Is it 1991 again? I sure hope so! This split 7″ shared between two London-based punk outfits viz. Skinny Girl Diet and The Ethical Debating Society, is a refreshing kick in the nuts for music lovers tired of the travesty known as ‘pop-punk’.
SGD‘s two tracks – “DMT” and “Homesick” strike a blow against pristine, hi-fi, politically correct teenybopper crap that poses as ‘punk’ in 2013. Literally three chord wonders that bleed with attitude and a reckless disregard for the conventions of what a female pop band should sound like (especially like the way “Homesick” actually speeds up during the song!). Sure, it’s a style and look that recalls the Riot Grrl movement of the 90s (and all its antecedents) but definitely, something we desperately need in these anti-sceptic musical times!
Similarly, TEDS owe a debt to the Riot Grrl movement with its strident anti-pop agenda. The two songs here – “Child’s Play” and “Creosote Idea” are slightly more structured punk fare with an agitprop slant. Lots of shouting backed by slashing guitars and over before you even know it – but ultimately catchy as all hell.
Now, here’s something different for the S-ROCK scene. SPear stands for “Singapore Polytechnic Emerging Artist & Repertoire” and is an initiative utilizing a new teaching pedagogy developed by Singapore Polytechnic (SP) under its Diploma in Music and Audio Technology course.
Essentially, SPear operates as a record label and production house whereby student bands are given the opportunity to record and release EPs under the SPear banner. According to a SP rep, the songs and recordings are ‘co-owned’ by SPear and the various bands and each band will record and release a 3-track EP under this initiative.
SPear will be holding its launch at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel, Sentosa on Friday, June 7th, where the first four student bands under this scheme viz. V’Bel, Victoria Street, Formalisms and Celestia will perform. The SP rep has informed us that major labels like Warner Music & Universal Music and renowned independent labels like EQ music and Snakeweed Records will be in attendance at this event.
There will be a guest appearance by The Sam Willows.
Lots of contemplation about what my online presence should be. I have a few blogs floating around although Power of Pop remains the main outlet for my music views. I had previously attempted to make this webzine more popular by including news items and features on modern pop artists and bands (that I really didn’t care about) and this will now stop altogether. From now on, Power of Pop will only feature bands and artists that I personally think deserve to be. Plain and simple. It’s all down to me – the credit and the blame — this has been my mouthpiece for 15 fucking years and will always be (and to hell with stats). My priorities will still remain with promoting S-ROCK at every given opportunity and that will never change…For those of you loyal readers who have been along for this ride all this while, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and always remember…
Weish has a well-received opening slot for Tegan & Sara under her belt already and her star is certainly in the ascendency. Find out what all the fuss is about this Wednesday (May 29) at Timbre @ The Substation from 8pm.
Part of their promotional tour for their latest album Heartthrob, Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall on the 13th of May.
Apparently handpicked by Tegan and Sara themselves, homegrown singer-songwriter Weish delivered a memorable opening act that featured her signature searing vocals and electric looping shenanigans. Continually layering, looping, and effecting her voice into rich tapestries of songs, this reviewer thinks Weish is an act to watch, and a breath of creative fresh air in a local scene crowded with too many plaintive guitar-based songs from singer-songwriters.
It’s been almost a week since I got back from England where I spent nearly 14 days with TypeWriter on the band’s English Breakfast Tour to London, Plymouth, Cornwall and Liverpool, so I thought I’d better put down my thoughts about the experience before they faded away…
This will not be a blow-by-blow account cum tour diary but more a reflection on how the experience touched me and changed my life. Yes, I know that sounds corny and maybe exaggerated but in the week since I have been back I have been inspired to make actual changes in my life.
Going away on tour with a rock band was something I had done in 2011 (for the first time!) with Cheating Sons but that was China. This was England and the very thought of being in my ancestral home with a band was mind blowing. Seriously, on many fronts, I had serious doubts whether we could pull it off, even as I was the one who had started the ball rolling.
We did! And that knowledge gives me renewed confidence and expanded ambitions to go further with this whole music thing. There are new territories for S-ROCK to explore and conquer at home, in the region and beyond and I want to be in the middle of the action and not an observer on the sidelines.
We met really cool music people and the band was appreciated by an entirely new audience. There were mistakes made but lessons learnt. Everywhere the band played, folks were impressed and were keen to find out more about the Singapore music scene – to many of them it seemed incomprehensible that English rock songs were made in Singapore at all!
