FILMComments Off on GEEK OUT! AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON IS THE BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER MADE SO FAR!
So much hyped up expectation for this sequel to the billion dollar making Avengers movie but guess what? It makes good on every single expectation and more! Director Joss Whedon fills up its 2-hour plus duration with so much comic book goodness that this geek was gushing throughout.
And as good as the original Avengers was, Age of Ultron somehow trumps it in so many ways. For one thing, the group dynamic is handled so well. We can see little smaller groups forming up that suggest camaraderie, shared mistrust and even romance. This push and pull amongst the Avengers gives the story much depth and superhero realism.
The plot line of course, as has been revealed in all the trailers involves villainous robot Ultron cutting his puppet strings and threatening to destroy the world. But really folks, it is much more. This feels like a stronger movie than the original – and how often can we say that about sequels?
For the comic book fan, the movie is chock full of so many nods, winks and references that this geek was smiling like an idiot throughout its duration. For the casual movie goer, the action, the humour and the epic drama will have you coming back again and again. I sincerely hope that this movie will also break the billion dollar barrier so that more movies like this will be made!
A moment of satisfaction arrived during the main credits when Jack “The King” Kirby FINALLY gets his due as a co-creator of The Avengers. About fucking time. But those in the know would have felt the spirit of the late great Kirby running through the MCU from day one i.e. Iron Man. This time around, the battle sequence in the church was shot like the finest Kirbyesque fight scene – the power and the glory!!
Suffice to say, this movie is essential viewing and at least THREE times, at that!
Avengers: Age of Ultron is showing at the cinemas now.
FILMComments Off on GEEK OUT! FANTASTIC FOUR OFFICIAL TRAILER
Well well well. The most maligned superhero project of recent times has just delivered a very promising trailer. This Fantastic Four reboot generated quite a bit of hate for its casting, story ideas, quotes from director and cast etc but when one looks at this official trailer, one cannot deny that this has the potential to be a good superhero movie.
In fact, the trailer has a very MCU feel – from the humour to the realistic tone of the characterisation. It actually looks better than X-Men: Days of Future Past to me. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding ultimately and my main concern is how Dr. Doom will be portrayed but at this point, Fantastic Four is looking pretty good.
Fantastic Four will open in Singapore on 6th August.
MUSICComments Off on HOUSE OF RIOT WITH CHARLIE LIM, INCH & THE GREAT SPY EXPERIMENT!
On 6 June, House of Riot – home to Singapore’s well-loved independent acts, Charlie Lim, iNCH, and The Great Spy Experiment – presents an ambitious live show in homage to made-in-Singapore music, at The Esplanade’s grande dame The Concert Hall.
#sgindie music at the Esplanade Concert Hall? Somewhat unprecedented but surely the potentially record-breaking triple bill stands perfectly placed to do the deed.
Tickets for the Riot show are now on sale at SISTIC, and priced at S$50 for normal admission; S$40 for students and NSFs.
FILMComments Off on GEEK OUT! BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE OFFICIAL TRAILER #1
Warners have their work cut out to get ahead of Disney in the geek movie stakes. Man of Steel was the first salvo in its war effort. And it is certain that the reinvention of the DC universe in the movies is going to take quite a battering from Marvel fans, whilst it gets its act together.
The first proper look at what promises to be the beginning of a slew of Warners/DC movies – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer – demonstrates the uncompromising approach of director Zack Snyder and crew to a darker, grittier presentation of the DC characters.
Like in the Daredevil Netflix series, we are seeing the strong influence of Frank Miller’s 80s work (Dark Knight Returns) coming to bear on the DC universe. I am excited by the setup – that Superman is not accepted by the people of Earth (and after the events in Man of Steel, can you blame them?) and Batman has to confront Superman.
Of course, one cannot tell too much from a trailer but from what I have seen, this introduction to the Justice League looks very very promising.
MUSICComments Off on POWER OF POP INTERVIEW – JAIME WONG
Alright, in the course of writing a feature for TODAY about Jaime Wong, I had enough ‘leftover’ materials for a separate interview here at Power of Pop! Yay! So look out for that piece on Jaime at TODAY next week. In the meantime…
Do you have a support system within the local music scene that helps you musically and emotionally?
Definitely. I mean, everyone who is involved in the scene be it as a listener or a musician can see for themselves how much stronger the community has become in the last couple of years. I have yet to meet anyone in the community who is malicious; everyone I know and have interacted with is always ready to help out and support the scene. For instance, it warms my heart to see fellow musicians share my music video and ask their friends and followers to download my single when they have absolutely no obligation to. It’s not only encouraging, it’s uplifting. And it provides me with emotional support in so many aspects, not only as a musician.
