ROCK THE SUB 2008

It’s the morning after and my head is still buzzing. Not from alcohol (really…!) but from the excitement of Rock the Sub. Mainly, of course, it was from the sheer fun and enjoyment I experienced from playing with the Groovy People at Timbre – packed with its customary Saturday crowd. But more of that later.

Allura! 

Yes, you know I love them but last night they managed to blow me away all over again with a scintillating set that included a spine-tingling Gamajazillion. This song is a unique proposition with unexpected chorus chord changes and a Beatlesque middle eight. Not your usual Singapore indie fare, I can tell you. Despite my usual reserved nature, I was screaming and hooting when the song was over. 

Inch!

Yeah, you know the girl is one of my favorite Singapore performers but it really seems that she has grown by leaps and bounds (erm, not height-wise of course – heh! sorry, inch, couldn’t resist) and her vocals has really matured into a fine-honed instrument. The band launched its new EP, Wake Up and Smell the Seaweed, at Rock the Sub last night, and I understand that whatever was on sale was entirely sold out! No surprise to me of course. If you haven’t already, go out and get the EP in the stores.

I tried to catch as many bands that I could but as I was also performing it was a tad difficult. In any case I did manage to watch – 

Armchair Critic

This trio really does sound like a local indie band from the 90s! In essence a school band, there is quite a bit of potential in songwriting and performance but still have some way to go in execution. They possess good stage presence and are confident enough to indulge in a few gimmicks and tricks of the trade. If they can improve their songcraft, Armchair Critic will become a band to watch.

You and Whose Army?

With Adam in the army (the SAF that is – look, boys and girls, irony), Leonard subbed on bass and did a good job. The band did their best to deliver a tight set but were weighed down by technical problems. Still, despite all that, the band was good enough to impress me with the increasing ambition of their songs although the performance was a little uneven in parts. The band will be on hiatus with Bonk enlisting soon but expect them to be on their game at Baybeats in two months time.

Heritage

With only Atwell Jansen remaining from the original line-up, Heritage still managed to whip up a robust set of classic 70s rock. With the influences of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and the best blues-rock bands resonating, it was a nostalgic for me (Heritage headlined the first rock concert I ever attended) and yet remains relevant in the 2000s. Inspiring.

Lunarin

The gothic style of alt-rock that Lunarin favor is not really my cup of tea but I will say that the band are possess a deft touch at delivering what would otherwise be “doom & gloom” music. Vocalist/bassist Linda Ong catches the eye – not merely for her hot goth-girl appeal – but also for her skillful bass playing. The audience was certainly impressed by the tightness of the band. Pity we will not be seeing Lunarin for the rest of the year.

The Groovy People!

Possibly our best gig so far and with six of us on stage, it was fairly loud. For me, it was a case of “Thundercats Are Go!” the moment I launched into chords of Never Liked the Beatles and never looked back. I’m glad to see that our cover of Hot Burrito #1 received a few appreciative nods. Dream come true, I can tell you. Of course, the songs that were universally enjoyed were the topical ones e.g. High Cost of Living, I Love Singapore and Gum. And of course, My One & Only… Thanks to the Groovy People viz. Benita, James, Bonk, Brian and Thomas for making it all possible.

But of course, the greatest buzz comes from interactions with great people in the scene – so thanks to Terence, Kevin, Seow Yee, Esmond, Poh Choo, Ivan, Thomas, Fir, Song, HQ, Zaki, Aaron, Mark, Inch, Joe & Adele, Kenneth, Florence, Sebastian, Spencer, Ivan (Thomas), Gerald, James (Woo), Pio, Linda, Jonathan, Melissa, Christopher, Syed (and if I omitted to mention anyone, my apologies) for a night of good conversation and of course, great laughs.

… still there’s more …

ROCK THE SUB

12 bands. 2 venues. 8 hours. Something’s gotta give, eh?

I’m pretty honored to be playing alongside 11 other great bands. If I wasn’t performing with the Groovy People, I’d still wouldn’t miss this event for the world. Don’t wanna single out any particular band cos the line-up is simply awesome. 

But… of course, we will be on the Timbre stage at 9.30 p.m. and with six of us jostling for space, it’s gonna be interesting especially as it’s gonna be a primarily Cosmic American Music set come this Saturday. Expect also some interesting and surprising covers. As usual, I hope to see you there and please do come up and say hi!

… and there’s more …

BLURB-O-RAMA 4.08

More belated reviews for overlooked 2007 releases.

SPOKEN Self-Titled (Tooth and Nail)

Y’know, I prize eclecticism in a band – you may have heard me say often. But sometimes things can get out of hand. Take Spoken. Half this eponymous album is pure screamo as the band rips through their Christian manifesto with inaudible lyrics (What’s the point, eh?) and the other half is fairly decent indie rock. Will the real Spoken please stand up? Guess half a reasonably good album is better than none.

FOR AGAINST In the Marshes (Words on Music)

A re-issue of a demos EP released in 1990 of this pioneering American shoegaze band. For Against was plainly ahead of its time maintaining a strange British aesthetic in the pre-grunge era. This eight track EP is highly reminiscent of the Brit-rock epoch of the early to mid-80s e.g. Comsat Angels, Echo & the Bunnymen, early Simple Minds, early New Order et al and is markedly relevant in the context of modern rock scene. 

CY CURNIN The Returning Son (Self-released)

Curnin is of course best known as the lead singer of The Fixx, a British new wave band responsible for massive 80s hit, One Thing Leads to Another. The Returning Son is Curnin’s 2nd solo effort and basically, it does not stray too far from 80s new wave gameplan. Loads of synthesized effects, odd reggae-ska beats and Curnin’s faux Bryan Ferry vox. 80s new wave fans will love this…

PACK A.D. Tintype (Mint)

A female version of Black Keys? Why the heck not, eh? These two “ladies” do earnestly ply their garage-blues-rock with the intensity of early Led Zep. I mean, Becky Black does a good job of channeling both Plant and Page whilst Maya Miller – whilst no Bonham (not even Jason) – provides adequate backbeat. Oh by the way, understand that A.D. stands for “After Death”. Guess girls do really just wanna have fun…

IRON MAN

Iron Man marks Marvel’s first self-developed and self-financed film (in a ten-film deal with Paramount) and the way that this Jon Favreau-directed, Robert Downey-starred blockbuster translates the comic book so successfully onto the big screen augers well for the other Marvel films to come.

Continue reading “IRON MAN”