At the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Liverpool, it seemed inconceivable that a band had flown thousands of kilometres to play at the famous Cavern Club (I believe the distance between Singapore and Liverpool is about 15,000 km!) and I want to take this opportunity to thank organizer David Bash for giving the band the chance to do so.
As cliched as it may sound, this is only the beginning and as June approaches, there are numerous exciting musical activities coming up for myself and the bands I look after. I am truly excited at the possibilities of the next couple of years within the Singapore music scene and beyond. STILL THERE’S MORE indeed.
Pictures taken in England can be seen here and also here.
Let me get this off my chest right from the get-go. The best way to enjoy J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness is to watch it in IMAX 3D, switch your brain off and simply enjoy the ride. The visual spectacle should be able to remove all your concerns about plot holes, character motivations and illogical actions.
This is special. I’ve first came across Esther Lowless back in 2007 as the frontperson of the now-defunct Indus Gendi and was duly impressed by her vocals, songwriting and keyboard playing. With respect to the last matter, enough to have her on board as part of The Groovy People and she contributed amazing vocal and keyboard parts to the Watchmen@Midnight EP. Since then, she’s gone on to be a side-woman of sorts in Monster Cat and DEON but finally, Esther Lowless steps out of the shadows and releases her debut EP, Strange Place to Meet, on 21st June.
But there’s more. Esther herself is also a freelance actress and in that spirit, decided that her project could serve as an “anthological mosaic of short films that displayed the brilliance of Singapore’s filmmakers” with the music films in Strange Place To Meet made possible by Henry Hiah, Leonard Soosay, Gerald Stahlmann, Sivaraj Pragasm, Wu Jun Han, and Esther herself.
To be released via http://www.youtube.com/user/estherlowlessmusic from 19th of May onwards, the 6 short films – visual representations of Esther’s songs – will lead up to the album launch of Strange Place To Meet, to be held at the Esplanade Recital Studio this 21st June 2013, 9pm. Tickets can be purchased by emailing email@example.com one’s name, contact details, and number of tickets one wishes to purchase.
Apart from the launch, Esther will also be playing with a full band at Hood Bar and Cafe on the 18th of May 2013, 7.15pm, and three acoustic sets on Baybeats Day 3 (30th June 2013): one acoustic set at the Esplanade library at 3.30pm and two acoustic sets at the Chillout Stage at 7pm and 8.30pm.
Reviews to come. Suffice to say that Esther Lowless has truly evolved into a genuine art-rocker and the music on her EP will rather amazingly evoke the likes of Sakamoto, Massive Attack, Russian Circles and more. A truly scintillating EP!
The 90s alt-rock revival continues apace with singer-songwriter Sam Page weighing in with a knowing album of edgy melodic rock n’ roll numbers that bring to mind the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Gumball, Sebadoh and Buffalo Tom. There’s little doubt that J Mascis weighs in heavily as a positive influence on Page’s work as evidenced on tracks like “Hold On” and “Now I Know”. Page is less slacker-rock-intensive with more casual swagger that suggests several nods to Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
There’s an easy going charm in songs like “Tumbleweed in the Grand Scheme” and “Crush (Lovin’ You)” whilst other tracks like “I Don’t Want To Think About Her Anymore” and “Pheromones” have a cockeyed tongue-in-cheek attitude that recalls Canadian smart rockers The Pursuit of Happiness and even Elvis Costello, on some level.
All told, Breach is a solid rock n’ roll album of the old school variety, where the songs serve each other and the greater good as a whole. The lyrics are clever and pointed, the music is rollicking good fun and the attitude is always spot-on sardonic. Much to admire on Breach and always encouraging to see artists unafraid to follow their own muse, wherever it may take them, without too much notice of current trends.
Iron Man 2 was only half a movie, in my humble opinion. The first half was quick-paced and exhilarating but then the wheels came off and the movie came to a tired conclusion. The sequel did well at the box office but one sensed that director Jon Favreau had lost interested in the franchise that he had kickstarted. So when it came to talk about the third Iron Man movie, Favreau passed and Shane Black came onboard.
A promising sign of a developing indie music scene is the ability to embrace different styles of music where the key factor is not ‘genre’ but an appreciation of ‘good’ music. Melodic pop-rock quartet Tricks & Cider is a wonderful example of this.
I first met singer-songwriter-guitarist Victoria Ho (above, far left) a few years back (as part of the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Showcase) and was impressed by her lovely husky voice and songwriting (and easy going manner). I remember her sharing with me some tracks she had recorded (live in a jamming studio) with a band and though the songs were promising, the performance itself was at best, shambolic.
