Well, I suppose on one level, my interview with Stereophonics was a bit of a failure, by conventional standards. It was the first band interview I’ve ever done by roundtable. Meaning that I had to wait my turn to ask a question and could not develop any train of thought with follow up questions as I had to wait for my turn again. Not only that but I was using my extremely old phone which had a voice recorder, that I didn’t realize only records for 2 minutes at a time, which means I got nothing on “tape” – nada! So its probably no point to try to recreate the answers the band gave to my three questions.

I will say this – the band – dressed smart casually for the most part – come across as amiable, down to earth blokes who just happened to be rock musicians. Most of the usual queries were raised – what was the concept behind the album title, what was the inspiration for the album, what current music do you listen to etc etc etc.

For my part, the band confirmed that most of what is written on wikipedia about them is absolute bollocks. The band gave me the impression that Stereophonics was a major part of their careers and so they constantly challenge themselves to keep their music fresh – by listening to new music, working with different producers and adopting alternative approaches to recording and so on. In that context, side projects (like solo albums) were never a priority – you could imagine Stereophonics going on for another decade easily.

So I guess whilst I was disappointed that I could not go deeper with the band on certain issues (like their place in rock history and their legacy, if any), I was thankful for the opportunity to meet them and pick their brains a little. For that I’m grateful to Universal Music Singapore and especially, Fristene, Alan and Hazel, as always.

Stereophonics will be playing at Fort Canning tonight at 8pm and their new albun Keep Calm and Carry On is available at all good music stores now.

Come up and say hello if you’re going to the show tonight!

Picture courtesy of Audrey Kua.


Trella’s Silver Lining EP launch

Every now and then, I like to discover other bands playing within our scene. On April 24th, I did just that by checking out Trella’s launch of their EP, Silver Lining. While at the launch, I realised that there were many people I haven’t seen before, which was an indicator of how much our scene has grown over the years.

Fire Away, Samson were the first band to play that night. Theirs was the first gig played in awhile so when they started with Gates, I felt that their nervousness had gotten the better of them. By the time they had warmed up, they were much better and more energetic for subsequent songs, making it was an enjoyable performance. They still sounded rather raw, but hopefully that would improve when they start playing more shows and gaining gig experience.

I remember catching Tacit Aria when they played at Ignite Fest last July. It’s amazing how much can happen over 8 months. It was an improvement compared to what they were like and I liked how they sounded more like a band rather than individual musicians who happened to be in a band together. It was definitely an improvement and I liked what I was heard. For one of the songs during the set, they did a Thrice cover with Kamal, from the band, Avalanche. It was a good cover and the crowd responded positively to it!

I’ve noticed that many bands have the tendencies to go with what’s comfortable. The problem with that is that it leaves no room for improvement. Bands need the right nurturing to go further so as long as Fire Away, Samson and Tacit Aria keep working on songs and their music as a band, they’ll definitely be able to improve so much more.

KC Meals, frontman of Caracal, was impressive when he slowed the mood down by playing a stripped-down acoustic solo set. I’ve been used to hearing him sing with the same loud, edginess of a typical Caracal set so this was definitely something different. He played a mix of song as well as a cover of Foo Fighter’s My Hero, which was really nice and was a crowd pleaser.  He’s definitely got strong vocals which are versatile and likable to a wide variety of people.

Trella played last and by that time, everyone was excited for them to start. The last time I heard Trella, their previous vocalist, Zachary Poh, was still fronting the band. Since then, Weiwen (For This Cycle) has taken over vocal duties, bringing with him an amazing stage presence and vocal abilities.

They played songs off their new EP and got Zachary to sing along for the last song. It was nice and I enjoyed their performance. I was impressed at Safith, Trella’s drummer who also did backing vocals. It didn’t occur to me that he was doing backing vocals until halfway through their set. For the encore song, Safith sung vocals, and it was a really nice way to end the EP launch.

