FUZZY VOX – TECHNICOLOR [REVIEW]

The French rock n’ roll band known as Fuzzy Vox behaves as if no new music was made after 1969! This myopic vision provides incredible focus as this five-track EP amply demonstrates. The music here is simple yet powerful, straight-forward and visceral. If push came to shove, probably the most accurate reference point would be the first Stooges album. Sure, one could also point to the influences of the mod greats (The Who) and blues-rock legends (The Rolling Stones) but there’s a basic garage-punk energy that suggests Iggy and his band of freaks held greater sway. In the modern context, The Hives come to mind immediately and every other garage-punk revivalist you would care to mention. The scintillating cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” provides a clarity of purpose, translated well on the meaty title track, the beaty “Same Old Story”, the big “I’ll Be Gone” and the bouncy “Hurricane”. Pure & easy.

Listen to “I’d Be Gone” and the rest of the EP at Soundcloud.

Like Fuzzy Vox at Facebook | Buy the EP at Deezer

 

 

PoPTV: POWER POP: THE NEXT WAVE

What will be the next rock trend the new kids on the block will cotton on to? Well, in the last five years the post-punk/new wave of the 80s has been fairly squeezed dry by new bands so perhaps now it’s time to move up a decade. If we look at the early 90s, power pop definitely was popular enough for major labels to sign the likes of Weezer, Jellyfish, Teenage FanclubSemisonic, Fastball, Superdrag, The Grays, Wanderlust and the like.

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CLIFF RICHARD RETURNS FOR A TWO NIGHT ONLY CONCERT AT MARINA BAY SANDS [NEWS]

(BASE Entertainment Asia press release)

Sir Cliff Richard OBE, with global record sales beyond 250 million and a ceaseless performance schedule spanning 54 years, is set to return to Singapore for two nights only with a hit-packed national tour Still Reelin’ and A-Rockin’. Tickets are now on sale.

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SASSPARILLA – MAGPIE [REVIEW]

For the first half of this wonderful album, Portland-based outfit Sassparilla (Kevin Blackwell, Colin Macdonald, Ross Macdonald, Naima Muntal, Justin Burkhart and Ben Stewart) parlays the fundamental influences (country, folk, blues and rock n’ roll) into a potent mix. Armed with banjos, harmonicas, slide guitars and decent pop tunes – Magpie lives up to its promise of delivering authentic Beatlesque Americana and channeling the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young, Steve Earle, Tom Petty, (early) Wilco, The Jayhawks and more.

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THE DEMON BEAT – LESS IS LESS [REVIEW]

You can pretty much line up the influences that fuel The Demon Beat’s rock n’ roll machine and put a string right through them all. Less is Less for me, sums up the trio’s (Adam L. Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman & Jordan Hudkins) manic agenda for world domination – pillage the best bits of fifty decades of rock n’ roll, pour into a cauldron and stir fuckin’ hard! A strange brew, indeed!

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JERZEY STREET BAND – BREAKING RADIO SILENCE [REVIEW]

Looking at The Jerzey Street Band and listening to its raucous, rootsy, country-folk anthems on debut album Breaking Radio Silence, one would never think that the band hails from Manchester, England instead of New Jersey, USA! But of course, it’s a known fact that the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty have always done great business in the UK and it’s obvious that the members of The Jerzey Street Band– Dave Wrobel (Lead Vocals & Guitars); Neil Wrobel (Guitars & Vocals); Roger Crombie (Guitars & Vocals); Russ Blakeley (Bass); Keith Ashworth (Pedal Steel Guitar & Dobro); Andy Lawson (Keys) & Mike Weaver (Drums & Vocals) are huge fans of the aforementioned American rock n’ roll icons.

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THE WHIGS – ENJOY THE COMPANY [REVIEW]

It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)

Y’know, I highly recommend Enjoy the Company, the new album (#4) from Athens, GA-based trio The Whigs to every music lover who is sick about the relentless barrage of no-talent hacks dressed up only with a disco/hip hop beat and nothing much else. It’s so refreshing to listen to music that is so obviously inspired by decades of honest rock n’ roll and everything that that entails.

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WASTED 24/7 – NUTMEG EP [REVIEW]

WHATEVER, NEVER MIND

Once in a while, I take a review request because the email sounds so sincere like –

“We were wondering if you could do us a small favor: My band Wasted 24/7 is about to release its debut EP, and we would like to have it reviewed by someone with experience. We really wanna make it in this business and if you could help us out with just a little of your time we would really appreciate it!”

