This is a big one for the hip and cool kids in Singapore. Most may be unaware that the British trio actually performed at the Esplanade in 2010. Here’s a portion of my review back then -
“…there is an intriguing method in the xx’s sound, with electro beats and minimal guitar-bass interplay, I was impressed by the simplicity of the music and also how they incorporated some of my own favourite influences into catchy yet intelligent material.”
Little need to oversell this one, I’d imagine. Fans will be champing at the bit.
Title: The xx
Venue: The Star Theatre
Date: Friday 2nd August 2013
Organizer: Now/Live – www.facebook.com/nowlivesg | www.twitter.com/nowlivesg
Tickets: $148, $128, $108, $88, $68 (+ $3 SISTIC Fee)
Ticket Sales Launch Date: Wednesday 17th April
Tickets available via SISTIC
- Online (9am): www.sistic.com.sg
- Tel (10am): +65 6348 5555
- In person (10am): At all authorized SISTIC agents & box offices
Clinic, the iconoclastic band from Liverpool is back with yet another genre-bending, mind-blowing album – Free Reign, its seventh! “Miss You” is the appropriate teasing shot with the accompanying, equally transportative video directed by The 3 Sisters (Andy Knowles, Josh McCartney & James Hicks).
Mercury Prize-nominated album An Awesome Wave is as fresh, sophisticated & imaginative as any eternal UK music believer could ever hope for. The name of the band is ∆ but referred to as alt-J (which produces ∆ on the computer keyboard – go ahead try it!). What is intriguing with ∆ is its sound – a hybrid of folk, pop, electronica, dub and hip-hop and trip hop which works beyond a music scholars wildest wet dreams.
Twee pop powerhouse The Camerawalls is back with a new single – “Wanderlust” and an upcoming South-East Asian tour. As is typical from any music coming from Clementine and company, “Wanderlust” is a tasty slice of 80s indie pop heaven, with jangly guitars, jazzy chords, sweet harmonies and fragile melodies.
I first met up with S-ROCKers King Kong Jane five years ago before its first appearance at the Baybeats Festival and I found the boys (at the time still NTU undergrads) affable and genuine, excited about the prospects of exposure on a bigger stage. I interviewed them last year prior to the release of its debut album – Waiting for Friday – older but with passion undiminished. You can read the interview here.
Veteran indie band Plainsunset is hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, 27th May for its upcoming Melbourne tour which will feature several other bands (see above poster). For more information check out the FB event page.
“If Words Could Kill” off debut EP, The Sun Shines Over You
HOLY TIME WARP, BATMAN!
Relax, kids it’s still 2012 though from a listen to and look at British band The Silver Factory, you’d be hard pressed not to think about 60s pop. And why not, there is not enough attention paid to indie jangle pop practitioners and so.. check out this quaint retro video and stay tuned for the review of that debut EP to come…(Kudos to the Audities list poster for the recommendation)
With the current hipster trend of reviving the sound of the Phil Spector-produced girl-groups of the 60s, it’s hard not to get slightly cynical when you come across new bands that seem to conveniently jump on this rather popular bandwagon. As it is, the music tends to get rather cutesy and this gets compounded with the case of Summer Twins – consisting of sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown – currently riding the nostalgic 60s wave – with their eponymous debut album.
Think of the invasion of the avant garde into rock n’ roll and it’s difficult not to think of atonal, droning white noise that the likes of the Velvet Underground experimented with in the mid-60s. But surely avant garde is a concept and not a sound so when indie rock bands like The Bastards of Fate appropriate this term to put a tag on their idiosyncratic music then it bears closer investigation.
Now, the introduction to “There Is No Love” swept me literally off my feet, my heart melted and chills ran down the length of my spine. No mean feat. I’m talking about the second track on Charlie Lim‘s amazing debut eponymous EP that was released sometime last year. Better late than never eh?
MONSTER CAT is pleased to announce the release of “Liyana Fizi x MONSTER CAT – Jatuh”. It is a ‘live’ collaboration with Malaysian singer/songwriter Liyana Fizi. Together, they perform on the hit single “Jatuh”, from her debut album “Between the Lines”.
Liyana Fizi is well-known as ‘Malaysia’s indie sweetheart’ and most recently performed at this year’s Mosaic Music Festival at the Esplanade. “Jatuh” is a bittersweet recollection of that magical but frustrating moment when two people realise they are in love, but are unable to act on it.
The video’s director, who goes by the name ‘Tha Artist’, commented on the video’s art direction: “I chose a very quaint and classic barber shop for the shoot. I wanted to bring out the gentle nuances; to emphasise the romantic but fragile nature of how the song sways back and forth under the lightly played guitar parts. The black and white treatment also highlights this, and gives the performance space a touch of timelessness.”
