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…
Creedence Clearwater Revival, mostly known to fans as ‘CCR’ was a rock quartet whose singles were big radio hits during the transition period from the 60s to the 70s. As a kid, I remembering hearing their songs constantly on the radio and the secret of their success was very simple – basic rock ‘n’ roll infused with country, folk and soul inflections and not to mention the dynamic larynx of lead singer John Fogerty.
I remember getting hold of a cassette of Chronicle – which was subtitled “The 20 Greatest Hits” for good reason. Chronicle was that rare compilation where every selection was an unforgettable classic. No exaggeration to state that I wore out that cassette from the non-stop play and I would repeat the process over the entirety of the album. Now of course, the whole album is a firm fixture in my iTunes and still receives a regular play-through to remind what top notch rock ‘n’ roll is all about.
If I had to choose my top five from “The 20 Greatest Hits” it would have to be – Who’ll Can Stop The Rain, Someday Never Comes, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Lodi and Fortunate Son – these tunes have been permanently burned into my consciousness. Add to the list, CCR’s fiery interpretations of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You and Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine and what you have is rock ‘n’ roll bliss.
If you’re an indie music fan, then there’s not much more to say about Bon Iver. Having almost come out of nowhere with a debut album of mythological proportions (you know, the lo-fi cabin recording and so on). Comprising delicate shades of folk, electronica and avant-garde soundscapes, that debut (For Emma, Forever Ago) captured the imagination of indie music fans worldwide.
This eponymous sophomore album builds on the austere foundations of the debut to deliver greater sophistication without sacrificing an iota of the artistic integrity that Bon Iver has come to represent. Consisting of songs named by places, the high art pretensions become irrelevant once the music plays as Justin Vernon and company strip away every artifice and construct to present the raw essence of soul.
Vernon maintains his trademarked affected falsetto double-tracked vocal style as well as the various electronic loops and soundscapes but this time, we have organic instrumentation as well. Acoustic pianos and strings embellish these gorgeously fragile tunes that transport the listener into wind-swept landscapes and snow-topped mountains. Expansive and insular at the same time, songs like Perth, Minnesota WI, Holoscene and Wash. (to name but 4 prime examples) leave no doubt as to the deft ability of Bon Iver to touch and invigorate with melancholy charm.
2011 continues to spoil us music lovers with beautiful musicality that proves conclusively that in the end, good music wins out, no matter what.
Hong Kong neo-folk ensemble Noughts and Exes will be playing three free shows very soon – in fact this coming Saturday, 28th May! Listen to the sparkling folk-pop songs from its 2010 album The Start Of Us here and you will agree that the band’s performance at the following venues should not be missed.
3:30PM – THE PIGEONHOLE (52/53 Duxton Road) RSVP here
MUSIC MATTERS CONFERENCE 2011
7:50PM – SE7EN 1NCH (3B River Valley Road, #01-16, The Foundry, Clarke Quay)
I really hate to be one of those cynical reviewers who accuse a band of bandwagon-jumping, but let’s face it: there’s no way Seattle-based outfit The Head And The Heart can avoid the Fleet Foxes comparisons. What do you expect when you ply your trade in rootsy, old-time Americana?
I don’t know who Cass McCombs is. I am a virgin to his music. Proper research (Google) shows the indefinable singer-songwriter being a publicity hermit and a nomad. What madness is this? Critically acclaimed musicians are supposed to be loud and live in mansions.
The eponymous debut album of Seattle-based Fleet Foxes was such a gorgeous work that it seemed like it could have easily gone on for two albums and nobody would have minded its prolixity. Three years later, Fleet Foxes return with its sophomore effort and the first impression is that it is simply more of the same. And is that necessarily a bad thing?
To these ears, the same qualities that made that first LP, Power of Pop’s album of 2008, are strongly in evidence. Robin Pecknold’s affecting vocal delivery, superb use of atmospherics and dynamics, mountain folk rustic majesty and melodies seemingly drawn from the early 1900s. Definitely, if like me, you adored the first album, there would be little difficulty in giving Helplessness Blues your undivided attention and ultimately, undying affection.
April 10th sees the highly anticipated release of Robyn G Shiels new EP. The Great Depression is released through No Dancing records and is the follow up to Shiels critically acclaimed debut album A Lifetime Of Midnights. The Great Depression focuses on the retrospective, bleak side of Robyn’s catalogue; this isn’t the time for screaming choruses. It is night time and it is dark, after all.
There’s an honesty and truth laid out amongst the sparse percussion, piano and guitars. These are songs of reflection and regret but all the while a melody, suggesting that although things may have been better not occurring, we’ve at least forged a good story along the way.
Release date: 10/4/11 | Format: CD/DD
The Great Depression features 5 tracks and is available as a digital download from iTunes and every main digital retailer, over 60 outlets worldwide. Physical copies are available from select outlets and through robyngshiels.bandcamp.com & www.nodancing.co.uk.
