Jan 162015


Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr & Armando Bo.
Starring  Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts.

Nominated for a total of nine Oscars, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is surrealist black comedy at its best. Mocking the artifice of celebrity and the entertainment industry, Birdman is a fascinating inside look into the absurd insanity of entertainment world as perceived by its protagonist, Riggan Thomson.

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Jan 162015


The best part about running Power of Pop for over 15 years is the opportunity to interact with artists who are as obsessed about music as I am. Case in point: singer-songwriter Jonathan Rundman whom I first got a review request from, in 1998! Since then, we have remained in contact whenever Rundman had a new release – which I was more than happy to review. So it’s particularly satisfying to write about Rundman’s latest release – LOOK UP!

Rundman is the classic pop-rock singer-songwriter as he combines elements of country-folk in a smart amalgam of 60s and 70s pop and rock influences and certainly fans of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bruce Cockburn will warm to his music easily. After all, when melodic pleasure meets with clever lyricism, it isn’t too demanding to desire further investigation.

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Jan 152015


For a scifi-superhero movie that is slated for release later this year (August), virtually no advance information of the new Fantastic Four movie is available online except a couple of interviews, a plot summary and this fuzzy photograph (above) of the cast when shooting wrapped last year!

Yes, this reboot of the comic book that launched the Marvel Universe itself is only seven months away and the silence over at Fox is deafening. And can anyone blame Fox? After all, the initial buzz of having Chronicle’s Josh Trank helm the movie dissipated quickly when the cast was announced (Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm).

The last two choices were particularly controversial for obvious reasons as fans opined that physically, both Jordan and Bell did not resemble the characters whatsoever. The situation worsened when actors admitted that the movie would not be faithful to the source material – Mara confirmed that director Trank advised her NOT to read the comic book before shooting began!

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Jan 152015


Last but not least by any means, Joie Tan will close StageFright XVI @ Artistry on 21st January 2015.

I spoke to Joie late last year mainly about her experience building a fan base on YouTube.

How did you get started on YouTube? How old were you?
I started on YouTube after watching Alyssa Bernal’s covers. She was a big inspiration for me and I felt like I could really relate to her and grew to become a huge fan. Thereafter, I felt inspired to start my own channel and finally did it in 2008. I was 13.

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Jan 152015


For better or worse, Garfields Birthday is a Power of Pop kind of band. Meaning that the music of Garfields Birthday upholds all the principles that Power of Pop believes must exist in order for music to be vital and powerful. Strong melodies with classic pop-rock arrangements and an uncompromising attitude to make music that is all about… the music.

Since the mid-90s – the height of Britpop – Garfields Birthday has been sporadically releasing EPs and albums that have never failed to adhere to the classic pop-rock aesthetic, even as this kind of music continues to be marginalized in the mainstream pop world.

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Jan 142015


Directed by Ethan Spaulding 
Written by Heath Corson
Starring (voices of) Matt Lanter, Sam Witwer, Jason O’Mara, Shemar Moore, Jerry O’Connell, Christopher Gorham, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Astin, Harry Lennix.

Ostensibly a sequel to Justice League War – the animated movie introduction to the New 52 continuity – Throne of Atlantis is a very loose adaptation of the storyline that ran through the Justice League and Aquaman comics from 2012-2013.

Considering that Aquaman was replaced with Shazam (the original Captain Marvel) in War, it’s clear that Throne was to be used as an introduction to Aquaman. Thus, major changes to the comic book plot were made that greatly weakened the storyline. (AND seriously, why change Mera’s costume?)

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In that context, it is recommended that you skip this movie completely and go straight to the source material.

However, if you do feel the need to compare and contrast.

Jan 142015


What’s new this second week of the year? Let’s check in with Spotify, shall we?


Fairly old school soul in tone from the British famed producer. Actually though the album’s introductory track was a rip off of Stevie Wonder, when it’s the man himself. Doh! Probably the hipster-est release this week.

