ROCK THE SUB 2009

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Presented by The Substation & Timbre Music

Saturday 6 June, from 6:30pm

The Substation Theatre & Timbre @ The Substation

Admission: $21 (includes one free drink) available from The Substation, www.bytes.sg and at the door or call 6332 6919

Line-up

* Amateur Takes Control

* For This Cycle

* Postbox

* Silhouette

* Allura

* The Fire Fight

* Caracal

* A Vacant Affair

* Urbandub (from the Philippines)

* Nothing to Declare

* The Great Spy Experiment

* Force Vomit

TERMINATOR SALVATION

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I really wanted to like Terminator Salvation so much. After the disappointment of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, I was genuinely excited by the early buzz that surrounded this McG-helmed sequel. The trailers looked decent. As did the promo pictures. Sure, I figured that McG would not do as good a job as James Cameron would (how could he?) but I was anticipating a solid piece of sc-fi movie-making to set the T-franchise back on track.

If you’ve been reading the reviews out there, you would be aware that the critics basically hate Terminator Salvation. And there’s good reason for all the bile being thrown its way. But I wanted to take a step back and try to analyse where Terminator Salvation succeeds (and it does in parts) and where it fails.

So, let’s start with its strengths. This is a visually compelling film. McG has pulled out all the stops to make the action sequences as immersive a film experience as possible. The viewing perspective in John (Christian Bale) Connor’s helicopter from the opening sequence is breath-taking. Sure, there are various elements of the Matrix, Transformers, Road Warrior and the first two Terminators referenced throughout the fight scenes, but McG – to his credit – has managed to up the ante, even if ever so slightly. It’s pure movie eye candy from start to finish and from that angle, a pleasure to watch.

Unfortunately for McG, the merits of a film hinges on its storytelling (as well) and on this count, Terminator Salvation fails miserably. How in the world did a script this bad ever get approved for shooting? Worse still, the plot does not even relate properly to the original premise of the franchise as carefully outlined in the first two movies. I could spend hours expounding on the numerous plot holes, poor characterization, logic gaps and plain stupidity permeating this entire movie. But I won’t.

Let’s put it simply, shall we? (Warning… spoilers abound!)

As set up, this movie takes place before John Connor becomes the leader of the resistance and way before Kyle (Anton Yelchin) Reese becomes the man who would go back in time to father John Connor in the past. So why would these two insignificant individuals be on top of Skynet’s kill list? And why would Skynet hatch this improbable plan to lure Connor and Reese to Skynet central in order to kill them? What plan, you say? Well, create a cyborg from the body of death row inmate Marcus (Sam Worthington) Wright to infiltrate the resistance to achieve that aforementioned objective. But why go to all that trouble, when killing Kyle Reese would have meant (as Connor reveals himself) that Connor would never have existed. And believe me, Marcus Wright had ample time and opportunity to kill Kyle Reese, even before Reese himself is captured by the machines (but not killed again, for some mystifying reason).

*Arrggghhhh!!!*

And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Most of Terminator Salvation does not make any sense whatsover. Like I said before, this movie is sheer eye candy but inside it’s hollow and empty as if the screenwriters and director had no clue (or didn’t give a damn) how to tell the story of the legendary John Connor and Kyle Reese. It’s a pity because there was so much potential.

If you really want to watch Terminator Salvation, a word of caution – don’t bring your brain along.

PoP10 – COVE RED

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1. Why play music?

Rachael: Because it’s less tiring than sports and more fun than computer games. And in all honesty, very very addictive.

Yinky: i think playing/singing is a time when i can be the most ‘real’ and alive to myself and others. at other times i can be real but rather sedate.

2. Who are your influences?

R: Mom, for sure. Sparring with her makes me a better songwriter.  She brings out the deep-set emotions that I normally wouldn’t take notice of. And courageous, honest, loving and passionate people who are nonconformists.

Y: acoustic guitarwork of shane&shane, damien rice, dave matthews; creativity/weirdness/spaciness of mute math, copeland, sigur ros, future of forestry, death cab, david crowder, radiohead and my friend mark, though (unfortunately) none of my music sounds like theirs.

3. What is success?

R: It’s knowing that your work is done, and in one way or another, big or small, someone out there is impacted by the fruit of your labour.

Y: growing in each season of your life, to who you were born to be

4. Why should people buy your music?

R: Because like us, they believe in the power of “love & water”. They are “dreamers”-in-the-making. It’ll be some time “till we come” back with another EP. They like “heart conversations”. They like “heart conversations”. And of course, they don’t wanna make a “mistake”. =)

Y: i think this album can speak to a pretty wide range of people. it addresses the common human experience. it’ll make you feel. or at the very least, make you think. lastly, it sounds good.

5. Who do you love?

R: I love people who cannot speak for themselves, like victims of human trafficking, and people who help them, like Christine Caine. I also love people who love coffee, hugs, music, and people. And of course, Yinky because she’s the most awesomest band mate I could ever ask for. Seriously, no one accommodates my hi5 habit better than she does. Plus, she is radically different. I like different.

