NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – CHASING YESTERDAY
For some reason, this latest album from the ex-Oasis man sounds uncannily like Pink Floyd! Unfortunately, it’s the post-Roger Waters version – probably the poorest incarnation of the legendary band – with several guitar passages echoing the work of Floyd’s David Gilmour. It’s still more listenable when compared to most new modern rock though and that’s an inditement.
OF MONTREAL – AUREATE GLOOM
Speaking of Pink Floyd, psych-pop veterans Of Montreal returns with a smashing new album demonstrating that the influence of Floyd founder Syd Barrett continues to resonate strongly with the band. Fans of chronic psychedelia need to have some Aureate Gloom in their lives!
Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware of my obsession with British pop-rock, from The Beatles to the Who to the Kinks to the Stones and on and on and on… Since the end of the 90s (and the demise of Britpop), I have always been hoping for a revival of British pop-rock (and I do not mean the post-punk revival like The xx! Ugh!!)
Well it’s now 20 years since the heyday of Britpop and surveying the British pop-rock scene in 2015, there appears to be a couple of promising acts that hopefully will make the grade to generate enough buzz for this particular brand of pop-rock to dominate once again. In fact, I have found 20 bands that fit the bill completely – check out my playlist below and do let me know if you have other recommendations?
The Campbell Apartment, named after a bar hidden inside New York’s Grand Central Station, is the brainchild of Russian born singer-songwriter and oil painter Ari Vais. Ari’s new Sundogs EP is the proverbial breath of fresh air in a modern rock scene obsessed with superficialities. No such issues with Vais and his straightforward musical agenda. The songs take top priority – memorable melodies and relatable lyrics – clothed in classic pop-rock arrangements and instrumentation. Tracks like “Something in the Way” and “Heroic Audio Display” hearken back to a kinder & gentler times (the 90s), the last hurrah of the Pop Underground, where thought and effort are put into communicating a genuine emotional resonance through words and tunes. By the time one gets to the music hall jauntiness of final number “What Do You Think Of That”, it’s easy to feel a sense of regret that there isn’t more. But that’s the harsh reality of releasing marginalised forms of music in 2014. So if you love songs that balances intelligence with musicality, support The Campbell Apartment and the Sundogs EP! Find out below how and why Ari Vais does what he does!
How did you start writing songs?
I must have learned how to play guitar well enough as a 10 year old to learn a bunch of Beatles songs by the time I was in high school, and then Floyd, Zeppelin, finally some REM and Lou Reed songs, and then around 16, a slew of my own songs where the burst of writing didn’t cease until recent years. I still write but not as prolifically. I guess when I started as a teen, the tunes were based on traditional chords, as well as chords that I had no idea what they were, where my fingers were just doing some formation that happened to sound cool and go with the song, because I still didn’t know my way around a guitar that well, and trying for clever words or earnest poetic ones, hopefully with a tiny dash of humor, and a strong melody. The last bit was the most important, and very much still is.
Alright. This is a lil embarrassing but late last year Spotify made Power of Pop a ‘Tastemaker’ with a new account and despite my best efforts (?), so far we’ve had only 10 (!) followers. Shameful!!
So I am still pushing this the best way I know how – by working hard at putting together more playlists that I imagine would interest the kind folks who visit us every day. Recently, I have focusing on PoP Legends – artists whom we believe deserve that accolade so here’s what we have so far. Enjoy, spread the word and FOLLOW!
It’s a new month – the best month of the year! So what’s new out there?
BUTCH WALKER – AFRAID OF GHOSTS
When pop-rockers venture into the country-folk space, most of time if their heart is in the right place, it can be pretty magical. Butch Walker proves this at least, with his new solo album. Gorgeous country-folk which recalls Neil Young and name checks Chrissie Hynde. Recommended.
Oops! Missed a week!! So let’s discover a fortnight’s worth on Spotify.
THE DECEMBERISTS – WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD
Welcome back! The Decemberists represent old school pop-rock values where folk and country music are twinned with alternative rock mindsets. For this new album, Colin Meloy and company also recall their early indie-pop days with bright tunes like “Calvary Captain” and “Philomena” standing out from the stellar quirky country-folk pop fare. Essential!
