INSTANT SPECIES – THIS ROME… [REVIEW]

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Nothing quite compares to a British pop band trading in the fine legacy of Britpop and being able to make the connections between The Kinks and Blur and beyond. Instant Species has been around since 1997 and according to its official site, “we’ve made music we love, played gigs to entertain people and released records with an enormous sense of pride. It’s more than a hobby but it’s far from a career and it’s always fun. We don’t have a “plan” or “bid to be” anything other than 4 blokes playing some music we hope is half decent.”

More than “half-decent” I’d say — This Rome… is the quartet’s new album (#8) and it is chock full of catchy tunes, spiky rhythms and an edgy pop smart attitude. It’s clear from songs like the languid “Rise of the Idiot”, the bouncy “Simple Repetition”, the chirpy title track and the garage-y “I Need A Little Help” that the band writes and records the kind of music it loves without any thought about trends. Essential for fans of classic British pop music.

 

POP YEH YEH! [NEWS]

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Here’s a urgent newsflash from the good people over at Ujikaji Records.

We’re taking 1-week-only pre-orders at a special price for this collection of 26 Nusantara gems released on the US label Sublime Frequencies. Comes in “tri-fold digipak with gorgeous artwork, two 40 page booklets with insanely extensive liner notes including band/artist bios, an overview of the era, translated lyrics, and plenty of rare photos taken from vintage magazines, album covers, and the artists’ own personal collections.”

Email ujikajirecords@gmail.com by 28 Feb 2013 if you want this CD as we are highly unlikely going to bring in many extra copies.

Click here to read more about the album from the Sublime Frequencies website.

So… what are ya waiting for?

HOT NUN [REVIEW]

No frills melodic rock n’ roll is the only item on the Hot Nun agenda and why the hell not? With a bio that declares that rock is not dead, Jeff Shelton (guitars, vocals, bass) and Braden McGraw (drums) keep things simple and straightforward on this eponymous debut. With eight songs that celebrate “The Spirit of ’76”, the album is aimed directly at classic rock n roll lovers and fans of Cheap Trick, KISS, T. Rex and Glam-era Bowie. Rollicking numbers like “Who Do You Love” and “Fight Fight Fight” will get adrenaline pumping easy enough. No denying the sheer power of this uncanny album, with the faithful rendition of Bowie’s “Queen Bitch” the perfect touchstone of what Hot Nun is all about.

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PoPTV: DRU CHEN – “YOU BRING OUT THE BEST IN ME” [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

This is so infectious it should be illegal! Seriously!! I first saw Dru Chen at an open mike years ago and was deeply impressed with his swagger and innate soulfulness BUT this new single from the Melbourne based modern soul singer-songwriter exceeds all expectations. I mean, “You Bring Out the Best in Me” should be blaring out of every single radio station in Singapore. Be warned though, once that groove hooks in, you’re in trouble. Awesome.

Official Page

Buy now!

 

DEON – ROAD TO CANADA [NEWS]

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(Press release)

Local folk-pop artist DEON has been invited to play at the prestigious Canadian Music Week 2013 this 21st March. Part of the crop of talents taking their music into foreign ground, DEON will be representing Singapore alongside local bands Inch Chua, The Sam Willows and Eli T.

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S-ROCK: ALIVE & KICKIN’ [LIVE REVIEWS]

Obedient Wives Club, by Cass Goh
Obedient Wives Club, by Cass Goh

It is a good time to be involved in the S-ROCK scene. Interest in the scene is definitely growing as the media gives it attention it properly deserves. More releases, more gigs, more open mikes, more bands, more venues…more, more, more!  In the last two weeks, I managed to witness two launches – first, by Another Sunday Afternoon and last Friday, by Obedient Wives Club. These bands are very different in terms of musical approach and execution but share the same passion, talent and ability to touch and thrill true-blue music lovers. Also worth considering – the fledging outfits that opened viz Victoria Street and Rocketswan, interestingly enough, both female-fronted! Exciting times, indeed.

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THE GREAT SPY EXPERIMENT – LITMUS [REVIEW]

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Six years in the making, the sophomore effort of The Great Spy Experiment arrives with the band a completely different entity to what it was when I first met Saiful, Fandy, Song, Khai and Mag in the rehearsals for Singapore Day in 2007. Interim period has seen marriages, children and daily challenges with the ubiquitous work-life balance. Factor in the creative musical need of recording artists and things no doubt become complicated.

