Aug 282015
 

Fear-the-Walking-Dead-poster

The Walking Dead is one of the most successful shows currently on television and with good reason. It is a smart, character-driven drama that has captivated audiences by constantly developing their characters and letting us become invested in their stories as they journey through the zombie apocalypse. It seems that AMC is hoping to make lightning strike twice by creating a companion series for the popular show entitled Fear the Walking Dead.

Instead of in the south, Fear the Walking Dead takes place in Los Angeles in the several-week period that Rick Grimes was in a coma and is unable to witness the slowly descending horror. We are able to watch how things fall apart in a major metropolitan area as it crumbles under the weight of the hordes of the undead.

Continue reading »

Aug 222015
 

04 - RIOT - J03 - RIOT -- J

I have always been passionate about having more female artists/musicians in our local scene. Certainly, one of the signs of a progressive music scene would be the number of talented and creative women operating within the same. Well, in very recent times, you basically cannot keep the women out of the local music scene even if you tried and the rise to prominence of Eugenia Yip (a.k.a. Ginny Bloop) is one significant milestone, for sure.

The enigmatic vocalist is making a name for herself fronting TWO critically acclaimed acts viz. The Steve McQueens and Riot !n Magenta, and whilst there is no denying the strong musicianship of the men behind her in both bands – there is also little doubt that Ginny is the star of the show whenever she steps up on stage. Fresh from a triumphant Japanese tour with The Steve McQueens, Ginny lit up the proceedings at the Ignite Music Festival 2015 with her idiosyncratic stylings. With her aviator shades and tie-dyed top, Ginny looked (and sounded) like a rock star – the consummate stage performer holding court. Considering how Singaporean musicians are generally awkward on stage, Ginny is a rarity and utterly mesmerising in performance – once you are hypnotised by the Ginny Bloop experience, it’s never enough. Seriously, folks.

06 - GLP - J

Has been a while since I have seen The Good Life Project in action and the presence of three ladies in the septet (singer Pamela, bassist Stasha and violinist Kim)  has always spiced things up. Not that the guys are slouches in the instrumental department with Sano, Naz, Intriguant (Lewis) and Ritz (subbing for Boey) more than able to pull their own weight. Considering the sheer amount of talent that resides in this group, I am still mystified at the fact that they remain somewhat obscure in the scheme of things in the local scene. Their pleasing blend of sophisticated jazz-funk-R&B-pop-rock is a recipe for mainstream success, with as much as potential for overseas acceptance as that currently received by The Steve McQueens. At Ignite last evening, they owned the stage, oozing class and dynamism from start to finish – they deserve so much more! Here’s hoping we will see and hear more from the band in the months ahead.

Connect!

Riot !n Magenta

Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

The Good Life Project

Facebook | Twitter

Photographs courtesy of Jazreel-Anne.

Aug 072015
 

fantastic-four-banner-146299

(Note: This review is filled with spoilers. Mainly because I find it hard to believe that after reading this, you would be insane enough to still want to watch this turkey!)

This Fantastic Four reboot never had a chance. From the get-go, geeks hated it. From director Josh Trank boasting about how his version would be a ‘game-changer’ to the controversial casting, this reboot has had a troubled journey. Sadly, the finished movie justifies the hate and then some.

In an attempt to ‘modernise’ the origins of the Fantastic Four – and borrowing from the Ultimate Fantastic Four series – the movie gutted out everything that made Fantastic Four so special in the first place. That sense of connection. One never got that sense from this movie.

In the comic book origin, scientist Reed Richards and pilot Ben Grimm were best friends; Susan Storm was Richards’ girlfriend and Johnny Storm was Susan’s brother. Without the pre-existing relationship between Reed and Susan, their link is tenuous. Also, in the movie, Susan and Johnny are adopted siblings and of different races as well. This made any connections between them rather hard to swallow.

From that poor foundation, it becomes impossible for Trank to build up an effective story with too many plot holes to fill. For example, Reed is recruited by the Baxter Institute by way of a science fair experiment? Ludicrous. Susan gets her power without even being part of the inter-dimensional jaunt? Illogical. After the accident, Reed disappears for a year – a plot point that fails to serve the story at all!

