PoP10 – LAURIE BIAGINI

Laurie Biagini is a fairly new name in the Pop Underground but certainly a welcome addition to the canon of modern sunshine pop. Biagini gives us the skinny on her PoP10.

1. Why play music? 

I love to create new music based on my favorite styles from the past.  

2. Who are your influences?

The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, The Monkees, The Carpenters. 

3. What is success? 

Success is the outcome of following your passion and seeing it through to a tangible result – a sense of accomplishment. 

4. Why should people buy your music? 

People who love the sound of harmony rich, melodic pop of the sixties, and are craving more should buy my music, and hopefully they will enjoy what they hear. 

5. Who do you love? 

I love my family and friends. 

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

I hope to entertain people who enjoy the genre of music that I create, and in the process hopefully influence the younger generation to appreciate this style as well. 

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends and fellow musicians who appreciate melodic pop music. 

8. What is your favorite album?

The Beach Boys – Endless Summer

9. What is your favorite song?

Car Crazy Cutie – The Beach Boys

10. How did you get here?

From writing my first song just over 2 years ago, to all the radio airplay, and finally finishing and releasing my album, this is how I got to where I am now. 

Laurie Biagini’s album, Ridin’ the Wave is out now.

MY ONE & ONLY 2008

Here it is, a video teaser for the upcoming watchmen@midnight Ep. 

Featuring James Lye (electric guitar), Brian Koh (bass), Low Han Quan (drums), Esther Low (keyboards, vocals) and Kevin Mathews (vocals, acoustic guitar).

Special thanks to Fong Cheng, Felicia and of course, Ric.

… and there’s more …

BEST OF 2008

 

By Samuel C Wee

 

10. AC/DC-Black Ice

With Black Ice, AC/DC mounted a massive demonstration of the possibilities of the three primary colors of rock: guitar, bass and drums. When you consider the average age of the band, that’s a stupendous feat. 

9. U2-Boy

Not really a 2008 album per se, but the digitally crisp remaster was so gorgeous in its rendering of The Edge’s original echoing work, I had to include this one. 

8. Firebrands-First The Flash Then The Pulse

Local bad boys Firebrands shake off the black sheep reputation to turn in an album as explosive as their moniker. High on production values and headbanging numbers, low on the snooze factor, which can only be a good thing for rock and roll. 

7. Lambchop-OH(Ohio)

Gorgeously blending several genres into a distinctive slow burn is Lambchop, with their lush soundscapes, easy melodies and narrative lyrics that retain a touch of humor. Bittersweet at times, gorgeously evocative at others, and beautiful throughout. 

6. Keane-Perfect Symmetry

That’s much to be said for a band who can make synthesizers and electric guitars sound like a new invention. With Perfect Symmetry, Keane took a step back into the 80s while simultaneously capturing the ethos of this digital generation. 

5. Val Emmich-Little Daggers

 Bright, catchy, soulful melodies combined with dark, emotive and occasionally angsty lyrics to produce an excellent full-bodied album. Get On With It alone is worth the price of entry.

4. The Lard Brothers-Forest Action Team

Which stroke of insane genius gave these F.A.T lads the chutzpah to reinvent local anthems? It wasn’t enough that they had to produce a star-studded album that was overflowing with brilliance in its creative adaptations of familiar local songs, they had to give it away free. 

3. The Killers-Day And Age

The Killers may be many things, but boring is not one of them. And on this new release that combines the masculine testosterone of Sam’s Town with the Brit-rock of their Hot Fuss, they prove again why so many fell in love with their synthesizer laden brand of hook-based rock. 

2. Kings Of Leon-Only By The Night

The Followill brothers have been threatening to break into the mainstream for some time, and with Only By The Night they accomplished it with a combination of bluesy stompin’ numbers, country rock and sheer panache. And who could ignore that howling soulful voice, one moment a broken-hearted wind, the next a snarling narrator of lust and desire?

1. LIME-Smells Like Indie Spirit

Okay, this isn’t really a normal album. (One would argue that the digital mp3 format of the CD that was distributed would disqualify it from being an album at all.) But for the mass communication efforts launched by LIME to gather the best that the Singapore scene has to offer and make it readily available to the public at a dirt-cheap price, this gets my vote for favorite album of 2008.

