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Mar 272015
 

kamco-YQ-sm

KAMCO Music started life as KAMCO Records in 1998 – a label through which I could self-release Popland’s Groovy album. 17 years later, KAMCO Music (physical releases are so passé) embarks on a new adventure with digital distributor Believe Digital with the re-issue of my three solo releases thus far.

#alpacablues (2014)

#alpacablues-cover-sm

Previously released only on Bandcamp, this EP is now available at iTunes, Amazon (etc) and the relevant streaming platforms for the first time. Contains the radio-friendly “I Want What I Can’t Have” and you can buy it for a reasonably low price.

iTunes

Emo FASCISM (2013)

EmoFASCISMsm

My first album since 2001, was released on the 20th anniversary of my first LP, Democracy (with Watchmen). Notably distinctive for containing mostly jazz-pop numbers (!) and also having a single rejected for radio play by Mediacorp Radio viz. “Beyond the Ashes”. Now you really need to pick this up!

iTunes

@midnight (2008)

@Midnight

Originally released under the Watchmen moniker (and also only on Bandcamp), I have decided to reclaim @midnight EP as a solo release. Significant for featuring a youthful incarnation of The Groovy People viz. Esther Low (keyboards), James Lye (guitars), Low Han Quan (drums) and Brian Leery (bass). Mid-priced as well! Enjoy…

iTunes

Re-issues of Watchmen, The Crowd and Popland to come in the next two weeks.

… still there’s more … 

Mar 262015
 

Ransom

Power of Pop is always on the lookout for new music that stays faithful to the 60s/70s template for melodic pop-rock or rock ‘n’ roll or power pop. Ransom and the Subset – one fine example of this – is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist RanDair Porter. It’s latest album, No Time to Lose, was released in September 2014 but it’s always better late than never when it comes to great music. For Pop Underground fans, this is really a no-brainer – from the opening Jellyfish-referencing power chords of the infectious “Anna”, it’s clear that Ransom and the Subset has got what it takes to hypnotise like-minded fans of The Cars and Weezer. In particular, the single “Million Out of Me” is an effective ear-worm that will have melody junkies hitting repeat. Read what RanDair has to say about the band and the music.

How did the band get together?

I had a cover band together for the last few years – The band was called “Subset”, because the members were a subset of a band I had in High School. The bass player lived in San Diego and me and the drummer up in Seattle. I had become interested in recording some of my originals but, for whatever reason the project wasn’t something the of the other members were able to participate in. I called the project “Ransom and the Subset” – I did this because I wasn’t sure who would be singing on the project and I did not want to name the band after a single individual. There is no one named “Ransom” in the band.

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Mar 252015
 

POPTV

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware that I am always harping on there not being enough bands/artists parlaying classic pop-rock styles into modern rock. Well actually, that’s not entirely true. I mean, in the sense that there certainly are bands/artists who like me are rather besotted with the pop-rock music of the 60s/70s, it’s just a question of discovering them. And discovering these bands/artists I have been in the last couple of days (thanks in part to Ed Khoo’s recommendation of Tobias Jesso Jr). So, of course, I’d like to share just some of these discoveries with you, kind reader.

Continue reading »

Mar 152015
 

CharlieLimBeep

Last night, spent time with Charlie Lim & the Mothership (and twenty plus lucky fans) as the band recorded a live in-studio performance at The Analog Factory. Organised by BEEP Studios, the idea was to provide a unique listening experience, where the music would be crystal clear courtesy of inline earphones courtesy of Aurisonics. Look out for the video to be uploaded soon!

Mar 012015
 

SpotifyLogo

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware of my obsession with British pop-rock, from The Beatles to the Who to the Kinks to the Stones and on and on and on…  Since the end of the 90s (and the demise of Britpop), I have always been hoping for a revival of British pop-rock (and I do not mean the post-punk revival like The xx! Ugh!!)

Well it’s now 20 years since the heyday of Britpop and surveying the British pop-rock scene in 2015, there appears to be a couple of promising acts that hopefully will make the grade to generate enough buzz for this particular brand of pop-rock to dominate once again. In fact, I have found 20 bands that fit the bill completely – check out my playlist below and do let me know if you have other recommendations?