The movie takes ridiculous short-cuts throughout, without any explanation. We never see how the characters develop their powers – we are given the finished product instead. The battle scenes are incredibly lame and do not get me started how Fox utterly fucked up Doctor Doom yet again!

Firstly, how did Victor Von Doom survive for a year in Planet Zero (not the Negative Zone, as it should have been). Secondly, why are there no security precautions to deal with Doom when everyone who returned from Planet Zero has some incredible powers. Finally, why is it so easy for the Fantastic Four to dispatch Doom when earlier he was shown to kill people by merely looking at them?

Suffice to say that this is one of the worst superhero movies in recent memory and will take its rightful place alongside X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns and Spider-Man 3.

DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE ENOUGH OF A FAILURE SO THAT FOX WILL GIVE UP AND RETURN THE FANTASTIC FOUR TO MARVEL. 

 

Aug 062015
 

Allura

 

Wow! This happened! Quite out of the blue and somewhat under the radar, Allura has dropped a new EP after disappearing for SIX years!

I won’t lie – listening to the 1832 EP is akin to a religious experience! The musical sophistication displayed in these new recordings is a wonder to behold certainly.

“Rain” is an interesting amalgam of pop with experimental musicality, “Loose Change” is an intensely emotional diatribe and “Cold*Player” is an intriguing piece that deserves a couple of plays to fully soak in.

Kudos to Aaron, Mark John, Inch, Matt and HQ for putting this wonderful gift together – it’s been too fucking long!

And that’s not all, Allura reunites for a live performance at this weekend’s 100bands festival on 8th August at 8pm!

100bands - weekend2

 

… still there’s more … 

Jul 182015
 

SMQ-01-sm

What can I say about Seamonster? I feel like just grabbing you, dear reader, by the throat and screaming into your ear – “BUY THE FUCKING ALBUM NOW!” and not feel any guilt about such a violent outburst at all.

But seriously folks, what can I say about Seamonster?

That this amazing band viz. Joshua Wan (keyboards), Fabian Lim (saxophone), Jase Sng (bass), Aaron Lee (drums) and Ginny Bloop (vocals) has made jazz improvisation appealing to the soul with ten tracks that beggar belief for its technical excellence and emotional resonance. Every single member is a master of his instrument but together, they form an indefinable creature – a veritable Seamonster!

You want instrumental virtuosity? You can, in spades! You want irresistible grooves? Again, there are loads to spare here.

And the icing on the cake? The absolute tipping point into pure unbridled adulation?

Ginny Bloop – an idiosyncratic front-person who is at once sexy and quirky, possessed of a unique larynx that twists and turns like some leviathan, clothed with a personality that is also tongue-in-cheek woman-child – an unstoppable force!

See what I mean? Incomprehensible babbling of a madman touched by the magic of The Steve McQueens. You have been warned!

Seamonster is available in Singapore on all major digital music platforms. Physical copies of the CD can also be ordered at www.stevemcqueens.com

… still there’s more … 

DISCOVERED AT POWER OF POP

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Jul 172015
 

DISCOVEREDPOP

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

 

… still there’s more …

DISCOVER AT POWER OF POP!

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Jul 072015
 

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 … 

KID WAVE – THE 90S ROCK REVIVAL IS TAKING ITS OWN SWEET TIME BUT GOOD MUSIC IS WORTH WAITING FOR…

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Jul 052015
 

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 7.32.04 pm

I don’t really give a shit too much right now about the personal dynamics of Kid Wave – what their collective history or politics is and what not. Right now, all I care is that this is new music that fires my imagination and energises in a manner that so much new music is unable to do and that’s all I fucking care about.

Yeah, so the fact that NME wants so much to shag Kid Wave is alarming but going beyond that hype bullshit, there is the music that recalls the wonder of the 90s, where melodic rock of the 60s – 80s was gloriously regurgitated to grant us a shimmering amalgam of 60s psych-blues, 70s rock and 80s indie pop.

