CHARLOTTE LOURDES

Took a while for Charlotte to be properly introduced but here she is – 

A keen writer honing her craft while diplomatically trying to subdue urges to conform to the socially acceptable views of the masses. Music has always played a major role in her life and so has writing as a form of expression, communication and presentation.

A self proclaimed idealist with a penchant for intense experiences sprinkled with humour and a dash of melody (preferably from a guitar). An amateur singer/songwriter whose chosen weapon is a six string and her material based on anything from a floating feather from her pet parrot, to the solitude of a clinically depressed genius whose only companion are the words flowing from the tip of his pen and the empty syringe tossed aside.

It’s no surprise then that she loves and enjoys – Jeff Buckley, Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, The Ramones, Tool, Waits and the likes…

Always eager to reach out and connect with a chosen few.. –  So echoes the whispers of a fallen angel: Victims Aren’t We All…

Seriously though, love being able to listen to and review the artistes showcased on this site!

HERE WE GO MAGIC

HERE WE GO MAGIC Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl)

To call Here We Go Magic a band is a pretty loose term, yes they consist of three members and appear under one name, but the real driving force and creativity behind Here We Go Magic is Luke Temple and this band and album are pretty much him just under another name. Brooklyn born Temple is joined by Baptiste Ibar on bass and Peter Hale on drums but this appears to be purely for touring and live purposes, there is no doubt that this is Luke Temple’s ideas and creation.  

Originally trained as a painter and mural artist, Temple soon took a transitional stumble into music and found his true calling. Releasing his debut solo album, Hold a Match for a Gasoline World, in 2005 he showcased his undoubtable talent as a songwriter and musician. This followed with more success on his 2007 album Snowbeast, which gained awareness from a wider audience when Make Right with You featured on Grey’s Anatomy (the show responsible for Snow Patrol being EVERYWHERE during 2006).

Starting with Pieces, Here We Go Magic instantly brings to mind comparisons with Paul Simon, it has a very tribal, looping beat that repeats, layered with simple vocals that sing nothing more than a single sentence. Much of the album is like this and it works very well, creating a structured clutter of instruments for the listener, just enough that it doesn’t become too crowded or claustrophobic. Temple produces a truly interesting and unique sound, parts of the album did remind me of the whole psychedelic rock/folk sound of MGMT but you don’t get the impression that he is trying to jump on that band wagon. Fangala, the most instantly striking song melodically on the album, breezes along like a daydream, making it impossible for you not to tap to the beat and drift off beyond the walls of your room. Ahab starts with a bluesy and gritty riff mixed with softly sung, haunting vocals, truly demonstrating how varied Temple’s sound is. He is not content with staying on one particular track and delights in deviating from it. 

If I had one criticism of Here We Go Magic it would be that it does lull after the first four songs of the album. The beautiful Tunnelvision is followed by Ghost List which is an atmospheric and haunting song containing no words or beat, just sound effects and distortion. This much slower pace continues right up until the concluding track and I felt it could have been broken up with the bouncier tracks at that start. When the album does come to conclusion though with Everything’s Big you are not left disappointed from the experience, the song feels my head with images of Paris and a misty morning walk along the Seine for some reason, it is a very stripped down song compared to the rest of the album and more simplistic in it’s structure and could almost be from another artist. This is Luke Temple’s gift though and what makes Here We Go Magic work, the fact that his influences and creativity is so wide and varied. 

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Here We Go Magic’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – DRIVING ON CITY SIDEWALKS

 

Barry Mielke & Darryl Silvestri
Barry Mielke & Darryl Silvestri

Thought-provoking answers from Darryl Silvestri of Driving on City Sidewalks.

1. Why play music?

I’ve never thought about it.  I suppose because I was created to create. 

2. Who are your influences?

Jesus Christ. Thrice. Further Seems Forever. Explosions in the Sky.  Appleseed Cast.  Mineral. UnderOath. Brand New. David Bazan. Emery. Brandtson. Jimmy Eat World. 

3. What is success?

Hearing someone say, “Thank You”

4. Why should people buy your music?

If they feel its something worth supporting 

5. Who do you love?

Laura, my wife.  My family. My friends.

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Connections with other human beings 

 7. Who comes to your gigs?

No one. haha.  We have yet to do gigs.  

8. What is your favorite album?

The Moon Is Down – Further Seems Forever

9. What is your favorite song?

Probably Nothing – Brandtson, OR

Some Seek Forgiveness Others Escape – Underoath, OR

Open Water – Thrice 

10. How did you get here?

I got here while i was trying to find my way home.

