If I wasn’t aware that “Magic Cup” was a new song, I would be at a loss to identify which decade it was made in.
The blues riffs, the swampy rhythm section, the distorted vocals and the general shambolic vibe evoke 60s garage rock effortlessly. I would not have been surprised to find out that this was a Sonics or even Blue Cheer track.
But of course, it’s not. It’s Sloom – a rock n roll band from Sydney’s Inner West – with an utterly unoriginal sound that works for the 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
Into their second single for Sony Music, it’s clear that The Sam Willows have honed their pop technique to a tight construct with “For Love” – the chorus comes with soaring banks of vocals even if the familiar melody does not move listeners that much.
The song recalls Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters & Men and even the quartet’s own “Glasshouse”. Not quite as incongruous as its predecessor “Take Heart”, this time the electro-pop elements complement the song rather well.
The message behind the video is strong and to the band’s credit maintains a personal emotional connection. It might be too close to the bone for many people but if pop music can be used to touch hearts, minds and souls in this manner then kudos to The Sam Willows for at least, taking their best shot at making a statement!
English band Japan never hid their influences, with The New York Dolls, Roxy Music, David Bowie and The Velvet Underground, readily apparent from their image and music. Consisting of David Sylvian (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Barbieri (synths, keyboards), Mick Karn (bass, sax, flute, backing vocals), Steve Jansen (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Rob Dean (guitar), the band would in turn inspire many of the 80s New Romantics (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc) though the band themselves swore off that label.
Quiet Life, their 3rd LP, is significant as it signalled a shift in style as Japan eschewed the glam-rock of their first two LPs in favour of a more experimental synth-based approach, which bordered on art rock. This allowed the creativity of Karn and Barbieri to shine through in their instrumental work and Sylvian began to step of the shadow of his #1 vocal inspiration, Bryan Ferry. Guitars were no longer used to provide chordal accompaniment and where utilised would be more atmospheric in nature. This change in direction probably led to guitarist Dean leaving, subsequent to the album’s release.
Songs like the dance-rocking title track, the mutant groovy “In Vogue” and the Roxy-channeling “Halloween” provided the album highlights, whilst the sublime cover of the Velvets’ “All Tomorrow’s Parties” would make for a particularly memorable single.
As a quartet, Japan would go on to release the successful Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Tin Drum albums before splitting up in 1982 to explore even more progressive rock territories individually.
Not sure what describing your band as ‘romance rockers’ does for your profile but there you go. Lady Low are not 80s ‘new romantics’ in case you are wondering. In fact, if nothing else this new single with its insistent beat and heavy strings is somewhat reminiscent of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. Which might be a good comparison to have actually. In the final analysis, that beat and string hook is quite infectious and it will get stuck in your head, after one listen. Personally, I am thrilled that it’s a pop-rock track that has all the right influences – if that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what the hell is!
Although it mainly consists of vocals, guitar, strings and a smattering of piano notes, there is a certain dynamism and power that distinguishes Brett Randell’s new single “Rise”. Randell’s voice isn’t too sugary and in fact is rather nasal at times but it conveys the emotion well on this uplifting song of encouragement. I like how Randell resists the temptation of cluttering up the arrangement and keeps things very spare so that his lyrics shine through. In fact, I almost expect it to break out into a pop-punk anthem but thankfully that never happens. Definitely one to savour, if you are into edgy ballads that carry the weight of a meaningful life message.
MUSICComments Off on NO NEED TO PRETEND – GAYLE NERVA IS BUZZ-WORTHY TALENT YOU SHOULD NOT IGNORE!
I will be honest (when am I not?) – I first noticed Gayle Nerva in a tour video of I Hate This Place in Japan sometime ago and was struck by her effervescent personality. Then, it was her lovely voice and then her heartfelt ballads that got my firm attention. I have always believe that given a chance, her music would appeal to a mainstream pop audience home and abroad.
