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Mar 052015
 

AOS211-4

After the shocking (literally!) events of the mid-season finale, the Agents of SHIELD have to re-group and figure out how to move forward in light of Tripp’s death. Even as Skye is stuck in quarantine, Raina has been transformed into a spiky Inhuman (although she seems more like a typical Marvel Comic Mutant – Damn you, Fox) and is struggling to adapt to her new body and abilities. We are also given more information about Gordon, the teleporting Inhuman who will probably end up as Raina’s mentor.

As for Coulson, he takes lethal action against HYDRA as revenge for Tripp’s demise and it is ruthlessly effective, to say the least. Mac and Bobbi seem to have a shared secret (Are they HYDRA agents? That would be boring!) whilst Fitz helps Skye to keep her own transformation a secret from their SHIELD team mates. Interesting set ups for the conflicts to come. I do hope that more tie-ups with the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be seen in the coming episodes.

Mar 012015
 

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Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware of my obsession with British pop-rock, from The Beatles to the Who to the Kinks to the Stones and on and on and on…  Since the end of the 90s (and the demise of Britpop), I have always been hoping for a revival of British pop-rock (and I do not mean the post-punk revival like The xx! Ugh!!)

Well it’s now 20 years since the heyday of Britpop and surveying the British pop-rock scene in 2015, there appears to be a couple of promising acts that hopefully will make the grade to generate enough buzz for this particular brand of pop-rock to dominate once again. In fact, I have found 20 bands that fit the bill completely – check out my playlist below and do let me know if you have other recommendations?

… still there’s more … 

Feb 272015
 

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What else was worth checking out in February? Here goes…

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – HOLDING ALL THE ROSES

An obvious choice. A real band playing real music. In this case, Southern Rock, country-folk and old time rock n roll make it simple. Recommended.

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Feb 252015
 

CampbellApt

The Campbell Apartment, named after a bar hidden inside New York’s Grand Central Station, is the brainchild of Russian born singer-songwriter and oil painter Ari Vais. Ari’s new Sundogs EP is the proverbial breath of fresh air in a modern rock scene obsessed with superficialities. No such issues with Vais and his straightforward musical agenda. The songs take top priority – memorable melodies and relatable lyrics – clothed in classic pop-rock arrangements and instrumentation. Tracks like “Something in the Way” and “Heroic Audio Display” hearken back to a kinder & gentler times (the 90s), the last hurrah of the Pop Underground, where thought and effort are put into communicating a genuine emotional resonance through words and tunes. By the time one gets to the music hall jauntiness of final number “What Do You Think Of That”, it’s easy to feel a sense of regret that there isn’t more. But that’s the harsh reality of releasing marginalised forms of music in 2014. So if you love songs that balances intelligence with musicality, support The Campbell Apartment and the Sundogs EP! Find out below how and why Ari Vais does what he does!

How did you start writing songs?

I must have learned how to play guitar well enough as a 10 year old to learn a bunch of Beatles songs by the time I was in high school, and then Floyd, Zeppelin, finally some REM and Lou Reed songs, and then around 16, a slew of my own songs where the burst of writing didn’t cease until recent years. I still write but not as prolifically. I guess when I started as a teen, the tunes were based on traditional chords, as well as chords that I had no idea what they were, where my fingers were just doing some formation that happened to sound cool and go with the song, because I still didn’t know my way around a guitar that well, and trying for clever words or earnest poetic ones, hopefully with a tiny dash of humor, and a strong melody. The last bit was the most important, and very much still is.

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Feb 242015
 

SongwritersNight3

Another great opportunity for artists to get their originals heard is the SGMUSO Songwriters Night. Now a monthly event, the re-launch kicks off on Saturday, 28th February at The Barbershop by Timbre. Featured artist will be Tim De Cotta X The Warriors with the open mic segment to showcase Fym Summer, JAWN, Hell Low and Ciao Turtle.

See you there!

Feb 242015
 

SEOULSONIK 2014

Last June, we did an interview with Annie Ko, frontperson of Korean indie electro-rock trio Love X Stereo. Well, the group is now a duo consisting of Annie and Toby Hwang and is ready for the new year with a new EP, consisting of new material and re-recorded favourites. Part 1 of the We Love, We Leave album is already out now and indie pop fans will enjoy the new viz. the dynamic synth-pop energy of the sultry title track and the throbbing dance-able “My Anywhere” and the ‘old’ viz. the exciting versions of “Soul City (Seoul City)” and “Chain Reaction”. We caught up with Annie again to get some insights of where the duo is right here, right now.

