Alright. Here’s the deal – every week I randomly pick FIVE new releases listed at Spotify and tell you what I think (YAY or NAY?!), very spontaneously! No holds barred – fasten your seatbelts! Let me know what you think of the music in the comments…
THE RAVEONETTES – Pe’ahi
Describing Danish rockers The Raveonettes simply as post-punk revivalists does not do their music any justice. Sure, their style is predicated on the 80s post-punk, especially an obvious admiration for Jesus and Mary Chain, but in fact their sonic agenda covers a much wider range that encapsulates influences as diverse as The Everly Brothers and The Velvet Underground. This new one – album #7 – is a sheer joy to behold, filled with the duo’s trademarked noise-rock ambience enveloping well constructed melodic songs. YAY!
Two for the price of one, you might say. This coming National Day, Nelson Tan and Amanda Tee will be holding a joint launch for their new respective EPs at Hood Bar. CDs will be on sale at the door; $20 for both EPs or $15 each.
Listen to Nelson’s latest single “Time” (ft. Amanda Tee)
In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC) – together with The Observatory – is probably one of Singapore’s premier progressive art-rock bands and thus, not only is it exciting news that IEHAC is currently recording a new album with legendary producer Brad Wood but in fact, has made available a two-track EP to whet appetites for the awesome new music to come.
These two tracks viz. the psych-folky “All We Are Left With Is A Memory Of A Memory” and the post-metallic “Appetite for Dysfunction” certainly do the job, especially if you love prog rock! And when you consider that the EP is going for a buck, then a purchase is simply a no-brainer, my friends.
Not only that but the band collaborated with comic artist Troy Chin for his online interactive comic, called Forgetting, which the song “All We Are Left With Is A Memory Of A Memory” is the soundtrack to. His excellent noir-style comic is at www.drearyweary.com/Forgetting – go forth and choose your own adventure.
Leslie Low released an instrumental album earlier this year which flew somewhat below the radar for most #sgindie fans. But now Low is back with an album of ‘proper’ songs that absolutely nobody should ignore. Based on the tracks previewed at Bandcamp, the album – No Such Thing as Ghosts – is typical Low fare. Meaning that it is sophisticated indie folk songwriting of the highest order expressed purely via voice and acoustic guitar. The Observatory frontman releases the album in several formats in September. Find out more.
Look out for reviews and interviews related to this release soon…
If not already apparent, here at PoP, we focus on pop with power. Invariably, that involves bands and artists that take a long hard look into the wide world of music available out there in the space-time continuum in a valiant effort to come up with something new, something unique, something that rocks the listener’s heart and soul. With that in mind, here are some of our YouTube discoveries (not the kind you’re thinking of) and we hope to give them more profile and attention in the weeks and months to come…
An indie pop band that eschews all the conventional trappings of expectation is to be received with open arms! Sure, singer Jen Goma has the typical femme twee pop vox and the tunes are way simpatico but everything else tries to get as far away from ‘normal’ as possible.
Meaning: we get distinctive soundscapes that mix electronica, shoegaze and ambient approaches which act as sonic envelopes for the love letters of words and melody that make up these unique songs. Thus, the tracks on Sea When Absent have the advantage of being familiar to indie pop fans and yet arty enough to satisfy the edgier music enthusiast as well. Best of both worlds!
Highlights include the viscerally sweet “Byebye, Big Ocean (The End)”, the chirpy drone of “MTLOV (Minor Keys)” and the schizoid girl group channeling “Oh I’m A Wrecker (What To Say To Crazy People)”. Definitely one to savor and particularly ripe for closer inspection.
After a successful Music Matters Live in Singapore last month, JPNSGRLS were back on the road playing in Toronto for NXNE and as usual, the guys documented the experience with tour diary videos. Check ’em out! Review of debut full-length Circulation coming very very soon!
Country-folk for stoners? Am digging this from this Seattle-based trio. Full length album – Spells – coming out on 12th August. Check ’em out on Facebook.
A MILLION BILLION DYING SUNS “The Garden”
Ten years later the garage revival is still going strong, isn’t it. Cali-based AMBDS imbues its garage sound with enough psych-rock elements to keep things interesting. Debut album drops in September. Listen at Soundcloud. (No embed allowed for some reason)
D.S. BRADFORD “Oceans”
Proudly stated to be made in the suburbs, the spirit is indeed willing at least. Bradford does well to craft the song together but it does sound clunky in parts. No denying the intent! Single will be available at iTunes from 1st July. Connect at Facebook.
So let’s take a look at what’s hot in the Singapore indie music scene right here and now.
On the heels of Gentle Bones’ exciting and appealing brand of pop, we have Kai who has produced an EP of clearly radio-friendly tunes that should have no problems winning more than a few #sgindie fans. Kai himself is an accomplished beatboxer and also a member of the acapella group Vocaluptuous so one is guaranteed of superior vocal quality, which is indeed the case. I personally find “Goodbye” and “Better” (though its chorus is reminiscent of “Falling Slowly”) interesting and both should offer pop fans a couple of earworms and hooks. Definitely a promising start!