FUNERAL PARTY

 

FUNERAL PARTY Bootleg EP (Fearless)

Following in the vein of electronica-infused post-punk rock popularized by The Bravery is L.A. based band, Funeral Party. Their formula of Eno-style keyboard invention, liquid guitar soundscapes and catchy punch-the-air lyrics are a recipe for youth anthems, and it’s no surprise that over in L.A they have developed quite a following.  Their EP offering, Bootleg, is an enjoyable 3-track selection fresh with the heady scent of college freedom that is sure to resonate with youngsters, but with track titles like NYC Moves To The Sound Of LA, they’re unlikely to impress even the most plebeian of rock snobs. But that’s alright, mama, because as the corporate record executives like to preach, target market is everything. 

EP opener, Carwars is deeply reminiscent of bands such as The Killers or The Bravery with its fuzzed-out vocals, danceable guitar hooks and effects-bending guitar solo, while Chalice is a stomping headbanger that puts the electric into electro. The aforementioned NYC track is itself a deeply addictive, rhythmic concoction of visceral grooves and body-invading drums, topped off by a catchy bridge designed for crowd-pleasing (unless you happen to be a resident of the Big Apple, that is.) 

In summary, this is a very enjoyable EP that cleverly taps on the zeitgeist of the times and turns in a neat balance between pop catchiness and electronic experimentation.  

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out Funeral Party’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – THE WELL WISHERS

 

Jeff Shelton is a pop underground luminary known for his work with Spinning Jennies and the Well Wishers. Jeff graciously shared with us his comments on the PoP10.

1. Why play music?
I do it because it’s in me. I didn’t start playing guitar and writing songs until I was about 18 or 19 years old. Music was always in me…it just took the first half of my life to realize I could actually learn to express it! At some point anyone’s inherent “talent” finds a way to manifest itself. What’s truly sad are those who feel they have it but don’t reach into themselves to bring it out. 

2. Who are your influences?
I love everything….from the Beach Boys to Black Sabbath…Mozart to Miles Davis; but as a musician and songwriter, most influence flows downhill from the Beatles. I get inspiration from just about every decade …with the most influential being the 80s and early 90s. I grew up listening to 80s modern rock with the cornerstone bands of my youth being REM, The Smiths, The Cure, Husker Du, X and others. In the 90s it was pivotal power pop bands like The Posies, Sloan, Redd Kross, Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, and many others. All those bands and genres shaped my musical background. I love the dark moody post-punk of bands like the Chameleons and Killing Joke as much as a cheery 3-minute pop song.

3. What is success?
I received two emails recently from two people I did not know who went out of their way to find me and tell me how much my music meant to them. When music becomes more than just background noise…when it really reaches to people and makes them feel more than what is on a superficial level, that’s the golden ticket. The fact that two random people conveyed this to me completely justifies everything I’ve ever done musically. And for that, I can be eternally grateful!

4. Why should people buy your music?
So I can send my kids to college 

5. Who do you love?
God. Family. Friends. (is there anything else?)

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?
As I alluded in question #3… the best I can hope for is that my music will reach out to someone in more than just a superficial way. If I can accomplish that – even with a few folks, then I feel I’ve achieved something.

7. Who comes to your gigs?
I don’t currently play live (as I don’t have a backing band). In the past (with Spinning Jennies) it was the die-hards…and on down nights it was usually just the drunk at the bar, the drummer’s girlfriend selling merch…and the other bands on the bill that night.

8. What is your favorite album?
POSIES – Dear 23

9. What is your favorite song?
“God Only Knows” Brian Wilson

10. How did you get here?
On a hippy trailhead full of zombies …. or was it The Magic Bus?

The Well Wishers’ album Jigsaw Days is out now.

LAURIE BIAGINI

LAURIE BIAGINI Ridin’ the Wave (Self released)

As an avid Beach Boys fan, it is always re-assuring and comforting to know that the Beach Boys remain high on the agenda on numerous modern-day musicians’ list of influences and inspirations. Already this year, you can point to the sterling work of the Fleet Foxes and the Explorers Club as proof positive of this phenomenon.

Add British Columbia native Laurie Biagini to the burgeoning list. In fact, listening to Ridin’ the Wave, you’d be convinced that Biagini is a lost-long Wilson offspring or distant relative (at least). Focusing on the Beach Boys 70s output, where Dennis and Carl Wilson held greater sway over the Beach Boys due to Brian Wilson’s health – there is a certain affinity to those classic Sunflower/Surf’s Up albums, not to mention traces of Dennis Wilson’s solo Pacific Ocean Blues. 

In addition, Biagini’s uncanny vocal invocation of the late great Karen Carpenter and Mama Cass, definitely brings in a different twist to the Beach Boys tribute that unfolds over the course of this wonderful album. The 16 tracks on display here (including Bambuzled – a heartfelt tribute to Dennis Wilson) effortlessly seque into one another like a seamless heady stream of sunshine pop extacy.

