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Jun 262014
 

CelinaKimble01

Some weeks back, Celina Kimble launched her new EP at the Arts House and whilst it was a fairly short set – it was full of Celina’s typically emotionally powerful songs backed by a competent band. All told, it was a solid performance by Celina and band. The word is that Celina will be selling her EP at Starbucks outlets and will be doing a couple of performances there as well. Stay tuned for more details.

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Jun 262014
 

POPTV

If not already apparent, here at PoP, we focus on pop with power. Invariably, that involves bands and artists that take a long hard look into the wide world of music available out there in the space-time continuum in a valiant effort to come up with something new, something unique, something that rocks the listener’s heart and soul. With that in mind, here are some of our YouTube discoveries (not the kind you’re thinking of) and we hope to give them more profile and attention in the weeks and months to come…

ROOK AND THE RAVENS – “The Judge”

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Jun 262014
 

An indie pop band that eschews all the conventional trappings of expectation is to be received with open arms! Sure, singer Jen Goma has the typical femme twee pop vox and the tunes are way simpatico but everything else tries to get as far away from ‘normal’ as possible.

Meaning: we get distinctive soundscapes that mix electronica, shoegaze and ambient approaches which act as sonic envelopes for the love letters of words and melody that make up these unique songs. Thus, the tracks on Sea When Absent have the advantage of being familiar to indie pop fans and yet arty enough to satisfy the edgier music enthusiast as well. Best of both worlds!

Highlights include the viscerally sweet “Byebye, Big Ocean (The End)”, the chirpy drone of “MTLOV (Minor Keys)” and the schizoid girl group channeling “Oh I’m A Wrecker (What To Say To Crazy People)”. Definitely one to savor and particularly ripe for closer inspection.

Jun 252014
 

I guess the standout detail for me about Brisbane’s The Trouble With Templeton is the fact that the band is signed to UK indie label Bella Union, who also have the likes of Fleet Foxes, Midlake, Flaming Lips, Beach House on its roster. Good company to keep!

Immediate impression upon listening to The Trouble With Templeton was that the band was your typical ‘hipster’ indie-folk outfit but thankfully that’s not really the case. Sure, there are obvious folk elements – acoustic guitars jangle and high register harmonies for example – but dig deeper and it’s clear that the band’s influences stretch to the 90s with Radiohead, Travis and early Coldplay prominent.

Thomas Calder, the nucleus of the band, has a distinctive voice that conveys edge and fragility, sadness with anger – a highly emotive instrument. The songs themselves are built on motivic patterns that anchor fairly static melodies, relying on ‘feels’ and atmosphere  and less on classical melodicism.

Which is fine if one is able to deliver emotionally resonant material such as “Whimpering Child”, “Heavy Lifting” and “Secret Pastures” whilst at the same time producing soaring ditties as “Six Months in a Cast” and “You Are New”. Wrapped up nicely in organic production, Rookie is essential listening for modern alternative pop fans looking beyond artifice.

Official Site

Jun 242014
 

Truth be told, I have been listening to Silverbird‘s fine new EP, Surface Life, quite a bit of late. There is something about these five songs that have got be somewhat entranced. Superficially, it all seems very contemporary (i.e. hipster) – with its folky acoustic guitars, the singalong nature of choruses and so on. But of course, it’s more than that. In fact, it has more to do with Silverbird’s penchant at channeling their inspirations – 90s bands like Wilco and Sparklehorse – where alt-country moves into even edgier art-rock territory.

Two songs stand out for me. “Honey You’re” where electric keyboard riffs collide with shimmering guitars and a atmospheric choral hook that seems to stretch for miles. And “Silverbird”, where a throbbing bass stomp anchors a jangle pop vibe so that singer Tim Barr can suspend a fragile vocal above. The closing “When We Went to the Country” sums up Silverbird’s game plan – dreamy, ambient roots rock that drones like the Velvets when it truly needs to.

