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Feb 062015


Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. (W. E. Studwell and D. F. Lonergan, The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from its Beginnings to the mid-1970s)

So yeah, rock came from 40s/50s rock ‘n’ roll, which in turn is a form of pop music. So even The Carpenters or ABBA is rock, by that definition. So I am always comfortable to use the terms “pop” and “rock” fairly interchangeably, and get rather annoyed by the insane categorizations that is now so common.

In that light, let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of pop music, I am confident to label as ROCK!


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Jan 272015

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at AM 09.46.46

Tim De Cotta (Bass/ Vocals), Audrey Tengkey (Piano, Keys and Synth) and Teo Jia Rong (Drums) make up TAJ, bringing forth an exciting new venture, and great contribution to Singapore’s contemporary jazz scene.

Now the above (from the Darker Than Wax press release) sums it up pretty well. 70s jazz fusion lovers (with emphasis on ‘fusion’) will dig TAJ’s debut EP – The Astral Journey – for its grooves, virtuosity and attitude. Followers of old school soul-R&B-funk will thrill to the authentic spirit behind songs like “Taj Yo’self” and “Old Town MOFO”, not to mention the dreamy title track that demonstrates so much emotional resonance, it’s hard not to fall in love with Audrey Tengkey’s fingers… and the sultry vocoder-ized vox on “Daydream”. Too much sexy. Something for everybody here! Get in!! Now!!!

But of course, we wanted to know more about the folk behind the awesome music and so I present to you… TAJ, in their own words…

How did the band get together?

We got together by chance actually. It was 2012 when Tim and Audrey went with the Singapore contingent to MIDEM in Cannes, and through rehearsals for this showcase Audrey and Tim got to know and like their musical styles in their respective bands. So when they came back Audrey invited Tim to an open jam session at LaSalle with other young musicians and students. It was a shed session to just have fun and also to try new things. Drummers, keyboardists, bassists and turntablists even. So JR was one of the drummers there and as the jam went on, it was clear that the chemistry between the 3 of us whenever we were on our instruments together was really strong! We didn’t just jam the songs per se but we moved and evolved them in a matter of minutes. So eventually, we started meeting more and more often, till it became just exclusive to the 3 of us, jamming covers and then eventually writing our own music. It happened very naturally and faster than usual, also because we became great friends. TAJ was born and on 1 Oct 2013, we released our single “The Astral Journey”.

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Jan 142015


What’s new this second week of the year? Let’s check in with Spotify, shall we?


Fairly old school soul in tone from the British famed producer. Actually though the album’s introductory track was a rip off of Stevie Wonder, when it’s the man himself. Doh! Probably the hipster-est release this week.

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Nov 012014


There’s much to admire on this new EP from Micah Olsan & the Many. According to his bio, “Micah has been an active performer in the Midwest music scene for the last seven years. His diverse songwriting takes folky storytelling, interlocking guitar parts, and passionate, soaring vocals and places them smoothly on top of a funky, jazz and world-infused rhythm section. Micah’s writing draws on influences from Paul Simon to Radiohead and the Talking Heads.”

Certainly, tracks like “Trouble” and “All Around” will appeal to the punters who love trawling blues-rock pubs with the songs’ authentic roots demeanor. One to consider. Check it out at Bandcamp.

Official Site

Oct 312014


Eia (aka Maria Grace Koh) has just finished her studies at LASALLE College of the Arts, where she graduated with First Class Honors in a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts – Music, Vocals and her calibre is self-evident on her soulful new single “That’s the Way” off her upcoming new album. The Bruneian singer-songwriter worked with Marc ‘M. Doc’ Williams (Madonna, Kelly Rowland, Jordin Sparks, K-Ci & Jojo) and C-Ray (EMI Music Publishing, K_Ci & Jojo) of Indasoul Records on her new material and fans of modern R&B will love what Eia has to offer. You can purchase “That’s the Way” at iTunes.

Check out a live performance of “That’s the Way” below.

Sep 092014

Ex-Boo Radley Martin Carr is back with a new single and a new album. Absolutely digging the old school soul vibe! Watch the official video now!

Carr’s new single “The Santa Fe Skyway” is available at :
His new album The Breaks will be out on CD/LP on September 26, 2014.
All info here:

Jun 192014


Aysha Amani, the frontperson of infectious Aussie funk-soul-hiphop combo The Amani Consort was so easy and fun to talk to as she (together with keyboards player Gordon Cant) answered my questions about the band – past, present and future. Listen to the audio for the full details! (Sound quality is a little rough but I hope you get the gist of what was going on – lots of laughter!)

