I’m often at a loss as to why people find my obsession with Power Pop Rock N Roll incomprehensible. All I’m looking for is music that is ‘real’ and resonates with my own unique tastes. Real music made by real people. Case in point – Trip Wire.
Couple of years back, I recorded a Xmas song with Patrick Chng called “4Christmas”. My former NOISE mentee Rachael Teo designed a cool lil cover we used for the single (see above).
The Quartermasters want the music to speak for itself – no hype, no labels, just the music. On that count, this debut EP should be enjoyed on its own merits. By and large, it will be.
From a reviewer’s perspective, stripped of the need to pigeonhole this music, it is obvious that the Quartermasters’ goal was to make emotionally resonant music and again, on that count, they have succeeded.
For the bulk of the EP (viz. “The Harlot Train”, “Catch on Fire” and “Invincible”) reflects the influence of country-folk music that runs across the past five decades. Whether or not this music has been somehow appropriated by modern indie-pop fans (due to the popularity of Noah & the Whale, Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Son), there’s little doubt that the ‘age’ of the reference points have not impacted on opinions of millennials who have adopted this kind of music as somehow relevant and suitable modern pop.
Which goes to prove that folks still judge a book by its cover. Form over substance.
But these extraneous concerns are moot when one comes to the gorgeously soulful “Worry”, which manages to insert jazz-inflected harmonic progressions within its generic country-folk construct. No mean feat and at over six minutes there’s a whole lotta country-soul to enjoy!
Well, that’s it for S-ROCK trio Another Sunday Afternoon (left to right above: Zhiwei Xu, Caleb Lye & Kamal Yacob), they have released their final single, “No Word No Bond Row On”, a chilled out instrumental rock beauty. We caught up with frontman Caleb Lye, for the last word on Another Sunday Afternoon.
What has the band been up to since The Bookmark?
Since releasing The Bookmark (2012), we’ve been playing some shows, with the highlight probably coming when we opened for Biffy Clyro in 2014.
No Word No Bond Row On is an instrumental track. Why?
Honestly, I think we kind of ran out of interesting things to talk about, to sing about. Our music has always been primarily about telling good stories, and I guess when you run out of good stories to tell, you lose your voice. We also thought it would be cool to explore instrumentals and soundscapes. I’ve always been a fan of layering and this seemed like a good time to get into that.
Is this a new direction or just a minor detour?
I think it’s neither really. It would be cool to do something like this as part of your traditional Another Sunday Afternoon album, as a segue, to connect the rest of the tracks to each other.
What does the title signify?
This is where it gets really interesting. We asked our friend Charlie, who came up with the title for our first album (“The Uncanny Tree of Fractured Hearts: featuring the Peculiar Case of Janet Leno and other short stories”), to help us out for what could possibly end up as our last effort. She came up with this because, after listening to a demo of the song, she thought it would be cool for the title to be a palindrome (even though the song, in itself, isn’t). We’re also very lucky to have Boon, who designed the album art for “The Bookmark”, come up with an ambigram, which was really cool. So if you actually flip the album art upside down it says exactly the same thing!
What were the feelings and ideas you wanted to convey?
When we let some of our friends listen to it, a lot of them mentioned that this sounded like a perfect song to say goodbye. Maybe it’s something like this – something different (and free!) to remember us by, till we see you all again.
It’s not really goodbye to Another Sunday Afternoon, is it?
Well truth be told, I think in its current incarnation, this is sadly, probably it. We do need some time to go away, rediscover ourselves, think about what kind of music we really want to bring to the table the next time – so it’s something like a soft reset if you like. Probably play with other bands, expand our music palette, evolve and come back in the not-too-distant future. I think that’s the key word for us: evolution – because we certainly don’t want to be doing that same thing over and over again!
And there you have it – pick up your copy of “No Word No Bond Row On” from Bandcamp now, and if you have not done so before, do check out the band’s other releases as well.
TypeWriter will be debuting new material from upcoming EP at Baybeats 2015 and will also be featuring new drummer Robin Chua (Livonia, Shelves). The band will be playing at the MIXTAPE stage on 26th June at 11pm. In the meantime, you can download/listen to their 2010 album, Indian Head Massage.