Five of the songs on the new EP are re-worked versions of previously released tracks, why?

We were selected for government support provided by KOCCA in order to make a new record. Before we go any further, we wanted to take a step back to rearrange/rerecord our previous tracks, because we always wanted to. Originally, we wanted to make a LP with mixtures of old & new, but we had a strict time restraint, and that’s why we ended up splitting into two EPs. First one represents “We Love”, and the next one represents “We Leave”.

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Feb 202015
 

blur-2015

Blur is back! This time with the original lineup!!

New album ‘The Magic Whip’ out April 27.

New single “Go Out” sounds like a Bowie outtake from Low, not necessarily a bad thing but… not quite the comeback I was expecting. Ah well.

Pre-order now and get the track “Go Out” instantly:
Amazon http://smarturl.it/apoTMW
iTunes http://smarturl.it/iTMW
Official Store http://smarturl.it/osTMW

Feb 202015
 

POPTV

Brian Wilson has a new album – No Pier Pressure – coming out soon. The album will be released on Capitol Records on April 7th 2015 and will be produced by Joe Thomas.

NoPierPressure

Main concern – Thomas tends to favour a very professional slick sound which somewhat flattens out any of Brian’s idiosyncratic tendencies. Compare Thomas’ production on the lacklustre Imagination to that on the incredible Smile album (shepherded by the talented Darian Sahanaja) and you can understand the anxiety.

In any case, the new single “The Right Time” sounds about right, though it’s not quite sure whether ‘right’ is the way to go for Brian. Sigh.

Pre-order on iTunes and get “The Right Time” immediately: http://smarturl.it/BrianWilson

Feb 202015
 

Talking-Heads

To be honest, I was rather freaked out the first time I heard Talking Heads. That was in 1980 with Remain in Light, the band’s fourth album, which involved ground-breaking pop-rock experiments with African rhythms. And of course, when I first heard David Byrne’s voice, it took some getting used to as well. But when the follow-up, Speaking in Tongues was released in 1983, I found myself enjoying the catchy songwriting especially “Burning Down the House” and “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”. Presumably that is why I consider Little Creatures to be my favourite Talking Heads LP as it featured more conventional pop-rock, not to mention the introduction of country-folk into the dynamic.

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Feb 192015
 

Hangabouts

Yes so why does it seem that the music of yester-year is miles better than anything new? Seems to have been the case since Y2K (mayhaps that was what the Millennium Bug was really about?). Consisting of John Lowry, Greg Addington and Chip Saam, the Hangabouts bring to mind the wonderful pop-rock music of 90s bands like Fountains of Wayne, Pernice Brothers and Teenage Fanclub where melody is paramount above all else. Lovers of that special rock era will never tire of what the band has to offer and will savour Illustrated Bird from beginning to end. Of course, suffice to say that the three Bs loom large as influences i.e. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. It does not get any better than this when it comes together this well. Check out the interview we did with the band below.

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Feb 182015
 

FeralConservatives

Rashie Rosenfarb & Matt Francis aka Feral Conservatives seem like your typical two-piece indie rock band, except that their style does not quite fit in with your White Stripes/Black Keys garage-blues-rock cliches. In fact, Rosenfarb plays a mandolin (!) and there is a pleasing alt-country direction that the duo quite excel in. Their four-track cassette/digital release The Feeling Noise Becomes is a refreshing roots-pop take on modern rock that deserves closer attention. Rosenfarb shared with us the thinking behind the Feral Conservatives sound.

Is contrast an important element in your music making?

Yeah, we like to create a balance between noisy/chaotic and soft and delicate. I think it’s become a big part of who we are starting with my voice and the shimmery tones in the mandolin vs. Matt’s powerful drumming style and it’s just progressed from there.

How did the mandolin become part of your sound?

The two off us started off playing together in another band that was more garage rock back when we first became friends and I was just playing mandolin for fun (I played bass in the other band.) Matt and I started a folky side project with the mandolin not too much later and eventually the band we were in broke up so we just decided to transition everything we were creating into our side project. That’s how FC’s came to be and then it just morphed into more of a rock band while maintaining the folky elements and the mandolin to the fore.

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Feb 072015
 

PoPplaylists

Alright. This is a lil embarrassing but late last year Spotify made Power of Pop a ‘Tastemaker’ with a new account and despite my best efforts (?), so far we’ve had only 10 (!) followers. Shameful!!

