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Sep 182014
 
Pic by Ger O'Donnell

Pic by Ger O’Donnell

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.

Pugwash A Rose In A Garden Digi

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…

Sep 112014
 

MB-sand-and-the-rain-cover

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.

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Sep 092014
 

Ex-Boo Radley Martin Carr is back with a new single and a new album. Absolutely digging the old school soul vibe! Watch the official video now!

Carr’s new single “The Santa Fe Skyway” is available at : http://tinyurl.com/l2nwffu
His new album The Breaks will be out on CD/LP on September 26, 2014.
All info here: http://tinyurl.com/k6ndgp3

PoPTV

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Jul 042014
 

POPTV

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!

Official Site

… still there’s more …

May 252014
 

Photo 25-5-14 1 24 06 am

Better late than never, eh?

Oliver Mann (JPNSGRLS) was raving about Korean alt-electro rockers Love X Stereo and so upon his recommendation, I followed him to Paulaner for the band’s final gig at Music Matters Live 2014 at 1 am. What I witnessed was an epiphany! The tunes had epic pop melodies, the arrangements were tight with a post-punk revival vibe but ultimately it was charismatic vocalist/synth player Annie Ko that sealed the deal for me.

Upon further investigation, it appears that Annie and guitarist/producer Toby were both part of a ska-punk band called Skrew Attack and re-invented themselves as Love X Stereo in 2011 (and picked up bassist Sol along the way). With critically acclaimed releases Off the Grid and Flow under their belts and significant appearances at top indie rock festivals, Love X Stereo is definitely a band to explore.

Hopefully, we will be able to get PoP fans an interview with Annie soon. In the meantime, enjoy…

Official Site

 

Jan 112014
 

Suzanne Vega returns to Singapore in April. Only 245 tickets will be available for this special intimate performance. Vega is touring in support of her new album “Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles”, to be released on 2 Feb 2014.

Date : 1 April 2014
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio
Tickets: $148 on sale at www.sistic.com from 23 Jan 2014.

Jan 092014
 

Here’s the schedule for St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore on 25th January. It’s heartening to see that Singapore acts have been given due respect and equal treatment as they should be.  Apart from The Observatory, Vandetta and Gema, I am looking forward to The Jezabels, Kurt Vile, Frightened Rabbit and Savages.

Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/GABVu4 or http://bit.ly/16ECcIQ before its too late!

DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

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Dec 312013
 

Electric Light Orchestra

Regular visitors to PoP will be aware that I believe that the 70s was the finest decade for pop and rock music ever. And one excellent resource which allows the avid music fan to access this classic rock music is Spotify (haha you saw that coming!). But seriously folks, I’d like to leave you with introductory playlists I’ve curated of three classic 70s rock bands, which I hope will encourage you to explore more on Spotify.

Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 

There’s little doubt that Cliff Richard is the one true Peter Pan of pop music. Now in his early 70s, he still looks and sounds good enough to belt out his famous hits in his own inimitable way. The set list on this performance video is dominated by his earliest numbers, like “Livin’ Doll”, “Move It”, “Young Ones” and “In the Country” etc but as well as the obligatory 70s songs like “Devil Woman”, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and “Wired for Sound”. Naturally, unless you are a diehard Richard fan, there is nothing much here for even the most studious of rock scholars. It’s all rather glitzy and entertaining – not necessarily a bad thing but Richard represented the musical establishment that the likes of The Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks et al would soon overturn and by now, it’s appeal is limited at best.

2013: THE YEAR IN MUSIC

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Dec 282013
 

DaftPunk

Was 2013 a good year for popular music? It all depends on your definition of a ‘good year’. I believe that since the end of the 90s, the decline in the quality of popular music being written and recorded has been alarming. Compared to the previous 40 years, it’s fair to say that much of the popular music that has come out of the new millennium has been – with some exceptions, of course – largely forgettable.

Continue reading »

Dec 282013
 

Finally! Charlie Lim has released two new singles (viz. “Bitter” and “Conspiracy”) and both tracks can be downloaded for FREE from Bandwagon (limited to first 1000 signups) so HURRY!!!!

