If you’ve been reading Power of Pop, you’d be aware that I fucking HATE the post-punk revival cos it’s overstayed its welcome already – I mean, it’s 2014 already so can we get to the 90s alt-rock revival?!?!?!? So logically, I should get annoyed with the very idea of Take Two – clean cut boys who got that post-punk revival formula down to a science!
But you know what? From the first time ever I heard the band (Paddy, Johnathan, Peng Sing, David, and Jeryl) from outside the hall at SGMUSO’s House Party event – all I could think was – “Fuck, that’s catchy” – seriously folks, it’s pretty difficult to not simply love the music of Take Two and I have heard them live enough times to make a concerted effort to do so but have failed miserably…
So now, I understand that Take Two are opening for Travis come 1st August at the Star Theatre and I could not be any happier. The lads deserve this totally. The band is so entertaining live – assured and comfortable on stage with songs that will get your adrenaline pumping. Believe me when I say, that this is one opening act you should not miss – whether you’re a fan of 90s mope-rock or not!
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…
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!
Circulation, the debut full-length album from PoP Buzz Band JPNSGRLS will be released very very shortly and this official music video of “Smalls” is an excellent primer. Music-wise the song is nice and spiky with enough grunge elements to make it somewhat trendy. The video is a clever counterpoint – at times reminding me of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World! Enjoy!!
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.
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.
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!
The video was inspired by a story that captivated the world: the disappearance of Elisa Lam, who went missing nearly a year ago on a solo trip to Los Angeles. Although The Zolas singer Zach Gray didn’t know her personally, Elisa was a friend of a friend, all attending the same University, and he was immediately stricken when the LAPD releases the bewildering CCTV video. “Seeing that video really hit me hard. It’s terrifying. I didn’t know her but she was so much like so many girls I do know and care about.”
Psychedelic flourishes. Alt-folk quirkiness. Excellent mix between technology and organic sounds. Welcome to the modus oprandi of Bibio!
Watch the trippy video for “Dye the Water Green” below.
Michael Robinson (Director) - To me the video for “Dye The Water Green” held a certain identifiable quality linked with a sense of possibility and exploration – when there is a new place to go, another bend around the corner to uncover, or a different vista coming into view.
Off Bibio’s 2013 album, Silver Wilkinson. Listen below via Spotify.
Red Roof Records has just released a mandarin single, 《在一起》 which is the theme song for Mediacorp upcoming drama series <Yes We Can!> starring Romeo Tan and Rebecca Lim which debuts 8 Jan 2014. It is performed by 3 local singers, Ric Liu, Carmen Ang and Jeremy Kwan. Check out the official video above.
With a vibe that recalls the popular British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, comes the debut single from Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) viz. “Till We Die”. If you like what you see and hear, you can buy the single from either iTunes: http://bit.ly/untilwedie or from BandCamp: http://gentlebones.bandcamp.com/. Proceeds will go towards the funding of the upcoming full-length album. Check out the official video below.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is here and guess what? The movie looks like Spider-Man 3 – y’know three villains overkill. Mm. Hopefully, it will make more sense than Spider-Man 3 did. Note: that last sequence really looks like a video game. Ugh.
Heads up, folks! This coming Friday 21st June, Esther Lowless will launch her amazing debut EP – Strange Place to Meet – at the Esplanade Recital Studio. How good is the EP? Well, I gave it 5 stars over at TODAY and it is no exaggeration to state that it is one of the best debut recordings I have heard in a while.
Not only that but Lowless has – together with talented collaborators – produced music videos to accompany each one of the six tracks on the EP. You can view these videos at her YouTube channel. My favourite is the gorgeous “Everything”, a duet with Mark John Hariman, which you can watch below.
Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles has revealed the title to her highly anticipated third studio album, The Blessed Unrest, which is set for release on July 16th through Epic Records. The album’s first single, “Brave,” was co-written by Jack Antonoff from the band fun. and will be released at all digital retailers next Tuesday, April 23rd. Fans can stream the song and view the official lyric video starting today at Sarabmusic.com or check it out right below…
Continuing our educational video series on the ground-breaking rock music of the Seventies, we focus on Progressive Rock, a time where serious minded musicians created serious music from a variety of styles, sounds and instruments – classical, folk, jazz, rock, avant garde, traditional. This platform had its heyday in the earlier part of the decade reaching its peak in the mid to late Seventies before punk arrived to decry the style as ‘irrelevant’ and ‘pompous’. Progressive rock lives on to this day, either as ‘neo-prog’, revised versions of the classic prog rock or ‘post-rock’, where prog rock approaches are applied to indie rock sensibilities.
I’ve probably said this before but the Seventies is/was my favourite rock decade! Basically, the Seventies built on the foundation of the Sixties and went OVER THE TOP! The sheer diversity of Seventies music is mind-blowing and once again, what I am going to share with you is merely the tiny tip of the massive iceberg (and only focuses on the singer-songwriters!) But rest assured, every artist mentioned is bloody essential listening, so… fasten your seat belts…
Recommended albums – Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars, StationToStation, “Heroes”, Low and Scary Monsters.
Recommended albums – After the Gold Rush, Harvest, On the Beach, Tonight’s the Night, Zuma, Rust Never Sleeps.
Recommended albums – Born to Run, Darkness at the Edge of Town.
Recommended albums – Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?, A Wizard A True Star, Todd.
Recommended albums: The Stranger, 52nd Street.
Recommended albums – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Mind Games, Walls & Bridges.
Recommended albums - Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Château,Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.
Recommended albums – Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’s First Finale, Songs in the Key of Life.
Paul Weller first caught the public eye as a teenager with The Jam during the emerging punk years (late 70s) in England. Taking his cue from the Beatles, Small Faces, Kinks and The Who, Weller’s punchy and relevant songs launched the Woking trio (with bassist Bruce Foxton & drummer Rick Buckler) into the hearts and minds of British youth, achieving much success and acclaim on the way before calling a day in 1982 at Weller’s insistence.
Weller felt constrained by The Jam’s image and collective persona and formed (with keyboard player Mick Talbot) The Style Council to broaden his artistic horizons. So he literally plunged in at the deep end, developing an image that was miles away from the Jam – chic, sophisticated, Gallic, jazzy & brassy, the Style Council carried on where The Jam left off and Weller personally intensified his own socio-political ambitions during that time. However, things would eventually turn sour between Weller and label Polydor culminating in the label’s rejection of the last TSC album and its ultimate demise in the late 1980s. Weller seemed to disappear completely from the UK music scene. Spending his hiatus in reflection and regeneration, he re-emerged as a solo artist – unable initially to secure a UK record deal (he signed up with Pony Canyon Japan for his eponymous solo debut) – his star would rise again with the coming of Britpop in the 90s as bands like Blur, Oasis & Ocean Colour Scene acknowledged their debt to Weller. By his third album, Stanley Road, Weller had once again reached the summit of the UK Albums Chart.
“Down in a Tube Station at Midnight,” Jam single (Polydor, 1978)
“Down in a Tube Station at Midnight” proved that Weller was more than just punk opportunist or mod revisionist, he was an artist. Its structure is stop-start and its monotonous rhythmic underpinnings express perfectly the movement of a train. Lyrically, it provides a concise snapshot of the England of the late 1970s – claustrophobic, class conscious, economically depressed and socially dangerous. Its story is simple and stark, a tube passenger is ‘mugged’ by gangsters (‘they smelled of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs and too many right-wing meetings’) on his way home to the wife. And in the closing verses even as the protaganist’s life ebbs away, his last thoughts are of advertising images and graffiti on the tube walls. Powerful and affecting. Note: the album version (on All Mod Cons) completes the picture with the sounds of a train opening & closing its doors and moving off even as the instrumental passages fade in and out again – truly poignant.