This is exactly where indie rock should be heading – into the fucking ditch! The future of rock ‘n’ roll and that jazz. Seriously.

Official Site 

Jun 242014
 

“A sphere is an ultimate expression of unity, completeness, and integrity” – so begins Sphaeras’ self-description! So it’s certain that its responses to our FIVE questions about Baybeats 2014 should be a hoot!

Why should fans check out your performance at Baybeats?

We are the only instrumental band to have made it through the auditions; we offer an entirely different brand of music that (we hope) will reshape your opinion on instrumental music. Our live performance on the big stage is guaranteed to be full of energy, emotions and spontaneity. Words often inadequately encapsulate how we sound live, so check us out at Baybeats, (best of all) for free!

Why are you excited about playing at Baybeats?

As an event that we have attended religiously, we have seen many great bands/artists grace the stage over the years. It is exhilarating to have been privileged with this opportunity to introduce our music to an audience of a size we typically wouldn’t reach. Additionally, we get to watch and play alongside fantastic bands that include fellow budding acts Stopgap and False Plaintiff.

Why do you think you were selected to play for Baybeats?

From what we have gathered, the judges were especially impressed with our display of music technicality and also our ability to deliver complexity in a natural, seamless form. The judges were also impressed with our standard of performance during the outdoor audition – remarking that we had ‘set a high bar’ – considering that it was actually our first time playing in front of a live ‘audience’. Interestingly, Zakhran Khan, in all his glory, was ceremoniously compared to Bani Hidir (B Quartet, 53A, Youthwreck) repeatedly for his unmistakable prowess.

If you had to choose just three bands to watch at Baybeats, which bands would they be and why?

1. Giants Must Fall: It has been ages since we’ve seen them play and we really dig their Leprosy and Anchor EP. Can’t wait to hear them live.
2. Earthmover: Our friends from Anechois and Bandwagon gave some great reviews of them from their trip to the Philippines. We weren’t disappointed with their material online and are sure they will be awesome at this year’s Baybeats.
3. Two Million Thanks: They have their own twist of the math rock genre and a kickass music video. It would be interesting to witness them live.

When and where are you playing at Baybeats?

We’ll be playing on Friday, the 27th of June, 8 – 830pm at the Arena (Esplanade Outdoor Theater).

Jun 232014
 

Best known for being the guitarist in Southern rockers The Black Crowes, Rich Robinson has truly come into his own on this excellent album of high quality country-folk-blues-rock! It’s probably a cliche to say this but one cannot but be impressed by the honesty and authentic passion expressed on this 12-track album. There’s so much genuine affection for the source material that The Ceaseless Spirit is a brilliant distillation of the late 60s attitude towards organic rock ‘n’ roll as represented by the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Band, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

From the moment that the familiar descending chord pattern emerges with the opening “I Know You”, 60s rock buffs have no doubt that they are in for a thrilling ride. Each subsequent track maintains this feel brilliantly with Robinson’s vocals standing up very well. The Ceaseless Sight is one of those rock albums that challenges the idea that the album as a concept is now meaningless and irrelevant. Old school to the max and loving it! Highly recommended!!

Official Site 

 

Jun 232014
 

I remember the first time I saw Enec.e (pronounced “Enecdote”) in performance, I thought to myself that they were the perfect fit for Baybeats. So I am pleased as punch to see that that my instincts were spot-on! But then again, I am slightly biased, as Lisa, Michelle, Alek and Shafiq were my Noise mentees in 2013 and so am righteously stoked for them and for the people lucky enough to listen to their wonderful music at Baybeats 2014!

Why should fans check out your performance at Baybeats?

Alek: Because we have new material and even we are really excited to share them with you guys!

Why are you excited about playing at Baybeats?

Shafiq: It’s our first time playing in such a big music showcase so it’ll be fun to see how much we freeze up on stage between songs. Haha!

