THE 88

THE 88 Self-titled (88/Rocket Science)

As the years progress, I find it more difficult to properly describe the music of a band that has its roots in the 60s or 70s. Nowadays, the youngsters don’t even seem to recognize bands from the 90s never mind 20/30 years before. Which is a bit of a problem with LA power pop quartet The 88 as the band is quite obviously heavily in debt to the seminal works of the Kinks. Not surprising as the 88 has been participating recently in worldwide tours as both opening and backing band for Ray Davies of The Kinks!

Continue reading “THE 88”

AMY REGAN

AMY REGAN Gonna Get Better EP (Self-released)

I’d like to begin this review by saying that I tend to shy away from anything touted as having “pop sensibilities”– said sensibilities are really not my cup of tea, and more often indicative of my inability to sit through an entire song.

Happily, Gonna Get Better, the debut EP from Amy Regan, posed no such problem for me.  The four-track album spans a surprising range of emotion, opening with the toe-tapping, hope-filled eponymous track before dropping into the sweetly melancholic Keep You Warm. This regretful paean to mismatched love was the standout track for me on the EP, driven by Regan’s wistful vocals and folk-infused piano. The third track on the list, Crazy, re-ups the tempo to deliver a energetic ode to joie de vivre, while the final track Just Once More is gently acoustic, bringing the album to a crisp, simple close.

Regan ties the EP together with a voice that posesses both the promise of youth & the soulfulness of older artistes like Aimee Mann & Joni Mitchell. The songs are light fare, clocking in at under three minutes each. The wedding of memorable hooks with folksy sentiment prevents the easy, radio-friendly melodies from slipping into the realm of the trite. I found its charm irresistible, suitable listening for lazy summery weekends.

Gonna Get Better will be released on the 27th of July.

(JY Yang)

Myspace

ENRIQUE IGLESIAS

ENRIQUE IGLESIAS Euphoria (Universal)

You’re probably wondering what I’m doing reviewing pop fluff like this. Well, didn’t Sun Tzu say – “know your enemies”? Seriously, folks, listening to the songs on this, Iglesias’ 9th album gives you an idea of what true blue music lovers are up against.

I mean, how do you compete with this? You’ve got to admire the hard work and effort in presenting the pristine, commercial music one will find on Euphoria. Collaborations abound as the album features the likes of Pitbull, Akon, Nicole Scherzinger and Usher and the album is half English and half Spanish. Talk about hedging your bets.

Poppy dance tracks collide with hip hop ballads whilst the Latin American undercurrent ties it all together. And before almost every single track, Iglesias has to speak his own name…?!?! I must confess I really don’t get it… is it all marketing hype, Iglesia’s good looks or cheesy music? All of the above?

*sigh*

SCISSOR SISTERS

SCISSOR SISTERS Night Work (Universal)

Sorry, children, but this review has been hijacked by Aunty Dowdy –

Oh my goodness, what is this filth we are inflicting on our poor innocent children? I mean, look at that horribly suggestive cover – buns that tight should be baked and not gloried in! And *gasp* do you know what the name of the band means? It’s a ghastly position that I could only tolerate once as I pulled my hamstring. Disgraceful!

And don’t get me started on those disgusting lyrics! I can barely type them out…

“Take me anyway you like it; in front of the fireplace, in front of your yacht, in front of my parents, I don’t give a damn baby, just take me.” (Any Which Way)

“Harder you get/Caught in my sweat/Never too wet/To want it all” (Harder You Get)

“Sex and violence/Hit me with a lover, burns so bright/And one is just the other/Sweetest tastes, never gonna leave you/Even when it hurts you, breathe it, breathe it” (Sex and Violence)

I think I’m gonna puke. Finally, there’s the decadent 70s disco music that sounds all too much like Elton John, ABBA, the Bee Gees, Blondie, KC and the Sunshine Band, Duran Duran David Bowie, Kiss, Queen, Chic. Sick!!!