“The Paris Match,” B-side Style Council single, A Paris (Polydor, 1983)
A torch song in every sense of the word and tucked away as a b-side (!) no less, “The Paris Match” remains Style Council’s finest moment where Weller was able to blend romanticism and sophistication with Gallic flair and savvy – no mean feat for a Woking lad! The accordion solo is pure heaven.
“Tales from the Riverbank,” B-side Jam single Absolute Beginners (Polydor, 1981)
Moody and introspective, “Tales from the Riverbank” provided the flip side to the Jam’s more recognisable anthems. With its insistent bass line, spidery guitar patterns and concepts of urban decay & menace, “Tales from the Riverbank” is a wondrous highlight buried obscurely as a B-side, which bore testimony to Weller’s prodigious talent.
“That’s Entertainment,” from The Jam Sound Affects (Polydor, 1980)
A Weller diary-in-a-song: with George Harrison headily evoked, “That’s Entertainment” spoke of the mundanity of day-to-day living – ” A smash of glass and the rumble of boots/An electric train and a ripped up ‘phone booth/Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat/Lights going out and a kick in the balls ” – sheer bloody poetry!
“Sunflower,” from Paul Weller Wild Wood (GO! Discs, 1993)
On his sophomore effort, Weller decided to flow with the Traffic – decidedly more Steve Winwood than Steve Marriott! Transparent as usual with his influences, Sunflower is an intense rocker that is as soulful as it is pastoral. A great introduction to this breakthrough solo album.
“A Town Called Malice,” from The Jam The Gift (Polydor, 1982)
Perhaps the Jam’s best known tune, “Malice” featured Weller’s incisive assessment of English life – ” Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the diary yards/And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts ” sung to a tune reminiscent of The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” (Yup! The one that Phil Collins took to the top of the charts)
“Uh Huh Oh Yeh,” from Paul Weller Paul Weller (Pony Canyon, 1992)
More than debut single “Into Tomorrow,” this R&B inflected mover announced that Weller was back! Based around a familiar three-chord progression, embellished with swirling organs, tight horns and a simple choral riff, one cannot help but be carried away by its cheerful optimism.
“In the Crowd,” from The Jam All Mod Cons (Polydor, 1978)
“And life just simply moves along/To simple houses, simple jobs and no ones wanting for the change ” bear Ray (The Kinks) Davies trademark slice-of-life writing applied to The Who pyrotechnics resulting in an incandescent commentary of English society that well and truly rocks!
“Speak Like A Child,” Style Council single (Polydor, 1983)
The re-invention of Paul Weller began with this Motown-inflected pleaser. However, Jam observers would not have been surprised as the stylistic shift is evident on The Gift, the final Jam album. What perhaps shocked was the total absence of the GUITAR! If only we knew what was in store for Weller fanatics!
“Peacock Suit,” Paul Weller Heavy Soul (Independiente, 1996)
“Peacock Suit” appears to poke fun at Weller’s own well-known satorial obsessions – ” I’m a narcissus in a puddle/In shop windows I gloat/Like a ball of fleece lining/In my camel skin coat”. Set to a driving beat, the song is a sheer delight and demonstrates Weller’s deft skill with the post-modern take on British R&B traditions.
“To Be Someone,” from The Jam All Mod Cons (Polydor, 1978)
With the critical beating that This Is The Modern World received, Weller and The Jam returned with a vengeance with All Mod Cons their best album. “To be Someone” opens the album and seems to uncannily forecast Oasis (!) both in its music and lyrical target – “And there’s no more drinking after the club shuts down/I’m out on my arse with the rest of the clowns.”
“My Ever Changing Moods,” Style Council single (Polydor, 1984)
Here is Paul Weller in full Curtis (Mayfield i.e.) mode, driving treble rhythms, tasty horns and a rhythm that just won’t quit.