My only reservation is that the music sounds like a little “canned” and lacks the immediency of a live performance, which I guess was a recording choice by Biagini. That said, if its melodic 60s/70s SoCal classic pop you want, then Ridin’ the Wave will scratch that itch and more…

Check out Laurie Biagini’s Myspace page.

THE WELL WISHERS

THE WELL WISHERS Jigsaw Days (Self-released)

Jeff Shelton (aka The Well Wishers) has been consistently churning out these power pop/jangle rock nuggets with his old band Spinning Jennies and The Well Wishers solo vehicle for years now. By and large, Shelton takes a dollop of REM and Guided By Voices references, and throws them all in the blender with a generous helping of Shelton’s own hugely melodic sensibilities.

In my opinion, Shelton is produced better GBV-centric material than Bob Pollard is managing at the moment. Songs like Conscience Breaking Down, Moving Mountains & I Don’t Know display the 60s Anglophile-leanings marked by the 80s alt-rock influence of the Dream Syndicate, REM and the Paisley Underground. 

Brilliant.

Check out The Well Wishers’ Myspace page.

FALL OUT BOY – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Emo megastars Fall Out Boy are returning to Singapore for their 2nd gig in 3 years at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. 

Ticket sales will coincide with the worldwide album launch of Folie a Deux on December 16, which will be given free to early bird buyers, for top-tier tickets.

“This is a first ever for Singapore, if not the world and is part of Midas’s efforts to help people deal with the economic downturn. It is our way of giving something back,” says Michael Hosking, Managing Director of Midas Promotions. 

Concert and Ticketing Information: 

Fall Out Boy – Live in Singapore
Date: 10th February 2009

Time: 8.00pm
Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium 
Tickets: $ 58, $78,  $98  *Not inclusive of standard SISTIC fee. 

Tickets will go on sale Wednesday, 16th December 2008 at 9.00am for online booking and 10.00am at all authorised SISTIC outlets. 

CD Redemption Details : 

Early bird top-tier ticket buyers can redeem their free albums in exchange for their ticket stubs at HMV (only), at the Heeren.

Check out Fall Out Boy’s Myspace page where the new album is streaming in its entirety.

PoP10 – LING KAI

It’s Ling Kai’s turn in the PoP10 spotlight.

1. Why play music? 

Its the only way to say things that cannot be said otherwise. 

2. Who are your influences?

Anyone who connects, like a fist to your face, with their music and words. 

3. What is success? 

I tend to have a lot of self-doubt and paranoia, so success is when I am happy with my work, with no reservations whatsoever. 

4. Why should people buy your music? 

They should buy it because they like it! =)

5. Who do you love? 

Someone else who is the exact copy of myself, as egoistic as it sounds. But he has his flaws, just like mine. Its weird that way.

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

I really hope that people listen to it, and relate to whatever I’m writing about. They don’t neccessarily have to like it because I’m local, so as to support local music; but really like it for the music itself, you know?

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Anyone, from strange, lonely old men, to young, single office workers. Occasionally there are guys in skinny pants and girls with cool hair cuts; but they’re rare.

8. What is your favorite album?

It changes, but my all time favourite album, on regular rotation recently, is Aimee Mann’s Lost in Space. 

9. What is your favorite song?

Its Not, by Aimee Mann.

10. How did you get here? I have no idea actually.

Ask my mom and dad?  But I do know there’s only one way out of here. 

Ling Kai’s new EP, Honestly, is out now!

ANGELS & AIRWAVES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

ANGELS & AIRWAVES NUS Cultural Centre 7th December 2008

It was a gig of many hits and a couple of misses.

The chosen venue (NUS UCC) was somewhat risky. Angels & Airwaves (AVA) was easily the 1st international band with a huge passionate fanbase to appear at UCC. The UCC models itself as a host of buttoned down arts events after The Esplanade. 

AVA is however a ROCK BAND, loud, solid and hard. And while The Esplanade has learned how to handle such acts, UCC has much to improve on in comparison. Among other things, crowd control was an obvious problem with $85 far-end ticket holders rushing forward into the $180+ stage-side areas.

On the band’s part, AVA was nearly impeccable. Tom DeLonge entertained, and pandered: a medley of songs from the Blink182 years was his hint to the fans that he knows his roots. (Judging by the loud echoes to Reckless Abandon, so do they!)

But with anthems like The Adventure, AVA laid down strong reminders on what everyone had came for.

A great night, a triumph for AVA, an OK (but could be better) start for UCC as a rock show venue.