They’re all going to hell together! If you don’t want to, then you’d better not listen to Scissor Sisters!!!

Aunty Dowdy still listens to Frank Sinatra and Pat Boone, believes that George W Bush was the best President ever and is praying for the day when good old fashioned family values will return to the world.

INCH CHUA

INCH CHUA Wallflower (Aging Youth)

The strength of Inch’s debut LP is not merely evidenced by the two catchy openers viz. Mt Epiphany and Rule the World, but by her ambition in presenting an artistic mission statement that prizes the song above the appearance of the hip and cool.

My personal observation of many young Singaporean singer-songwriters is a cloying need for acceptance rather than an allegiance to the form itself. However, there are of course the exceptions, where passion and verve are injected into songs like labors of love.

Thus in tracks like Hurt and Discern, the use of jazz structures highlight intricate melodies and chord patterns. Elsewhere, the heartfelt title track (with a truly affecting violin performance from Ismahairie Putra), the insightful Red Dot (with obligatory ukulele), the atonal Cold, Conned & Conquered and the piano ballad Have It Your Way deliver a consistent, uniformed maturity in composition and execution.

Standing out and holding her own, Wallflower is the sound of a performer coming of age, you might say. There’s precious little pandering to the masses here as Inch plots her own path to musical achievement. When Inch does decide to be pretty, there’s always the melodic candy of Mt Epiphany and Rule the World to more than provide the sugar rush.

Wallflower will be released on Saturday 17 July 2010 as a free download www.inchchua.com.

Inch will launch Wallflower (together with backing band, the Metric System) at the Esplanade Recital Studio, on Friday 30th July at 9.30pm. Tickets – S$25 (excluding taxes) at all SISTIC outlets. Not to be missed!

DANIKA HOLMES

DANIKA HOLMES Second Chances (Self-released)

Now here is a straight-forward country-pop singer-songwriter with a no-frills, down-to-earth approach, to appeal to country music fans who are tired of the artifice and pretense of the modern country music scene.

Songs like Half As Strong As You, Lock Me In Tonight, Time For A Change and the title track will put a smile effortlessly on country music fans as Holmes’ smooth vocal demeanor and folksy songwriting style makes for easy listening pleasure.

That all said, the highlight of the album comes with You Make A Bad Day Good, the only time Holmes takes a break from country music, and indulges in good old fashioned classic pop. Jazzy and breezy, the track would make a good lead single if Holmes ever wanted to considered a cross-market foray.

One tiny caveat – whilst Holmes has a pleasing voice and good musical support on this debut album, the songwriting certainly needs to be a little bit more matured and savvy to take Holmes into the next level. An infusion of edge would definitely help as well. That sophomore LP should be interesting.

More information about Danika Holmes may be found at www.danikaholmes.com.

SEZAIRI SEZALI

SEZAIRI SEZALI Take Two (Universal)

Is the title “Singapore Idol” a plus or minus? It all depends on your perception of the two previous Singapore Idols, doesn’t it? Our latest Singapore Idol, Sezairi Sezali, considers himself an “indie” artist having cut his teeth with Singapore “indie” band Juxtapose, prior to his competing in Singapore Idol.

On this debut album – Take Two – Universal has roped in a producer with “indie” cred viz. Jason Tan, best known to 90s Singapore “indie” buffs as the man behind electronica outfit Covent Garden. Sezali himself appears to embrace the “indie” spirit, believing that Singapore has a strong music scene and indie bands have loads of drive. Although the local crowd is not enough to sustain but the talent is evident.

Not that Take Two can be considered an “indie” album, as its songs are obviously targeted for mainstream audiences, as they should be (Sezali is a Singapore Idol!). The stronger tracks tend to be songs taken from the Universal Publishing stable e.g. the sophisticated ballad, Somebody Like You and the breezy folk tune, Broken, covers of well known songs like Don Henley’s Heart of the Matter and Crowded House’s Better Be Home Soon.

