When Leslie Low – of revered Singapore band, The Observatory, and previously from the 1990s’ Humpback Oak – was introduced by an ArtScience Museum staff as “the most important singer-songwriter that Singapore has given the world,” he seemed almost embarrassed. But, for the many fans gathered at the museum’s Expression Gallery, such high praise was no fluff.
It’s a bitch being a musical genius. The last couple of years have not been kind to singer-songwriter David Mead. After spending 2007 living in Brooklyn, Mead separated from his wife and returned to his native Nashville in early 2008, initially landing in a room in his father’s basement for a few months. Mead confesses “The change was a little paralyzing. I had left pretty much everything but my books and a few lamps in Brooklyn, and there I was, back in Nashville, well into my 30’s, doing manual labor and wondering what was supposed to happen next.”
Singer-songwriter Garrett Pierce specialises in folk songwriting that is literate and melodic, referencing the likes of Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, and Joni Mitchell as influences. “Distant Thought” is the first glimpse music lovers get from his upcoming new album, Dusk, due on February 17th.
It has taken a while for Some Kind of Illness to release their debut full length album but it’s definitely worth the wait! Consisting of brothers Mark and Paul Hinks, SKOI encapsulates a myriad of genres that have captured the lovers of indie-alternative rock for decades.
It’s amazing to consider that a mere decade ago, bands dominated the local indie music landscape. Now, singer-songwriters release music with a frequency that suggests some kind of epoch is upon us. This is a natural development of a maturing music scene. After all, singer-songwriters can express themselves to an audience without a band and thus, in practical terms it’s easier for singer-songwriters to find performance opportunities.
Contrary to her name, local singer-songwriter Fym Summer sounded nothing that could remind you of the sun, sand or the salty breeze of summer season. Her performance at the Esplanade Concourse on Sunday, as part of the Noise Singapore 2015 Music Mentorship Concerts, was more like a nice winter’s day.
Decked in black from head to toe, Fym, who has been singing since 2003, enchanted the 40-member audience in the arts venue’s cozy area with her vocals, which swung from sounding sweet and dreamy (“Dream” and “July”) to haunting and dreary (“Wolf”).
She stood on stage with her acoustic guitar, accompanied by two musician friends – one played a melodica while the other another guitar. There was an air of melancholia around her as she moodily serenaded mainly about love, herself, and her sister (“Love”), during her 30-minute set.
The grandparents, young families and youngsters in the audience seemed captivated by her singing, keeping quiet and attentive throughout. However, things took an awkward turn during intervals when she switched to chirpy chattiness, leaving the audience somewhat in shock, speechless and unresponsive, each time.
Fym Summer was one of the 18 acts to perform as part of the mentorships concerts, and she was one of eight who were lucky to get two mentors. Her’s were guitarist Randolf Arriola and singer Vanessa Fernandez.
It would be nice to hear her project her voice better or perhaps, show off hints of soulful vocal dynamics she might have learned from Fernandez.
Azliah recently completed my WRITING ABOUT ROCK MUSIC course. Find out more from KAMCO Music.
KAMCO Music will re-issue The Crowd’s Pop album this coming Friday, 10th April. So I was thinking – what could I do to raise awareness about this event? Well, as you all know, a lyric video of one of the songs might do the trick. And so, I put together my first ever lyric video on iMovie and it only took this old fart of an amateur to get it done! The song I chose was “Pasir Ris Sunrise” which seems to have resonated with some folks despite being 18 years old. Hope you enjoy!
Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. (W. E. Studwell and D. F. Lonergan, The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from its Beginnings to the mid-1970s)
So yeah, rock came from 40s/50s rock ‘n’ roll, which in turn is a form of pop music. So even The Carpenters or ABBA is rock, by that definition. So I am always comfortable to use the terms “pop” and “rock” fairly interchangeably, and get rather annoyed by the insane categorizations that is now so common.
In that light, let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of pop music, I am confident to label as ROCK!
Seems appropriate to start this series with Bob Dylan, doesn’t it? Considering that The Beatles are currently not on any streaming service, Dylan deserves top billing. After all, can one imagine talking about singer-songwriters without mentioning Dylan’s massive influence?
The man is the very definition of the modern folk troubadour but more than that, Dylan’s legacy extends to rock as well, of course. For me personally, I remember hearing Dylan on the radio when I was a kid – especially his well known early folk songs but I really got into his work (ironically enough) – with his controversial Christian conversion album Slow Train Comin’ (1979), which explains why I kick off the playlist with “Precious Angel” (which also features incandescent guitar work from Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler). Including “Make You Feel My Love” was necessary to provide Dylan’s continuing relevance as Adele’s cover version proved conclusively. The rest of the playlist focuses mainly on his seminal 60s/70s works. Enjoy!
Psychedelic flourishes. Alt-folk quirkiness. Excellent mix between technology and organic sounds. Welcome to the modus oprandi of Bibio!
Watch the trippy video for “Dye the Water Green” below.
Michael Robinson (Director) – To me the video for “Dye The Water Green” held a certain identifiable quality linked with a sense of possibility and exploration – when there is a new place to go, another bend around the corner to uncover, or a different vista coming into view.
Off Bibio’s 2013 album, Silver Wilkinson. Listen below via Spotify.
Suzanne Vega returns to Singapore in April. Only 245 tickets will be available for this special intimate performance. Vega is touring in support of her new album “Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles”, to be released on 2 Feb 2014.
Date : 1 April 2014
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio
Tickets: $148 on sale at www.sistic.com from 23 Jan 2014.