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JOSH FLAGG & THE OBLIGATIONS – DEVASTATE ME

ALL-AMERICAN FLAGG

I do not put much stock in hyperbole. Whenever I read about hot new bands who are supposedly channeling the rock n roll spirit of Bruce Springsteen, The Clash and The Replacements, I get invariably disappointed when I finally get to listen to these bands for example, The Gaslight Anthem, Sharks, Bouncing Souls et al. I mean, the songs are weak, the melodies lack oomph and there is just no verve whatsoever. Boring.

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JEFF LITMAN

 

Dangerously Uncool

Seriously folks, when was the last time power pop was considered ‘hip and cool’? The 90s maybe, when power pop bands still got major label deals e.g. Weezer, Jellyfish, The Grays, Wanderlust, Semisonic et al. NYC singer-songwriter Jeff Litman makes no bones who inspires his craft – Tom Petty, Elvis Costello & Paul Westerberg have all been favorably mentioned – and in this day and age, that just about might be career suicide! After all, if the kids of today don’t even know who the hell Sir Paul McCartney is then how in the world would they be able to connect with songs that trickle down from the seminal work of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Byrds?

But I will emphasize – who cares, right? Call me a blind optimist but for me, holding on to the melodic ideals is really what it’s all about. So yes, I will champion a talent like Jeff Litman who (on his second album – Outside) puts such loving detail in every chord, arrangement and lyric without cynical pandering to attention-deficit young people. Elvis Costello once put his songwriting into perspective by describing it as “creative plagiarism” – the key word being “creative”. So whilst it is clear that the tools Litman utilizes comes from a kinder and gentler age (crafted tunes, organic instrumentation, thoughtful arrangements) but with these implements, Litman has fashioned an album that has enough flair and verve in it to maybe sway the shallow, casual music fan.

So the joy and pleasure comes in equal measure in the soaring chorus of “Over and Over”, the rollicking rhythm of “Runaway”, the hypnotic chord progression of “Chasing My Tail” and the way the melody falls comfortably together on “Don’t Want to Talk About It”. It is easy to discern that with the elements of country-folk, rock n’ roll and power pop prominently featured that the kind of music that Litman deals in is so out of synch with everything that passes for modern pop music in 2012 that there is an almost contrarian appeal working here.

And why would you be content to be lemmings hurtling down sharp cliffs at the bidding of the hipster pied pipers (mixed metaphors whoa!) when you can – if you so choose – broaden your minds to rock music that is timeless and will never ever date. Even as I allow the sweet balladic tones of “Time Heals Nothing” to sweep me away, I realize that I do not need to succumb to the principle that just because classic pop-rock is unfashionable, we can ignore the quality songwriting and arrangements that this kind of music invariably possesses in favor of image and ‘indie cred’.

So here I am again drawing a line in the sand – yes Outside isn’t perfect and it may not even be 100% original but it sure has enough heart n’ soul to encourage this foolish lover of ‘old school’ rock to continue to keep the faith. Indeed.

Official Site

 

PoPTV – WINFRED E. EYE

 

Moving On

Mixing rock n’ roll with country boogie, with a crooner’s touch, Winfred E. Eye – who hail from Oakland, California – is a band that sticks to the good old school rock philosophy of music with heart. Moving On is the lead track from the band’s fifth album – Today Was Another Day – being released in January 2012. The song is wistful and winsome and difficult for true blue country rock fans not to fall head over heels in love with.

Official Site

LANEWAY FESTIVAL SINGAPORE 2012

GIRLS

I love Girls. Well, the band that calls itself Girls, in any case.

Consisting of Christopher Owens (singer-songwriter-guitarist) and Chet White (bass, producer), the band has taken the indie scenes worldwide by storm with its largely ‘old-school’ sonic & textural approaches. With two well-received full lengths (Album – 2009 & Father Son Holy Ghost – 2011) and EP (Broken Dreams Club – 2010) under its belt, Girls has firmly established itself as an exciting new band to keep a close watch on.

Much capital has been made in the media about Owen’s colourful past which includes being raised in a Children of God commune and being mentored by an eccentric billionaire. In his interviews, Owen’s candor sometimes gets him into trouble but you just have to respect an artist as honest as he is. Personally, I love how Owen simply ignores current trends and writes and plays the music he feels in his soul. A true artist in my book!