It was a good EP launch, except there was something missing from the dynamics of Trella. They’re talented musicians but somehow, it wasn’t as dynamic as their previous sets. I definitely hope to hear more from Trella soon!

A big thank you to Azly from The Bastard Movement and all the bands who played that night. It was an enjoyable night!

(Rebecca Lincoln)

Photo by Thomas Tan


(Answered by Ze Wen Seah)

Who is Travel Tales and how was it formed?

Travel Tales currently consists of just myself; it is a solo acoustic act. Travel Tales was formed through the cultivation of a love for music from a young age. When I was 6, I was forced to learn the piano. I hated it at first, but gradually, music grew into something I’ve come to love. I learned to play the guitar at 16 through the Internet and my friends, and about 2 years later, I started composing my own original songs.

Who are the influences for Travel Tales?

Performers like Coldplay, Radiohead and Jason Mraz have been a great influence to my music. Jason Mraz specifically has influenced many of the vocal melodies in my songs and Radiohead’s music makes me try to be as original as possible. It seems that every album they release is different and unique in it’s own way but at the same time, you can still tell it’s Radiohead.

Why do you play music?

Because I believe music is the invisible, internal object that binds all of us together during good times and bad times. For example, the days after 9/11, people didn’t try to get through the week by playing cards, shopping, or watching TV. In fact, the first organized activities were singing. When a massive earthquake struck Haiti, a new version of “We are the World” was released to bring the world together to aid the shattered nation. Music has the power to bring order from chaos.

You have sessioned with bands such as For This Cycle and played alongside the talented Daniel Sassoon, Weiwen Seah, Roland Lim, and Jordan Cheng. What were those experiences like and how have they shaped you as a musician?

The shows I’ve had with For This Cycle were probably the best shows I have ever played in. Besides being extremely proficient at each of their individual instruments, everyone was also very professional. I also enjoyed how everyone was very honest and straightforward with each other. For example, if a bass line I was playing sucked, they would just tell me, no beating around the bush. Of course, sometimes it may be harsh, but I believe that everyone can become a better musician/footballer/dancer/gamer/etc if they just learnt to take some criticism. It was through those experiences that I learned, sometimes, tough love is the best love.

What do you think of the current music scene now?

The music scene has been getting better compared to what it was 5 years ago. There have been new venues and a lot of them are pretty impressive! I was at the new *SCAPE building for my brother (For This Cycle)’s performance during Weekend Trip in March and I was impressed by the sheer size of it compared to the old building!

If you had a chance to collaborate with a musician band, who would it be and why?

Locally, it would have to be with For This Cycle. He’s very talented and we’ve played together a few times but that was awhile back. Also, the music we play is pretty similar so we could probably see eye to eye in terms of song writing. And we live in the same house, pretty convenient.

If I had that chance, I’d really like to collaborate with John Mayer. The guy’s a genius songwriter and an awesome guitarist. Plus, he seems like a really chill guy, and I like hanging out with chill people.

What are the future plans for Travel Tales?

I’m currently serving the nation doing my National Service. It’s been busy so hopefully when that’s done, I’ll be able to focus more on my music and to play more shows.

(Rebecca Lincoln)


Photo by Thomas Tan


After 10 years and 5 albums, American rock band Copeland has decided to call it quits. The band has embarked on a farewell tour to say goodbye to their fans and on 5th May, Copeland will play in Singapore at the Warehouse, the new *SCAPE venue. In fact, this will be Copeland’s third performance in Singapore having previously played at Baybeats 2006 and on a double bill with Anberlin in 2007. A rare feat in itself.

Ticketing information –

Date:   Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Time:   8.00 PM

Venue:  *SCAPE: Warehouse (level 2 Auditorium)  2 Orchard Link, Singapore 237978

Ticket Prices: NSF/Student Concession, $25 Normal, $50

Ticketing Channel:

… still there’s more …


This is a benefit show for Mika.

Mika has been diagnosed with a relapse of a type of blood cancer… the results from Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya is that Mika is suffering from lymph node biopsy – Anaplastic T Cell Lymphoma, ALK-1 positive. (not to mention that she is also pregnant.)

