7 AND 7 IS: WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO R.E.M.

R.E.M.

Yet another new feature at the bi-polar webzine, “7 and 7 is” in honour of Love’s seminal proto-punk masterpiece. Basically seven reasons why you should be listening to a band/artist that I am intent on recommending to you, dear reader. Well, actually seven of my favourite tracks of that particular band/artist – you get the general idea. This week: R.E.M.

Continue reading “7 AND 7 IS: WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO R.E.M.”

ROCK HISTORY: JAPAN – QUIET LIFE (1979)

Japan1979

English band Japan never hid their influences, with The New York Dolls, Roxy Music, David Bowie and The Velvet Underground, readily apparent from their image and music. Consisting of David Sylvian (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Barbieri (synths, keyboards), Mick Karn (bass, sax, flute, backing vocals), Steve Jansen (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Rob Dean (guitar), the band would in turn inspire many of the 80s New Romantics (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc) though the band themselves swore off that label.

Quiet Life, their 3rd LP, is significant as it signalled a shift in style as Japan eschewed the glam-rock of their first two LPs in favour of a more experimental synth-based approach, which bordered on art rock. This allowed the creativity of Karn and Barbieri to shine through in their instrumental work and Sylvian began to step of the shadow of his #1 vocal inspiration, Bryan Ferry. Guitars were no longer used to provide chordal accompaniment and where utilised would be more atmospheric in nature. This change in direction probably led to guitarist Dean leaving, subsequent to the album’s release.

Songs like the dance-rocking title track, the mutant groovy “In Vogue” and the Roxy-channeling “Halloween” provided the album highlights, whilst the sublime cover of the Velvets’ “All Tomorrow’s Parties” would make for a particularly memorable single.

As a quartet, Japan would go on to release the successful Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Tin Drum albums before splitting up in 1982 to explore even more progressive rock territories individually.

… still there’s more… 

DISCOVERED AT POWER OF POP!

DISCOVEREDPOP

Our weekly (weakly?) discovery of worthy new releases. Enjoy!

STRANGE WILDS – SUBJECTIVE CONCEPTS

A musical power-trio from Olympia, Washington on Sub Pop? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? The return of Seattle Grunge! Uh-huh. About frigging time too.

https://www.facebook.com/strangewilds

ELEVENTH DREAM DAY – WORKS FOR TOMORROW

All this talk of a guitar rock revival belies the fact that veteran bands like Eleventh Dream Day are still delivering kickass music! Here’s one, the young upstarts to take notes from.

https://www.facebook.com/eleventhdreamday

DUCKTAILS – ST. CATHERINE

Here’s one to chill out to – very lush & sophisticated indie-psych-dream pop-rock. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon, in fact.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ducktails/78029223987

… still there’s more …

DISCOVERED AT POWER OF POP

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What’s new? Well, here’s three melodic pop-rock gems you can stream without fear! Dive in!!

VERUCA SALT – GHOST NOTES

Talking about a 90s rock revival, here’s the reunion album of Veruca Salt, sounding smashing in a beefy Brad Wood production. First rate songs that make the years melt away.

https://www.facebook.com/verucasaltband

BEST FRIENDS – HOT. RECKLESS. TOTALLY INSANE

More actual evidence of a 90s rock revival comes in the form of Sheffield’s Best Friends. Fuzzy guitars, knowing pop tunes and punk rhythms. It’s happening, boys and girls!

https://www.facebook.com/bestfriendspartyhard

EZTV – CALLING OUT

Power pop band hailing from Brooklyn, that has a good handle of 90s pop underground dynamics viz. infectious melodies, jangly guitar tones and sophisticated chord changes. Highly promising.

https://www.facebook.com/EzTVeeee

 

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TEXTING FROM THE EDGE: GIN WIGMORE PULLED ON MY LEG!

Gin01

Being on the periphery of the Singapore music industry is at once a privileged and awkward position to occupy. At worst a ‘failed musician’ and best a ‘conscientious objector’,  I am the ‘cool uncle’ infamously derided in that pointlessly ageist Other Sounds review from years back, and the ‘influencer’ music peeps want on their side until my usefulness has run its course, and then I am kicked to the curb. But still I plod on – texting from the edge

Gin Wigmore is a 29 year old singer-songwriter hailing from New Zealand and now based in Los Angeles. Thanks to Rdio Asia (hey Elvin, Kurt & Robin!) and Universal Music Singapore (Yo! Kheng, Sarah & Danny!), I was invited to a special showcase at Rdio’s cozy office at Ann Siang Hill yesterday (Saturday, 11th July). Gin is a wiry, hyperactive, tattooed, Slayer-tee wearing singing dynamo and having her (and wonderful backing band) deliver three highly jacked acoustic songs an arm’s length away was certainly memorable (the free flow Sailor Jerry’s did not hurt either).