Sezali emphasized that he and producer Tan had 50-50 input into the making of Take Two, with co-songwriting credits on a fair number of tracks. Of these, the soulful Smokey Robinson-channeling Morning Coffee and the old school poppy Would She Know (complete with the obligatory cliched ukelele) are the definite highlights.

The rest of Take Two does not quite match the quality shown on the above tracks, especially the risible by-the-numbers Ken Lim-penned ballad that is Touched By An Angel. There are also a couple of attempts at commercial faux-R&B and formulaic folk-pop that don’t quite cut the mustard as well.

Overall, in the context of Singapore mainstream pop music, I would consider Take Two a success. Let’s face it – the Singapore music scene desperately needs an English music star to change the mindsets of Singaporeans and Sezairi Sezali has a good chance as any to facilitate that change with Take Two. So I’m glad to report that whilst flawed in some areas, there is enough on Take Two to make it worth checking out for Sezali fans and fans of Singapore music.

THE BRITANNICAS

THE BRITANNICAS S/t (Kool Kat Musik)

I guess you could say that the Britannicas (Magnus Karlsson – Guitar/Vocals, Herb Eimerman – Bass/Vocals, Joe Algeri – Drums/Vocals) offer a encyclopedic approach to their power pop music making. The eponymous album covers quintessential power pop viz. 60s Merseybeat (Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Beatles), jangle pop (the Searchers, the Byrds) and 70s classic pop-rock (Raspberries, Badfinger).

Recorded in the members’ home studios spread out over three continents – Sweden, USA and Australia – the execution of the pristine power pop ideas suffers a little due to this, in my view. In particular, I feel that a fair amount of the vocals just do not complement the music and lets down the overall melodic content somewhat.

That said, a number of songs do offer sumptuous tunes (Eg. Stars, Ordinary Day and Blue Sky Grey) with welcomed diversions into country and chamber pop, that raises the material above the technical and production difficulties. I would certainly recommend the Britannicas to lovers of power pop the way it was meant to be approached and presented.

Myspace | Kool Kat Musik

THE HARVEY GIRLS

THE HARVEY GIRLS The Prisoners of Candy Island (Circle Into Square)

Someone help me out here: If a band says, “Oh, we play bubblegum pop,” are you going to be expecting sprawling, eclectic jungles of drum loops, vocal samples and synthesized swirls? Yet in the weird and wonderful alternate universe that The Harvey Girls inhabit, that’s exactly what they mean. It’s not like someone was trying to be ironic either: the songs on this five-track EP entitled The Prisoners of Candy Island are entirely irony free.

Instead, in their own kooky, adorable way, Hiram Lucke and his wife Melissa Rodenbeek have successfully married the melodic, cheerful sunshine of pop acts like the Beach Boys and the Shangri-Las with the freeform eclecticism of Captain Beefheart. Top that off with bold experimental production that takes a leaf from the book of hip-hop crew De La Soul, and you have yourself a smashing formula.

Don’t just take my word for it: Check out second track Tickle, and try not to fall madly into the love-pit that the hooky piano riffs and synthesizer touches dig. Or the delicious bleep-bloop jangle of Song XLIII (My Roman numerals aren’t all that great, so I won’t bother messing around with trying to figure the numbers.) This is bubblegum pop, all right, but with the gum firmly stretched out and blown to its limits, until everything explodes in a burst of juicy flavour. Tasty.

(Samuel C Wee)

Download The Prisoners of Candy Island for free at the Official Site below.

Official Site | Myspace

JACK JOHNSON

JACK JOHNSON To The Sea (Universal)

This is the ultimate commercial folk-pop music. You know the kind that makes the world go round. With unassuming tunes and light lyrical concepts, the soft rock music is so bland and inoffensive that it’s no wonder that it sells as much as it does. And Johnson has not changed the formula remotely over the course of his five albums. Well, I guess that it’s not Johnson’s fault if people continue to buy his music is it?

I mean, I get the surfer dude-beach bum schtick but I’m amazed that after all these years, people have not cottoned on to the fact that Johnson’s has been releasing the same album over and over again! Again, from Johnson’s perspective, if it ain’t broke, why fix it eh?