Driving on City Sidewalks’ new EP, Where Angels Crowd to Listen, is out now.

SPURS 3 STOKE 1

For 45 spell-binding minutes, Spurs made a mockery of their lowly position at the foot of the Premier League and played like a team chasing for a Champions League spot. Within 25 minutes, goals from Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson had placed Spurs into an unassailable lead.

Naturally, Spurs took their foot off the pedal somewhat and gifted Stoke’s James Beattie a goal but for once, Spurs were not in any real danger of losing a substantial lead. This time, anyway. 

Considering the attack-minded midfield – Bentley, Modric & Lennon all started – the combative Stoke midfielders could not take control in the middle of the park especially with Modric pulling the strings brilliantly. This game was also notable for being the debut of new goalie Carlo Cuducini and although Stoke never really tested him, Cuducini looked composed throughout. 

With Palacios and Chimbonda stil to come on board, Spurs are beginning to look like they will have the steel to match the flair as the crucial run-in begins with a tough game away to Bolton this Saturday.

BORIS SMILE

 

BORIS SMILE Beartooth EP (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Fronted by the vocals and guitar of A. Wesley Chung, Boris Smile are a collection of musicians (eight in total) and a whole community of friends who make guest appearances on their work. Based in California, their Beartooth EP offers a short but sweet sample of their music and what they have to offer. 

Opening track Beartooth (Spooky Version) is a mix of acoustic base, driven bass and machine gun drumming building to a conclusion of spooky backing harmonies. The real issue I have with this track is the vocals, there is no doubt that singer Chung has ability but the chorus is just so off key it is to the point of distracting. He repeats the words Bear Tooth and it is almost painful how Chung wanders and struggles to deliver the line. I am not one to criticize singing, I have not got the most angelic and powerful voice myself, and I can understand how in the slacker folk rock genre this is seen as appealing, but it is just not for me. 

Later tracks however do not suffer so badly from this problem. Hour of the Wolf is a melancholic and soulful song with emotional vocals and excellent female backing that really compliments the main hook of the song, Everybody loves you but yourself. It is bordering on Emo but my eyes refrained from rolling because despite this it is a very good song. 

Tut Tut is definitely the one song on the EP that made me sit up and really listen. It is a beautiful song full of melody and a cacophony of sound and instruments that draw the listener in. I had images of a Friday evening when listening to this song, knowing that the working week is done and your mind can finally concentrate on meaningless and stress free thoughts, with the troubles of the world sliding away at least for a couple of days. 

The last track on the EP, Books with Blank Pages, is quite an ironic title because the song almost feels like a non-event. It passes by without any real significance. It is a difficult song to listen to though after the previous song Program Me to Love which is an amusing robot love song about a synthetic being wishing for the emotion of love, the song skirts on the side of being too cheesy for it’s own good but just manages to save itself from disappearing over the edge.  

Beartooth EP is certainly an interesting collection of songs and shows a lot of potential. I am not completely convinced that Boris Smile will be a permanent fixture in my record collection but I am sure that there will be days that I will revisit this EP and perhaps find more to like about it, despite Chung’s vocal style and sometimes more cringe worthy moments. Will I await a full length album with bated breath? Not likely, but I certainly will give it a passing glance to see what this band is capable of with a larger scope of material to showcase. 

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Boris Smile’s Myspace page.

PoP10 – JESSIE KILGUSS

Photo by Denis Kleiman

 

It’s been a while since we had a PoP10, so thanks to singer-songwriter Jessie Kilguss, we have a spanking new one…

1. Why play music?

Because it makes me happy.

2. Who are your influences? 

Nina Simone, Marianne Faithfull, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Tom Waits, Nick Drake,Aretha Franklin, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Edith Piaf, Miriam Mekeba, Mahalia Jackson…the list goes on and on

3. What is success? 

For me it is happiness, balance, health, love, artistic fullfillment and getting joy out of what you are doing as often as possible…it is attainable and yet always changing slightly…

4. Why should people buy your music? 

Because they like it and also cause I have a dog to support.

5. Who do you love?

Ralph

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music? 

I’d like to take people on journeys that are familiar and new at the same time and also to engage people on an emotional level….hard to answer this question without feeling like a self-involved douche…can I use the word douche here?

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends and fans

8. What is your favorite album?

Oh come on!   Just one!  Today it is Pink Moon.

