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.
Tickets available from SISTIC on Monday 24 Nov, 9am.
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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.
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!
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Here at Power of Pop, we emphasize substance over form, artistry/creativity over genre/styles and champion the right attitudes over cynical media manipulation. PUP fits the bill perfectly. Its eponymous album is a shameless celebration of edgy pop-rock music with energy and melodies to die for! Power of Pop caught up with the band via email and vocalist/guitarist Stefan was kind enough to answer our queries.
POP: How did PUP get together?
Stefan: The other 3 guys have known each other forever. Zack and Nestor grew up on the same street. They were playing around town in a few shitty bands and I was in a shitty band as well. Eventually we got bored of those projects and decided to band together to form a slightly less shitty but still shitty band called PUP.
PoP: What is the best thing about being PUP?
Stefan: We’ve had the chance to travel the world the past year. It’s been incredible. Getting to play music with your best friends every night in different weird places is the best thing in the world. And sometimes you get to play with your favourite bands and that’s cool too.
PoP: Why should anyone listen to PUP?
Stefan: You probably shouldn’t. But if you do it’ll be because you’re bored.
PoP: How do decide which song gets on the album?
Stefan: We wrote a bunch of songs, and just chose our favourite ones. We weren’t trying to choose ones that sounded the same or worked together or anything… We just wanted the 10 songs on our first record to be the best 10 songs we’ve written.
PoP: Would you wanna play in Singapore?
Stefan: Of course! that’s another adventure for us.
Hopefully we’ll get to see PUP in action in Singapore sooner rather than later! In the meantime, listen to PUP (the album) now.
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“Myracle Brah is an American indie pop/power pop band primarily centered on singer-songwriter Andy Bopp.”
What it fails to say that at one point in the 90s, Brah’s debut LP – Life on Planet Eartsnop – was on heavy rotation, not only in my CD player but in my very consciousness. This LP served to be my doorway to the 90s Pop Underground, which was a magical epoch of 60s retrolicious goodness. Since that epochal album, there have been highs and lows for Andy Bopp’s music BUT I am so glad to report a spanking new EP that rekindles this pop lover’s belief in the POWER of POP!
For the time being, the EP is free via download at Bandcamp. If like me, you dig bands that channel The Beatles, Big Star & Badfinger without sacrificing an iota of self-expression then The Peach EP is a godsend! What are you waiting for?
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Based on what I’ve heard so far from Cold Fronts, the music they write and record is pretty good pop-rock/powerpop, in my opinion. So let’s relax on the indie rock descriptors yeah? The new single “Hit Me” is a cool blast of melodic rock that cannot be ignored. Yeah yeah yeah!!!
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There’s quite a fair bit of country music out there that’s popular but sadly, it’s mostly Top 40 mainstream pop fare that never challenges the mind and instead panders to the lowest common denominator. For something more cutting edge in the country music sphere, we need to continue to look at Alt-Country. Thankfully, that aspect of country music is still thriving (creatively, if not commercially) and one prime example can be found in Sleeping Operator, the sophomore effort from the Montreal-based Barr Brothers (viz. Brad Barr, Andrew Barr, Sarah Page, Andres Vial).
It’s always a wondrous experience when an artistically-minded band blends country with rock ‘n’ roll to produce soulful music that leaves the listener satisfied. To these ears, songs like “Wolves”, “Even the Darkness Has Arms” and “Half Crazy” recalls the likes of Steve Earle, The Jayhawks and even early WILCO – a wonderful evocation of Gram Parsons’ Cosmic American Music. The melodies glide effortlessly and the exotic instrumentation complements the same perfectly to send sympathetic listeners into country-folk-pop-rock bliss!
Thanks to Nick Whitcomb for the recommendation!
Just downloaded the new Thom Yorke album – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes – via BitTorrent. And it was totally legit. Yorke has, in the recent past, condemned streaming sites for exploiting artists and thus it was interesting to find out that Yorke is using a BitTorrent site to sell his album. The digital album is US$6 and the bundle comes with 8 tracks and one video (of single “A Brain in a Bottle”). The single and video are available for free – as a teaser presumably for the album. Check it out at https://bundles.bittorrent.com/
Brass Bed is releasing a brand new 7″ with MA’AM Records on November 18th, 2014. The new single, “Be Anything” b/w “Mind The Gap” captures the band live on two inch tape deep in the midst of their tour cycle. Fuzzy guitars, gorgeous tunes and easy vibe recalls Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub and the 90s Pop Underground. Listen now!
Last year David Bowie shocked the world with the release of a new single (“Where Are We Now?”)/album (The Next Day) after years of silence and relative inactivity. Well, it didn’t take long for Bowie to return with another new single/album did it? The single is “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime) which was given its world premiere on BBC Radio Six by DJ Guy Garvey, a couple of days ago. Of course, the song is all over the internet now – check it out below.