Basically, if you liked Johnson’s previous albums, you’re gonna want To The Sea as well. Strictly for the fans only.

YAEL MEYER

YAEL MEYER Heartbeat EP (Self-released)

I’ve said this before and it bears repeating. I don’t care what you look like or whether you’ve got perfect pitch, if you write songs that are sweet to the ear and touch the hear, you’ve got my vote!

Now, singer-songwriter Yael Meyer is candy both to eye and ear – which is fine in themselves – but what counts to me is her talented songwriting which keeps things sincere and simple. Melodies that ring out, complemented by instrumentation that completes the pleasing package.

I guess you could say that Meyer’s style is mainly soft folk-pop, with equal emphasis on both. This 5-track EP is near perfection – in that I cannot find much wrong with it. Crystal clear vocals & harmonies, pristine acoustic guitars and tight percussions envelope these enjoyable songs. So really, there’s little point in highlighting any particular track cos you’re going to want to listen from start to finish and back to start again. Then repeat.

Female singer-songwriters are dime-a-dozen in 2010 but I appreciate the “old-school” approach that Meyer takes to songcraft. It’s really song first and everything else is built up from that foundation. Yes, folks, I surprised at how much I really liked the Heartbeat EP, but believe me, this one’s a keeper.

Official Site

MySpace

PoP TV

1960

What was the music scene like in 1960? Well, it seemed that rock ‘n’ roll had come and gone and the popular songs were ballads. Here are some of the hits from half a century ago.

Elvis Presley – Are You Lonesome Tonight

Roy Orbison – Only the Lonely

The Miracles – Shop Around

The Shadows – Apache

Will any song from 2010 still be remembered in 2060?

NICK TAN

I first met Nick Tan during the interview for Noise’s The Apprenticeship Programme in 2008. Prior to the interview, I had – based on the music clips submitted by the various applicants – narrowed the choices in my mind to about three to four aspiring singer-songwriters. When Nick was interviewed, I sensed that Nick lacked the self-confidence that belied his talent and ability and my heart went out to him as I saw in him a bit of my self as a young man. So I selected Nick as my apprentice.

Throughout the programme, I had no doubt about Nick’s songwriting ability and performing skills, what he truly needed was belief in himself and that was my main priority – to be his cheerleader. And I am so proud of what he has achieved in the last two years and it is an honour that my own label, KAMCO Music is able to present Nick’s debut EP, Arranged Accidents, which has just been released.

These 5 tracks emphasize what an exciting talent Nick is, and his highly accessible songs should appeal to music lovers everywhere. My personal favourites are the jaunty One Week, the fragile Bright Lights and the heartfelt You. You, in particular, brought me to tears, the first time I heard it when Nick sent over a demo recording last year. Yes, folks its that good.

What more can I say? It’s not a question of supporting Nick just because he is an S-ROCK artist (although that is good) but more of buying a CD that will entertain and touch you.

Arranged Accidents is available at all Starbucks outlets during the month of May. Nick will be performing at the following Starbucks outlets at times and dates indicated –

Liat Towers – 8th May, 4pm

Raffles City – 15th May, 4pm

ION Orchard – 22nd May, 4pm

Paragon – 29th May, 4pm

The EP will also be available at HMV and at getupmerch.com soon.

Download EP sampler here.

…still there’s more…

KEWEI

Kewei is a young singer who has been steadily making a name for herself in the music scene in Singapore and abroad. She has performed alongside David Tao, Lee Hom and A-mei. She is mostly self-funded, having set-up her own company to manage and provide musicians for various performances at events in Singapore

This talented and independent lass has recently cut a fun, independent EP, entitled KEEP! with her keyboardist partner Ein Ein. The EP was well-received globally, with fans from Thailand, Japan and even Canada requesting for it! Much to the delight of her fans, the doed-eyed duo has embarked on an Asian tour to promote KEEP! After successful stopovers in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the pair is currently in Singapore before rounding up promotions in Kuala Lumpur.