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PoPTV: “DARE (FT. DANIEL SASSOON)” [VIDEO]

Courtesy of Cass Goh
Courtesy of Cass Goh

Nothing beats shameless self-promotion, eh?

In any case, I wanted to share with you the ‘video’ I put together to help push “Dare” along. It’s actually a simple photo montage chronicling my experiences in the local music scene in the last six years, the bands, the gigs and the people who made a difference. Yes, it’s a little self-indulgent but there you ago…

 

 

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: EMO FASCISM – “DARE (FT. DANIEL SASSOON)”

Courtesy of Cass Goh
Courtesy of Cass Goh

Here we are – all set to go!

“Dare” is the first track to be made public from the Emo Fascism recording sessions which took place mainly in September last year at Patrick Chng’s excellent home studio. The album will consist of ten tracks (with two bonus tracks on the CD) and for the most part I wrote, sang, performed and produced the lot with Patrick engineering, mixing and mastering the recording. Only one other musician played on Emo Fascism (“Dare” to be specific) and I am proud to say that it was none other than Daniel Sassoon.

Daniel has of course, in the past, been closely involved with legendary S-ROCK bands like Livonia and Electrico. Of late, Daniel has been leading the instrumental rock outfit – In Each Hand A Cutlass – and is renowned for his talent and skill on the guitar. Sometime back, I had finally recorded a proper demo of “Dare” (which has been kicking around for decades – I shit you not) and sent it to Daniel for feedback. What I got was an offer to contribute guitar ideas to the track and I jumped – didn’t need to asked twice! So earlier this year, Daniel laid down his amazing guitar lines (and a mind-blowing solo) for “Dare” in a fecund three-hour session at Thom’s Loft.

And now you can hear the results! I am particularly proud of the final product and I am so excited to be able to share the first fruits of our labours with you all. If you liked what you heard, I hope you will share the links on your respective social media platforms and spread the word around! That would be so cool and greatly appreciated! Remember – Emo Fascism is due for release in August 2013.

…still there’s more…

Cass Goh’s Official Site

 

PoPTV: THE SUMMER STATE “I DO, I DON’T” (FEAT. ZAHIDAH) [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

I was interviewed by my former Budding Writer mentee Karen Gwee (now New Paper reporter) last night about the whole Ken Lim saga and she brought up an intriguing point about how the local indie scene may also have the commercial potential needed to save the local music industry from the verge of extinction, as Ken eloquently (and quite correctly) reckoned.

Case in point – this new single from The Summer State – which video has already garnered over 4,000 views in about a day! Rather removed from the emo-pop-punk style that I remembered the band playing in various auditions/gigs I have witnessed before. In fact, the song is a very radio-friendly pop ballad and targeted for mainstream audiences, with shiny production values to boot. Not my cup of tea, mind you, but I can understand the appeal the track will have for teenagers and tweens and this can only be a good thing for the local music scene. Check it out.

Official page

PoPTV: HAYDEN “RAINY SATURDAY” [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Good to see 90s indie artists still soldering on upwards and onwards. Case in point – Toronto’s Hayden has a new album – Us Alone – out now on Arts & Crafts. The hair may be visibly greying but the artistic vision has not diminished and the fire is still burning. This sad but hopeful song comes with a video that includes phone interruptions (like real life!) and the difficult concerns of the matured artist. Wistful but memorable.

 

FUZZY VOX – TECHNICOLOR [REVIEW]

The French rock n’ roll band known as Fuzzy Vox behaves as if no new music was made after 1969! This myopic vision provides incredible focus as this five-track EP amply demonstrates. The music here is simple yet powerful, straight-forward and visceral. If push came to shove, probably the most accurate reference point would be the first Stooges album. Sure, one could also point to the influences of the mod greats (The Who) and blues-rock legends (The Rolling Stones) but there’s a basic garage-punk energy that suggests Iggy and his band of freaks held greater sway. In the modern context, The Hives come to mind immediately and every other garage-punk revivalist you would care to mention. The scintillating cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” provides a clarity of purpose, translated well on the meaty title track, the beaty “Same Old Story”, the big “I’ll Be Gone” and the bouncy “Hurricane”. Pure & easy.