9. What is your favorite song?

Seriously!  I can’t chose just one.  Today’s favorite;  Karen Dalton’s “Something on your Mind” off of “In My Own Time.”

10. How did you get here? 

A series of bad decisions.  

Jessie’s new album – Nocturnal Drifter – is out now.

LIVE N LOADED S1E1

The Great Spy Experiment by Fir

History in the making? Okay, so maybe that’s pouring the hyperbole a little thick but then again, it’s not that far off from the truth. What am I talking about? Obama’s election? Nope, something much closer to home.

Fourteen years ago, I appeared on Live on 5, the last time we had a TV programme featuring S-ROCK bands live and last night I was thrilled to be at the world premiere of Live N Loaded. As Rachael and I shuffled into the near-empty studio, with A Vacant Affair blaring over the PA, I was struck by how compact the venue was, especially with the two performing stages across each other. I looked for somewhere I could lean on and ended up in front of one stage and before you know it, Saiful, Mag, Khai, Song and Fandy walked on! 

The crowd went apeshit and for the next hour or so were unrelentless in shouting and screaming themselves hoarse in adoration and approval of our S-ROCK bands. GSE kicked it off with a fiery Siti in the City and Ling (looking and sounding great) followed up with a jaunty Suburbia. Three “exposed” bands and one “Sonic Youth” strutted their stuff viz. Kay Swisher featuring the Supreme One, Fatskunks, Sea Bed Sound and Lamp Post Shadows. Though to be honest, I could not quite get into the music but to their credit they obviously gave it 100%. 

 

 

Ling Kai by Thomas Tan
Ling Kai by Thomas Tan

With GSE upping the ante, Electrico had to be on their game and how. Oozing class from every pore, the band was augmented by the Horndogs – trumpet and sax – and delivered a rockin’ We Satellites, with William and Desmond an awesomely tight rhythm section. Before you know it, GSE was playing Class ‘A’ Love Affair (see vid below), the final song and it was over. Well, not really, as the Live N Loaded team and GSE gifted us new song The Lights as a wonderful bonus. 

Overall, the debut show was a cracking success. The give and take between bands and audience as one pushed the other to greater heights was a sight to behold. I’ve always believe that a rock audience will only get as good as they give and with the crowd giving their all, it was obvious that their energy and excitement was rubbing off on the bands and their heightened levels of performance was clear to all. The buzz around the studio was incredieble. Electrifying. Towards the end, the kids were moshing and bodysurfing, and I was thinking to myself that an activity that was used by the authorities to shut down indie gigs in the past was now being televised live on the goverment-controlled TV network. And who says things don’t change. 

One down, nine episodes to go, I intend to go to as many as I humanly can. Next – Vertical Rush, A Vacant Affair, Jack and Rai and more. Can hardly wait. Kudos to Sebas and the Live N Loaded team for a well produced show. 

… and there’s more …

JESSIE KILGUSS

JESSIE KILGUSS Nocturnal Drifter (Self released)

“I consider all of the arts to be interconnected and think there is fluidity in the boundaries between them. Many of my favourite singers started out in some other artistic discipline; Joni Mitchell with painting, Leonard Cohen as a scholar/poet, David Bowie as an actor…” – Jessie Kilguss

Classically trained actress turned singer, songwriter – Jessie Kilguss’ Nocturnal Drifter is the second album, following Exotic Bird.

This Brooklyn singer’s sultry, husky, intoxicating vocals command the tone on each track.  Collaborating with production team Super Buddha, this feast of echoes, question-like harmonies, emphasize her vocal and lyrical foray into the likes of one of her idols – Mitchell.

The first track Gristmill captures you with the easy, cabaret-like atmosphere as Kilguss laments about life in a densely populated city with savvy, lyrical flair. This is then followed by the post-rock beats of Americana, again beautifully weighed by the soulful plea of Kilguss’ vocals.

Almost all of the ten tracks on this album showcase a different character being channelled to tell a story and to Kilguss’ credit – done seamlessly and without a hitch in the flow of the desired plot. A testament to tapping into the creativity of being in character with her training as an actor and painting the desired backdrop and tapestry of each piece with her talent as a songwriter and her unique voice.

You’ll be able to find at least one track, if not three, that you’ll relate to, just because it’s been delivered to you in a manner you can’t resist nor deny. Mine would be 31.

A tidbit that made me smile: She lives with her canine companion: Mr Walter Peanuts.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

Free Download: A Little Place Behind My Eyes

Check out Jessis Kilguss’ Myspace page.

