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Apr 122014
 

DEON-2011

Three years ago, I first met Deon Toh (second from left, above) when he was a participant in the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Program and I was the resident songwriting mentor. Since then, DEON has gone from strength to strength and has played all over the place, including last years’ Canada Music Week. This year, DEON has extended his overseas stint to include the UK (London and Liverpool) as well and will play at the International Pop Overthrow Festival. Backing him will be Lim Jie (guitar), Mindy Kon (Keyboards), Stasha Wong (bass), and Jovin Lim (drums). Before leaving our shores, DEON will also play a couple of local gigs (see poster below) so make a date with DEON in the next couple of weeks.

Always Take The Scenic Route (Poster)-Small

Look out for DEON’s new album, Antiphobic, to be released in June 2014.

Official Site 

Mar 242014
 

Photo by Cass Goh

DON’T SPOOK THE ALPACA

Over the course of the last three weeks, The Groovy People and I did a couple of gigs in support of #alpacablues. Overall, I felt that the band was in top form with Eileen Chai on violin providing the distinctive flavour that carried us over the top. Considering how badly Emo FASCISM was received last time out, I kept my expectations for #alpacablues extremely low. This was the best way to approach these bunch of gigs as well and in the final analysis, I had fun. It was great to see friendly faces at Artistry, Hood Bar & the Esplanade. Most of all, it was amazing once again to play with Patrick Chng, Ray Aziz, Nelson Tan & Benjamin Ang - I love them all as friends and respect them all immensely as talented musicians. It is never easy playing live in Singapore where audiences are not as appreciative as you would like them to be especially with music that they are not familiar with (i.e. NOT COVERS) but once you keep that firmly in mind, you can get by fairly well. Managed to get hold of the soundboard recordings from the Esplanade so check them out below.

… still there’s more …

Mar 242014
 

Electrico is back in the saddle and recently posted sneak peeks of new material over at their official Soundcloud page. Three songs – “With You”, “Live in the Night” and “Easy Go” – are reminiscent of the band’s early days, chock full of melodic hooks and powerpop vibes. The band has promised a new release later this year. Personally, I can’t wait. Check them out!

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.

 

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.

Continue reading »

HOT BUZZ: BABUSHKA

 MUSIC  Comments Off
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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#alpacablues

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 152014
 

I am proud to announce that my new EP – and my second official solo release – is now available at Bandcamp. You can buy the EP for US$1 until 14th March, wherein it reverts to full price. I am quite sure that #alpacablues is probably my best recorded music to date and this has been done to the fine work from my collaborators viz. Ray Aziz (percussion), Nelson Tan (upright bass), Eileen Chai (violin) and Pat Chng (recording/mixing). Not forgetting of course, the wondrous cover art from Andy Yang. Recorded in about five sessions, the songs on the EP represent a watershed of sorts for me. I have decided to put behind me the overtly melancholic sentiments evident on both Emo FASCISM and #alpacablues and move ahead to make brighter music. Already, I have in mind an electronic pop project for the latter part of 2014. But in the meantime, I hope you will enjoy #alpacablues.

… still there’s more …

HOT BUZZ: MONSTER CAT

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Feb 042014
 

Take Me To Love Artwork

What excites me about new music? When my expectations are surpassed and a smile is left on my face gawking at the sheer audacity that caught me by surprise! MONSTER CAT‘s new single – “Take Me to Love” fits the bill perfectly. From it’s atonal opening chord progressions to its funky (?) chorus, “Take Me to Love” comes from left field completely and might possibly be the fucking best new song I’ve heard in 2014 so far. Don’t believe me? Well, listen to the song at Deezer now!

Off the band’s upcoming new album – The Violet Hour – to be released on 3rd March and which you can pre-order now at iTunes. What are you waiting for?