Why do you think you were selected to play for Baybeats?

Michelle: ENEC.E has an inverse exuberance in it’s music, portraying dark vibes in lyrical proses to give our listeners a slight push off the edge of their seat as they find relations with the songs. I guess that’s why we were selected?

If you had to choose just three bands to watch at Baybeats, which bands would they be and why?

Lisa: To be honest, that is a really difficult question because there are so many bands that I want to watch! But if I were to narrow it down to 3, then I would say Monster Cat, Stopgap and Wyd:Syd! I tend to prefer big sounds and full-band arrangements, so, as these guys are going to play at the bigger stage with highly professional crews and topnotch sound system, I’m pretty sure the experience would be a lot more memorable than what I have had!

When and where are you playing at Baybeats?

We will be playing on 28 June at 5pm and 8pm at the Chillout Stage! See you guys!

 

Jun 232014
 

LISTENINGBOOTH

THE PHARMACY “Anna Bella”

Country-folk for stoners? Am digging this from this Seattle-based trio. Full length album – Spells – coming out on 12th August. Check ‘em out on Facebook.

A MILLION BILLION DYING SUNS “The Garden”

Ten years later the garage revival is still going strong, isn’t it. Cali-based AMBDS imbues its garage sound with enough psych-rock elements to keep things interesting. Debut album drops in September. Listen at Soundcloud. (No embed allowed for some reason)

D.S. BRADFORD “Oceans”

Proudly stated to be made in the suburbs, the spirit is indeed willing at least. Bradford does well to craft the song together but it does sound clunky in parts. No denying the intent! Single will be available at iTunes from 1st July. Connect at Facebook.

still there’s more

Jun 222014
 

In May, Foxy Shazam released its new album Gonzo and it is now available as a FREE DOWNLOAD over at Bandcamp (link at the foot of this review). I am sure I had you at “free”, eh? But seriously, folks, that’s the state of affairs for bands in 2014. Consider the album as a portfolio for the band so that you might pay actual money for its shows, merch and perhaps the vinyl LP as well.

If nothing else, it gives us music fans unfettered access to one of the strongest albums this year. Recorded by the legendary Steve Albini live in a single room, the new music comes across visceral, in-your-face, dynamic and REAL! Believe me, Gonzo SOUNDS amazing! The songs themselves are typically Foxy Shazam – theatrical, epic, and funky pop – with punchy horns for good measure.

Tracks like the stomping “Poem Pathetic”, the bouncy “Tragic Thrill”, the slinky “Shoe Box” and the gorgeous “Story Told” are prime examples of the range of Foxy Shazam’s compositional skills. Best part is that the band executes each number with lusty aplomb – with singer Eric Sean Nally in fine form. Pop music making of the highest order!

Download your free copy now and enjoy!

Jun 212014
 

Apart from his somewhat diminutive stature, the late great Ronnie James Dio was the quintessential metal frontman, even laying claim to pioneering the use of the ‘horns-up’ gesture (though a certain Gene Simmons would quibble with that claim). Little doubt though that Dio, with bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, was responsible for some of the most iconic hard rock songs ever. And this is clearly evident on this previously unreleased concert film from two decades ago, which documented a reformed Dio performing in support of its Strange Highways album.

The quality of the concert film might not grainy but it is exciting to watch Dio not only play its best known numbers like “Stand Up and Shout”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Holy Divers” but throw in a couple of Black Sabbath (“The Mob Rules” and “Heaven and Hell”) and Rainbow (“The Man on the Silver Mountain”) tunes as well. There’s a bonus of behind the scenes the footage which is perfunctory at best.

Absolutely essential for hard rock lovers!

 

 

 

Jun 212014
 

Fourth album from these Brooklyn-based melodic rockers finds the band in psych-garage territory. What does that mean you might ask? Well, basically it’s mid-60s flavoured three-chord pedal-flooring bubblegum tunes with heavily reverb-drenched harmony vocals. Can’t decide whether the album is played straight or tongue-in-cheek – doesn’t really matter I suppose.

