A transitional year for me. I welcomed the new decade as a National Serviceman having enlisted on Boxing Day, 1979. But more importantly, my musical tastes were changing as well, significantly. Sometime in 1978, I had been exposed to punk when a JC friend played to my friends & I, the Sex Pistols‘ Anarchy in the UK LP (banned in Singapore but smuggled in for good measure) and to be honest I was unimpressed. For a pop-rock lover weaned on The Beatles, Deep Purple, Queen, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols seemed dumb and barbaric!
That said, by 1980 I had begun to cotton on to the post-punk movement and had already started listening to the pioneering new bands of that era, which seemed far removed from the old-school rockers of my relative youth. Fueled by the noises made by rock mags like NME, Sounds & Melody Maker, I had started to abandon the old bands (as irrelevant) and had ’embraced’ the future of rock.
Has been a while since I posted my discoveries at Spotify but better late than never. It’s truly amazing to me that so much of the music that I loved and collected as a young adult is easily available at a mouse click nowadays. Let’s talk about a couple of them, shall we?
DONALD FAGEN – Nightfly (1982)
I only got into Steely Dan much later in life but I did pick up singer Donald Fagen’s debut solo album on cassette due to the great press it was getting in the music magazines. It was a sophisticated hybrid of jazz, pop and soul that resonates to this day.
A beautiful noise is what punk quartet Perfect Pussy makes on its debut full-length. Deliberately lo-fi with singer Meredith Graves spitting out the barely discernible lyrics over the cacophony, there is something disarmingly honest about this edgy sound. Sure, it’s hard to tell what Graves is singing most of the time, yet it all come across as compelling. Recommended!
Probably one shining example of how fun modern indie pop can be in the right hands. This Brooklyn duo has been going for a decade now and from the evidence here, it seems like they have got the balance right! Infectious melodies, danceable rhythms & pop smarts throughout. Surely this has got to be one of the better albums of 2014. Recommended.
Capsule reviews of new music that has been released in the last couple of weeks.
WARPAINT – Warpaint
Dreamy atmospheric drones are the order for the day on the sophomore effort from this Los Angeles-based quartet. Very high on ‘feels’ and rather low on songcraft per se, the attention to sonics and rhythms somewhat circumvents any melodic deficiency in evidence. Which is fine, as Warpaint’s modus operandi is to lull listeners into a feel-good chilled out mode. Good enough.
Psychedelic flourishes. Alt-folk quirkiness. Excellent mix between technology and organic sounds. Welcome to the modus oprandi of Bibio!
Watch the trippy video for “Dye the Water Green” below.
Michael Robinson (Director) – To me the video for “Dye The Water Green” held a certain identifiable quality linked with a sense of possibility and exploration – when there is a new place to go, another bend around the corner to uncover, or a different vista coming into view.
Off Bibio’s 2013 album, Silver Wilkinson. Listen below via Spotify.
Time to make Blurb-O-Rama about the best of the month’s album releases methinks. So, here we are at the end of January 2014 already and here are some of the new albums you should check out.
DAVID CROSBY – Croz
First album of new material in two decades – David Crosby, the legendary troubadour collaborates with his son, James Raymond, Mark Knopfler and Wynton Marsalis, to deliver a quality release filled with sophisticated compositions that finds Crosby in good form. Bedded nicely in a jazzy folk style reminiscent of the glory days of CSN, Croz is an essential listening pleasure for true blue fans of classic rock.
Fusion or jazz fusion or jazz rock is a ‘genre’ that came out of jazz musicians being influenced rock n’ roll music in the late 60s and early 70s. Even more impenetrable than progressive rock (which at least had song melodies and lyrical concepts), fusion concentrated very much on virtuosity and improvisation and thus is sometimes difficult to understand. So, here is an introduction of sorts to the ‘genre’ – hope it helps…
It’s 2014 but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be listening to music from 2013 we might have missed. Especially if said music has nothing whatsoever to do with hipster indie pop. That’s where Spotify comes in handy…
SOUND OF CONTACT – Dimensionaut
Fronted by Simon Collins (scion of Phil), Sound of Contact is first rate neo-prog that recalls post-Gabriel Genesis, for the most obvious reasons. Dimensionaut is an eminently listenable for prog rock fans who like a high quotient of pop elements in their diet.
