LAMBCHOP OH (ohio) (Merge)

I would imagine Kurt Wagner, lead singer and central mythic figure of American band Lambchop, gives record executives nightmares. The conversation might go something like this: 

“Right, Jack, that new Lambchop record. We’ll stick an alt-country sticker on the front cover, alright?” 

“Alternative country? Gee, Bob, I don’t know. That opening track Ohio sounds like a bit of jazz and folk to me.”

 “Alright, fine, jazz and folk. We’ll market it as Kris Kristofferson in a bar lounge.”

“Hmm, yeah alright, but that track A Hold Of You sounds really soulful to me. You think we shall sell it as soul instead?”

“Yeah, soul is fine. So we’ll put a soul music sticker at the front like Marvin Gaye or something and–”

“Hang on, Bob, there’s a fair bit of funk on this track Popeye as well, you think we should mention that?”

“Okay, funk, funk is good, we’ll put an ad out in the papers and–”

“Gosh, this track “National Talk Like A Pirate Day” really does sound an awful lot like alternative country…”

“Jack, I need a drink.”

By now it should be pretty obvious that OH(Ohio), the latest offering by Nashville band Lambchop, is a genre-bending record that deftly blends together jazz, blues, folk and country with a heavy undercurrent of blue-eyed soul  What Jack and Bob up there fail to tell you is how darn enjoyable the album is. 

To be fair to poor Bob(who’s currently ingesting a copious amount of alcohol into his system), you’re not likely to find a Top 10 radio hit on the record. There are no wildly infectious hooks or headboppin’ catchy tracks. Instead, we have sweetly subtle melodies and light, unobtrusive harmonies like the ones on Slipped, Dissolved and Loosed, and full, slow burnin’ band soul love reminiscent of Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke on tracks like the aforementioned A Hold Of You.  

The seven-member strong band sound intuitive and comfortable enough to sparkle with an attractive looseness on tracks such as Sharing A Guitar With Martin Luther King Jr. National Talk Like A Pirate Day is another such track, brimming with raw trademark country energy reminiscent of Whiskeytown and humour that is all Kurt Warner. Warner himself is quietly brilliant throughout the record, his trademark staccato baritone anchoring the listener with an easy assurance at times, and phrasing a quiet lyrical thunderstorm on tracks like the simple yet powerful Please Rise.

In all, this is a gorgeously lush album that will go down well with listeners who like their music diverse. Warner is unmistakably the mastermind behind the record, but at the same time there is a positive air of collaboration that can only come from the easy charisma of a band that has learnt to play in the scales of the soul. The album is varied in its influences and stylings, but it never delves into schizophrenic territory, always retaining a strong sonic and lyrical identity. The energy never really rises above a quick brisk here, but its alright. This is music for the comfort of your living room, sounds of joy, love, grief and wonder that will evocate beautiful images in the theater of your home and your mind.  

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out Lampchop’s Myspace page.


The Fire Fight

Three consecutive nights of music for me this weekend. 

Tonight, at the Bukit Timah CC, my Noise apprentices Nick Tan and Rachael Teo will be performing at the Singer-Songwriter Showcase organized by Musical Theatre Limited. Saturday night, I will be at the Singapore Polytechnic Convention Centre for the School Invasion Finale with bands like the Fire Fight, Force Vomit, A Vacant Affair, West Grand Boulevard, Allura, Caracal, Jack & Rai and Plainsunset illuminating the stage.

And… on Sunday, its Angels & Airwaves at the NUS Cultural Centre.

Good thing Monday’s a Public Holiday, eh?

If you’re at any of these gigs, come up and say hi. I’m the dude with the shocking white hair…no, the other one…

… and there’s more …


… and the answer of course is The Adventure.

Congrats to Jeremy Ong & Low Han Quan. You get a ticket each to Sunday’s concert.

In the meantime, here’s AVA on Letterman performing … The Adventure.

Thanks to all who tried out for the contest. If you weren’t successful, there’s always next time.