… still there’s more …

 

STAGEFRIGHT X

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Jan 082014
 

Goes without saying that local original music needs more exposure and so I am pleased that STAGEFRIGHT @ Artistry is now into its 10th edition. Tonight, the lineup is -

8.00pm to 8.15pm Che Cereza
8.20pm to 8.35pm Hiroki Sunayama
8.40pm to 8.55pm Richard Philip
9.00pm to 9.15pm The Winged Butter Cats

Come on down and enjoy some mid-week refreshment. I will be playing a couple of new tunes from the upcoming #alpacablues ep at the end. See you there!

More info.

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.

Continue reading »

Jan 042014
 

Yes, again pretty short notice from us but… we met indie popsters Fairchild last night and caught their set at Home Club and it was all good fun. Fairchild’s Adam and Nathan Lyons have a side-project, Lyon Apprentice and the brothers will be bring their brand of indie folk to Lowercase tonight (!) with backing from Joie Tan, Linying and Gentle Bones. It’s at Lowercase, it begins from 6.30pm and the cover is $6. Come on down!

 

Jan 022014
 

 

PLAINSUNSET is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their 2003 release, THE GIFT, with a limited edition collector’s vinyl, cassette & a one-night only show on February 8th 2014 at TAB, where they will play THE GIFT in its entirety. Early bird tickets on sale (till 13 Jan) for $15 here (Standard price is $20). More information available at the Facebook Events page.

 

Dec 282013
 

Finally! Charlie Lim has released two new singles (viz. “Bitter” and “Conspiracy”) and both tracks can be downloaded for FREE from Bandwagon (limited to first 1000 signups) so HURRY!!!!

Suffice to say, “Bitter” is a heart-wrenchingly gorgeous jazz-pop piece with dynamism, virtuosity and dollops of soul that deserves to be a worldwide hit (whatever that means nowadays) – please don’t miss out! “Conspiracy” demonstrates a different side of Charlie as smooth R&B inflections, infectious funky beats and cool vibes make the song a hot dancefloor hit contender! Another essential track for your collection!

Find out more about Charlie Lim here.

PoPINIONS

 MUSIC, PERSONAL  Comments Off
Dec 122013
 

IF YOU HAVE NOTHING GOOD TO SAY…

A good friend recently suggested that I should emulate the renowned music critic Bob Lefsetz and cut loose on music and bands that I did not like – the proverbial ‘take no prisoners’ kind of commentary. Not that I haven’t done this in the 20 odd years that I have been writing about music and pop culture. And this includes telling the ‘truth’ about the music of local bands and artists as well. However, I find that it does not serve any purpose and often the targets of the criticism are not able to benefit from those remarks – so why bother?

Continue reading »

Dec 122013
 

clip_image002

 

With a vibe that recalls the popular British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, comes the debut single from Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) viz. “Till We Die”. If you like what you see and hear, you can buy the single from either iTunes: http://bit.ly/untilwedie or from BandCamp: http://gentlebones.bandcamp.com/. Proceeds will go towards the funding of the upcoming full-length album. Check out the official video below.

Oct 272013
 

The last time was December 2012. So it has been a long time coming. Yes, folks, it’s Fred Perry Sub-Sonic Live for 2013 and it promises to be a memorable occasion for all rock and pop music lovers. In keeping with previous editions, the venue is a surprising choice, unconventional but unforgettable. This time it’s Offside located at 2 Whitley Road, which is usually a place people go to play futsal (!) – yeah really…a space of over 30,000 sq ft under a flyover ( so we’re told).

Continue reading »

Sep 172013
 

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at AM 10.40.26

 

(Press release)

SGMUSO is very excited and proud to announce HOUSE PARTY: An SGMUSO Open House.

As a follow up to the inaugural Music Matters Academy which ran as a 3-day project for Singaporean artists at Music Matters 2013, HOUSE PARTY is set to take place on 5th October 2013, at the Aliwal Arts Centre (home of SGMUSO).

Featuring a stellar line-up of over 20 homegrown acts who have benefitted from the SGMUSO – Music Matters Academy initiative, dynamic panel discussions as well as the exclusive screening of two local documentaries, HOUSE PARTY is jammed packed with activities in the span of a day!