The show is 7pm, tonight at Blackhole. $5 at the door.

Please support.


Mark John Hariman returns to perform his final recital in Lasalle. Titled UNSAID, it is a show that has its beginnings in life experiences. Featuring most of his own compositions, this singer-songwriter/guitarist with a blend of influences including The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead and John Mayer aims to bring the audience on a 40 minute long musical journey, with songs filled with stories of love, relationships and… stalkers.

Mark John is, of course, the inventive and skillful guitarist out of Allura and I am so thrilled that this time, it’s his turn in the spotlight. Mark John will be backed by Adam Shah on drums, Leon Khiu on bass and Aaron Wong on guitar, on the night. Definitely not to be missed.

RSVP on Facebook


(Answers by Alan, the Drummer)

1. Why play music?

I suppose the reason that we all play music is plain and simple., Its something that we an all relate to and enjoy together as a group of friends. when your playing a show to lots of people who are enjoying it with you then its a feeling thats hard to beat.

2. Who are your influences?

As a band we all listen to a variation of very different artists and styles but we do have alot of common influences, Iggy and the Stooges for one, Mclusky, Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard…the bands that have a little darker sound to them appeal to us alot.

3. What is success?

For us I think success is having the chance to keep on doing what we are doing, playing shows to decent crowds, being able to fund our own tours albeit bare bones and also the chance to keep on making music and record new material as we go..that and selling out the same venue three nights in a row 🙂

4. Why should people buy your music?

I hope people buy our music because we feel that we offer something a bit different to the music scene at the moment. we aren’t the trendiest or best looking band in the world but if you want music that is full of fun and energy and is gonna make you feel good, then we are what your looking for.

5. Who do you love?

Huey Lewis and the News. (Hahahahaha – KM)

6. What do you want to achieve?

Again all that we want to achieve at this point is the chance to be able to continue rocking out, touring as much and as far as possible and playing as much as we can to lots of new people.

7. Who comes to our gigs?

To be honest its hard to sum up our crowd at the moment, we have a huge demographic when it comes to fans, it ranges from slightly middle aged rockers to young trendy guys and girls, we have a big following among the younger student types too..its great though, most gigs we play at home are filled with alot of people who we havent seen before, its very encouraging.

8. Favourite album?

For me, its gotta be Angel Dust by Faith No More, first class.

9. Favourite song?

Enjoy the Silence, Depeche Mode.

10. How did you get here?

We managed to get where we are now buy alot of hard work and with the help of our label and friends, Smalltown America have given us the confidence to to keep working away at writing and gigging and touring, that along with the support of bands like Fighting with Wire, Jetplane Landing and ASIWYFA have really helped us to build a strong profile in the UK. Long may it continue!

Lafaro’s self-titled (awesome) debut album will be released on 10th May on Smalltown American Records.


1. Why play music?

Because, really, I have no choice.  And I’d probably make a lousy brain surgeon…

2. Who are your influences?

Too many to mention, really.  Musically, every note I’ve ever heard, from the cartoon jingles I listened to at 10, to the albums I wore out in college.

3. What is success?

To me success is doing what you love to do to the best of your ability with what you have at that given point in time.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Only if they think it will bring something positive to their lives.

5. Who do you love?

Family, friends and the perfect 3 minute pop song.

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

See answers 3 & 4

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Fine, fine melodic connoisseurs… oh, and professional quilters.

8. What is your favorite album?

Impossible question, changes daily.

9. What is your favorite song?

Again, totally impossible to say, by the time I’d figured it out, I’d have a new favorite.

10. How did you get here?

I started playing guitar in the 3rd grade and then I made a left at Denmark.

Mark Bacino’s new album, Queens English will be released on 18th May, 2010.


LAFARO s/t (Smalltown America)

When I got in touch with Belfast indie label Smalltown America regarding And So I Watch You From Afar, the label requested a review on Lafaro. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with what I heard on their Myspace but didn’t let that stop me from asking for a review copy and now I’m certainly glad I did!