Y: ? i love/ am inspired by passionate people who love life and dare to risk being different

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

R: For this particular EP, I hope to, well, awaken the dreamer that is penned up inside each individual. I believe everyone has a purpose, and when we find it and live it, that’s when life begins. In general, however, I think it’d be so great if someone could connect with our music and see things from a fresh perspective. Much of the media today generates too much junk that promotes things like promiscuity and negativity. I hope that as we choose to sing to a different tune, people will find themselves shedding the norm and singing along to the radical.

Y: influence the way people think and live- hopefully for the better

7. Who comes to your gigs?

R: We’re proud to say we have had audiences from all walks of life – naughty school kids, religious leaders (when we played at an interfaith dialogue), humanists, church-goers, expats, fellow artists, tourists, facebook pals etc. But mostly, our Forerunner friends (we first met while volunteering with them) who show up in clusters at each of our gigs.

Y: friends and unsuspecting strangers

8. What is your favorite album?

R: The indecisive person in me refuses to let me choose one.

Y: ‘beneath medicine tree’ (copeland) makes me feel like home

9. What is your favorite song?

R: “Love and water”? Kidding. I truly don’t know, but I like the honest lyrical flair of artists like Sara Groves, the allure of deep electronic sounds, the mournful voices of Rachael Yamagata, Sarah Mclachlan and Glen Hansard, and the weirdness of Sigur Ros and Radiohead.

Y: too many.. an interesting one that intrigues me to no end is ‘crimson’ by nichole nordeman, where she transforms chopin’s prelude in E minor by writing a completely new amazing song over it.. i’m ‘classically’ trained so i get big kicks out of things like that.

10. How did you get here?

R: Years of waiting, an open door, plenty of coffee, prayer and gallons of love.

Y: by way of many miracles along the way. and years and years of training, dreaming, and waiting.

Cove Red’s simply gorgeous Ep, Awaken the Dreamer is out now.

TELEKINESIS

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TELEKINESIS Telekinesis! (Merge)

Michael Lerner is Telekinesis. Inasmuch as Lerner plays and writes every song on this intriguing LP. Produced by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, the appeal of this album is its immediacy and irresistible infectiousness. Y’know, the way that good old-fashioned pop-rock used to unashamed to be.

There are no clever arrangements, just basic representations of memorable tunes, toe-tapping rhythms and cool vibes. Simple.

Sure, in may ways, its pretty standard indie pop fare you might hear from the Shins, the Decemberists and the like, but there is something so unique about Lerner’s songwriting and recorded delievery that the word that ‘pops’ into your head will always be ‘extraordinary’.

Yes, boys and girls, Telekinesis! is one of those albums you could easily listen to from start to finish. And you will, repeatedly.

Check out Telekinesis’ Myspace page.

Video for Tokyo below.

COVE RED

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COVE RED Awaken the Dreamer (KAMCO)

So what’s the use of power and influence if you don’t use it for the benefit of your loved ones, family and friends? Eh?

About seven months after commencing The Noise Apprenticeship Program (with yours truly as mentor), Rachael Teo (together with utility player, Yinky) unleashes the debut Cove Red “unofficial” EP to raise funds for her upcoming study trip to the USA. So how do I review this EP without the slightest bit of bias? I don’t. I just call it as I see it, as usual.

Awaken the Dreamer represents everything I believe about music – that all you need is a song delivered by vocal and instrument, to bring the message across – to tell the world what you’re about. Stripped down and recorded live by Lunar Node’s Gerald Koh, Awaken the Dreamer is a glorious revocation of the early 70s Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter movement that I know and love so well. The focus is on simple arrangements with two guitars and the odd violin to forge shimmering jazz-folk-pop music.

Every single tune is a winner.

Love and Water – is given the 80s Style Council treatment, breezy and cool – even if the chorus is written by yours truly (is self-praise even praise?). The final choral harmonies are genuinely spine-tingling (great work, girls).

Dreamer – The production on this title track (not to be confused with the new Fire Fight single) is particularly impressive as Rachael’s yearning voice will leave its mark on you, without problem. Again, the 70s vibe is irresistible.

Mistakes – This confessional track is probably the most upbeat one on this EP and probably the weakest as well. That said, it contains a dynamic chorus which showcases the duo’s harmonic strengths perfectly. Not to mention Yinky’s soloing skills.

Till You Come – A gorgeous ballad about future love that once again highlights Rachael’s sweet larynx which would not be out of place on the early 70s hit parade.

Heart Conversations – This is the song that convinced me that Rachael is a gifted songwriter beyond her tender years. Blessed with a tune that Paul McCartney himself would be proud to call his own. With a relevant message for these troubled times – “Why worry about tomorrow, when tomorrow’s not come round”. Embellished by Yinky’s mournful violin, Heart Conversations is the appropriate way to close this wondrous EP.

I know, I cannot escape the old school references but this is precisely the reason why I believe that Rachael will be around for the long haul, with melodic/harmonic sensibilities this potent, Rachael Teo is a name you might want to take note of. Yes, I’m proud of both Rachael and Yinky for achieving so much with so little. So please go now and get the EP!

Now to listen to the EP again…

Check out Cove Red’s Myspace page.

THE FIRE FIGHT

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The first time I watched the Fire Fight was when they opened at the Copeland/Anberlin gig about two years ago. My main impression of them was they reminded me of legendary 80s Brit-rockers Big Country a great deal. Which in my book is a compliment! As I’ve witnessed their musical growth, I’ve been most struck by their genuine heart-on-sleeve passion and epic soundscapes. Their debut recording – The Green Single (review below, taken from 2007) – was a good teaser for the main attraction due in July, the debut full length.