Well, glad to say that her new single “Pretend” is out – it’s a dark electro-pop number produced by Trick’s Marc Lian – and Gayle will be performing at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Saturday, September 5th. Tickets available from SISTIC. Check out the music video below.
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: THE LITTLE GIANT – YOU GOT SOME (LYRIC VIDEO)
So The Little Giant (aka Hilary Yang) was one of my last NAC Noise mentees last year and the problem with listening to a song in its embryonic form is sometimes it’s hard to accept a radically different version. Thus it’s the case with “You Got Some” which in typical Hilary fashion has something to do with the male obsession with sex. This first single from Hilary’s debut EP – “Let’s Just Be Honest” is now a bit of a rockabilly number which I have an issue with – Hilary’s vocal delivery becomes quite garbled with the increased tempo and God knows it’s all about her lyrics. But the saving grace is this wonderful lyric video (by Annie Hung – well done with the male sexual metaphors!) which sets out the lyrics before your very eyes whilst you hear the song and voila! Problem solved.
The Little Giant “Let’s Just be Honest” EP Launch
Friday, 4th September 7pm
BluJaz Cafe (3rd Floor) 11 Bali Lane, Historic Kampong Glam, Singapore 189848
(With special guests, The MadHatter Project & Anise SG!)
$15 advanced tickets available at : thelittlegiantEP.peatix.com
$20 tickets at the door (subject to availability)
$30 ticket + EP at the door (subject to availability)
FILMComments Off on GEEK OUT! THE WORST SUPERHERO MOVIES OF ALL TIME
If nothing else, the Fantastic Four reboot has gotten us thinking about the worst superhero movies out there – of which there is an abundance, sadly.
Well, first up, of course, the obvious ones from DC’s World’s Finest, no less.
SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987)
How did this franchise go from highly acclaimed (the first two instalments) to an absolute dud?
BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)
Tim Burton revived the Bat-franchise with two well-received dark movies before Joel Schumacher decided to have some campy fun with the character. George Clooney famously said that he almost single-handedly killed the Caped Crusader! A nadir for the superhero genre.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
Again, two hit movies in the franchise somehow led to a turkey. Bryan Singer abandoned this 2nd X-Men sequel to helm Superman Returns (more of that later) leaving Bret Ratner to pick up the pieces. What he assemble was a travesty that subsequent X-Men movies have barely acknowledged. Favourite line? “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
Now, Fox had a huge hit with The Last Stand (based on the goodwill generated by the first two X-movies) so they probably thought, let’s take the most popular X-Man and make an origin movie that is just as bad. Here’s how awful this was – they sowed up Deadpool’s mouth! Seriously WTF!
SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)
Not content in being an indirect cause for X-Men: The Last Stand sucking so bad, Bryan Singer had to foist on us all this ill-judged sequel to Superman II. C’mon! It was obvious from the beginning that this was the wrong approach for Superman in 2006.
Yes I do realise that there are still many more out there but the ones highlighted above were serious tentpole movies that spent a fair amount of money but failed as creative endeavours (some of them actually made big bucks). Thus, I ignored the likes of Daredevil, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Green Lantern, Amazing Spider-Man 2 etc. Considering the only superhero characters at risk now are solely in the hands of 20th Century Fox (Daredevil and Punisher have thankfully reverted to Marvel and SONY is working with Marvel on Spider-Man), there is still scope for bad superhero films with the upcoming Deadpool, Gambit and upcoming X-movies. Fingers crossed, everyone!
“Old soul” is probably an apt description of singer-songwriter Theodora’s muse.
This 18 year old has a perceptive creativity beyond her tender years with an artistic sensibility that reflects a subtle maturity. This is already painfully obvious when listening to her debut single “Lines”, written about the loss about a loved one – “I sit in silence in the memory of you”.
Now here’s a thoughtful video – lovingly crafted by director Leonard Soosay – that represents visually the emotions that “Lines” evokes, with style and finesse.