Fast forward to last year and I’d invited Victoria to Sing A New Song, a songwriters’ showcase held at Esplanade Library (which included then-newcomers The Sam Willows and Tall Mountains). She performed as part of hew new band, Tricks & Cider (which included a former piano school colleague, the talented Dawn Ho on bass) and by all accounts, most were impressed by their set.
And so here we are in 2013 and the Tricks & Cider debut EP is playing on my laptop speakers – five songs that showcase the individual talents of the band (multi-instrumentalist Karen Lee and drummer David Liu round up the team) – and indicate that there is certainly a place for well-crafted melodic pop-rock in our S-ROCK scene as well!
Basically, the songs on this EP straddle different styles across the length and breadth of pop-rock – from 70s-channeling “Girl from Outer Space” to the new wave-evoking “Superstar” to the jazz balladic “Summer Breeze”, the tunes will stick in your head and the instrumentation/arrangements will impress the more musically-inclined listener.
It is a good time to be a S-ROCK lover in Singapore and you need to add Tricks & Cider to the burgeoning list of essential Singapore bands you have to listen to and savor…
… and you can this coming Friday, May 3rd at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre when Tricks & Cider perform three sets viz. 7.30pm – 8.15pm /8.45pm – 9.30pm /10pm – 10.45pm.
Last Friday (19th April) Fred Perry launched a vinyl exhibition at the Fred Perry Laurel Wreath Collection Shop, held in conjunction with Record Store Day, which is curated by #vinyloftheday and record store Vinylicious and showcases over 100 exclusive vinyl editions alongside all-time favourites.
Thursday’s (April 18th) S-ROCK gig at Night & Day Bar was significant for two things. One, it was the debut performance of Bored Spies (Cherie Ko, Sooyoung Park, Orestes Morfin & Adel Rashid) and two, it was the final performance (before a short hiatus) of everyone’s favourite spector-gaze band, Obedient Wives Club.
Of course, most importantly, it was another impressive show of how much indie rock has grown in the Singapore music scene in the last couple of years. A packed crowd jammed the arty venue and soaked in the ambience and atmosphere engineered by these two bands.
Bored Spies’ repertoire consists mainly of midtempo slow-burning numbers which accentuate Ko’s pleasant vocals and Morfin’s controlled rhythms. Considering that this was the band’s first gig, it was a very calm and assured performance, as if the band had been together for years and it was refreshing to encounter and appreciate the beauty of subtlety in songs like “Summer 720”.
Obedient Wives Club is practically an indie rock staple now in Singapore and the songs off their two EPs have become classic S-ROCK in a short space of time. I have always felt that – of all the new bands out there – OWC best channels the spirit of 90s S-ROCK. The songs are sweet but never lacking for an edge, with vocalist Yinqi coming into her own more and more with each succeeding gig. “Murder Kill Baby” is a special track, retaining a Singaporean quality in the way Yinqi sings in her lower register at the end of each phrase – spine tingling! The band will be preparing a new EP in the break and so there is much to look forward to!
It was also good for the S-ROCK scene that this event was hosted by a ‘new’ venue – Night & Day – and hopefully we will have more venues opening up to S-ROCK as we are currently very very short on venues like that. So all in, a very significant night for S-ROCK!
Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles has revealed the title to her highly anticipated third studio album, The Blessed Unrest, which is set for release on July 16th through Epic Records. The album’s first single, “Brave,” was co-written by Jack Antonoff from the band fun. and will be released at all digital retailers next Tuesday, April 23rd. Fans can stream the song and view the official lyric video starting today at Sarabmusic.com or check it out right below…
“Beyond the Ashes” is the second teaser off the upcoming album, EMO FASCISM – due in August.
Catch Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People play “Beyond the Ashes” next Friday, April 26th at Identite 9.3 – KAMCO MUSIC at Home Club from 8pm. Cover is $12 (one free housepour and free entry to Kicks! afterwards). Also on the bill – Enec.e, Tricks & Cider and TypeWriter.
“The MTV Show” Season 2 Premieres Saturday, 20th April 2013
Two weeks ago, Power of Pop was invited to the preview of the second season of The MTV Show at the Waterfront Studio at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). MTV’s popular original series, The MTV Show, a weekly music and lifestyle show that features top-rated music videos, movies, celebrity news and popular culture, returns for its second season with a new format. The refreshed programming format enables its millennial viewers to determine what goes on the show, through active social media engagement.
Other Sounds has a second show and this time the featured band is Australian garage rockers Dune Rats. The Brisbane duo will be bringing their raucous and energetic live show to Singapore at Night & Day Bar, alongside local garage pop favourites The Pinholes.
