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Nov 232014
 

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2014 has been a very good year for made-in-Singapore pop music with more album/EP releases and more live performances to capture the imagination of the music-loving public. One significant factor has been the EP Grant administered by the National Arts Council which awards the sum of S$10,000 to a band/artist applicant for the cost of recording, production, marketing and launch of a 4-song (minimum) EP. This EP grant not only gives the successful band/artist the platform to share the music but also generates business activities for producers, recording studios, sound engineers and venues. In short, the grant has been a boon to the local music scene as a whole. Thus far, 15 such bands/artists have benefitted from this grant – including Celina Kimble, Gentle Bones and Gareth Fernandez.

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Fernandez’s debut eponymous EP was launched at The Barbershop by Timbre – a relatively tight venue (in terms of space) – but that didn’t stop singer Fernandez, his four-man backing band The MommaShop (Sikai Goh – Keyboards/Organ, Titus Ng – Bass, Anson Koh – Drums, James Lye – Guitar), three-man horn section (Daniel Chia – sax, Vignesh Mohandasan – trumpet, Deric Tay – Trombone) and a duo of backing singers (Tok Xue Yi & Andrew Mark Oh) from bringing the (Arts) house down with a scintillating display of sinewy soul-R&B prowess. The sound throughout was fairly competent when considering the challenge of a 10 persons on stage to deal with and there was hardly any issue with the sound that got in the way with a full and complete enjoyment of the show in front of us, the audience (which consisted mainly of hip and trendy twenty-somethings, include well-known local musicians like The Sam Willows, Joel Tan (aka Gentle Bones) and members of hot indie bands like Stopgap and Take Two).

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The show opened with the crowd parting like the red sea and the band making a dramatic entrance resplendent and looking sharp in their suits before Fernandez made his way to the stage. Drawing mainly from the songs off his debut EP and a couple of choice covers, it was all systems go right from the moment the Fernandez and band launched into a feisty Physical (also the opening track of the EP) which sounded more authentic than the recorded version when sans the cheesy electronic keyboards. When you consider how sophisticated the song arrangements tend to be, the talent and effort demonstrated by Fernandez and band was impressive.

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My personal favourite moments arrived with passionate renditions of Movin’ On and Northern Lights – songs imbued with the classic soul vibes of the 60s & 70s. The former had Fernandez engaging the audience with a call-and-response that all in attendance participated in whilst the latter brought the crowd to a collective emotional high (or low, depending on your perspective) with its fragile piano balladry and prayerful sentiment (“Come back home”). With well-worked covers from Allen Stone, Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith operating as appropriate fillers (in the absence of more original material), there was a welcome surprise with Heart Walls, an original explicably left off the EP – a suitably impassioned albeit heart-breaking rant about a severed relationship.

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And while it is accurate to pay due credit to the fabulous musicianship on display, the star of the show was Fernandez with his sparkling vocals, physicality, stage presence and casual banter, which won the hearts and souls of the rapt audience in a manner that would suggest that Fernandez deserves to showcase his promise and potential on bigger stages in the future.

(Originally intended for TODAY newspaper)

Photo credits: Cherlynn Lian

Nov 232014
 
AVA_DawnChua

Photo credit: Dawn Chua

Always a boon when given the opportunity to catch Singapore rockers in their element. AND when a good cause is the rationale behind the music event then it is time to pause and consider exactly what that cause is. For the organizers, it’s simple and clear.

Through our event, we hope to generate awareness among youths and reduce the stigma associated with people living with HIV/AIDS. Its time to change our perspectives and #RethinkAIDS!

Continue reading »

Nov 222014
 

DeeTalkPoster

Singer-songwriter Daphne Khoo will be performing at KEEPERS on Saturday, 29th November. Tickets are priced at $25 (with the Wonderland EP) & $20 and can be purchased from deetalk.peatix.com. All proceeds will go to the Singapore Cancer Society.

Also featuring guests Dee Kosh, Gareth Fernandez, Gayle Nerva and Nathan Hartono.

Nov 212014
 

JagwarMa

A fabulous double bill awaits rock fans when Jagwar Ma joins The Flaming Lips on 1st December at The Coliseum. So here’s an email interview we did with the former’s Gabriel Winterfield and the results were good fun, as you will soon discover.

PoP: Last time out, you had to cancel a performance at Laneway Singapore – could you share with us what happened?

Gabriel: I tore a ligament in my knee, and was unable to perform or travel. Very sad. I’ve been waiting to get another chance to play Singapore ever since. 