… still there’s more … 

Feb 252015
 

CampbellApt

The Campbell Apartment, named after a bar hidden inside New York’s Grand Central Station, is the brainchild of Russian born singer-songwriter and oil painter Ari Vais. Ari’s new Sundogs EP is the proverbial breath of fresh air in a modern rock scene obsessed with superficialities. No such issues with Vais and his straightforward musical agenda. The songs take top priority – memorable melodies and relatable lyrics – clothed in classic pop-rock arrangements and instrumentation. Tracks like “Something in the Way” and “Heroic Audio Display” hearken back to a kinder & gentler times (the 90s), the last hurrah of the Pop Underground, where thought and effort are put into communicating a genuine emotional resonance through words and tunes. By the time one gets to the music hall jauntiness of final number “What Do You Think Of That”, it’s easy to feel a sense of regret that there isn’t more. But that’s the harsh reality of releasing marginalised forms of music in 2014. So if you love songs that balances intelligence with musicality, support The Campbell Apartment and the Sundogs EP! Find out below how and why Ari Vais does what he does!

How did you start writing songs?

I must have learned how to play guitar well enough as a 10 year old to learn a bunch of Beatles songs by the time I was in high school, and then Floyd, Zeppelin, finally some REM and Lou Reed songs, and then around 16, a slew of my own songs where the burst of writing didn’t cease until recent years. I still write but not as prolifically. I guess when I started as a teen, the tunes were based on traditional chords, as well as chords that I had no idea what they were, where my fingers were just doing some formation that happened to sound cool and go with the song, because I still didn’t know my way around a guitar that well, and trying for clever words or earnest poetic ones, hopefully with a tiny dash of humor, and a strong melody. The last bit was the most important, and very much still is.

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Feb 012015
 
Photo Credit: Katie Hovland

Photo Credit: Katie Hovland

Gotta hand it to Chicago’s Treasure Fleet, not only did they release two albums within six months of each other in 2012 (the excellent Future Ways and Cocamotion), the band also expanded their horizons by producing a film – Sun Machine – which premiered last year at London’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival.

The soundtrack, available for pre-order now and out February 10th on Recess Records, is a timeless sounding psychedelic rock opus that might very well have been produced in 1969 for all we know! The music of Treasure Fleet is an absolute joy for classic pop-rock (The Who, Pink Floyd) lovers and will definitely appeal to fans of like-minded indie rockers Temples, Pond and Tame Impala.

Thankfully, Isaac Thotz (singer-songwriter) was cool enough to share with us everything (and we do mean EVERYTHING) we needed to know about Treasure Fleet and Sun Machine. Set your controls for the heart of the sun…

What is the motivation behind playing music that some might (erroneously) consider ‘dated’?

What’s funny is I don’t even think of it like that. I remember being a kid in the 80’s and the popular music that was coming out then, I didn’t like the tones and the production, and so I thought contemporary music sounded very dated, just like 70’s haircuts and brown plaid couches looked very dated to me then. And looking back now that music still does sound dated. But that’s always the case in art and pop art that people are going to trend toward certain conventions as a fad. Today there are conventions in popular music and underground music that sound very dated to me. In mainstream pop music, certain inflated acoustic drum and guitar tones are in. Anthemic choruses are in. In underground rock excessive unnatural reverb on vocals is in. In hip hop spastic hi hat sampling is in. Those sorts of production choices all sound very “dated” to me right here in the moment. In terms of our music sounding of a different era, I just have my natural biases and preferences. I like 90’s hip hop drum beats and tones better than today’s. I like the Beatle’s song structures. I like the four piece rock band arrangement. I like the mellotron. I don’t mind trashy rock drums, but I dislike poor singing. I love harmonies. Those are just my own personal biases. But then to get to the motivation of how we want to produce our music-I think we just want it to sound “timeless”. I think there are bands that try to sound much more of a particular era than we do-most often it’s the current era. We don’t approach it like that. Rather, we like to try and make something where people will hopefully go “when was this made”…”where were these guys from”. There’s definitely a starting point from which we’ve taken ideas, basically it’s been from the start of rock and roll. But that’s just a starting point, and we’ve always tried to pull ideas from all eras since. If some of those ideas seem old, it’s because they are. But others are very contemporary, and as I said, the goal is to make the whole thing seem timeless at some point out in the future.

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Jan 302015
 

STEVENWILSON

It’s called Hands. Cannot. Erase. and it already deserves to be hailed as one of the albums of 2015! Known primarily for his progressive rock work with Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson is a singer-songwriter-instrumentalist that is able to encapsulate myriad rock styles into a pleasing whole.