DRIVING ON CITY SIDEWALKS

DRIVING ON CITY SIDEWALKS Where Angels Crowd to Listen (Red Plane/Count Your Lucky Stars)

“Driving on City Sidewalks was formed out of a genuine love for music…” according to Barry Mielke of this two piece Ontario band.

Their EP, courtesy of Red Plane Records and Count Your Lucky Stars is titled Where Angels Crowd to Listen and it is an emotion-driven album with a heavy emphasis on psychedelic post rock-infused guitars and raw vocals on some of the five tracks.

For someone who started recording music in his basement about a year and a half ago, the journey of the band seems to be a story out of a fairytale. Actively promoting their music on MySpace and being discovered by a French Label – Red Plane Records, both Barry and Darryl have set their sights on moving ahead with their brand music.

The track that stands out on the EP in my opinion would be Farewell to knowing it all. A 9 minute offering that leads with dreamscape-like soft guitar notes and kicks up the intensity by more than a couple notches with a steady flowing rhythm of crash cymbals and cranking it out in the final two minutes with brazen, heavy guitars.

This is definitely one not for the masses but the beauty of it is held in the originality of its offering and in the quiet stirrings of the story being told. 

An interview featuring Barry is featured on Stereosubversion.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

Check out Driving on City Sidewalks Myspace page.

LARS HORNTVETH

LARS HORNTVETH Kaledoscopic (Smalltown Supersound)

Much is to be said when time has to be scheduled to listen to an album. It’s been a long time coming and that is what Kaleidoscopic had me doing.

Kaleidoscopic is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed debut album, Pooka, by Jaga Jazzist and The National Bank leader Lars Horntveth.

Comprising of one composition spaced out in 36:47 minutes, Kaleidoscopic can be very easily labelled as cinematic – One can’t help but see various scenes play out before your eyes as the strings and horns blend and bleed from one emotion to another. Guided by 41 members of the Latvian National Orchestra led by Norwegian conductor Terje Mikkelsen, with Lars himself playing piano, horns and clarinets – your senses are immersed in the electro-tinged ambience, orchestral carpet rides and a frantic race to a place only you know.

This album is above all an auditory trip that harnesses a listener’s visual power – a little frightening even but beautifully seamless as the shifts and switches in moods with key instruments, paint your inner world with a touch of noir, epic and vast horizons, tranquil and forest-lush hideaways, and even a simple side walk at dusk, with just a pluck of a harp. My favourite ride on this journey began at the 27thminute mark –  strings and Horntveth’s own piano playing wrap up the trip over the final ten minutes. An album that will be savored by any ardent fan of visual music journeys.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

Check out Lars Horntveth’s Myspace page.

CAW! CAW!

CAW! CAW! Wait Outside (Slanty Shanty)

A young band that starts off playing punk-influenced, textured rock and roll before expanding their canvas and horizons to include dreamily ambient, atmospheric experimenting?  We’ll ignore the obvious temptation to reference the four lads from Ireland here and instead tell you that underneath all the alien-sounding pyschedelia is a very well-honed pop sensibility that ensures the record remains firmly rooted in Planet Earth-style accessible melodies. Besides, Caw! Caw!’s brand of experimentation is much closer sonically to the art-rock of Radiohead anyway.

The record opens with a little patch of outer space and twinkling star guitars coloring the soundscapes on Escape The Red Giant, before rollicking drums intrude and set up the song for the entry of lead vocalist Tim Tsurutani’s half-whispered, half-drawling lyrics. It’s followed by easily the catchiest track on the album, Organisms, one that deftly blends indie-style sonic colors and irresistible tunefulness. Wrapped Up Neat In The Bible is equally catchy and cosmo-spacey, but towards the end of the track there is some truly virtuso screeching-guitar work that would make both Eric Clapton and The Edge proud. 

There’s some really solid songwriting on display here, but at the same time an unconventional approach to song structure that will keep you on your toes, such as on the rocker number Work, which is probably the closest thing to modern radio alt-rock you’ll find on this record. Penultimate track Rotten Ghost is a dark and brooding number teased onto a razor edge, and the album closes on the sprawlingly gorgeous piece, Sheets. 

A gorgeously beautiful record at times and unbearably catchy at others, Caw! Caw! might be a bit too loose and unstructured for the mainstream, but one gets the feeling that something might be lost if they were to work within the confines and rigours of a traditional songwriting structure. Underneath the experimentation though, is a intuitive pop discipline that will definitely serve them well in future. A brilliant record worthy of every praise. 