Pardon me, if I must declare that this is one of the hardest rockin’ debut LPs I’ve heard in too long a time. I mean, anyone can be heavy for heavy’s sake but to be able to make it exciting and visceral at the same time is a thrilling gift. Basically a perfect meeting of metal and hardcore punk – and I don’t mean metalcore – Lafaro’s face melting RAWK is something to behold.

Imagine if you must, the marriage of Metallica and Fugazi and the kick-ass attitude of Lemmy and you might just about get a glimpse of where Lafaro are coming from. Consisting of Jonny Black (guitar/vocals), Dave Magee (guitar), Herb Magee (bass) and Alan Lynn (drums), the band take no prisoners with pummeling yet catchy material such as the old school riff-tastic Tupenny Nudger, the drivin’ Chopper is a Fuckin’ Tout, the hectoring Not A Song and the Pixies-channeling Great Conversations Remembered: No 36 – Jeff Hinton.

Damn objectivity – I LOVE LAFARO!!!!!

Music Video of Tupenny Nudger below.

Official Site



MARK BACINO Queens English (DreamCrush Music)

When I first started the Power of Pop – back in 1998 – I focused pretty much on the US Pop Underground which was vibrant at the time. One of its chief proponents was New Yorker Mark Bacino and his wonderfully sweet powerpop album Popjob, an album which was prominent on my playlist back then.

Five years later, Bacino released Million Dollar Milkshake, which moved me to describe it as “a 12-track journey into the heart of soft pop bliss where the aim is to please, sooth and caress (all in a family-oriented way, of course!) the jaded rock and pop enthusiast”.

Well, it may have been seven long years but on 18th May, that third Bacino album – Queens English – will finally be released and I am glad to report that it’s definitely worth the wait!

It’s been a while since a “traditional” powerpop album has excited me in this way. With Queens English, Bacino has developed his craft even further with the inclusion of baroque instrumentation (strings and horns) to imbue his soft pop leanings with chamber pop elements.

Much of Bacino’s lyrical concepts deal with his family life especially in songs like the jaunty Muffin in the Oven and the cheeky piano ballad  Camp Elmo. In fact, there is an altogether welcome absence of angst throughout Queens English, which is indeed refreshing. Songs like the funny rockin’ title track (Queens, NYC not Queen of England, heh!), the music hall-channeling Happy, the lushly orchestrated Bridge and Tunnel and the folk-poppy Ballad of M and LJ, complete this picture of contentment.

Musically, Bacino never strays too far from his strengths, keeping faith with his fabulous melodies and the inspirations of the Kinks, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach and Jellyfish. Which is fine in my book. If there is only one powerpop album you pick up in 2010, it would have to be Queens English.

Official Site



KINGKENNEDY is a unique feature film that tells the story of John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It has been made entirely from archive material with no narration or talking heads. The film speaks for itself. Watching KINGKENNEDY is a powerful and moving experience. Its message of freedom, dignity, equality and hope is as important today as it was in the sixties. KINGKENNEDY should be seen by a wide audience.

So says the “About The Film” section of the official web site of this upcoming movie. Quite an intriguing proposition. If you think so too, head on down to, become a friend to assist the producers in taking the necessary steps in bringing the movie to the big screen.


First of a series of regular EP releases, “Hand To Mouth” is actually the first release under my own name. Ever! Amazing eh? Have never been entirely comfortable using my own name in the past. Better late than never.

Also, in the spirit of 90s indie S-ROCK, think of these EP releases as “demo cassettes” – good old fashioned homemade cookies. You can listen and/or download from Bandcamp right now. It’s on a “name your own price” basis and what you feel like paying is entirely up to you.

Consisting of five tracks recorded at home on GarageBand or Audacity, the songs are “in the moment” pieces to celebrate the art of songwriting. So, there are stripped down acoustic tracks (If I Wasn’t Paranoid, I’d Be Dead & Boomz), a hip hop parody (Hit And Run), a song contest spoof (Game) and the obligatory melancholic piano ballad (Do My Best).