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Jan 142015


Mention the word ‘cadence’ during a music theory class and chances are that panicked students will be racking their brains to recall what that term means (true story!). As highlighted in their bio, #sgindie rock band Cadence explains that it is “a section in a musical piece which creates a sense of resolution, or the measure of a cyclist’s pace”.


The bio goes on – “The band’s music runs either fast and loud, or slow and yearning. If it sounds desperate, that’s because it probably is. The sound of five, taking a shot in the dark, hoping to create something to believe in”.

The band consists of Seth Chiam (Vocals, Guitar); Angus Sham (Guitar); Nathan Huang (Guitar); Japheth Ng (Bass) and Dominic Goh (Drums). At StageFright, we have been quite blessed to experience many bands that have delivered stellar performances despite the space constraints at Artistry, using the limitations to their advantage (instead of sulking about them). Stopgap, Catalogue V, Doves & Ravens, Atlas, Enec.e and Sapporo Safaris are just a couple of great examples. So don’t miss Cadence as they open StageFright XVI @ Artistry on 21st January!

Artistry is located at 17 Jalan Pinang.

… still there’s more … 

Jan 132015


A band that lives up to its name! SF outfit Echodrone finds a nice balance between 90s shoegaze and new millennial electronica, covering the gamut from driving rock to ambient textures with equal intensity. Consisting of Brandon Dudley, Eugene Suh, Jim Hrabak, Mike Funk & Rachel Lopez, the quintet has been active since 2005 and latest album – Five – finds the band in an assured place creatively, bringing together the pleasing elements of soaring guitars, pummeling rhythms and hypnotic motifs to produce a work that hits all the right buttons.

We got in touch with Echodrone to find out more about what the band are about.

What are the records that inspired your sound?

I think you can see a wide variety of influences in our music :)

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Jan 132015

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The 2nd trailer for the much anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron is out now. Although Ultron is set up to the villain of the piece, it does appear – based on this trailer – that internal strife within the Avengers ranks is the real enemy. If so, this plot point would lead us nicely into Captain America: Civil War.

Date of release: 30th April (Singapore)

Jan 122015


Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent.
Starring Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman.

Who or what is The Babadook? In the context of this horror film, it is the supernatural creature that terrorizes widow Amelia and her young son, Samuel. The monster turns up mysteriously in Samuel’s cupboard as the titular character in a pop-up book entitled Mister Babadook.

From that point in the film, the Babadook slowly imposes its frightening agenda on mother and son, till it’s an open confrontation that does not – to Kent’s credit – resolve in a clichéd manner.

From the psychological angle, perhaps the monster represents unresolved issues that Amelia has failed to address, concerning the untimely death of her husband and Samuel’s father.

Within the virtually one location premise (the residence), Kent delivers genuine scares without having to resort too much violence or gore (or special effects) – the terror is induced very much by pacing, cinematography and music and for the most part, work very well.

Essential viewing for horror movie fans.

Jan 122015


Music videos of new releases PoP will be covering soon…


Off upcoming new album Look Up.


Off upcoming new EP, The Feeling Noise Becomes.


Off the JSMN (Blue Album) out now!

… still there’s more … 

Jan 112015


Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Jon Ronson & Peter Straughan
Starring  Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scott McNairy and Michael Fassbender. 

What is music? A business? Yes, certainly but what about art? Of course, but sometimes music is life and there’s nothing more. For Jon (Gleeson), music is the ticket out of his mundanity as he dreams of becoming a professional pop songwriter.

Then rather serendipitously Jon ends up playing keyboards in the experimental outfit Soronprfbs, fronted by the enigmatic Frank (Fassbender) who wears a papier-mâché head 24/7. Despite his seemingly best intentions, Jon attempts to use the Soronprfbs – and especially Frank – to further his own agenda to be a successful musician.

Along the way, manager Don (Scott McNairy) and band colleague Clara (Gyllenhaal) try to dissuade Jon from setting Frank down the road to public acceptance but Jon is undaunted, with predictably disastrous consequences.