… and there’s more …


Tom DeLonge walked away from the mega-selling punk pop-meisters Blink-182 and straight into the mega-selling Angels & Airwaves. With two wildly successful albums – We Don’t Need To Listen and I-Empire – under their collective belts, the band has had a tremendous impact on pop culture in a relatively short span of time.

With Angels & Airwaves, DeLonge explores more mature themes and a wider spectrum of rock music than his previous band ever did. Together with drummer Atom Willard (ex-Rocket from the Crypt), guitarist David Kennedy and bassist Matt Wachter (ex-30 Seconds to Mars), Angels & Airwaves dig deep into the roots of classic rock over the decades – from The Who to the Clash, from U2 to the Get Up Kids. 

Which basically means that Singaporean rock fans will be treated to good ol’ Amercian rock ‘n’ roll – despite the “alternative” moniker – when Angels & Airwaves opens their tour of South-East Asia on Sunday, 7th December 2008, at 7.30pm at the University Cultural Centre Hall, NUS. Tickets are selling at $85, $100 and $125 and available now at SISTIC.

Interested? How about free tickets courtesy of gig organizer Midas Promotions?

Well, two free tickets will go to the first two persons who can answer this question correctly – what is the name of Angels & Airwaves’ first ever single? Send your answers to info (at) powerofpop (dot) com and the winners will be announced soon. 

We’ll be waitin’



FRANCOIS VIROT Yes or No (Frenetic)

On rare occasions when listening to music you come across true gems that are so breathtakingly original and fresh that you have to step back and pause for a second, purely to lose yourself in the moment of what you are experiencing. These moments don’t come along everyday, month or even year, but when they do you know that you will forever be trapped in that time. Like the first time your travel through the pages of your favorite book, you feel a tinge of regret when it is over because you know that you will never be able to go back and have that same experience again without knowing what is about to come. This is how you will feel listening to Yes or No by French Singer/Songwriter Francois Virot, someone who captures the very heart and soul of what we all love about music, and why it stirs such an emotional response in many of us.

Born in Lyon, France, Virot has been listening to and playing music from the tender age of nine. Into bands like The Melvins, Sonic Youth and Nirvana the young Virot picked up a guitar to imitate his idols. He is the drummer of Clara Clara, a French Electric Punk band whose vocalist is Virot’s brother, and while touring with them and doing various promotions he has still found time to record and release his own material as a solo artist. His material is very honest and raw, playing in the intimacy of coffee houses and flats, Virot draws the listener into his music and the way his album Yes or No is recorded he has managed to capture this feeling perfectly. Honest and Raw is the best way to describe Virot’s sound. 

The album starts with Not the One and showcases perfectly Virot’s unique vocal style and ear for melody. Some may find that his vocal style is a little too whiny for their taste and this is perfectly understandable. I would certainly say that the way he sings can either be loved or hated, I was drawn to it instantly, where as some may run in the opposite direction. There is an almost childlike innocence to his lyrics and the style of his writing displays a vulnerability, this is one man and his guitar after all, no orchestras or accompanying musicians to hide behind, this is Virot fully in the spotlight. Recorded on a four track, a cough at the beginning of Island shows just what Virot appears to be aiming for, he wants you to feel as if you are sat infront of him, in the audience and his attention is focused on you. The basic technique of recording certainly makes you feel this way. 

There are somber points, like Fishboy and Where O Where A, but mainly Yes or No flows in a very positive and upbeat manner. Francois Virot is not just another singer/songwriter in the Damien Rice/Newton Faulkner/James Blunt mould, all of the production and recording techniques are out of the window on this album and for a debut it is stunning and emotional. 

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Francois Virot’s Myspace page.


Rob Bonfiglio brings us his thoughts on the PoP10 inquisition…

1. Why play music? 
It’s my means of expression…  I’m terrible in social situations!

2. Who are your influences? 
Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Todd Rundgren, Laura Nyro, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Philly soul…on and on!

3. What is success? 
The ability to do what you love & earning the respect of one’s peers.  I like to think just being happy, but I think that depends heavily on the aforementioned.

4. Why should people buy your music? 
Perhaps people were moved by the same music I was (and am) & will hopefully recognize a certain truth in it.