So I am still pushing this the best way I know how – by working hard at putting together more playlists that I imagine would interest the kind folks who visit us every day. Recently, I have focusing on PoP Legends – artists whom we believe deserve that accolade so here’s what we have so far. Enjoy, spread the word and FOLLOW!

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Feb 062015
 

ElvisP

Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. (W. E. Studwell and D. F. Lonergan, The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from its Beginnings to the mid-1970s)

So yeah, rock came from 40s/50s rock ‘n’ roll, which in turn is a form of pop music. So even The Carpenters or ABBA is rock, by that definition. So I am always comfortable to use the terms “pop” and “rock” fairly interchangeably, and get rather annoyed by the insane categorizations that is now so common.

In that light, let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of pop music, I am confident to label as ROCK!

BLUES

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Feb 062015
 

Sam_Smith_Stay_with_Me

There are only 12 notes in the chromatic scale. So, how original can a pop song truly be? Recently, Sam Smith got into legal trouble for his hit song “Stay With Me” (co-written by Smith, James Napier and William Phillips) for its similarities with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” (co-written by Petty and Jeff Lynne).

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Feb 062015
 

Esther Lowless_smDebra_sm

It’s the first Originals Sing @ Artistry on 11th Feb. A special one for me, personally, as the songwriters featured are distinct artists within the Singapore indie music scene.

Esther Lowless – I first met when she was fronting Indus Gendi – and whose musical career I have been following closely since then. Esther is also an award-winning actress and sometimes it does seem that there is no limit to what she can achieve with her talents. She released a well-received EP in 2013 – Strange Place to Meet – which was presented also as a short film, which you can watch below. A true artist.

Debra Khng approached me some time back to teach her about songwriting and last year she released her debut EP – Wolves in the Night. Debra has certainly come a long way with her unique pop-rock sensibility (Mariah Carey singing Tracy Chapman songs!) and it’s a particularly proud moment for me to present her at Originals Sing. One of the songs we worked on together remains one of my favourite of her songs. Check out the music video for “All of Me” below.

Support your local music scene, my friends – hope to see you pack out Artistry on Wednesday, 11th Feb from 8pm.

Feb 052015
 

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Katy Perry has announced today that she will bring THE PRISMATIC WORLD TOUR to Singapore on 11 May 2015 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. This tour is presented by AEG Live. She will be touring in support of her album PRISM.

Tickets for the show go on sale from 10 Feb 2015 through Sports Hub Tix, and are priced at $328, $248, $228, $188 and $128. Tickets will be available through www.sportshubtix.sg, booking hotline +65 3158 7888 and Sports Hub Tix Box Office and Singapore Post outlets.

 

 

Feb 042015
 

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[Press release]

Race promoter Singapore GP Pte Ltd unveils three award winning, multi-platinum headliners for the 2015 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX entertainment line-up. American Grammy award winning acts Pharrell Williams and Maroon 5 will headline the Padang Stage, Singapore’s largest outdoor entertainment stage. Over at the Village Stage, one of Britain’s most iconic and influential bands Spandau Ballet will be making their Singapore debut at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

EARLY-BIRD TICKETS ON SALE UNTIL 30 APRIL 2015

Race fans can enjoy significant savings of up to 25% off regular ticket prices during the early bird phase for the eighth instalment of the world’s first Formula One™ night race to be held on 18, 19 and 20 September.

Tickets for the 2015 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX are available for sale at www.singaporegp.sg, via the ticketing hotline +65 6738 6738 as well as all SISTIC outlets.

 

Feb 042015
 

SpotifyLogo

It’s a new month – the best month of the year! So what’s new out there?

BUTCH WALKER – AFRAID OF GHOSTS

When pop-rockers venture into the country-folk space, most of time if their heart is in the right place, it can be pretty magical. Butch Walker proves this at least, with his new solo album. Gorgeous country-folk which recalls Neil Young and name checks Chrissie Hynde. Recommended.

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Feb 032015
 

[AgingYouth Press Release]

Freeflow Productions, an awardee of Discovery Channel’s First Time Filmmakers Project, is leading a 22-minute documentary on the sleepy neighbourhood of Dakota Crescent. The pioneering housing estate, with all the old school Singapore charm, is set to be redeveloped end 2016.