On 2nd May Kewei and Ein Ein will be launching KEEP! at K-Box K-Union at Cathay Cineleisure. Admission is free. Details are as follows –

Event: KEEP! Singapore Launch + Mini Concert

Location: K-Box K-Union, Cathay Cineleisure Level 8

Date: 2 May 2010, Sunday 3PM

Blog

MySpace

Facebook

BOYZONE

BOYZONE Brother (Polydor/Universal)

The reunited boy band’s comeback album has unfortunately become a tribute to its late member, Stephen Gateley, who passed away in October last year. Apart from that, Brother is significant for featuring the Mika-penned single Gave It All Away – which has Gateley’s vocals – a reggae-infused pop ballad reminiscient of UB40’s cover of Neil Diamond’s Red Red Wine. An unusually potent pop song, I must confess, to be found on a boy band album.

The rest of Brother is pretty much boy band throwaway pop fodder but an overall good listen for casual pop listeners (which probably make up the majority of music lovers out there in the pop wasteland). If mainstream pop is your cup o’ tea, you will adore Boyzone’s Brother…

PoP CLASSICS

ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK Architecture & Morality (Dindisc, 1981)

My first encounter with OMD (like many other post-punk bands) was  the documentary Urgh! A Music War and the wonderful Enola Gay. I believe I purchased a US printed LP that compiled tracks from the 1st two OMD albums (purely for Enola Gay, of course) and then not long after that, Architecture & Morality, which was released at the tail end of 1981.

It is probably one of my favourite albums of the synth-pop era and to this day is an LP I can easily (and comfortably) listen to from start to finish – a rarity.

The album opens with mechanical noises, jangly guitars and jarring mellotrons before Andy McCluskey weighs in with his trademark awkward vocals. Like most early OMD, it is a unique combination of the bitter and the sweet. The quaint She’s Leaving follows, as the band demonstrates that it is as deft at McCartneyesque melodicism as any 70s powerpop outfit. Then Souvenir comes in to deliver the perfect sugar-rush with a truly memorable synth riff and Paul Humpreys’ fey vocals.

The beauty of OMD was that it was able to write experimental instrumental sound collages as well as hit singles. This appealed greatly to a music lover like me that appreciated the Beatles and Pink Floyd, ELO and Genesis. Sealand and the title track were great examples of this ability. In between, these tracks were two singles concerning Joan of Arc – both were top 5 hits – and together with Souvenir (which claimed the #3 spot) ensured that Architecture & Morality would be OMD’s best selling album (to the tune of 3 million copies sold).

For me, OMD was a fine example of a band that were recording for the sheer love of the music. The image of the band was communciated through stylish album covers (by Peter Saville) and artful yet infectious songs, all the while maintaining an experimental edge to their idiosyncratic songs.

The album closes with the bouncing Georgia and the thoughtful The Beginning and the End.

OMD would never quite attain the peaks of this album, with each succeeding album marking the band’s inevitable commercial and critical decline. Still, for having produced Architecture & Morality, OMD deserve their place in the post-punk hall of fame.

A truly essential album.

KRIS ALLEN LIVE IN SINGAPORE

There was a time when it didn’t really matter how a band looked like. It was all about the music. Throughout rock history, there have been bands who have flourished despite not possessing the right image or look. Of course, most of the time, this is not the case, especially in this day and age. A glance at the current top 20 albums on the Billboard Album Charts bears this out mostly, although the likes of Barry Manilow, Susan Boyle and Vampire Weekend are probably the exceptions – and I’d argue that for Manilow and Boyle, other non-musical factors come into play as well.

American Idol is now into its 10th season, and the reality show has been an absolute boon for record companies seeing as it delivers artists who are popular and can sing. With an image finely tuned over the course of an entire season and delivered to an accepting public, by the time the season is over, massive sales figures are almost assured.

