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Apr 202014
 

DB-01

When I spoke to Alex Zhang (aka Dirty Beaches) a couple of weeks ago, he was adamant that his live performances would not consist of reproducing his recorded work but would focus on being more experimental and spontaneous. In fact, halfway through his concert at Pink Noize on Wednesday, 16th April he remarked – “True blue’s for pussies” when a request was shouted out from the audience.

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Apr 082014
 

DARKSIDE02

When I told DARKSIDE (Nicolas Jaar & Dave Harrington) over the phone that I thought new album Psychic sounded like traditional rock, they were rather amused (and bemused, I suspect). And whilst, it is true that their improvisational performance style was somewhat experimental, it was not difficult to hear the echoes of Pink Floyd (Harrington did a fair Gilmour impression) and other psychedelic space-rock acolytes in the duo’s well-received set at the Ground Theatre *SCAPE on Sunday, 6th April.

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Apr 072014
 

What else can you say about Tommy? Well, if you are a diehard classic rock fan, then this documentary endeavours to be all you really need to know about The Who‘s famous rock opera. And the documentary certainly spares no detail in getting the story right. Interviews with survivors who were instrumental the creation of the album – Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Chris Stamp (ex-manager), Bob Pridden (sound engineer), Mike McInnerney (cover artist) – provide the historical background for how the album came about, the individual tracks themselves and the post-release impact.

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Apr 032014
 

thezerotheorum

THE ZERO THEORUM 
Directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis and Matt Damon

Director Terry Gilliam has called The Zero Theorum the final part of a dystopian satire trilogy or “Orwellian triptych” begun with 1985′s Brazil and continued with 1995′s 12 Monkeys. This time round, the story centres on Qohen Leth (Waltz), a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds meaning. It’s clear to anyone who has seen these three movies that Gilliam shares the same concerns that Orwell had – the oppression of the individual by totalitarian organizations, the loss of personal liberties due to the role of technology in enabling oppressive governments to monitor and control their citizens.

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Apr 012014
 

BOB

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METRONOMYLove Letters

Album #4 opens rather tentatively with sparsely instrumented tracks like “The Upsetter” and “I’m Aquarius”. The songs sound vaguely unfinished – almost like demos. And the pace never quite picks up for the rest of the album. Presumably, Metronomy was not interested in simply replicating meaningless dance rock numbers. Good for them.

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Mar 262014
 

BOB 

PERFECT PUSSYSay Yes To Love

A beautiful noise is what punk quartet Perfect Pussy makes on its debut full-length. Deliberately lo-fi with singer Meredith Graves spitting out the barely discernible lyrics over the cacophony, there is something disarmingly honest about this edgy sound. Sure, it’s hard to tell what Graves is singing most of the time, yet it all come across as compelling. Recommended!

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Mar 192014
 

_inhabit is the new EP from Pleasantry, due for release on 21st March. I was fortunate enough to listen to a sneak preview. Here goes…

“Habit” starts off with a jangly indie-pop vibe but truly resonates as Samantha Teng, Isa Ong and guest singer Weish provide a collective merry vocal jig. An uplifting spectacle.

“Owls” is an enigmatic, atmospheric slow burner built on an intricate rhythm guitar lattice. Josh Wei contributes a heartfelt violin solo during an 80s jazz-folk interlude. A spine-tingling moment.

“Near and Dear” is based on a duet between Samantha & Isa. Twee pop that tugs at your heartstrings. What the Millennials amongst you might describe as a ‘feels’ song. 80s indie pop evocations.

“Spent” is a gorgeous ballad premised on a chord progression the late great Roy Orbison might have utilized. All torch-like and dramatic – constructed to touch souls with guitars that shimmer with reverbs and echoes. Simply beautiful.

You need this EP. We all do. Watch this space.

 

BLURB-O-RAMA

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Mar 182014
 

BOB

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WE ARE SCIENTISTSTV en Français

Probably one shining example of how fun modern indie pop can be in the right hands. This Brooklyn duo has been going for a decade now and from the evidence here, it seems like they have got the balance right! Infectious melodies, danceable rhythms & pop smarts throughout. Surely this has got to be one of the better albums of 2014. Recommended.

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BLURB-O-RAMA

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Mar 092014
 

BOB

Capsule reviews of new music that has been released in the last couple of weeks. 