Continue reading »

Nov 212014
 

JulianCasablancasShow

This just in…

Secret Sounds Asia presents Julian Casablancas (vocalist of The Strokes) with his latest side project JULIAN CASABLANCAS+THE VOIDZ, live in Singapore on Saturday, 10 January 2015 at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa.

Full Info

Tickets available from SISTIC on Monday 24 Nov, 9am.

… still there’s more …

Nov 212014
 

Go Loco Local 2015 Countdown Party

(Press release)

Groove to the show-stopping gigs by five spectacular local act and welcome 2015 at the airport this New Year’s Eve.

4-piece pop-rock band ORANGECOVE, Marc X Hashy of the Final One Fame, up-and-coming pop-punk band JJ and The Paperplanes, finalist for ‘SG50 The Gift of Song’ competition Ciao Turtle and acoustic act The Jaywalkers, will take to the stage with punchy made-in Singapore numbers and covers of familiar favourites to end your year on a high note.

Also hosted by Singaporean blogger and a familiar face to the hosting circuit, Mint Leong will keep the crowd entertained through the night with her effervescent personality and entertainment segments.

The Loco Local 2015 Countdown Party will be held at the Lobby Lounge of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport from 31 December 2015, 9:00pm to 1 January 2015, 1:30am.

*****

Sure is a exciting time to be a #sgindie lover, ain’t it?

Nov 202014
 
Squeeze

Photo credit: Quixotic Records

I love the early Squeeze records but my favourite is probably Sweets from a Stranger (1982). Although lumped together with all the other 80s ‘new wave’ bands, Squeeze were/are basically 60s pop revivalists with erudite lyrics/sophisticated melodies being the main emphasis. Check out a video of the band playing “Points of View” below.

Formed around the songwriting nucleus of Chris Difford (lyrics) & Glenn Tilbrook (tunes), the duo were hailed as the Lennon-McCartney of their era and deservedly as well. Following Squeeze’s second breakup in 1999, Tilbrook embarked on an acclaimed solo career. Tilbrook will be performing in Singapore at Hero’s on 29th November and I caught up with him via a short phone interview.

Continue reading »

Nov 192014
 

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KittyWu Records has announced that Caracal has launched the pre-order for their forthcoming studio album Welcome The Ironists at iTunes. Listeners can pre-order the digital album on iTunes and receive an early download of the exciting new single “Welcome The Ironists”.

The new album was recorded and produced together with the band’s longstanding collaborator and dear friend – Singapore’s leading music producer and sound engineer, Leonard Soosay of Snakeweed Studios (The Great Spy Experiment, I Am David Sparkle). The album was mastered in Canada with João Carvalho of João Carvalho Mastering (Sloan, Buck 65, The Weakerthans, Death From Above 1979).

The full album is slated for release on 18 December 2014 and will be available in both physical and digital formats. Caracal will launch the album at The Substation on that night. Look out for the music video on 5th December at the band’s YouTube Channel.

Nov 152014
 
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Photo credit: Jared Rezel/Symmetry Entertainment

The Singapore music scene is crying out for more small to mid-sized venues that can host brilliant artists that do not command the mainstream attention of an Ed Sheeran or a Pheonix. Beep Studios – located in Bukit Merah – operates mainly as a recording studio but has of late, been the location of great shows from Deafheaven, Deap Vally, MONO and last night (8th Nov), Wild Beasts.

The UK band is touring Asia and squeezed Singapore between Bangkok and KL and sounded no worse for the wear and tear. A good-sized crowd did not have to squeeze into Beep Studios but were entertained and thrilled by an excellent performance in fairly intimate settings. That is the beauty of a gig like this – it feels like the band is playing in a large living room!

The music of Wild Beasts (viz. Hayden Thorpe, Ben Little, Chris Talbot & Tom Fleming) provides a fine balance between indie rock and electro-pop with Thorpe, Little and Fleming adept at exchanging instruments so that different musical textures, timbres and approaches might be attained. Drummer Talbot was expert in coming up with intricate patterns that drove the ethereal tunes rhythmically.

The voices of Thorpe and Little (falsetto and baritone respectively) captured the attention of the rapt crowd brilliantly. Songs like “Mecca”, “Daughters” & “A Dog’s Life” highlighted these attributes succinctly and even though the pulse never quite quickened with the band’s chilled out groovy vibes, there was no denying the passion.