First single, Dreamer, is an appetizer for the delights to come. Big Country references still abound but this time allied to harmonic strengths, electronic quirkiness and overall rhythmic majesty, which results in a mature exploration of the post-punk revival phenomenon, with a foot firmly in both the classicist and post-modern camps. The melody on Dreamer is not particular “between the eyes” infectious but it is the grounding of the song in pleasing arrangements and intriguing sections that will excite the more discerning indie rock listener.

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This four-track EP consists of one ‘proper’ studio recording Fires At Night and three demos recorded live in a rehearsal studio. Fire At Night is ostensibly the lead song and highlights this Singaporean quintets’ grasp of jazz-inflected chord progressions, Brit-affected vocals and epic-scoped themes to deliver an emotionally satisfying experience.

That said, the three so-called demos are fully realized songs on their own. When Spring Comes Home is an exciting, vibrant tome on new beginnings whilst the delicate Hours is a paean of thanksgiving and Candella though not as accomplished boasts a catchy singalong chant (which should be popular live).

The Fire Fight is one of Singapore bright indie rock prospects and the Green Single is a grand opening statement of intent.

Check out the Fire Fight’s Myspace page.

Stay tuned as Power of Pop will be focusing on the Fire Fight in the weeks to come…

…still there’s more…

PoP10 – BIG FRESH

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1.Why play music?

Why not? If the notes are already out there, why not reach into the aether and pull them out to see what they sound like. Its like surfing the ocean waves, or falling through space…you are at the hands of nature itself, yelling into large canyons to hear the echoes. Damned good question. Compulsion, I think. I think you are kidding yourself if you have any other reason than you can’t help yourself. The world doesn’t need another pop band. Save your money and buy an extra flashlight for the apocalypse. Just a strong desire to create is what compels me. There is probably something deeper like communicating to my species as well.

2. Who are your influences?

Ingmar bergman, King Tubby, Curtis Mayfield, Beach boys, R. Stevie Moore,  Sufjan Stevens, Beatles, blur, animal collective, 10cc, it goes on and on forever…

3. What is success?

Having a person get out of bed, brush their teeth, put on clothes, get in their car, find parking, pay a cover charge, just to hear you make music. According to many folks it would be selling a million records. For me, it is making something I would want to hear – which in turn, means that someone else would probably like to hear since my tastes are fairly mainstream. So, if I sold a million records I would be happy that I like what other people like.

4. Why should people buy your music?

They shouldn’t. It should be free and available on the internets. Music should never be viewed as a commodity. Music and art should be shared like a grandmother shares her quilting knowledge with her granddaughter. It is the very essence of a meaningful life. There is no price for that. They should only buy it if they love it or they feel compelled to “support the artist”. I would recommend getting it for free from a friend if possible then eventually if they like it enough and feel guilty they can buy it.

5. Who do you love?

I love all. Love is the greatest metaphor of our time. I try to love everyone, but it is hard. People, including myself, are selfish and petty. But people are also capable of such beautiful acts of kindness and creativity that it balances out the evil. The handful of friends and family members that know I love them could probably attest to my selfishness and pettiness, but also my kindness and creativity.  Love is hard, but love is real. If it isn’t real then we are screwed. We might be screwed even if it is real.

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

Making music for the sake of pleasure is all I could have ever wanted to achieve. Everything else is in the bonus points category.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Our friends and people I like to judge and put into distinct categories like “hipster”, “nerd”, “d-bag”, or “cutie.”

8. What is your favorite album?

Pet Sounds, not surprising that it makes a lot of people’s “favorites” lists. It truly is the perfect capture of a moment in time that we’ve all experienced. Teen angst mixed with youthful romance. All packaged in beautiful harmonies and melodies.

9. What is your favorite song?

“God Only Knows” The Beach Boys

If I had to pick a piece of music from the 20th century that represented all my favorite things about music, this would be it. I’ve never heard such beauty and mystery in a song. My arms are getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I wish the rounds at the end would go on forever. If there is a heaven, this will be the soundtrack on the escalator ride up.

10. How did you get here?

I kept rolling the large rock up the hill.

Big Fresh’s B.F.F. album is out now.

THE ENEMY

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THE ENEMY Music For The People (Warner Music)

Imagine if Angus Young never grew old. Now imagine him slipping into a houndstooth blazer, and coerced into taking the stage with a smittering of self-indulgent Britpop. Imagine that his recognizable swagger and sneer has morphed into  (horrors) happy, jump-abouty jauntiness.

Maybe they are taking a cue from their neighbours down under, but it seems to me that the latest wave of British bands to hit the airwaves have narrowed down their musical formulae to one of three M.O. — wan covers of lesser-known tunes, rehashing the 80s, or, perhaps more tastefully, revisiting the joys of ballsy blues-based Rock N’ Roll, albeit in a less angsty, folk-centric manner.

Coventry’s The Enemy is a prime exemplification of this trend. While their latest release, Music For The People possesses a markedly Rock N’ Roll sensibility, the band displays their thorough understanding of this contemporary rock/indie dichotomy by subtly packaging a jangly, twangy, MTV-friendly sensibility into their music.

