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Dec 212014
 
Caracal-Live

Photo taken from the Caracal Facebook page.

Pride. I guess that was the emotion coursing through my veins as I watched Caracal deliver a set full of passion, dynamism and yes, even fun last Thursday at the launch of the new album, Welcome the Ironists, at the Substation.

The sold out concert attracted many familiar faces from the indie music scene but it was encouraging to see strange new faces, evidence that the scene is also appealing to newcomers, a very good sign.

I first caught sight of the band during Baybeats 2007 and it’s safe to say that Caracal is a totally different proposition as we come to the end of 2014. As they have grown older, the music has become slower and deeper, with tidy references to 90s grunge (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees et al) cementing the band’s burgeoning reputation.

The prime examples being “God Damn Tree”, “Divergence” and “Entrepreneur” where the band displayed an unprecedented emotional heaviness. But the highlight for me was probably when singer KC Meals dedicated “Given Breath” to all the band members’ parents – a touching moment that resonated.

Another high point – the encore that included crowd favorite “Cheers to Love” when audience and the band truly become one. Yet again, a spine-tingling memory to cherish. All told, a thoroughly satisfying rock experience. Kudos.

Thanks to Kitty Wu Records for making this review possible. 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/caracalnoise
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Website: http://www.caracalnoise.com

Dec 172014
 

NFG poster_final

New Found Glory is an American punk rock band from Florida USA formed in 1997. The band currently consists of Jordan Pundik (vocals), ChadGilbert (guitar), Ian Grushka (bass) and Cyrus Bolooki (drums). The band have released eight studio albums, one live album, two EPs, and three cover albums.

Continue reading »

Dec 092014
 

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2014 is coming quickly to a close but there’s still one more excellent #sgindie single out there demanding your attention. And it is “Skin” from Jaime Wong. I have waited quite a few years for this talented singer-songwriter to finally record “Skin” and I am glad to report that it is a shimmering thing of beauty. The music video might be a little mystifying (as they tend to be) but enjoy the visuals with that awesome song and then pre-order Jaime’s upcoming debut EP to download “Skin” now. You know you need to.

Don’t forget to come down to Artistry on Wednesday 10th December to catch Jaime Wong live together with The Little Giant, from 8pm. $10 at the door.

Official Site

Dec 052014
 

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It’s here – the official music video for the title track off Caracal‘s amazing new album. The unconventional music video breaks up the song a little at the beginning but delivers a strong narrative and includes a little twist at the end for good measure. Kudos to all concerned.

Check out also my 5-star review at TODAY.

Dec 032014
 

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Fuck nostalgia! For me, it’s always about the here and now – the singer and the song. Sure, you could describe singer-songwriter Glenn Tilbrook in those terms but that barely does any justice to the talent and wit that this man possesses. As the frontman of 80s ‘new wave’ band Squeeze, Tilbrook certainly had his time in the sun but the passing of thirty years have not diminished the artist’s ability to connect with an audience in a manner that escapes many younger musicians.

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Dec 032014
 

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By Nikita Wong

One hit wonders Hoobastank (remember “The Reason”?) gave us a deeper insight of their journey during the press conference held at Hard Rock Hotel. Commemorating their success as a band for the past 10 years, Hoobastank revealed the struggles they had to overcome as they parted from their record label.

According to the band, record labels were only concerned with producing the “The Reason” Mark II and were not genuinely interested in the well being of the band or their music. Being independent now, the band is able to allow their creative juices to flow.

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Nov 302014
 

Wolves in the night EP Launch poster

Debra Khng launches her debut EP Wolves In The Night – a 5-track chronicle of love, loss, and youth – 6th December, 8pm, Hood Bar. Also featuring up and coming alternative rock singer-songwriter Wei Chiang and his band, as well as indie-folk darling Vanessa Faith, entry is free and physical copies of Debra’s debut EP will be available for sale.

Official Site

Nov 302014
 

NickCHIM

Forget about how small Singapore is or how you need to sing in the native tongue in order to play overseas, singer-songwriter Nicholas Chim has broken all these rules to find acceptance in Germany!  Well, don’t just take my word for it, check out his Tour Diaries below.

Official Site

Nov 282014
 

GBones

 

“If you build it, they will come”

How to improve the local music scene? By building fan base. Once the numbers are there, then the promoters will come to you. Case in point: Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan). Ever-increasing fan support has now had promoters looking to add to their audience numbers by having the popular artist open for foreign acts.

Thus, on 10th December, Gentle Bones will open for Us the Duo at Kallang Theatre and on 27th February 2015, Joel will support Christina Perri at The Coliseum. This is exciting news and signs of a developing local music scene.

Get your tickets from SISTIC.

