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Mar 192014
 

_inhabit is the new EP from Pleasantry, due for release on 21st March. I was fortunate enough to listen to a sneak preview. Here goes…

“Habit” starts off with a jangly indie-pop vibe but truly resonates as Samantha Teng, Isa Ong and guest singer Weish provide a collective merry vocal jig. An uplifting spectacle.

“Owls” is an enigmatic, atmospheric slow burner built on an intricate rhythm guitar lattice. Josh Wei contributes a heartfelt violin solo during an 80s jazz-folk interlude. A spine-tingling moment.

“Near and Dear” is based on a duet between Samantha & Isa. Twee pop that tugs at your heartstrings. What the Millennials amongst you might describe as a ‘feels’ song. 80s indie pop evocations.

“Spent” is a gorgeous ballad premised on a chord progression the late great Roy Orbison might have utilized. All torch-like and dramatic – constructed to touch souls with guitars that shimmer with reverbs and echoes. Simply beautiful.

You need this EP. We all do. Watch this space.

 

Mar 192014
 

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SAVING THE SINGAPORE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

Copyright piracy is not new. Back in the 60s and 70s, this was rampant in Singapore. We had pirated LPs and cassettes selling at a fraction of what the original releases cost. Also, pirates were able to compile hit songs across various record labels – something the labels could not compete with. Also, many record stores would offer copying services to their customers, providing mixtapes at an affordable cost.

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BLURB-O-RAMA

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 182014
 

BOB

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WE ARE SCIENTISTSTV en Français

Probably one shining example of how fun modern indie pop can be in the right hands. This Brooklyn duo has been going for a decade now and from the evidence here, it seems like they have got the balance right! Infectious melodies, danceable rhythms & pop smarts throughout. Surely this has got to be one of the better albums of 2014. Recommended.

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Mar 182014
 

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Over at its Facebook page, US band La Dispute describes its genre as “Blues, Screamo, Soul, Progressive Rock” which basically means they don’t give a fuck! To these ears, the quintet is a raucous & lively bunch with enigmatic lyrics – sometimes hushed sometimes painfully hollered – delivered by singer Jordan Dreyer. Worth investigating.

Tickets available here.

Check out the band’s latest album on Spotify.

Mar 182014
 

Alarice releases her latest EP The Kingdom in Singapore. This is her second release since Sunday Afternoon was launched in 2011. The Kingdom was recorded and produced in Nashville Tennessee with producer Cody Norris and Executive Producer Ed Cash.

Details
SATURDAY 29 MARCH 2014
Doors Open 6PM , TAB
Tickets $20 early bird (ends 19th March), $25 standard
Purchase at www.tab.com.sg

Check out the first single from The Kingdom below.

Mar 172014
 

There are very few music schools in town that can promise to teach you about having a career in writing hit songs for the Mandarin pop market. Funkie Munkies (FM) Pop Music School is definitely one of them! First off, the trainers viz Eric Ng, Xiaohan & Jim Lim are genuine hit songwriters with impressive track records and that is real-life experience for you, not mere theory. More importantly, their passion for the craft is highly infectious and they are wonderful people as well!

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PoPINIONS

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 152014
 

The Canadian Squires

SHOULD ROCK MUSIC BE SUPPORTED BY GOVERNMENTS?

Back in 1965, a band called The Canadian Squires released a single called “Leave Me Alone”. That was a big mistake. In the mid-60s, Canadians did not appreciate music made-in-Canada. According to writer Ritchie Yorke, the question on the lips of most Canadian radio programmers was – “What’s the use of growing your own tomatoes if you can buy them inexpensively at the nearest supermarket?” Indeed, why support Canadian artists when American artists are so much better?

Who were the Canadian Squires? They would later move permanently to the USA, back a well-known folk singer called Bob Dylan and eventually become critically acclaimed artists in their own right as The Band. This was a familiar story in the 60s for Canadian artists as the likes of Paul Anka, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell had to go south to fulfill their musical dreams.

So what did Canada do about this problem? I quote this excerpt from Canadas Talent‘s A Brief Walk Through Canada’s Music History.

“The Canadian government eventually passed content legislation to support Canadian artists. Beginning in January 1971, AM radio stations were required to devote 30 per cent of their musical selections to Canadian content. It was a controversial move, but one that helped highlight Canada’s music culture and establish a “pop star” industry of its own. And in the 1980s and 1990s, the exploding youth culture helped change the face of Canada’s music industry.”

The Canadian government would also institutionalize various funding initiatives to support Canadian music. The Canada Music Fund is one such example. This Fund provides for the financial support of producing and promoting recordings, educational development of the music industry, aid to record labels and music entrepreneurs “to become increasingly competitive nationally and internationally and to play a leading role in the global digital economy”.

