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Sep 072014
 

PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR

Back in the 70s, the Government conducted a smear campaign against rock n roll and labeled it as ‘yellow culture’ meaning it was decadent and unsuitable for nation building blah blah fucking blah. But to be fair, many countries worldwide were unable to accept the hippie generation (including its originator, the USA) – it’s just that it was possible in Singapore to utterly destroy the thriving local music scene in order to stamp out this undesirable phenomenon. Which they duly did.

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Sep 072014
 

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Noise for noise’s sake

With Singapore indie pop music on the ascendancy, it is important not to neglect alternative music that embraces more artistic and esoteric values. Whilst the success of indie pop in Singapore will still be judged by the usual key performance indicators like number of digital downloads, ticket sales, radio play, Facebook likes and Twitter followers, this form of so-called art-rock deserves to be embraced on its own terms – art for art’s sake. In that respect, local art-rock collective The Observatory has taken the lead in not only organizing its own gigs but also curating music events that aim to expose Singapore audiences to new sounds viz, the Playfreely series of 6 shows and MOHA! in 2011 and for this year, the 3 day event Playfreely II, MoE (as part of the Transitions tour).

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Sep 062014
 

[Spoilers]

Marvel’s Original Sin mini-series wrapped up with issue #8 and raised even more questions than providing definite answers to the questions raised earlier in the series. But then, that’s typical super-hero comic book fare, isn’t it? At its core was the mystery of the Watcher’s murder, which as it turns out was brought about by Midas and Nick Fury but not in the way first suspected. The hook of the series was the discovery of hidden secrets that once revealed would have a massive impact on the Marvel Universe (where have we heard this spiel before, erm?) and to a certain extent we did. Fury – now an old man, like Captain America – acted like the Men in Black, taking care of external threats to the Earth in clandestine manner and had to take appropriate action to keep the truth from coming out. At the very end, Fury is seemingly dead (or is he?) and Bucky Barnes takes over Fury’s mantle. Presumably, this will allow Fury’s son – an African-American – to be the de facto Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe? Yup, that’s about the sum of those 8 issues. And Deodato’s art design was cool. NEXT!

Sep 062014
 

Power of Pop is at a bit of crossroads. It must be said. If you know me then you will realize that I have no grand plan for this website, I just make it up as I go along. Well, it’s been over 15 years now and I really need something new, something fresh to keep my interest in keeping this website alive. Nowadays, we have in Singapore other websites who already do a good job with covering the local indie music scene, so part of me wants to retire totally from that and move on to something completely different. Part of the motivation in the past was to score review CDs and review concert tickets. The former has now been superseded somewhat by streaming services and the latter, well, is fulfilled by my commitments as a freelance writer. Music reviews – as a concept – seems to me rather irrelevant in 2014, considering that readers can easily listen to music and thus, there is less need for a writer to describe the fucking music anymore! As far as recorded music is concerned, the writer acts more as a tastemaker of sorts, helping music lovers to sort the wheat from the chaff and point the way.

And considering the sheer amount of music out there, it’s impossible for the writer to listen to everything and to write long-winded reviews about new records. Upon reflection, it’s become clear to me that Power of Pop is simply a promotional tool now, and mostly in relation to upcoming gigs in Singapore. That’s important, of course, but it does seem that other publications are doing the same thing – and have bigger audiences than I do – so, what is the point then of Power of Pop? Perhaps this website must become my personal platform for my opinions instead of social media. Does not make sense for me to divert hits and visitors the way of the usual culprits when I should be doing so for my own website, does it? So, that’s the new direction then and I will use my upcoming trip to Seattle and Vancouver as a test run of this new direction. Stay tuned, boys and girls.

… still there’s more … 

Sep 052014
 

4.10pm – 5.50pm Hollow Threat
5.50pm – 6.30pm Cultures
6.30pm – 7.10pm False Plaintiff
7.10pm – 7.50pm Straight Forward
7.50pm – 8.30pm 7 Nights At Sea
8.30pm – 9.10pm Tell Lie Vision
9.10pm – 9.50pm Exhibitors

Sep 032014
 

Dame

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller. Starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levett, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis and Eva Green.