Theodora’s debut EP is planned for the end of the year – keep a close watch on that, dear readers.
In the meantime, check out the gorgeous video for “Lines”.
MUSICComments Off on KOJI PRESENTS RAW HARD ROCKIN’ TRIBUTE TO PULP FICTION
If there’s one inescapable fly in the S-ROCK ointment, it’s the lack of meaningful lyricism, the fear of exploring concepts beyond the purely emotional (the ‘affairs of the heart’ cliche). Thankfully, that is not the case with Koji’s new free track – “Mrs Mia Wallace” – which functions as a tribute to the Pulp Fiction characters famously played by Uma Thurman in the Quentin Tarantino classic.
There’s something wonderfully shambolic about the quartet’s hard rockin’ agenda – channeling Wolfmother via Led Zep – although the quality of the vocals might need sprucing up. But one cannot quibble too much with the infectious riffs that dominate “Mrs Mia Wallace” and that is one memorable take-away. Download the track for free now!
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: LOVE X STEREO – WE LOVE, WE LEAVE (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Love X Stereo‘s “We Love, We Leave” gets a music video that visualises its conceptual thrust perfectly. The video itself is ambitious, arty and yes, sexy – leaving a throbbing mess that usually comes as a result of conjugal action. The song, already a powerfully appealing single in its own right lifts off when set to these tempting visuals. Kudos to all involved. Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy it too much…
FILM, TVComments Off on GEEK OUT! REMEMBERING LEONARD NIMOY (1931 – 2015)
I grew up in the 60s and thus Star Trek was a massive influence on my love for science fiction and space opera. Leonard Nimoy in his role as Mr. Spock was instrumental in making Star Trek the iconic series it has become almost 50 years later. Nimoy passed away on 27th February at the age of 83. One of his final memorable roles was as Dr William Bell in Fringe, where even in his latter years, he was an imposing presence. He will never be forgotten.
Found this moving tribute at Youtube from The New York Times.
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: BRIAN WILSON – THE RIGHT TIME FT. AL JARDINE & DAVID MARKS
Brian Wilson has a new album – No Pier Pressure – coming out soon. The album will be released on Capitol Records on April 7th 2015 and will be produced by Joe Thomas.
Main concern – Thomas tends to favour a very professional slick sound which somewhat flattens out any of Brian’s idiosyncratic tendencies. Compare Thomas’ production on the lacklustre Imagination to that on the incredible Smile album (shepherded by the talented Darian Sahanaja) and you can understand the anxiety.
In any case, the new single “The Right Time” sounds about right, though it’s not quite sure whether ‘right’ is the way to go for Brian. Sigh.
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: SEZAIRI – “JANGAN COBA BERLARI” OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO
We’re digging the new Malay single from Sezairi – “Jangan Coba Berlari” (roughly translated as “Don’t try to run”) as it oozes the smooth classic pop-soul vibe that the singer-songwriter has made his name on.
The song was written by well-respected Indonesian pop singer Tulus and was produced in Bandung as well, with the final result reflective of that fact.
The video (directed by Helmindra) is highly watchable — cleverly made up of various long takes — and complements the intimate nature of the song itself. Check it out!
MUSICComments Off on NO SPILL BLOOD UNLEASHES THE PROG-METAL BEAST WITH HEAVY ELECTRICITY
Dublin trio No Spill Blood do an excellent job in mixing up various cool influences to produce a visceral sound that fans of progressive metal will thoroughly enjoy. Consisting of Matt Hedigan (bass/vocals), Ruadhan O’Meara (keyboards/vocals) and Ror Conaty (drums), the band have concocted a debut full length that fans of Black Sabbath, Killing Joke, Trans Am & The Melvins will not want to miss. O’Meara’s keyboards is the distinguishing factor and the absence of a guitar does not diminish the immediacy or heaviness one bit. Tracks like the driving “Back to the Earth” & “Now II”, the dark electronic title track, the manic “Thinner”, the punk-ish “El Duurto” and the riff-tastic opener “White Out” bear testimony to the trio’s eclecticism in the midst of its consistent. sonic agenda.