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Jan 292015
 

SpotifyLogo

Oops! Missed a week!! So let’s discover a fortnight’s worth on Spotify.

THE DECEMBERISTS – WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD

Welcome back! The Decemberists represent old school pop-rock values where folk and country music are twinned with alternative rock mindsets. For this new album, Colin Meloy and company also recall their early indie-pop days with bright tunes like “Calvary Captain” and “Philomena” standing out from the stellar quirky country-folk pop fare. Essential!

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Jan 202015
 

CambridgePromo

Aussie punk rockers Cambridge to open for New Found Glory in Singapore. Listen to “Head Over Heels” and “Hit and Run” below.

Event Details
Event Title: New Found Glory Live in Singapore 2015
Date: Thursday 12th February 2015
Venue: SCAPE The Ground Theatre
Time: 8.00PM
Event Hashtag: #NFGSG

Ticketing Details
Ticketing: http://newfoundglory.peatix.com
VIP: $118 (Meet & Greet / Photo Opp with NFG)
Standard: $78
Early Bird: $68 (until 31 December 2359hrs, or until sold-out)
At Door (12 Feb): $98
*All ticket prices includes ticket fee. All prices in SG$

Jan 162015
 

Rundman

The best part about running Power of Pop for over 15 years is the opportunity to interact with artists who are as obsessed about music as I am. Case in point: singer-songwriter Jonathan Rundman whom I first got a review request from, in 1998! Since then, we have remained in contact whenever Rundman had a new release – which I was more than happy to review. So it’s particularly satisfying to write about Rundman’s latest release – LOOK UP!

Rundman is the classic pop-rock singer-songwriter as he combines elements of country-folk in a smart amalgam of 60s and 70s pop and rock influences and certainly fans of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bruce Cockburn will warm to his music easily. After all, when melodic pleasure meets with clever lyricism, it isn’t too demanding to desire further investigation.

Continue reading »

Jan 152015
 

GarfieldsBirthday

For better or worse, Garfields Birthday is a Power of Pop kind of band. Meaning that the music of Garfields Birthday upholds all the principles that Power of Pop believes must exist in order for music to be vital and powerful. Strong melodies with classic pop-rock arrangements and an uncompromising attitude to make music that is all about… the music.

Since the mid-90s – the height of Britpop – Garfields Birthday has been sporadically releasing EPs and albums that have never failed to adhere to the classic pop-rock aesthetic, even as this kind of music continues to be marginalized in the mainstream pop world.

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Jan 142015
 

SpotifyLogo

What’s new this second week of the year? Let’s check in with Spotify, shall we?

MARK RONSON – UPTOWN SPECIAL

Fairly old school soul in tone from the British famed producer. Actually though the album’s introductory track was a rip off of Stevie Wonder, when it’s the man himself. Doh! Probably the hipster-est release this week.

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Jan 092015
 

Jellyfish-4

Once upon a time, there was a music industry that existed where music fans had to actually buy records, cassettes or compact discs if they wanted to listen to their favorite music anytime they wanted. And whilst the bands & artists did not see much of the money generated from the purchases, they were often given the funds to record ambitious sounding music that the bands & artists had percolating in their talented little minds.

Continue reading »

Jan 062015
 

NFG

New Found Glory have announced new tour dates in Southeast Asia for February 2015. Commencing on February 6th, the tour goes through Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand before ending on February 12th in Singapore.

Upcoming Southeast Asian Tour Dates:

February 6th – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Bentley Music Auditorium (Indoor)
Tickets: http://www.mcmticket.com.my

February 8th – Manila, Philippines, Skydome
Tickets: http://www.smtickets.com/

February 10th – Bangkok, Thailand, Live House Studio
Tickets: https://www.facebook.com/livehousebkk

February 12th, Singapore, SCAPE Warehouse
Tickets: http://www.newfoundglory.peatix.com/

Check out the music video for the band’s new single, “Stubborn”.

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 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 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 122014
 

PUPtheBand

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.

Official Site

… still there’s more …

Nov 092014
 

MyracleBrah

“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?

... still there’s more … 

Oct 312014
 

280

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!!!

Cold Fronts online:
www.coldfronts.us
facebook.com/coldfrontsmusic
twitter.com/coldfrontsmusic
instagram.com/coldfronts
youtube.com/coldfrontsmusic

… still there’s more …

Oct 172014
 

BarrBros

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!

Official Site

Thanks to Nick Whitcomb for the recommendation!