GOSSIP Music For Men (Columbia)

In case you’re still unaware of Beth Ditto, here’s the 411:  She’s a rotund American songstress, champion of LGBT  rights, and positive body image advocate, who, somewhere between these social undertakings, happens to be the vocalist of indie-rock darlings Gossip — a band you really need to know by now.

I know what you must be thinking. “Oh lord, not another one of those bands.”

Let me assure you, Gossip’s music is far from self-indulgent, in fact it is exceedingly compelling, particularly on their latest offering… and I don’t mean that in a lookit-the-queer-band sense of the word.

Music For Men is essentially a distilled version of Gossip’s body of work so far. That is to say, an amalgamation of punk attitude, soul-sista pipes, and jaunty indie-rock stylings, accompanied by a frenzied cornucopia of drums laid down by seemingly tireless hands. Not bad, considering that four albums on, Gossip (albeit with the loss of earlier-incarnation prefix “The”) have managed to retain a distinct sound that most other trios spend a large part of their career trying to achieve. All without losing much in the way of momentum, I might add.

The most aurally apparent observation one might draw from initial spins of the record is how polished it sounds, even though the vocals melody and rhythms register as oddly disjointed. There is a method to Gossip’s madness, one that lends itself to instantaneous identification upon consideration of the entire piece of music. It’s as if the band have reached a common consensus to steamroller through their convictions as a unified front, with their constituent idiosyncrasies providing the ruffled, worn-in character so often associated with some of the finest music ever made.

Gratifying, if I do say so myself. It’s refreshing to see a band that can truly stick to its guns. Highly recommended listening.

(Sherwin Tay)

Check out Gossip’s Myspace page.



1. Why play music?

Performing, writing, and learning about music is all we’ve  wanted to do since we were young kids listening to our parents records.  Our education backgrounds are in music,  and it’s all we know how to do skillfully. On top of that, our friends are all involved with music in one fashion or another. So basically, peer pressure.

2. Who are your influences?

As a band we really bond over bands like Television, The Replacements, Wilco, CCR, The Band,  Pavement, Neil Young, Crazy Horse and Elvis Costello & The Attractions; Bands that like to play with the building blocks of rock and roll and invert them into songs with a lot of heart. Sound collages, the contrast of rural and urban America,  elements of Phillip Glass’ simplistic repetion of themes, and the lo-fi  unabashed sincerity of Guided By Voices and Daniel Johnston also affect our songwriting.

3. What is success?

Ideally, success is to be a touring, recording,  constantly creative  rock band and pay our rent and quit our day jobs.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Well hopefully they hear some tunes, feel a connection, and think it’s a fair trade.

5. Who do you love?

Jon Stewart. Who else is there?

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?

I think most people can think of a local band, or a record they unearthed from some closet, and when those first notes come out they feel part of some great secret, or club, and feel that song is them to a tee. We’d like to be that band.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Lots of people of all ages and drinking habits.

8. What is your favorite album?

On our recent tour Battles album Mirrored was played a lot, so maybe that’s our current favorite.

9. What is your favorite song?

Home On The Range.

10. How did you get here?

Eric, Dave, and I have been good friends since high school, and were a trio for a year or so. Brent Miller works at a local music store and offered to do some recording and eventually joined the band in 2007.

Trashed On Fiction’s new album, Words Trails Maps is out now.



And so, a week of gigs ended for me with two satisfying solo acoustic sets at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. I got Nick Tan and Narisa Chan, two young singer-songwriters to open each set for me with two songs and it was rather affecting, I must say, to watch them delivering their own originals to the crowd.


Narisa seemed rather nervy but I think she handled herself well. Just needs more experience. Nick more seasoned now and his new song together with You (one of my favorites) pleased the audience. More to come from these two I predict.


I felt the first set was a little hard going for me – although the crowd was always appreciative – for some reason, I felt the songs weren’t coming across, especially the Singapore-referencing ones, which surprised me. Or maybe it was my own imagination. In any case, set list – Jealous Guy, I Love Singapore, High Cost of Living, The Offender, Pasir Ris Sunrise, Lament, Here, Beautiful, My One & Only.

I started with the electric piano for my second set. Was a little apprehensive about this, I don’t usually do this live but I thought that Texas and My Life went down well. And that pleased me no end. So from that point in time to the end, the set went very well and I could see many mobile phones raised recording my performance. Always a good sign! Also very much enjoyed the debut of (It’s Not A) Fact after all these years. Yes, it’s time to record some of these babies! Set list – Hey Jude, Texas, My Life, Beyond the Ashes, (Its Not a) Fact, Easy, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum.