Date: Friday, 31 May 2013
Venue: Night & Day Bar (139 Selegie Rd)
Tickets: $15 at the door (includes one drink)
If you’re reading this and were born in the 90s (I know, unlikely), then hopefully you’d know who Nirvana was and not be caught wearing the above tee merely cos it’s ‘hip and cool’. Thing is, of course, the early 90s saw the last commercially viable rock music before the music scene went pear-shaped in the noughties. In any case, the 90s witnessed the weird going pro as alternative rock became fashionable…. these are my favourite musical memories from that special time…
We get tons of links every day from publicists, labels and bands to showcase new music at Power of Pop. So, in order to satisfy everyone, we will do these daily (!) wrap-ups of fairly interesting new songs from the modern rock wasteland. No judgement, no assessment, mere presentation. Enjoy…
Truth be told, I was excited when I saw the first trailer for sci-fi Tom Cruise action movie vehicle Oblivion. It looked intriguing. Of course, a trailer really does not tell you anything about the movie itself. I was also excited by the fact that Oblivion was an original premise (based on a story co-authored by director Joe Kosinski) and perhaps was hoping that it would be as good as District 9, Moon or Inception.
Ultimately, Oblivion is a huge disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is a visual treat throughout. For most of the first thirty minutes or so, Oblivion comes across like Wall-E meets I Am Legend (the Will Smith remake), updated with cool gadgets, weaponized drones, sexy encounters between Jack Harper (Cruise) and his colleague Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and menacing ones with alien beings called ‘scavengers’. The setting is a dystopian future (2077) where the earth is dying after a war with aliens (which humans won, it seems) and humans are about the leave the planet and start a new life on Titan.
However, things are not as they seem (when are they ever?) – Harper has memories of another woman (strange, as his former memories have been removed), he meets this woman when her ship crash lands on earth and Harper is captured by the ‘scavengers’ and discovers the truth.
From then on to the hackneyed resolution, the movie degenerates into a sequence of cliches, with planet-sized plot holes and pedestrian acting – Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones‘ Jamie Lannister) and even poor old Morgan Freeman – and by the time the ending comes, the promise of ‘original’ sci-fi movie genre is utterly lost. Apparently, director Kosinski himself stated that Oblivion pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s. Seriously? Well, perhaps superficially but whilst Oblivions certainly borrows heavily from the dystopian worldview of movies like Omega Man, Soylent Green, Zardoz, Logan’s Run, Silent Running and the Planet of the Apes series, it has none of the imagination, gravitas or even consistent writing that was a hallmark of the decade.
Two bands will be coming together for a secret pop-up gig this April 18! It will be a night of fuzzed out intrigue! Fans are invited to solve a crossword puzzle to reveal the line-up and location of the gig. The bands will also be seeding clues with the hashtag #KODoubleBill via Twitter and Instagram leading up to event day. Solve the puzzle and find out who and where. Free Entry! For more clues, look for #KODoubleBill
Continuing our educational video series on the ground-breaking rock music of the Seventies, we focus on Progressive Rock, a time where serious minded musicians created serious music from a variety of styles, sounds and instruments – classical, folk, jazz, rock, avant garde, traditional. This platform had its heyday in the earlier part of the decade reaching its peak in the mid to late Seventies before punk arrived to decry the style as ‘irrelevant’ and ‘pompous’. Progressive rock lives on to this day, either as ‘neo-prog’, revised versions of the classic prog rock or ‘post-rock’, where prog rock approaches are applied to indie rock sensibilities.
Here are the details of Bored Spies‘ debut 7 inch single “Summer 720″ from KittyWu Records.
Title: Summer 720 b/w 沙鼠E
Artist: Bored Spies
Street date: 20 April 2013
Format: 7″ Single
Genre: Minimalist Pop Rock
Label: KittyWu Records
Catalog No.: KWR015
A. Summer 720
Recorded and produced in the summer of July – August 2012 at Seagrass Studios (Los Angeles) and Snakeweed Studios (Singapore) by Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Sunny Day Real Estate, Pete Yorn, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo) with engineering support from Leonard Soosay (Snakeweed Studios). The recording was mastered at SAE by Roger Seibel.
‘Summer 720’ is pressed on gorgeous sea foam green vinyl, and is backed with the b-side ‘沙鼠E’ (shāshǔ E) and is a 7″ release in an edition of 100 with KittyWu in Singapore/Asia, Deer Island (edn. of 150) in N. America and Damnably (edn. 250) in Europe.