PoP is on a quest to discover the best contemporary bands out there trading in classic pop-rock, power-pop and garage-rock and we aim to please ourselves as often as humanly possible. The Singles viz. Vincent Frederick (guitar/lead vocals) and Nicky Veltman (drums/back-up vocals) are the real deal! This LA based duo have just released Look How Fast A Heart Can Break and it is a winner. It’s fair to say that they don’t sound like any one band directly but there’s certainly a healthy dollop of Big Star, The Replacements, T. Rex and more, in their musical agenda. Best part is that it gets hearts pounding and adrenaline rushing for all the best reasons. Check ‘em out!
Regular PoP visitors will be keenly aware of my aversion towards ‘pop-punk’ in modern rock parlance. But of course, there is still a place for punk-rock in 2014 for any band who is clever enough to not be limited by ‘genre’ but instead is able to use punk as an attitude to approach music making. Case in point – Toronto outfit PUP, who consists of Stefan on vox / guitar, Zack on drums, Steve on guitar and Nestor on bass and simply classify their music as ‘loud’!
Is there a mini classic pop-rock happening in 2014? Well, you could argue that it has never really gone away when guys like Bob Mould, Guided by Voices, Tom Petty, J Mascis, Johnny Marr, Sloan and the like have continued to make vital music. Never mind the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack has all but brought classic 70s pop-rock back to the mainstream. AND with ex-MCR frontman Gerard Way releasing a debut solo album that has the ‘emo-punk-pop’ kids in an uproar, then you know for sure that something is going on. In any case, here’s a couple of 70s-era song videos that will demonstrate, I hope, why this is the kind of music that I will always be rocking to!
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RAGLANS – “White Lightning”
This Irish band has released a fabulous music video for its “White Lightning” single (off new eponymous album). Directed by Finn Keenan, the video contains a couple of inventive visual gags and the song itself is great guitar rock in its own right. At almost 3 minutes, it’s a dose of classic pop-rock that certainly deserves your attention. Check it out!
Raglans available from iTunes.
If like me you are besotted with classic pop and love the music of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, ELO and XTC, then my question to you is – why aren’t you listening to Pugwash? And if this is the first time you have heard of this awesome Irish band, then your timing is impeccable.
A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash (to be released on 23rd September) collects songs from the band’s 1999 origins through the present day and when placed together in one place like this, is probably the closest a classic pop fan will get to heaven in 2014.
It is impossible not to fall in love with perfect pop songs like “Be My Friend Awhile,” “Apples,” “Answers on a Postcard,” “Fall Down”, “It’s Nice to be Nice” and so on and on and on. These 17 tracks constitute some of the finest pop music made since the new millennium and deserves as much attention as possible, if there’s any justice left in this cruel world.
I was lucky enough to catch the band live last year in London and believe me, it’s a wonder to behold. That Rickenbacker sound, those harmonies and infectious tunes will have you singing along in no time, unfamiliarity be damned! So check out the US tour dates below to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun, PoPies!
Check out the video for “It’s Nice to be Nice” below…
Some of the classic pop music was written in the studio, without having been road-tested in live performance. The Beatles and The Beach Boys come easily to mind, of course. Appropriately, Dave Ody (aka Mothboxer) names both bands as principal influences and it’s no surprise that his music reflects the same ethos that his more famous forebears pioneered and mastered during the 60s.
Matt Mocharnuk, the brains behind recording artist Bittersweet Machines is a songwriter with the ability to manipulate the emotions of anyone fortunate enough to listen to his musical creations. I count myself amongst this number – as I have followed Mocharnuk’s creative journey in the last couple of years and with each release, cannot help but be awed by the consistent quality of the songs found on Bittersweet Machines EPs and albums.
New EP – A Night Full of Sharp Edges – is no exception to this rule. Stylistically, Morcharnuk has moved away somewhat from the post-punk revivalist tendencies found on previous releases. The songwriting seems more organic without reliance on any particular ‘genre’. This creative decision has liberated the music to form it’s own conclusions based on the confluence of tunes and lyrics.
What remains the same is the emotional weight of the melodies, the astute use of dynamism, the appropriation of infectious hooks and riffs and ultimately the natural appeal of songs that do not need too much analysis or deep probing in order to divine their joys.
It is an absolute pleasure to move from track to track – songs like “The Longest Minute,” “Is It Enough” and “Screaming Underwater” – embellished simply by acoustic guitar and tasteful keyboards reach out to touch heart and soul, rightfully belonging to the sweet indie Brit rock epoch that birthed bands like Travis, Coldplay and Keane.
Yet another bloody essential release from Bittersweet Machines.
