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.
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.
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 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…
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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”.
“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.
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…
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.
Despite the relative success of “Orchard Road” (with the track getting radioplay and music video being featured on national TV), my ambitions were still modest. I was happy to be able to record and release another song, whatever the platform. The guys from BigO magazine wanted me to test a MiniDisc player/recorded and to review it for the mag. So I ended up writing and recording two songs – “The High Cost of Living” and “The Offender”, the latter as yet unreleased. The song ended up being featured on BigO’s free CD, Death Valley 92328, and was played on radio again (which still amazes me, considering the lyrical content)
“The High Cost of Living” was basically inspired by two things – the opening chords to The Style Council’s “Speak Like a Child” and The Clash’s Cost of Living EP title. Contrary to popular belief, the song had nothing to do with Neil Gaiman’s mini-series about Death. The content of course, was all about inflation in Singapore and little did I realize that 1993 was to the beginning of a vicious inflationary cycle that the country is still a victim of.
Twenty years later, the lyrics still resonate and that speaks volumes in itself. So, check it out for yourself if you’ve never heard it before and download if so minded as well. The song will be the opening song for the upcoming Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People performance at Home Club in a month’s time (see what I did there?). Heh.
Australian based Dancing Heals has just releasing the gorgeous track, “Always on My Mind”, and are currently finishing up their second album, that captures more of their live sound and draws from longtime influences such as Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac. The band loves to wave the nostalgia flag and “Always On My Mind” is no different. A sonically raw reflection on the confusing emotions of letting someone go… and never forgetting.
Pony Boy, aka Marchelle Bradanini, puts a seductive, modern twist on the Americana sound with sultry vocals atop twangy, buzzing guitars. “Greatest Unknown” is simultaneously beautiful and eerie, sounding as though it belongs on a Twin Peaks soundtrack. Catch her live show in March and April as she opens for Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rockettes:
3/23: Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
4/8: Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
4/9: Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
“Dare” is the first track to be made public from the Emo Fascism recording sessions which took place mainly in September last year at Patrick Chng’s excellent home studio. The album will consist of ten tracks (with two bonus tracks on the CD) and for the most part I wrote, sang, performed and produced the lot with Patrick engineering, mixing and mastering the recording. Only one other musician played on Emo Fascism (“Dare” to be specific) and I am proud to say that it was none other than Daniel Sassoon.
Daniel has of course, in the past, been closely involved with legendary S-ROCK bands like Livonia and Electrico. Of late, Daniel has been leading the instrumental rock outfit – In Each Hand A Cutlass – and is renowned for his talent and skill on the guitar. Sometime back, I had finally recorded a proper demo of “Dare” (which has been kicking around for decades – I shit you not) and sent it to Daniel for feedback. What I got was an offer to contribute guitar ideas to the track and I jumped – didn’t need to asked twice! So earlier this year, Daniel laid down his amazing guitar lines (and a mind-blowing solo) for “Dare” in a fecund three-hour session at Thom’s Loft.
And now you can hear the results! I am particularly proud of the final product and I am so excited to be able to share the first fruits of our labours with you all. If you liked what you heard, I hope you will share the links on your respective social media platforms and spread the word around! That would be so cool and greatly appreciated! Remember – Emo Fascism is due for release in August 2013.
The French rock n’ roll band known as Fuzzy Vox behaves as if no new music was made after 1969! This myopic vision provides incredible focus as this five-track EP amply demonstrates. The music here is simple yet powerful, straight-forward and visceral. If push came to shove, probably the most accurate reference point would be the first Stooges album. Sure, one could also point to the influences of the mod greats (The Who) and blues-rock legends (The Rolling Stones) but there’s a basic garage-punk energy that suggests Iggy and his band of freaks held greater sway. In the modern context, The Hives come to mind immediately and every other garage-punk revivalist you would care to mention. The scintillating cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” provides a clarity of purpose, translated well on the meaty title track, the beaty “Same Old Story”, the big “I’ll Be Gone” and the bouncy “Hurricane”. Pure & easy.
Listen to “I’d Be Gone” and the rest of the EP at Soundcloud.
Yes, we’re always on the look-out for good old-fashioned pop-rock sweetness here at Power of Pop! So here’s Sam Page, who’s got a new album in tow – Breach – and you can listen to “Hold On”, a charming lil ditty that recalls Dinosaur Jr and Matthew Sweet in a very good way. Check it out!
The Cannanes are back. The Aussie duo of Fran Gibson and Steven O’Neil are back (after 11 years) with the kind of music that the late great Kurt Cobain himself name-checked. A cool retro vibe permeates this wonderful new track – “Bumper”, even if the three chord progression is as old as time itself. Be warned, it’s highly infectious! New EP to come…in the meantime…
The word ‘remix’ basically defines DJ Shadow‘s stellar work and it’s a fitting tribute to the master himself for a new electronic artist like Irn Mnky to make a remix out of DJ Shadow’s own sampling works to create something new and distinct! What goes around comes around. Listen to and/or download the “DJ Shadow Mix”.
“I wanted the album to sound like it came from a different place in time,” says Jim James. “Perhaps sounding as if it were the past of the future, if that makes any sense—like a hazy dream that a fully-realized android or humanoid capable of thought might have when it reminisces about the good old days of just being a simple robot.” Based on the first single – “Know Til Now” – it appears that the My Morning Jacket frontman has gone some way to achieving this effect. Check it out below.
Tegan and Sara‘s new album (their seventh), Heartthrob, will be coming out on Warner Bros. Records January 29th worldwide, with the exception of UK/Europe which is February 18th. Listen to the new single, the catchy danceable “Closer” below. Review to come…