Thank again to Chloe (and all at Esplanade) and of course to Nick and Narisa.

Pictures courtesy of Soh Poh Soo.

… still there’s more …


It has been a fruitful week for Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People as we played two gigs in five days!

On Sunday, 21 June, we play an half-hour set at St James Powerhouse in aid of Mercy Relief’s humanitarian effots in Pakistan. Even not feeling 100% well, the (rock) therapy of playing with the Groovy People more than carried me through. It was a kick watching Mike Cho, Ark Analogy and my pals, King Kong Jane doing their bit for a good cause, as well.


Jealous Guy, I Love Singapore, Orchard Road, Easy, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum

Thanks to weetz for the youtube videos!

On Thursday, 25th June, our mini-tour concluded with an appearance at Milestone at Empress Place for the 1990s segment. Appearing as Watchmen we took the stage after legendary 90s bands, Concave Scream & Force Vomit. It was a fun time although for some reason I totally screwed up the lyrics of Damaged and fluffed chords here and there. Whatever…

Set list – Hot Burrito #1, I Love Singapore, Orchard Road, The High Cost Of Living, Climate of Fear, Easy, Jealous Guy, Damaged, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum.

Picture 7

Videos of the Milestones gig can be seen on Facebook. Thanks to Narisa for uploading!

And today, Saturday, 27th June I’ll be playing two solo sets at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre from 7.30pm to 8.15pm and from 8.45pm to 9.30pm. See ya there!

… still there’s more …



Two years in the making, the Fire Fight’s maiden full-length album – Henri – is well worth the wait, believe me. My review copy dropped just this morning (Thanks, Esmond/WMUM!) and already I am feeling very good about Henri.

An ambitious concept album about a bear named Henri as he encounters the city of Elemenopee, Henri contains NEW recordings of songs previously featured on the Green Single viz. Fires At Night, Candela, Hours & When Spring Comes Home as well as popular live favorites like Traing Son (yes!) and Beware! Monster.

Not only that but the story of Henri is also told through art pieces specially created by the insanely talented Jon Chan (yes, the Plainsunset dude), see picture above, which truly adds to the overall enjoyment of this musical work.

The band will launch this exciting new album at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 31st July 2009. Tickets are now available at SISTIC. Don’t miss it!

More updates to come on Fire Fight at Power of Pop with review and interviews to come.

…still there’s more…



ALMOST CHARLIE The Plural of Yes (Words On Music)

There are a few things that a casual listener should take note of, concerning German band, Almost Charlie.

First, singer-composer Dirk Homuth possesses a nasal vocal style that is borrowed heavily from the late great John Lennon. Uncannily so, in fact.

Second, lyricist Charlie Mason is not part of the band and in fact has never even met Homuth before! These song collaborations have been carried out over the internet. What will they think of next?

Music-wise, Almost Charlie (oh, I get it now!) parlays a chamber-folk-pop sensibility that is pleasant enough without being too deeply affecting. I suppose you could make comparisons between the musical approach here and the Beatles’ own folk-pop excursions on Rubber Soul & Revolver. Or you could easily discern references pointing to another late great, Mr Elliot Smith.

Overall, the vibe one gets from The Plural of Yes is a likable evocation of Beatles circa 1965, and if you’re into that era then this album is for you. Simply put, good music for those melancholy rainy Sunday afternoons.

Check out the band’s Myspace page.

A clip of a lively rendition of Leaving is Easy follows…




Trashed on Fiction sound old. That’s not meant as a derogatory description of any sorts, more a matter of fact sort of thing. On their new record, Words Trails Maps, the four-piece Brooklyn outfit play roots rock in the grand tradition of Creedance Clearwater Revival, Them and Crazy Horse. This means lots of massive sounding guitar riffs, crashing drums that sound magnificently gleeful, and a studio ethic that takes the lo-fi aesthetic of the indie scene and turns it into a manifesto of intent to bring the listener back to the days when rock and roll was fresh and vibrant instead of the tricked-out cliché it is today. The aforementioned studio ethic is a double-edged sword of sorts: at certain moments it sounds energetic, live and infectiously immediate, while at others it sounds home-made and beat-up, as if it was recorded in a music store, a kitchen, the back of a van, and two bathrooms. Oh hey, waddya know, it was!