So Wonderlust – what a great album title – is yet another brick in the wall of keeping out all the mediocre pap that flood our airwaves on a daily basis as songs like “Honey”, “Baby Tiger”, “Walk On Fire”, “I’m Trying To Break Your Heart” and the title track raise the hopes of this melodic rock geek that pop salvation is upon us.

Fuck real music – this is genuine, authentic, bona fide rockin’ pop & roll!!!

https://www.facebook.com/kidwavemusic

… still there’s more …

NEIL YOUNG CONTINUES TO RUN AND RUN WITH NEW ALBUM THE MONSANTO YEARS

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Jul 032015
 

NeilYoungPoP

On new album The Monsanto Years, Neil Young seems re-invigorated with new backing band Promise of The Real, to deliver one of his feistiest works in recent memory. Rather like Living With War (2006), the politics might be a little too obvious but there’s no faulting the songs that Young and gang have come up with – full of vim and vigour.

Full of country-folk inflected rock ‘n’ roll, songs like “A New Day For Love”, “People Want to Hear the Love”, “Workin’ Man” and the title track come across like vintage Young, except with very modern references (highly anti-corporation rhetoric against Monsanto, Starbucks etc) – which I suspect will endear the evergreen Young to a new generation of music lovers. But of course, for Young, the album reflects the continuation of the hippie dream, which has been part of Young’s raison d’être since the 1960s.

Essential.

DISCOVERED AT POWER OF POP!

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Jun 252015
 

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

… still there’s more … 

TURN TURN TURN: DEON’S SOPHOMORE EFFORT OCEANS SIGNALS A NEW SEASON FOR SINGAPORE ROCK

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Jun 182015
 

DEON - Cover

When one listens to Oceans, it becomes abundantly crystal clear that for singer-songwriter Deon Toh, it’s all about the music. In this digital age, Toh has gone against the grain to approach the album as a viable artistic expression, like in the days of yore. There are eleven one-word titled tracks on this, his follow-up to the well-received Antiphobic, bookended by “Circles” and “Cycles”, which speak to the impact of seasons in our lives.

There is beauty, grace and strength in compositions like “Summer”, “Fall”, “Winter” and “Spring” where Toh is able to conjure the experience of the seasons, whether it is something physical or symbolic. The over-riding emotion might be melancholy but it is not defeatist but reflective. Whether it is in the piano harmonic structures, fragile guitar arpeggios, arranged percussion, ambient soundscapes or Toh’s falsetto, there is a deliberate intent to evoke a sense of longing and yearning in the presence of natural splendour.

It is a significant achievement that Oceans is an album one can (and MUST) listen to from beginning to end and then to start all over again. A gorgeous song cycle that once again sets the bar higher for Singapore artists to emulate.

DEON launches Oceans on July 10th at the Substation. Tickets are now available from http://peatix.com/event/96846. Pre-order the album from iTunes and download the single “Summer”.

In the meantime, check out the music video for “Summer” below.

www.deontheband.com
www.facebook.com/deontheband
www.instagram.com/deontheband @deontheband
www.twitter.com/deontoh

Look out for the Power of Pop interview with Deon Toh coming soon…

Jun 152015
 

Jurassic-World

You see that image above? That’s really what modern day blockbusters have done with plot, characterisation and narrative logic. Gobbled it all up in the name of box office green. Special effects rather than good writing create ‘tension’ and ‘drama’. This visual feast has audiences going ga-ga over the empty spectacle while ignoring plot holes & shallow one-dimensional characters. But it’s all okay, it’s only a movie so relax, why don’t you?

Well, remember that you reap what you sow. All the box office millions earned by movies like Jurassic World and less we forget, the Transformers franchise only leads to more similar movies. As it is, movie studios are terrified about releasing ‘genre’ films unless it’s a sequel, reboot or book/comic/TV adaptation and the mega-success of Jurassic World simply cements that opinion.

There’s little point in going into these issues in detail but suffice to say that: –

1. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character spends the entire film in high heels whilst running and battling dinosaurs.