WARPAINTWarpaint

Dreamy atmospheric drones are the order for the day on the sophomore effort from this Los Angeles-based quartet. Very high on ‘feels’ and rather low on songcraft per se, the attention to sonics and rhythms somewhat circumvents any melodic deficiency in evidence. Which is fine, as Warpaint’s modus operandi is to lull listeners into a feel-good chilled out mode. Good enough.

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THE WORD: ANNIHILATION

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Mar 052014
 

When does nature become unnatural? That is the question posed by author Jeff Vandermeer in Annihilation, the first installment of a proposed trilogy (entitled Southern Reach), all three parts to be published in 2014. In brief, the story involves a team of four (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization. They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma.

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Mar 052014
 
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Photo by Aloysius Lim

Sure, as a music lover based in Singapore, one is currently inundated with big rock concert draws like Eric Clapton & The Rolling Stones and with big rock festivals like St. Jerome’s Laneway & the Hostess Club Weekender. But seriously folks, nothing quite beats the experience of watching a cracking band up close in an intimate venue. Nothing.

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BLURB-O-RAMA

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Feb 282014
 

BOB

It’s the end of February 2014 and here’s some new albums that we think you should check out!

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BENMONT TENCH – You Should Be So Lucky

Better known as the piano player with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Benmont Tench releases his debut solo album and it’s exactly as you might expect. Pristine country-folk-blues-rock that echoes Dylan and Petty (of course) with touches of jazz (“Ecor Rouge”) and soul (“Why Don’t You Quit Leaving Me Alone”). But with authentic material like “Veronica Said”, “Hannah” and “Today I Took Your Picture Down”, Tench demonstrates that he can stand his ground against his heavy-hitting associates. Recommended.

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Feb 252014
 

Empire of the Sun‘s frontman Luke Steele promised an exciting adventure for his band’s performance for the opening concert in The Gathering series. And from a purely visual perspective, EOTS did not let down the sizable audience on Friday, 21st February gathered outdoor at the Fort Canning Park. An amazing light show and colourfully attired dancing girls guaranteed a feast for the eyes during their hour plus set.

monstercat

Before that, local champions MONSTER CAT thrilled the early birds with a showcase of songs from new album – The Violet Hour – notably first single “Take Me to Love”. The band was somewhat squeezed to the side of the stage (due to EOTS elaborate setup) and thus, the band seemed a little awkward but that didn’t stop the boys from giving their all and doing their ambitious new numbers justice.

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MY FAIR LADY [REVIEW]

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Feb 252014
 

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Classic musicals can be fun, and My Fair Lady that is running at MBS Theatre now, demonstrates why the classic piece of musical theatre gets staged again and again all these years. However, in the particular production, one can’t shake off the feeling how ‘traditional’ this musical is.

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Feb 242014
 

Picture by Aloysius Lim

Apologies are in order cos this review should have been published at TODAY at least two weeks ago but for some reason – technical hitches etc – the article never appeared. And so, a much belated review of Plainsunset’s triumphant celebration of The Gift’s 10th Anniversary follows.

In 2015, Singapore will celebrate its 50th year of independence. Whilst clearly much has been written about the miraculous economic progress that the country has experienced, it might be argued that this success was achieved at the cost of Singapore’s artistic soul. But slowly but surely, that state of affairs is beginning to witness a sea change. Since the modest revival of Singapore-made rock music in the 1990s, only one band has lasted the course – weathering a break-up in the mid-2000s and the loss of a founding member to come on through the other side still as vibrant as ever and still as relevant to their loyal fans in 2014. That band, of course, is Plainsunset.

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HOT BUZZ: BABUSHKA

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Feb 242014
 

Don, Fauzo & Sophia

There may be no shortage of instrumental rock bands in the S-ROCK scene but it’s fair to say that Babushka has opted for a different path from your typical ‘Post-rock’ fare. The trio play a combination of jazz, folk and world music that one could imagine being utilized on the appropriate movie soundtrack. On its debut EP, Flights of Fancy, the styles range from Spanish flamenco inflections (“K2″), English folk cum shoegaze references (“Sherpa”), Space Age Bachelor Pad ambience (“Luxury Apartment”), easy listening jazz-folk (“Collide”) and even a Tex-Mex Mariachi vibe (“Pocket Rocket” – which film buffs might imagine in a Quentin Tarantino cowboy flick even!)