Moving on past the sound, though, the songs are surprisingly good. Without much studio trickery to lift up the songs, Trashed on Fiction have only the palette of rock and roll’s three primary colors (drums, bass and guitar) to paint from, and they don’t disappoint. The record opens with the aptly-named January, with a tom boom and guitar explosion leading into a rollicking riff that threatens to blow open the puny mp3 file holding it together. Matador, too, is reasonably good, with a punchy middle section that is enjoyable headbangable. All high octane stuff that still manages to infuse typical indie melody into the mix. So far, so good.  By the third track, though, the band’s lo-fi home made sound is getting rather grating, which is a pity because Safety Net is a lovely number with washes of rootsy melody exemplified in the song’s nostalgic refrain, “darling, did I love you?”

Fourth track, Killing Grounds, is a relatively quiet and down-tempo country-drenched number that gets particularly mesmerizing towards the end, where the crashing cymbals and lyrical guitars intertwine to shush a throbbing bass to sleep. Seventh track Beggar sees stabs of fuzzed out guitar punctuate the air menacingly before revving up into a melodic march highlighted by humming keyboards that slowly builds up to a beautiful climax. Beatification takes an unexpected detour into bossa nova, almost sounding like a looser and rootsier version of Radiohead before firing into more familiar territory with Unfit/Unzip, a number that brings to mind early Kings of Leon. The album closes with the noise-stretching, experimental and epic sounding number One A Side, a whirlwind of distortion and howling winds that quiets down after four minutes to reveal acoustic guitars and shuffled drums at the eye of the storm.

Gutsy and vibrant, Words Trails Maps is a record that will demand your attention almost as much as it rewards it. It’s a record that captures both the heat of the sex as well as the post-coital embrace afterwards, a record that is as lived-in as it sounds. Invest a few hours into repeated listenings; you won’t be disappointed.

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out Trashed on Fiction’s Myspace page.


The Devil Makes Three

DEVIL MAKES THREE Do Wrong Right (Milan)

When you live in a tiny tropical island in the midst of the Malay Archipelago, the stretched out parched valleys of the old westerns seem awfully far away.  Put on Do Wrong Right, though, the latest release from Santa Cruz three-man outfit The Devil Makes Three, and one is guaranteed to be instantly transported to the dusty cracked deserts of old-time America, where men who speak in gruff whiskey splinters break with their tough-guy image and invite you to join in their raucous cowpunk country romps.

The band, consisting of Pete Bernhard on guitar and vocals, Cooper McBean on guitar and banjo, and Lucia Turino on stand-up bass, is an anomaly and anachronism in today’s age of Autotuned radio, but what a delightful anachronism they are. The youth of today, born and bred on a mixture of grunge, punk rock, indie and R&B music might find themselves baffled at first listen, but closer inspection will reveal that The Devil Makes Three is just as thoroughly punk rock as anything on radio today. Simply substitute furious distorted guitars for pluck and strum acoustics, crashing drums for a stand-up bass and half-shouted singing for a warm southern drawl, and hey presto! A hillbilly punk wielding a banjo with a wicked glint in his eye and mayhem on his mind.

The record opens with All Hail, an energetic chugging rhythmic number topped off with fiddle and banjo flourishes that nonetheless manages to name-drop contemporary terms in a odd juxtaposition that works brilliantly, and sets the tone for the rest of the record. The title track is a gleeful exhortation to screw up gloriously and a tribute to the devil-may-care attitude of the old times, as is Gracefully Facedown, a drinking song updated for modern times. For Good Again is an utterly charming number that narrates the tale of a band struggling to overcome their own inertia, with laugh out loud lines like, “We drank and we threw up, sometimes we practiced and played, our drummer couldn’t figure out whether he was straight or he was gay.”

The record hits a small road bump on Johnson Family, a track that, with its European influences, sounds oddly out of place amidst all the Americana. Thankfully that road bump doesn’t last beyond one track. Help Yourself channels the good sense and sensibility of the common folk and snippets of biblical narrative into the simple reminder that “the Lord helps those who helps themselves”. The Devil Makes Three continues to reflect the sentiment of the people into Working Class Blues, a song that, with its apocalyptic streaks of howling harmonica, updates the protest song from the Great Depression into the 21st century’s own Great Recession. The somberness continues in shades until the album closer, Car Wreck, a mournful, pensive track that ends the album with a stirring reminder of the times we live in.

One will need some time to slip into and out of the charming oddball record that is Do Wrong Right, but the band should be applauded for having made old time country music relevant in this technological day and digital age. Impish, infectious, and sorrowful by turns, The Devil Makes Three reminds us that heart and soul is timeless and that good music speaks past genres and decades.

(Samuel C Wee)

Check out Devil Makes Three’s Myspace page.