(Samuel C Wee)
Check out Caw! Caw!’s Myspace page.

THE SAFES

THE SAFES Sight of All Light (Self released) 

There’s much to be said for doing some research about the album you’re about to review before you go into it at full volume. I say this because my eardrums are still ringing from the aftershock of being blasted with the raw garage-rock opening riffs of The Safes’ latest EP, Sight Of All Light. (In my defence, I was attempting to listen in on the dialogue of a particularly stubborn Youtube video earlier on my headphones.)

The brainchild of the O’Malley brothers trio, Sight of All Light is their fourth release and second EP. Clocking in at just around 11 minutes long, The Safes waste no time in getting to the point as title track Sight Of All Light sets the pace and tone for the rest of the record with a driving drum pulse and massive, ear-filling guitar power chords that wrap around the vocals in a very 1970s Cheap Trick manner. Second track Troublemaker doesn’t depart much from the opener as ringing distortion underline the harmonies on the intro, before settling into an abrasive repetitive format for the rest of the song. 

The rest of the EP can pretty much be summed up in the same few words really, catchy, hooky choruses on top of crashing power riffs that leave no space for breathing. It’s hardly as boring as that description might suggest, mainly due to the length of the EP itself. The unprepared listener might come out shell-shocked after the 11 minutes due to the breakneck frenetic intensity at which The Safes plow through the songs, but a few repeats on the playlist will offer up some rewards as one begins to notice the subtleties and layers that cleverly underline the songs. The Sky Is Falling is one such track that will offer up its secrets upon revisitation.

A rather good record that grabs you by the scruff of the neck on the first listen and demands you stay for the rerun. 

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out the Safes’ Myspace page.

THE ORGAN

THE ORGAN Thieves (Mint)

I hadn’t realized that when I previously wrote about The Organ with respect to a free download at RCRD LBL that they had split up in 2006! So, I was a little surprised (but very pleased) to receive the all female band’s final Ep, Thieves in the mail from Canadian indie Mint Records recently. Seems the story is that after the breakup, Debora Cohen, guitar; Ashley Webber, bass; Shelby Stocks, drums; Jenny Smyth, Hammond organ and Katie Sketch, lead singer; went back into the studio in 2007 to complete certain recordings the band had started before the demise of The Organ. The result of which is this truly excellent Ep, which only makes you wonder why this wonderful post-punk-influenced band is no longer making music together.

Anyway, fans of intelligent, multi-layered post-punk should at least be thankful for the existence of The Organ’s swan song. Songs like the opening Even in the Night, with its intricate instrumental interplay and Katie’s doleful & melancholy singing is a wonder to behold. Sure, it hearkens back to post-punk but presented in a unique manner. Same goes for the ironic jaunty Oh What A Feeling, the tweeful Fire in the Ocean (reminiscent of Felt’s finest moments) and the rustic Don’t Be Angry. 

I must really find out what these gifted ladies are up to right now cos the power of this Ep cannot stop here. Will keep you boys and girls posted of any new post-Organ developments.

Check out The Organ’s Myspace page.

TO TEXAS AND BACK

Here’s your chance to support the S-ROCK scene in a very tangible way. I Am David Sparkle has had the honour of being the 3rd S-ROCK band (after Great Spy Experiment & Electrico) to be invited to the prestigious indie rock festival, SXSW. Unfortunately, part of the deal is self-financing the traveling and accomodation expenses, which according to the band is the region of $30,000.

Thus, the band and the KittyWu label has organized To Texas and Back, a fund-raising benefit for the band’s SXSW adventure, on 31 January 2009 commencing at about 2pm at the Home Club. Entry is $18, which is reasonable considering the array of S-ROCK bands and (more importantly) the knowledge that you’ve contributed to the development of our beloved S-ROCK!!!

SET TIMINGS:

FLEA MARKET STARTS FROM 2.00PM ONWARDS (OUTSIDE HOME CLUB)

Band 1: 3.00 – 3.30pm (30mins) : A Band Named Power
Band 2: 3.45 – 4.15pm (30mins) : Indus Gendi
Band 3: 4.30 – 5.00pm (30mins) : Amberhaze
Band 4: 5.15 – 5.45pm (30mins) : AUM
Band 5: 6.00 – 6.30pm (30mins) : Plainsunset
All changeovers above are 15mins each.