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BLURB-O-RAMA

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Jan 302014
 

BOB

Time to make Blurb-O-Rama about the best of the month’s album releases methinks. So, here we are at the end of January 2014 already and here are some of the new albums you should check out. 

DAVID CROSBYCroz

First album of new material in two decades – David Crosby, the legendary troubadour collaborates with his son, James Raymond, Mark Knopfler and Wynton Marsalis, to deliver a quality release filled with sophisticated compositions that finds Crosby in good form. Bedded nicely in a jazzy folk style reminiscent of the glory days of CSN, Croz is an essential listening pleasure for true blue fans of classic rock.

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GEEK OUT!

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Jan 302014
 

If you have never watched Paul Verhoeven’s classic RoboCop (1987), then you might find this reboot to be entertaining fare. Nothing special but passable movie entertainment nonetheless. Whilst the original film came across as a visceral satire of the role that powerful corporations play in the USA and worldwide, Brazilian director Jose Padilha’s re-imagination renders any such social-political commentary inert and most of the time, his RoboCop comes across as safe, family-friendly entertainment.

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REEL TO REAL

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Jan 172014
 

her-movie-poster

Is Spike Jonze’s Her a geek film? One could argue that it is a scifi movie but the elements are so marginal that in fact it’s probably more of a romantic comedy-drama with superficial scifi tropes. BUT. This last week, I have been speaking to my students about the purpose of setting in a story and I could not help but be distracted by the setting of Her.

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ALIVE & KICKING

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Jan 162014
 

Fairchild001

 

This piece was originally meant for publication in TODAY but due to miscommunication, it never was and so I decided to post it here on Power of Pop. 

FAIRCHILD/DEON | Home Club | 3rd Jan 2014

That Singapore is now a premier regional hub for high-end music entertainment is a given. But perhaps what needs further development is for Singapore to provide an avenue for up and coming foreign bands to cut their teeth at our smaller venues so that home audiences might enjoy these performances in a more intimate setting. Bring local bands into the equation as opening acts and the opportunity for healthy cross-pollination arises which can only benefit music lovers everywhere. Thus far, the likes of Beach Fossils (USA), The Cairos (Australia) and Mac Demarco (Canada) have made their way to our smaller stages and it is a promising trend that hopefully truly takes off in the immediate future.

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Jan 112014
 

Suffice to say that The Doors is one of the most important rock bands ever and if you’re a rock lover/scholar then one just cannot get enough of this seminal outfit. This DVD strings together The Doors’ use of the visual medium to convey not only commercial messages but also the core values of the band. From its earliest music with awkward TV appearances (John Densmore has hardly enough time to get behind his drums when “Light My Fire” kicks in on American Bandstand!) and innovative music film, The Doors quickly realize the potential of the visual medium as an additional promotional and creative avenue – Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were film students after all. Bonus material include outtakes and a documentary recounting how The Doors began to use film to highlight their talents. Essential.

GEEK OUT!

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Jan 062014
 

MAGIC WORDS: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF ALAN MOORE (by Lance Parkin)

It’s difficult for me to be objective about the writer Alan Moore. After all, the man had been responsible for many of my favourite all-time comic book stories viz. Watchmen, From Hell, Marvelman/Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Top Ten, Saga of the Swamp Thing and so on. Apart from Philip K Dick, Alan Moore is my favourite writer. Period.

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Jan 062014
 

LOWERCASE AND LINCH AGENCY PRESENTS AN EVENING WITH LYON APPRENTICE, GENTLE BONES, LOKIES & LINYING

The year has kicked off and the gigs are coming in thick and fast. A relatively low key event, this stripped down acoustic affair showcased Gold Coast brother act, Lyon Apprentice, as they made their debut appearance in Singapore.

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TUBEWATCH

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Jan 042014
 

Shelock301

SHERLOCK: SEASON 3

As a young kid, I loved the Basil Rathbone version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective. Subsequently of course, Sherlock Holmes fans have had no shortage of versions to choose from. Perhaps its the unsmiling Jeremy Brett one or the Steven Spielberg’s vision of the Young Sherlock Holmes or the latest Hollywood incarnation with Robert Downey Jr or even the quirky Elementary US TV series (where Lucy Liu is Watson!)

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