Tunes are kept simple as are arrangements but be warned that the lo-fi, echo chamber sound is artifice in the extreme. Oddly enough, the dreamy albeit atonal soundscape that is “Silent Minus” is one of my favourite moments on The Dead Age. It demonstrates that Unicycle Loves You has more to offer than the meat and potatoes spinning in a wash cycle ambience that characterizes too much of this album.

That said, one cannot help but be entranced by the much of the repetitive atmospheric motives of tracks like “Endless Bummer” and “Any Daydreaming Morning” where psychedelic flourishes rule the day, in a pleasant way. A mixed bag but worth checking out by modern rock fans.

Jun 212014
 

Screen shot 2014-06-21 at PM 01.46.06

The Grizzle Grind Crew just released its debut mixtape Leaders Of The New Skool on Thursday 19 June via Spotify. The album will be free for download on 30 June via the GGC website.

The Grizzle Grind Crew will be headlining the YFest, a youth festival tonight at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. Check ‘em out!

#SGINDIE

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Jun 212014
 

So let’s take a look at what’s hot in the Singapore indie music scene right here and now.

On the heels of Gentle Bones’ exciting and appealing brand of pop, we have Kai who has produced an EP of clearly radio-friendly tunes that should have no problems winning more than a few #sgindie fans. Kai himself is an accomplished beatboxer and also a member of the acapella group Vocaluptuous so one is guaranteed of superior vocal quality, which is indeed the case. I personally find “Goodbye” and “Better” (though its chorus is reminiscent of “Falling Slowly”) interesting and both should offer pop fans a couple of earworms and hooks. Definitely a promising start!

More #sgindie to check out…

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Jun 212014
 

Truly amazing how Fremantle outfit The Amani Consort is able to glide effortlessly over myriad styles within the R&B milieu. If you love jazz fusion, funk, soul and hip hop, then picking up this wonderful debut EP is pretty much essential. Of course, with the smooth larynx of front-lady Aysha Amani leading the way with highly positive lyrical vibes, getting on board this particular bandwagon is a no-brainer.

“Everybody needs a dream like the air that we breathe” (“Don’t Sweat”) is a good example with the track a lesson in keyboard skills from Gordon Cant. In fact, instrumentally the band is so tight and so expressive, equally at home delivering jazz, funk and hip hop chops.  And Amani is also comfortable with rapping as she demonstrates on “Rock Your Soul”. Fans of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill and Meshell Ndegeocello will simply fall in love with Amani’s voice. And on “Attitude”, she delivers the pointed sentiments perfectly with an equal measure of menace and determination.

Suffice to say that this is an assured debut that deserves all the attention it can get. Highly recommended!

Official Site

 

Jun 202014
 

I absolutely loved Brisbane artist Jeremy Neale at Music Matters Live last month. Not only for his music but his general approach to being… Jeremy Neale! This man deserves to be bigger than Justin Bieber. Seriously. So I sent him these questions via email and waited with bated breath on the answers. Here’s what came back…

How did you get your start in music?

I was fortunate that my best friend when I was 13 started learning the drums. She would get drum lessons and then teach me what she knew. I went on to continue playing drums in High School and picked up other instruments along the way. This left me primed to be able to experiment with songwriting and I guess eventually I must have written something halfway decent. Finally had the guts to write for a band towards the end of 2008 and then started doing the solo thing in 2011.

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Jun 202014
 

The Malaysian band with the enigmatic name returns to our shores for Baybeats. Amir Shazlan braves our FIVE questions about Baybeats 2014 on behalf of They Will Kill Us All.

Why should fans check out your performance at Baybeats?

We always have fond memories when playing Singapore. All the time, it manages to bring out the best in us. This is the main reason why people should check us out. Then afterwards, they are entitled to form their own opinions.