The beauty of Spotify‘s immense catalogue of tracks is the ability to create playlists of my favourite songs over the decades and thus, here are my playlists for the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s for your listening pleasure…
When I saw Dublin sextet Buffalo Sunn play at Beer Market for Music Matters Live ’14, I was entranced by their wondrous approximation of country-folk-rock and post-punk styles into a pleasing whole. Having four brothers in the lineup – the musical Paxton men (Daniel the songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist, Neil on keys, guitar and backing vocals, Conor on keys and guitar and Ruairi on bass) – sure helps in producing those heavenly harmonies. Together with Donagh O’Brien on drums and Patrick McHugh on vocals and guitar, the Paxton brothers as Buffalo Sunn made for a formidable band, as many in the audience at Music Matters Live found out.
On a personal note, I had the chance to talk to the band’s management team (Elvera and James Butler) and discovered that the band are mates with members of Pugwash, whom I had met last year in London! In that light, I felt it appropriate to make available the recording of my conversations with the band last week in the Green Room at Music Matters Live.
First off, we talked about Sweet Jane and similarities with The Beach Boys…
Next, the band discussed why it was important for them to play in Asia…
Is it a good time to be a musician? The band weigh in with their thoughts on how technological developments have impacted their music…
We wrapped up with a discussion on the Buffalo Sunn music videos on YouTube and the master plan for world domination…
Well, that’s it!
Look out for Buffalo Sunn’s debut album coming soon. In the meantime, check out the music video of the latest single, “By Your Side” below.
You know the saying, a band takes a lifetime to write and record its first album and then six months to record the follow-up. Sometimes, this results in a poor second album and whether a band can overcome this setback or not is never a certainty. We look to the 80s for 4 examples of how bands coped with the second album syndrome.
THE KNACK – But The Little Girls Understand…
The band’s debut album, Get the Knack, was 1979’s best-selling albums, holding the number one spot on Billboard magazine’s album chart for five consecutive weeks and selling two million copies in the United States. It’s biggest hit – “My Sharona” was the song of ’79. The band rush-released But The Little Girls Understand… (in early 1980) which came across like an inferior version of the debut LP. Although, the album still went gold, the album left fans and critics unimpressed and the third LP – Round Trip – was a flop. But in hindsight, the album is really not as bad as it sounded back in 1980…
Definitely one of the main highlights of Music Matters Live ’14 would be JPNSGRLS – pronounced “Japanese Girls” – a band that manages to combine the dynamic pleasures of 80s post-punk and 90s alt-rock. The band kindly answered our queries before making their way to our shores from Canada! Don’t miss them!!
Why did you apply to play at Music Matters Live ’14?
We have been really fortunate to have the support of CIMA which is Canada’s not-for-profit trade association that represents our independent music industry. Part of their mandate is to create export opportunities for “export ready” Canadian indie acts, like ourselves, and so, last year, we were brought to Spain to play at BIME 2013. The opportunity to travel to another country, engage with a new audience and culture, and network with the business people of a different market was really an amazing opportunity and experience for us. The idea that we will get to do the same in Asia is a dream come true. We were ecstatic when we found out we were accepted to play at Music Matters Live.
Bandcamp.com is a good place to listen to indie music that is fairly under the radar. No other ‘genre’ can possibly be more marginalized than S-ROCK (or Singapore Rock or Singapore indie or whatever the fuck you wanna call it – don’t get your panties in a twist!) i.e. music made in Singapore. BUT there are numerous indie bands and artists that worth are investigating and these are the ones you can find at Bandcamp.com. Enjoy…
Faithful readers will be aware that Power of Pop has been around for some time, so let’s take a journey back in time via Spotify to discovered the hidden gems of the last decade or so, shall we? Climb on board!
Best known for his work with seminal New Zealand band the Mutton Birds, singer-songwriter McGlashan finally delivered his debut solo album in 2006. A record of shimmering guitars, deep instrumentation and thoughtful lyricism, Warm Hand is a potent statement of artistic intent.
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.
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!
Electrico is back in the saddle and recently posted sneak peeks of new material over at their official Soundcloud page. Three songs – “With You”, “Live in the Night” and “Easy Go” – are reminiscent of the band’s early days, chock full of melodic hooks and powerpop vibes. The band has promised a new release later this year. Personally, I can’t wait. Check them out!
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.
Quirky, edgy & poppy – what a great combo for a band! The music of offbeat Montreal-based trio EachOther doesn’t make for easy pigeon-holing although I personally discerned Pavement, XTC, Pixies, Talking Heads et al in their reference points. Which is awesome of course! Debut album coming out in March. In the meantime, check out the music released so far!
Singer-songwriter Sam Page does a great job at evoking the alt-rock of the 80s with nods to The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr, Long Ryders and The Dream Syndicate evident in his country-folk-powerpop amalgam. This new single keeps the fires burnin’ for all of us who remember that era fondly.