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

We promise to be back with a review of The Amani Consort’s Better Way EP pretty soon! In the meantime, connect with the band over at its Facebook page.

Jul 192013

Here’s a sweet, catchy and soulful fuck-off song from the ever-smooth Mark Bonafide. It’s pretty short too, clocking in at 2:53! That’s my only issue with “Issues” (ouch!) – I wish I could get MORE of its goodness! Nice interplay with Kim Olsen and Zahidah provides a riveting contrast. Taken from the forthcoming e.p. “LOVE/REBEL” it seems – can hardly wait! Check it out!

Mar 292013

Chicago quintet Great Divide (Teddy Grossman – vox, guitar/Josh Teitelbaum – drums/Jeff Leibovich – keyboards/Josh Kahle – bass/Jeff Burke – guitar, vox) takes the rock and roots maxim to its logical conclusion. If a cursory listen to the band’s eponymous sophomore album suggests to you The Band, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tedeschi Trucks Band and the like, then you’d probably be better off exploring Great Divide, don’t you think? Yeah!

Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Great Divide is a evocative, soulful rock n’ roll record in the old fashioned way. In other words, it is as smooth as you like, bringing together a veritable buffet of influences, spanning soul, folk, country, pop and rock with the dynamic horn section providing the proverbial icing on top.

First-rate musicianship, competent songwriting and the honey-dripping pipes of Teddy Grossman make Great Divide, essential listening for the true-blue pop-rock fans out there. How can one argue with genuine articles like the slick opener “Ain’t No Roads”, the lush “Easy Chair”, the gospel-tinged “Moorie” and the Stevie Wonder-channeling “Shine”? Simple, you don’t!

Check out the live clip of “Ain’t No Roads” below

Official Site | Facebook


Mar 012013

Dru Chen - SG Msia Press Pic

(Press release)

Modern Soul singer-songwriter Dru Chen will be on tour in Singapore and Malaysia from March 8 to March 17 to launch Intentions EP. Successful lead single “You Bring Out The Best In Me” ( has been played on Australian radio stations Southern 88.3FM, Triple R 102.7FM, Joy 94.9FM and is looking to hit Singapore radio/blog soon. Dru Chen will be performing 8 shows, radio spots and filming 2 videos during this trip, including collaborations with Charlie Lim, Kerong Chok, For This Cycle, Charles J Tan and an appearance at Mosaic Music Festival.

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Feb 252013


Here’s your chance to catch Sarah Cheng-De Winne live as she delivers her soulful pop music with her deep, sultry vocals.

The showcase is open to the public, as long as you bring a physical copy of Sarah’s album that you have previously purchased, or you can purchase a copy at the venue (one per person). Check out the album sampler below.

Official Facebook Page

Feb 212013

This is so infectious it should be illegal! Seriously!! I first saw Dru Chen at an open mike years ago and was deeply impressed with his swagger and innate soulfulness BUT this new single from the Melbourne based modern soul singer-songwriter exceeds all expectations. I mean, “You Bring Out the Best in Me” should be blaring out of every single radio station in Singapore. Be warned though, once that groove hooks in, you’re in trouble. Awesome.

Official Page

Buy now!


Dec 212012

There is a nice balance of pop sounds and styles in Sarah Cheng-De Winne’s new album. Previously categorized as a jazz-folk-pop singer, this single-minded lady (and her production team) has done a bang-up job in taking different strands of the pop milieu and incorporating the same into her own distinctive soulful pop brand.

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Oct 162012

It’s not often that I come across a sound that is unique and different but this track from London band Waves of Fury certainly qualifies! Imagine the classic post-punk sound (The Fall, Echo & the Bunny men) performed by a Stax-Motown group from the sixties (Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles)!?! Off the album Thirst, this is one to keep a close eye on. Review to come, folks.

You can purchase Thirst from the Alive Records mail order page.

Oct 042012

Classic. Passionate. Authentic.

These words were not far from mind when watching English singer-songwriter James Morrison in his full pomp at the Esplanade Concert Hall on the night of 2nd October. In an era where pop idols come across as fake, studied and pre-fabricated there is a genuineness about Morrison that is hard to ignore. This honesty in purpose is communicated by his uncanny revocation of old skool blue-eyed soul and by his amazing larynx. Backed by a group of competent musicians, Morrison was able to focus on doing what he did best – sing – and connect with his audience with his boyish charm.

