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.
Tickets now on sale for next year’s much anticipated Hostess Club Weekender in February over here.
To set the tone, here is a video of the intriguing duo that is Buke and Gase…
… and listen to one of the essential albums of 2013, General Dome!
…still there’s more…
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!
…still there’s more…
BUBBLEGUM LEMONADE Some Like It Pop
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.
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.
Throwing Muses – Purgatory/Paradise: read review
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.
The year is ending and it does seem that the best way to celebrate a fine 12 months of live music in Singapore is to enjoy an indie music festival. Camp Symmetry delivers ten bands and is an ambitious event put together by local outfit Symmetry Entertainment Pte Ltd. Think of Camp Symmetry as being positioned somewhere between Laneway and Rock & Roots and a positive sign for the Singapore music scene overall.
Capsule reviews of recently released EPs, LPs & DVDs
ANNA CALVI One Breath (Domino)
There is a melodramatic quality about Calvi’s operatic indie rock that suggests an affinity for Jeff Buckley and PJ Harvey. Epic in musical scope and emotional in lyrical depth, this sophomore effort finds Calvi stretching out her musical range to embrace obtuse angular moments that reveal a strong experimental leaning in songs like “Piece By Piece”. But overall, it is the kind of pleasing arch art-rock (“Suddenly” and “Eliza”) that the kids will go gaga for.
In 2011, I interviewed White Lies‘ Jack Lawrence-Brown ahead of the trio’s debut performance in Singapore. However, the concert never happened. Two years later, I will be watching White Lies playing at a private event and thought it would be a good time to dig out the interview that never ran at TODAY for the sake of completeness.
KM: Congrats on the new album (2011’s Rituals), people usually say that 2nd albums are difficult ones, was it true in this case?
JLB: I think it wasn’t really the case. Maybe we were lucky or maybe it’s different for other bands but for us it was a much easier album to make than the first record and also a lot more enjoyable. It was a process we all really enjoyed getting into. And we were really worried about making a 2nd album but it actually happened quite naturally for us.
… and we’re back! Power pop is the original basis for this webzine’s existence so I thought it’d be appropriate to highlight all you needed to know about the foundations of true-blue original POWER POP. Enjoy…
Thanks to the Breaking Bad finale, Badfinger is back in vogue. This British band originally consisted of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans and were signed by The Beatles to Apple Records in 1968. Badfinger had four consecutive worldwide hits from 1970 to 1971: “Come and Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney), “No Matter What”, “Day After Day”, and “Baby Blue” (the song featured in that Breaking Bad finale).
I have been using Spotify quite a bit since it was officially launched in Singapore. Of course, the streaming music app isn’t perfect (it doesn’t have any Beatles music for instance) but it has certainly helped me to get in touch with obscure music once again and I wanted to take this opportunity to share the same with you in this column.
First off, we have the eponymous debut album of The Waterboys. I remember first hearing this in the early 80s and feeling that it was highly spiritual folk-pop-rock music that was epic and earthy at the same time. Apart from this wonderful debut, one should also check out A Pagan Place and Fisherman’s Blues.
Lloyd Cole & the Commotions was a breath of fresh air when its debut album – Rattlesnakes – was released to critical acclaim in 1984. The band never quite took off despite the success of the debut and Cole eventually went on to a fairly viable solo career.
Finally, Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn has had a 40 year illustrious career but has remained fairly obscure outside of his homeland. His eclectic style has seen Cockburn embrace such genres as folk, jazz, reggae, new wave and rock n’ roll with great aplomb. This playlist is a collection of some of my favourite Cockburn tracks and serves as an excellent introduction.
… still there’s more…