2. The manner in which the ‘evil’ dinosaur is defeated by the ‘good’ dinosaurs is preposterous.

But why bother about making sense when you can make US$500 million in a weekend instead?

*Sigh*

FAERYVILLE – A FAIRY TALE OF NIGHTMARISH REAL WORLD CONSEQUENCES

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May 052015
 

Faeryville

The problem with Tzang Merwyn Tong’s FAERYVILLE – if one can even call it a problem – is that the movie might be too ambitious for its own good.

FAERYVILLE is a movie with a strong message, in fact there are quite a few to go around. These themes are expressed in the context of a surrealistic satire on modern life. The title refers to an imaginary fairy tale like setting and in particular, a tertiary educational institution.

Within this context, there are two main competing factions/power bases viz. the haves and have nots. Tzang wants us initially to sympathise with the Nobodies, a group of outsiders (ostensibly led by Poe – wonderfully played by Lyon Sim) who spend their time being rebellious by committing illegal albeit harmless pranks. The group is joined by the mysterious Laer (a moody performance from Aaron Samuel Yong) and then the stunts turn dangerous and events spiral out of control.

The group’s antics are contrasted with the bullying tactics of the Calvary (the frat boys equivalent of the college) who lord their authority over everyone else – seemingly with the acquiesce of its principal  – which often turns very dark without warning. This conflict invariably and inevitably leads to disaster, tied in inexplicably with former anarchist Belle, before panning out into a disturbing conclusion.

Trying to find a delicate balance between art and commerce, Tzang has had to cast his actors carefully (eye candy is in abundance – look out for Tanya Graham and Jade Griffin) and mix up his high concepts with highly charged moments (including several explosions and sexual scenes) but without compromising the underlying message, where possible. Overall, I believe Tzang has succeeded in creating a thought-provoking movie but fear that it might somewhat fly over the heads of most people in his own homeland.

Which is ironic considering that much of FAERYVILLE is inspired by growing up in Singapore but what is the saying about a prophet not being recognised in his own hometown? A brave and remarkable vision that might be a little obscured by technical and budgetary issues but for the true seeker, there is much hidden treasure to discover in FAERYVILLE.


FAERYVILLE will open in Singapore on 26 May 2015, exclusively at Filmgarde Bugis+
Tickets on sale from 7 May, www.fgcineplex.com.sg

For more information, visit www.faeryville.com
Follow us on Facebook.com/faeryville
Twitter and Instagram @Faeryville

VICTOR LOW’S SONGS OF THE WELL WILL THRILL CHILDREN OF ALL AGES!

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May 032015
 

SongsoftheWell

Now here’s something completely different!

Victor Low (formerly of Concave Scream and The Observatory) has recorded and released an album of short instrumental tunes (mostly under 2 minutes), that he says were inspired by his own childhood and the bedtime stories shared with his young daughter, Ee Shahn.

These ten tracks are delightful and thoughtful experiments into songwriting targeted for children or the young at heart. Mostly neo-classical in tone with acoustic guitars (steel and nylon) at the fore, assorted percussion and the occasional cello (courtesy of Zhong Ren Koh), it’s easy to simply play through the duration of Songs of the Well and revel in its rustic sophistication.

My personal favourites are “Drip Drop”, “Swallow” and “Geckos of Eastwood” – which highlight Low’s focus on naive charm but the arty “Song of the Well” recalls Low’s time with art-rock ensemble The Observatory. It’s an atmospheric ambient song whose origins, Low was kind enough to elaborate on.

“When I was writing the songs in this album. I would often bring my guitar out of my studio to sit in the stairwell where I live, just to get a bit of a natural reverb. This really helped me to ease into the ideas and finish writing the songs (or the main bulk of it) rather quickly. A thought occurred to myself that these songs seem to be coming from “the well”, and it ended up being the title of the album. Ironically the track “Song of The Well” was the only song not written from the stairwell. Instead it was done in my studio, using music boxes, cymbals and effects”.

