Back in the day, critics would bestow the dubious honour of the “new Bob Dylan” on every promising folkie singer-songwriter. This list would include the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Loudon Wainwright III, Steve Forbert and John Prine, amongst others. Well, that habit has died down a little but let me revive it once again by placing this burden squarely on the shoulders on Joe Pug.
Singer-songwriter Zahidah has just debuted her music video of Make Up Song. Zahidah shares with PoP thoughts about the making of the video –
JIMMY GNECCO The Heart (Bright Antenna/ILG)
With the release of his solo album The Heart, Jimmy Gnecco joins the multitudes of sad, fine-voiced, male singer-songwriters gracing the shelves. The frontman of the American alt-rock band Ours turns in a heartfelt performance, his falsetto soaring through the fragile melodies in a vein similar to a darker, more disaffected Sufjan Stevens.
I am really excited about TAB, the new music bar set to open anytime soon at the junction of Orchard, Tanglin and Orange Grove Roads. And according to TAB’s site –
“…the big idea behind TAB has always been to provide a unique music experience in Singapore. Not just once, but six days a week. Lots of places play host to bands, some with bigger stages than others, but when we looked to find a place where local artists perform their own songs on a regular basis, we came up short. Furthermore, opportunities for Singaporean bands to play alongside up and coming foreign artists and even some of the biggest international names in music are few and far between. Don’t even mention mixing genres in one venue. We believe TAB will change all of that.”
CELINA has held aspirations of becoming a successful singer-songwriter since weekly singing competitions at her grandmother’s when she was five years old. Armed with her 90s-style brand of music and her ability to translate the inspiration she receives from listening to an artiste into original songs, Celina hopes the experience of this showcase will bring her closer to her dreams.
For years, Singapore has boasted many fine bands but always appeared a little light on singer-songwriters. But of late, thankfully, that has changed. Two promising S-ROCK singer-songwriters have each released new music videos recently and in this special PoPTV segment, Julian Kwok and Jeremy Soh share insights into their new music videos.
JON LINDSAY Escape From Plaza-Midwood (Chocolate Lab)
It’s easy to despair about the future of rock ‘n’ roll, when you’re a music writer and singer-songwriter. I mean, nobody seems to care about passion, creativity and craft in songwriting anymore – it’s all a cynical exercise to make the most money as possible.
Of late, I’ve also been a little jaded with the torrent of indie bands/singer-songwriters whose range of influence is other indie bands/singer-songwriters rather than the broad spectrum of music out there. Here’s an exception to the rule that I’m eager to trumpet – Jon Lindsay!
On this album – his debut – Lindsay demonstrates that he doesn’t care about being hip and cool, all he cares about is the music. And how! The fifteen songs on his impressive debut not only display a wide range of classic pop and rock inspirations but in addition, reek of the blood, sweat and tears of a songwriter who gives a damn!
I know when I’ve run across a keeper, it takes me a couple of listens to get into the head space of an album – so to speak. The songs are simple, the melodies are memorable and the words are clever, you know, like early Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Grandaddy, Weezer and Fountains of Wayne.
Pointless to highlight any particular song as every single one hits the sweet spot. You know there’ll be a tune, lyric or arrangement that makes me go – “Wow! Cool!” – and I hit repeat again when the album ends. Yes, boys and girls, Escape From Plaza-Midwood is one of those complete album experiences that we’re getting less and less of in recent times. Hold on tight and don’t let go, babes…
The lovely and supremely talented Ling Kai will be doing a mini-tour of Starbucks outlets in January. Her first performance is today, 9 Jan. Check out the schedule below and make your way to a Starbucks outlet for coffee and great music…
Sat, 9 Jan, 4pm: Liat Towers
Thu, 14 Jan, 1pm: Capital Tower
Sat, 16 Jan, 4pm: Tanglin Mall
Thu, 21 Jan, 12.30pm: Singapore Land Tower
Sat, 23 Jan, 4pm: Raffles City
Thu, 28 Jan, 12.30pm: OCBC Building
Sat, 30 Jan, 4pm: ION Orchard
Exclusively at Starbucks:
Purchase a copy of Ling Kai’s debut EP “Honestly” for the price of $11.95 (U.P. $13.95) when you buy Ling’s favourite beverage: a Grande Triple Shot Caramel Macchiato.
I arrived at the Esplanade Recital Studio in the early hours of Monday afternoon and was welcomed by the distracting noise of the Esplanade sound crew carrying out its microphone check. The purpose of my visit? To provide Lloyd with a couple of guitar stands! Anything to meet the man, I guess. He turned up, greying hair and slight paunch (like me, I guess) and proceeded to go about his sound check in a business-like manner. Armed with his two acoustic guitars, Lloyd sounded warm and pristine as the Recital Studio resounded with his baritone voice. Nice.