5. Who do you love? 
…see ‘influences’!

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music? 
I hope just to be able to continue to make music and tell a story…and with a little luck reach an audience.  If I’m able to leave behind something that people can relate to or are moved by then my goals have been accomplished (see #3!)

7. Who comes to your gigs? 
Friends, fans & whoever happens to be at the venue!

8. What is your favorite album? 
It’s a rotating cast of faves that often depends on the day of the week…a few that come to mind include Laura Nyro’s first several Columbia records, Neil Young’s eponymous 1st album, George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’…they all share a kind of transcendent, timeless quality that I love.

9. What is your favorite song? 
Again, depends entirely on the day of the week…some that come to mind are ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ (just kidding)… 

10. How did you get here? 
There were more times than I care to remember that I thought of giving it up, but I think sheer determination combined with the absolute love of music & performing, just plain stubbornness & the inability to take ‘no’ for an answer has kept my focus intact.  Surrounding myself with people who believe and encourage has certainly been helpful as well.

Rob Bonfiglio’s new album Bring the Happy is out now.



THE END OF THE WORLD French Exit (Pretty Activity)

An early exit without saying goodbye is known as a “French Exit”. Whether the phrase has anything to do with the French national team’s abysmal showing at this year’s Euro 2008, I’m not sure. It should suffice to say, though, that French Exit, the latest album by Brooklyn-based band The End Of The World, doesn’t reach the levels of atrocity that the strife-wrecked and unspeakably bad performances of the French team did. 

Minimalistic and stripped down in nature, most songs found on this album are songs that can be easily represented by the 3 primary colors, guitars, drum and bass. As explained by frontman and drummer Stefan Marolachakis, it was a conscious production decision to help bring the emotion and meaning of the songs to the forefront instead of being buried under layers of sound. It’s a decision, however, that yields a largely inconsistent album that is plain stifle-a-yawn boring at its worst moments, and mesmerizingly captivating at its best.

The album opens with a short track apparently taken from one of the band’s live gigs featuring a short dialogue between the band and the audience. Depending on how you look at it, it could be taken as either quirky or insufferably pretentious, but either way it adds nothing to the album. Second track on the album, Jody, is a raucous track that makes some good headway in kicking off the album with its rattling drum beats and energetic vocals, but the album then takes an abrupt dive with the slow, soft rumble and twinkling yearnings of Somebody Else’s Dollar, before pulling upwards sharply again with the up-tempo bluesy clap-along number, I Don’t Wanna Lose. At this point, a pattern begins to establish itself as the slow alternative country number Learning unfurls amidst a swirl of pedal steel stylings and the requisite harmonica hooks. It’s a repetitive, slow-burning number that never really rises above the initial emotion. Railway Living starts off with a baffling piece of amateurish production that sounds like it was recorded on Skype, and for that transgression the track never really manages to take flight. The rest of the album follow more or less the same sequence laid out in earlier tracks, with soft pensive numbers interspersed with rousing songs that try to lift the listener out of their slumber. Last track on the album is probably the biggest detour taken by the band in terms of sonic approach, and truth be told, belonged somewhere closer to the start of the album.

The band’s biggest sin on this album is probably the track listing. French Exit is an attempt to create an album that evokes both the avant-garde lush soundscapes of Brian Eno and the MOR pop-rock catchiness of Train, but all it succeeds in doing is alienating its listeners who never quite really manage to get into the groove of the album, a result of the schizophrenic track listing. Listeners with more patience and tolerance for the occasional misstep might be willing to give this album a chance, as it can grow on you when taken on its own terms. Other listeners, however, might want to give this one a miss.  

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out the End of the World’s Myspace page.



Mike Elgert and Brad Jendza make up power pop duo Class Three Overbite and it’s their turn on the hot seats…

1. Why play music?        

It’s a form of escape. We need someplace to get rid of all of these things in our heads.

2. Who are your influences?    

The Beatles, Queen, Jellyfish, David Bowie, Kiss, Scissor Sisters, ….

3. What is success? 

When a crowd sings one of our songs back to us. Having someone tell us that our songs make them feel something. Happy or Sad.