(Thomas Tan)

I guess you could say that I’m less of a fan than Thomas and whilst it was obvious that the band was giving its fans they had come for, I wondered what the neutrals thought about Tom DeLonge’s juvenile frat-boy stage antics. Indulging in a little too much toilet humour for my taste, DeLonge’s in-between banter bordered on the puerile and stood in sharp contrast with the mature U2 meets Police sonic thrust of the band’s material. Perhaps a Blink reunion is not too far away from DeLonge’s mind as he tested the waters with a couple of Blink songs which had the rapturous crowd singing in wild abandon. That all said, apart from my stated reservations, a splendid time was had by all…

… and there’s more … 

Pix by Thomas Tan. See more here.

LING KAI

LING KAI Honestly EP (Lempicka)

In many ways, Ling is already a Singapore music legend. Having attracted a million views to her youtube video of a performance of Larkin Step, Ling has reached a global audience most Singaporen musicians would have considered impossible.

After all, back in the early 90s, Singaporean singer-songwriters’ only avenue would have been selling their “homemade cookies” i.e. demo cassettes of lo-fi recordings at sympathetic music & book stores. How times have changed…

Naturally, that attention has brought Ling the ability to turn down a couple of major labels. Instead, the student in her early twenties has opted instead for Aussie indie Lempicka Records, an outfit that specializes the kind of acoustic music that Ling excels in. The result, her debut EP, Honestly.

Facebook Photograph

Opening with a piano and a violin, is perhaps a good way to subvert expectations for this acoustic folkie although it does give the listeners what they anticipated ultimately. The melancholy tone that permeates this song will “thrill” the angsty teen in us all – “You are better off without me/And I knew from the day that I realized/Being with you was giving up everything love stood for” Easy on the ear and mind.

8am

Ling stretches her musical palette a little to incorporate tiny jazz flourishes – not to mention A minor flamenco touches – in this breakup song. Ling vocalizes where a trumpet should be – until a real trumpet solo comes along with a bizarre psychedelic section. Interesting.

Suburbia

More trumpet-mimickry highlights this jaunty jazz-pop tune about a dream-like Singaporean heartland, maybe? “Magazines, furniture catalogs and things/Fill up houses and dreams the head of dairy queens” – your guess is as good as mine. And yes, you WILL be singing along before long – “Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Paaa”.

Midas Matches

A brilliant evocation of a film noir soundtrack. Torchy and extremely old-school. The song appears to tell the story of a fiery romance gone wrong with the metaphors of “I’m the match and you’re the flame” succeeding well. Mature songwriting on the level of say, Elvis Costello. Impressive.

Larkin Step

The one that started it all. The strength of which hinges on the opening guitar chord sequence which is rather sticky on the memory. Subtly simple in execution with violent imagery expressed – “Life comes along and it trickles down the cheeks of every beautiful boy/Time moves along and it breaks every bone in your spine”. Harsh sentiments for someone still so young. 

Distraction

My personal favorite. Melodic folk that hearkens back to that classic 70s singer-songwriter era. Joni Mitchell, Carole King and even, Joan Boaz. Surely, this is where Ling’s current strength lies. With a voice that will melt hearts and words to match – “Sometimes I wanna be alone/I pushed your number on the phone/And hang up once you’re there”.

With admirable economy, this EP fills the gaps with choice strings, staccato trumpets and copious amounts of acoustic guitar. A milestone in Singapore music history in more ways than one. I believe that this is only the beginning for Ling…

Check out Ling’s Myspace page.

SCHOOL INVASION TOUR FINALE

A Vacant Affair

A Vacant Affair

 

Music criticism can be a right old conumdrum sometimes, especially in the S-ROCK scene. As someone who is keenly aware on what goes on in the background of many gig organizations and also familiar with many of the parties who participate in such gigs, it isn’t easy to simply throw negative assessments into reviews based on assumptions and impressions. Then again, it does nobody any good to exagerrate events and performances just to paint a pretty picture. Thus, striking the balance is constantly on my mind when I write about the S-ROCK scene.

On Saturday (6 December), I hopped on the train at Bugis Station and made the “long” journey to Dover Station to arrive at the Singapore Polytechnic Convention Centre just before six. Got my reserved ticket from Colleen (yes, I certainly could have gotten a comp ticket from the organizers but decided to fork out my 12 bucks) and waited whilst the opening of the doors was delayed due to technical glitches. 

Pause here. “Technical glitches” and “delay” tend to plague S-ROCK gigs due to a variety of reasons – teething pains of a fledging scene or symptoms of something more serious – I haven’t analysed yet. However, I understand that the organizers had only a week (!) to put the gig together (after having to postpone the earlier scheduled gig and that fact alone should put things into perspective.