Thorpe made a little joke about not leaving the stage for the obligatory call-back (basically, the venue could not accommodate that aspect!) and so remained on stage to deliver the songs that would have been their encore. Which was fine and removed the usual awkwardness about the encore’s artificiality. A lusty “Wanderlust” turned out to be the high point of the gig for me, as the performance concluded. Overall, the perfect venue for a mesmerizing sonic experience.

Thanks to Symmetry Entertainment for making this review possible. 

Nov 132014
 

RethinkAIDS

Always an exciting prospect to catch some of the brightest indie rock talents in Singapore but when the event also serves to raise awareness of an important cause then, the reasons to attend increase! With a fairly varied lineup as well, Rethink: AIDS promises to be an exciting #sgindie day out. We got in touch with organizer Jared Rezel to find out more.

PoP: How does a music event raise awareness for a cause?

Jared: Music fans tend to connect to their favourite artists via their music. The bond between the audience and performer is hence strengthened through their attendance at live music events. As the bands perform at this event, they will be constantly promoting our cause through their songs and shoutouts, strongly conveying our message to the audience and ultimately succeeding in raising awareness for our cause.

PoP: In what ways are you asking people to “Rethink AIDS”?

Jared: We never actually wondered what we would do if we found out our friend has AIDS and decided to think more about this issue. Most of us realised that we’d probably avoid these friends for fear of contracting this disease. However when we look at the facts, there is no risk at all unless we were planning to engage in some sexual activity with these friends. Hence we want people to rethink the facts they know or think they know in hope that they would ultimately rethink these subconscious stereotypes they place on the people suffering from AIDS. Most AIDS campaigns are all about the ‘safe sex’ aspect especially what we learnt back in sex ed classes in school, hence we felt that our event could influence youths to relate more to the social side of AIDS.

PoP: How should the public attitude towards AIDS change? What should it be instead?

Jared: Most people know the dangers of AIDS or rather HIV and they know that they want to avoid it as far as possible. However, it’s that avoidance and some misunderstanding that has led to stereotyping people with HIV/AIDS as well. We want people to know the facts & the dangers but at the same time, not treat the people with it any differently. Basically, we want people to remove the links between AIDS and friendship, since sex isn’t a requirement of friendship.

PoP: What do you hope attendees will take away from Rethink: AIDS?

Jared: Besides enjoying music and introducing more people to local music, we hope that they at least gain new perspectives towards AIDS. Ideally, we hope that they would change their attitudes towards people with AIDS and treat them as normal people.

PoP: Can you explain the process behind the selection of the bands?

Jared: We wanted to find bands who were rather current and had a pull with different groups of people hence reaching out to a variety of people. We were not so worried about the genre, for example, AVA. When people see a post hardcore band, they usually think like these guys are rebels. But seeing them standing for something good fights for our cause even more.

More info here.

Nov 122014
 

GlennTilbrookLive

Squeeze was without doubt one of the seminal bands of the 80s post-punk era, combining elements of pub-rock and Beatlesque pop-rock to produce a highly melodic and intelligent brand of pop music. Glenn Tilbrook – whose distinctive tenor graced almost all the best Squeeze songs – will be playing a “one-night-only” show at Hero’s (69 Circular Road #01-01, Boat Quay). Tickets available from www.dashtickets.sg now!

Tilbrook has a new album out called Happy Ending and its chock full of the well-constructed, sophisticated pop that Squeeze was legendary for. Check it out!

… still there’s more … 

Nov 072014
 

WildBeasts

I must confess that out of the all the bands that were slated to play at the last (sadly cancelled) Hostess Club Weekender, the one I was most looking forward to was Wild Beasts. But of course, the good news is that the English band will still be in Singapore tomorrow at Beep Studios.

Wild Beasts released one the best albums of 2014 – the sophisticated collection of groovy tunes known as Present Tense – and surely is one of the most important bands to come out of the UK in the last decade. So, don’t miss the chance to watch them in the intimate settings of Beep Studios.

Ticketing: tickets.eventclique.com/symmetry
Standard: 65 SGD
At The Door: 80 SGD

Look out for our review.

Nov 062014
 

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Last but certainly not least, Verhaal!

Verhaal are a Rock Band formed in Singapore in 2014. Before joining the band, the members had already played on several bands , performing on numerous events/occasions. The band consist of Jeslynn (Vocals), Dominic (Bass), Dedry (Guitar), and Marcus (Drums). The band enjoys writing radio-friendly tunes, incorporating diverse style of Rock and Pop music to their works.

… still there’s more …

Nov 042014
 

KeithHeng

We continue our look at the budding singer-songwriters featured in STAGEFRIGHT XV on 12th November with Keith Heng!