This proactive stance has proved very fruitful over the years. Think of the multitudes of successful Canadian artists in the last four decades – perhaps without these initiatives, you might have never heard of Rush, Barenaked Ladies, Drake or even Arcade Fire.

Canada’s success has been replicated in other countries like Australia and Sweden and is an excellent model for any country facing the same dilemma as Canada did in the 1960s regarding their music industry.

So, what is your response to the question I posed in my title?

By the way, this is the single that got zero airplay on Canadian radio in 1965 by The Canadian Squires…

(Thanks to Barney Hoskyns‘ brilliant bio of The Band – Across the Great Divide – which where I got the historical information from re: The Canadian Squires)

Mar 112014
 

Photo by Ray Aziz

DON’T SPOOK THE ALPACA!

Six months after launching Emo FASCISM at Artistry, I was back to promote the release of #alpacablues EP with The Groovy People in tow. There wasn’t much of a crowd there but I do appreciate the kind friends who took the trouble and effort to demonstrate their support. Much obliged! These ranged from my latest RP students (Josephine, Fatin & Wei Ren!) to the legendary Vernon Cornelius (of The Quests!).

Photo by Don Shiau

In the final analysis, I was just happy to be playing with some of my favourite people viz Patrick Chng, Ray Aziz, Nelson Tan, Benjamin Ang & Eileen Chai – all of whom I love and respect so much! It was historical occasion as well as I actually opened for myself for the first time! Basically, I did a 30 minute solo acoustic set before playing a full set with The Groovy People.

All good fun for sure, and it was great to have an appreciative crowd. Sure beats having a packed house ignoring you and talking to themselves! In any case, two more shows before DON’T SPOOK THE ALPACA is done. This coming Saturday (15th) at Hood Bar from 8pm (supported by the amazing Another Sunday Afternoon!) & next Saturday (22nd) at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre from 8.45pm. See you there!

In the meantime, #alpacablues is available at Bandcamp for US$1 until the 15th March! Get it now!

… still there’s more …

BLURB-O-RAMA

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Mar 092014
 

BOB

Capsule reviews of new music that has been released in the last couple of weeks. 

WARPAINTWarpaint

Dreamy atmospheric drones are the order for the day on the sophomore effort from this Los Angeles-based quartet. Very high on ‘feels’ and rather low on songcraft per se, the attention to sonics and rhythms somewhat circumvents any melodic deficiency in evidence. Which is fine, as Warpaint’s modus operandi is to lull listeners into a feel-good chilled out mode. Good enough.

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GEEK OUT!

 FILM  Comments Off
Mar 062014
 

300: Rise Of An Empire (Directed by Noam Murro)

To be honest, I had low expectations for this film. When it was first announced, I felt that there was absolutely no need for a sequel to 300 and this was simply a case of the studio trying to cash in on the original’s success (almost half a billion dollars worldwide). To all intents and purposes, it seemed to me that creator Frank Miller had been coerced into producing a sequel to 300 (viz. Xerxes), which remains unpublished. All of which spelled TROUBLE.

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THE WORD: ANNIHILATION

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Mar 052014
 

When does nature become unnatural? That is the question posed by author Jeff Vandermeer in Annihilation, the first installment of a proposed trilogy (entitled Southern Reach), all three parts to be published in 2014. In brief, the story involves a team of four (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization. They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma.

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GEEK OUT!

 FILM  Comments Off
Mar 052014
 

The sequel to 300, Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel opens in Singapore tomorrow. 300: Rise of an Empire is based on Miller’s as yet unpublished graphic novel Xerxes and focuses on the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. Noam Murro is the director whilst Snyder is involved as co-writer and producer.

Check out the latest trailer below.

Mar 052014
 
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Photo by Aloysius Lim

Sure, as a music lover based in Singapore, one is currently inundated with big rock concert draws like Eric Clapton & The Rolling Stones and with big rock festivals like St. Jerome’s Laneway & the Hostess Club Weekender. But seriously folks, nothing quite beats the experience of watching a cracking band up close in an intimate venue. Nothing.

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Mar 042014
 

SRF Band Set Timings

 

Six rock bands over two nights. Not strictly ‘metal’, more like ‘hard rock’ – the distinction I make is that there is more melodic content in these bands – Alice in Chains even has harmonies! But there’s gonna be speed, riffs and heavy heavy vibes throughout. Hope you’ve got your tickets! See you there!

Horns up!!

Tickets available from SISTIC.

 

 

Mar 032014
 

DARKSIDE

After the well-received inaugural The Gathering with Empire of the Sun, Forefront Asia has announced that the second edition will bring to our shores musical duo, DARKSIDE on Sunday, 6th April at *SCAPE (The Ground Theatre).