I loved Sin City. Frank Miller‘s ground-breaking comic book series, that is. Miller stripped down film noir to its bare essentials and presented them in cutting edge fashion, winning several Eisner & Harvey Awards in the 90s as due recognition.

However, when adapted to film, the very noir elements that made the comic book innovative in the 90s look positively banal and farcical now. Granted, this approach seemed fresh (to the average film goer) in 2005 when the first Sin City movie was released but it has certainly worn out its welcome.

The voice-over narration (a staple of film noir, of course) comes off the worst in this sequel when the characters give flowery descriptions of people, objects and events we can see clearly, without the need for embellishment. All irony and contrast is totally lost in this context.

Everybody seems to be over-acting and this becomes unintentionally comical after a while – any scene with Jessica Alba comes across as ridiculous – even while she is cutting up her face! Eva Green titular (emphasis added) characterization is a failure – though she is definitely nude most of the time, her ‘wicked’ demeanor makes her deception of the men around her utterly implausible.

Overall, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a disaster – you might enjoy the movie for its visual style, the unintentional laughs and maybe its star power but that only lasts a very short time before you start hoping for the film to end.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is in the cinemas now with a R21 rating.

Aug 312014
 

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By Nikita Wong

The usual hustle and bustle filled the streets along Orchard Road, by 6.30 pm approximately 400 fans were embracing the heat as they queued to catch the Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) Ep launch. As the doors opened, avid shutterbugs and fervent fans scouted for perfect vantage points to catch a glimpse of their idol. Held on the 30th of August 2014, TAB was teeming with mostly school girls who were die-hard fans of Gentle Bones. The crowd huddled together with approximately 700 over people within the room.

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Gracing the stage was none other than Samantha Rui, the audience was certainly deceived by her reserved and shy composure. Being captivated by her soulful voice that held a great semblance to Ellie Goulding everyone was left awe inspired. The forested graphics complimented the acoustic set up, often exuding a magical feel through her voice. It was an intimate performance as the crowd amassed together at the front of stage, and Samantha drew the audience towards her as she crooned to “All I Want” by Kodaline and “Blue” which was one of her originals. Despite the thick crowd, the vibe was generally relaxed.

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Known as Singapore’s version of Justin Timberlake, Gareth Fernandez had the girls bouncing off their feet as he interacted with them throughout his set. He sashayed, cooed and pouted coquettishly as he reminisced on his inspirations which dawned upon him for a few of his original songs such as “Subliminal Love”. Taking on Top 40 hits such as “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith, it was a reflex action for the crowd to groove to the sunny beats as they sang along with Gareth. His flawless runs and falsetto was spot on without any room for errors and it was phenomenal for a live performance.

Banners were being raised in the air as the crowd chanted Gentle Bones, starting off strongly the crowd echoed to “Settle Down”. Shattering the atmosphere with the remarkable guitar parts played by Wai Huin and thumping beats by Ritz Ang, Joel’s backing band complemented him. A mellow approach was taken too with his solo performance as he interacted with the crowd through his acoustic showcase occasionally inviting guest singers to join him for a song such as Joie Tan and Samantha. The duets were simply stunning as both singers harmonized for covers such as “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars and on “Undecided” which is an original song composed by Joel and Samantha.

Leaving the stage half way, many thought that it was an end. Encore was being echoed throughout the room as they sang in unison to “Until We Die” to beckon the band to perform once again which they did. The ending brought a tear within most fans as the band ended with “Elusive”, fans whipped out their hand phones as they waved the torches in the air and swayed away.

As the concert drew to an end, beelines were made by eager fans as they anticipated the meet and greet session with Gentle Bones and other musicians. Local bands are certainly on the rise and more people are willing to pay for local acts! Joel has journeyed a long way from where he first started out, his humble approach also draws his fans closer to him.

Aug 282014
 

Ralegh Long is a UK singer-songwriter who likens his music to cult artists like Epic Soundtracks and Robyn Hitchcock. Long was in Singapore recently and we got together with him to talk about his musical roots, influences, being an artist in the internet age, EP releases, and also the future. Listen below via Soundcloud.