Certainly, Girls will stand out from most of the other acts at Laneway Festival Singapore 2012, which is exactly why I am pretty much excited about Girls hitting our shores in February. At most, Girls perhaps shares affinity with Laura Marling and Cults for looking back in order to move forward (if you can my drift).

Listening to the new album – Father, Son, Holy Ghost – has been an absolute joy and pleasure so far. With songs like My Ma, Vomit and Forgiveness pulling my heart strings, Honey Bunny tickling my sweet tooth and Die pummeling my senses, there’s little doubt in my mind that Girls are the real McCoy and stand as a good a chance as any to create truly timeless music. Can we just call it great rock n roll music and leave it at that?

If a modern day analogue needs to be made (at all), consider Christopher Owens a hybrid of say, Kurt Cobain and Beck, with a whole dollop of his own unique personality thrown in. Yes, I believe that Girls is no flash in the pan and deserves the attention and hyperbole lavished on it thus far. And I hear that they’re even better live! Check out the awesome rendition of Forgiveness below (and I sure hope they bring along that big band to Singapore!)

Official Site – Girls | Official Site – Laneway Festival

Tickets available at SISTIC

ELTON JOHN – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

The gentrification of rock is something one cannot escape, considering the fact that rock ‘n’ roll first reared its zeitgeist-defining head in the 1950s. With this comes the distancing between rock ‘n’ roll and its original raison d’être as an outlet for teenage rebellion. Still, it must be said that for certain artists now firmly in the twilight of their careers, the music remains the focal point.

Definitely, Elton John – despite the controversies over the years concerning his sexuality, his eating disorders and elaborate stage costumes – is (in the final analysis) all about the music. Certainly there was a certain stiffness about the atmosphere at the Indoor Stadium initially as the front rows of (high priced) seats seemed intent to cross their arms and appear bemused at the phenomenal show that was unfolding before them. This was not helped by the ushers stopping the audience from standing up and dancing in their seats or approaching the stage – presumably that would have disrupted the enjoyment of the high-paying patrons at the front (who were killjoys to begin with)!

None of this was down to the fantastic performances that was happening on stage it must be emphasized. 2Cellos, a pair of cellists from Croatia, kicked off the night’s festivities with virtuositic deliveries of popular rock numbers, in particular Welcome to the Jungle, With Or Without You and Smells Like Teem Spirit. The majority of the 10,000 strong crowd certainly enjoyed the efforts of 2Cellos and demonstrated such appreciation wildly.

The moment 2Cellos finished, Elton and band launched into Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting and it was all systems go! And from then on it was almost three hours of non-stop hits and even more impressive improv moments. For the former, the likes of Tiny Dancer, Honky Cat (!), Candle in the Wind, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Daniel, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Philadelphia Freedom, Bennie and the Jets brought tears to the eyes. Backed by a crack band that included stalwarts Davey Johnstone (guitar) and Nigel Ollsson (drums), the years rolled back and I certainly felt 15 again!

For the latter, Elton demonstrated his ability to lead a prolonged improv session with codas to Madman Across the Water and most significantly to Rocket Man which ran the gamut from blues, jazz, soul and even prog rock! Definitely, Elton and band were never content to go through the motions but proved what magnificent musicians they all were in the process.

Finally, for the last few songs, the audience were allowed to approach the stage and we were now treated to rollicking renditions of The Bitch Is Back (!) and Crocodile Rock – now this was more like it! Why did the organizers leave this to the end only? If anything that was the main letdown to an otherwise perfect night of awesome rock ‘n’ roll.

And an amazing night it was too – embellished by the presence of actor Kevin Spacey (whom Elton introduced, much to the obvious delight of the audience) – and it was such a pity that it had to end. Sure, I would have loved to hear Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Someone Saved My Life Tonight or even Ticking but really there was no arguing with that red-hot setlist. Through it all, it was obvious that Elton was having a ball and there is little doubt in my mind that we will never see an artist like him ever again. I am so very glad that even though it took me 35 years to do so, I finally watch Elton John live. Long may he run…

Thanks to Sammy Shirra-Moore for making this review possible. Pictures by Aloysius Lim/Live Music.