CHRIS MCKAY & THE CRITICAL DARLINGS C’mon Accept Your Joy (Side B Music)

McKay is probably better known as a photographer than a rock musician but you can’t keep a good artist down. C’mon Accept Your Joy is actually a re-issue of the Critical Darlings’ debut album and is a revealing introduction to the band’s interpretation of 70s powerpop and 80s new wave. Thus, astute listeners will find references to Big Star, the Raspberries, the Knack, Cheap Trick, the Cars and the Smithereens sprinkled across this competent album. Personally, the songs that caught by ear are the Doug Fieger-channelling Sometimes I’m Sam, the sweetly balladic “Down”, the blistering raucous Until the Road Ends and of course, the irresistible opener Towel Cape Song. Recommended for all members of the pop underground who did not pick up on this fine album the first time around.

Check out the band’s Myspace page. A video of Towel Cape Song is embedded below.


So far, Kevin Mathews/the Groovy People have barely done two gigs a year. Really. So how does one figure two gigs in FIVE days? Cool, huh?

First up, on Sunday, 21st June, we will playing a charity gig at St James Powerhouse, e-flyer below.


Then, on Thursday, 25th June night, we’ll be playing in front of Timbre @ The Arts House disguised as Watchmen. Poster below.

Picture 3

Hope to see ya there.

…still there’s more…



DEEP PURPLE History, Hits & Highlights ’68-’76 (Eagle Vision)

The finest hard rock/heavy metal band of all time. No contest. In my humble opinion. Yeah. more than Led Zeppellin and Black Sabbath. Well, I’m a little biased as after the Beatles, Deep Purple would be the main inspiration of the first band I played in. I think we may have even called ourselves, Blue Lightning…

This DVD focuses on the golden age of Deep Purple as the band moved through four distinct line-ups, famously known as Mark I, II, III and of course, IV. With rare TV clips – both mimed and live – from 1968 to 1976, HH&H is a classic rock fan’s wet dream as iconic songs such as Hush, Black Night, Speed King, Child In Time, Highway Star, Smoke on the Water, Burn et al are featured.

But what really seals the deal for me are the various insightful interviews with the Deep Purple members, which provides an intriguing backdrop to the departures and additions throgh this period. In particular,the  interviews with Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord provide much grist for the mill.

Be warned though, the sound and picture quality are much less than you’d expect in the digital age but really it is the historic, archival nature of these videos that should be appreciated at face value.

Essential for all students of rock history. And for those about to boogie…



JENIFEREVER Spring Tides (Monotreme)

Precious and fey. This Swedish band evokes early 90s shoegaze without the multiple guitar pedals. The quartet’s fragile, atmospheric music is probably best described as chamber emo.

The pulse on Spring Tides is brought to shore at very low ebb, barely audible and only slightly dynamic on the odd tracks. The arrangements and instrumentation are all rather precise, designed to create a subtle mood, for rainy train rides in the cool Nordic countryside, most likely (not something I’ve experienced myself, it must be said).

The downside is that it can all get rather miserable and precious (that word, again) and might need to catch one in a wistful frame of mind in order to fully appreciate. Not only that but the whole approach tends to sacrifice the melodic quotient and the lack of any change of pace can induce boredom (if ever so slightly, but still a risk).

Focus on the stellar guitar effects and Jeniferever’s Spring Tides will be the perfect soundtrack for those melancholy moments that pop up now and then.

Check out Jeniferever’s Myspace page.


ROCK THE SUB, Saturday 6th June 2009. Timbre @ Substation / Guiness Theatre

Having a mindset that gigs always start fashionably late, I walked into the Substation at 7pm to find The Fire Fight sound-checking. I’ve always enjoyed going for The Fire Fight gigs, and Saturday was no exception. They played songs from their 2007 EP, as well as new songs from their upcoming full length album. The audience responded positively, singing along to favourites like Dreamer and The Train Song.


There were some technical difficulties, but that didn’t stop the boys from playing an outstanding set. The Fire Fight boys still pressed on and did whatever they could, despite the difficulties. I was impressed by Iain, who still played with the same fervency he’s always had, despite recently sustaining a knee injury. He did a excellent job, which was commendable, although he was limping after the set.


The last time I caught Allura, I was blown away by how consistent they sounded. I was a bit surprised to find that this time around, Allura didn’t have the same prominent trait that had set them apart from other local bands.  However, I did enjoy their set, especially one of their old songs (Closure), which was done in a different way.