I feel that this is the best medium to get my music out there and since there seems to be lots of it… Please take a listen and would greatly appreciate your feedback and comments.

…still there’s more…



With two weeks left to the end of the season, we know that Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull City will be relegated from the Premiership. Other than that, the key questions remain answered. At the very top, Chelsea are one point ahead of Man Utd, with two games left to play, and the title is firmly in their own hands.

In the battle for the precious 4th place and Champions League qualification, four clubs remain in the running separated by a mere 3 points. Aston Villa and Liverpool have played a game more than Spurs and Man City, who play each other in that extra game on 5th May. The permutations are endless as to which of these 4 clubs will clinch that 4th place but Spurs are in the driving seat – win their last 3 games and they will be 4th.

Apart from the Spurs-City match-up, City will have to play Villa and Liverpool will have to play Chelsea, which will favour Spurs’ chances, provided they can obtain maximum points from Bolton (home) and Burnley (away). Again, on paper, pretty straightforward but considering Spurs’ defeats already against Wolves (home and away) and Stoke (home), certainly nothing can be taken for granted.

Spurs fans need only to cast their minds back to that fateful day in May 2006, when Spurs were denied 4th by West Ham and an unfortunate virus, to realize that the fates can be indeed cruel when it comes to Spurs. In that, there is an uncanny similarity with the run-ins of 2005-2005 and this season. First, Spurs play Bolton at home (1-0 win in 2006), then play their biggest rival for 4th spot Man City (back in 2006, it was Arsenal and a 1-1 draw) and finally, Burnley away (a team wearing claret and blue – Hammers in 2006).

Definitely, the next two weeks will be nail-biting times for Spurs fans and nothing get be taken for granted. Seriously, this is Spurs’ best chance of breaking into the ellusive top four – win the next three games and none of their rivals will be able to catch them. It’s time for Spurs players to step up to the plate and make history!



THE BIRD & THE BEE Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates (Blue Note)

It’s a good time to be a Hall & Oates fan. What with the recent 4CD retrospective set and now, TWO tribute albums. Of the two, this tribute from indie pop duo The Bird & the Bee is infinitely more palatable and possibly closer to the spirit of Hall & Oates. Basically, eight Hall & Oates songs are covered with the opening Heard It On the Radio (which strangely sounds like ABBA!) the only original.

Basically no risks taken with the Hall & Oates songs selected to be given the Bird & the Bee treatment viz the hits. Therefore, we get gorgeously straight versions of some of my all-time favourite music i.e. Sara Smile, Kiss on my List, She’s Gone and One on One. I mean, folks, the main attraction of this tribute is hearing the wondrous vox of Inara George singing those lovely melodies.

And the version here of Kiss on my List will bring you to tears… no contest. Highly recommended.

Official Site


THE WONDER YEARS The Upsides (No Sleep)

I often tell myself that as far as music is concerned I’m never going to experience the “generation gap” of not understanding the music of subsequent generations. Well, when it comes to emo pop-punk, I must confess that I really be guilty of just that. The genre is a little too juvenile (and puerile) for my tastes.

Whilst it retains the energy of punk, it totally eschews the inflammatory irony that made bands like Sex Pistols so special. I detest the day that punk rock become the favoured music of the US college frat boy and share the sentiments Kurt Cobain articulated so succinctly in In Bloom – you know, “but he don’t know what it means…”.

Which brings me to The Upsides, the sophomore album of pop-punk outfit The Wonder Years.


There you go…


Come celebrate the end of your exams on the 7th of May


Indus Gendi



The Mo Chi Him

$8 entry

$7 student entry on production of student card

Over 18’s Only!!!!

For the uninitiated, the “exams” refered to herein relates to tertiary students only… I am impressed at the sheer number of gigs Ben and Etc have been playing. Power! Also its always good to see Esther (Indus Gendi) … and to check out Samuel’s band Gloria as well.