This is a markedly apparent theme throughout the album, one that lends itself to instant recognition. Without having to aurally desconstruct the record, it is possible to identify (most obviously) the strong AC/DC influence. The gritty, bare-bones character of the riffage does however manage to hold enough airiness to straddle the fence between late night beers and late-morning tea.

The advent of this album has also afforded me to opportunity to voice another gripe, in that music publications tend to have a manner of rapturously overhyping new albums. I’d hardly call the album anthemic or rebellious, given that its subject matter deals with British clichés like the middle-class divide, life on the street, and, get ready for this, Revolution.

*insert gratuitous editorial pause here to allow rumination over previous sentence*

Somebody should tell them that their predecessors have done it to death. It’s time to move on, and I’m sure there are more pressing themes that haven’t been explored. Make no mistake however, I do like the album.

If you are an ardent advocate of a strict rock vs indie divide, then this is not the album for you. If, however, you are open to exploration, feel free to have a couple of spins. It won’t kick you in the nuts, it won’t tickle your grey matter, but I promise you it will have your feet tapping.

(Sherwin Tay)
Check out The Enemy’s Myspace page.

BIG FRESH

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BIG FRESH B.F.F. (Big Fresh Forever) (Garden Gate)

I hate bands like Big Fresh!

Why?

Well, I’m annoyed by the level of pop magnificence they somehow manage to concoct in these home recordings. I detest the way the band creates these decidedly lo-fi albeit inventive pop gems with such seeming ease and much aplomb. I abhor the cute litte psychedelic touches, the electronic bleeps which make the songs all precious and spacey.

OK.

Let me put it in another way. I find it positively inspiring that so much has been achieved with (allegedly) so little. This is the bloody mythic core of pop tunesmithery – throwing the collective consciousness of pop cool (e.g. the Move, Syd-era Pink Floyd, Smile-era Beach Boys, ELO, XTC, Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices, Fountains of Wayne, Blur, even MGMT et al) into the melting pot and mixing it up!

Nothing is sacred as Big Fresh explores corny old school synths (Entertainment), psychedelic-folk (Joy Bombs #1), luscious surf harmonies (W.L.U.V.), Rhodes-channeled whimsy (Satan, No) and falsetto-tinged dirges (Heat Death of the Universe), in the supreme hope that we will cotton on to the buried treasures locked into every groove, melody line and instrumental choice. And we will…

Check out Big Fresh’s Myspace page and the video of Lost and Found (not on B.F.F.).

PAUL STEEL

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PAUL STEEL Moon Rock (Raygun)

Young singer-songwriter Paul Steel does all us music journos a favour by listing his influences inside the CD sleeve of Moon Rock. Handy, huh? Amongst them, we get the usual pop suspects viz. Brian Wilson & the Beach Boys, the Beatles, XTC, High Llamas, Super Furry Animals, Grandaddy and Supergrass. A first rate list. I must confess.

However, to these (weathered) ears, Steel seems to have omitted the most obvious inspiration of all – JELLYFISH! Yeah, the short-lived but beloved band fronted by Andy Sturmer and Roger Joseph Manning Jr that released two memorable albums, Bellybutton and Spilt Milk, in the early 90s, during the height (depths?) of grunge.

Throughout Moon Rock, the Jellyfish vibe is so pervading that you might even mistake this delightful debut LP for the long-lost 3rd Jellyfish album. Which is the best news for all fans of sophisticated pop. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a putdown of Steel’s own abilities. Neither does it take away from the achievement of Moon Rock. I’m not saying that Steel rips off or that his music is derivative of Jellyfish. Rather that Moon Rock is an album created in the spirit of Jellyfish.

In the same way that Jellyfish took the elements of classic pop-rock of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren, Supertramp, Queen and XTC to point the way forward for powerpoppers everywhere, Steel is flying the flag high for modern day proponents of this much underrated (and maligned) genre.

Favouring dense instrumentation and arrangements, melodic hooks galore, whimsical moments and trainspotting references, Moon Rock is one of those albums that true pop enthusiasts will obsess over for weeks on repeat mode, headphones on, salivating over every nuance.

Highlights are aplenty – the instrumental coda to the title track, the helium-inflected jaunty Oh No! Oh Yeah!, the softly infectious I Will Make You Disappear, the pleasing balladry of Rust & Dust, the 90s Britpop dynamism of Your Loss and the delicate beauty of Summer Song.

So exciting news for the pop underground, for I have seen the future of sophisticated pop and his name is Paul Steel.

Check out Paul Steel’s Myspace page and the video of Oh No! Oh Yeah! below.

SORRY

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SORRY The RSVP EP (Self released)

The new power trios never get too bogged down with the traditional concepts of sonic power. From the Police to Nirvana to Nada Surf, the redefinition of the power trio finds the dynamism in the spaces between the instruments, in the exploration of seemingly conflicting genres and styles.

That’s certainly true of Auburn WA power trio, Sorry. Comprising of the Brozovich brothers (Alan and Stephen) on guitars, basses and vocals with Derek Butcher on drums, Sorry colasce open chords, odd time signatures, fragile melodies and fractured thoughts into emotional highs, percussive conundrums and subtle violence.

Deceptively simple and straightforward, their press release comparisons with the Posies and Hang Ups belie the intensity and depth of their craft. The interplay between strings and voices showcases the genetic sibling harmonics that builds up each track into a crescendo of grace and beauty.

