Laneway Festival Singapore has announced the instalment of a fourth stage at this year’s event. Set up with local collective Syndicate, the stage brings together a new genre of local and international electronic DJs and visual artists, including Australia’s JPS, Singapore’s Mean, and visual artist Brandon Tay accompanying duo Kiat & Kane on stage.
If this doesn’t signal the death of rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t know what does then. Clearly, the Laneway Singapore organisers found it commercially viable to install a fourth stage and then feature electronic artists rather than rock acts. Whilst I am pleased for Syndicate and how this is a feather in their cap, it’s certainly sad to see that one of the biggest festivals in Singapore (and an Aussie one at that) will barely feature any rock ‘n’ roll music.
One of the pioneering indie rock concerts in Singapore took place way back in January 2009, when a gobsmacked STARS played a sold out concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. That concert established firmly that there was a strong market in Singapore for indie rock and the rest is history…
Kudos to the folks at Bandwagon for bringing us another unique music experience. Not content with merely presenting music on a bus, we now have Singapore music on a riverboat. And a great lineup to boot! Don’t miss this.
Laneway Singapore 2016 promises to be the music festival all hip music kids need to be seen at – and this was doubly confirmed by the news that British hip rock outfit 1975 will headline the festival when it returns to our shores on 30th January.
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.
On 13th November at Journey East, Nicholas Chim with his band, The Middle Of Nowhere, will share a part of his soul in an intimate, one-night-only performance. Nick will debut songs from the upcoming EP The Greatest Enemy and other unreleased material.
Glasgow’s post-rock quintet Mogwai, young Irish experimental folk singer SOAK, Broods, the Kiwi synth-pop sibling duo, British electronica outfit UNKLE Sounds, led by James Lavelle, and local post-rock band Paint The Sky Red.
The first time I heard Suasion live I fell in love with the band’s basic approach to songwriting and performing. Whilst it is true that more often than not, you can walk into a club in Singapore and hear country-inflected melodic pop-rock but typically, it would be played by a cover band. Suasion were a refreshing change – playing their well-construction originals within a popular medium that for some reason is overlooked by artists and bands here.
For me, this reflected the band’s strength of conviction – not content to merely get on the bandwagon – but to make music on their own terms. The kind of music that they wanted to make. The kind of music that they wanted to listen to themselves. Highly admirable it must be said.
Frontman Michael Intrator – a Swiss expat – possesses a honest voice that resonates with power and feeling on tracks like “Resolve”. Backed brilliantly not only instrumentally by lead guitarist Chris Bong and bassist Lyndsey Long but also on luscious three-part vocal harmonies that elevate Suasion’s music from the typical Singapore indie sound. Completed by drummer Alvin Lim, the quartet keep things simple but accomplish the task with some aplomb.
This comes across in memorably infectious tracks like “Melanie in the Morning”, “Firelight” and “Drinking on Sunshine”.
My last word? Forget about Ryan Adams’ lame attempts at covering 1989, best spend your time checking out the Suasion EP.
Suasion launches its debut EP at the Substation on 30th October 2015 (with Joie Tan).
An excellent sign that Singapore music is slowly (but surely) permeating the mainstream consciousness is the clutch of music events to be held in the upcoming Singapore Writers Festival, from October 30th to November 8th 2015, organised by the National Arts Council.
Kicking off is Island of Dreams, an instrumental rock concert at the Victoria Theatre on 30th October, featuring In Each Hand a Cutlass and I Am David Sparkle, two heavyweights in the local indie scene.
From epic rock bombast, the music gets all stripped down and fragile with Story Songs by Tiny Ruins. Kiwi Hollie Fullbrook returns to Singapore on 1st November at the Chamber, the Arts House.
Finally, we have Dimensions and Demons, with artists from literary and musical disciplines collaborating on works to be presented on 5th November at the Esplanade Recital Studios. Writers Dave Chua, Daren Shiau and Stephanie Ye have been rehearsing with musicians weish (.gif), Riot !n Magenta and Ferry (Giants Must Fall) for the past few months for this co-presentation with The Esplanade.
Power of Pop will be in the thick of the action with reviews and interviews but so can you. The Festival organisers have kindly offered a pair of tickets to each of the above events to lucky PoP visitors.
Now, you can only select one of these events to apply to – simply write in to email@example.com with a 5o-word note on why you love Power of Pop so much! (Also include your full name and NRIC No., please) Oh and let us know which event you would like to attend and voilà (!) you could be on your way. (Winning entries will be published here! Be warned!!)
First come, first served and all that jazz. The decision of Power of Pop regarding the identity of the lucky recipients shall be final & conclusive. Closing date is 27th October.
Punk trio Dirt Radicals began life as Pug Jelly and earned a reputation as Singapore favourite “pop punk ang mohs”, became Saw Loser and settled for The Dirt Radicals. Whatever. What matters is the music and in that department, The Dirt Radicals continue to deliver melodious, chirpy punk rock in spades. The Dirt Radicals are set to release their new EP “Duder.” on November 3rd, with pre-orders available now. The debut single “Your Heart” is already circulating on Lush 99.5fm. See music video below.