4. Why should people buy your music? 

It’s a good investment, especially on cold, lonely nights. 

5. Who do you love?


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

To have the recordings turn out the way we hear them in our heads and for people to feel their own emotions from the music.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Everybody. We attract all kinds!

8. What is your favorite album?

Mike: Jellyfish – “Spilt Milk”/ Brad: The Beatles – “Abbey Road”

9. What is your favorite song?

Tough question. Today it is, Mike: Crowded House –  “Not the Girl You Think You Are” / Brad: Queen – “You Take My Breath Away”

10. How did you get here?          

Our Mothers.

Class Three Overbite’s new album – Horses for Courses – is out now.


ROB BONFIGLIO Bring On the Happy (Damask)

If you’re interested, its pronounced “Bon-feel-e-o” and it sounds “G-R-E-A-T”!!! (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Bonfiglio is an old ‘friend’ of sorts, I loved his former band – Wanderlust – who managed a wonderful major label debut – Prize – before falling prey to RCA’s unrealistic expectations. The band released its second album with Bruce Brodeen’s Not Lame label before calling it quits.

Continue reading “ROB BONFIGLIO”


Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words and Music (Eagle Vision)

In the wake of 9/11, this musical tribute to John Lennon took on a resonance and poignancy which is hard to describe. In October 2001, musicians and actors chose to pay their respects to the numerous men and women who tragically lost their lives in that fateful day in history through the words and music of John Lennon.

It is therefore difficult not to feel the emotion behind every tune and speech delivered in this heartfelt event. Perhaps that is why some of the performances are particularly powerful eg. Cyndi Lauper – Strawberry Fields Forever, Alanis Morissette – Dear Prudence & Shelby Lynne – Mother, in particular took me somewhat by surprise. 

Definitely worth picking not only if you’re a fan of the artists who participated or a John Lennon fan.



Reading Steve’s replies, I realized that we both are besotted with Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom. Good taste, man. 

1.Why play music?

I HAVE to, it`s like breathing to me.

 2. Who are your influences?

The Beatles, Elvis Costello (the Deity) Tom Petty, The Replacements

 3. What is success?

To be able to do what I love over and over again.

4. Why should people buy your music?

See above.

 5. Who do you love?

My family, Leo Fender.

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

To make someone get that thrill like I had upon hearing a great song for the 1st time.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Sad, lonely, broken men…and really hot college girls.

8. What is your favorite album?

I have two, Revolver and Imperial Bedroom. Geoff Emerick sits at the right hand.

9. What is your favorite song?

It changes daily.

10. How did you get here?

Listened to my favorite music, constantly sought out the new, practiced, wrote, refined my craft, and then elbowed my way into the room.

Steve Caraway’s album, Hurricane Season is out now.


DEBASER (off Pixies’ 1989 album Doolittle)

Bizarrely, I had Rolling Stone to thank for my introduction to the weird world of Pixies. After a hiatus of three to four years, I returned to rock music in earnest in 1989. Sometime in early 1990 in one of those “best of” issues, I came across Doolittle and Pixies. And the opening track was – Debaser – and immediately I was hooked by the sheer energy, the incongruous sweetness of Kim Deal’s vocal and of course, Black Francis’ visceral delivery. That last 30 seconds always gets me jumpin’! Believe me, there would have no Nirvana without Pixies…

“Girl is so groovy…”


CLUES – Perfect Fit (off the album Perfect Fit)

With Alden Penner (ex-Unicorns) and Brendan Reed (ex-Arcade Fire) in their ranks, there’s no doubting Clues’ indie cred. The title track to their debut album is an interesting hybrid of gypsy roots and music hall vernicular. Promising.

Download: Perfect Fit

Courtesy of RCRD LBL


STEVE CARAWAY Hurricane Season (Indienink Music)

You know how they say that folk only listen to the music they loved when growing up? That explains the popularity of classic rock radio formats to people who were teenagers in the 70s and 80s. But what mystifies me to this day is why these same people are so heavily resistant to artists/bands who play the SAME kind of music that they love. Why is that so?