Visit www.facebook.com/sgmuso for more details to be announced soon!

 

 

S-ROCK

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Aug 312013
 

Deon-sm

Some news and happenings from the little red dot.

DRU CHEN – FALL ASIA TOUR

In anticipation of his upcoming second single “Turnaround” from Intentions 

EP, Dru Chen and his soulful 6-piece band will return to Singapore to perform two shows, followed by two more in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Earlier this year, at Mosaic Music Festival in Singapore, Dru released the EP’s lead single “You Bring Out The Best In Me”. The funky anthem has since been picked up by radio and bloggers internationally, and it’s accompanying über -energetic and dance-friendly music video has garnered 17,500 views.

During a two-month tour across Australia (including headline shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane), Intentions EP completely sold out! After printing a second batch of CD’s, Dru will continue touring Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines in the Fall of 2013.

The tour will kick off on August 30 at Night Festival. On September 6, Dru will perform at MAAD Sounds. His backing band includes Adam Shah (Muon), Gareth Fernandez (Kings SG), Tok Xue Yi (Huckleberry Friends), Weiye Tan and Tony Shen. The tour also brings Dru and band over to Malaysia and the Philippines, with singer-songwriters Carlos Castaño and Brisom.

Complete with blazing guitar solos, shimmering keyboards, soulful harmonies, beat boxing, and a tight rhythm section, don’t miss Dru Chen as he brings his trademark pop-savvy funk & soul to Singapore.

Dru Chen Fall Tour Dates:

Aug 30 – Night Festival, The Substation, Singapore
Sept 6 – MAAD Sounds, Red Dot Museum, Singapore
Sept 13 – The Bee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sept 14 – Secret Show, Penang, Malaysia
Sept 27 – 19East, Makati, Philippines
Sept 28 – SaGuijo, Makati, Philippines

E: info@druchen.net
W: http://druchen.net
F: http://facebook.com/druchenmusic
T: http://twitter.com/druchenmusic
Y: http://youtube.com/druchenmusic

DEON TOH INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN

After a year of working out new material, DEON is on the cusp of completing his debut album Antiphobic. A culmination of his past two years as a solo artist in the Singapore scene, Antiphobic is the cathartic release of stories that have surrounded the people closest to him. Be it an ode to love, an exposition on the stubborn permanence of blood ties, or a rousing call for self-worth – the album is a pill. It is an antidote of positivity against the fears that have at one point or another unaffirmed the belief in love, its power to heal, uplift, and conquer all.

The indiegogo campaign is essential in helping DEON complete the album and fulfill a lifetime worth of dreams. Since releasing demo Letters, DEON has gone on to grace such major stages as Canadian Music Week 2013, Baybeats 2012, the NOISE Singapore Showcase and many more. The erstwhile drummer of the now defunct Flybar is looking make imprints on the regional scene with his own brand of brilliant song-craft.

However, Antiphobic requires the support and help from as many as possible. Pledging will help us push through the final hurdle to finish the album. Funds will go directly to production, mastering, and packaging costs that will help make Antiphobic a reality.

Please visit http://igg.me/at/deondebutalbum for more details.

…still there’s more…

Aug 272013
 

Inch

 

Sometimes, as a reviewer, one gets confronted with music that gets so much under one’s skin that it almost becomes nigh impossible for said reviewer to come up with descriptions that will do remote justice to the thoughts and emotions coursing through the synapses.

I have known Inch Chua for about six years now – from back in the day when she fronted indie rock outfit Allura with no small measure of aplomb and dynamism. When the band went on indefinite hiatus, Inch embarked on a solo project which she has pursued aggressively and ambitiously beyond our shores in Los Angeles.

Her sophomore effort – Bumfuzzle (co-produced with Leonard Soosay and Mark John Hariman) – has been percolating through my senses for a couple of months now and in my humble estimation, one of the finest musical works ever produced by Singaporeans.