6.30 – 7.30pm INTERMISSION, Music by Sweetmusic.fm (Roland)

Band 6: 7.30 – 8.00pm (30mins) : Amateur Takes Control
Band 7: 8.15 – 8.45pm (30mins) : The Great Spy Experiment
Band 8: 9.00 – 9.35pm (35mins) : Muon
Band 9: 9.50 – 10.30pm (40mins) : 41 (from Kuala Lumpur)
Band 10: 10.45 – 11.25pm (40mins) : I Am David Sparkle

DJ SETS FROM 11.30PM ONWARDS:

11.30pm – 12.30am : Unpopular Music (Charan) & (possibly Sweetmusic.fm)
12.30am – 2.00am : 4 Imaginary Boys
2.00am – 3.00am : Kid Villain (Razi)

3.00am ONWARDS: SLEEPY TIME!

LUNAR NODE

Instrumental rock is nothing new, of course. I grew up listening to the Shadows and the Ventures in the 60s and bands like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Cinematic Orchestra are modern versions, that’s all. Naturally, the S-ROCK scene has its own proponents, chief of which is I Am David Sparkle.

Add spanking new S-ROCK instrumental band, Lunar Node, to the list. The band is releasing its debut EP – Exploring Unknown Territory – in February and the EP launch is slated for 7 February 2009 at the Playden, Arts House. Amateur Takes Control opens the show at 8pm.

More information about Lunar Node here.

LITHOPS

LITHOPS Ye Viols! (Thrill Jockey)

More esoterica from Thrill Jockey comes in the form of Lithops’ new album. This time around, Jan St. Werner (who is Lithops) has collected a selection of installation soundtracks from several recent exhibitions. How apt! It’s basically industrial noise without much context. There are no chords or melodies, whatsoever, and it would be no exaggeration to say that Ye Viols is an acquired taste. 

That said, the tracks do have distinctive character and mood and probably would make more sense with a visual element. I figure that it would provide good background “music” for studying like Pink Floyd use to do. Except that Ye Viols will not put you into a dreamlike reverie. The dissonent percussive sounds are a little harsh and there is precious little sweet and light to be found but if you enjoy experimental music, then this is right up your alley.

Check out Lithops’ Myspace page.

BURNLEY 3 SPURS 2 (AGG: 4-6)

As a long time Spurs fan, I’ve witnessed my fair share of Spurs losing three goal leads. Remember 3-5 to Man Utd, 3-4 to Man City and 4-4 with Leicester? I’ve been trying hard to forget and hoped that those dark days were behind me.

For 118 minutes, Spurs had basically lost a commanding three goal lead to a Championship team and were facing a totally humiliating Carling Cup exit. To the team’s credit, they did not give up and in a split second Bale and Assou-Ekotto fashioned an opportunity which Pavlyuchenko converted and Burnley’s brave run had ended. Defoe rubbed salt into wound a minute later and Spurs are through to a Carling Cup Final date with Man Utd on 1 March.

How did Spurs do it? Serendipity. No other explanation. If Spurs don’t wake up to the fight on their hands, they will be relegated.

Nuff said.

U2

picture-21

U2 Get On Your Boots (Universal)

It begins with a generic fuzzy (bass) riff, Bono sings a generic melody line that takes its cue from Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues before getting slightly off the ground with a Arabic sounding middle eight. Nothing ground breaking, merely sufficient. Lacks the verve of the best songs from the last two albums. If this is the lead single, then I’m concerned about the rest of the new album.

Listen to Get On Your Boots at Last.fm.

WATCHMEN MOVIE

picture-1

Viral marketing, you’ve got to love it! Check out the New Frontiersman site, which features cool stuff like the above pic. Great set up for the film as the site presents the back story of the Watchmen universe. Wonderful material, whether you’ve read the graphic novel or not. What? You haven’t read the graphic novel? What are you waiting for?

As part of this viral marketing campaign, this video popped up at youtube featuring Dr Manhattan. Coolness, natch!

S-ROCK SPOTLIGHT

A VACANT AFFAIR v ASTRONINJA     

  

Matthew Lim
Matthew Lim (AVA)

Well, here are two S-ROCK bands that have recently released albums viz. Reasons to Leave (AVA) and Kiss My Astro! (Astroninja). Both CDs come in unique packaging, which sets them apart from the masses. Both bands share an uncompromising approach to their music with a “take it or leave it” attitude that bristles with pride and confidence. Superficially, it’s not difficult to spot the differences. AVA dress like guys off the street, if you passed them by you probably wouldn’t notice them. Astroninja, of course, are instantly recognizable for their sartorial splendour, shall we say. Musically, of course, it would seem that AVA’s hardcore-punk-screamo is poles apart from Astroninja’s glam-punk-metal but listen closer and there may be more than meets the ears.