Guess that means I need to be there, eh? So should you…


CARI CLARA It’s Our Hearts They’re After LP/You Better Run EP (Deep Elm)

As a music writer, being offered hundreds of new albums/EPs for review, I sometimes rely on press releases of publicists/labels to determine which request I want to accept. My guiding principle being that I try my best to review every review request I accept. So with Cari Clara, I was somewhat intrigued by the band’s purported list of influences viz. Radiohead, Muse, Pink Floyd, Elliot Smith, Big Star, Grant Lee Phillips, Beta Band.

Cool, huh?

And so here I am pretty much astounded by this album and EP by Cari Clara i.e. Eric Diedrichs (vocals, guitar), Mark Diedrichs (keyboards, synth), Jason Arbenz (guitar, backing vocals), Greg Tudor (synth, glockenspiel, percussion, backing vocals) and Josh Hagen (drums). Why so? Not only do those cited inspirations make sense in the context of their music, they write amazing songs as well.

It’s Our Hearts They’re After is chock full of midtempo, slow burning torch songs that embrace the arcane and arty agendas of post-punk and psych-rock bands throughout the ages. It’s one of those rare albums that you’d want to swallow whole, a complete entity that must be savoured from start to end. Gorgeous.

You Better Run actually ups the ante somewhat, going all epic and gothic with the inclusion of strings and Edge-like guitar histrionics on the title track, groveling in swampy voodoo blues on Neither Weapon and A Hand To Shape) and channeling dark ghostly balladry on the Great Departure.

If you wanna know what genuine indie rock sounds like in 2010, listen to Cari Clara and you won’t go far wrong. Scintillating mope rock, angels would dance to…Simply magnificent.



Yes, boys and girls, Nick’s debut EP – Arranged Accidents – will be released by KAMCO Music on 1st May 2010 and will be available from all Starbucks outlets, HMV and online at To promote the EP, Nick will be performing at the following Starbucks outlets –

Liat Towers – May 8th

Raffles City – May 15th

ION Orchard – May 22nd

Paragon – May 29th

All performances will be at 4pm.

Stay tuned for more information as the release date draws closer.




SLASH s/t (Universal)

It’s a measure of Slash’s stature as a rock guitarist that he has managed to rope in the services of legendary vocalists like Ian Astbury (Cult), Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Lemmy (Motorhead) for this, his debut solo album.

Three years in the making, the album reflects everything that Slash stands for – hard rock, glam and old school punk (and big FAT guitars) – and fans of these genres will find much to boogie to here. And Slash (and his management team) has ensured that all bases are covered by also inviting the likes of Fergie (Black-Eyed Peas), Andrew Stockdale (Wolfmother), M Shadows (Avanged Sevenfold) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) for that modern pop-rock appeal.

By all accounts, this is a feisty listening experience, with the highlights being Promise (with Cornell), Back From Cali (with Myles (Alter Bridge) Kennedy), Doctor Alibi (with Lemmy) and We’re All Gonna Die (with Iggy Pop). Good ol’ fashioned rock music which traverses generations of rock music lovers, every home should have a little dash of Slash…


POWER OF DREAMS Immigrants, Migrants and Me (100% Music)

Irish band that formed at the end of the 80s, released a couple of albums to acclaim and then disbanded in the mid-90s. By all accounts, rather obscure on the world stage but certainly ripe for re-examination. 1989’s Immigrants, Migrants and Me was the band’s debut LP and this 20th Anniversary edition is the perfect time to discover the joys of the Power of Dreams.

Hard to discount the inspirations of fellow countrymen U2 and the Waterboys on this collection of acoustic guitar-favoured Irish-accented rockers and those are good reference points to take into account when listening to this excellent album. Songs like the breezy The Joke’s On Me, the bouncing Does It Matter, the dreamy Had You Listened and the dynamic Stay, are reasons enough for fans of 90s alt-rock to check this out.