Crooked Fingers – Eric Bachmann’s country-folk vehicle is back with another collection of warm rustic songs. The new album is called Breaks in the Armor and was released in late 2011. The wistful tone found on “Our New Favorite” is emblematic of Crooked Fingers‘ overall tone and style – heartfelt without mawkish sentimentality. There is a certain dissonance about the way the verse moves into chorus without interrupting the flow of the song (the angelic backing vocals smoothens things up nicely) that makes “Our New Favorite” particularly appealing.
According to label Merge Records‘ emailer – the video below was “directed and edited by James Fleischel” and “beautifully illustrates the feelings of impermanence and connectedness suggested by the song by capturing and slowing down the fleeting moments of everyday life.” No argument there! Expect a review soon. In the meantime…
My first exposure to Nada Surf (viz. Matthew Caws – vocals/guitar, Daniel Lorca – bass/vocals and Ira Elliot – drums) arrived in the form of a review CD of its second album, The Proximity Effect. The moment I played opening track – the propulsive “Hyperspace” – I was quite properly blown away! You could say that since then I’ve been hooked and have religiously followed the fortunes of this awesome trio. Every subsequent album has maintained (and sometimes even outperformed) the high standards set by The Proximity Effect.
Ironically enough, I was never too enamored with the band’s debut hit album – High/Low – produced by the Cars’ Ric Ocasek and containing the quirky hit single “Popular”. I suppose I lumped the band together with all the Nirvana wannabes that crawled out of the woodwork in 1996. Unfortunately for the band, label woes/legal problems delayed the release of The Proximity Effect independently before the band settled with noted indie Barsuk Records for its magnificent third album – Let Go.
Back in 2002, this is what I wrote – “Let Go is the masterpiece that Nada Surf has been promising to deliver and comes at a time where rock ‘n’ roll requires reinvention without sacrificing the basic foundations of melody and passion. Whilst eclecticism is always to be prized, Let Go does not stray too far from the folk-infused arousing power rock that Nada Surf excels in. In my conclusion, I compared Let Go to Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head (!) – yes, that line looks quite ridiculous now in hindsight!
The Weight is a Gift followed in 2005 and kept up the momentum with heartfelt, sensitive, sophisticated songwriting that highlighted Caws’ gorgeous tenor. However, in my view, it was with 2008 release Lucky that Nada Surf finally confirmed its heavyweight status as artists with an album that rocketed into my albums of the year without difficulty. My review simply gushed non-stop pausing to describe Lucky as “perfection”.
The band itself paused in 2010 to deliver a covers only album – If I Had A Hi-Fi - before finding the impetus recently to come up with yet another cracking instant classic – The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy – managing to salvage some of the propulsion of earlier material (check out the driving opener “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” and marrying these elements to the emotional weight of latter years. In songs like “Waiting for Something”, “When I Was Young” & “Jules and Jim”, the best of the 60s meets the 90s and and that is a potent combination!
Over the course of six albums, Nada Surf has proven conclusively that it is the ‘real deal’, oblivious to the hip and cool trends that come and go and concentrating on producing some of the best indie pop-rock of the past decade. Every album – from The Proximity Effect onwards – is highly recommended and you are guaranteed hours of pleasurable music listening.
The Jealous Sound is back, with its sophomore effort, nine years after the release of its debut album. Called A Gentle Reminder, the new album drops Tuesday, 31st January 2011. And until that release date, fans can listen to A Gentle Reminder in its entirety. What are you waiting for?
Formed from the ashes of two fairly well-known indie outfits viz Piebald and Arlo, The Hunting Accident parlay powerpop-centric goodness into edgy indie rock constructs. The band has a debut 4-track EP available for FREE download over at its official website. All four tracks are worth listening to/downloading for their sharp tunage and smart licks. A band to keep a close watch on…
Latest alt-pop sensations Foster the People play on our little island in little more than a month. Promising vibrant sounds & infectious melodies, this one’s for all the indie kids out there. You know who you are.
Not convinced? Check out the video of the catchy Houdini below and try not to smile…
With the release of its critically acclaimed sixth album, Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, there’s little doubt in my mind that the French band M83 will be the biggest draw at the upcoming Laneway Festival scheduled for February 2012. Of course, in reality M83 is simply Anthony Gonzalez, after founding member Nicolas Fromageau left in 2004, at the end of worldwide tours supporting M83′s breakthrough sophomore album – Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts.
Seven years and four albums later, Gonzalez finds himself at the apex of indie music with a highly feted (double) album and a popular live show. That album in question – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming – is a true masterpiece, clocking in at over an hour and featuring a plethora of musical styles and sounds which encompasses much of what makes modern indie rock so special. Gonzalez himself has admitted that his objective for Hurry Up We’re Dreaming was eclecticism with his major inspiration being Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
And from the moment opening track – Intro – hits, it’s one hell of a magic carpet ride which Gonzalez brings us on! From this vantage point, listening to M83 circa 2011, brings to mind the likes of Depeche Mode, Flaming Lips, OMD, Ride and all the fantastic 80s and 90s bands that you’ve ever known and loved.