The ambience moves from the insistent jazz strokes of Autobiography, the jaunty whip shots of Bicycle, the gorgeous folk strains of Set Sail to the sinister menace of Autopilot. Considering the tracks, by and large, sound like live recordings, the fact that the songs never come across the same way is an astounding achievement.

I absolutely love the way Sorry weaves diverse strands of post-punk, twee, powerpop and indie rock into a pleasing multicoloured quilt. This is a band to keep a firm eye (and ear) on.

Check out Sorry’s website.

A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR LIVE

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“…still there’s more…”

I’m certain regular PoP visitors will be aware of my favorite tagline. A few of you might be enlightened enough to know that the line comes from International Feel, the opening song off my most beloved of Todd Rundgren’s albums, the masterpiece that is A Wizard, A True Star.

I’ve always believed that AWATS accomplished what Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks tried to achieve with Smile – a seamless stream-of-consciousness cross-genre concept album that looked backwards and laid the foundations for tomorrow. For a modern-day version, try the Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin.

So imagine my shock when I discovered that Todd will be performing the entire AWATS album live in the USA and UK, in the coming months! The mind boggles. This is an awesome “once-in-a-lifetime” experience and I’ve got to figure out if there’s any chance at all of yours truly actually pulling it off.

In the meantime, check out the interview Todd gave with regards to the upcoming AWATS shows.

and yes…still there’s more…

WAYNE COYNE’S BIG ASS FANS

Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne talks about his big ass fan. Really.

And if you like the music in the background, you can pick it up here.

The song is Vortex Punch by Big Fresh.

Cool, huh?

More about Big Fresh in the days to come.

…still there’s more…

MAKING OF … AWAKEN THE DREAMER

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This is a new feature that I cooked up a little while back and I’m thrilled to bits that the person kicking it off is Rachael Teo, my dear friend and (former) apprentice. I can’t believe how far Rach has come since she was the budding songwriter with one & a half songs. Anyways, Making Of… is a series where recording artists chat about their new album or EP, giving us some insight into the creation of their art and other juicy tidbits. So here’s Rach to deliver her thoughts about Cove Red’s Awaken the Dreamer EP.

It’s ironic how the words “awaken the dreamer” came to me as I was drifting in and out of slumber, in one of those dream-like states where it’s hard to discern whether or not the idea is truly yours. I guess the phrase is an oxymoron. Awakening calls for an action of getting up, while the activity of dreaming can only be conjured by pacifying oneself to sleep. So what does “Awaken The Dreamer” truly mean?

Well, for one, it is the title of Cove Red’s unofficial debut album. Cove who, you may ask?

Cove Red is a two-piece band made up of two girls, Suyin on backing vocals, keyboards, guitar and violin, and me (Rachael) on lead vocals and guitar. As a band, we’ve only been around for about 4 months. And it still baffles us that while these songs were only written 3-6 months ago, we’ve already made a record out of them. To be honest, we wouldn’t have, if not for the call of a dream.

Awakening the dreamer, very simply put, means bidding what was once dead to live again.

And that is what our EP hopes to do. To walk the listener down the narrow hallway, into the dusty chamber of forgotten and broken dreams, clean up the grimy reminders of the past, and breathe new life into forsaken dreams that we once had.

Three days were all we had to finish recording this EP – complete with delivered meals, coffee, and plenty of perfume. (We recorded at our friend’s office’s band room, which housed a sewage pipe.) Another friend of ours also recorded 3 of her songs during the time we had, so the whole process was a bit mad, a bit tiring, sprinkled with large doses of fun and laughter.

The album contains 5 stripped-down acoustic songs written by me (Rachael), and it opens with a familiar tune, “Love & Water”, which incidentally was the first song that Kevin Mathews and I composed together. It highlights things like purpose, hope and faith, celebrates friendship, and likens love to water as an essential to see a dark world through difficult times. Despite the weight of its themes, its chirpy melody masks the seriousness of the tone, making it the ideal opening number.

The second track is a fairly new one entitled “Dreamer”. It was written after a very heated argument with my mom a few months back. At that time, I was actively pursuing my dream, and she was frustrated at me because the first fruit of success seemed to be taking a long time to grow. This song was birthed within 15 minutes. It’s about holding onto destiny even though everything seems to be working against you.

Next on the list is “Mistakes”. It speaks of how some problems keep resurfacing simply because we have yet to learn from them, and not letting the weight of our guilt crush and paralyze us to do what we were made for.

The following track, “Till You Come”, is a song to all single people out there who doubt that they’ll ever find love. I truly don’t know what came over me when I wrote this one. Friends around me would know that I generally do not wear my heart on my sleeves when it comes to relationships. So, surprise, surprise.

When Kevin Mathews first heard “Heart Conversations”, he commented that it’d be a good song to end an album. So we took his advice. This one’s about shedding anxiety and leaving it in Divine hands, and living in the now because the future has yet to arrive.

We hope “Awaken the Dreamer” will be instrumental in awakening fellow dreamers through its messages of faith, purpose, newness, hope, and resolute peace.

For more information about “Awaken The Dreamer” and Cove Red, check out www.awakenthedreamer.wordpress.com and www.myspace.com/cove2red. Drop us an email at cove2red@gmail.com; we’d love to connect with you!