Listen to “I’d Be Gone” and the rest of the EP at Soundcloud.

Like Fuzzy Vox at Facebook | Buy the EP at Deezer

 

 

PoPTV: THE OUTFIT “STRANGE BONES” [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

A name like The Outfit does carry with it a certain association with 80s American new wave, doesn’t it? The hype pronounces The Outfit as a band that ‘offers an earnest take on garage rock revival, building on the ground laid out by such acts as The Strokes, and early Kings of Leon’. Somewhere in-between I suppose. As far as this track – “Strange Bones” – is concerned (off of the most current album, Broken West Wishbone Test), there is a fair bit of late 70s pub-rock, Two-Tone plundering, ska-punk and a healthy dose of The Clash thrown into the overall mix. All good, in my book! The video? It’s suitably vintage and retro-delicious laced with bizarro puppeteering to boot.

Official Site

 

PoPTV: SUUNS “2020” [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

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Experimental-noise-jangle-pop-drone is probably the closest description I could conjure for this new song from Suuns. Not only that but the video of “2020” will probably give you a headache as well. Contrarian art-punk anyone? At least, this is one aspect of the 80s that has been given less attention so you could say that I am having fun with this. Fans of the Velvets, JAMC and Flaming Lips might get a rise out of this. The rest of you stay the fuck away!

Official Site

MY BLOODY VALENTINE – m b v [REVIEW]

MBV (Front)

After a wait of 22 years, without much fanfare, comes the third My Bloody Valentine album. The first three songs – “She Found Now”, “Only Tomorrow” and “Who Sees You” – sound like the band have always been around (which is probably true, legacy-wise) with the noise-drenched indie pop fans have come to know and love. Then we get “If This & Yes” which sounds uncannily like a Beach Boys outtake from the mid-60s (or a High Llamas track – same difference), eschewing guitars for keyboards. From then on, the agenda is to subvert expectations somewhat with sonic explorations of a similar vein (“If I Am” and “A New You”) and foot firmly off the distortion pedals. The final trio of songs (“In Another Way”, “Nothing Is” and “Wonder 2”) get decidedly experimental in terms of guitar textures and rhythmic expression. All of which makes for an intriguing comeback and fairly worth the prolonged wait!

Official Site

S-ROCK: EXTINCTION WATCH – AKAN DATANG [NEWS]

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According to Hype Records’ owner (and former Singapore Idol judge) Ken Lim, the local music industry is on the “verge of extinction” and that he is the man who will save the industry. We wish him all the best! As far as the S-ROCK scene is concerned, more evidence of its good health can be seen in the following upcoming events: –

Another Sunday Afternoon: The Bookmark EP launch

The latest EP – which has been available for a couple of weeks now – will be officially launched this Friday, February 8th at Home Club. Victoria Street will be providing support. Entry is $12 with one standard drink (including entry to Kicks! later). The Bookmark has been well-received thus far with TODAY stating that “it’s satisfying to witness the continued artistic development of our local bands that despite all odds, manage to produce music that can only be described as ‘world-class’. Add The Bookmark to this burgeoning list”. The fun begins at 8pm.

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BLOC PARTY: LIVE IN SINGAPORE – FIVE REASONS WHY YOU CANNOT MISS THIS!

2 Bloc straight cream

Power of Pop is truly looking forward to the Bloc Party concert at the Fort Gate, Fort Canning Park on Monday, 18th March and came up with the five reasons (below) why you just cannot miss this momentous gig. You’re ready?

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BAYBEATS AUDITIONS 2013: ROUND TWO [REVIEW]

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Just got back from the Round Two of the Baybeats Auditions 2013 and we wanted to put out a quick response whilst our thoughts and feelings are fresh in my mind. This is the seventh year of the Baybeats Auditions where young local bands are given an opportunity to showcase their talents during one the largest alternative rock music festivals in the region. This year’s slate of hopefuls have thrown up a diverse array of bands/artists signaling a sea change in the very definition of alternative rock music.

First off, we want to congratulate all 16 bands for giving it their best shot. It is instructional to note that playing at the Baybeats Festival is not the be-all-and-end-all for aspiring bands/artists although it can be a useful launching platform for a new band. It is heartening to see the different bands provide a snapshot of what can be available in the S-ROCK scene in the years to come. we want to highlight bands that – in our humble opinion – represent exciting prospects for S-ROCK.