If there is one obvious complaint, it is that the songs are too short! I mean, once a enthralled listener really gets into the piece, it’s over!! Hopefully, Low will see fit to expand on the artistic success of Songs of the Well to give us fans more in the years to come. Please encourage that possibility by purchasing Songs of the Well.

… still there’s more … 

PET SOUNDS FROM BIG PINK: CHEATING SONS RECLAIM SIXTIES’ ROCK N ROLL LEGACY

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May 032015
 

CheatingSons

Cheating Sons!

Years in the making but definitely worth the wait. 10 tracks of such instrumental sophistication and erudite witticism that it is barely imaginable that the former cultural desert of Singapore is able to produce an album that absorbs the wondrous legacy of 60s rock and pop so well.

With the songwriting template pioneered by the likes of Roy Orbison, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Band the band have also adopted the production values of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson to deliver a unique aural experience that will please rock scholars and casual music fans alike. An additional distinctive element is the band’s ability to incorporate East Asian sounds and melodies into the mix to create a East meets West amalgam that is surprising and pleasing.

Believe me it’s difficult to point out any particular highlights here as every track is an entity to itself but I will say that songs like the ghostly Beatlesque “Mercy of Cain and Abel”, the atmospheric folky “Patriach”, the country bluesy “Blood the Prize” and the Orbison-Teresa Teng channeling “Honeymoon” certainly deserve special mention.

In an amazing year for Singapore rock so far, this eponymous album is a definite standout and a statement of intent that hopefully will bring forth more exciting music from this wonderful band in the years to come.

CDs and digital albums will be available on cheatingsons.bandcamp.com and CDs also at Curated Records and Roxy Records & Trading.

GEEK OUT! TO THOSE WHO DISLIKED AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

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May 012015
 

ultron

If you have read my spoiler-free review, you would be aware that I loved Avengers: Age of Ultron and consider it by far the best superhero movie ever so far. However, based on numerous online comments, it has become de rigueur to label the movie as a disappointing sequel to the first movie, with the common criticism being that the movie has too much going on. My first reaction to this is — have these people ever read an actual superhero comic book before? Probably not. In that regard, I believe that director Joss Whedon made Avengers: Age of Ultron for us geeks and for that I am certainly grateful!

— SPOILERS ALERT —

Continue reading »

CHECK OUT RAGNAROK FOR ESTHER LOWLESS’ MESMERISING PERFORMANCE!

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Apr 162015
 

Ragnarok

Am not much of a theatre-goer but my main interest in covering Ragnarok has always been the fact that Esther Lowless would be acting and singing her original compositions within the body of the play itself. A unique opportunity to catch Esther in an entirely different creative environment.

According to its press release, “Ragnarok serves to confront its audience with difficult questions about issues of identity, power and illness that have evolved within the global gay community” but what makes the play ambitious is the concept of using Norse mythology and the apocalyptic myth of Ragnarok as an allegorical device. Of course, to appreciate this, one would need to understand Norse mythology to begin with and it’s much more than that hunky God of Thunder in the Marvel movies (and yes, the next Thor movie is sub-titled Ragnarok as well)!

So I reiterate that the purpose of this review is not really to evaluate the merits of the play per se, although I did find it intriguing if somewhat overwrought with the performances uneven. Instead, I focus on Esther Lowless. She plays Hel (in Norse, mythology, a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead), the bartender and musical performer at gay bar, Asgard. Her role is mainly as a passive observer and commentator (through the music performances) although Hel does have her moments as agent provocateur.

The key challenge for Esther is that Hel is on stage throughout the entire duration of the play! Thus, there is no break for Esther whatsoever! In that respect, she performs admirably combining her acting with musical performances superbly with wonderful new songs that imbue the play with much gravitas and emotional resonance. Some of my favourite moments – when the cast joins with Esther for bizarre singalongs – the play takes on the tone of a cracked musical – unsettling but transcendent at the same time!

There are 3 more performances of Ragnarok. Saturday 18th is sold out but tickets for tonight and Friday night are still available at time of press. Don’t miss this #sgindie music lovers!