Here’s a good example of what I mean – Midnight City, an infectious throb that will resonate strongly in your soul.
Need to find out more about M83 and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming? Well, check out this wondrous short film from eMusic.
A intriguing song with a hooky chorus – indie rock filtered through country-folk sensibilities – with a cool performance video to boot. Though ostensibly a quartet (see above), the music video sure looks over-crowded. Off new album, Flawed Logic, released in April by Engine Room Recordings.
As previously noted, this year’s coverage of Baybeats here at Power of Pop has been muted, mainly because of my mentoring of the Esplanade Youth Budding Writers which I hope will provide the definitive coverage of Baybeats 2011 for all posterity! Not only that but management duties with the Sons also meant less time watching bands and artists. But of what I did manage to see, here are my highlights.
Noughts & Exes
I caught this Hong Kong folk-pop band back in May for Music Matters and was impressed by their eclectic style, arrangements and presentations. The set at the Arena was truly well put together and provided a respite for those suffering from delay and metalzone pedal fatigue. Front man Joshua Wong has a remarkable voice that grabs your attention straightaway and their use of violin, melodica and typewriter (!) helps to keep things interesting. It did not hurt that there was additional eye candy in the form (pun intended!) of singer Karmen Cheung (subbing for the absent Kerri-Anne Butler) which gave the band a strong sonic and visual appeal! Word is that Noughts & Exes have been signed to US indie label Spectra Records, which is incredible news and hopefully the start of great things for this deserving band.
I was at the Observation Deck as this Indonesian band was interviewed and was charmed by their humble manner, albeit slight geeky (if I may say so). But once they started performing they were transformed into one of the coolest twee pop bands I’ve seen in the region. I latter saw them at the Chillout Stage and in full band mode, they were even more impressive. One to watch out for.
To be honest, I did not fully catch this photo-genic duo (from the Philippines) in action but I listen to them soundcheck and finish off their set (before the Sons) and I found that for a two-piece, they certainly filled up the stage properly. Also could not help but notice singer Sarah Gaugler’s nose-bleed high heels! She certainly made the Arena stage her own! Keep an eye out for Turbo Goth.
The rest, I had snatches of viewing here and there and to be honest, not that much impressed too greatly. The trademark ‘Baybeats’ sound was never my thing anyways (look at the bands I mentored last year!) and so the slightly different sonic approach is always going to get my attention. And to those lamenting the lack of Western (read: Caucasian) bands/artists, I think it’s about time Asia stands up to acknowledge that our bands are good as any bands anywhere in the world. So is it about the music or something else more sinister? Kudos to Baybeats 2011 for setting itself apart from the numerous indie rock festivals in Singapore and beyond.
10 DAYS TO SKY FULL OF HOLES – SOMEONE’S GONNA BREAK YOUR HEART
“Staring at the sun with no pants on” – a great line that opens the 4th track of Fountains of Wayne’s new album, Sky Full of Holes, is probably the most radio friendly song on this highly melodic LP. It’s a dynamic rocker with oodles of hooks and riffs to catch the attention of even the most casual of pop listeners. Naturally, it’s one of the singles promoted by the band. Deservedly so. Check it out…
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.
MAN THE CHANGE Weather the Storm LP (Self-Released)
Punk rock band, Man The Change presents their first full-length album, Weather The Storm which is also free for download (Yay!).
The 5-piece band from Brooklyn is similar in musical blueprint to NOFX, The Misfits and Bad Religion. But the comparison stops there for this LP. Each track feels formulaic and generic as they blitz away with rapid drumming and tune-less vocals.
You have your usual barf-inducing emo lyrics on self-esteem and self-sabotage.
However, don’t fret! Put Steve At Second contains mature lyrics calling out for solidarity in a messy world. Definitely a good life lesson for the angsty. That’s Stormare is laced with infectious bass play reminiscent of ska band, Goldfinger. The ending track, Rambo Vs. Bas Rutten is a thumbs up just by its title alone. The tracks also make prime moshing material.
Weather The Storm isn’t horrible nor is it excellent. It’s no-frills punk rock made boring. You can find similar tunes with dozens of other bands. Considering that the band formed in 2009 and that they have graciously allowed their first album to be downloaded for free, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a listen.
In the gospel according to Deep Elm Records, you have the corporate sell-out pseudo indie labels who work hand in hand with major record companies for distribution and publicity, and then you have the keepers of the true faith, as exemplified by Deep Elm Records themselves: untainted by commercial interests, true indie labels undyingly devoted to the music with a singular passion.
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 […]
“The MTV Show” Season 2 Premieres Saturday, 20th April 2013 Two weeks ago, Power of Pop was invited to the preview of the second season of The MTV Show at the Waterfront Studio at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). MTV’s popular original series, The MTV Show, a weekly music and lifestyle show that features top-rated music […]