Suffice to say, “Bitter” is a heart-wrenchingly gorgeous jazz-pop piece with dynamism, virtuosity and dollops of soul that deserves to be a worldwide hit (whatever that means nowadays) – please don’t miss out! “Conspiracy” demonstrates a different side of Charlie as smooth R&B inflections, infectious funky beats and cool vibes make the song a hot dancefloor hit contender! Another essential track for your collection!

Find out more about Charlie Lim here.

Apr 202013
 

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 23rd.  Fans can stream the song and view the official lyric video starting today at Sarabmusic.com or check it out right below…

PoPTV: BEATLESQUE

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Mar 252013
 

“Beatlesque” is one of my favorite music terms. I mean, who wouldn’t want to listen to music that sounds like The Beatles, eh? Of course, the key is not slavish imitation but to use the influence of The Beatles as a springboard for (hopefully) fresh ideas. Here are some bands that certainly come to mind, when the term “Beatlesque” is brandished about…

THE BYRDS – ALL I REALLY WANNA DO

Yes, I am aware that the song was written but by Bob Dylan, but The Byrds arranged Dylan’s folkie “All I Really Wanna Do” deliberately to reflect their love of the Fab Four, especially on the bridge. And let’s not even get into the hairdos…

BADFINGER – DAY AFTER DAY

A little cheatin’ here cos Badfinger was actually signed to Apple Records and this single was also produced by George Harrison so the comparisons with their heroes were always fairly obvious. Great song still…and certainly a foundation for numerous power pop bands to come…

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP

ELO was formed by Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood to re-create the Beatles psychedelic classics (like “I Am A Walrus”) live. When Wood left, Lynne turned the band into a hit-making machine in the 70s. Beatles inspirations always began as a starting point (like here, the rhythm of the middle section to “A Day in a Life”) to something entire new and different. In a league of its own.

OASIS – ALL AROUND THE WORLD

To the current generation, the closest one is going to get to The Beatles reference would probably be through Oasis. Often derided as Beatles copyists, in fact, the Gallagher brothers succeeded in copping the imagery and look of The Beatles, rather than any creative impetus. That and Liam Gallagher’s ludicrous attempts to imitate John Lennon’s singing style. Best forgotten.

To be honest, it is almost impossible to escape the influence of The Beatles in modern music, whatever ‘genre’ you may choose to discuss. The legacy of The Beatles was not merely four chords, clever bridges and three-part harmonies but constant experimentation. When that stopped (listen to Let It Be, folks), then it was time for The Beatles to end. The above examples only highlight a very simplified perception of what the term “Beatlesque” means and usually referred to by people as Beatles music pre-Revolver, when The Beatles was much much more than that… but that’s another story altogether.

 

Mar 202013
 

A review from 2002.

ANDY PARTRIDGE Fuzzy Warbles Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (APE)

As any card-carrying XTC fanatic will inform you, the Swindon-based band spent the better part of the 90s on strike from their record label Virgin, finally earning their freedom from a draconian contract sometime in 1998. The band then set up their own label – Idea – and proceeded to release two albums (Apple Venus & Wasp Star) in consecutive years!

So it certainly behooves the band to flood the market with as many XTC-related products as possible just to make up for lost time. So whilst ecstatic fans have been lapping up the demo and instrumental versions of the two latest albums and Virgin was kind enough to issue the Coat of Many Cupboards box set, the duo decided to begin releasing the voluminous demos (subject of legend and lore and much bootlegging) Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding amassed during that seven-year industrial action.

Alas, Moulding changed his mind and so we have volumes one and two of Fuzzy Warbles as Partridge begins an ambitious program to give his fans what they have been waiting for a long time.

And is it all worth the wait and the expense? Why most certainly! Here’s why…

From Volume One, Partridge includes the delightful “Dame Fortune” (inextricably left off Apple Venus One), the bouncy “Don’t Let Us Bug You” (written for Disney’s animated James and the Giant Peach – now that would have been something!), a fiery demo of “That Wave” (off Nonsuch) that surpasses the recorded version for sheer intensity, the folky “Everything” (excluded from Oranges and Lemons), the whimsical “Goosey Goosey” (also for Nonsuch), the chirpy “Summer Hot As This” (circa 1984 – with erstwhile member Dave Gregory on guitar, a bonus!) and the offbeat “Wonder Annual” (another that failed to make the grade for Nonsuch).