Get your tickets from http://www.skinnedkneeproductions.com/productions-ragnarok.html

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THE BEE GEES LOST CLASSIC LIVING EYES

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Apr 122015
 

living_eyes

What goes up must come down.

In 1979, riding on the popularity of the Saturday Night’s Fever film soundtrack, the Bee GeesSpirits (Having Flown) sold almost 20 million copies. I still remember heading down to the Kwang Sia record store at North Bridge Road where the LP was literally flying off the shelves. Crazy.

However, barely 2 years later, the band’s follow-up Living Eyes would only sell 750,000 copies worldwide! What happened?

Well, disco had become unfashionable and the Bee Gees were (unfairly) associated with the genre. Not only that but rock music had begun to make a return to the charts in a big way with bands like The Police, REO Speedwagon, Genesis, Rush et al, and suddenly the Bee Gees sounded very dated and somewhat lame.

That said, the Bee Gees themselves took pains on Living Eyes to move away from the disco sound that had made millions of them and the trio explored once again the pop balladry style with which they first made their name. But the music critics and fans alike did not want any of it resulting in an abject failure, that the Bee Gees barely recovered from.

BUT listening to Living Eyes now, 34 years later, it is clear that it did not deserve the criticism and hatred it did. The songwriting is sharp, the singing is beautiful and it’s fair to say that the album should be re-assessed by any serious pop music lover.

Songs like the title track, “Paradise”, “Don’t Fall in Love With Me”, “Wildflower” and “Soldiers” are as good as anything on 70s classics “Mr. Natural” and “Main Course”. True blue pop fans will find these tracks irresistible and will want to listen to them over and over to savour the wondrous melodies and harmonies.

Listen without prejudice and prepare to be amazed.

… still there’s more … 

JAIME WONG’S DEBUT EP IS A GORGEOUS FOLK POP SUITE DEDICATED TO LOST LOVE

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Apr 112015
 

JaimeWong

I first fell in love with the music of Jaime Wong back in 2012 when I mentored her for an afternoon as the winner of the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Programme. The song that did the most damage was the atmospheric “Skin” and spending time with this down-to-earth easy-going talent was a pleasure. Thus, it was no surprise to me when Jaime won the Noise Singapore Award a year later because once this unassuming young lady is on stage, she tends to draws everyone watching into her melancholy world of broken hearts and lost love.

So I was thrilled to receive her new EP this morning in the mail and instantly fell in love all over again with her music. I guarantee that this four tracks will be on endless repeat once you get hold of the EP (and I wager you would want to). Apart from the shimmering “Skin”, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised by the luscious “Shame on You,” the slightly bouncy “To Lost Love” and the yearning country-folky “2:32 am”.

Yet another winner in an already grand year for Singapore music. Essential.

JWEP cover

 

Jaime’s debut EP will be available for pre-orders this coming Monday, 13/04/15 on iTunes. Pre-order and get an immediate download of “Skin (Wekkit Remix)”, exclusive for digital release.

 

… still there’s more … 

BRIAN WILSON – NO PIER PRESSURE: CORNY TITLE IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE SHITBERG

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Apr 072015
 

No_Pier_Pressure

I love Brian Wilson.

But mainly for his stellar work with the Beach Boys in the sixties. His solo albums have been largely disappointing apart from his eponymous debut and the re-imagining of Smile. The problem is with co-producer Joe Thomas, who also worked on the boards on the ironically titled Imagination and the passable Beach Boys 50th anniversary release, That’s Why God Made the Radio. The sound is just too slick and over-produced and almost sounds like a ham-fisted Beach Boys pastiche. And yes, that awful title is the first bad sign that this album is going to suck and it all goes downhill from there.

Despite all this, the collaborations with former band mates manage to shine above the dross e.g. “Whatever Happened” and “The Right Time” (both with Al Jardine and David Marks) and “Tell Me Why” (also with Jardine). The other collaborations (with She and Him, Kacey Musgraves and Sebu) fall flat and are mostly forgettable like the rest of the album. If only the Wilson camp would give someone like Darian Sahanaja or Sean O’Hagan a chance to help Brian in crafting the sounds but alas, that is probably never going to happen, when Joe Thomas seems to be the favoured one.