Why are you excited about playing at Baybeats?

Baybeats have always been a festival that heavily supports the independents. Other festival maybe cooler, but none has the staying power like Baybeats due to its mission. So to us it is an honour to play Baybeats and we pledge to give a kick ass show, like we always do everytime.

Why do you think you were selected to play for Baybeats?

To be honest, we have no idea at all but I’d like to think its all about the music!

If you had to choose just three bands to watch at Baybeats, which bands would they be and why?

Indonesian bands are always killer, so we plan to catch Seringai and Lightcraft. Especially Seringai, cause their brand of rock really brings out the metalheads in us. But The Full Pledge Munkees are really must watch.

When and where are you playing at Baybeats?

We will be playing on Friday 27th at 10.45PM. Hope those catching our show to come up and have a chat with us afterwards!

Jun 202014
 

Violinist Eileen Chai recently launched her book Teach A Life For Life and we caught up with her to find out a little bit more about the words and the music.

Why did you decide to write a book?

Teach a Life, for Life contains life lessons learnt in my journey through sports and music. It was written because I wanted to tell my story so that people could reflect on my life lessons learnt, which might help people self-explore, discover and find their own paths, and learn from their past to make good for the present and future. 

Secondly, I wanted to share with people, family and friends who have helped me in my life journey through sports and music. In a way, to give thanks to my family, teachers, coaches and friends.

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BAYBEATS 2014: LIGHTCRAFT

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Jun 202014
 

How can you not be intrigued by a band that describes itself as “an antidote for rainy days, sleepless nights, mournful moments, lovelorn phases and sleepy mornings”.  With that in mind, let’s see how lightcraft dealt with our FIVE questions about Baybeats 2014 (via Imam).

Why should fans check out your performance at Baybeats?

Because most people don’t know us from Adam! We’re very much an unknown quantity in Singapore (we’ve only played there twice, and they were aeons ago), but we might just tickle someone’s fancy in one way or another. Besides the obligatory songs from our latest album that we’re currently promoting, “Colours Of Joy”, we’ll also be debuting a few brand-new songs too. Expect 45 minutes of melodic, anthemic songs that are peppered with melancholy; perfect to soothe your weary heart and soul.

Why are you excited about playing at Baybeats?

Without wanting to give off the slightest hint of sounding cheesy, it honestly has been a dream of ours to play Baybeats – ever since our days in KL – so it’s amazing to be invited at last after fantasizing about it for more than six years. We’ve been buzzing ever since we got the call. We’re looking forward to meeting and making new friends, and to share our music to everybody over there. We can’t wait!

Why do you think you were selected to play for Baybeats?

Well, we’d like to think that the hard work that we have put in all these years have finally paid off, and our progress has impressed someone out there. Nobody knows for sure, but either way, we’re just over the moon that we’re given this opportunity.

If you had to choose just three bands to watch at Baybeats, which bands would they be and why?

Only three? This is a tough one!

They Will Kill Us All would be one, because we’ve played with them a number of times back in the day in KL, and they’ve always been an awesome band, even with the line-up changes and slight shift in musical direction.

Pitch Feather, because they’re curious about us, and we’re curious about them as well.

Can we cheat and lump in both Inch and Monster Cat together as a package? They’ve been at the forefront of the Singaporean indie music scene, they produce music of the highest quality and we’ve never seen them live before.

When and where are you playing at Baybeats?

We’ll be playing on Saturday, June 28, at 9.15pm (our compatriots, the hard-as-nails Seringai, will also be playing on the same evening), over at the Arena stage (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre).

 

Jun 202014
 

TheBrow

 

If you missed The Brow at Beerfest 2014, then I feel sorry for you! The quintet parlay a unique mix of ska, hip hop and electronica into a heady brew and on stage they are brimming with hi-energy and dance-able vibes. The Brow is a band that simply defies easy categorization – which is fine by me! I spoke to the joint frontmen Nick Owen and Ben Fear when they were in Singapore and if you listen to the audio (and why wouldn’t you?!) it’s clearly evident that The Brow are both serious-minded and fun-loving at the same time. Great combo, eh? (Sound quality is a little rough but I hope you get the gist of what was going on – high jinks!)