Kris Allen is the reigning American Idol and has been cast as the conservative down-to-earth poster boy for the fundamentalist Christian right in the USA. Allen is also a pin-up for teenage girls everywhere, which befits an “idol”. Which to me as a music lover, is irrelevant, to the key question – what about the music?

These were the queries in my mind, even as I waited patiently (with the missus) somewhere at the back of Zirca Mega Club for Allen and band to turn up on stage. At the front, the screaming adolescent girls, were not making the wait comfortable or enjoyable, with shrieks greeting any movement on stage.

When Allen did appear, the noise levels went through the roof. The crowd lapped it all up – every movement, every knowing wink and every “are ya havin’ a good time?”, which Allen repeated ad nauseam throughout his hour-long set. Musically, Allen is a cross between Hootie & the Blowfish and Maroon 5, basically country-folk inflected rock tempered with clinical blue-eyed soul. At best, Allen and his band would go down well with the pub-circuit audiences here. Good thing that Allen does not need to rely on the craft of his songs, because they possessed very little. Like a good pub band, Allen and company ran through some covers – Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror and an awkward medley of the Swell Season’s Falling Slowly and U2’s With or Without You.

But then, Allen does not profess to be an artist does he? He is an American Idol – meaning that the music is secondary to his celebrity status and I’m sure he makes no apologies for that. And why should he? It’s not his problem. It is ours…

We left even as the kids were baying for an encore and I was deeply contemplating the formula which the producers of American Idol have so successfully concocted. There is little doubt that those who paid S$99 to see Kris Allen got their money’s worth as Allen definitely gave the people what they wanted. After all, he only had to appear.

Yes, it seems troubling that the instrinsic worth of Allen is purely invested in his image/looks rather than his talent/skills but in our celebrity-obsessed pop culture where form is put above substance, you do always get what you want…

Thanks to Shaz and Midas Productions for the tickets.

BLUE RODEO

BLUE RODEO The Things We Left Behind (Telesoul)

This album, Canadian band Blue Rodeo’s 12th, is a testimony to the creative staying power of this extraordionary country-rock outfit. A double CD set consisting of 16 tracks, The Things We Left Behind is a lesson in how to deliver a first-rate country-rock album in this day and age.

In fact, in the absence of the now-defunct Jayhawks, Blue Rodeo is probably the alt-country standard bearer with its astute (and consistent) development of country-folk tunes matched with pop-rock dynamics.

On songs like the excellent Waiting For the World, Sheba, Arizona, In My Bones, the fragile soulfulness of the best country-folk shines through as acoustic guitars, pedal steels and violins pluck at your heartstrings. Whereas from the pop-rock perspective, wonderful songs like Never Look Back, the title track, Don’t Let the Darkness In Your Head and Wasted deliver all the right chops and hooks.

Yes, folks, this one is a definite keeper!

Official site

Myspace

THE LUXURY

THE LUXURY In the Wake Of What Won’t Change (Self-released)

Better late than never.

If I had listened to this excellent album in 2009, I would have certainly listed it in my top albums of that year. No doubt!

Suffice to say that this Boston-based band has produced a pop-rock classic which encapsulates everything that the Power of Pop believes passionately about music. Eclectic at its core, defiantly melodic (and harmonic) and referencing all the coolest bits of powerpop, Britpop, psychedelia, prog and post-punk (in a manner I had previously considered impossible), In the Wake Of What Won’t Change is one of those rare albums where swallowing it whole is essential to its full appreciation.

The album opens with electronic noise which seques into epic washes of sound and then kicks off with Getaway Car, a thrilling driving song that recalls Be Bop Deluxe. From then on, the keen listener needs to be strapped in for the ride as The Luxury delivers the amazing chorus of Take It Back (think: the Alan Parsons Project), the epic ‘Til Your Last Day (recalling best prog-pop exercises of Asia and Trevor Rabin-era Yes), the dynamic Next in Line, the jaunty Straitjacket and so on.

Better late than never indeed.