And there’s a 2nd disc of bonus material as well, consisting of demos recording, singles and live tracks to provide a fairly comprehensive picture of Power of Dreams’ music during this period. One definitely for the fans but neophytes should also consider jumping on the bandwagon as well.

Official Site



THE LUCY SHOW …undone (Words On Music)

Rock history is littered with the debris of promising bands who never quite fulfilled their full potential. You could say that The Lucy Show certainly qualifies. During their brief existence (from 1983 to 1988) the band released two critically well-received post-punk/new wave albums that never got the label marketing support required to sustain the commercial momentum to survive the cut-throat music industry.

US indie label Words On Music has done its part in re-issuing the two Lucy Show LPs in an attempt to expose the band to the modern day rock audiences. …undone is the band’s debut (1985) and is reminiscent of the Cure and the Comsat Angels in its use of sonic atmospherics and affected vocals.

Tracks like the REM-channeling Remain, the other-worldly Ephemeral (This Is No Heaven), the fragile Wipe Out, the dynamic Undone and the psychedelic Dream Days are excellent representations of the kind of post-punk that continues to be deeply influential to this day on bands like the White Lies, the Editors and the xx.

A relic from a different age.

Official site



RICH MCCULLEY Starting All Over Again (Self-released)

Over the years, I’ve reviewed a couple of Rich McCulley’s albums here at the Power of Pop, simply because McCulley manages to get one main thing right – he writes great country-pop melodies.

In this respect, latest LP – Starting All Over Again – may be McCulley’s best collection of songs yet. McCulley doesn’t stray too far from the formula, but it’s one that totally works. Fans of Gram Parsons, Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, Wilco, Blue Rodeo, BMX Bandits and the Jayhawks et al will have absolutely no problems with enjoying this well-crafted album. And neither will you.

Official Site




HORSE FEATHERS Thistled Spring (Kill Rock Stars)

I firmly believe that country songs are some of the most soulful and emotionally wringing sounds ever produced on this Planet Earth. Singer-songwriter Jason Ringle (aka Horse Feathers) understands this concept perfectly. So what does he do? He records his achingly fragile country-folk compositions with moving strings (i.e. violins, violas and cellos) arrangements and authentically rustic instruments (i.e. banjos, mandolins, saws and celestes).

With tracks primed to touch the soul, Thistled Spring is not targeted at the casual pop listener, but at serious music lovers who are able to appreciate the atmosphere and mood contained in such gorgeous songs as Starving Robins, The Drought, Cascades, As A Ghost and the title track.

This is an album to dissect and absorb over and over again, to capture every nuance – but definitely worth the time and effort.

Free download – Belly of June

Horse Feathers at the KRS site



THE GET UP KIDS Simple Science (Self-released)

The quintessential emo band – The Get Up Kids – are back, after an absence of six years. The band have decided to go independent i.e. to release their own music. The idea is to issue three 4-track EPs in 2010, rather a 12-track LP. Makes perfect sense to me. The album has been dead for awhile now. Long live the EP!

That said, I am a little underwhelmed by the new material featured here on the 1st EP instalment. Inevitably comparisons with last album – 2004’s Guilt Show – will surface and frankly the 4 tracks here pale somewhat. Almost by-the-numbers cookie-cutter, songs like Keith Case and Tommy Gentle come across like Get Up Kids pastiches.

To be fair, final track – How You’re Bound – has enough heart in it to slightly compensate for the lacklustre nature of the three preceding tracks. But only just. I’m hoping the band is saving the best for last.

Official site



The Professor of Pop brings you The Power of PopCast hosted by the kindly manic folk at unpopular radio on Tuesday, 20th April from 9 to 10pm.

Tune in “live” by downloading either of the following:

(A) | (B)

Then open the listen.pls file in your iTunes, Winamp or VLC media player during the broadcast time.

After getting the “need to look cool” factor out of the way, this week we get down to the serious business of studying the reasons to be excited about S-ROCK. Please submit your assignment papers before the broadcast date. You will be severely graded!