Apr 062015


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.

Continue reading »

Apr 062015


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.

Twitter: @deontoh

Apr 062015
Photo by Fandy Razak

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.

Continue reading »

Apr 052015

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 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!

Apr 052015


KAMCO Music will re-issue The Crowd’s Pop album this coming Friday, 10th April. So I was thinking – what could I do to raise awareness about this event? Well, as you all know, a lyric video of one of the songs might do the trick. And so, I put together my first ever lyric video on iMovie and it only took this old fart of an amateur to get it done! The song I chose was “Pasir Ris Sunrise” which seems to have resonated with some folks despite being 18 years old. Hope you enjoy!

… still there’s more … 

Apr 042015


By the time I really got into rock music (at age 13), the Beatles were over. It was 1974 and though live rock music was banned in Singapore, it didn’t stop us delinquent youth from discovering the music that would keep me alive & kicking for the rest of my life. Abbey Road – the band’s final opus – was the first Beatles LP I ever owned. I believe it was a gift from my sister Melinda. To this date, Abbey Road is my 2nd favourite Beatles LP, after the White Album. The medley from Side Two is unforgettable – I remember jamming the songs constantly with my first band – it was magical. From “You Never Give Me Your Money” to “The End”, it encapsulated the wonder of the Fab Four even as they were making plans beyond the group. There will never be another pop group like The Beatles ever again. Amen.

… still there’s more … 

Apr 032015

An interview with one of Singapore’s finest, The Great Spy Experiment, for the STASIS 10 event. From 2007.


Do I really need to introduce this band? Suffice to say that GSE is/was the band of 2007. Take it away…

2007 was a good year for GSE – any particular high point that sticks in the mind?

Fandy: The US trips definitely and of course the release of the album after sooooooo long. The album marks a milestone in our otherwise mundane lives as rockstar wannabes. heh.

Saiful: Ditto. But there were also a couple of local gigs which won’t be forgotten for a while, like TPRawks (TPRiots!), Lime Sonic Bang, ZoukOut, Junk Launch, etc. This year we’re starting to see more and more people dancing and singing along at our gigs, and that for me is a huge highlight. We’ve also met some really wonderful people along the way, fans who’ve become friends because of our common passion for music. Yup, it’s been a good year indeed.

What plans does GSE have for 2008?

Fandy: A music video, a concert, several marriages hopefully and a second album.

Saiful: Several marriages?? In one year?? Haha.. Not likely. But the rest, for sure. And if possible, a regional tour for fans in neighbouring countries.

What can fans hope to see from GSE at Stasis 10?

Fandy: The usual champagne fuelled orgy lor.

What expectations do you have for the local scene in 2008?

Fandy: I expect more bands to surface from the abyss, each one better than the one before. I also think there will be more opportunities for bands to showcase with a lot more support from the media and people in general.

Saiful: I’d like to see our local bands break into television. Also, there are a couple of albums due our next year that I’m really looking forward to – I just hope that the general public would show their love for local bands and go out and buy these albums.

Which band are you looking forward to see in Stasis 10 and why?

Fandy: B-quartet. Why? Do i need to say why??

Saiful: Same, but I will say why. Because they’re brilliant.

Now, we understand that GSE will be playing again very soon – in June in fact …

… still there’s more … 

Apr 032015


It’s a bit surreal to be writing about these KAMCO Music re-issues. Simply because both releases came out more than 20 years ago! It’s seems unreal to think that two decades later, I am able to make them available to the world in a manner that was impossible in 1993/1994. Does the world really need these re-issues, probably not but it’s not about that. Rather it’s more about the historical significance of these releases in the context of my life and that of the Singapore music scene.

For me personally, as a musician who grew up in 70s Singapore when rock ‘n’ roll was suppressed by the authorities, it was difficult to conceive of a local music scene that would accept my original music but thankfully that happened in the early 90s (in my early thirties) with Democracy and Love. That scene now appears to be light years away from where we stand now – and thank GOD for that too! Listening to the music now brings upon me waves of nostalgia and if any of this resonates with you then you can head on down to the various links below and I appreciate your support for all these years.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the kind souls who helped to make Democracy and Love whatever they might mean to folks now – Tony Makarome, Patrick Chng, Ben Harrison, BOSS Studios, Odyssey Records and of course, Eric Khoo.


Democracy | Love



Democracy | Love

… still there’s more … 

Apr 012015


Seriously folks, the real movie season begins for film buffs on the 23rd when Avengers: Age of Ultron opens!

And just like the first quarter of the year, it’s slim pickings. But here are a couple of movies to consider this month.

Based on brand recognition alone, the 7th movie in the Fast and Furious franchise – viz. Furious 7 (opening on the 2nd) – is bound to be a big hit.

Continue reading »

Apr 012015

Thats Esther on the right.