Taking inspiration from real life quirky musical geniuses like Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston and most of all, Chris Sievey’s Frank Sidebottom persona, Frank is a superbly dark comic take on contemporary pop culture’s need to flatten any unique idiosyncrasy into compliant uniformity.

For everyone who believes that pop music needs to remain strange and magical, this one’s for you.

Jan 102015


Directed by James Marsh.
Written by Anthony McCarten.
Starring Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones. 

The Theory of Everything is a beautiful film. Beautifully shot, beautifully scored but ultimately, it is a story about two beautiful people who had to reinvent themselves and their relationship constantly in the face of challenging life circumstances.

The acclaimed theoretical physicist Stephen J Hawking (Redmayne) is by now quite well-known even in pop culture circles. What is less known perhaps is the journey that both Hawking and his former wife Jane Wilde Hawking (Jones) took to make him the icon that he became despite suffering from debilitating motor neuron disease.

Director Marsh treats both sides of the story diplomatically and sympathetically, although perhaps – especially in the third act – at the expense of narrative clarity. Events are rushed somewhat and real life details are fudged to keep the characters on the good side of the audience.

Whilst Redmayne’s stellar performance is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime distinction, equal credit must go to Jones for portraying Jane’s stoic determination to support her husband. Which is fitting, considering screenwriter McCarten based his screenplay on Jane’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. 

In the final analysis, it is clear that the film is as much about her as it is about him and the message of the movie is summed up in Hawking’s quote – “Where there’s life, there’s hope….”

The Theory of Everything is playing in the cinemas now.

Jan 102015


Directed by James Toback.
Starring Alec Baldwin.

The premise of Seduced and Abandoned is simple enough. Director James Toback and actor Alec Baldwin try to sell a film concept at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, and basically make a documentary about the experience.

Along the way they interview influential directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski & Bernardo Bertolucci to get their takes on Cannes and the movie industry as a whole. The duo also talk to actors Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger and James Caan.

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Jan 102015

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Dublin trio No Spill Blood do an excellent job in mixing up various cool influences to produce a visceral sound that fans of progressive metal will thoroughly enjoy. Consisting of Matt Hedigan (bass/vocals), Ruadhan O’Meara (keyboards/vocals) and Ror Conaty (drums), the band have concocted a debut full length that fans of Black Sabbath, Killing Joke, Trans Am & The Melvins will not want to miss. O’Meara’s keyboards is the distinguishing factor and the absence of a guitar does not diminish the immediacy or heaviness one bit. Tracks like the driving “Back to the Earth” & “Now II”, the dark electronic title track, the manic “Thinner”, the punk-ish “El Duurto” and the riff-tastic opener “White Out” bear testimony to the trio’s eclecticism in the midst of its consistent. sonic agenda.

Keyboardist/singer Ruad O’Meara kindly agreed to answer our probing queries via email.

Does the band name have anything to do with Island of Dr Moreau?

It does indeed, or more specifically the film version “The Island of Lost Souls”. Its also the title of an Oingo Boingo song, and its also where DEVO got “Are we not men” from jocko homo etc. It seemed fitting to get a bunch of references in at once!

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Jan 092015

lightcraft Band Picture 1

Indonesian band lightcraft who played Singapore’s Baybeats Music Festival and Indonesia’s Java Soundsfair in 2014, will start the new year with a trip to Chennai, India, where they will be making their debut on Indian shores at IIT Madras’ annual Saarang 2015.

Running from January 7-12, lightcraft is set to represent Indonesia on Sunday, January 11 at 2pm at the cultural festival’s World Fest segment, where they will be performing a one-hour set at.

World Fest will also be featuring the likes of Human Folk (The Philippines), Inca Babies (UK), Tiny Fingers (Israel), Mark Bonafide (Singapore), The Amsterdams (Romania), We Singing Colors (Romania) and freestyle footballer Pawel Skora (Poland).