Keith’s first memory of music’s effect on him was when he was 10 years old sitting in his grand-aunt’s car and hearing The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time. Enchanted by riffs and flowing song melodies, an addiction began where he sought after different genre’s of music and encountered different artists like Eric Clapton, SRV, Slash, The Beach Boys, John Mayer, and many others. Soon however, singing other’s songs wasn’t enough for him and the tunes he always hummed to himself and pictured in his mind could not be contained. Looking to find his own voice in music, Keith picked up the guitar in 2009, and hasn’t put it down since. Now Keith embarks on his own journey, and has started his solo project, KST Musical Sound, where he looks to tell stories of his own through music, just like that first time he heard the magic of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

... still there’s more …

Oct 302014
 

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Awaken the Dragon is a community art project surrounding the last two remaining Dragon Kilns in Singapore. The project aims to invite 3000 members of the public to participate in making a collective sculpture made from clay and fired in the Dragon Kiln.

The concert is part of the Awaken the Dragon Festival that’s happening from 17-23 November. There will also be demos and workshops by local ceramic artists, arts & crafts stalls, food and drink vendors.

The Observatory, Obedient Wives Club, Stopgap, Lost Weekend and The White Trip Movement will be performing on 22 November from 6:30pm. Admission is free.

For more details on the Festival, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/717111341705189/
http://awakenthedragonkiln.wordpress.com/about/
https://www.facebook.com/Awakenthedragonkiln

Oct 302014
 

WhereWereYouFest

The 90s Singapore indie music scene returns at the Substation this November with the Where Were You Festival on Saturday November 8th. Although not stated above, also expect The Oddfellows, The Ordinary People and Pink Elephants (!) to be playing as well. More details to come but in the meantime, mark your calendars!

Find out more at http://wherewereyoufest.blogspot.sg/

Oct 292014
 

Khairul

What I liked about Khairul Ridzwan was that he had the balls to approach me at Artistry and asked whether he could play! So let’s find out more about him, shall we and make sure you come down to check out his original music.

Khairul Ridzwan is an aspiring artist born in Singapore. He started playing the acoustic guitar since the age of 14 and eventually progressed to singing a few years later, Khairul has written and performed several original and cover songs. Occasionally, you can find him busking during weekend nights along the streets of Singapore or playing in local cafes. Currently studying Diploma in Music and Audio Technology in Singapore Polytechnic, Khairul aspires to be an original singer and songwriter, evoking feelings from his stories to touch his listeners.

… still there’s more …

Oct 292014
 

EdSheeran

Popular singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran‘s concert in Singapore was sold out in 8 hours, we are told. That’s 5,000 plus tickets! Impressive numbers indeed. Considering the prices of those tickets, that simply demonstrates the buying power of young people here for a premium international entertainer.

Does this mean that the demand in the Singapore concert scene is still very strong? Or is this kind of fan fervor reserved for hot ticket items like Sheeran? Time will tell. If you didn’t get a ticket, you will have to make do with a video, for the time being.

Oct 282014
 

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Next up in STAGEFRIGHT XV @ Artistry — Yap Wei Chiang!

Wei Chiang is currently an aspiring singer-songwriter and college student. Whenever he’s not busy studying, trying to get to lectures on time, playing Ultimate Frisbee or Dota 2, he spends his time ruminating on life, love and what it means to live growing up in Singapore. Writing since 15, most of these personal experiences find their way into his songs; songs which he hopes are honest and relate!

Artistry Cafe is located at 17 Jalan Pinang. RSVP at Facebook.

… still there’s more …

Oct 272014
 

The fifteenth edition of Artistry’s curated original music showcase takes place on 12th November from 8pm. Power of Pop will highlight the six artists/bands who will be featured. First up, Eliah Leong.

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Eliah Leong is a 23 year-old Chinese-Philippino, who was born and bred in Singapore, and speaks proper Singlish. Eliah started singing when he was 7, picked up the guitar when he was 15, and wrote his first proper song when he was 18. Eliah has written about 10 songs ever since, and his vocal style is evolving continuously as he discovers and learns to sing new songs. He enjoys a wide variety of musical genres.

Artistry Cafe is located at 17 Jalan Pinang. RSVP at Facebook.

… still there’s more …

Oct 212014
 

Yellowcard-poster

Yellowcard returns to Singapore on 10th December at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa. The band recently released new album – Lift A Sail – with Razor & Tie and this current tour will support the new release. Tickets available from Peatix. More info at Facebook.

Listen to Lift a Sail at Spotify!