The EP will be made available at Cove Red’s EP launch gigs on 24th and 31st May (Sundays) 5.30pm at Earshot Cafe@Arts House. Do come on down!

Next in Making Of – Vertical Rush’s Of Real Dreams.

…still there’s more…

ANDIE FRANCOEUR

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ANDIE FRANCOEUR Morning Light (Self-released)

According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, the label “folktronica” seems to have originated in the British press, having come to encompass performers and bands that include elements of ambient electronica, folk, jazz, classical, and even hip-hop. At face value, there is plenty that can go wrong with trying to combine the disparate sound and approache of folk music and electronica.

Andie Francoeur herself is the eldest daughter of a classic rock/blues artist & trained for 16 years as a classical pianist which makes her forays into so-called folktronica a puzzling choice. Having teamed up with producer/auteur Jazno (from Mercymachine) in 2005, Morning Light is the product of this collaboration and experimentations into the earthy and synthetic.

To be honest, for the first half of Morning Light, this hybrid does not quite work for me as the fake orchestral/exotic instrumental sounds overwhelm the torchy melodies on Fallen Out, Tears I Did Not Cry, Cloud Number 9 and Love Song. BUT beginning with Nothing, a thoughtful commentary on religion and parental relationship (which is the same thing), the electronics play a proper supporting role to the songs – which certainly rise up to the occassion. It does not hurt that a gorgeous pedal steel pulls all the (heart) strings to deliever an emotionally satisfying exercise.

The rest of Morning Light – the confessional title track, the fragile & musical Ordinary Romance and rather straightforward alt-poppy These Thoughts – provides enough promise for future projects. For the moment, Morning Light is bit of a mish-mash of good intentions but that 2nd half is certainly worth the price of admission, especially when Francoeur goes a little more trad/country-torch on us and brings the wailing pedal steel to the forefront.

Check out Andie Francoeur’s Myspace page.

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

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LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (VOL III): CENTURY #1 – 1910 (Top Shelf) By Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill

Alan Moore returns with the latest volume of LOEG. For the uniniated – or those who came across LOEG via the truly risible film adaptation – LOEG is Alan Moore’s tribute to the literary heroes of the 19th century. OR if you’re cynical enough, an attempt at a ‘superhero’ grouping featuring recognisable public domain characters.

For the first two volumes, LOEG featured Mina Harker (Dracula), Allan Quartermain (King Solomon’s Mines), Captain Nemo (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Hawley Griffin (the Invisible Man) and Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde (well, y’know) and this Justice League of Victorian England was pitted against Fu Manchu and Professor Moriaty (Sherlock Holmes) and Martian invaders (from War of the Worlds).

For the third volume, published now by the indie Top Shelf, Moore revealed in a recent interview with Newasrama that “Well, there are other ways of doing drama. There are other approaches to drama other than keeping up a relentless pace and momentum to everything.” So, rather than relying totally on literary inventions, Moore has based 1910 on the Threepenny Opera, the Brecht-Weill musical (that was first performed in 1928, go figure).

You might say that Century features LOEG: The Next Generation, as only Harker and the now eternally youthful Quartermain remain and are joined by the slightly less prominent literary creations viz. Thomas Carnacki (Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder), Orlando (Orlando: A Biography) and AJ Raffles (The Amateur Cracksman). Now only that but Century also introduces Janni, Captain Nemo’s daughter. Caught up yet?

The villains of the piece (so to speak) is Aleister Crowley – represented by various analogues viz Oliver Haddo, Karswell, Dr. Trelawney, Adrian Marcato and Hjalmar Poelzig, who are all part of a secret society intent (hellbent?) on bringing about the end of the world (what else?) by summoning the Moonchild.

I know. All these literary references are pretty heavy going and intriguing and all that BUT what about the freaking story, you ask. Well, let’s just say that if you consider that the first two volumes were summer blockbusters then volume III is definitely an arthouse flick with deliberate arty touches that will take time (and effort) to absorb and contemplate.

To be honest, part of me was screaming – “where’s the beef” – as the story plodded along. Yes, its the first installment and these can be ponderous in setting out the overall plotline and there’s a general sense of foreboding throughout although you never think that – apart from Janni – any of the characters are in peril.

So yes, it’s extremely clever but bearing in mind Moore’s intent, it stands to reason that 1910 would lack conventional excitement as it reflects a ‘slower’ (by our hyperactive times) storytelling era. Me? I’m going back to 1910 to savour its delights slowly and wait in anticpation for the second and third installments, 1969 and 2009, respectively.

BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW

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BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW Eating Us (Graveface)

Joy! I mean when band members refer to themselves as Tobacco, Power Pill Fist, Father Hummingbird, The Seven Fields of Aphelion & Iffernaut rather than Tom Fec, Ken Fec, Seth Ciotti, Maureen Boyle & Donna Kyler, well, you just know that you’re in for a treat!

Black Moth Super Rainbow is what you may call a modern psychedelic rock band. No, they don’t really sound like Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd or Roky Erickson/13th Floor Elevators (maybe in tiny doses) BUT armed with electronics and an ubiquitous vocoder, BMSR certainly give the likes of Flaming Lips, MGMT and Tahiti 80, a run for their money. And it does not hurt one iota that David (Mercury Rev/Flaming Lips producer) Fridmann is on the boards.