This October 17th, 2015 the band will be performing a free show at Hood Bar & Café at Bugis Junction, Singapore. Local heroes Caracal will be opening the show. Doors open at 6pm. For more information, log on to www.thedirtradicals.com.
Xiao Zar Bo (“Crazy Women” in the Hokkien dialect) is a bi-annual music initiative fronted by iNCH and Esther Lowless, designed to provide a platform to female singer-songwriters to showcase their own works. The rather stately environs of the Singjazz Club delivered a suitable venue for this sold out ticketed (over 80 pax) premiere event. The audience was appreciative of the efforts of the ‘crazy ladies’ throughout and there was an air of community and collaboration about the performances as performers fronted and backed each other seamlessly.
For the two headliners – iNCH and Esther Lowless – it was an opportunity to share music from upcoming releases in a safe environment. Eschewing the need for a rhythm section, relying more on backing tracks (for iNCH) and copious harmonies and stringed instruments, there was a beatific ambience about the entire proceedings. iNCH went further and shared with the crowd a sensational little secret (which shall remain so till officially announced) and new songs from her much anticipated Letters From Ubin EP. Esther herself played a couple of new songs – “Warpaint” and “Withered Oak Tree” that highlighted the cinematic prog-rock style that distinguishes her music from the rest. Watch out for the new album!
KindaKim (aka violinist Kim Eun Hyung) set out an astonishing live looper performance complemented by what would be described as commercial-alternative pop songs. Her use of a looper was illuminating – taking occasional to speed up her loops which made her songs quite distinctive in the main. Though self-deprecating about her singing, it fit her songwriting perfectly (one of the main rules of songwriting) and overall, her set was an engaging one.
Lisa Haryono opened the night with a enthralling lineup of piano-based originals that hearkened to old-school pop compositions. jazz-pop-soul numbers were thrown out effortlessly as Lisa’s gorgeous voice bounced around the walls and into our collective hearts, sending chills down spines. It’s amazing to think that Lisa is already such an accomplished musician (as a session cellist) as well as fronting one of most promising Singapore bands out there (Enec.e), and to add this other musical persona to the list was simply mind blowing. Please record these soulful gems soon, Lisa!
One of the best local gigs in recent memory left me with mixed feelings somewhat. On the one hand, I appreciated the coziness of the affair and being able to savour the wonder of some of my favourite singer-songwriters up close but on the other hand, I would have loved for 500, 1000 or even 2000 people to have witnessed this! So good! But also, the sight of iNCH’s producer Evan Low in a tight-fitting dress was enough to gain him the accolade of Xiao Zar Bo of the night! See what you missed?
XZB is a bi-annual showcase of music from Singapore female singer songwriters who have that good bit of craziness in them to go against the grain, make their own music, and carve their own unique identities in this crazier society of rigid convention and uniformity.
This showcase features quietly sensual Lisa Haryono, cute and quirky Kim Eun Hyung, dark and moody Esther Lowless, and one of Singapore’s biggest pioneers of singer songwriter music, Inch Chua.
On the 9th of October, experience an aurally pleasing burst of girl power with these 4 lovely ladies at Singjazz Club.
This coming weekend (October 2nd & 3rd), Power of Pop recommends the following live gigs for your rockin’ enjoyment. On Friday, Esther Lowless will thrill us with her art-rock stylings whilst Gareth Fernandez & The Momma Shop will get a groove on. That’s MAAD Sounds at the Red Dot Design Museum. On Saturday night, over at Hood Bar, Melbourne rockers EMPRA (with S-ROCKER frontman Sanny Veloo) will take no prisoners. Post-hardcore local legends Caracal will open the night!
Battles – Beach House – Big Scary – Cashew Chemists – Cheats – CHVRCHES – DIIV – East India Youth – Flume – GDJYB – Grimes – Hermitude – Hudson Mohawke – Intriguant – METZ – Purity Ring – Riot !n Magenta – Shamir – The Internet – Thundercat – Tobias Jesso Jr. – Violent Soho
Apart from Singapore artists Cashew Chemists, Intriguant and Riot !n Magenta, the only other act that is of any interest to Power of Pop is pop-rock revivalist Tobias Jesso Jr. Beach House, CHVRCHES and Grimes are repeats & the rest – other than Battles and Flume – are of an unknown quality. But that’s the whole point of the Laneway Festival innit? Stay tuned as Power of Pop gives these artists its discovery quotient in the next few days, weeks and months.
Pop band WALK THE MOON claim to be inspired by 80s bands like The Police and Talking Heads but one listen to their latest album, Talking is Hard, will make it clear that apart from taking their name from a Police song, there is no similarity whatsoever.
Actually, they remind me of crassly commercial fare like Modern Talking and Wang Chung, y’know the really shitty 80s bands. Which is fine but why can’t we call a spade a spade? This is certainly not indie rock, by any stretch of the imagination.
But of course, that’s not going to stop the horde of pop fans out there from enjoying this show when the band play in Singapore on 19th Jan 2016.