A Vacant Affair played a dynamic set. They played a mix of songs from the 2007 EP and their full-length album, which was released late last year. I wasn’t too pleased with the sound, but Matt’s energy was contagious, and within moments, there were people moshing near the stage. There were so many people in the Guiness Theatre, and people continued to stream in throughout the set. A Vacant Affair has certainly come a long way, having opened for numerous bands like As I Lay Dying and Story of the Year for last year’s Taste of Chaos tour, amongst others.


Urbandub brought the night to an end with its catchy and expressive lyrics. I’d heard them on Myspace early last year, and I liked their music. I missed them the previous time they were in Singapore, so it was a treat to finally catch them. By that time, Timbre was packed with people, even while they sound checked (to rapturous applause). They played a variety of songs, especially ones from their second album, which I really liked. When they ended the set, there were unanimous shouts for an encore, which Urbandub happily obliged.


Some of the other outstanding acts included Nothing to Declare, Caracal, The Great Spy Experiment and For this Cycle. Credit must be given to the wonderful people who selected the acts. It made the gig one of the more notable ones in the past few months.


The thing that surprises me is how divergent yet congruent home grown and regional bands are. Experiences, culture and beliefs are all part of the musical process which helps to shape a band’s music. Often, we want similar things in life, which enables us to create bonds with other like-minded individuals. In perspective, Urbandub and The Great Spy Experiment might be from different regions in Asia, but each still has the ability to draw from their own experiences in order to reach out to their audiences.

There’s so many facets of our scene and I admit that a lot of times, I come to gigs with preconceptions about certain bands. How many of us can honestly be willing to give a band a chance to share with us what they feel without being so judgemental based on what we’ve heard or perceived? Have we reached a point where we’re only willing to stay for bands we like instead of discovering other bands we might not have heard of?

I’m a strong believer that we must always keep pushing ourselves further in order to improve ourselves. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the people who believe in our scene and are willing to have gigs like Rock The Sub to showcase local and regional talent.

Everyone left Timbre with smiles on their faces, proving once more that Rock The Sub was an immense success. Many thanks to Timbre Music and The Substation for putting together a stellar show.

(Rebecca Lincoln)

I must admit that I was thoroughly blown away by Urbandub. Their brand of melodic emo hardcore went down well with the crowd and they were entertaining from start to finish. The strange thing was that the technical sound problems that had plague S-ROCK bands throughout the gig seemed to magically disppear during Urbandub’s set, which sounded really good.

So what it is, a more professional attitude and approach? I just can’t put my finger on it. All I can add to Rebecca’s review is that we definitely need to up our game if S-ROCK bands are to be taken seriously in the region, never mind at home. Overall, Rock the Sub was a success but after three years, it may need some tweaking and reinvention. In fact the entire S-ROCK scene really needs a jumpstart to get things moving on to the next level. What that means, exactly though, is still in the air.

…still there’s more…

(Pix by Thomas Tan and Firdaus)



The good folks at Greenhorn Productions have pulled out another veritable winner from the hat with Aimee Mann. After pleasing audiences with Death Cab For Cutie, Stars, Ani DiFranco and Rachael Yamagata, the sophisticated pop-rock of Aimee Mann awaits Singaporeans live music enthusiasts at 7.30pm on Saturday, 29 August 2009 at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

Tickets at $118, $98 and $68 (excluding SISTIC fees). Fans of Greenhorn Productions facebook page will receive a password for early bird booking/discounts. Details to be announced at www.sistic.com soon.

Ling Kai will be the opening act.

…still there’s more…



Pete Townshend had himself a little dilemma – how to follow the world’s first rock opera, the highly feted Tommy?

Tommy had turned The Who into one of the world’s most popular bands and Townshend was not willing to sit on past achievements. Out of that ambition came Lifehouse. What Lifehouse was supposed to be no one (not even Townshend, I’d wager) was exactly certain. Like Tommy it was a rock opera except that it was intended to be an interactive experience of some sort involving an album and a film, or something like that.

Like Brian Wilson’s Smile, the weight of expectation proved too much for Townshend and Lifehouse was shelved. However, unlike the Beach Boys, who had to settle for the vastly inferior Smiley Smile, what rose from the ashes of Lifehouse was an album that has proven to be one of the most enduring (and endearing) classic rock albums of all time.

On the cover of Who’s Next, the band appears to have pissed on the construct and artifice that was Lifehouse but in reality, from the jaws of near-disaster, the band pulled out a masterpiece. Made up of only nine songs, Who’s Next entrenched The Who’s reputation as the ultimate anthemic rock band as the album’s bookend tracks establish.