Singapore indie music fans know Esther Lowless as an iconoclastic and talented artist but may be less aware that Esther is also an accomplished and versatile actress as well! Besides appearing in Mediacorp dramas, TVCs and theatre plays, Esther is also going to try her hand at comedy in Singapore Stripped (at Paulenar Clarke Quay) where she plays opposite Crispy, the Talking Cock as they strip away Singapore’s artificial, shiny façade to reveal its comical dark side (not our words)!


We understand that the first two shows (tonight and Saturday night) are sold out but you can get tickets from the remaining shows from SISTIC.


Mar 312015

Max Jury

What makes new music worthy of anyone’s attention? Is it merely the fact that it’s contemporary and in a style and fashion that is popular and trendy? The pop music scene prizes glitzy superficiality over substance of any form to such an extent that the very art and craft of songwriting is in danger of withering away and going the way of the dinosaur.

Which is why every now and then, the discovery of a new singer-songwriter that adheres contrarily to the classic formats of 60s and 70s pop-rock is like a breath of fresh air, in a heavily polluted environment. Thus, ladies and gentlemen, in the background set out before, we give you Max Jury.

Jury released 2 EPs in 2014 – Something in the Air and All I Want: The Sonic Factory Sessions – and these seven incandescent songs represent some of the most promising rock ‘n’ roll (in the classic sense of that term) material of the last decade or so.

Songs like “Christian Eyes”, “All I Want”, “Black Metal” and “Something in the Air” uncannily channel the likes of John Lennon, Gram Parsons, Alex Chilton, Todd Rundgren et al through the razor-sharp perspective of a 21 year old American singer-songwriter.

We managed to get in touch with Max and he kindly responded to our queries.

How does a 21 year old get into someone like Gram Parsons who died 20 years before you were born?

I’m fascinated by the story and myth of Gram Parsons. I originally got into his solo work through Ryan Adams. And then I started listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers and his work with The Byrds.

Continue reading »

Mar 312015



For some reason, this latest album from the ex-Oasis man sounds uncannily like Pink Floyd! Unfortunately, it’s the post-Roger Waters version – probably the poorest incarnation of the legendary band – with several guitar passages echoing the work of Floyd’s David Gilmour. It’s still more listenable when compared to most new modern rock though and that’s an inditement.


Speaking of Pink Floyd, psych-pop veterans Of Montreal returns with a smashing new album demonstrating that the influence of Floyd founder Syd Barrett continues to resonate strongly with the band. Fans of chronic psychedelia need to have some Aureate Gloom in their lives!

Continue reading »

Mar 282015

Someone recently asked me why I do what I do in music when the tangible rewards are … non-existent. My answer – when I finished – caught me by surprise. It was an out-of-body experience almost – I spoke the words with such conviction and persuasion and whilst it might not have completely convinced my listener, it certainly enhanced my self-belief in everything that I am doing.
What did I say? I can’t remember…

… still there’s more … 


Mar 272015
Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

There is a quiet self-assurance in the manner in which New York melodic rock outfit Lazy Lions approach their music. Certainly, a band has to be if it decides to play in the 60s/70s pop-rock sandbox. The pop-rock of the 80s to be more precise, as the band lays claim to the influences of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, The Cars and Crowded House. The tunes have an easy charm about them – on songs like “Tiny Little Cracks” and “Diane”, it’s not difficult for the unwary listener to begin humming to the refrains. Quirky numbers like “Let the Bad Times Roll” and “Scientific” help to keep thing somewhat interesting. Songs tend to be mid-tempo as a rule and a change in pace now and then would not have hurt. That all said, the slinky “You Can Run” and the smoky “Creep Across the Night” offer enough of a variation to demonstrate promising versatility. But if it’s straight-ahead rocking pop songs you want then “February” and most of When Dreaming Lets You Down, will not… erm… let you down. Jim Allen shared with us a couple of his thoughts about the band and their music.

Why did the four of you come together as Lazy Lions?

We had all done a lot of different things individually. I put out three records as a solo singer/songwriter, Rob had been a classical French horn player (who just happened to also be a killer guitarist), Anne-Marie had been in a band that ended up on a major label and did a ton of touring, and Sean had played with Richard Lloyd of Television besides being a singer/songwriter himself with solo albums out. To be totally honest, I just heard somebody say the words “lazy lions” one day and thought “What a great band name, I’m gonna start a band and call it that!” So I did. That’s really how it started!

Continue reading »

Mar 272015


KAMCO Music started life as KAMCO Records in 1998 – a label through which I could self-release Popland’s Groovy album. 17 years later, KAMCO Music (physical releases are so passé) embarks on a new adventure with digital distributor Believe Digital with the re-issue of my three solo releases thus far.