Whenever we can, we strive to remind you – kind visitor – what Power of Pop is all about. Sweet pop music, 60s/70s styled is definitely on the agenda. Bring it!
THE CANYON RAYS – “The Sunshine Growers”
Here’s the new single from Californian pop enthusiasts The Canyon Rays as visualized by director Justin Slade McClain. The track will appear on their upcoming West Coast Babes LP later this year.
Listen to/download from Bandcamp
MONOMYTH – “Patsy”
Canadian quartet Monomyth pride themselves as being slightly left of centre as new single “Patsy” and its seriously weirded out video proves. Their debut album, Saturnalia Regalia!, comes out on July 22nd, 2014 on Mint Records!
Listen to/download the Monomyth eponymous EP from Bandcamp.
BLACK MOTH – “Blackbirds Fall”
And ‘classic’ hard rock is always part of POP POWER equation! Britain’s young new heavy rock heroes Black Moth release the first single and video from their forthcoming new album Condemned To Hope coming this fall. Horns up!
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Nineties alt-rock fans will be thrilled by the news that Scottish band Travis return to Singapore on 1st August at the Star Performing Arts Centre. The band released their comeback album – Where You Stand – last year after a five year hiatus and this concert promises to be a highlight of 2014!
Tickets are priced from SGD58 (excludes booking fee) and are available via SISTIC.
Listen to our playlist of a possible Travis setlist. Enjoy…
If not already apparent, here at PoP, we focus on pop with power. Invariably, that involves bands and artists that take a long hard look into the wide world of music available out there in the space-time continuum in a valiant effort to come up with something new, something unique, something that rocks the listener’s heart and soul. With that in mind, here are some of our YouTube discoveries (not the kind you’re thinking of) and we hope to give them more profile and attention in the weeks and months to come…
ROOK AND THE RAVENS – “The Judge”
Second EP from these Perth-based smart poppers finds them in the sweet G-spot between British post-punk and American new wave. Simply put – infectious melodies, bouncy rhythms, quirky lyrics and cool vibes overall. Seriously folks, they don’t make pop music like this anymore. This is the kind of pop, Power of Pop was established to drool over!
The title track is a masterwork of tightness and economy, crammed into its 3:31 minutes is more absolutely gorgeous pop (is there a better middle-eight/bridge from anyone else in 2014?) than anything most of the post-punk revivalists will be able to muster in their unreasonably overlong careers (you know who you are!)
Amazingly, the other four tracks do not fall too shy off the pop perfection of the title track. “I Disagree With Myself” is a brilliantly clever pop single that the likes of XTC and Split Enz would be proud to call their own with an irresistible chorus hook to boot – “I don’t wanna be dumb and bored”. No danger of that!
“Far From the Moment” and “Don’t Look at Me” have similarly mellifluous refrains – sweetness perfected in hooks and riffs that dig deeply into the ear. And of course, opener “Uppers and Downers” is a wonderful study in tone – offbeat, sinister and yet funny at the same time. No mean feat.
The Disappointed – check them out cuz believe me, you will not be!
A transitional year for me. I welcomed the new decade as a National Serviceman having enlisted on Boxing Day, 1979. But more importantly, my musical tastes were changing as well, significantly. Sometime in 1978, I had been exposed to punk when a JC friend played to my friends & I, the Sex Pistols‘ Anarchy in the UK LP (banned in Singapore but smuggled in for good measure) and to be honest I was unimpressed. For a pop-rock lover weaned on The Beatles, Deep Purple, Queen, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols seemed dumb and barbaric!
That said, by 1980 I had begun to cotton on to the post-punk movement and had already started listening to the pioneering new bands of that era, which seemed far removed from the old-school rockers of my relative youth. Fueled by the noises made by rock mags like NME, Sounds & Melody Maker, I had started to abandon the old bands (as irrelevant) and had ‘embraced’ the future of rock.
Hailing from Bueno Aires, Argentina, Baby Scream has been flying the power pop flag for the past decade or so, delivering premier Beatlesque goodness that fans of the 90s Pop Underground would have no problem appreciating. The sardonically-titled Greatest Failures compiles some of Baby Scream’s finer moments (“Slut”, “Mars” and “Morning Light” amongst them) and provides a good starting point. Deeper exploration of the Baby Scream discography is available at Bandcamp. Led by vocalist/guitarist Juan Pablo Mazzola – who himself sings with a Lennonesque authority – Baby Scream is a safe haven for the power pop purists out there who are pining for the good ol’ days of the 90s Pop Underground. Check ‘em out!
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2014 means new albums. Listen at Spotify!
STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS – Wig Out at Jagbags
Ex-Pavement frontman, Malkmus returns with a brand new solo LP. Idiosyncratic songs with quirky arrangements but never lacking in memorable tunes.