The documentary hopes to showcase the unique community spirit that is present in Singaporean housing estates. It also aims to shed light on how people cope with change and trade-offs in modern-day Singapore. The highlight of the documentary will be a block party “Remembering Dakota Crescent” at Blk 12, Dakota Crescent on Sunday 8 March 2015, organized with the help of Aging Youth. There will be music, bazaar and a photo exhibition. Pop acappella group MICappella, rapper ShiGGa Shay, electronic duo .gif and rock band Cashew Chemists will dish out the entertainment.

Freeflow Productions’ documentary, (tentatively titled) Café Hope will be screened on Discovery Channel in August 2015. Here’s where we need your help! We are looking for old photos of Dakota Crescent and the Kallang area. Selected photos will be displayed at the photo exhibition. Photos of all sizes and colour (full colour/ B&W) will be accepted. Please contact Sarah Zoe at sarah@freeflow.com.sg if you would like to share your fondest memories with us.

What would be good:

1) Photos of iconic buildings

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at AM 08.43.29
Former Kallang Airport (1960)

2) Photos of people and family members

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at AM 08.44.36
Residents at Dakota Crescent help to clean the estate (1995)

3) Photos of Dakota Crescent estate

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Dove playground at Dakota Crescent (1981)

Social Media
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rememberdakota
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rememberdakota
Instagram: http://www.instagram/rememberdakota

Feb 022015
 

Kraftwerk

Punk is conveniently used as the defining moment in the 70s where the rock scene was fractured bringing about bands/artists with more arty, conceptual and experimental sensibilities. Of course, by the mid-80s post-punk or new wave or whatever the hell you wanted to call it became the norm and by the 90s, something else had come along i.e. grunge and alt-rock. It’s revival in the last 15 years or so has rendered the ‘movement’ a fashion trend and nothing more. But it’s worth looking back to those special moments in the 70s, where the seeds were planted…

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Feb 012015
 
Photo Credit: Katie Hovland

Photo Credit: Katie Hovland

Gotta hand it to Chicago’s Treasure Fleet, not only did they release two albums within six months of each other in 2012 (the excellent Future Ways and Cocamotion), the band also expanded their horizons by producing a film – Sun Machine – which premiered last year at London’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival.

The soundtrack, available for pre-order now and out February 10th on Recess Records, is a timeless sounding psychedelic rock opus that might very well have been produced in 1969 for all we know! The music of Treasure Fleet is an absolute joy for classic pop-rock (The Who, Pink Floyd) lovers and will definitely appeal to fans of like-minded indie rockers Temples, Pond and Tame Impala.

Thankfully, Isaac Thotz (singer-songwriter) was cool enough to share with us everything (and we do mean EVERYTHING) we needed to know about Treasure Fleet and Sun Machine. Set your controls for the heart of the sun…

What is the motivation behind playing music that some might (erroneously) consider ‘dated’?

What’s funny is I don’t even think of it like that. I remember being a kid in the 80’s and the popular music that was coming out then, I didn’t like the tones and the production, and so I thought contemporary music sounded very dated, just like 70’s haircuts and brown plaid couches looked very dated to me then. And looking back now that music still does sound dated. But that’s always the case in art and pop art that people are going to trend toward certain conventions as a fad. Today there are conventions in popular music and underground music that sound very dated to me. In mainstream pop music, certain inflated acoustic drum and guitar tones are in. Anthemic choruses are in. In underground rock excessive unnatural reverb on vocals is in. In hip hop spastic hi hat sampling is in. Those sorts of production choices all sound very “dated” to me right here in the moment. In terms of our music sounding of a different era, I just have my natural biases and preferences. I like 90’s hip hop drum beats and tones better than today’s. I like the Beatle’s song structures. I like the four piece rock band arrangement. I like the mellotron. I don’t mind trashy rock drums, but I dislike poor singing. I love harmonies. Those are just my own personal biases. But then to get to the motivation of how we want to produce our music-I think we just want it to sound “timeless”. I think there are bands that try to sound much more of a particular era than we do-most often it’s the current era. We don’t approach it like that. Rather, we like to try and make something where people will hopefully go “when was this made”…”where were these guys from”. There’s definitely a starting point from which we’ve taken ideas, basically it’s been from the start of rock and roll. But that’s just a starting point, and we’ve always tried to pull ideas from all eras since. If some of those ideas seem old, it’s because they are. But others are very contemporary, and as I said, the goal is to make the whole thing seem timeless at some point out in the future.

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