Slide in Volume Two and one gets the unusually stripped down and straightforward “I Don’t Want To Be Here” (recorded for a AIDS Charity disc), the domestic tirade “Young Marrieds” – ‘Love and marriage go hand in hand like horse and horse shit’ (meant for Wasp Star), the political “Obscene Procession” – a precursor of “President Kill” perhaps? (for Skylarking apparently), the jaunty “Ra Ra Rehearsal” & “Ra Ra For Red Rocking Horse” (not quite up to the rest of Psonic Psunspot, I wager), the McCartney-esque “Everything’ll Be Alright” (also for Giant Peach), the frenetic “Chain of Command” (a blast from the past, 1979 in fact!), a gorgeously cod-psychedelic version of Nonsuch’s “Then She Appeared,” the lovely enigmatic “It’s Snowing Angels” (circa 1990) and the vivid “Ship Trapped In the Ice,” written to reflect XTC’s Virgin dilemma.

And there you have it, not meant for the XTC newbie but once you picked up every single fantastic work released by this awesome band, then Fuzzy Warbles tend to become fairly indispensable items to have and to hold. For even if the discs did not contain precious XTC artifacts, the professional sound and overall amazing quality of the tracks here make Fuzzy Warbles important albums for any serious-minded music fan to explore and absorb. A+ (Vol. 1) & A (Vol. 2)

Buy

Mar 082013
 

Beautiful Mess Album Cover

First thing one notices when listening to Natalie Hiong‘s new EP is the sound production — a marked improvement from her debut EP certainly. This time around, everything one hears seems more organic and more ‘human’, and it’s much easier to get into the songs itself. Natalie has also improved in the vocal department and extended her range of singing styles as well. No longer relying on the cutesy little girl vibe of her debut EP, one senses that this is a chanteuse now coming into her own.

Continue reading »

Mar 042013
 
Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

WAS IT ALL A DREAM WITH NORAH JONES? 

Treading on partially wet grounds for my first concert-going experience at the west side of Singapore, The Star Performing Arts Centre served as a blooming fresh outlet for events of sorts. Despite the grandeur of the new environs, it was let down somewhat by the spectacle of snaking (really year of the snake, isn’t it?) queue lines at the ticketing counter .

Continue reading »

Mar 012013
 
Courtesy of Dominic Phua & Now/Live

Courtesy of Dominic Phua & Now/Live

Judging by the response at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Tuesday night, Ellie Goulding’s first performance in Singapore was an undisputed success.

The full house consisted of a good mix of young tweens and older hipsters, who eagerly lapped up her every word and note. Even Goulding herself repeatedly remarked at her awe and surprise with the number of people at her first show here.

Starting off the night with songs mainly from her recently released sophomore album, Halcyon, such as “Figure 8” and “My Blood”, Ellie Goulding blew us away from the very start with her beautiful voice. It was amazing to hear the entire audience sing along to the chorus of “Guns and Horses”. However, it took some time for the sound engineer to get the mixing right, as it was difficult to hear her voice over her backing track in the beginning.

Also, it appeared that she took a while to adjust to the stage, only moving around to interact with the inviting audience after taking awhile to get used to the venue.

Goulding was not fazed for too long though, and one of the most memorable segments of the concert was when she slowed things down with tracks like “I Know You Care” (she admitted it was about her father) and “Joy”. The audience was also in for a special treat as she sang a wonderful cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”.

Picking things back up with harder hitting songs “Only You” and “Salt Skin”, Goulding gamely danced in her sheer dress through these songs, eliciting more cheers from her fans. During other parts of the show, she also treated the audience to performances of “Hanging On” and “I Need Your Love”, which she wrote with Tinie Tempah and Calvin Harris respectively.