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

(Part 4)

PoPTV: JPNSGRLS

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Jun 192014
 

Circulation, the debut full-length album from PoP Buzz Band JPNSGRLS will be released very very shortly and this official music video of “Smalls” is an excellent primer. Music-wise the song is nice and spiky with enough grunge elements to make it somewhat trendy. The video is a clever counterpoint – at times reminding me of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World! Enjoy!!

Jun 192014
 

Second EP from these Perth-based smart poppers finds them in the sweet G-spot between British post-punk and American new wave. Simply put – infectious melodies, bouncy rhythms, quirky lyrics and cool vibes overall. Seriously folks, they don’t make pop music like this anymore. This is the kind of pop, Power of Pop was established to drool over!

The title track is a masterwork of tightness and economy, crammed into its 3:31 minutes is more absolutely gorgeous pop (is there a better middle-eight/bridge from anyone else in 2014?) than anything most of the post-punk revivalists will be able to muster in their unreasonably overlong careers (you know who you are!)

Amazingly, the other four tracks do not fall too shy off the pop perfection of the title track. “I Disagree With Myself” is a brilliantly clever pop single that the likes of XTC and Split Enz would be proud to call their own with an irresistible chorus hook to  boot – “I don’t wanna be dumb and bored”. No danger of that!

“Far From the Moment” and “Don’t Look at Me” have similarly mellifluous refrains – sweetness perfected in hooks and riffs that dig deeply into the ear. And of course, opener “Uppers and Downers” is a wonderful study in tone – offbeat, sinister and yet funny at the same time. No mean feat.

The Disappointed – check them out cuz believe me, you will not be!

Official Site

Jun 192014
 

The first proper musical performance to be given by Pitch Feather! That’s just so special!! Let’s see what the band has to say about our FIVE questions about Baybeats 2014 – via Alberta Leong.

Why should fans check out your performance at Baybeats?

It will be our very first live appearance as Pitch Feather. Fans can come experience the special night with us. Also, it’s a great chance for our supporters to get to know us a little better, on a more personal level. We will be playing unplugged sets supported by a band of very talented musician friends, so they can expect to hear delicate, chillout versions of our songs with different arrangements, which is something you won’t be able to hear on our record.

Why are you excited about playing at Baybeats?

Chuan and I have been attending Baybeats almost every year and we’re always excited to discover promising emerging artisit/bands. As motivation to become better musicians, we tell ourselves that we have to play there someday. This dream is finally coming true, and it feels great to be part of the Baybeats family. We hope to make some new friends and share our music with more people through this experience. It will be a great start to our live performances too.

Why do you think you were selected to play for Baybeats?

Maybe some kind soul recommended us. Maybe they liked our recorded music and were curious to see how we sound like live? We can’t be sure but we felt very honoured and grateful when we were given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

If you had to choose just three bands to watch at Baybeats, which bands would they be and why?
This is tough, there are so many acts we want to catch, but if we have to choose only three, we’d probably choose those that we can’t see often or have never seen before.

Lightcraft – they sound really melodic and full in their recordings. Curious to hear how they sound like live.

Giants Must Fall – we love it that they are also self-funded, self-produced indie folks like us. They also haven’t been performing in a while, so we’re keen to catch them live.

ENEC.E – we’re looking forward to hearing the soothing vocal harmonies and alluring melodies.

When and where are you playing at Baybeats?

We’ll playing on the 3rd day of Baybeats (29 Jun, Sunday) at the Chillout Stage (Esplanade Concourse). We’ll be playing two sets – 5.45pm and 8.45pm.

 

… still there’s more …