Check out the video for Look What You’ve Done below
English band Noah & the Whale is – like Mumford & Sons – at the forefront of the current UK retro-folk movement. Consisting of Charlie Fink (vocals, guitar, ukulele), Tom Hobden (fiddle), Urby Whale (bass), and Fred Abbott (guitar/keys), the band is set to release its third album, Last Night On Earth, on March 15th via Mercury Records. The band’s first album since 2009 will feature ten brand new tracks, including the infectiously melodic first single L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.
Not the repeated chorus of Korean girl group Girls’ Generation’s hit, Run Devil Run, instead a debut record blending genres of rock, folk, reggae and country, created with musical “weaponries” such as the djembe, accordion and viola amongst others.
I am sorely tempted to declare The King Is Dead – Portland’s The Decemberists’ sixth album – as the album of 2011. After the steady move into progressive rock territory in the last two albums, critics have described The King Is Dead’s change in direction as “accessible”. Well, not unless it was released in the 80s, I daresay! Is an album that sees Colin Meloy and company basically go country on us a commercial commodity in 2011? In the age of auto-tuned prefabricated pop and groin-directed hip hop?
Lead single, Down By the Water, makes the band’s intentions clear with a harmonica intro, not to mention guest performances from Peter Buck (REM) and Gillian Welch. Commentators have already noticed the songs’s resemblance to REM’s The One I Love (especially the chord progression). Buck also plays on The Calamity Song and is immediately recognizable in the guitar appregios – the track sounds like an outtake of an 80s REM album but it’s a welcome relief to hear such classic songwriting in the new year!
This LA-based singer-songwriter reckons that music and songwriting is in her genes, bequeathed to her by her late father. Which probably accounts for Drake’s classicist country-folk-roots approaches. Her songs are deceptively simple but they do contain that mystical quality us music writers like to call “soul”. An indefinable sense to discern art from commerce.
Songs that transcend genre are the forte of singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko. Originally hailing from Sydney, Australia (and now transplanted in the United Kingdom), Blasko appears to mine the similar vein that fueled the imaginations of Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Bjork and Fiona Apple. Ethereal creatures that based their otherworldly songs on structures borrowed from jazz, classical, folk and music hall traditions.
Let me get this off my chest right from the get-go. The best way to enjoy J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness is to watch it in IMAX 3D, switch your brain off and simply enjoy the ride. The visual spectacle should be able to remove all your concerns about plot holes, character motivations and […]
Will be in England with TypeWriter for the next two weeks. Back on 20th May. In the meantime, come and visit Power of Pop as often as you can – there’s still loads of content here for you to explore. Cheers, Kevin […]
This is special. I’ve first came across Esther Lowless back in 2007 as the frontperson of the now-defunct Indus Gendi and was duly impressed by her vocals, songwriting and keyboard playing. With respect to the last matter, enough to have her on board as part of The Groovy People and she contributed amazing vocal […]
The 90s alt-rock revival continues apace with singer-songwriter Sam Page weighing in with a knowing album of edgy melodic rock n’ roll numbers that bring to mind the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Gumball, Sebadoh and Buffalo Tom. There’s little doubt that J Mascis weighs in heavily as a positive influence on Page’s work as evidenced […]
Iron Man 2 was only half a movie, in my humble opinion. The first half was quick-paced and exhilarating but then the wheels came off and the movie came to a tired conclusion. The sequel did well at the box office but one sensed that director Jon Favreau had lost interested in the franchise that he had […]
A promising sign of a developing indie music scene is the ability to embrace different styles of music where the key factor is not ‘genre’ but an appreciation of ‘good’ music. Melodic pop-rock quartet Tricks & Cider is a wonderful example of this. I first met singer-songwriter-guitarist Victoria Ho (above, far left) a few years […]
Last Friday (19th April) Fred Perry launched a vinyl exhibition at the Fred Perry Laurel Wreath Collection Shop, held in conjunction with Record Store Day, which is curated by #vinyloftheday and record store Vinylicious and showcases over 100 exclusive vinyl editions alongside all-time favourites. For me personally, it was a strange experience to find vinyl […]
Thursday’s (April 18th) S-ROCK gig at Night & Day Bar was significant for two things. One, it was the debut performance of Bored Spies (Cherie Ko, Sooyoung Park, Orestes Morfin & Adel Rashid) and two, it was the final performance (before a short hiatus) of everyone’s favourite spector-gaze band, Obedient Wives Club. Of course, most […]
Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles has revealed the title to her highly anticipated third studio album, The Blessed Unrest, which is set for release on July 16th through Epic Records. The album’s first single, “Brave,” was co-written by Jack Antonoff from the band fun. and will be released at all digital retailers next Tuesday, April [. […]
“Beyond the Ashes” is the second teaser off the upcoming album, EMO FASCISM – due in August. Catch Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People play “Beyond the Ashes” next Friday, April 26th at Identite 9.3 – KAMCO MUSIC at Home Club from 8pm. Cover is $12 (one free housepour and free entry to Kicks! afterwards). Also on […]