested graphics complimented the acoustic set up, often exuding a magical feel through her voice. It was an intimate performance as the crowd amassed together at the front of stage, and Samantha drew the audience towards her as she crooned to “All I Want” by Kodaline and “Blue” which was one of her originals. Despite the thick crowd, the vibe was generally relaxed.

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Known as Singapore’s version of Justin Timberlake, Gareth Fernandez had the girls bouncing off their feet as he interacted with them throughout his set. He sashayed, cooed and pouted coquettishly as he reminisced on his inspirations which dawned upon him for a few of his original songs such as “Subliminal Love”. Taking on Top 40 hits such as “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith, it was a reflex action for the crowd to groove to the sunny beats as they sang along with Gareth. His flawless runs and falsetto was spot on without any room for errors and it was phenomenal for a live performance.

Banners were being raised in the air as the crowd chanted Gentle Bones, starting off strongly the crowd echoed to “Settle Down”. Shattering the atmosphere with the remarkable guitar parts played by Wai Huin and thumping beats by Ritz Ang, Joel’s backing band complemented him. A mellow approach was taken too with his solo performance as he interacted with the crowd through his acoustic showcase occasionally inviting guest singers to join him for a song such as Joie Tan and Samantha. The duets were simply stunning as both singers harmonized for covers such as “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars and on “Undecided” which is an original song composed by Joel and Samantha.

Leaving the stage half way, many thought that it was an end. Encore was being echoed throughout the room as they sang in unison to “Until We Die” to beckon the band to perform once again which they did. The ending brought a tear within most fans as the band ended with “Elusive”, fans whipped out their hand phones as they waved the torches in the air and swayed away.

As the concert drew to an end, beelines were made by eager fans as they anticipated the meet and greet session with Gentle Bones and other musicians. Local bands are certainly on the rise and more people are willing to pay for local acts! Joel has journeyed a long way from where he first started out, his humble approach also draws his fans closer to him.

Aug 282014
 

Ralegh Long is a UK singer-songwriter who likens his music to cult artists like Epic Soundtracks and Robyn Hitchcock. Long was in Singapore recently and we got together with him to talk about his musical roots, influences, being an artist in the internet age, EP releases, and also the future. Listen below via Soundcloud.

Official Site