 

SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE

Creedence Clearwater Revival, mostly known to fans as ‘CCR’ was a rock quartet whose singles were big radio hits during the transition period from the 60s to the 70s. As a kid, I remembering hearing their songs constantly on the radio and the secret of their success was very simple – basic rock ‘n’ roll infused with country, folk and soul inflections and not to mention the dynamic larynx of lead singer John Fogerty.

I remember getting hold of a cassette of Chronicle – which was subtitled “The 20 Greatest Hits” for good reason. Chronicle was that rare compilation where every selection was an unforgettable classic. No exaggeration to state that I wore out that cassette from the non-stop play and I would repeat the process over the entirety of the album. Now of course, the whole album is a firm fixture in my iTunes and still receives a regular play-through to remind what top notch rock ‘n’ roll is all about.

If I had to choose my top five from “The 20 Greatest Hits” it would have to be – Who’ll Can Stop The Rain, Someday Never Comes, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Lodi and Fortunate Son – these tunes have been permanently burned into my consciousness. Add to the list, CCR’s fiery interpretations of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You and Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine and what you have is rock ‘n’ roll bliss.

Buy Chronicle from Amazon

BAMBI KINO

BAMBI KINO Self-titled (Tampete)

Y’know sometimes music should be made for fun. We often forget that. This special project band call themselves Bambi Kino (named after the fledging Beatles’ original lodgings in Hamburg). Ah, got things a bit backwards. Consisting of various indie stalwarts viz. Ira Elliot – drums (Nada Surf), Erik Paparazzi – bass (Cat Power), Mark Rozzo – guitar and vocals (Maplewood) and Doug Gillard – guitar (Guided By Voices) – Bambi Kino played 4 sets at the Indra club in Hamburg (yes, he exact same club The Beatles played their first show in the Reeperbahn) in 2010 consisting of tracks the Beatles themselves performed at Hamburg 50 years before.

Well, the band decided to record their afternoon rehearsals and now the result of these sessions will be released in the USA. Yes folks, it’s a tribute of sorts and Beatles fans will probably be intrigued but really, it’s a fun record and an album that should be listened in one sitting and enjoyed in the spirit it was made.

With uncanny authenticity, Bambi Kino has evoked the rollicking mood of those heady days and old-time rock ‘n’ roll faves like Some Other Guy, A Shot of Rhythm and Blues, Shakin’ All Over, Wild Cat mixed with standards like Besame Mucho, Soldier of Love and To Know Her Is To Love Her. Simply a blast!

[amazon-product alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]B00405IPUS[/amazon-product]

 

NOWHERE BOY OST

NOWHERE BOY ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (Sony)

Thirty years after his tragic demise, the life of John Lennon continues to capture the imagintation of the music-loving public. Nowhere Boy is a biopic – based on Julia (Lennon’s half-sister) Baird’s book Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon – which focuses on Lennon’s teenage years, his life-changing discovery of rock ‘n’ roll, the historic meeting with Paul McCartney and the formation of his first band, the Quarrymen (which eventually became the Beatles).

Being a period movie, the soundtrack naturally features classic rock ‘n’ roll music e.g. Jerry Lee Lewis’ Wild One, Elvis Presley’s Shake, Rattle & Roll, Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock, Big Mama Thorton’s Hound Dog and so on. But what is intriguing is the performances by the celluloid Quarrymen (nee The Nowhere Boys) of Maggie May, That’ll Be the Day and the McCartney-Harrison original In Spite of All the Danger. Rather faithfully re-created, I might add.

The album also features a 2nd disc of music that inspired John Lennon (and obviously not in the film) like Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry), Rock Around the Clock (Bill Haley and the Comets), I Fought the Law (Bobby Fuller Four) etc.

For fans of the Beatles, John Lennon and classic pop-rock in general.

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.

METAL XMAS

Picture 6

VARIOUS ARTISTS We Wish You A Metal XMas and a Headbanging New Year (Armoury)

Not quite sure about this one. Like, how do you do a metal version of Silent Night? How about speed metal style with growling, even? I mean, its got to be heard to be believed. Sure, we get some big names for the price of admission viz Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Dave Grohl, Tony Iommi but ultimately this CD is all about novelty value. It’s a good disc to put on at Christmas parties to amuse your guests but other than that…?

That said, I do like the kick ass Run Rudolph Run from Lemmy, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl, probably cos its rock ‘n’ roll and not remotely metal at all. Maybe we should do a S-ROCK Christmas album next year…

Caveat Emptor!