Take the music of Steve Caraway, which uncannily evokes the pop-rock of the 60s and 70s, I mean how can fans of classic jangle pop, new wave, piano ballads, country rock, psychedelic rock not enjoy such spot-on tracks as Before You Run Away, When I Change My Mind, No Looking Back, Rabbit and Push?

Seriously music fans, there is a lot to admire on this faithful recreation of a beloved era, not least Caraway’s gift at turning a melody on its ear with an unexpected chord change. It’s obvious that Caraway has poured in precious time – not to mention blood, sweat and tears – to ensure that the music is good enough to stand up to his influences and inspirations.

I must admit that I’ve been rather harsh on power pop artists recently because of their closed straight-jacketed approach but am glad to report that no such problem is evident on Hurricane Season. 

Check out Steve Caraway’s Myspace page.



GENTLEMEN AUCTION HOUSE Christmas in Love (Emergency Umbrella

As I walked past my local shopping centre the other day I saw that workmen were busy beavering away putting up a Christmas tree. I stopped and watched them in slight disbelief, it is early November and last time I checked Christmas is at the end of December. Being from a much colder climate I have never seen a Christmas Tree up when it is humid and sunny so this was an odd experience for me. It seems that Christmas gets earlier every year lately, but of course Christmas is about money these days and the earlier the better. Imagine my surprise then when I was handed a Christmas EP to review this week…..has the world gone mad?

Gentlemen Auction House is a seven piece band from St Louis, Missouri and are currently touring on the back of their successful debut album Emergency Graveyard. In between the release of the new album and touring the band thought that it would be a good idea to release a Christmas themed EP, something they had had on their ‘to do’ list for some time. So singer Eric Enger holed himself up in his basement for a couple of weeks, cracked the Air Con down to a wintery temperature and came up with Christmas in Love, a poppy dedication to everyone’s over commercialized holiday!

Starting with A Banner Year the EP doesn’t have a massive shift from the band’s album or original sound. This EP may be a gimmick of sorts but it is certainly not a move in a new artistic direction. This is GAH’s signature sound of American College Folk/Rock with a sprinkling of fairy dust and glitter balls. Singer Eric Enger’s voice reminds me of part River Cuomo of Weezer and part J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. Their sound is a collection of guitars, piano, drums, trumpets, xylophones and even flutes which are all used to perfect effect to add to the Yuletide flavor of the EP. 

The two tracks that really stand out for me are On the Rooftops, which strongly reminds me of the Rentals with the dual male and female vocals and Christmas in Love, the title track for the EP and closer. Both songs have a perfect melodic sound that captures the feeling of winter and opening presents. You can almost imagine the setting of the videos being in a snow covered forest with a log cabin and the band toasting marshmallows around an open fire.

Fans of the band will love this EP and I like the idea that they have had in trying to give them something unique for the holiday season. Although when I first came across this EP I had the fear that I would spend most of it cringing at the Christmas references but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only felt this on rare occasions. Most notably Here Comes Santa Claus, GAH’s take on the old classic, there is nothing particularly wrong with this song but it drips with Americana  and blatant cheese, there is not a chorus of children here but they would not be out of place should the band have decided to add them.

If you are looking for an early blast of holiday season joy then check this EP out.

(Adam Gregory)

Check out GAH’s Myspace page.

Download: On the Rooftops


SUNDAY AFTERNOON (off Rachael Yamagata’s Elephants/Teeth Sinking Into Heart album)

Never really cared for Rachael Yamagata before – even though she’s even performed in Singapore (but thanks to our very own Rachael), I’ve been listening to this lovely torch-blues song virtually non-stop. It’s deep and visceral and, carried over with that gorgeous emotive voice, rather irresistible. Here’s a live version I found – dunno why but I actually got a Pink Floyd vibe from this. Album review to follow…

“There is blood on my feet as I’m walking away…”


NIGHTS ON BROADWAY (off the Bee Gees’ 1977 album, Main Course)

The Bee Gees were one of the first pop bands I ever became a fan of – loved their late 60s/early 70s hits like New York Mining Disaster 1941, Melody Fair, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart etc. They seem to disappear in the mid-70s but in 1977 they reinvented themselves as an R&B outfit. Main Course would contain both sides of the Bee Gees sound – classic chamber pop as well as the nascent disco-infused pop. Nights on Broadway is a brilliant hybrid of both as the opening muscular R&B morphs into a gorgeous ballad and then drives to an ecstatic denouement. Fantastic!

