2013: THE YEAR IN MUSIC

DaftPunk

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.

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TUBEWATCH

HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 2 OFFICIAL TRAILER

Netflix is an on-demand video streaming web service – an online version of the video rental store, one might say. In 2011, the service announced that it was venturing into original programming as well and the first series – House of Cards – a political drama adapted from the UK series of the same name & starring Kevin Spacey, was a resounding success.

Well, here comes Season 2 and based on the official trailer, it looks like the series is upping the ante in delivering shady political shenanigans as the Machiavellian politician Frank Underwood is now a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the USA but obviously has to work hard (and smart) to keep all his dirty secrets under wraps.

Take a look – the entire series drops at Netflix on 14th February next year!

HOSTESS CLUB WEEKENDER

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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…

DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

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…

SPLITSVILLE

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!

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DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

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!

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LISTENING BOOTH

The CAVE – four teenagers who surprise with an old skool rock n’ roll agenda. Currently material for a debut release, check out “Personal” and you will agree that this is one young band that you need to keep eyes and ears on.

Official Site | Facebook

BLURB-O-RAMA

BOB

 

 

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.
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DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

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 MusesPurgatory/Paradise: read review

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PoP RECOMMENDS: WAX FANG

WAX FANG – “Hearts Are For Beating” 

After three digital singles in 2013, Wax Fang will be releasing its third album – The Astronaut – in January 2014. Check out the official video to the latest single.

Sounds like: David Bowie, Television, Pixies.

Check out the other singles at Spotify.

Official Site

DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

Obscure prog!

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…

U.K.

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.

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DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

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.

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THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: #alpacablues

Two months after the release of Emo FASCISM, I am working on my new 4-track EP, #alpacablues. Why so soon? Well, in actual fact, Emo FASCISM was recorded a year ago and most of the songs are already old news to me. I am a naturally restless soul and thus…

In any case, I don’t want to say too much about the new music but instead will let you listen to a sampler of the raw mixes so far below.

… still there’s more …

WHITE LIES: THE INTERVIEW THAT NEVER WAS

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.

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DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

… 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…

BADFINGER

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).

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LISTENING BOOTH

New music we dig that you can listen to right now…

FOLDING LEGS – “Drown in Light”

YOU & I – “You & I Lost Control”

THE ROYAL CONCEPT – “Radio”

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LISTENING BOOTH

LISTENINGBOOTH

I still never get used to the fact that you can listen to entire albums streaming online nowadays. Back when I was a teenager, the only way to do so was going to record store and checking out the album in a listening booth. Enough, nostalgia, here is music you should check out…

THE STARFOLK

ANIMAL PARTS

BRIANNA LEA PRUETT

THE LONE BELLOW

SWF

DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

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.

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MARK BONAFIDE – ISSUES (W/ KIM OLSEN & ZAHIDAH)

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!

TRIPWIRES – SPACEHOPPER [REVIEW]

This is epic Brit-rock at its finest. And when I say ‘Brit-rock’, I am basically referring to the psychedelic noise-rock outfits that have illuminated the British music scene in the 80s and 90s. Which roughly means references to post-punk, shoegaze and Britpop – sounds good to me!

Reading outfit, Tripwires, consist of longtime friends frontman Rhys Edwards, guitarist Joe Stone, bassist Ben White and drummer Sam Pilsbury, certainly have a collective finger on the pulse on what has made Brit-rock the coolest kid on the indie rock block.

Meaning – a diverse range of styles that augment stellar songwriting that emphasizes melodies and arrangements over a gimmicky veneer. It’s so obvious that this quartet are genuine rock fans to begin with – enthusing as they do over Neil Young and Yo La Tengo to the Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth (yes, not a Brit amongst them) but closer inspection reveal other pointed influences.

“Feedback Loop” seems to channel a unique combo of Suede and the Verve, “Shimmer” (listen below) betrays a psych-gaze vibe that recalls latter-day Ride and the House of Love (via the Bunnymen, perhaps) whilst the opening title track’s space-rock leanings will leave Swervedriver and early Radiohead fans with a huge grin on their faces.

Brit-rock lovers need not hesitate, Tripwires’ Spacehopper is an album made in heaven, for you!

Official Site

LONG AND WINDING ROAD: EMO FASCISM – ARE WE THERE YET?

Silver-KM

We are about seven weeks away from the launch of Emo FASCISM Launch Week!

As far as the music is concerned, Pat and I are working on the final mixes of the 12 songs that will make up the CD. A 4-track sampler is now available at Soundcloud with opening track “Silver” the final teaser in the set. Check it out below.

Eric has done his part – the cover design – and the art concept will be carried through on the CD sleeve, merch and posters (with the assistance of the lovely 23賴). See below.

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Four dates have been confirmed during the Emo FASCISM Launch Week. Details to come soon.

Emo FASCISM will also be available on Bandcamp and iTunes in August for those unable to attend any of the gigs.

Very excited about this new milestone in my musical career and none of this would have been possible without the amazing Patrick Chng, who has been an inspiration and endless source of encouragement to me to record a new album after all these years!

So, look out for more news to come in the weeks ahead.

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LISTENING BOOTH: CELESTIA “BOY IN THE WELL” [STREAMING]

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Here’s a promising track from Celestia, one of the bands on SPear. “Boy in the Well” is an intriguing (probably unintentional) combination of post-punk BIG music (U2, Simple Minds), alt-country and rock n’ roll, with an ironically passive female vocal (and she does go quite flat on the crucial last note!). Wish the SPear website had more information about the song and the band. In any case you can check out Celestia and three other bands tomorrow at the SPear Launch at the Coliseum. In the meantime, enjoy “Boy in the Well”.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: EMO FASCISM – “BEYOND THE ASHES”

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Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People by Cassandra Goh

“Beyond the Ashes” is the second teaser off the upcoming album, EMO FASCISM – due in August.

Catch Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People play “Beyond the Ashes” next Friday, April 26th at Identite 9.3 – KAMCO MUSIC at Home Club from 8pm. Cover is $12 (one free housepour and free entry to Kicks! afterwards). Also on the bill – Enec.e, Tricks & Cider and TypeWriter.

See you all there!

LISTENING BOOTH – SATURDAY APRIL THIRTEEN [STREAMING]

We get tons of links every day from publicists, labels and bands to showcase new music at Power of Pop. So, in order to satisfy everyone, we will do these daily (!) wrap-ups of fairly interesting new songs from the modern rock wasteland. No judgement, no assessment, mere presentation. Enjoy…

KORUSCANT WEEKEND “Last Train Home”

DALE EARNHARDT JR JR “Hiding”

TOUCHE “Bad Dreams”

CUMULUS “Do You Remember”

VIOLETA VIL “Aguamarina”

…still there’s more…

LISTENING BOOTH: TRICKS & CIDER [STREAMING]

Band HiRes

Tricks & Cider (Victoria Ho on lead vocals and guitar, Karen Lee on backing vocals, keyboard and violin, Dawn Ho on bass guitar and David Liu on drums) is a melodic pop band that incorporates diverse musical styles. Check out the two advance tracks from the band’s upcoming debut EP below.

Check out tricksandcider.com and follow the band at @tricksandcider on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Soundcloud.