It didn’t take long for Lloyd to finish up what was required and Dinesh and I escorted him back to his hotel. Dinesh & I chatted for awhile before he had to meet up with his wife, Sylvia and by then it was two hours plus to the gig.
So there I was, macbook on my lap, in the Esplanade Concourse, typing out these words and trying to figure out how I will approach this review. I guess I could begin by referring to my love of Rattlesnakes, that magnificent debut LP of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. With literate words and folk-jazz arrangements, Rattlesnakes spent more than a fair amount of of time on my turntable in the early 80s. Or I could pontificate about how in the internet age, even obscure artists could turn their musical gift into a cottage industry of sorts. Or maybe I could write about how Chris Collingwood and Lloyd Cole are friends and live in the same area in the USA.
I rather start with Tim Ellis. Tim is an Aussie Lloyd Cole fan who flew down to Singapore to sell Lloyd’s CDs. Mind you, Tim is a volunteer (!) and does so purely out of his love and passion for Lloyd’s music. Which to me says more about Lloyd’s music than a million press releases and glowing reviews. And… the 52 CDs that Tim brought with him were sold out during the half time interval between Lloyd’s two sets.
So here I am warm in the afterglow of Lloyd’s performance, listening to Lloyd’s recording of his Whelan (in Dublin) gig and whilst the CD is good in its own right, it cannot compare to a special intimate night with Lloyd as he shared songs from his early days with the Commotions, his middle period as a solo artist (and the Negatives) and his newer material.
Certainly, the songs he popularized with the Commotions eg Perfect Skin, Are You Ready to be Heartbroken (which Lloyd actually played twice for the folks who returned late after the break!!), Lost Weekend and the like, go down well with the sold out audience whilst latter-day solo material like My Other Life, Late Night Early Town, Old Enough To Know Better, Undressed, No More Love Songs, Unhappy Song, What’s Wrong With This Picture hit the spot every single time.
Personally, I found the set truly inspiring and its the sort of influential performance that make us musician-types wanna pick up a guitar and start playing. I am richer for having had the experience. Good enough reasons for re-visiting the music of this talented and distinctive singer-songwriter.
Pix by Jonathan Kwa.
COVE RED Awaken the Dreamer (KAMCO)
So what’s the use of power and influence if you don’t use it for the benefit of your loved ones, family and friends? Eh?
About seven months after commencing The Noise Apprenticeship Program (with yours truly as mentor), Rachael Teo (together with utility player, Yinky) unleashes the debut Cove Red “unofficial” EP to raise funds for her upcoming study trip to the USA. So how do I review this EP without the slightest bit of bias? I don’t. I just call it as I see it, as usual.
Awaken the Dreamer represents everything I believe about music – that all you need is a song delivered by vocal and instrument, to bring the message across – to tell the world what you’re about. Stripped down and recorded live by Lunar Node’s Gerald Koh, Awaken the Dreamer is a glorious revocation of the early 70s Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter movement that I know and love so well. The focus is on simple arrangements with two guitars and the odd violin to forge shimmering jazz-folk-pop music.
Every single tune is a winner.
Love and Water – is given the 80s Style Council treatment, breezy and cool – even if the chorus is written by yours truly (is self-praise even praise?). The final choral harmonies are genuinely spine-tingling (great work, girls).
Dreamer – The production on this title track (not to be confused with the new Fire Fight single) is particularly impressive as Rachael’s yearning voice will leave its mark on you, without problem. Again, the 70s vibe is irresistible.
Mistakes – This confessional track is probably the most upbeat one on this EP and probably the weakest as well. That said, it contains a dynamic chorus which showcases the duo’s harmonic strengths perfectly. Not to mention Yinky’s soloing skills.
Till You Come – A gorgeous ballad about future love that once again highlights Rachael’s sweet larynx which would not be out of place on the early 70s hit parade.
Heart Conversations – This is the song that convinced me that Rachael is a gifted songwriter beyond her tender years. Blessed with a tune that Paul McCartney himself would be proud to call his own. With a relevant message for these troubled times – “Why worry about tomorrow, when tomorrow’s not come round”. Embellished by Yinky’s mournful violin, Heart Conversations is the appropriate way to close this wondrous EP.
I know, I cannot escape the old school references but this is precisely the reason why I believe that Rachael will be around for the long haul, with melodic/harmonic sensibilities this potent, Rachael Teo is a name you might want to take note of. Yes, I’m proud of both Rachael and Yinky for achieving so much with so little. So please go now and get the EP!
Now to listen to the EP again…
Check out Cove Red’s Myspace page.