“Blamin’ it on…”


LANTERNS Apocalypse Youth (Self released)

Noise pop, ah, you’ve got to love its exciting blend of painful distortion and shimmering melodic structure. From the shoegaze era and beyond, the bands who have been able to strike a fine balance between the two seemingly polar sonic qualities, have always been a bit special.

Add San Diego’s Lanterns to the esteemed list of devout noise poppers. Consisting of Lowell Heflin (Vocals/Guitar), Sean Liljequist (Bass), Adam Piddington (Guitar), Loren Hiew (Drums), Lanterns have produced a visceral EP, full of epic intent and widescreen lyrical concepts. 

From the moment the EP opens with the manically, potent chords of Midnight Psalms (Alright!), you know you’re in for a thrilling ride. End-Time Blues steps back ever so slightly to deliver an intricate lattice of spaced out riffs and pummeling drums.

By the time, Creation Myth bolts out of the stalls, you’re breathless in an attempt to keep up. Reminiscent of JAMC’s invocation of the Spectoresque wall-of-sound, Creation Myth is almost bubblegum in its melodic agenda but backed always by punishing waves of feedback-drenched guitar delights. Desperation Wolves, Beacon Flames keeps the momentum alive with the slightest hint of a Bo Diddley back beat and cascading guitar patterns. 

Finally, Electric Warrior Kisses provides a respite (of sorts) with a bizarre hymn enveloped with white noise screaming out from every note. Every sound is fuzzy and distorted, even what sounds like an accordion. Then it’s over… and you can catch your breath again. 

So come on and feel the noise with Lanterns…

Check out Lanterns’ Myspace page.

Download: Creation Myth



KRISTOFFER RAGNSTAM Wrong Side of the Room (bluhammock)

The success of Sweden in exporting their musical talents abroad has been well documented. From Abba to Carola Haagkvist, Roxette to The Cardigans, and Jens Lekman to Kristoffer Ragnstam, the musical fertility of the Swedish is undeniable. 

Apart from being a music writer’s nightmare, however, they also have a penchant for creating gloriously fun and tasty pop. Case in point? Kristoffer Ragnstam’s new album, Wrong Side Of The Room.

It’s no secret that Ragnstam is often compared to Beck Hansen, due to the elaborate ambitious arrangements that are similar to both artists. Comparing Beck with Ragnstam, however, is rather akin to comparing Zinedine Zidane with Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players are wonderfully versatile in their own right, but the former infuses his style with a methodical, at times cynical attitude, whereas the latter goes about his job with a pervasive sense of flamboyant glee. Nowhere is the latter attribute more obvious than on Ragnstam’s new release, Wrong Side Of The Room.

Room starts off with a deliciously cheeky opener in the opener, Stop On Top; “I wore sunglasses today, ‘cus I robbed a bank yesterday”. It’s precisely the kind of irreverent music that catches you off-guard and pokes a laugh out of you, then goes to warp speed and takes your breath away. 2008, the subsequent track, takes a sly poke at self-serious folk troubadours who attempt to turn every song into a philosophical discourse, but is in itself post-punk self-depreciating with a heavy wallop of New Wave energy. The album proceeds to swing its way through thumping rhythms, whirling loops and cheeky Bob Dylan references on lead single, Swing That Tambourine, before it reaches the title track, which is itself an addictive if unlikely marriage of blues, folk and dance music. 

The fun continues on Mee, If You Were A Melody, which is an infectious musical instrumental swirling with keyboard hooks that leads into the catchy and impassioned May I Admire Her. The album closes with a bit of quiet folksiness on Of All Summers that is mesmerizing in its simple acoustic vibe that builds up to a stirring crescendo.