Sigh.

DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY – NEW RELEASES MARCH 2015

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Mar 312015
 

SpotifyLogo

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – CHASING YESTERDAY

For some reason, this latest album from the ex-Oasis man sounds uncannily like Pink Floyd! Unfortunately, it’s the post-Roger Waters version – probably the poorest incarnation of the legendary band – with several guitar passages echoing the work of Floyd’s David Gilmour. It’s still more listenable when compared to most new modern rock though and that’s an inditement.

OF MONTREAL – AUREATE GLOOM

Speaking of Pink Floyd, psych-pop veterans Of Montreal returns with a smashing new album demonstrating that the influence of Floyd founder Syd Barrett continues to resonate strongly with the band. Fans of chronic psychedelia need to have some Aureate Gloom in their lives!

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LAZY LIONS LET OUT A POP-ROCK ROAR WITH WHEN DREAMING LETS YOU DOWN

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Mar 272015
 
Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

There is a quiet self-assurance in the manner in which New York melodic rock outfit Lazy Lions approach their music. Certainly, a band has to be if it decides to play in the 60s/70s pop-rock sandbox. The pop-rock of the 80s to be more precise, as the band lays claim to the influences of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, The Cars and Crowded House. The tunes have an easy charm about them – on songs like “Tiny Little Cracks” and “Diane”, it’s not difficult for the unwary listener to begin humming to the refrains. Quirky numbers like “Let the Bad Times Roll” and “Scientific” help to keep thing somewhat interesting. Songs tend to be mid-tempo as a rule and a change in pace now and then would not have hurt. That all said, the slinky “You Can Run” and the smoky “Creep Across the Night” offer enough of a variation to demonstrate promising versatility. But if it’s straight-ahead rocking pop songs you want then “February” and most of When Dreaming Lets You Down, will not… erm… let you down. Jim Allen shared with us a couple of his thoughts about the band and their music.

Why did the four of you come together as Lazy Lions?

We had all done a lot of different things individually. I put out three records as a solo singer/songwriter, Rob had been a classical French horn player (who just happened to also be a killer guitarist), Anne-Marie had been in a band that ended up on a major label and did a ton of touring, and Sean had played with Richard Lloyd of Television besides being a singer/songwriter himself with solo albums out. To be totally honest, I just heard somebody say the words “lazy lions” one day and thought “What a great band name, I’m gonna start a band and call it that!” So I did. That’s really how it started!

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FLYING THE POWER POP FLAG WITH RANSOM AND THE SUBSET

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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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RIOT !N MAGENTA – A SOUND REVOLUTION

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Mar 182015
 
Photo credit: Teck Io

Photo credit: Teck

Whatever the genre, nothing gets more attention in a song than a powerful, distinctive female voice. Dedicated music fans should be familiar with Eugenia Yip from her vocal antics with jazz-rockers The Steve McQueens. However, Ginny (as she likes to be called), also fronts electro-outfit Riot !n Magenta, ably backed by Hayashida Ken (synths), Khairyl Hashim (guitar), Sulaiman Supian (bass) and Ritz Ang (drums).

R!M have been somewhat under the radar despite having played Baybeats 2011, launched a debut EP – R3B007 – at Esplanade Recital Studio in 2013 and even opening for CHVRCHES last year. But no doubt that will all change with the release of the new EP, Voices.

The four tracks available on Voices reveals a mature sonic agenda that continues to channel a strong trip-hop-soul vibe that highlights Ginny’s idiosyncratic vocal stylings and melancholy lyrics that emphasise the damage that relationships inflict on humans.

“Love is not supposed to be a chore” (“CTRL”) and “I can’t unhear the things but you said it” (“Told You So”) – words that put the songs in perspective, heartfelt emotions hard to ignore. Supported by pristine electronic beats and ambience, it is so easy to be swept away by the music on this EP. Not to be missed.

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