#alpacablues (2014)


Previously released only on Bandcamp, this EP is now available at iTunes, Amazon (etc) and the relevant streaming platforms for the first time. Contains the radio-friendly “I Want What I Can’t Have” and you can buy it for a reasonably low price.


Emo FASCISM (2013)


My first album since 2001, was released on the 20th anniversary of my first LP, Democracy (with Watchmen). Notably distinctive for containing mostly jazz-pop numbers (!) and also having a single rejected for radio play by Mediacorp Radio viz. “Beyond the Ashes”. Now you really need to pick this up!


@midnight (2008)


Originally released under the Watchmen moniker (and also only on Bandcamp), I have decided to reclaim @midnight EP as a solo release. Significant for featuring a youthful incarnation of The Groovy People viz. Esther Low (keyboards), James Lye (guitars), Low Han Quan (drums) and Brian Leery (bass). Mid-priced as well! Enjoy…


Re-issues of Watchmen, The Crowd and Popland to come in the next two weeks.

… still there’s more … 


Mar 262015


Power of Pop is always on the lookout for new music that stays faithful to the 60s/70s template for melodic pop-rock or rock ‘n’ roll or power pop. Ransom and the Subset – one fine example of this – is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist RanDair Porter. It’s latest album, No Time to Lose, was released in September 2014 but it’s always better late than never when it comes to great music. For Pop Underground fans, this is really a no-brainer – from the opening Jellyfish-referencing power chords of the infectious “Anna”, it’s clear that Ransom and the Subset has got what it takes to hypnotise like-minded fans of The Cars and Weezer. In particular, the single “Million Out of Me” is an effective ear-worm that will have melody junkies hitting repeat. Read what RanDair has to say about the band and the music.

How did the band get together?

I had a cover band together for the last few years – The band was called “Subset”, because the members were a subset of a band I had in High School. The bass player lived in San Diego and me and the drummer up in Seattle. I had become interested in recording some of my originals but, for whatever reason the project wasn’t something the of the other members were able to participate in. I called the project “Ransom and the Subset” – I did this because I wasn’t sure who would be singing on the project and I did not want to name the band after a single individual. There is no one named “Ransom” in the band.

Continue reading »


Mar 252015


Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware that I am always harping on there not being enough bands/artists parlaying classic pop-rock styles into modern rock. Well actually, that’s not entirely true. I mean, in the sense that there certainly are bands/artists who like me are rather besotted with the pop-rock music of the 60s/70s, it’s just a question of discovering them. And discovering these bands/artists I have been in the last couple of days (thanks in part to Ed Khoo’s recommendation of Tobias Jesso Jr). So, of course, I’d like to share just some of these discoveries with you, kind reader.

Continue reading »


 PERSONAL  Comments Off on KEVIN SAYS …
Mar 222015

Been a surreal last few days after the launch of the KAMCO Music digital re-issue programme. I found myself checking up expectedly on the Youtube views when normally I don’t really care. And of course, the view numbers are pathetic but expected. When you’re 54 years old and totally unknown, nobody’s gonna be paying attention. So I am going to keep my expectations low for the rest of the programme and not give a fuck about the rest. The re-issue programme is really for me so …. just enjoy the ride, I guess. Well, not just me but for every other artist the KAMCO Music digital distribution is going to help. Also it is worth remembering that there is also exciting news on the horizon for S-ROCK fans with a project I am closely involved in, which I hope will be the starting point for whole new paradigm. Can’t say too much, at the moment but fingers crossed … and see you on the other side!

… still there’s more …

Mar 212015


Finally! The lyric video for “I Want What I Can’t Have” is online. I want to thank film-maker Michael Lim for putting this together in a very short time.

This video release is the first one under KAMCO Music’s distribution deal with Believe Digital and I want to thank Syaheed and Dawn over at Believe Digital for assistance with this.

Look out for the re-issues of #alpacablues, Emo FASCISM and @midnight on 27th March on all digital distribution platforms.

Thanks also to Hood Bar and Cafe for the wonderful location!

Please share if you like.


Mar 192015

Time to consolidate reviews on the weekly superhero TV fare out there. 


FLASH Season 1 Episode 15 (CW)

By all accounts, a pretty dark instalment in the Flash’s story so far. Things go wrong for quite a few of the supporting characters : for Cisco as he discovers Dr. Well’s secret and for Joe as the new Weather Wizard seeks revenge, though the Barry-Iris relationship takes a new twist and in attempting to save Central City from destruction, the Flash goes literally faster than time. A critical point in the narrative.

Continue reading »


Mar 182015
Photo credit: Teck Io

Photo credit: Teck

Whatever the genre, nothing gets more attention in a song than a powerful, distinctive female voice. Dedicated music fans should be familiar with Eugenia Yip from her vocal antics with jazz-rockers The Steve McQueens. However, Ginny (as she likes to be called), also fronts electro-outfit Riot !n Magenta, ably backed by Hayashida Ken (synths), Khairyl Hashim (guitar), Sulaiman Supian (bass) and Ritz Ang (drums).