Both Baba O’Riley and Won’t Be Fooled Again open with a synthesized loop of notes before Townshend’s trademark power chords shear away at any arty pretence to reveal a beating rock heart. Not much to say about these iconic tracks – they have transcended the genre itself and listening to them will cause a stirring in the spirit to raise clenched fists into the sky.

But Who’s Next is more, of course. Bargain moves from tranquility to explosion and back, Love Ain’t For Keeping is a country-folk blues gem, My Wife is John Entwistle’s turn in the spotlight (with its brassy horns the obvious highlight), The Song is Over and Getting In Tune are entwined with concepts of the ultimate song/chord, being expressed in a slow rock approach that would be beaten to death in subsequent decades by inferior bands. Going Mobile is a breezy, folk-rock ditty that belies its sci-fi conceits whilst Behind Blue Eyes is a heavy examination of the nature of the villain (who may just be Townshend himself), with one of the finest melodies ever written by Townshend.

The sound on Who’s Next is muscular and punchy with each member of the band more than pulling their own weight – Daltrey comes into his own with his vocal delivery while the wildest rhythm section of Entwistle and Keith Moon continue to defy the basic laws of time and space – to support the artistic genius of Townshend.

There’s no doubt that Who Next’s was the apex of the Who’s recorded output and with Quadrophenia on, it was a slow but steady decline. Decades later, music observers still debate over what might have been (if Lifehouse had not been shelved). For me these hypothetical exercises are just that, when we have the timeless music of Who’s Next to savour.



DIORAMA From the E-Motion Picture Soundtrack (Self released)

Nothing quite like musical ambition. Diorama has conceived this mini-album as a conceptual piece of sorts. A story told from the perspective of a songwriter through music, thus the title. With the “E” inserted to suggest emotions as well as the electronica that peppers the songs here.

Diorama manages a good mix of rockers and ballads which suit the stories told and feelings shared with good production values and overall solid performances throughout. With influences ranging from the obligatory u2 references to the modern age emo powerpop postering, not to mention a deft use of prog-rock (or symphonic metal?) touches, this debut mini-album is an intriguing listen.

With two Malay language “rarities”, the sweet Sanubariku and slow rock-folk Anti-Romantis, to complete the package, From the E-Motion Picture Soundtrack is a release worth checking out, for fans of the S-ROCK scene and beyond.

Check out Diorama’s Myspace page.



The launch of Cove Red’s EP was held at Earshot cafe at the Arts House over 2 weeks. I made it the second week, and I was glad I did. The atmosphere was inviting, and by the time I arrived, there were quite a lot of people sitting around on the couches.

I took a seat near the merch table, and found myself drawn into the set. Rachael’s vocals were more clear and defined than when I last heard her at the NOISE Edition of Weekend Trip.

Each song had a quirky introduction, done either by her or Su Yin, and I felt connected to the duo as an audience member. For the first set, she played a few songs from the EP, and other songs that inspired her during her musical journey.

Throughout the set, I felt inspired and was caught up in the energy Rachael and Su Yin put into the set. It was enjoyable, knowing that they were doing something that they were passionate about and going out to share their music with other people.

The lyrics of the songs Rachael wrote were beautifully crafted, with the music carefully planned to complement the lyrics. Rachael drew from her own experiences, and penned earnest, honest lyrics that people could relate to. Her lyrics gave an insight into who she was, and what she believed in.

This enticed the listener to discover the different facets of their music, and I was fascinated to know more about her and what inspired her lyrics.

During the short break between sets, I had a chance to chat with Rachael and asked her what inspired her. Her answers were so simple, yet profound. I couldn’t help but take time to reflect on what inspired me and gave me strength to do the things I do.

I really enjoyed the launch of Cove Red’s EP. It makes me happy that there are musicians within our scene who are willing to chase their dreams and share what they believe in with other people.

(Rebecca Lincoln)

Cove Red’s Awaken the Dreamer is out now. More info here.



Sean Bones – Dancehall


Janyse – Dreamers


Janid – Twisted


Bygones – Click On That

Go on, knock yourself out!



PoP Essentials. Yes, a new series where I will try to explain why I love the music that I do and what Power of Pop is about. A cliff notes to understanding the sometimes incomprehensible gibberish that I try to pass off as music reviews. And of course, it begins with The Beatles…

Growing up, my favorites Beatles album was the so-called White album. For me, this double LP encapsulated everything I loved about the Beatles – the melodicism, the cutting-edge experimentalism, the eclectic styles, the sense of humor and the moments of odd weirdness.

In recent times, critics have complained that the vaunted Beatles quality control on White album was absent as the Fab Four ran amok in the studio, citing examples like The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Don’t Pass Me By, Why Don’t We Do It On The Road and Rocky Raccoon. Or that the White album should have been released as a single instead of a double LP.