FILMComments Off on GEEK OUT! STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS TEASER TRAILER #2
Yes the first teaser trailer was bewildering BUT this is the real deal right here.
With a Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil) VO, thrilling shots of the new Star Wars universe (30 years from Return of the Jedi) and the appearance of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca, it feels like …. coming home indeed.
Beginning to feel that this will be the film of the year!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in Singapore on 17th December.
MUSICComments Off on CHECK OUT RAGNAROK FOR ESTHER LOWLESS’ MESMERISING PERFORMANCE!
Am not much of a theatre-goer but my main interest in covering Ragnarok has always been the fact that Esther Lowless would be acting and singing her original compositions within the body of the play itself. A unique opportunity to catch Esther in an entirely different creative environment.
According to its press release, “Ragnarok serves to confront its audience with difficult questions about issues of identity, power and illness that have evolved within the global gay community” but what makes the play ambitious is the concept of using Norse mythology and the apocalyptic myth of Ragnarok as an allegorical device. Of course, to appreciate this, one would need to understand Norse mythology to begin with and it’s much more than that hunky God of Thunder in the Marvel movies (and yes, the next Thor movie is sub-titled Ragnarok as well)!
So I reiterate that the purpose of this review is not really to evaluate the merits of the play per se, although I did find it intriguing if somewhat overwrought with the performances uneven. Instead, I focus on Esther Lowless. She plays Hel (in Norse, mythology, a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead), the bartender and musical performer at gay bar, Asgard. Her role is mainly as a passive observer and commentator (through the music performances) although Hel does have her moments as agent provocateur.
The key challenge for Esther is that Hel is on stage throughout the entire duration of the play! Thus, there is no break for Esther whatsoever! In that respect, she performs admirably combining her acting with musical performances superbly with wonderful new songs that imbue the play with much gravitas and emotional resonance. Some of my favourite moments – when the cast joins with Esther for bizarre singalongs – the play takes on the tone of a cracked musical – unsettling but transcendent at the same time!
There are 3 more performances of Ragnarok. Saturday 18th is sold out but tickets for tonight and Friday night are still available at time of press. Don’t miss this #sgindie music lovers!
With the heightened anticipation for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man almost seems like an after-thought. After all, it does seem poorer in comparison and by all accounts appears to be a retread of the first Iron Man movie. But the first trailer does look very promising I must say, even if those accusations still hold true.
Also, Evangeline Lilly in her new short, pointy bob haircut looks appropriately like the Wasp, although I am pretty sure Hope Van Dyne never takes on that mantle in the movie. Effects look good and that entire sequence of Scott Lang running with the ants is awesome!
Not quite sure what to make of the high level of zany humour evident in the trailer (see above) but Marvel Studio’s track record demands that a level of trust be given to Ant-Man. The trailer does fill one with a bit more confidence that Ant-Man will not turn out to be Marvel Studio’s first dud.
MUSICComments Off on WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THE BEE GEES LOST CLASSIC LIVING EYES
What goes up must come down.
In 1979, riding on the popularity of the Saturday Night’s Fever film soundtrack, the Bee Gees‘ Spirits (Having Flown) sold almost 20 million copies. I still remember heading down to the Kwang Sia record store at North Bridge Road where the LP was literally flying off the shelves. Crazy.
However, barely 2 years later, the band’s follow-up Living Eyes would only sell 750,000 copies worldwide! What happened?
Well, disco had become unfashionable and the Bee Gees were (unfairly) associated with the genre. Not only that but rock music had begun to make a return to the charts in a big way with bands like The Police, REO Speedwagon, Genesis, Rush et al, and suddenly the Bee Gees sounded very dated and somewhat lame.
That said, the Bee Gees themselves took pains on Living Eyes to move away from the disco sound that had made millions of them and the trio explored once again the pop balladry style with which they first made their name. But the music critics and fans alike did not want any of it resulting in an abject failure, that the Bee Gees barely recovered from.
BUT listening to Living Eyes now, 34 years later, it is clear that it did not deserve the criticism and hatred it did. The songwriting is sharp, the singing is beautiful and it’s fair to say that the album should be re-assessed by any serious pop music lover.
Songs like the title track, “Paradise”, “Don’t Fall in Love With Me”, “Wildflower” and “Soldiers” are as good as anything on 70s classics “Mr. Natural” and “Main Course”. True blue pop fans will find these tracks irresistible and will want to listen to them over and over to savour the wondrous melodies and harmonies.
Listen without prejudice and prepare to be amazed.