On a practical note, the idea of eight bands in one event seems great on paper but… when you’re sitting in a fairly cold auditorium on an empty stomach… tends to get rather challenging after a while. Perhaps, less is more…

Anyways, I managed to catch the Fire Fight, Force Vomit, Jack and Rai, A Vacant Affair and Allura before I gave in to my body’s demands and left. Overall, I have to say that the bands really did their best to overcome certain sound issues – the guitar sound sucked, basically – and I will summarize what I thought of each performance accordingly…

The Fire Fight – it’s obvious that FF put considerable thought into their set. The songs – new and old – sequed into each other like a classical suite with Josh tying up the interludes with cryptic (for now) introductions. A great teaser for the upcoming debut album.

Force Vomit – Is Dino feeling his age? The lead Vomit passed a few remarks about how old audience members were in 1995 or 1998. Heh. Despite their status as a “veteran” band, Force Vomit rocked hard and fast with their garage-mat-rock hybrid. Record that third album, Dino!

Jack and Rai – Smart boys who keep things simple, 2 guitars and 2 vocals belting out a short set of by now familiar hit songs and a Coldplay hit that got a big reception (why must we reserve our biggest cheers for a non-Singaporean song – more of that in the Angels & Airwaves gig review). That said, it was satisfying to see how appreciated a tune like the Falala Song was… the power of radio, I guess.

A Vacant Affair – The boys got a spirited response from the crowd with the inevitable body surfing and timid moshing. Matt’s voice rang out clear through the turgid auditorium air like a hot knife through butter and held court with his movement and vocals. Melodic hardware is how I hear AvA and with their debut album being distributed by Universal, be sure you pick it up and catch AvA at the album launch at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 26 December.

 

Allura
Allura

Allura – The band waited patiently whilst video presentations of past (!) events were being shown and launched into a competent set let down by the poor guitar sound. Aaron looked particularly miffed at the lack of response his guitar was getting (especially, on Gamajazilion – my favorite track!). Despite all that, the band gave their all, Inch especially shining on the new song, Loose Change, showcasing how far she has grown in her vocal range. 

As usual, a quick shout out to Poh Choo, Edward, Syed, Beni, Esmond, Jon Hems et al.

… and there’s more …

LAMBCHOP

 

LAMBCHOP OH (ohio) (Merge)

I would imagine Kurt Wagner, lead singer and central mythic figure of American band Lambchop, gives record executives nightmares. The conversation might go something like this: 

“Right, Jack, that new Lambchop record. We’ll stick an alt-country sticker on the front cover, alright?” 

“Alternative country? Gee, Bob, I don’t know. That opening track Ohio sounds like a bit of jazz and folk to me.”

 “Alright, fine, jazz and folk. We’ll market it as Kris Kristofferson in a bar lounge.”

“Hmm, yeah alright, but that track A Hold Of You sounds really soulful to me. You think we shall sell it as soul instead?”

“Yeah, soul is fine. So we’ll put a soul music sticker at the front like Marvin Gaye or something and–”

“Hang on, Bob, there’s a fair bit of funk on this track Popeye as well, you think we should mention that?”

“Okay, funk, funk is good, we’ll put an ad out in the papers and–”

“Gosh, this track “National Talk Like A Pirate Day” really does sound an awful lot like alternative country…”

“Jack, I need a drink.”

By now it should be pretty obvious that OH(Ohio), the latest offering by Nashville band Lambchop, is a genre-bending record that deftly blends together jazz, blues, folk and country with a heavy undercurrent of blue-eyed soul  What Jack and Bob up there fail to tell you is how darn enjoyable the album is. 

To be fair to poor Bob(who’s currently ingesting a copious amount of alcohol into his system), you’re not likely to find a Top 10 radio hit on the record. There are no wildly infectious hooks or headboppin’ catchy tracks. Instead, we have sweetly subtle melodies and light, unobtrusive harmonies like the ones on Slipped, Dissolved and Loosed, and full, slow burnin’ band soul love reminiscent of Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke on tracks like the aforementioned A Hold Of You.  

The seven-member strong band sound intuitive and comfortable enough to sparkle with an attractive looseness on tracks such as Sharing A Guitar With Martin Luther King Jr. National Talk Like A Pirate Day is another such track, brimming with raw trademark country energy reminiscent of Whiskeytown and humour that is all Kurt Warner. Warner himself is quietly brilliant throughout the record, his trademark staccato baritone anchoring the listener with an easy assurance at times, and phrasing a quiet lyrical thunderstorm on tracks like the simple yet powerful Please Rise.