Personally, I think the White album is perfect as it is. Like most Beatles albums, it is easily listened from beginning to the end but what is extra special is that there is more to go around. Even George Harrison gets four songs (all winners) – the dynamic While My Guitar Gently Weeps (with Clapton on guitar solo, no less), the tongue-in-cheek(y) Piggies, and the quirky love tones of Long, Long, Long & the ode to candy that is Savoy Truffle.

John Lennon – who would be somewhat overshadowed by Paul McCartney in the latter years – is in fine fettle here. Providing singularly idiosyncratic music – with topics ranging from insomnia (I’m So Tired), Beatle in-jokes (Glass Onion), his mother (Julia), blues parody (Yer Blues), the Maharishi (Sexy Sadie), silly lullaby (Good Night) and the political times (Revolution No. 1). Instant classics each one. And with the arty-farty promptings of Yoko, managed to include the experimental sound collage – Revolution No. 9 – on side 2 of disc two.

For Paul McCartney, the de facto leader of the group after Brian Epstein’s demise, the White album showcased the qualities that would put him in good stead for the next ten years and beyond with Wings and as a solo artist. Songs like Back in the USSR, Birthday and Helter Skelter highlighted Paul, the rock ‘n’ roller whilst songs like Martha My Dear, I Will and Blackbird proved that Paul would always be the one with the pleasing melodies.

As is apparent from the above, by this time, the Beatles were a group in name only and the songs were treated almost as solo projects. Ironically, the White album stands up as the ultimate peak of Beatles music-making both critically and commercially. Within two years, Paul McCartney would file for dissolution of the Beatles.



VARIOUS ARTISTS 100 Greatest Singapore 60s: The Definitive Collection (Universal)

In the introduction to this lavish 5CD set, the writer declares (and laments?) – “This five-cd box set of Philips Sixties depicts a time in Singapore’s pop music history when the universal fever for pop also reverberated here and the breadth of styles and music played here reflects that diversity. Perhaps a feat never to be repeated.”

Ironically, of course, the Singapore music scene is undergoing a mini-revival at the moment, with many local bands playing regularly both home and abroad and a multitude of albums & Eps seeing release. Of course, none of these bands are household names in the same way their 60s counterparts were. But still, its a good time for this collection to see light of day to remind bands and fans alike of the days that used to be.

The music is mainly culled from recordings made in the mid-60s, at a time when the Philips label was making inroads in establishing itself as a regional music label. With bands like Naomi & the Boys, The Crescendos, the Cyclones and the Thunderbirds delivering local interpretations of the melodic rock ‘n’ roll pop sound popularized by the Beatles, Cliff Richard & the Shadows, Beach Boys and the like, Philips made a vital contribution to the vibrant local music of the time.

The first 3 CDs feature the complete Eps of the aforementioned bands as well as Shirley Nair and the Silver Strings, Sue, Bobby Lambert and the Dukes, Bryan Neale with the Checkmates. Immensely listenable, it is no wonder that these bands were popular in their heyday with enthusiastic fans snapping up releases and attending gigs, with the high quality on display.

4th CDs brings us on a romantic journey with love songs from The Boys, Heather, Tony Chong, Janice Wee ans so on. Whilst the final CD shows the Singapore bands moving on with the times as fuzztone guitars signal the arrival of psych rock, folk pop and garage onto our shores. Bands like the Dukes, the Dee Tees, Cells Unlimited et al start to reveal greater diversity in styles to mirror the going ons in the USA and the UK.

Sadly, of course, the powers-that-be basically declared war on rock music in the 70s and that was the end of the Singapore music scene, with the recovery scene only occuring two decades later. But that’s another story.

One caveat – the tracks here have been recorded off the vinyl records and not magnetic tape – which speaks volumes of the treatment of Singapore music in the years that followed this golden age. And so, the sound quality is pretty poor considering modern CD standards. But one has to keep in mind the historic importance of these songs and what they will continue to represent to the current local music scene. Personally, despite the challenges facing the S-ROCK musician in 2009, I believe that we can still emulate our 60s forefathers and maybe even surpass them…

In the meantime, head on down to your nearest music store and get this box set now.



ELIZABETH & THE CATAPULT Taller Children (Verve Forecast)

If you’ve been following the Power of Pop long enough, you’d realize that I live for that moment when listening to an album, watching a film or reading a comic book, I can exclaim – “Whoa, I did not expect that!”