 

Levan Wee (Astroninja)
Levan Wee (Astroninja)
Take the two frontmen, for example. Matthew (AVA) and Levan (Astroninja) are never shy to make their opinions known to the audience and are constantly “in the face” so to speak. Matthew has a versatile voice, able to shift from a growl to soaring falsetto effortlessly. Levan, on the other hand, possesses a more classic rock larynx, leaning heavy on Axl riffing but never derivative (in any case, Kiss My Astro! outdoes Chinese Democracy anytime!). Singers that cannot be ignored, that’s for sure.
In terms of traditional melodies, Astroninja is clearly ahead on points with tracks like Bukkake Udon Song, Anthem for the Ordinary, I’m In Love With A Zombie and Thunder although AVA does have its moments with Reasons to Leave, We Are Not the Same and Connecting the Dots.
In the final analysis, if push came to shove, I’d personally listen to Kiss My Astro! more than Reasons to Leave but I guess that’s only because the former album is more accessible and I’m a classic 70s rock geek always. However, in terms of execution and spirit, certainly I would say this match-up is a high score draw. But of course, this is not a competition but merely a device to highlight that our S-ROCK scene is pretty eclectic and big enough to contain bands as diverse as AVA and Astroninja, which can only be a good thing. 
Bottom line, what I am saying is that if you’re an S-ROCK fan (or if you’re interested to find out more about S-ROCK) then, these albums are essential and perfect introductions. 
… and there’s more …

WATCHMEN MOVIE

With the dispute between Fox and Warner Bros over the rights of the movie finally settled and the release date confirmed for 6th March 09, we can all relax and enjoy the promotional blitz to come in the months ahead. Here’s TV Spot #2 which, I must geekily declare, contains many previously unseen footage.

Courtesy of Trailer Addict.

BON IVER

BON IVER Blood Bank (Jagjaguwar)

Is this four-track EP a follow up to last year’s masterpiece For Emma Forever Ago or an extension of it? To these ears, the latter description seems to be the accurate one. Simply because the title track is allegedly taken from the same sessions that spawned Emma but never released. Well, not only that but the recordings on this Ep possesses similar sensibilities to Emma in that it contains sparse instrumentation and Justin Vernon’s now familiar falsetto. 

Despite these songs having apparently been performed by a band rather than Vernon on his own, the Ep does not sound too different from Emma and in many ways, you could add these four tracks to the end of Emma and not notice any difference. Both album and Ep highlight a strange collision of acoustic and electronic sounds, vocal manupilations and odd soul-folk combinations. Which sets Bon Iver apart from say, Coldplay despite sharing certain common qualities. 

I mean, you could never imagine Coldplay something as experiemental and yet heartfelt as Woods with its bizarre acapella choral effect. It’s probably the best track on the Ep with its ghostly evocation allied to a soulful delievery. The rest of Blood Bank is par for the course – the title track’s classicist folk-rock, the austere stripped down Beach Baby and the piano-drenched Babys – keeping fans happy but not really building on the goodwill generated by that excellent debut.

SPURS 1 PORTSMOUTH 1

Darren Bent

Darren Bent

 

 There were four moments in this match that summed up Spurs season so far, perfectly. 

First, was Lennon’s speculative shot/cross deflected off Distin and somehow, James flung himself across goal to deny Spurs a deserved lead!

Second, from that save, James passed the ball forward and from a Corluka tackle in front of the Spurs’ penalty box, the ball felt invitingly for Nugent and his shot too a slight deflection off Bale’s foot to sneak in at the far post past a helpless Gomes!

Third, from inspired play between Zokora and Modric, Defoe emphatically finished off a classy move to bring Spurs level. The relief that resonated around White Hart Lane was palpable!

Fourth, Bentley – looking rather energized from being dropped from the first team – delivered the perfect cross (with his left peg no less) onto the head of Bent, who despite all the odds, proceeds to put the ball past the post! Harry echoed the feelings of every single Spurs fan at the stadium and watching on the telly – “How the fuck did he miss that?!!”

There you go. I am sure that all the non-Spurs fans are simply lapping this up. It’s a constant case of “could have been worse” for Spurs now. Still, the fact that there are only 3 points between 12th and bottom, still offers up hope for the last ditch great escape which Harry is famous for. 