MUSICComments Off on JAIME WONG’S DEBUT EP IS A GORGEOUS FOLK POP SUITE DEDICATED TO LOST LOVE
I first fell in love with the music of Jaime Wong back in 2012 when I mentored her for an afternoon as the winner of the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Programme. The song that did the most damage was the atmospheric “Skin” and spending time with this down-to-earth easy-going talent was a pleasure. Thus, it was no surprise to me when Jaime won the Noise Singapore Award a year later because once this unassuming young lady is on stage, she tends to draws everyone watching into her melancholy world of broken hearts and lost love.
So I was thrilled to receive her new EP this morning in the mail and instantly fell in love all over again with her music. I guarantee that this four tracks will be on endless repeat once you get hold of the EP (and I wager you would want to). Apart from the shimmering “Skin”, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised by the luscious “Shame on You,” the slightly bouncy “To Lost Love” and the yearning country-folky “2:32 am”.
Yet another winner in an already grand year for Singapore music. Essential.
Jaime’s debut EP will be available for pre-orders this coming Monday, 13/04/15 on iTunes. Pre-order and get an immediate download of “Skin (Wekkit Remix)”, exclusive for digital release.
MUSICComments Off on CHEATING SONS – HONEYMOON SINGLE
Regular visitors to Power of Pop would be aware that I managed Cheating Sons effectively from July 2011. Fact is I am no longer managing the band so I can say with a clear conscience that their upcoming sophomore effort is worth the years it took to put it together.
Good news is that the first single – “Honeymoon” – has just been released today and you can pick it up at Bandcamp. “Honeymoon” is 60s pop goodness channeled through the sensibilities of Roy Orbison and Teresa Teng and it’s textural complexity will give fans and newbies a good idea of what to expect when the new album drops.
Well, boys and girls, that’s all she wrote! With the re-release of The Crowd’s Pop (1997), and the Popland albums, Groovy and Action!, the KAMCO Music – Kevin Mathews reissue program has been completed.
MUSICComments Off on BRIAN WILSON – NO PIER PRESSURE: CORNY TITLE IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE SHITBERG
I love Brian Wilson.
But mainly for his stellar work with the Beach Boys in the sixties. His solo albums have been largely disappointing apart from his eponymous debut and the re-imagining of Smile. The problem is with co-producer Joe Thomas, who also worked on the boards on the ironically titled Imagination and the passable Beach Boys 50th anniversary release, That’s Why God Made the Radio. The sound is just too slick and over-produced and almost sounds like a ham-fisted Beach Boys pastiche. And yes, that awful title is the first bad sign that this album is going to suck and it all goes downhill from there.
Despite all this, the collaborations with former band mates manage to shine above the dross e.g. “Whatever Happened” and “The Right Time” (both with Al Jardine and David Marks) and “Tell Me Why” (also with Jardine). The other collaborations (with She and Him, Kacey Musgraves and Sebu) fall flat and are mostly forgettable like the rest of the album. If only the Wilson camp would give someone like Darian Sahanaja or Sean O’Hagan a chance to help Brian in crafting the sounds but alas, that is probably never going to happen, when Joe Thomas seems to be the favoured one.
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: LOVE X STEREO – WE LOVE, WE LEAVE (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Love X Stereo‘s “We Love, We Leave” gets a music video that visualises its conceptual thrust perfectly. The video itself is ambitious, arty and yes, sexy – leaving a throbbing mess that usually comes as a result of conjugal action. The song, already a powerfully appealing single in its own right lifts off when set to these tempting visuals. Kudos to all involved. Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy it too much…
Hey yeah, it’s me again. So how are you enjoying the all-new, all-different Power of Pop? What’s that? You didn’t notice anything new or different about the site?
Well, yes and no. As promised, I have taken the writing onto a more personal level – so superficially you’re going to see more ‘I’s instead of ‘we’s – but also moving on I intend to express more of an opinion about things that matter to me. No more sitting on the fence and being politically correct. I mean, it’s not as if I have a huge audience to potentially offend and lose!
But seriously folks, at the start of this new week, I am feeling excited about this new direction and I hope that you will give me the feedback necessary to make whatever adjustments needed to improve things around here.
MUSICComments Off on SO HAPPY: 50 YEARS OF SINGAPORE ROCK – OPENING
I know when this exhibition was first announced, there was some criticism about the ’50 years’ bit, considering that: –
1. The Quests‘ “Shanty”, the first ever local pop hit, was released in 1964 (!) and
2. when you subtract most of the 70s and the early 80s (when rock music was suppressed by the authorities) fifty years become a stretch
BUT you will appreciate that in order for the exhibition to get the appropriate funding some concessions needed to be made towards the whole SG5o business. Whatever it was called, the fact remains that the funding has allowed the organisers to put together a fitting tribute to Singapore rock, such as it is. Well, this is Singapore so the ends will justify the means.
In any case, the exhibition opens tomorrow (8th April) at the Substation Theatre with three S-ROCK bands viz. The Oddfellows, THE PINHOLES and Riot !n Magenta performing from 8pm.