Basically, BMSR are particularly adept at combining the disparate elements of trippy psych-rock, smooth soft jazz-pop and epic synth riffs into one heady melange that has no problem in leaving a smile on this reviewer’s face. Despite the electronica underpinnings, BMSR’s sonic approach is organic and there’s no doubt that they are a ‘proper’ band.

The vibe on the new Eating Us album is always chilled, with intriguing keyboard patches, dynamic rhythm section work and that other-worldly vocoder-drenched vocal. Here’s an collection of tracks you can easily “float upstream” to but with enough muscle to ensure you never fall off the deep end.

The great strength that Eating Us possesses may also be its most notable flaw, the songs do tend to merge into one aggregation after a few listens but that could just mean that the album is one which you can comfortably listen to from front to finish. There is a warm consistency that lends itself to repeated airings. And that, my dear friends is a good thing.

Check out BMSR’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – GLADSHOT

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1. Why play music?

Because time is long

2. Who are your influences?

Beatles, Denis Johnson, Joni, Fleet Foxes, that guy who drove the car with Kerouac

3. What is success?

A second bedroom

4. Why should people buy your music?

That’s a funny question

5. Who do you love?

Alain Delon

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

Space travel

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Fans of many species

8. What is your favorite album?

Right now we’re listening to Hold Steady “Stay Positive”, Aimee Mann “Lost in Space”, Traffic “Low Spark…” and The Monkees

9. What is your favorite song?

One song? Here’s 2 .. “16 Military Wives” by the Decemberists and “Stand” by Sly

10. How did you get here?

Definitely public transportation

Gladshot’s new album, Burn Up & Shine is out now.

EVERYBODY IS STUPID

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PETER BAGGE Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me And Other Astute Observations (Fantagraphics)

Peter Bagge – of Neat Stuff and Hate fame – has been a regular contributor to the Reason magazine for a decade now. Reason is a libertarian publication and Bagge came on board as a political cartoonist in 2001 which was a departure from his typical more personal. work. Everybody Is Stupid collects ten years’ worth of strips and covers such (expected) topics as war (The Right To Own A Bazooka is hilarious!), sex (Swingers Of The World Unite is informative – check out those polys!), art (“Real” Art is hard-hitting & Christian Rock is just too close for comfort), business (Malls is revealing), Boondoggles (Let’s Give All Our Money To The Rich Man is scathing), Tragedy (A Menace To Society is disturbing), politics (Fascists Have Feelings Too is downright funny) and the USA (the Nerd-ification of America is spot on!)

Something for everyone in this educational, humorous and borderline offensive tome. Communicated in Bagge’s trademarked bugged out style, this is a must-have for fans of incisive political commentary.

STAR TREK

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For whatever reason, I prepped for the new Star Trek movie by watching Wrath of Khan the night before. The latter film is generally considered to be the best movie of this 30 year old movie franchise. So the challenge for this reboot of the original Star Trek crew was topping the achievements of Khan.

How was I to know that director JJ Abrams (the man behind TV hit Lost and recent sci-fi/monster flick Cloverfield) had decided to take many stylistic cues from Khan for his reimaging of this iconic series? And how does the new Star Trek fare in comparison? Suffice to say that Abrams has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations to deliver a sci-fi film that is satisfying on almost every level.

In fact, the way and means by which Abrams conducts his “reimaging” is in itself a stroke of imaginative genius. Time travel (a Star Trek staple) is integral to Abrams’ re-interpretation but in a way that has never been done in any Star Trek before. Without spoiling this plot device for you, this allows Abrams (and Paramount) to create a new epoch of adventures of this new Star Trek without invalidating anything that came before. Truly brilliant.

In many ways, this film reminds me of Star Trek Generations whereby Kirk basically hands over the torch to Picard and the Next Generation crew. At the end, the elder Spock (Leonard Nimoy) more or less does the same time with the young Spock (Heroes’ Zachary Quinto – I could not help expecting him to bring out his index finger to saw through someone’s skull, whenever he was on screen – heh!).

It was obvious from the get-go that Abrams was on a good thing with the astonishing opening sequence, as Kirk’s father sacrifices himself so that 800 people (including his mother and himself) could be saved. Pure lump in throat stuff, I was shaking in tears at the end of that moving sequence. And any movie that makes me cry…

Abrams manages to walk the tightrope of meeting the expectations of the hardcore Trekkie and delivering an entertaining spectacle to mainstream audiences, which he does with aplomb. Sure, there are certain glaring plot holes here and now (e.g. why was nobody defending Earth when Nero attacked?) and some of the plot resolutions smack of Deus Ex Machina (e.g. Kirk is stranded on a planet and somehow manages to end up in the same cave as the elder Spock?)

The two leads (Chris Pine as Kirk, Quinto as Spock) perform admirably (considering the big shoes they’re stepping into) and Karl Urban’s portrayal of Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy is revealing. There isn’t too much time to develop the rest of the characters too much but I guess that can be left to the sequels to come. And believe me they’re coming.

So yes, Star Trek is as good, if not better, than Khan, indeed. Like Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, Abrams’ Star Trek has reinvented this grand old space opera for our modern times. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Abrams has in store for the future, which -like the film marketing hypes reminds us -begins now.