Official site

Myspace

ANNUALS

ANNUALS Sweet Sister (Banter)

Merely describing Raleigh, North Carolina sextet Annuals as an indie-pop outfit isn’t really much help. To these ears, Annuals is a creative unit which is passionate about creating eclectic, genuine pop-rock music. Therefore, on this new EP, Annuals demonstrate that they are equally at home with lusty country-folk (Flesh and Blood), whimsical rootsy jaunts (Holler and Howl), Latin-flavoured pop candy (Loxstep), world music-informed percussive nuggets (Sweet Sister) and atmospheric, moody pieces (Turncloaking).

Regular PoP visitors will be aware that the genre that I’ve coined for artists like Annuals is “widescreen rock”, which includes the likes of Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips and the now-defunct Grandaddy. Meaning that these bands paint on a epic canvas and is all-inclusive in the genre-bending exercise they call songwriting. Well, Annuals is a widerscreen rock band, if I ever heard one. Displaying an impressive range of styles, Annuals is a band that surprises with every musical turn. My favourite kind!

Official Site

Myspace

WEEZER

WEEZER Raditude (DGC/Interscope)

The law of diminishing returns has been applying to Weezer’s albums since the lukewarm response to Maladroit (2002). Raditude, the band’s seventh album entered the Billboard Album Charts at 7th and it as been downhill from there (its #106 now). My own assessment is that the band has been trying too hard to replicate the freshness of popular albums like the Blue and Green albums as well as Pinkerton. Basically, the band has downplayed the pop-savvy hits of the past and has replaced this with attempts to be hip and cool by incorporating hip hop and rap elements into their music.

Maybe this accounts for the sheer number of producers involved in the making of Raditude – Dr Luke, Jacknife Lee, Polow Da Don, Butch Walker and Rivers Cuomo himself. The result? A mish-mash of uneven songs that are largely devoid of melodic ideas, heavy on production techniques and low on creative spark.

That said, I do like the verve and energy of opening single (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, with its infectious beat and sing-a-long chorus. Pity the rest of Raditude never quite touches these heights.

Official Site

CHASE HAMBLIN

CHASE HAMBLIN A Fine Time (Self-released)

In this day and age of throwaway, disposable pop, anyone crafting such inventive yet melodious pop music has got to be incredibly passionate and dedicated to his or her chosen musical style or genre. Singer-songwriter Chase Hamblin has been obviously influenced by the glorious 60s pop era as his 5-track EP contains knowing nods to the Beatles, the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits and so on.

Formerly of the now defunct Houston glam-metal outfit Penny Royal, Hamblin’s music recalls the pure pop stylings of Jellyfish, the Merrymakers, Sun Sawed in 1/2 and Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears, which means there are choice whimsical, music hall moments alonside the serene chamber pop ones. The standout tracks being the jaunty A Fine Time, the dynamic Think of the Good Times and the pastoral Bye Bye.

So for power pop fans, let me just say that Hamblin is the real deal, there’s enough ear candy and intricately textural work to satisfy all your cravings.

Trivia note – Hamblin grew up in Singapore (’85 to ’93)!

Official Site

Myspace

CLIFF & THE SHADOWS

CLIFF AND THE SHADOWS The Final Reunion (Eagle Vision)

Ah, nostalgia.

Before the Beatles, Cliff Richard and the Shadows were the biggest band in Britain. John Lennon famously said that “before Cliff and The Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.” And of course, Lennon was right. This DVD chronicles Cliff and the Shadows’ 50th anniversary show at the O2 Arena in London before 15,000 adoring fans.

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, you will moved by this – Cliff and the Shadows are in fine fettle and the recording is immaculate. All the hits are dusted off and polished to a perfect shine – In The Country, Move It, Living Doll, The Young Ones, Travelling Light, Summer Holiday, Wonderful Land, Please Don’t Tease, Apache and so on. All told, 42 songs in one night. Amazing!

For fans of British rock ‘n’ roll, you can’t go far wrong with this essential DVD.