DARKSIDE is the collaboration of electronic musician Nicolas Jaar, and Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington. The duo is known for the intense pulsing baseline beats and hollowed synthesizer accompaniments, coupled with supplementary notes contributed by instruments ranging from a guitar to Harrington’s falsetto.

Tickets priced at SGD65, are now available at Event Clique.

Check out DARKSIDE’s debut LP Psychic.

BLURB-O-RAMA

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Feb 282014
 

BOB

It’s the end of February 2014 and here’s some new albums that we think you should check out!

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BENMONT TENCH – You Should Be So Lucky

Better known as the piano player with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Benmont Tench releases his debut solo album and it’s exactly as you might expect. Pristine country-folk-blues-rock that echoes Dylan and Petty (of course) with touches of jazz (“Ecor Rouge”) and soul (“Why Don’t You Quit Leaving Me Alone”). But with authentic material like “Veronica Said”, “Hannah” and “Today I Took Your Picture Down”, Tench demonstrates that he can stand his ground against his heavy-hitting associates. Recommended.

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Feb 252014
 

Empire of the Sun‘s frontman Luke Steele promised an exciting adventure for his band’s performance for the opening concert in The Gathering series. And from a purely visual perspective, EOTS did not let down the sizable audience on Friday, 21st February gathered outdoor at the Fort Canning Park. An amazing light show and colourfully attired dancing girls guaranteed a feast for the eyes during their hour plus set.

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Before that, local champions MONSTER CAT thrilled the early birds with a showcase of songs from new album – The Violet Hour – notably first single “Take Me to Love”. The band was somewhat squeezed to the side of the stage (due to EOTS elaborate setup) and thus, the band seemed a little awkward but that didn’t stop the boys from giving their all and doing their ambitious new numbers justice.

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Feb 252014
 

Due to popular demand, LA Comedy Live, in association with Adrian Bohm Presents, has announced that An Evening With John Cleese will add a second night to the tour.

The first performance will take place on 4 May 2014, while the second will be on 5 May 2014. Both shows will be held at the University Cultural Centre (UCC), NUS at 8 pm.

Tickets for the second night go on sale this Thursday, 27 February 2014.

More info.

MY FAIR LADY [REVIEW]

 ARTS, MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 252014
 

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Classic musicals can be fun, and My Fair Lady that is running at MBS Theatre now, demonstrates why the classic piece of musical theatre gets staged again and again all these years. However, in the particular production, one can’t shake off the feeling how ‘traditional’ this musical is.

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GEEK OUT!

 BOOK, COMICS  Comments Off
Feb 242014
 

A book about superheroes from one of the most iconoclastic of comic book writers, Grant Morrison. To sum it up, Morrison provides an analysis of over 70 years of the superhero mythos whilst at the same time dovetailing the subject matter into some kind of meta-autobiography.

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Feb 242014
 

Picture by Aloysius Lim

Apologies are in order cos this review should have been published at TODAY at least two weeks ago but for some reason – technical hitches etc – the article never appeared. And so, a much belated review of Plainsunset’s triumphant celebration of The Gift’s 10th Anniversary follows.

In 2015, Singapore will celebrate its 50th year of independence. Whilst clearly much has been written about the miraculous economic progress that the country has experienced, it might be argued that this success was achieved at the cost of Singapore’s artistic soul. But slowly but surely, that state of affairs is beginning to witness a sea change. Since the modest revival of Singapore-made rock music in the 1990s, only one band has lasted the course – weathering a break-up in the mid-2000s and the loss of a founding member to come on through the other side still as vibrant as ever and still as relevant to their loyal fans in 2014. That band, of course, is Plainsunset.

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HOT BUZZ: BABUSHKA

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 242014
 

Don, Fauzo & Sophia

There may be no shortage of instrumental rock bands in the S-ROCK scene but it’s fair to say that Babushka has opted for a different path from your typical ‘Post-rock’ fare. The trio play a combination of jazz, folk and world music that one could imagine being utilized on the appropriate movie soundtrack. On its debut EP, Flights of Fancy, the styles range from Spanish flamenco inflections (“K2″), English folk cum shoegaze references (“Sherpa”), Space Age Bachelor Pad ambience (“Luxury Apartment”), easy listening jazz-folk (“Collide”) and even a Tex-Mex Mariachi vibe (“Pocket Rocket” – which film buffs might imagine in a Quentin Tarantino cowboy flick even!)

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Feb 212014
 

Quirky, edgy & poppy – what a great combo for a band! The music of offbeat Montreal-based trio Each Other doesn’t make for easy pigeon-holing although I personally discerned Pavement, XTC, Pixies, Talking Heads et al in their reference points. Which is awesome of course! Debut album coming out in March. In the meantime, check out the music released so far!

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