On January 20th, These Brittle Bones (aka Chris Jones) will be releasing the first part of his double EP, which will be called Hiraeth Part 1: The Bedroom EP, part 2 will be released in February and is called The Studio EP. Part 1 will be exclusively available to stream on Spotify, with each track being released a week apart until the whole EP is available. The EPs will also be accompanied by personal commentary by Chris and various visual aspects which add to the experience.
Check it out on Spotify, where you can now listen to “Remain”, a sparsely atmospheric track that is quite a departure from Jones’ previous works.
What’s new this second week of the year? Let’s check in with Spotify, shall we?
MARK RONSON – UPTOWN SPECIAL
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.
In celebration of The King, Spotify has created The Elvis Influence, a web app that connects any artist to Elvis based on artistic influence, as well as an Elvisulization audiographic that maps his influence to famous artists of today. By entering any name into the web app, you can see and hear how they have been influenced by Elvis, directly or through other artists.
Only one contender for PoP Album of the Year. JPNSGRLS epitomizes the best hope for the continuing history of Rock ‘n’ Roll even as the tsunami of prefabricated pop threatens to wipe our beloved music off the face of the earth. Nothing remotely hipster-ish about Circulation and thank GOD for that! Find out why below!!
Seems appropriate to start this series with Bob Dylan, doesn’t it? Considering that The Beatles are currently not on any streaming service, Dylan deserves top billing. After all, can one imagine talking about singer-songwriters without mentioning Dylan’s massive influence?
The man is the very definition of the modern folk troubadour but more than that, Dylan’s legacy extends to rock as well, of course. For me personally, I remember hearing Dylan on the radio when I was a kid – especially his well known early folk songs but I really got into his work (ironically enough) – with his controversial Christian conversion album Slow Train Comin’ (1979), which explains why I kick off the playlist with “Precious Angel” (which also features incandescent guitar work from Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler). Including “Make You Feel My Love” was necessary to provide Dylan’s continuing relevance as Adele’s cover version proved conclusively. The rest of the playlist focuses mainly on his seminal 60s/70s works. Enjoy!
Regular PoP visitors will be aware of my affection for Vancouver band JPNSGRLS and that their debut album, Circulation, is one of my faves of 2014. So, was pretty stoked to take a look at their latest MV for the title track, which is really hot! Frontman Charlie Kerr literally bursts into flames on this one and reflects perfectly some of the best lyrics seen this year.
“Like I’m counting Mississippis til it’s convenient/You say I’m nothing baby, we’re in agreement”.
Check out the video below and listen to the LP at Spotify!
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.
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!
Here at Power of Pop, we emphasize substance over form, artistry/creativity over genre/styles and champion the right attitudes over cynical media manipulation. PUP fits the bill perfectly. Its eponymous album is a shameless celebration of edgy pop-rock music with energy and melodies to die for! Power of Pop caught up with the band via email and vocalist/guitarist Stefan was kind enough to answer our queries.
POP: How did PUP get together?
Stefan: The other 3 guys have known each other forever. Zack and Nestor grew up on the same street. They were playing around town in a few shitty bands and I was in a shitty band as well. Eventually we got bored of those projects and decided to band together to form a slightly less shitty but still shitty band called PUP.
PoP: What is the best thing about being PUP?
Stefan: We’ve had the chance to travel the world the past year. It’s been incredible. Getting to play music with your best friends every night in different weird places is the best thing in the world. And sometimes you get to play with your favourite bands and that’s cool too.
PoP: Why should anyone listen to PUP?
Stefan: You probably shouldn’t. But if you do it’ll be because you’re bored.
PoP: How do decide which song gets on the album?
Stefan: We wrote a bunch of songs, and just chose our favourite ones. We weren’t trying to choose ones that sounded the same or worked together or anything… We just wanted the 10 songs on our first record to be the best 10 songs we’ve written.
PoP: Would you wanna play in Singapore?
Stefan: Of course! that’s another adventure for us.
Hopefully we’ll get to see PUP in action in Singapore sooner rather than later! In the meantime, listen to PUP (the album) now.