PoP10 – ANDREW RIPP

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1. Why play music?

Because when I have a long day, all I want to do is come home and play my guitar even though what I just did all day was play my guitar.

2. Who are your influences?

Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder

3. What is success?

Making a living creating music is success to me…while constantly evolving and challenging myself and working with those that inspire me.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Because they like it. If you don’t, I would suggest not buying it.

5. Who do you love?

I highly respect Tom Petty because he is a primo example of someone who doesn’t necessarily have the best voice and didn’t follow all the rules…but he went out and did it and people were attracted to that….and obviously the guy writes incredible stuff. I love Vince Gill’s voice. I love Freddy Mercury. He wasn’t afraid to be exactly who he was and there is NO one else like him. He has one of the most incredible voices out there.

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

I hope that one day I get to share my story with millions. Because I feel like I have an uplifting message and that I have stories that people can relate to and hopefully it makes them feel good and less alone. If I was in it for the fame and the money, trust me, I’d be back to painting tubs with my pops at this point.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Old men with green hats.

8. What is your favorite album?

I don’t have one.

9. What is your favorite song?

Right now it’s Lost Highway by Hank Williams…because I feel like I’m there. I’m just another guy on the lost highway and I’m trying to find my way home. Trying to find exactly where I’m supposed to be. I don’t feel this way spiritually, but definitely musically. Which I guess can be a good cuz if I had all the answers, I wouldn’t have any songs to write.

10. How did you get here?

I’m here because someone told me once that if you get good enough at what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Andrew Ripp’s Fifty Miles to Chicago is out now.

NOFX

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NOFX Coaster (Fat Wreck Chords)

How do you keep your edge in an industry that moves faster than a celebrity’s ghost tweeter, much less satisfy your ever growing fan base after a span of 25 years? If you were taking a page out of NOFX’s book, then the answer is simple: Keep it real.

Fat Mike (vocals, bass) and the boys – Eric Melvin (guitar, vocals), Erik Sandin (drums) and El Hefe (guitar, trumpet, vocals) have emerged with their 12th consecutive album that has their seal of punk branded on every track. These guys are hailed as trailblazers in the punk rock genre for late Gen X-ers especially during the early to mid 90’s revival of the punk rock/skate punk movement – cases in point: The Offspring, Green Day, Bad Religion, Rancid, etc.

NOFX doesn’t disappoint with Coaster released on Fat Mike’s very own Fat Wreck Chords label which houses some of today’s influential acts on the punk scene. As usual, no subject is taboo and it doesn’t warrant any raised eyebrows especially when their material isn’t on heavy rotation on radio nor video veins. The band still exercises wit-whipped rantings on politics combined with their ever-evolving take on the usual subjects of religion, racism, inequality, capitalism and society in general. I have personally always admired their talent for witty word play and to have lyrics that make you smile, wince, frown and laugh out loud, all the while tapping your feet to the fast, melodic beats and riffs, it’s not something to sniff at.

Coaster kicks off with a fast punk rock track entitled We Called It America, a political satire on the current state of the country commencing with, “Remember when America had a middle class, and an upper class, that was way before the exodus…” and finishing off with “National bankruptcy, circumcised society, USA dined and ditched, Fox reports: poor is the new rich…”. The provocative riff on this track with Fat Mike’s trademark tone (turning the bass and treble all the way up, and the mids all the way down) is highly addictive.

The band’s take on religion is covered with Best God in Show and Blasphemy (The Victimless Criminals) sharing insights such as “Horus similar to Mithra, Attis analogous to Krishna, Jesus – different name same story, all based on ancient Egyptian allegory…”, which leads me to believe that the subject has been either thoroughly researched or that they’re recent viewers of the documentary Zeitgeist.

Tracks worthy of mention (if not every single one of them) include; Creeping Out Sara, a slower paced, tongue-in-cheek account of a back-stage conversation on lesbianism with either Tegan or Sara Quinn (Mike isn’t sure), one of the identical twins from band Tegan and Sara. Another track is the hilarious Eddie, Bruce and Paul which pays homage to Iron Maiden’s mascot and members (Dickinson and former Paul DiAnno) with a love triangle scenario, complete with the trademark Dickinson falsetto and the heavy metal guitar riffs.

The Agony of Victory (as opposed to the agony of defeat) is the band dealing with their success in a nonchalant manner, citing “We’ve got no competition, we’ve got no accomplished mission…” and My Orphan Year is a track where Mike speaks of his parents’ recent demise and memories of his lonely childhood.

The final track of the album aptly titled One Million Coasters is a dig at the music industry, coasters, frisbees and Christmas tree ornaments are one of the many current and future uses of compact discs (CDs), which would be the jest of the album’s chosen title.

Expect dives into ska and hard rock styles with a couple of the tracks, not overtly overwhelming but definitely in line with the messages and subjects in question. Again, not the best album from NOFX, if you’re using Punk in Drublic (1994) as a benchmark but definitely one for the fans and followers alike. Why? Because these guys are keeping it real.

Strictly for fans: NOFX have also released a DVD in March this year titled NOFX: Backstage Passport, which showcases their stints and stunts during their tour stops in countries where they felt punk music wasn’t too popular and this includes their antics during their stop in Singapore in 2007.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

You’ll find the trailer on their website and Myspace page.