In all, this is a gorgeously lush album that will go down well with listeners who like their music diverse. Warner is unmistakably the mastermind behind the record, but at the same time there is a positive air of collaboration that can only come from the easy charisma of a band that has learnt to play in the scales of the soul. The album is varied in its influences and stylings, but it never delves into schizophrenic territory, always retaining a strong sonic and lyrical identity. The energy never really rises above a quick brisk here, but its alright. This is music for the comfort of your living room, sounds of joy, love, grief and wonder that will evocate beautiful images in the theater of your home and your mind.  

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out Lampchop’s Myspace page.

S-ROCK EXTRAVAGANZA

The Fire Fight

Three consecutive nights of music for me this weekend. 

Tonight, at the Bukit Timah CC, my Noise apprentices Nick Tan and Rachael Teo will be performing at the Singer-Songwriter Showcase organized by Musical Theatre Limited. Saturday night, I will be at the Singapore Polytechnic Convention Centre for the School Invasion Finale with bands like the Fire Fight, Force Vomit, A Vacant Affair, West Grand Boulevard, Allura, Caracal, Jack & Rai and Plainsunset illuminating the stage.

And… on Sunday, its Angels & Airwaves at the NUS Cultural Centre.

Good thing Monday’s a Public Holiday, eh?

If you’re at any of these gigs, come up and say hi. I’m the dude with the shocking white hair…no, the other one…

… and there’s more …

ANGELS & AIRWAVES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

… and the answer of course is The Adventure.

Congrats to Jeremy Ong & Low Han Quan. You get a ticket each to Sunday’s concert.

In the meantime, here’s AVA on Letterman performing … The Adventure.

Thanks to all who tried out for the contest. If you weren’t successful, there’s always next time.

… and there’s more …

ANGELS & AIRWAVES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Tom DeLonge walked away from the mega-selling punk pop-meisters Blink-182 and straight into the mega-selling Angels & Airwaves. With two wildly successful albums – We Don’t Need To Listen and I-Empire – under their collective belts, the band has had a tremendous impact on pop culture in a relatively short span of time.

With Angels & Airwaves, DeLonge explores more mature themes and a wider spectrum of rock music than his previous band ever did. Together with drummer Atom Willard (ex-Rocket from the Crypt), guitarist David Kennedy and bassist Matt Wachter (ex-30 Seconds to Mars), Angels & Airwaves dig deep into the roots of classic rock over the decades – from The Who to the Clash, from U2 to the Get Up Kids. 

Which basically means that Singaporean rock fans will be treated to good ol’ Amercian rock ‘n’ roll – despite the “alternative” moniker – when Angels & Airwaves opens their tour of South-East Asia on Sunday, 7th December 2008, at 7.30pm at the University Cultural Centre Hall, NUS. Tickets are selling at $85, $100 and $125 and available now at SISTIC.

Interested? How about free tickets courtesy of gig organizer Midas Promotions?

Well, two free tickets will go to the first two persons who can answer this question correctly – what is the name of Angels & Airwaves’ first ever single? Send your answers to info (at) powerofpop (dot) com and the winners will be announced soon. 

We’ll be waitin’

FRANCOIS VIROT

 

FRANCOIS VIROT Yes or No (Frenetic)

On rare occasions when listening to music you come across true gems that are so breathtakingly original and fresh that you have to step back and pause for a second, purely to lose yourself in the moment of what you are experiencing. These moments don’t come along everyday, month or even year, but when they do you know that you will forever be trapped in that time. Like the first time your travel through the pages of your favorite book, you feel a tinge of regret when it is over because you know that you will never be able to go back and have that same experience again without knowing what is about to come. This is how you will feel listening to Yes or No by French Singer/Songwriter Francois Virot, someone who captures the very heart and soul of what we all love about music, and why it stirs such an emotional response in many of us.

Born in Lyon, France, Virot has been listening to and playing music from the tender age of nine. Into bands like The Melvins, Sonic Youth and Nirvana the young Virot picked up a guitar to imitate his idols. He is the drummer of Clara Clara, a French Electric Punk band whose vocalist is Virot’s brother, and while touring with them and doing various promotions he has still found time to record and release his own material as a solo artist. His material is very honest and raw, playing in the intimacy of coffee houses and flats, Virot draws the listener into his music and the way his album Yes or No is recorded he has managed to capture this feeling perfectly. Honest and Raw is the best way to describe Virot’s sound. 