Most of all, it was impressive to see how she took her music to a whole new level with her live show. Her music sounded so much bigger, expansive, richer and complex live than on her studio albums. Moreover, her live energy was explosive, even reminiscent of Hayley Williams (of Paramore fame).

All in all, Eliie Goulding had great charm and clearly enjoyed performing, and her infectious energy in turn made it especially fun and enjoyable for all present. With “Lights” as her final euphoric song, she left everyone without a doubt that she could just very well be the reigning queen of the current crop of synth rock songstresses.

(Melissa Ng)

Thanks to Dan Gordon (Now/Live) for making this review possible.

 

 

Feb 252013
 

Sarah_Showcase_Class95_CS5-(public)

Here’s your chance to catch Sarah Cheng-De Winne live as she delivers her soulful pop music with her deep, sultry vocals.

The showcase is open to the public, as long as you bring a physical copy of Sarah’s album that you have previously purchased, or you can purchase a copy at the venue (one per person). Check out the album sampler below.

Official Facebook Page

Feb 212013
 

This is so infectious it should be illegal! Seriously!! I first saw Dru Chen at an open mike years ago and was deeply impressed with his swagger and innate soulfulness BUT this new single from the Melbourne based modern soul singer-songwriter exceeds all expectations. I mean, “You Bring Out the Best in Me” should be blaring out of every single radio station in Singapore. Be warned though, once that groove hooks in, you’re in trouble. Awesome.

Official Page

Buy now!

 

Feb 142013
 

I was interviewed by my former Budding Writer mentee Karen Gwee (now New Paper reporter) last night about the whole Ken Lim saga and she brought up an intriguing point about how the local indie scene may also have the commercial potential needed to save the local music industry from the verge of extinction, as Ken eloquently (and quite correctly) reckoned.

Case in point – this new single from The Summer State – which video has already garnered over 4,000 views in about a day! Rather removed from the emo-pop-punk style that I remembered the band playing in various auditions/gigs I have witnessed before. In fact, the song is a very radio-friendly pop ballad and targeted for mainstream audiences, with shiny production values to boot. Not my cup of tea, mind you, but I can understand the appeal the track will have for teenagers and tweens and this can only be a good thing for the local music scene. Check it out.

Official page

Jan 242013
 

Screen shot 2013-01-24 at AM 09.33.03

 

Charles J Tan is back with the first single from his upcoming album, Maybe Somewhere North. According to Tan, “the single is an upbeat tune that celebrates friendship, love and community”. The song features Aarika Lee (of SIXX) on guest vocals. It’s a toe tapper for sure, and perfect for those cool sunny mornings that hopefully we’ll get more of in surprising Singapore.

The official music video will be released on 14 February 2013 to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Charles will kick off a series of album launches starting with the first full band concert of the year at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre at Mosaic Music Festival on 11 March 2013. Fans can expect to hear the new album performed live for the first time ever in Singapore. In the meantime, check out the lyric video below and if you like what you hear (and why wouldn’t you?), pick it up at iTunes.

Official Site

 

Jan 202013
 

Rockmui Ellen Loo

To be honest, I never expected to write this review. Up to the point that I received the email from Peipei (LIKES Communications), I had not even heard of Hong Kong/Canadian singer-songwriter Ellen Loo. And when Peipei invited me to catch Ellen’s show at the Esplanade Recital Studio, I was feeling a bit mixed. After all, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of Mandarin pop but I thought – “nothing ventured, nothing gained” – and I am so glad that I took the plunge.

Continue reading »

Jan 142013
 

image003-2

 

This is gonna be FUN. (Sorry)

The band that has captured the hearts and minds of people with its breakthrough #1 hits, “We Are Young” and “Some Nights”, will be making their way to Singapore! Don’t miss out on the experience to catch this pop phenomenon LIVE and be treated to a night of pure good FUN! (Sorry, again!)

Ticket Price: S$68 (Standard) (excluding S$3 SISTIC booking fee) Tickets will go on sale on January 15th at 9am via www.sistic.com.sg.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/126212707546698/ for more info.

Organized by Warner Music Singapore.