“The Changingman,” from Paul Weller Stanley Road (GO! Discs, 1995)
Weller’s tribute to Jeff Lynne no doubt, as he freely pilfers from ELO’s “10538 Overture” shamelessly (down to the cellos) to sing lyrics about being a “changing man” with tongue firmly in cheek and a riposte to all his critics. Creative plagiarism at its best.
“You’re the Best Thing,” Style Council single (Polydor, 1984)
Weller’s finest romantic hour, as he concocts the perfect heart-tugger for lovers everywhere – the urban counterpart to the pastoral “English Rose”.
“In the City,” Jam single (Polydor, 1977)
Where it all began: an 18-year-old Steve Marriott wannabe lumped in with the punk set but possessing a breadth that would surpass most of his peers delivers his first stab at pop greatness. Clocking in at 2’20” In the City functioned as a statement of intent and a reaffirmation of British pop ala The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces and so on.
Believe me, it ain’t gonna be Fall Out Boy who’s gonna save rock n’ roll but Deap Vally will certainly have a much better shot at doing just that! Glorious blues-rock filtered through modern precedents like the White Stripes/Black Keys format, this femme duo has been shaking things up and is a band to look out for! Check out new video for “Lies” below.
The great thing about rock music is that the maxim that “what goes around comes around” holds true, most of the time. For those of you getting a little tired of tepid synth-pop, it would only be a matter of time before the power chords and melodic hooks came back with a vengeance! And I am glad to report that a cool wave of a 90s alt-rock revival bands is slowly but surely making their mark on the music world.
Add Warm Soda to this burgeoning list – for want of a better word, its BEATLESQUE to the max. But seriously, the astute rock listener is going to be able to string together a slew of the right influences for this fun-loving POP outfit, no problem. The band has released its new album – Someone For You – on March 26th, which is currently being streamed in its entirety at Paste.
Check out the official video for “Busy Lizzy” below. Review to come.
“Beatlesque” is one of my favorite music terms. I mean, who wouldn’t want to listen to music that sounds like The Beatles, eh? Of course, the key is not slavish imitation but to use the influence of The Beatles as a springboard for (hopefully) fresh ideas. Here are some bands that certainly come to mind, when the term “Beatlesque” is brandished about…
THE BYRDS – ALL I REALLY WANNA DO
Yes, I am aware that the song was written but by Bob Dylan, but The Byrds arranged Dylan’s folkie “All I Really Wanna Do” deliberately to reflect their love of the Fab Four, especially on the bridge. And let’s not even get into the hairdos…
BADFINGER – DAY AFTER DAY
A little cheatin’ here cos Badfinger was actually signed to Apple Records and this single was also produced by George Harrison so the comparisons with their heroes were always fairly obvious. Great song still…and certainly a foundation for numerous power pop bands to come…
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP
ELO was formed by Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood to re-create the Beatles psychedelic classics (like “I Am A Walrus”) live. When Wood left, Lynne turned the band into a hit-making machine in the 70s. Beatles inspirations always began as a starting point (like here, the rhythm of the middle section to “A Day in a Life”) to something entire new and different. In a league of its own.
OASIS – ALL AROUND THE WORLD
To the current generation, the closest one is going to get to The Beatles reference would probably be through Oasis. Often derided as Beatles copyists, in fact, the Gallagher brothers succeeded in copping the imagery and look of The Beatles, rather than any creative impetus. That and Liam Gallagher’s ludicrous attempts to imitate John Lennon’s singing style. Best forgotten.
To be honest, it is almost impossible to escape the influence of The Beatles in modern music, whatever ‘genre’ you may choose to discuss. The legacy of The Beatles was not merely four chords, clever bridges and three-part harmonies but constant experimentation. When that stopped (listen to Let It Be, folks), then it was time for The Beatles to end. The above examples only highlight a very simplified perception of what the term “Beatlesque” means and usually referred to by people as Beatles music pre-Revolver, when The Beatles was much much more than that… but that’s another story altogether.