Official Site

Aug 272014
 
Photo Credit: Flee Circus

Photo Credit: Flee Circus

This is taken verbatim from the promo email: –

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Ahead of Leslie Low‘s highly anticipated solo release No Such Thing As Ghosts, The Diarists are putting together a series of small, personal shows to promote the album.

Cozy up in a living room, an independent venue or a workspace, in Singapore and Malaysia, Leslie Low will perform songs from the new album up close, as it’s meant to be heard. These performances create an emotional experience for both musician and listener, bringing music to fans and audiences in the purest, most intimate way.

Besides material from No Such Thing As Ghosts, Leslie will also be playing songs from his earlier releases.

If you would like to be part of this initiative, please contact us via email at thediaristsessions@gmail.com and in the meantime, enjoy this video as Leslie performs “Despair”.

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Stay tuned for more info

Aug 262014
 

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MUSIC… OR NOTHING

Being involved in the music scene in Singapore is all about what one makes of the situation. Compared to a mere five years ago, there are many opportunities to fill your time with life-enriching activities. You just know where to look…

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On Thursday (21st August) I met up and interview Julie Edwards (above, left) and Lindsey Troy of LA-based blues-rockers Deap Vally and found them to be intelligent, beautiful women who knew exactly what they wanted out of life. Mightily impressed with them in that short space of time we chatted.

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Aug 252014
 

Alex Goot (Photo credit: Dawn Chua)

(by Nikita Wong)

A throbbing mass of fans, pulsating with the energy that was carried with a throng of people at the front of the stage. Snaking queues were formed from 6.30pm as fervent fans of Alex Goot and Against The Current rushed to get the best spot to catch a glimpse of their idols. Held on the 21st of August 2014, from 7.30pm – 11pm at Scape The Ground Theatre, Gentle Bones and The Summer State graced the stage as the opening acts for the night.

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Aug 252014
 

Staer

Not only is The Observatory Singapore’s premiere art-rock band, it also provides an avenue by which experimental rock lovers can discover new music. Case in point, this Thursday (28th August) The Observatory presents Norwegian noise-rockers Staer (above) and Black Packers (below) at the Substation Theatre ($15 at the door) promising a night of noise, with an advisory for pundits to be equipped with earplugs. Tis gonna be loud!

Black Packers

Don’t believe me? Check Staer out below…

See you on Thursday night!

Aug 242014
 

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Regular PoP visitors will be aware of the fact that I am a huge Bowie fan and was greatly disappointed when I missed the David Bowie Is exhibitions organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum, when I was in London last year with TypeWriter.

So imagine my delight when I learned of a documentary about the exhibition that not only highlighted its various exhibits but also included various experts chiming in with personal experiences and opinions on the influence of Bowie on modern pop culture.

At the same time, it felt me with grave regret at missing the exhibition and hoping for a chance to get a crack at it one day in the future. But in the meantime, this documentary is a splendid way to whet the appetite. In any case, the documentary is essential for all Bowie fans and any serious scholar of art and pop culture.

Tickets are now available for online purchase at over 80 cinemas across the U.S. The film is scheduled to screen on one day, Tuesday, September 23, 2014, with additional cinemas being added to the list on a regular basis. Simultaneously, the V&A exhibition in London will be opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA) on that same Tuesday as well.

Aug 242014
 

THE DOCTOR IS IN

Peter Capaldi makes his debut as the new Doctor Who in the latest episode of the long-running BBC scifi TV series. The main talking point about Capaldi’s casting has been his age. At 56 years old, he is the eldest Doctor since the re-launch of the series in 2005 (after an absence of 16 years) and this episode – “Deep Breath” places a lot of weight on the age of this latest regeneration of the Doctor.

At the end of the episode, it is clear that this new direction is a wise one as it sets up story ideas especially concerning the relationship between the Doctor and current companion Clara Oswald. There are also hints that the latest Doctor may have a character twist that somewhat at odds with his previous incarnations.

The primary story itself (for the Season 8 opener) finds Doctor Who and Clara in Victorian London wherein a T.Rex is rampaging after the Doctor indadvertedly brought it from prehistoric times with the TARDIS. The duo encounter the reptilian Madam Vastra and gang, clockwork repair droids stuck in the past, not to mention a tenuous relationship that needs re-building.