Regular visitors to PoP will be aware that I believe that the 70s was the finest decade for pop and rock music ever. And one excellent resource which allows the avid music fan to access this classic rock music is Spotify (haha you saw that coming!). But seriously folks, I’d like to leave you with introductory playlists I’ve curated of three classic 70s rock bands, which I hope will encourage you to explore more on Spotify.
As promised, here is the first part of a list of recommended listening of 2013 releases that you have access to on Spotify! Enjoy…
Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, the Imperceptible UFO
Have been loving this Montreal band for a while now, and music fans should take them seriously as an alternative to fellow countrymen Arcade Fire. Their gorgeous mix of Pink Floyd meets mid-60s Beach Boys is enthralling. “Specter” is one of my songs of the year.
Was 2013 a good year for popular music? It all depends on your definition of a ‘good year’. I believe that since the end of the 90s, the decline in the quality of popular music being written and recorded has been alarming. Compared to the previous 40 years, it’s fair to say that much of the popular music that has come out of the new millennium has been – with some exceptions, of course – largely forgettable.
Yeah, more power pop/pop underground music you should be listening to if you dig sophisticated melodies with crunchy guitars and clever arrangements. Please take notes…
The last time this wonderful band released new material was 2003 – unsure whether the band still exists as the official site has not been updated since 2004! Tough being a power pop in this current environment. In any case, I need to highlight three essential LPs that need your attention. Enjoy!
Supertramp will always be remembered as a crucial influence on my music making in my late teens. Formed around the nucleus of two brilliantly gifted singer-songwriters Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies, this English quintet managed to come up with a successful blend of prog-rock and pop music sensibilities that resulted in two classic LPs in Crime of the Century (1974) and Breakfast in America (1979) as well as a couple of chart hit singles in “Give a Little Bit”, “It’s Raining Again” and “The Logical Song”.
You can listen to the band’s entire discography at Spotify but of course, check out my playlist for the comprehensive introduction to the delights of this iconic band. Enjoy!
This is the kind of pop music that inspired Power of Pop to begin with viz. retro-pop-rock that looks back to the 60s with echoes of The Byrds, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys and The Beatles unashamedly reflected in songs like “This is the New Normal”, “It Must Be Summer” and “Famous Blue Anorak”. Lover-ly. Like! Follow!
Nowadays with streaming sites like Spotify, it’s a cinch to check out the new albums that music tastemakers (like yours truly) are raving about and then you can decide whether you wanna buy the CD or the vinyl versions, download the digital album or just listen. The choice is yours. Here are a couple of recent albums I gave the thumbs up over for, over at TODAY online.
In the 70s, during the hey day of progressive rock, record labels were looking out for bands that might be the next money-spinner like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull or Genesis. Thus, numerous second tier prog-rock bands were given the opportunity to become viable recording artists. Not all of these LPs were easily available in Singapore and even if they were, I would be spending my hard-earned allowance on those aforementioned top-tier bands… But thanks to Spotify, I can now listen to these now lesser known outfits. Enjoy…
A supergroup in every sense of that word, U.K. originally consisted of John Wetton (vocals/bass), Bill Bruford (drums), Eddie Jobson (keyboards/violin) and Allan Holdsworth (guitar). That lineup recorded a eponymous debut LP which was released in 1978 but the band subsequently imploded. Still, this record remains a wonderful landmark for progressive circa the late 70s.
More recommended listening @ Spotify! This week we look at obscure post-punk from the late 70s/80s that fans of contemporary revivalist bands might wanna check out…
SOUTHERN DEATH CULT (1981 – 1983)
A early 80s goth rock band that is best remembered for providing singer Ian Astbury the platform from which he would form Death Cult with guitarist Billy Duffy before finding success as The Cult. Listen to its eponymous debut LP below.