It’s a thumpingly tasty collection of songs that Ragnstam has put together here, one that does nothing to dispel the legends of Swedish music genius. It’s still all a tad too undisciplined and structured in the use of hooks and lyrical ramblings to be a monster hit on radio, but it’s glorious, juicy fun. Sink your teeth in.  

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


A indie band in the true sense of the word – self managed, self booked and self financed – Harrisburg band Farewell Flight is totally DIY! Why, they even answered our PoP10 themselves (sorry, couldn’t resist)

1. Why play music?
It’s what moves us – it’s what we’re passionate about.  We’re not in it for the money, because we don’t make any.  We live to be on the stage, performing our art for 5 people or 5,000 people.  We care about creating quality music that has originality and depth but can still be appreciated by many different people with different tastes.  We honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  
2. Who are your influences?
We have a ton of different influences, but to name a few:  Death Cab, Coldplay, Interpol, The Smiths, Tom Petty, Radiohead, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, and Nada Surf.
3. What is success?
I guess there are different ideas of “success” to different bands, but to us I think success would mean being able to survive and pay our bills solely by playing music.  Right now we tour 6 months out of the year, but also work crappy jobs the other 6 months out of the year when we’re home to pay our bills.  The day that we can focus entirely on music will mean success in our eyes.  
4. Why should people buy your music?
Because it’s different than 99% of the crap that’s out there today, and buying our music helps us to not break up.  
5. Who do you love?
Everyone.  Seriously.  We feel that’s what we’re called to do in this life.  That means the industry executive who tells us we aren’t marketable, the homeless man we meet outside of a show, our families, our friends, and our enemies.  
6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?
We hope to make a difference in people’s lives, and to create worthwhile art that’s appreciated by a wide range of people.  In a way we’ve already achieved these goals on a small level, but we’d love to do it on a much bigger scale. 
7. Who comes to your gigs?
Scene kids, moms, adults, teens, twenty-somethings, our moms, college kids, high school kids, middle school kids, your moms.  
8. What is your favorite album?
If you mean our favorite Farewell Flight album, then of course Sound.Color.Motion. — our newest release and our only full-length.  We are extremely proud of this LP.  If you mean of favorite album of other bands, then you’ll have 4 different answers from our 4 members, if we each could even choose a favorite album.
9. What is your favorite song?
Again, not sure if you mean of our songs or in general.  Of our songs I don’t think we could really choose a “favorite” — but there are some we like playing more than others (Over, Begin Again, Slow, America Will Break Your Heart).  If you mean in general, again, you would have a hard time getting each of us to pick a specific favorite song.  There’s just too much good music out there (see and listen to the influences we listed).
10. How did you get here?
A lot of hard work, endless touring, sleeping on floors, playing as many shows as possible, being broke, and in general sacrificing everything we have to play music.  Also, exactly where is “here?” 

Farewell Flight’s album, Sound. Color. Motion, is out now.


WAITIN’ FOR A SUPERMAN (off the Flaming Lips 1999 LP, The Soft Bulletin)

The Lips’ Soft Bulletin is my favorite album of the 1990s. Sheer pop perfection. Waitin’ For A Superman is the most poignant song that Waybe Coyne and company have ever written. That fragile chorus always brings tears to my eyes… is help on the way? Sure hope so…

“it’s just too heavy for a Superman to lift…”


MIKE DUNN & THE KINGS OF NEW ENGLAND The Edge of America EP (P is for Panda)

“At the end of the day, the song is the most important thing.”

That and the fact that there is a Tom Petty live album at the feet of Mike Dunn on the album cover of this thoroughly pleasing six-track EP. Call it alt-country, call it indie rock or even call it old school retro-pop-rock. Whatever. No escaping that it’s all about the song, never mind the trappings.

Which is an easy enough handle on down to earth indie rockers (with an alt-country twang) like Paper Candy, The Queen, Get Up and Breathe. No disputing the visceral appeal of these tracks to fans of Paul Westerberg, Bruce Springsteen and of course, Petty.