Alright, so technically October ain’t over yet but seeing as how much we love to jump the gun – here’s a mixtape/playlist of new music PoP discovered this month. Don’t forget to submit your favourite tracks of 2014 via Spotify playlist to info AT powerofpop DOT com by the end of November, if you want to win them Spotify Premium Accounts (for six months). In the meantime, enjoy…
The kind folks at Spotify Singapore have provided POWER OF POP with our very own branded Spotify account which you can access at http://open.spotify.com/user/powerofpopsg. To celebrate this, we are giving away premium accounts – courtesy of Spotify Singapore – to the 3 best playlists of your favourite tracks from this year!
All you need to do is to submit ONE playlist of 12 of your favourite 2014 tracks to info AT powerofpop DOT com before the end of November and we will select THREE playlists we dig and the creators of them playlists will each receive a Spotify premium account for their listening pleasure. Yes, it is easy as that!
So check out a sample playlist of 12 of our favourite tracks from 2014 and get cracking!
10 songs in 18 minutes – this is a playlist that lives up to its name! Drawn from the early days of hardcore punk – as young North Americans inspired by the Punk & New Wave of Heavy Metal explosions in the UK in the late 70s, began to express themselves in this new and exciting ‘genre’. Yeah, there are probably more fine examples of early hardcore to be found out there but this only takes 18 minutes to listen to, so this will be the quickest rock history lesson ever.
Yellowcard returns to Singapore on 10th December at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa. The band recently released new album – Lift A Sail – with Razor & Tie and this current tour will support the new release. Tickets available from Peatix. More info at Facebook.
2014 has been a good year for music, make no mistake about that! And as the year draws to a close (yes really!), it’s time to take stock. Power of Pop will be announcing soon a tie-up with the kind folks at Spotify Singapore for you to share with us your favourite 12 tracks for 2014. Stay tuned for the details to come your way very soon. In the meantime, here’s a playlist of 12 tracks that made the Power of Pop alive again this year! Enjoy!
There’s quite a fair bit of country music out there that’s popular but sadly, it’s mostly Top 40 mainstream pop fare that never challenges the mind and instead panders to the lowest common denominator. For something more cutting edge in the country music sphere, we need to continue to look at Alt-Country. Thankfully, that aspect of country music is still thriving (creatively, if not commercially) and one prime example can be found in Sleeping Operator, the sophomore effort from the Montreal-based Barr Brothers (viz. Brad Barr, Andrew Barr, Sarah Page, Andres Vial).
It’s always a wondrous experience when an artistically-minded band blends country with rock ‘n’ roll to produce soulful music that leaves the listener satisfied. To these ears, songs like “Wolves”, “Even the Darkness Has Arms” and “Half Crazy” recalls the likes of Steve Earle, The Jayhawks and even early WILCO – a wonderful evocation of Gram Parsons’ Cosmic American Music. The melodies glide effortlessly and the exotic instrumentation complements the same perfectly to send sympathetic listeners into country-folk-pop-rock bliss!
Y’know I am always griping about how pop-punk all sounds the same but of course, that accusation can be leveled against any music that stays within its constrained ‘genre’ limits. Case in point – Rhett Walker Band. The band unashamedly describes itself as a Southern Rock/Christian Rock group and its new album – Here’s To The Ones – actually opens with a sermon snippet before launching into the rousing blues anthem “Clone”.
The rest of this album stays true to type, more or less, which halfway through is a bit too much unless you are a diehard fan of Southern Rock (or a bible thumper). There are good instances of country-folk-pop on view – the title track is a breezy delight and “Love Like Jesus” was probably written with worship bands in mind – but overall, Here’s To The Ones will only appeal to the converted, which is a pity.
PoP is on a quest to discover the best contemporary bands out there trading in classic pop-rock, power-pop and garage-rock and we aim to please ourselves as often as humanly possible. The Singles viz. Vincent Frederick (guitar/lead vocals) and Nicky Veltman (drums/back-up vocals) are the real deal! This LA based duo have just released Look How Fast A Heart Can Break and it is a winner. It’s fair to say that they don’t sound like any one band directly but there’s certainly a healthy dollop of Big Star, The Replacements, T. Rex and more, in their musical agenda. Best part is that it gets hearts pounding and adrenaline rushing for all the best reasons. Check ’em out!