… still there’s more …

Nov 232014
 

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2014 has been a very good year for made-in-Singapore pop music with more album/EP releases and more live performances to capture the imagination of the music-loving public. One significant factor has been the EP Grant administered by the National Arts Council which awards the sum of S$10,000 to a band/artist applicant for the cost of recording, production, marketing and launch of a 4-song (minimum) EP. This EP grant not only gives the successful band/artist the platform to share the music but also generates business activities for producers, recording studios, sound engineers and venues. In short, the grant has been a boon to the local music scene as a whole. Thus far, 15 such bands/artists have benefitted from this grant – including Celina Kimble, Gentle Bones and Gareth Fernandez.

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Fernandez’s debut eponymous EP was launched at The Barbershop by Timbre – a relatively tight venue (in terms of space) – but that didn’t stop singer Fernandez, his four-man backing band The MommaShop (Sikai Goh – Keyboards/Organ, Titus Ng – Bass, Anson Koh – Drums, James Lye – Guitar), three-man horn section (Daniel Chia – sax, Vignesh Mohandasan – trumpet, Deric Tay – Trombone) and a duo of backing singers (Tok Xue Yi & Andrew Mark Oh) from bringing the (Arts) house down with a scintillating display of sinewy soul-R&B prowess. The sound throughout was fairly competent when considering the challenge of 10 persons on stage to deal with and there was hardly any issue with the sound that got in the way with a full and complete enjoyment of the show in front of us, the audience (which consisted mainly of hip and trendy twenty-somethings, include well-known local musicians like The Sam Willows, Joel Tan (aka Gentle Bones) and members of hot indie bands like Stopgap and Take Two).

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The show opened with the crowd parting like the red sea and the band making a dramatic entrance resplendent and looking sharp in their suits before Fernandez made his way to the stage. Drawing mainly from the songs off his debut EP and a couple of choice covers, it was all systems go right from the moment Fernandez and band launched into a feisty Physical (also the opening track of the EP) which sounded more authentic than the recorded version when sans the cheesy electronic keyboards. When you consider how sophisticated the song arrangements tend to be, the talent and effort demonstrated by Fernandez and band was impressive.

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My personal favourite moments arrived with passionate renditions of Movin’ On and Northern Lights – songs imbued with the classic soul vibes of the 60s & 70s. The former had Fernandez engaging the audience with a call-and-response that all in attendance participated in whilst the latter brought the crowd to a collective emotional high (or low, depending on your perspective) with its fragile piano balladry and prayerful sentiment (“Come back home”). With well-worked covers from Allen Stone, Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith operating as appropriate fillers (in the absence of more original material), there was a welcome surprise with Heart Walls, an original explicably left off the EP – a suitably impassioned albeit heart-breaking rant about a severed relationship.

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And while it is accurate to pay due credit to the fabulous musicianship on display, the star of the show was Fernandez with his sparkling vocals, physicality, stage presence and casual banter, which won the hearts and souls of the rapt audience in a manner that would suggest that Fernandez deserves to showcase his promise and potential on bigger stages in the future.

(Originally intended for TODAY newspaper)

Photo credits: Cherlynn Lian

Nov 232014
 
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Inch Chua at SingFest 2010. Photo credit: JY Yang

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

I am often asked about how the current Singapore indie music scene compares to what we had in the past. It’s a valid question, of course. Since the 90s revival and subsequent economic depression, the scene has been growing at a steady pace in the last decade or so.

To assess how far we’ve come, we need only look at two factors. First, the improvement of the technical abilities, musicianship and songwriting capabilities of our artists/bands and second, the expansion of the fan base – the increase of awareness, acceptance and approval amongst Singaporeans for local indie music.

As important as the first factor is – aided by the number of music schools that have proliferated across the island – the challenge has always to build up a fan base at home for homegrown music. Whilst still not ideal, there has been a marked improvement in that area.

SamWillows-Ignite

Back in 2010, I recall kids rushing to the stage when Inch Chua opened at SingFest but then walking away when they realized that she was ‘local’. Contrast that to the generous reception of local bands at music festivals today, where bands like The Sam Willows (above), Gentle Bones and others have the acceptance of the audience. Not only that but many artists/bands have rapturous EP/album launches where pundits actually fork out cash to watch their local heroes.

Inch-CMJ

And what about Inch? She has gone from strength to strength – chasing her dreams in the USA (see above) and elsewhere, and those kids in 2010 are probably cheering her on, whenever she does play back in her hometown.

There is much to be optimistic about but we must not rest on our laurels. We still do not have enough opportunities for indie bands/artists to play on a regular basis.

My wish list for 2015 and beyond?

(1) Venues to have residencies for our bands to develop their own music.

(2) More local bands opening for foreign bands.

(3) A regional touring circuit be established for our bands.

(4) Local bands breaking into overseas markets.

(5) Original music no longer a dirty word to Singaporeans.

There is so much work to be done but these are exciting times for the Singapore indie music scene.

… still there’s more … 

Nov 232014
 

SpotifyLogo

A week away from the deadline for our Power of Pop – Spotify giveaway! A premium account (for 6 months) awaits. Submit your playlist of 12 favourite songs for 2014 to info AT powerofpop DOT com before 30th November to stand a chance of winning. In the meantime, follow us at Spotify and enjoy our curated playlists.