A good start, overall.

Aug 212014
 

As we head into the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, it does seem that our beloved local indie music scene is slowly gaining increasing general appreciation and acceptance. Last night’s Originals Sing @ Artistry featured two young bands that caught my ear at last year’s Baybeats auditions. It was exciting to witness how far they have come since then. Mannequins possesses a retro vibe that sets them apart from most alternative rock bands here but more importantly, their songs have a melodic vim that resonates with this classic pop lover.

Stopgap has definitely gone from strength to strength since missing out on the Baybeats auditions last year and have been playing gigs everywhere. The band performed at the first STAGEFRIGHT way back in February 2013 and last night at Originals Sing blew everyone away with an impressive set. The boys have a great proactive attitude and I can see them going far if the planets align nicely for them. Fingers crossed!

Pleasantry – “recycling musicians from active as well as inactive bands” – finally releases a full-length album, Synapses, which to these ears is one of the most complete summations of what indie pop offers us in 2014. Since getting a review copy yesterday, it has been on repeat (yeah, the entire album) and I am so impressed at how well it hangs together. But at its core is an understanding of how to emotionally connect with an audience with melody and instrumentation. It is simply gorgeous. The band launches Synapses (with guests galore) at the Esplanade Recital Studio tomorrow night (Friday, 22nd August). Tickets available from SISTIC. In the meantime, check out the lovely new single, “False Realities”.

… still there’s more …

Aug 192014
 

Ralegh Long is a London-based singer-songwriter that Power of Pop recommends highly as he evokes timeless musical references with his original compositions. Catch him at Artistry tonight from 8pm with support from the hugely talented Pixel Apartment. Entry by donation. More details below.

Artist info

Ralegh Long is a Singer-Songwriter from London. After two critically acclaimed E.Ps, his debut album is expected in Spring 2015. This pastoral debut features a cast of collaborators including Tom Dougall of Toy, string-arranger Louis-Philippe, and Jack Hayter (ex-Hefner).

Pixel Apartment is an experimental one man band consisting of electronic musician Jordan Chia. A multi-instrumentalist and visual designer, he links both worlds seamlessly into a unique experience. Get immersed in ultra-sub frequencies and beats from outer space.

 

Aug 172014
 

Pleasantry-Ignite

What did Nikita Wong think of the 2nd day of the Ignite Music Festival 2014? Let’s find out?

Beaming coloured lights, cascading guitar licks and mellifluous vocals attracted the crowd at 5.30pm. The crowd was swaying in the breeze as they crooned away with the band. Concert goers were clad in casual wear to attend the outdoor music festival with beach mats scattered across the ground as they gathered to catch the band performing. Ignite Music Festival is held on an annual basis at Republic Polytechnic (RP). This year it was held from the 15th to the 16th of August 2014 in the evening.

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RAZER ADARO WIRELESS

 HARDWARE  Comments Off
Aug 172014
 

Took me a long time to write this short review. To be honest, I had some technical issues with the Bluetooth connectivity – which is the main selling point – of the Razer Adaro Wireless headphones. But till now, I am not quite sure whether the problem is with the phones or my Macbook as there was no issue when connecting with my iPhone 5s. But seriously, the difficulties were not major at all so let’s leave it at that.

Sound-wise, I have no complaints as music and video sound playback are rather enveloping with the nuances of the latter captured quite well. The phones themselves fit snugly enough that I often forget I even have them on! The phones need to be re-charged every now and then (what the hell doesn’t?!?) but once that is sorted out and the Bluetooth connection is established, its pretty much a satisfying listening experience that I would recommend.

More info here.

Aug 132014
 

Amateur Takes Control is pretty active for a nominally dormant band with a compilation record coming out next week and an one-off reunion show this coming Friday, 15th August at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. So if dynamic post-rock instrumentals are your thing, go check them out before ATC go on hiatus…

 

Aug 062014
 

Plesantry-LateNite

Pleasantry is back with a new album – Synapses – and the band will launch the LP on 22nd August at The Esplanade Recital Studio for the Late Nite @ Esplanade series. Tickets are priced at $25 and are available from the Esplanade Box office and SISTIC.

Watch the official trailer.