Still loads of work to be done and with two weeks to go before the window slams shut, Harry has got to work his wheelin’-dealin’ magic before it’s too late. Next – Burnley and “we’re on our way to Wem-ber-ley”.

Bizarre!

LIVE N LOADED TOUR

17012009372
Vertical Rush

YOUTH PARK, 17th January 2009

As the countdown to the maiden episode of Channel 5’s Live N Loaded begins in earnest, Mediacorp has been bringing the S-ROCK showcase to the kids. Featuring bands like A Vacant Affair, Allura, Vertical Rush, Astroninja and Plainsunset, this early show (starting at 5.30pm!) drew a robust crowd and built anticipation for the upcoming TV show. 

All the bands all gave a good account of themselves of ahead of the breakthrough into Singapore’s mainstream consciousness – despite the poor sound (this is a malaise that affects almost every single S-ROCK gig) – and I am sure that given a fair chance will blow Singaporean TV audiences away!

A Vacant Affair began proceedings and got the crowd moshing with Matt’s cajoling/scolding/hectoring style and launched into their tradermark melodic hardcore, the highlight being current single We Are Not the Same. The strength of any band is their latest material and for Allura, Loose Change is getting stronger with every performance. There’s no doubt in my mind that mainstream audiences will totally adore Inch – this girl is made for TV! Vertical Rush delivers sophisticated indie rock in a very acessible package. Marcus and Nick were probably the most dynamic guitar combo on the night, and with Esmond’s confident vocals (not to mention Marcus’ and Nick’s harmonious backing), Vertical Rush presented a unique S-ROCK sound. 

By the time Astroninja took to the stage, the crowd had swelled considerably. Astroninja is a band that divides the scene somewhat. There are those who are uncomfortable with the makeup, the garish clothing, the repeating swearing and the off-the-wall sensibility. Personally, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. As far as I’m concerned Astroninja takes its cues from 70s rock icons like KISS, T.Rex, Bowie, Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls, which is pretty much good company, if you ask me. But underneath all the image, there are strong melodies allied to a muscular punk-metal approach which will win the band many many fans. That said, I was disappointed with the verbal attacks against James from SOFT from Levan, rather uncalled for, if Astroninja demands respect, then they must respect others as well. 

Plainsunset closed the event in high tempo, inciting moshing, body surfing and enthusiastic singalongs through Plainsunset classics (Checking Email, Plain Sunset) and even inviting an encore at the very end. It is always heart warming to watch Plainsunset in action, to see the response they inevitably provoke from their adoring fans. S-ROCK rules!

As usual, it was good to say hi to Dex, HQ, Sean, Sherwin, Visa, Beni, Esmond, Jon, Soo (thanks for the embarrasing shout out!), Sebas, Brian and Jianping.

See you at the 1st Live n Loaded on 27 January 2009.

… and there’s more …

ME & MY GUITAR

Rachael and I

I will be 48 next month.

A sobering thought maybe but I count my blessings that I am still able to do what I love – write and play my music. Ever since plunging back into the S-ROCK scene after New York April 2007, things have been happening for me. So on the 14th and 15th January 2009, I made my solo debut at the Esplanade Concourse, armed with my guitar (and a piano).

And whilst it was enjoyable to be able to share songs from my 15-year recording career (such as it is), it was even more satisfying to share the stage with my apprentices – Racheal Teo and Nick Tan, two talented singer-songwriters who have the potential to make an impact not only on the S-ROCK scene but across the world. And why not?

Nick

So thanks to all the kind folk who made this event such a fun one for me – the Esplanade peeps (Chloe, Lynn, Ashton, Keith), Rachael, Nick, Gary and Janice, Georgene, Mandy, Esther, HQ, Nick, James & Mel, Es, Jon, Sherwin, Ivanified et al.

Set list – 

(1) Love & Water (Rachael Teo), Late Night Request (GSE), Never Liked the Beatles, Beautiful, High Cost of Living, I Love Singapore, My One & Only.

(2) Hot Burrito #1 (Flying Burrito Bros), My Life, This Savage Garden, Keep the Faith, Oh Lord!, Always, My One & Only

(3) Lyric Space (Nick Tan), Jealous Guy (John Lennon), Feel the Same Way, Here, Mister Ong, Orchard Road, My One & Only

(4) Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks), A Climate of Fear, Easy, Damaged, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum

Hope to upload a couple of tracks recorded live from both nights soon.

… still there’s more …

And… watchmen@midnight Ep is still available for free download here.