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SAPPORO SAFARIS “FIGURES OF EIGHT” LAUNCH [REVIEW]

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Photos courtesy of Sapporo Safaris/Goh Liang Bao

First off, let me get something off my chest. The SCAPE Gallery is a horrible avenue for live rock music performance. No two ways about it – the sound was so harsh and unbalanced at the venue that I felt physically nauseous at times. Which is a pity because certainly the four bands that played at this gig deserved a much friendlier platform to showcase their music. But there you go…

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SAPPORO SAFARIS – LIVE AT THE ESPLANADE

Sapporo Safaris will be playing at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre on 2nd February, this Saturday, as part of the Esplanade’s February Freshie series. Other artists that will be featured in this series are Weish, These Brittle Bones and Another Sunday Afternoon. They will be playing two sets at 8.45-9.30pm and 10-10.45pm.

We understand that the band is really excited to be part of this series and to be given this opportunity to play at the Esplanade, especially since it had to pull out of the auditions to be in Baybeats 2013. The band will be playing tracks off its newly-released EP, Figures of Eight, as well as some new tracks. Merchandise will be available for sale viz. physical EP and tees.

RSVP at Facebook.

 

ST. JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2013 SINGAPORE [REVIEW]

Photo by Nina Sandejas c/o Chugg Entertainment
Photo by Nina Sandejes c/o Chugg Entertainment

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM!

There is little doubt that St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival (Singapore edition) has become a landmark indie music event in SE Asia since it made its debut in 2011. Fans from all over the region flock to our shores to catch a glimpse of indie artists/bands hand-picked by the team at Chugg Entertainment. With the recent deluge of performances available to Singaporean music lovers, it is sometimes easy to take an event like the Laneway Festival for granted. After all, it’s not often that a true blue music fan gets to watch 14 bands/artists in a single day in Singapore and for a reasonable price (especially in the context of today’s rock concert market).

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PoPTV: ART DECADE “WESTERN SUNRISE” [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

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Art students will find Art Decade thoroughly intriguing. The band describes its music as “neo indie classical, symphonic post-pop and rock” and the title track of its new album – “Western Sunrise” will certainly impress as it was made almost entirely using Procreate, a $5 iPad app. For the video, the band teamed up with visionary animator and director, Whitney Alexander. The initial concept of the video was to create a sort of painting in motion in the style of the impressionists. Judge for yourself!

Official Site

LISTENING ROOM: SAM PAGE “HOLD ON” [STREAMING]

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Yes, we’re always on the look-out for good old-fashioned pop-rock sweetness here at Power of Pop! So here’s Sam Page, who’s got a new album in tow – Breach – and you can listen to “Hold On”, a charming lil ditty that recalls Dinosaur Jr and Matthew Sweet in a very good way. Check it out!

Official Site

BORED SPIES – “SUMMER 720” B/W 沙鼠E [REVIEW]

Who are Bored Spies? Well, think of the trio (Cherie Ko, Sooyoung Park & Morfin) as some kind of off-the-wall Canadian-Korean-Singaporean musical venture that somehow perfectly falls into contemporary indie rock space circa 2013. Privileged as always to be slightly ahead of the game, I am listening to the debut single from Bored Spies and marveling at the immediacy and intricacy of the music – sweet yet brash, bold yet amiable – full of contrasting hues and yet dead-eyed focused on heart and soul.

“Summer 720” opens with a psychedelic rock motif that would not be out of place on a Jefferson Airplane record before Ko’s languid vocals pulls us violently into the present and the so-called retro-wave, where high treble guitar arpeggios provide relevant soundscapes. A brilliant summer anti-anthem for the 360 degree summer nation (720 is 360 doubled, geddit???).

“沙鼠E” is a slowburn 90s alt-rock channeling number where bass chords, guitar riffs, synthesized string attack, tempo shifts and Ko’s swooning vocals produces a bittersweet effect. With soaring musical phrases to keep one’s attention, it’s gone too soon after it begins, leaving the listener bereft and begging for more.

Simply brilliant.

Bored Spies’ “Summer 720” b/w 沙鼠E will be released on 25th January 2013.

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