Yes, again pretty short notice from us but… we met indie popsters Fairchild last night and caught their set at Home Club and it was all good fun. Fairchild’s Adam and Nathan Lyons have a side-project, Lyon Apprentice and the brothers will be bring their brand of indie folk to Lowercase tonight (!) with backing from Joie Tan, Linying and Gentle Bones. It’s at Lowercase, it begins from 6.30pm and the cover is $6. Come on down!
Charles J Tan is back with the first single from his upcoming album, Maybe Somewhere North. According to Tan, “the single is an upbeat tune that celebrates friendship, love and community”. The song features Aarika Lee (of SIXX) on guest vocals. It’s a toe tapper for sure, and perfect for those cool sunny mornings that hopefully we’ll get more of in surprising Singapore.
The official music video will be released on 14 February 2013 to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Charles will kick off a series of album launches starting with the first full band concert of the year at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre at Mosaic Music Festival on 11 March 2013. Fans can expect to hear the new album performed live for the first time ever in Singapore. In the meantime, check out the lyric video below and if you like what you hear (and why wouldn’t you?), pick it up at iTunes.
The term “singer-songwriter” tends to be over-used somewhat nowadays but in the case of young Londoner Lewis Watson, it seems justified. Watson certainly carries a weighty maturity on his tender shoulders. With a sound that is reminiscent of Bon Iver and Villagers, he is a talent to keep close tabs on. As this video of “Sink or Swim” demonstrates.
Singer-songwriter Maricelle Wong shares with us her thoughts on fellow singer-songwriters…
Tall Mountains is the stage name of Sydney Yeo, a young Singaporean singer-songwriter who is currently studying music engineering in New York. The production is done well and she really seems to balance her songs well, writing songs that are entertaining and unpredictable.
It’s hard not to be smitten by Czech singer-songwriter Marketa Irglova. The young ‘girl’ from the Once movie, with her naive charm and baby-face appeal certainly captured the hearts of the audience at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Thursday night. Backed by Aida Shahghasemi (on Daf and vocals), Rob Bochnik (on guitars and vocals) and Joe Doyle (on bass) – the latter two also being part of The Frames and Swell Season – the music was presented in subdued tones, which suited the surroundings perfectly.
British singer-songwriter Peter Lacey has been slogging away in the salt mines of sophisticated sixties-channeling pop-rock for over a decade now and it’s clear that for Lacey, it’s all about making the kind of music that he loves and that pays tribute to his musical heroes. Lacey has consistently drawn from the deep influential well that includes the works of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Nick Drake, Van Morrison, Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Andy Partridge and Marin Newell.
Popular music (as opposed to classical music) has been around for eons. Well, in its modern incarnation since the 1950s in any case with the arrival of rock n’ roll. And I am pretty much satisfied with that concept. Sure, we can talk about some superficial difference between pop, rock, country, folk, soul and so on but what’s the point?
Domesticity seems diametrically opposed to the rock n’ roll lifestyle. So what happens when a singer-songwriter begins a family in earnest and then determines that recording music is still very much on the agenda? Well, Meghan Cary is a prime example. From 1998 to 2004, Cary released three well-received albums before apparently closing the door on her musical career to become the devoted mother. Of course, it’s never easy to ignore the siren call of music and Building This House represents Cary’s attempt to balance these two important sides of her life.
In this instance, it does not hurt that her husband is a working musician – multi instrumentalist Peter Farrell – and that a home studio was made available for Cary to record this, her fourth album, in-between her domestic chores. The result is Building This House – a full album consisting of ten songs that reflect Cary’s journey which compasses past tragedy and current bliss.
As one might expect, the music on Building This House, is pretty much laid back and casual, relying heavily on folk and jazz constructs to convey Cary’s thoughtful ruminations on life and love. The production values are slick and smooth (and sometimes sterile though) but overall there is a homespun quality about the finished work that is easy to feel comfortable with.
Definite highlights include the quirky countrified title track, thoroughly poignant Through Walking and the rollicking Live! Not much an edge to the general proceedings but that is to be expected considering the circumstances surrounding the genesis of Building This House. What you see is what you get, more or less.
Talk about your cool one-take videos! Laura Gibson (aided and abetted by Aleksandr Karjaka on clarinet) proves that sometimes the simplest version of a song is often the best. The song is featured on Gibson’s upcoming new album – La Grande – to be released by Barsuk Records. Check it out!
English singer-songwriter Laura Marling turns 22 in February 2012. Yet this young songstress has already three critically acclaimed full-length albums under her belt! Since her debut release – Alas, I Cannot Swim – Marling has earned accolades galore for her mature songwriting and her unique appropriation of the pioneering musical styles of Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny, Linda Thompson, Laura Nyro and Judee Sill. Artists who made their mark on the music world decades before Marling was even born.
Watching Marling in video interviews, it is clear that this fresh-faced young lady is down-to-earth, casual but deadly serious about her art and craft. This is evident in her prolific output and in the artistic development pursued in her three albums so far. Her latest album – A Creature I Don’t Know – was released in September 2012 and the leaps and bounds that Marling has moved forward with her music is simply impressive.
Even her singing style has gone deeper and lower to suggest such a greater sense of maturity that it is almost impossible to imagine that Marling is as young as she is! If I could highlight just three tracks off her brilliant new album it would be the Judee Sill-channeling Don’t Ask Me Why, the evocative Salinas and the bittersweet Sophia. On these wondrous tracks, the words and music carry the listener into a lost and forgotten world – a grand time for true music fans when music was made for music’s sake – a romantic ideal where vocal and instrumental arrangements embellish the beauty that already lies within and not merely to cynically ‘hide’ flaws and imperfections.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Marling will enrich true music fans when she plays Laneway Festival in Singapore come February 2012 – I for one am looking forward to this momentous occasion with bated breath…