Not only that but Gin also needed to come forward and pull on my leg (probably cuz she felt that this old fart was not appropriately moving to the beat) – which was a cheap thrill to be added to the collection. Definitely three songs was too short but a tasty teaser of what Gin and band could deliver. Later on, she mingled (No, Gin, Food Republic is NOT representative of Singapore food!) and I got a chance to speak to some of her band members – a mixture of folks from NZ and USA – and as usual, the music provided a means to connect.

The morning after, I am reading up more about Gin, listening to her music and realising that until the exact moment I stepped into Rdio, I was quite ignorant of her and her music. And I am wondering now whether there was more that could have been done with the time spent with Gin and her band, that the Singapore music scene could benefit from. Or maybe not. But at a bare minimum to be better prepared the next time – sorry but this is not a Seinfeld episode – I need my learning points and key takeaways!

Bottomline? Gin Wigmore is an old soul – producing music that crosses genres without apology and compromise and the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that Power of Pop believes in and champions. Listen to Gin’s new album Blood to Bone and appreciate everything I am saying…

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DISCOVER AT POWER OF POP!

DISCOVEREDPOP

Three new releases for your discovery!

JAILL – BRAIN CREAM

Jangle pop rules with Jaill! If you dig the likes of Real Estate or Girls, you’ll fall in love with this collection of energetic melodic pop-rock tunes.

https://www.facebook.com/jaillbook

DU BLONDE – WELCOME BACK TO MILK

Beth Jeans Houghton has attitude in spades but with the right kind of music, she deserves to get away with it! Du Blonde is everything you’ve loved about punky glammy rock n roll and then some!

https://www.facebook.com/DuBlondeOfficial

SONGHOY BLUES – MUSIC IN EXILE

A Mali band of musicians that had to run away from the unrest in their homeland to deliver a wonderful amalgam of African ethnic music and rock ‘n’ roll – edgy and relevant.

https://www.facebook.com/SonghoyBlues

 

… still there’s more … 

DISCOVERED AT POWER OF POP!

DISCOVEREDPOP

Here are six new releases – spread across the three streaming services (based in Singapore) – that get the Power of Pop Recommendation!

YOUNG BUFFALO – HOUSE

The album opens with a deceptive synth-pop motif before morphing into a Vampire Weekend cliche before the gorgeous melodic power pop channeling chorus kicks in! Inventive chord progressions, bouncy energy and stack o’ tunes marked this as a winner! https://www.facebook.com/youngbuffalo

GENTLEMEN ROGUES – A HISTORY SO REPEATING

More traditional power pop from Gentlemen Rogues – referencing Big Star and acolytes like Teenage Fanclub and Pernice Brothers. Good tunes. https://www.facebook.com/gentlemenrogues 

ANCIENT RIVER – KEEPER OF THE DAWN

Ethereal, sinister, psychedelic chamber pop that recalls The Doors and Syd’s Pink Floyd. Definitely unique in the scheme of things. https://www.facebook.com/ancientriverband

MIKAL CRONIN – MCIII

Widescreen rock is the speciality of Mikal Cronin with his latest album continuing his rich vein of form in the last couple of years. http://mikalcronin.com/

COLLEEN GREEN – I WANT TO GROW UP

Straight-up girl-group indie pop that recalls Best Coast and Cults. https://www.facebook.com/colleengreen420

TAYLOR LOCKE – TIME STANDS STILL

Ex-Rooney guitarist has released one of the best 70s West Coast rock albums this year. Strongly evocative of a magical era. Essential. https://www.facebook.com/TaylorLockeMusic

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KAMCO MUSIC: TYPEWRITER’S INDIAN HEAD MASSAGE NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION PLATFORMS

TypeWriter Believe

TypeWriter will be debuting new material from upcoming EP at Baybeats 2015 and will also be featuring new drummer Robin Chua (Livonia, Shelves). The band will be playing at the MIXTAPE stage on 26th June at 11pm. In the meantime, you can download/listen to their 2010 album, Indian Head Massage.

iTunes

Connect with TypeWriter https://www.facebook.com/typewriterband

… still there’s more … 

A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW – SEA WHEN ABSENT

An indie pop band that eschews all the conventional trappings of expectation is to be received with open arms! Sure, singer Jen Goma has the typical femme twee pop vox and the tunes are way simpatico but everything else tries to get as far away from ‘normal’ as possible.

Meaning: we get distinctive soundscapes that mix electronica, shoegaze and ambient approaches which act as sonic envelopes for the love letters of words and melody that make up these unique songs. Thus, the tracks on Sea When Absent have the advantage of being familiar to indie pop fans and yet arty enough to satisfy the edgier music enthusiast as well. Best of both worlds!

Highlights include the viscerally sweet “Byebye, Big Ocean (The End)”, the chirpy drone of “MTLOV (Minor Keys)” and the schizoid girl group channeling “Oh I’m A Wrecker (What To Say To Crazy People)”. Definitely one to savor and particularly ripe for closer inspection.