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Aug 092012

What does iconoclastic, unique, artistic white soul-funk truly sound like, you might ask? Well, in 1976, David Bowie slipped into the Thin White Duke persona to deliver the Station to Station LP, from which the single “Golden Years” was issued. This sinewy funky composition is built on a descending riff of F#-E, a jarring and distinctive progression that pricks your ears. The chorus resolves itself on a stable tonic platform of D-Bm before teasing and releasing with a closing G-C-A-F#-Bm-Em7!

Bowie appeared on the Soul Train TV show (allegedly drunk!) to promote the single, although he managed to lip synch his way through the track competently enough. Check out the video below.



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Apr 122012


Now, the introduction to “There Is No Love” swept me literally off my feet, my heart melted and chills ran down the length of my spine. No mean feat. I’m talking about the second track on Charlie Lim‘s amazing debut eponymous EP that was released sometime last year. Better late than never eh?

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Mar 182012

Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)

I make no apologies for being a lover of ‘old-school’ pop music cuz ultimately it’s about substance and not mere form. Pleased to report that bands like Red Jacket Mine, which focus on 80s-styled soul, country, blues, rock, and pop (think: Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Style Council, Hall & Oates) are still out there, if you know where to look!

Red Jacket Mine has already released two studio albums (including 2009′s Ken Stringfellow-produced Lovers Lookout) and currently consists of  bandleader Lincoln Barr, longtime drummer Andrew Salzman and bassist Matthew Cunningham. “Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)” is a brilliant slice of soul-infused pub rock that bears repeated listening.

So check out this surrealistic music video for Red Jacket Mine‘s new 7″ single and please send them your love, okay?

Official Site | Facebook

Limited edition of 500 hand-numbered singles on colored vinyl, out now on Fin Records. Purchase on iTunes.


 FILM, MUSIC  Comments Off
Nov 302011


According to the publicity blurb on the DVD jacket, the concerts featured in this DVD have been lost for 50 years and just newly discovered. Which is certainly a boon not only for music fans but also historians. Filmed at the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival in France, this DVD features the legendary Ray Charles in his prime.

Covering two sets on 18th and 22nd July respectively, Charles is backed by the original Raelets and run the gamut from jazz to gospel, from the blues to rock ‘n’ roll. Charles himself is the consummate musician, equally comfortable with solo piano as well as singing, there is no denying the genius of the man and the tremendous influence over the popular music of the decades that followed.

The visuals are in sparking black and white, with choice audience shots edited together efficiently. The sound is pristine and Charles performs some of his greatest hits viz. Let The Good Times Roll, Georgia On My Mind, Hallelujah, I Love Her So and What I’d Say. On the last track, it isn’t difficult to see the impact that Charles had on the likes of The Beatles, for example.

Of course, this is 1961 so there is none of the flash or the glamour of modern day live spectacles but none of this diminishes the power and soulfulness of the musicianship and showmanship. Utterly essential for all pop scholars.

Buy Ray Charles: Live In France 1961 from Amazon

Oct 222011

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


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Sep 052011

SHERYL CROW Miles From Memphis: Live At The Pantages Theatre DVD (Eagle Vision)

This concert video was taken from Crow’s tour in support of her retro-soul project 100 Miles From Memphis. As is often the case where artists undertake a change in musical direction, this also signals a re-interpretation of old material in the ‘new’ sound as well. Therefore, A Change Would Do You Good and Everyday is a Winding Road take on funkier tones. Even Crow’s signature tune – All I Wanna Do – is given the Stax-Motown treatment.

Crow is in splendid voice throughout, backed by a crack band of musicians which provide the necessary soul authenticity to pull off Crow’s soul venture. At the very end, I Shall Believe is delivered in a vintage gospel blues piano ballad style that simply brings the house down.

This DVD is essential viewing for all Crow fans and also lovers of that special soul/R&B era.

Buy Miles From Memphis Live at the Pantages Theatre at Amazon

Feb 032011

Listen to County Line below,  a moody electric piano piece that recalls the late John Lennon and The Band, off the upcoming album – Wits End – from Cass McCombs, to be released by Domino Records on 11th April 2011. It is rather sumptuous, with McCombs also channeling Richard Manuel’s fragile pipes on this country-folk-ish tune. Worth checking out.

Official Site