The album starts with Not the One and showcases perfectly Virot’s unique vocal style and ear for melody. Some may find that his vocal style is a little too whiny for their taste and this is perfectly understandable. I would certainly say that the way he sings can either be loved or hated, I was drawn to it instantly, where as some may run in the opposite direction. There is an almost childlike innocence to his lyrics and the style of his writing displays a vulnerability, this is one man and his guitar after all, no orchestras or accompanying musicians to hide behind, this is Virot fully in the spotlight. Recorded on a four track, a cough at the beginning of Island shows just what Virot appears to be aiming for, he wants you to feel as if you are sat infront of him, in the audience and his attention is focused on you. The basic technique of recording certainly makes you feel this way. 

There are somber points, like Fishboy and Where O Where A, but mainly Yes or No flows in a very positive and upbeat manner. Francois Virot is not just another singer/songwriter in the Damien Rice/Newton Faulkner/James Blunt mould, all of the production and recording techniques are out of the window on this album and for a debut it is stunning and emotional. 

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Francois Virot’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – ROB BONFIGLIO

Rob Bonfiglio brings us his thoughts on the PoP10 inquisition…

1. Why play music? 
It’s my means of expression…  I’m terrible in social situations!

2. Who are your influences? 
Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Todd Rundgren, Laura Nyro, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Philly soul…on and on!

3. What is success? 
The ability to do what you love & earning the respect of one’s peers.  I like to think just being happy, but I think that depends heavily on the aforementioned.

4. Why should people buy your music? 
Perhaps people were moved by the same music I was (and am) & will hopefully recognize a certain truth in it.

5. Who do you love? 
…see ‘influences’!

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music? 
I hope just to be able to continue to make music and tell a story…and with a little luck reach an audience.  If I’m able to leave behind something that people can relate to or are moved by then my goals have been accomplished (see #3!)

7. Who comes to your gigs? 
Friends, fans & whoever happens to be at the venue!

8. What is your favorite album? 
It’s a rotating cast of faves that often depends on the day of the week…a few that come to mind include Laura Nyro’s first several Columbia records, Neil Young’s eponymous 1st album, George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’…they all share a kind of transcendent, timeless quality that I love.

9. What is your favorite song? 
Again, depends entirely on the day of the week…some that come to mind are ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ (just kidding)… 

10. How did you get here? 
There were more times than I care to remember that I thought of giving it up, but I think sheer determination combined with the absolute love of music & performing, just plain stubbornness & the inability to take ‘no’ for an answer has kept my focus intact.  Surrounding myself with people who believe and encourage has certainly been helpful as well.

Rob Bonfiglio’s new album Bring the Happy is out now.

THE END OF THE WORLD

 

THE END OF THE WORLD French Exit (Pretty Activity)

An early exit without saying goodbye is known as a “French Exit”. Whether the phrase has anything to do with the French national team’s abysmal showing at this year’s Euro 2008, I’m not sure. It should suffice to say, though, that French Exit, the latest album by Brooklyn-based band The End Of The World, doesn’t reach the levels of atrocity that the strife-wrecked and unspeakably bad performances of the French team did. 

Minimalistic and stripped down in nature, most songs found on this album are songs that can be easily represented by the 3 primary colors, guitars, drum and bass. As explained by frontman and drummer Stefan Marolachakis, it was a conscious production decision to help bring the emotion and meaning of the songs to the forefront instead of being buried under layers of sound. It’s a decision, however, that yields a largely inconsistent album that is plain stifle-a-yawn boring at its worst moments, and mesmerizingly captivating at its best.

The album opens with a short track apparently taken from one of the band’s live gigs featuring a short dialogue between the band and the audience. Depending on how you look at it, it could be taken as either quirky or insufferably pretentious, but either way it adds nothing to the album. Second track on the album, Jody, is a raucous track that makes some good headway in kicking off the album with its rattling drum beats and energetic vocals, but the album then takes an abrupt dive with the slow, soft rumble and twinkling yearnings of Somebody Else’s Dollar, before pulling upwards sharply again with the up-tempo bluesy clap-along number, I Don’t Wanna Lose. At this point, a pattern begins to establish itself as the slow alternative country number Learning unfurls amidst a swirl of pedal steel stylings and the requisite harmonica hooks. It’s a repetitive, slow-burning number that never really rises above the initial emotion. Railway Living starts off with a baffling piece of amateurish production that sounds like it was recorded on Skype, and for that transgression the track never really manages to take flight. The rest of the album follow more or less the same sequence laid out in earlier tracks, with soft pensive numbers interspersed with rousing songs that try to lift the listener out of their slumber. Last track on the album is probably the biggest detour taken by the band in terms of sonic approach, and truth be told, belonged somewhere closer to the start of the album.