FILMComments Off on REEL TO REAL: FAST AND FURIOUS 7 – TRANSFORMERS WITH CARS
Never watched any of the previous instalments of this lucrative franchise but not knowing anything about what happened in six previous chapters was an advantage. Yes, I know there was some back story as to why Jason Statham’s character (Deckard Shaw) had a bone to pick with Vin Diesel and his crew but it really did not matter.
I first came across Deon Toh as the drummer for Singapore indie rock band Flybar. But when the band split, Deon decided to get up from behind the drums and become a singer-songwriter. I had the privilege of spending time with Deon when he was a finalist in the NAC Noise-Timbre singer-songwriter programme, and I was the designated songwriting mentor. He passed me Letters, an EP of sorts which he rather humbly described as a ‘demo’, although it sounded very good to these ears.
Since then, Deon has gone from strength to strength, releasing a well received debut album, Antiphonic, and impressing overseas audiences at music festivals in Canada and the UK. Deon is in the process of completing the recording of his sophomore effort and will be heading to Canadian Music Week once more in May. But before then, local music fans will get a chance to give Deon a proper send-off at Originals Sing @ Artistry this Thursday 9th April. $10 cover.
Ariane Deborah will kick off proceedings at 8.30pm.
MUSICComments Off on POWER OF POP INTERVIEW: EUGENIA YIP (RIOT !N MAGENTA + THE STEVE MCQUEENS)
Photo by Fandy Razak
I remember the first time Eugenia Yip caught my eye. This is what I wrote in a live review in TODAY, a few years back.
Riot !n Magenta is a relatively new duo consisting of singer/songwriter Eugenia Yip and keyboardist/producer Hayashida Ken and proved to be a totally different proposition. Yip is a dynamic soulful vocalist and managed to coax members of the audience to come to the front of the stage to groove to Ken’s contemporary-sounding beats. What the songs lacked in terms of conventional tunes, Yip make the most of with the range of her voice and her sultry on-stage persona. Certainly, the duo holds much promise for the future.
Now a quintet, Riot !n Magenta have a new EP out – Voices (I reviewed it here) – and will be playing at the So Happy: 50 Years of Singapore Rock exhibition opening at the Substation Theatre on the 8th April alongside The Oddfellows and Pinholes.
But Ginny (as she likes to be called) is at the centre of attention – whether it be fronting R!M or her other amazing band, The Steve McQueens. So I thought it would be awesome to get Ginny to respond to some of my queries and she obliged! Enjoy…
Are the new songs about relationships? Even damaged ones?
They’re mostly about personal realizations, or things I experience and feel for very strongly. I wrote “Voices”, inspired by the strength of three women I look up to very much. Nothing inspires me more than the giving of unconditional love, even through the toughest of times. The new songs are a little darker, a little older. “Running” was written about the process of letting go of a past made up of regrets, or even happier times that you struggle to forget, because they tend to remind you of what you’ve lost, but in an insanely more painful way. It is about finding happiness from forgiveness, both given and received.
Now, some of you dear faithful readers are aware that Power of Pop is a labour of love for me. Coming out from more than five years writing for BigO (Before I Get Old) magazine and attempting to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the internet, I launched my own reviews webzine in the late 90s. I was fortunate enough to get support from a couple of independent record labels from the USA(viz. Not Lame, Jam), which specialised in the melodic rock genre, called ‘power pop’. Thus was born Power of Pop! Geddit?
Ever since BigO stopped publication in the early 2000s, I had tried to figure out the best way to present the webzine and it was always been difficult to keep things consistent in order to get any commercial traction. Along the way, I wrote for many other magazines – both online and print – before revamping completely in 2008. This coincided with a renewed commitment to cover the Singapore indie music scene – I both the domain name powerofpop.com and engaged a web designer to arrange Power of Pop into a WordPress ‘blog’ of sorts. I had entertained certain notions that I should consider Power of Pop a commercial entity, took on external writers and tried to increase web traffic. But I lacked the stamina or the will to feature pop music entertainers that I felt were not making artistic music worthy of my time and effort. In recent times, Singapore blogs and webzines have emerged to fill in the gap in music coverage that once was too evident. This blogs/webzines have even started giving more attention to local music as well! Which brings me more or less to 2015.
Where does Power of Pop now stand in the scheme of things? Purely for my self-amusement, I think. One of the rules of music journalism is to be objective and to write in the third person. I believe that in order to move forward, Power of Pop is going to be more personal, more idiosyncratic, presenting my individual taste in music, film, comics, books etc. Musings about pop culture from my unique perspective. So yet another re-invention of my almost two decades old vanity project is on the cards. Hope some of you will stick around! Thanks for your support, always!