Connect with TypeWriter https://www.facebook.com/typewriterband
… still there’s more …
In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC) – together with The Observatory – is probably one of Singapore’s premier progressive art-rock bands and thus, not only is it exciting news that IEHAC is currently recording a new album with legendary producer Brad Wood but in fact, has made available a two-track EP to whet appetites for the awesome new music to come.
These two tracks viz. the psych-folky “All We Are Left With Is A Memory Of A Memory” and the post-metallic “Appetite for Dysfunction” certainly do the job, especially if you love prog rock! And when you consider that the EP is going for a buck, then a purchase is simply a no-brainer, my friends.
Not only that but the band collaborated with comic artist Troy Chin for his online interactive comic, called Forgetting, which the song “All We Are Left With Is A Memory Of A Memory” is the soundtrack to. His excellent noir-style comic is at www.drearyweary.com/Forgetting – go forth and choose your own adventure.
Singer-songwriter Sam Page does a great job at evoking the alt-rock of the 80s with nods to The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr, Long Ryders and The Dream Syndicate evident in his country-folk-powerpop amalgam. This new single keeps the fires burnin’ for all of us who remember that era fondly.
Despite the relative success of “Orchard Road” (with the track getting radioplay and music video being featured on national TV), my ambitions were still modest. I was happy to be able to record and release another song, whatever the platform. The guys from BigO magazine wanted me to test a MiniDisc player/recorded and to review it for the mag. So I ended up writing and recording two songs – “The High Cost of Living” and “The Offender”, the latter as yet unreleased. The song ended up being featured on BigO’s free CD, Death Valley 92328, and was played on radio again (which still amazes me, considering the lyrical content)
“The High Cost of Living” was basically inspired by two things – the opening chords to The Style Council’s “Speak Like a Child” and The Clash’s Cost of Living EP title. Contrary to popular belief, the song had nothing to do with Neil Gaiman’s mini-series about Death. The content of course, was all about inflation in Singapore and little did I realize that 1993 was to the beginning of a vicious inflationary cycle that the country is still a victim of.
Twenty years later, the lyrics still resonate and that speaks volumes in itself. So, check it out for yourself if you’ve never heard it before and download if so minded as well. The song will be the opening song for the upcoming Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People performance at Home Club in a month’s time (see what I did there?). Heh.
More of my music at Bandcamp.
Nada Surf is back with a new album – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy – and you can download When I Was Young below. Album will be released in January 2012.
Two hours left in this Valentine’s Day, so I’d thought I would get this just under the wire – it’s the single version of Nick Tan’s You. Check it out…
I know that there are still 55 days to Christmas but being the kiasu (literally “afraid to lose” to non-Singaporeans) Singaporean that I have learned to become, I thought I’d get this done as soon as possible. “This” being a properly recorded version of my first proper Christmas song – 4Christmas. In actual actual the song was composed about a year ago on Garageband and more or less left collecting digital dust on the proverbial shelf.
Along comes Patrick Chng, who kindly offered to record 4Christmas on his new homestudio setup. As Pat is using Logic it was easy to convert my Garageband files into Logic files. So we did so, Pat added drums and bass and I redid the vocals and harmonies and did my best Paul Weller impression on rhythm guitar and voila! Thank you, Pat!
All was left was a cover design and I want to thank Rachael Teo for coming up with a cool design at very short notice. Thank you, Rach!
The result? You can listen to and/or download 4Christmas at http://kevinmathews.bandcamp.com/track/4christmas. If you’re not comfortable with Bandcamp for any reason, you can download the low res file at http://www.mediafire.com/?vcezet36a4zo2jm. Please share these links if you can, I would greatly appreciate this.
Like I said, it’s early but this is my gift to all the friends of Power of Pop. Thanks for your kind and generous support all these years.
“You are the only gift I want for Christmas”
…still there’s more…
For those who missed out the first time and in the spirit of the 15th anniversary of the album’s release, you can download Democracy here.
Comments, please, as usual.
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
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
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.