With the amount of albums I listen to nowadays, the above sentiments are rare commodities indeed. But these precious moments can be found in abundance on Elizabeth & the Catapult’s magnificent new album, Taller Children.

Yes indeed. It’s that spine tingling sense of recognition that you’ve chanced on something extraordinary like on the ornate, baroque, whimsical pop of Rainiest Day of Summer, which is simply the best song I’ve heard thus far in 2009. As the influences of the Carpenters, Paul McCartney, the Kinks, the Band and XTC combine perfectly to form a timeless classic that is almost too good for this generation of emo kids and metalheads.

Its also the head-bopping, smile inducing elation of grasping the full import of the bouncy, infectious soulful nugget that is Taller Children, the rootsy, breezy, sophisticated folk-pop of The Hang Up where the melodic splendour of Aimee Mann is easily conjured and the jazzy, Gallic, smooth soft pop of Right Next To You where collages of bright rainbow colours are painted on melancholy soundscapes.

You get the picture. Whilst there is no doubt that Elizabeth & the Catapult’s strength lies in the sum of its parts, it is Elizabeth Ziman’s vocals that provides the winning stroke of genius – equal parts the aforementioned Aimee Mann, Karen Carpenter and Chrissy Hynde, her’s is a voice that pop lovers could consume for eons on end.

I’m am truly awed by the achievement of this delightful album, almost as if pop music itself had decided that it had enough with all the ugliness and angst of modern rock and appointed Elizabeth & the Catapult as its spokespersons to get the true message out. Well, I’m certainly listening, you should too…

Check out the band’s Myspace page.



I’m not much a fan of video games though I used to be – once upon a time. So I’m pretty clueless when it comes to Guitar Hero or Rock Band or whatever. I guess as a musician, I find it all a little silly.

So now here comes the Beatles Rock Band, which according to the press release lets you live out the Beatles experience – “from the early touring days in 1963 Liverpool to the immortal, final performance on the Apple Corps rooftop, fans can follow in the band’s footsteps as they traverse the globe during the height of Beatlemania.”


All well and good but the gameplay (what a strange word to use with music!) still revolves around pressing coloured buttons on a controller shaped like a musical instrument. So personally, I don’t see the point. Released on 9.9.09 simultaneously with those much-anticipated remasters, it all just seems like a cynical ploy of Apple Corps and the surviving Beatles to put their collective hands into our pockets, during these economic depressed times.

Call me a luddite if you must but this whole video game-rock music hybrid just sounds dumb. Guess I’ll just have to wait for the Who Rock Band, where you get to smash your instruments and attack unwelcome stage intruders and the like. Now, that’s a game I could subscribe to. And what about the post-show groupie fun? Eh??



1. Why play music?

Cause I can’t really stop thinking about it. If I spend more than 3 days away from my studio I get restless leg syndrome which can be really annoying for people who aren’t me.

2. Who are your influences?

Beach Boys, Super Furry Animals, Beatles, Todd Rundgren, The Association, Simian, Free Design, XTC… anything with strong melody and big arrangements

3. What is success?

Having people want to listen to my tunes.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Cause I’m late with my rent and I think with a firm hand and a bit of persuading people might really enjoy it.

5. Who do you love?

Everyone who has supported me with my music so far… and George Clooney….. and my girlfriend.

6. What do you hope to achieve with your music?

I want to record a piece music that people can really lose their minds to. Something beautiful, fun and honest that can transcend time and trends. Of course the ultimate achievement would be to change someones life just like all my favourite albums have changed mine.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

All kinds of weird and wonderful creatures. I think people who grew up in the 60s and 70s appreciate the music for it’s historical reference points. Kids like it to jump around to as well.

8. What is your favorite album?

Beach Boys – Smile… love all of the bootlegged stuff for it’s unrivaled beauty

9. What is your favorite song?

Super Furry Animals – Juxtaposed With U… I can’t be unhappy listening to this song. Smooth production.

10. How did you get here?

With lots of support from friends, fans and musicians and fair bit of hard work. This is much better than working at a petrol station.. and I loved working at a petrol station.

Paul Steel’s Moon Rock is out now!



Presented by The Substation & Timbre Music

Saturday 6 June, from 6:30pm

The Substation Theatre & Timbre @ The Substation

Admission: $21 (includes one free drink) available from The Substation, www.bytes.sg and at the door or call 6332 6919


* Amateur Takes Control

* For This Cycle

* Postbox

* Silhouette

* Allura

* The Fire Fight

* Caracal

* A Vacant Affair

* Urbandub (from the Philippines)

* Nothing to Declare

* The Great Spy Experiment

* Force Vomit