Keyboardist/singer Ruad O’Meara kindly agreed to answer our probing queries via email.
Does the band name have anything to do with Island of Dr Moreau?
It does indeed, or more specifically the film version “The Island of Lost Souls”. Its also the title of an Oingo Boingo song, and its also where DEVO got “Are we not men” from jocko homo etc. It seemed fitting to get a bunch of references in at once!
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: PASTELPOWER – OH, LOUIE
This came out on Christmas Eve but better late than never as Cherie Ko hams it up as forlorn & neglected housewife on this official music video for “Oh, Louie”. The song is suitably retro and thus Power of Pop fans would eat this up ravenously and the video has sufficient cuteness overload as well. Sorted on all counts.
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: JAIME WONG WITH SHIMMERING DEBUT SINGLE “SKIN”
2014 is coming quickly to a close but there’s still one more excellent #sgindie single out there demanding your attention. And it is “Skin” from Jaime Wong. I have waited quite a few years for this talented singer-songwriter to finally record “Skin” and I am glad to report that it is a shimmering thing of beauty. The music video might be a little mystifying (as they tend to be) but enjoy the visuals with that awesome song and then pre-order Jaime’s upcoming debut EP to download “Skin” now. You know you need to.
Don’t forget to come down to Artistry on Wednesday 10th December to catch Jaime Wong live together with The Little Giant, from 8pm. $10 at the door.
MUSICComments Off on PoPTV: CARACAL DEBUTS INTRIGUING MUSIC VIDEO FOR “WELCOME THE IRONISTS”
It’s here – the official music video for the title track off Caracal‘s amazing new album. The unconventional music video breaks up the song a little at the beginning but delivers a strong narrative and includes a little twist at the end for good measure. Kudos to all concerned.
MUSICComments Off on POWER OF POP HALL OF FAME: THE TOP TWENTY-FIVE
So here it is! As impossible as it may sound (and there are probably quite a few deserving bands/artists omitted), we have a Top 25 PoP Hall of Fame list for your consideration, presented as a YouTube playlist. Enjoy …
MUSICComments Off on POPTV: JPNSGRLS – “CIRCULATION”
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!
MUSICComments Off on THE DECEMBERISTS TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM “WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD” ON 20TH JAN, 2015
After a 4-year hiatus, The Decembrists have announced that its new album, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, will be released on January 20, 2015. From the sounds of the preview track – “Make You Better”, it’s the sort of pleasing alt-folk-pop that the band is returning to, which is fine by me! Check it out!!
MUSIC, TVComments Off on DAVE GROHL PROVES HIS HEART & SOUL ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE WITH SONIC HIGHWAYS
It’s easy to get a lil cynical about Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters‘ marketing their upcoming new album Sonic Highways by way of a eight-part documentary series on HBO. But the cynicism will evaporate when one watches the first episode as Grohl and co record in Chicago and proceeds to pay tribute to the Chicago musicians who made a difference – from Buddy Guy to Cheap Trick to Steve Albini to Naked Raygun. This is done with a love, respect and fervour that demonstrates once again that Grohl has his heart and soul in the right place – he’s one of us…
Check out the complex yet visceral opening track from Sonic Highways, “Something From Nothing”….
MUSICComments Off on JOIE TAN RELEASES NEW SINGLE “STAY”, INSPIRED BY REAL LIFE BOYFRIEND
Singer-songwriter Joie Tan, with her debut single “Stay”, wants the romantic feelings expressed therein to be shared with like-minded listeners. Inspired by her own personal emotions regarding her real life boyfriend, “Stay” is a simple plea in song from a girl to a guy who she wishes will stick around. Check out the heartfelt music video below (with its When Harry Met Sally vibe).