But for me, the highest praise is earned by the country piano ballad, City Still. Now how many (ostensibly) indie rockers would risk his indie cred with something as warm as this. More than that, how many can actually sound authentic and pull it off with such aplomb. The closing folky American Dreaming confirms this sensibility with its rustic tone and Dylanesque harmonica leaving the listener with a tinge of hope amidst the melancholia. 

Yup, Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England is a band to watch, certainly. Get in on the ground floor as P is for Panda is offering the EP for FREE! Definitely a worthy addition to your music collection.

Download: The Edge of America

Check out Mike Dunn’s Myspace page.

Thanks to Sameer for the heads up.


Down the Tracks: The Music That Influenced Led Zeppelin (Eagle Media)

Yes, it’s a little bit of a gimmick but I guess if using the name of Led Zeppelin brings a few rock fans into getting this well-crafted documentary of the original blues legends, then more power to the folks behind this!

Of course, it’s not all about the blues but a good 80% of this DVD is dedicated to the likes of Charley Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. Very educational as music journalists and historians talk about the genesis of the blues and the legacy of these bluesmen. Significantly for modern rock, Waters and Wolf were highly influential in presenting the blues in what we now know as the rock band format. 

The tail end of the documentary highlights the influence of rock ‘n’ roll (Elvis Presley), skiffle (Lonnie Donegan), acoustic folk (Bert Jansch/John Renbourn/Davey Graham) and literature (Tolkien) on the work of Led Zeppelin. 

Interesting on its own terms but if you’re expecting to hear Led Zep music, look elsewhere.


FAREWELL Sound. Color. Motion (Self released)

Pennsylvania’s Farewell Flight are no strangers to hard work. The band have been touring none stop since lead singer and main songwriter Luke Foley decided to set up the band in it’s current incarnation and head out on the road almost two years ago. Drawing comparisons with Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf and Jimmy Eat World’s softer moments, Farewell Flight released their full length album this year, Sound.Color.Motion. A mixture of three EPs hence the name. 

One talking point that always arises when this band are mention is their religious background and Christian beliefs. Farewell Flight are at pains to point out that they are in no way connected with the Christian music scene and strongly wish not to be lumped into this pigeon hole, as strongly as they believe in their faith. Farewell Flight are not a band singing about Jesus or putting any of their ideology into their music, this is not a band aiming to preach or convert and certainly not trying to spread the word of the Lord. Luke Foley has said himself that they do not wish to use their religious beliefs as a way of selling music and if not for the fact that this issue has followed the band you wouldn’t even be aware that they are Christians. Sound.Color.Motion deals with topics on a more human level and not religious one, and their music is more beautiful for it. 

The opening track on Sound.Color.Motion, Lullaby for Insomniacs, gently draws you into Farewell Flight’s world; the song is so openly touching and peaceful yet deals with the depths of despair and alcoholism. A voice in the dark, Foley’s delivery is almost soaked in whiskey as he calls to the lonely and sings for the lost. Foley’s lyrics connect strongly with the listener, you have a feeling that he has been to these depths and is not sure what the answer is himself. 

Foley’s voice is harrowing and touching at the same time and is definitely the strongest vehicle at the front of Farewell Flight’s convoy. His melodies both lift and break you and there is a rawness to it that truly aches with his music. Accompanied by the guitar work of Timmy Moslener and complimented by the piano, Farewell Flight has a strong ear for melody and warmth which is evident on Widower where Foley sings ‘Turning thirty five, I still sleep alone at night’. Far from being uplifting and praising this beautiful world, Foley sees all of its faults and tragedy. 

Usually bands like this do not do much for me, I find that they lack energy and don’t wander too far from the beaten track in their compositions. It is true that Sound.Color.Motion does lull in the middle and sometimes feels like it is dragging its feet, but it cannot be denied that they offer something more than the Coldplays and Snow Patrols of this world. The drumming in particular injects a great deal of energy to the album, evident on Slow with the marching band beat and thunderous ending to the best song on the album Over.

The touring ethic has certainly paid off judging by Sound.Color.Motion, and Farewell Flight definitely deserves it.

(Adam Gregory)

Check out Farewell Flight’s Myspace page.