R!M have been somewhat under the radar despite having played Baybeats 2011, launched a debut EP – R3B007 – at Esplanade Recital Studio in 2013 and even opening for CHVRCHES last year. But no doubt that will all change with the release of the new EP, Voices.

The four tracks available on Voices reveals a mature sonic agenda that continues to channel a strong trip-hop-soul vibe that highlights Ginny’s idiosyncratic vocal stylings and melancholy lyrics that emphasise the damage that relationships inflict on humans.

“Love is not supposed to be a chore” (“CTRL”) and “I can’t unhear the things but you said it” (“Told You So”) – words that put the songs in perspective, heartfelt emotions hard to ignore. Supported by pristine electronic beats and ambience, it is so easy to be swept away by the music on this EP. Not to be missed.

Connect with Riot !n Magenta



Mar 172015


I met English singer-songwriter Ralegh Long last year when he visited Singapore and found him to be an unassuming, down to earth chap. You can listen to my interview with Long here. What I particularly liked about Long was the deep commitment to his craft and that he found inspiration from cult singer-songwriters like Robyn Hitchcock and Epic Soundtracks. This dedication can be seen in his songwriting, which can be best described as ‘traditional’ and ‘old-fashioned’ in that it relies on sophistication, orchestration and courageous musical choices to get the job done. Certainly not a bad combination! On his debut album, Hoverance, Long delivers a robust collection of deceptively simple songs that beg for closer inspection. Utilising tools of emotional resonance like pedal steel, a string quartet and woodwinds, Long imbues a baroque-like feel to the songs that engender a melancholy ambience that is impossible to ignore. I caught up with Long via email to get him to talk about how he put this gorgeous album of heartfelt songs together.

What were your inspirations for the mood and atmosphere generated for the album?

The mood and atmosphere came from sounds I’d had in my head for a while. I’ve always heard woodwinds in particular as a kind of synthesiser. I guess the pedal steel element came more accidentally. I asked Jack Hayter (Ex-Hefner) to play on a song called “Elizabeth” off my previous E.P The Gift and then we worked more and more closely together until he now plays in my band.

Continue reading »


Mar 162015


Am beginning to despair at The Walking Dead. Group characters are dropping like flies in Season 5. A bit of an overkill, I would argue. Yes, I understand the dynamics of this dystopian future reality but it’s still ultimately a TV show. It’s almost dark for the sake of being dark. As more is revealed, we discover that Alexandria is not the paradise we imagined (as expected) and in sharp contrast to our group, the Alexandrians are not willing to sacrifice their lives for their fellow man.

With two episodes left till the end of the season, the series is building up to a climax that will most probably end in tears. Who will be left standing? I shudder to think.


Mar 162015

Daniel Sassoon, Nelson Tan, Sujin Thomas, Jordan Cheng, Amanda Ling

One of the perks of being a rock journalist is getting advances of new releases and it’s even more satisfying when you get a chance to listen to cutting edge rock music that is made by good friends as well. As regular visitors to Power of Pop will be all too aware, I have been a rabid fan of In Each Hand a Cutlass since the early days and whilst guitarist extraordinaire Daniel Sassoon (Livonia, Electrico) has always been the band lynchpin, the musicians Sassoon has surrounded himself with over several lineup changes have always been some of the best in the business.

IEHAC’s debut A Universe Made of Strings was a powerhouse in its own right but seems almost like a kindergarten school outing when compared to the new album, The Kraken. As dynamic as those individual tracks were, they cannot hold a candle to the cohesive ambition displayed on this astounding work. Helmed by the legendary L.A. producer Brad Wood, there is a consistency running throughout the LP that compels the listener to sit entranced for the entire duration, breathless at the wonder and awe that the music evokes, somewhat effortlessly.

As its centrepiece is the mammoth title track, broken down into four parts, for easier consumption. “The Kraken” is almost a treatise on rock music itself, finding ways to incorporate diverse strands of the best rock styles that have inspired millions over decades. Once again, this is progressive rock in the best sense of that term – not merely a genre identifier but a statement of artistic intent. Equal parts post-rock, prog-metal and psych-rock, this epic number brings the unwary listener across dimensions, a witness to interplanetary warfare and the birth and death of galaxies! One never questions the lack of lyrics for even a micro-second as the music speaks volumes.

If the album only contained “The Kraken”, it would already be worth the price of admission but add to that the power and majesty of tracks like “Ouroboros” and “Heracleion” and the picture is perfect. Essential but you already knew that.

IEHAC launches The Kraken on 24th April 2015 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets available from SISTIC.

In the meantime, listen to the first single “Satori 101″

Connect with IEHAC online