The band’s biggest sin on this album is probably the track listing. French Exit is an attempt to create an album that evokes both the avant-garde lush soundscapes of Brian Eno and the MOR pop-rock catchiness of Train, but all it succeeds in doing is alienating its listeners who never quite really manage to get into the groove of the album, a result of the schizophrenic track listing. Listeners with more patience and tolerance for the occasional misstep might be willing to give this album a chance, as it can grow on you when taken on its own terms. Other listeners, however, might want to give this one a miss.  

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out the End of the World’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – CLASS THREE OVERBITE

 

Mike Elgert and Brad Jendza make up power pop duo Class Three Overbite and it’s their turn on the hot seats…

1. Why play music?        

It’s a form of escape. We need someplace to get rid of all of these things in our heads.

2. Who are your influences?    

The Beatles, Queen, Jellyfish, David Bowie, Kiss, Scissor Sisters, ….

3. What is success? 

When a crowd sings one of our songs back to us. Having someone tell us that our songs make them feel something. Happy or Sad.

4. Why should people buy your music? 

It’s a good investment, especially on cold, lonely nights. 

5. Who do you love?

Ourselves.

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

To have the recordings turn out the way we hear them in our heads and for people to feel their own emotions from the music.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Everybody. We attract all kinds!

8. What is your favorite album?

Mike: Jellyfish – “Spilt Milk”/ Brad: The Beatles – “Abbey Road”

9. What is your favorite song?

Tough question. Today it is, Mike: Crowded House –  “Not the Girl You Think You Are” / Brad: Queen – “You Take My Breath Away”

10. How did you get here?          

Our Mothers.

Class Three Overbite’s new album – Horses for Courses – is out now.

ROB BONFIGLIO

ROB BONFIGLIO Bring On the Happy (Damask)

If you’re interested, its pronounced “Bon-feel-e-o” and it sounds “G-R-E-A-T”!!! (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Bonfiglio is an old ‘friend’ of sorts, I loved his former band – Wanderlust – who managed a wonderful major label debut – Prize – before falling prey to RCA’s unrealistic expectations. The band released its second album with Bruce Brodeen’s Not Lame label before calling it quits.

Continue reading “ROB BONFIGLIO”

JOHN LENNON DVD

Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words and Music (Eagle Vision)

In the wake of 9/11, this musical tribute to John Lennon took on a resonance and poignancy which is hard to describe. In October 2001, musicians and actors chose to pay their respects to the numerous men and women who tragically lost their lives in that fateful day in history through the words and music of John Lennon.

It is therefore difficult not to feel the emotion behind every tune and speech delivered in this heartfelt event. Perhaps that is why some of the performances are particularly powerful eg. Cyndi Lauper – Strawberry Fields Forever, Alanis Morissette – Dear Prudence & Shelby Lynne – Mother, in particular took me somewhat by surprise. 

Definitely worth picking not only if you’re a fan of the artists who participated or a John Lennon fan.

PoP10 – STEVE CARAWAY

 

Reading Steve’s replies, I realized that we both are besotted with Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom. Good taste, man. 

1.Why play music?

I HAVE to, it`s like breathing to me.

 2. Who are your influences?

The Beatles, Elvis Costello (the Deity) Tom Petty, The Replacements

 3. What is success?

To be able to do what I love over and over again.

4. Why should people buy your music?

See above.

 5. Who do you love?

My family, Leo Fender.

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

To make someone get that thrill like I had upon hearing a great song for the 1st time.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Sad, lonely, broken men…and really hot college girls.

8. What is your favorite album?

I have two, Revolver and Imperial Bedroom. Geoff Emerick sits at the right hand.

9. What is your favorite song?

It changes daily.

10. How did you get here?

Listened to my favorite music, constantly sought out the new, practiced, wrote, refined my craft, and then elbowed my way into the room.

Steve Caraway’s album, Hurricane Season is out now.

PoP CLASSIC SONG

DEBASER (off Pixies’ 1989 album Doolittle)

Bizarrely, I had Rolling Stone to thank for my introduction to the weird world of Pixies. After a hiatus of three to four years, I returned to rock music in earnest in 1989. Sometime in early 1990 in one of those “best of” issues, I came across Doolittle and Pixies. And the opening track was – Debaser – and immediately I was hooked by the sheer energy, the incongruous sweetness of Kim Deal’s vocal and of course, Black Francis’ visceral delivery. That last 30 seconds always gets me jumpin’! Believe me, there would have no Nirvana without Pixies…

“Girl is so groovy…”