Saarang is the annual cultural festival organised by IIT Madras, a renowned public engineering and research institution. The festival was initially known as Mardi Gras when it was first held in the 1970s, and it was only renamed Saarang in 1996. Saarang is known for featuring a diverse line-up of acts from India and abroad. Saarang 2015 is set to feature around 50 events, and is expected to attract more than 50,000 people.


Jan 092015


Once upon a time, there was a music industry that existed where music fans had to actually buy records, cassettes or compact discs if they wanted to listen to their favorite music anytime they wanted. And whilst the bands & artists did not see much of the money generated from the purchases, they were often given the funds to record ambitious sounding music that the bands & artists had percolating in their talented little minds.

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Jan 092015

Got a review request from someone who remembered Power of Pop from our Tripod days! That felt very good. In fact, that was in the early Noughties as is evident from this screenshot of a Oddfellows review from November 2001 (more than a decade ago).


For purely nostalgic reasons and to remind everyone how long Power of Pop has actually been around, stay tuned for more flashbacks like this one!

… still there’s more …. 


Jan 092015


Written & Directed by Rowan Joffe
Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth & Mark Strong.

When the film begins, you might be forgiven to think that Before I Go To Sleep is a rip-off of Christopher Nolan’s ground-breaking Memento. After all, the protagonist Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) is an amnesiac and wakes up every morning with no memory of her life from her early twenties onwards.

However, whereas Memento starts at the end and the story is presented backwards, the story telling in Before I Go To Sleep – barring the odd flashback – is mostly linear. Expect numerous twists and turns along the way as Christine attempts to piece together the truth from her shattered memories.

As much as the premise is interesting (based on the novel of the same name), there is something missing in the execution of this adaptation. Colin Firth is somewhat unconvincing and Kidman herself seems to be in a constant haze. Presumably that is what the script called for but it is difficult to empathize with her character as played.

The plot – without spoiling it for you, dear reader – has quite a few gaps: with the main one being the illogical manner in which the antagonist is allowed to manipulate Christine’s life for such a long time, without anyone being the wiser. But if one is able to ignore these holes, then Before I Go To Sleep is a passable thriller – especially if you are a fan of Ms Kidman.

Jan 092015


In celebration of The King, Spotify has created The Elvis Influence, a web app that connects any artist to Elvis based on artistic influence, as well as an Elvisulization audiographic that maps his influence to famous artists of today. By entering any name into the web app, you can see and hear how they have been influenced by Elvis, directly or through other artists.

Listen to the ELVIS 80 Playlist on Spotify now….


Jan 092015


Some may say that Singapore does not have a music industry but that it only has a music scene. But even that may not be wholly accurate. Step into any bar or pub with live music and chances are that you will hear a cover band playing Top 40 hits. That’s not a music scene, that’s an entertainment circuit. Singapore needs at least 50% (or more) of its live venues hosting original music but that would take a paradigm shift. Platforms like StageFright @ Artistry is a tiny step in the right direction.

So come on down on 21st January, when you can watch aspiring singer-songwriter Ashlyn Julia in action.


“Drummer turned songwriter. A poet since her teens, she’s wondered a lot about life, love and humanity. One day, Ashlyn Julia discovered a newfound joy when she started to turn her poetry into tunes. From translating expression into beats, she now story-tells in rhyme and voice. Taking inspiration from the little and big things around her, her songs are tales of ups and downs in life. Some say she is too emotional, take a listen, and judge for yourself” is how Ashlyn Julia describes herself.

So if you want a Singapore music scene that can emulate the 70s New York punk scene or the 90s Seattle grunge scene, support your local artists!

Artistry is located at 17 Jalan Pinang.


Jan 082015


Written by Julien Blondel. 
Art & Colors by Didier Poli, Robin Recht & Jean Bastide.

“… the story you begin reading here is the saga of the Albino I would have written myself if I had thought of it first.”

In his introduction to this latest graphic novel adaptation of the Elric novels, Michael Moorcock, the original writer himself was obviously impressed enough to pen the above words. It’s easy to be cynical and slightly incredulous initially. Having read the book itself and previous comic book adaptations already, what new perspective could Blondel provide?

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