THE ORGAN – Don’t Be Angry (off the album, Thieves)
Rustic folk is making big waves as cutting edge, artistic modern rock music. Looking at Vancouver-based quintet, The Organ, one would be taken aback by the melancholy music they create together. Don’t Be Angry is a good example, sounding like a relic from a different age. With echoes of The Decemberists, Don’t Be Angry is a good introduction to the ambitious sounds of The Organ.
Download: Don’t Be Angry.
Courtesy of RCRD LBL.
To be completely honest, I’m not too familiar with the work of Jordan Geiger with his other bands, Minus Story and Shearwater. But that’s alright, because after having gone through his debut album as a one man band under the name of Hospital Ships, I’m his latest fan.
An intimate, deeply personal and confessional record, one gets the impression that the album was born when Mr. Geiger sat down one day at his table, took a look at his diary and went, “Hey, let’s turn this into an album!” The result is an LP that is by turns deftly ingenious as well as starkly revealing.
Album opener, Bitter Radio Single, is a short but captivating two-minute piece of sonic candy that gradually builds up and bursts into life towards the end. Fourth track on the album, The Shots I Drank, is a dreamy tune that sounds like it could belong on Pet Sounds, if not for the bittersweet melancholy that underscores the dreamy drunken saccharine quality of the melody.
Indeed, most of the songs here sound like they‘d be more comfortable existing on dusty vinyl instead of digital, with a wonderful stripped down and sparse bedroom feel that could have come right from the 50s or 60s, and a fragile sensitivity evoking memories of a time more innocent and pure. It’s rather fitting then that most tracks on the album run under three minutes, such as the excellent Girls, a simple two-minute monologue about lost adolescent love set amidst lush acoustic sensibilities.
Title track, Oh Ramona, is a heartbreakingly simple love song, with a nakedness so intensely private one feels slightly voyeuristic for intruding. Your Heart is one and a half minutes of a song heard over an old radio, weaving in and out of your consciousness like a half-forgotten favorite tune, while the longest track on the album, I Want It To Get Out, is about as clever as Geiger gets on this record with the production.
Most tracks here never make it past mid-tempo, but that’s alright. These is no blazing stadium-rock epic, but instead an album to be slowly savored. A soft, quiet, and private affair, Oh! Ramona was made for those rainy days when all you want to do is curl up in an old cozy recliner with a cup of hot chocolate, close your eyes, and reminisce about an old lingering love. Listen to Geiger’s voice cooing in your living room. He just might be singing about you.
(Samuel C Wee)
THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS Dressed in Dresden/Undressed in Dresden single (Gigantic Music/Tangled Up)
In my humble estimation, there are two major trends going on in modern pop-rock right now viz. alt-country and synth-pop. The Hundred in the Hands consist of ex-Boggs Jason Friedman and Eleanore Everdell and the electronic duo has released its debut single as a free download.
The ‘A’ side (such as it is) is a kooky reggae-fied piece of choppy guitars and atmospheric keyboards with Everdell’s plaintive vocals playing counterpoint. The ‘B’ side is a dubbed-up version, with backward sound effects, restless horns, punchy percussion and throbbing bassline making for an intriguing mix.
Whilst the melody quotient isn’t much to write about, its the overall cool vibe that thoroughly works for me. So pick up this excellent piece of ear candy while you can.
Download: Dressed in Dresden/Undressed in Dresden
PIGEON DETECTIVES Get Up, Get Out
Is it just me or is this post-punk derived cod-anthemic hogwash really over-hyped? To be honest, it’s easy to get into the singalong chorus and the soaring lead guitar until you realize that it’s all second hand Skids/Big Country licks. However, given enough listens, I’m sure Give Up, Give Out will worm its way into your synapses. Right off the band’s sophomore effort, Emergency, produced by Stephen Street, no less.
Courtesy of RCRD LBL.
Britpop has not been much cop lately but if you believed the NME then Glasvegas is the future of Britpop. The Scottish quartet has recently signed with Columbia and you can download Geraldine from their eponymous album below.
Yes, it contains elements of Big Country, shoe gaze and Jesus and Mary Chain simplicity. Which is to me a good start. Check it out and tell me what you think. The next big thing?
Courtesy of RCRD LBL.