Continue reading »

Aug 092013
 

EmoFASCISMsm

 

So the new album has been out for more than a week now and to be brutally honest, I feel utterly disappointed by the lack of response. But wait…. what did I truly expect? The CDs (and T-shirts) to be sold out and that all my friends would pack out my shows? Ah yes, the problem of unrealistic expectations – the agony of hope not fulfilled.

After all, wasn’t the recording of the album for my own benefit? Yes and no. Indeed, the album has had a carthatic and therapeutic effect on the emotional rollercoaster that is now my daily existence. Yet, one cannot help but yearn for the acceptance of your peers, which is represented (rightly or wrongly) by attendance at shows, CDs and T-shirts sales. With all my low self-esteem issues bundled into and identified with the ‘success’ of the album, you can imagine it has not been an easy week for me.

Add to that complicated relationship difficulties and it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that I feel royally fucked-up at the moment. But wait…. that would ignore the positives and I really need to focus on and give recognition to these factors in order to survive and ultimately thrive. So here goes…

It was wonderful playing with Pat, Ray, Nelson and Ben (aka The Groovy People) and on stage I felt invincible. It has been amazing to collaborate with Lydia once again, she is so talented that my heart wants to burst – she is my protege in every sense of the word. The fact that she disappears before the end of the month makes this even more bittersweet (typical innit?)

To everyone who has attended the shows and purchased the CDs and T-shirts, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart — I do cherish each and everyone of you — you give me hope that maybe I’m not a FAILED MUSICIAN after all….

… still there’s more …

 

 

Jul 132013
 

EmoFASCISMsm

Things are brewing over at Emo FASCISM central. The CD is being pressed even as I write, a pre-release streaming arrangement is being worked out with Spotify and the digital album has been uploaded to iTunes.

However, if you want to download a track NOW, you can pre-order the digital album from Bandcamp, which will be released officially on 1st August. The song is “Texas” — probably the first song that properly kickstarted the writing of Emo FASCISM.

For those of you based in Singapore, you can wait for the first week of August when limited copies of the CD (with two bonus tracks) and a T-Shirt will be available for sale! Until the album release, you can listen to the 4-track sampler (“Silver”, “Dare”, “Edge” and “Beyond the Ashes”) at Soundcloud.

… still there’s more …

Jun 172013
 
Picture by Dawn CHUA

Mum by Dawn CHUA

It ain’t rock n’ roll. 

Well, for most part (two-thirds) this oddly curated gig featured the loud, brash, melody-driven indie rock that I personally get my rocks off to completely. And whereas the likes of Shelves and Wavves had whipped up the crowd into a frenzy of sorts, Icelandic experimental outfit Mum duly engineered a totally different mood and tone. Minimalist, arty-farty, esoteric and pretentious, it left some members of the audience scratching their heads (figuratively, of course) though for the diehards, it was manna from heaven.

Wavves by Dawn Chua

Wavves by Dawn CHUA

Now, believe me, I have sufficient knowledge to be able to understand where Mum was coming from, artistically and creatively but that merely reaches out to my head and not my groin. No such problem with Wavves who plunged headlong into punky no-wave feedback-drenched bubblegum ditties with a vengeance that compelled many a audience member to mosh and headbang. Short, sharp and sweet songs that needed no artful explanation to comprehend.

Shelves by Dawn CHUA

Shelves by Dawn CHUA

Shelves, as always, ever dependable to provide the sugar and the beat, Noel Yeo animated as usual, fronting the band with geeky abandon and it is indeed encouraging to see new lead guitarist Daryl Peh getting into the groove, whilst the reliable rhythm section of Robin Chua and Brian Leery lock down the ever important pulse.

A curiously eclectic lineup that challenged the usual conventions well enough to just about… work. Kudos goes to the organizers (Chugg/19SIXTYFIVE) accordingly. MORE!