… still there’s more …

Nov 232014
 

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Uber and Spotify partners? Seems like a strange bedfellows scenario, doesn’t it? How does it work?

Connect your Spotify account via the Uber app, request a ride, and when you get matched up with a Spotify-enabled Uber, simply select music from any one of Uber’s featured playlists or one of your own Spotify playlists within the Uber app. You can also jump to the Spotify app and select music from within the Spotify catalogue. 

When your ride arrives, your tunes will be playing on the speakers. You can also change what’s playing during your journey right through the Spotify and Uber mobile apps. It’s all there – your own music and playlists and well as specially curated Uber playlists.

To be honest, I didn’t try this but I did try Uber for the very first time. What’s Uber, now?

Uber is a technology platform that is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.

Yeah so basically, I got to the Uber-Spotify launch event by using the Uber app and I was able to track where my ride was via the app. Cool huh? The driver seemed to get a little lost along the way! Anyways, the ride was good fun mainly because my driver (see above) was an awesome conversationalist! A smooth ride and a tasty convo – what more could a Singaporean resident ask for? It is an excellent alternative to cabs. No money changes hands cuz the fare is charged directly to your credit card and the relevant info will be posted to your account, easily accessible on the app. Highly recommended.

Now to get that Spotify mobile app hookup going…

More info here and there.

Nov 222014
 

DeeTalkPoster

Singer-songwriter Daphne Khoo will be performing at KEEPERS on Saturday, 29th November. Tickets are priced at $25 (with the Wonderland EP) & $20 and can be purchased from deetalk.peatix.com. All proceeds will go to the Singapore Cancer Society.

Also featuring guests Dee Kosh, Gareth Fernandez, Gayle Nerva and Nathan Hartono.

Nov 212014
 

JulianCasablancasShow

This just in…

Secret Sounds Asia presents Julian Casablancas (vocalist of The Strokes) with his latest side project JULIAN CASABLANCAS+THE VOIDZ, live in Singapore on Saturday, 10 January 2015 at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa.

Full Info

Tickets available from SISTIC on Monday 24 Nov, 9am.

… still there’s more …

Nov 202014
 

Gamechangers

 

The Singapore music scene is growing! There is little doubt about that. Songwriter-producers Tat Tong and Roland Lim are two individuals that I have been following for some time now. These gents are talented, committed and fun to be around with – they started with the same tools as everybody else but by sheer determination (with relentless belief) have managed to carve out successful music careers. The collective experience they have amassed so far merits closer examination and in December the pair offer this opportunity to fellow musos in Singapore with the Gamechangers: How To Produce and Release #1 Hits workshop. Don’t miss this!

More details here.

Nov 192014
 

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KittyWu Records has announced that Caracal has launched the pre-order for their forthcoming studio album Welcome The Ironists at iTunes. Listeners can pre-order the digital album on iTunes and receive an early download of the exciting new single “Welcome The Ironists”.

The new album was recorded and produced together with the band’s longstanding collaborator and dear friend – Singapore’s leading music producer and sound engineer, Leonard Soosay of Snakeweed Studios (The Great Spy Experiment, I Am David Sparkle). The album was mastered in Canada with João Carvalho of João Carvalho Mastering (Sloan, Buck 65, The Weakerthans, Death From Above 1979).

The full album is slated for release on 18 December 2014 and will be available in both physical and digital formats. Caracal will launch the album at The Substation on that night. Look out for the music video on 5th December at the band’s YouTube Channel.

Nov 142014
 

MML_Poster_Call

This year’s Music Matters Live was the best yet! On a personal level, I had an absolute ball and met up with many great bands viz. JPNSGRLS, Love X Stereo, Buffalo Sunn and many others. Significantly, MML’14 provided an important platform local bands as well – with Gentle Bones, Take Two and others taking full advantage.

And… Music Matters 2015 promises to be even bigger and better! So bands out there, this is your chance to get on board. Apply now!

… still there’s more …

Nov 122014
 

GlennTilbrookLive

Squeeze was without doubt one of the seminal bands of the 80s post-punk era, combining elements of pub-rock and Beatlesque pop-rock to produce a highly melodic and intelligent brand of pop music. Glenn Tilbrook – whose distinctive tenor graced almost all the best Squeeze songs – will be playing a “one-night-only” show at Hero’s (69 Circular Road #01-01, Boat Quay). Tickets available from www.dashtickets.sg now!

Tilbrook has a new album out called Happy Ending and its chock full of the well-constructed, sophisticated pop that Squeeze was legendary for. Check it out!

… still there’s more … 

Nov 062014
 

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Last but certainly not least, Verhaal!

Verhaal are a Rock Band formed in Singapore in 2014. Before joining the band, the members had already played on several bands , performing on numerous events/occasions. The band consist of Jeslynn (Vocals), Dominic (Bass), Dedry (Guitar), and Marcus (Drums). The band enjoys writing radio-friendly tunes, incorporating diverse style of Rock and Pop music to their works.

… still there’s more …