This was meant to be a review of the final night of the Music Matters Live festival held at Clarke Quay from 26th to 28th May. Instead, this is now the oh-so-common rant against the negative attitude Singaporeans hold of Singapore bands. Simply put, when Cheating Sons (currently, one of our finest bands, no argument) performed, the crowd was threadbare and composed mostly of tourist, as well as family and friends of the band.

The moment the band wrapped up its set, suddenly groups of young girls came out of nowhere to jostle for space at the front of the stage. Yes, folks they were getting ready for some young ANG MOH (i.e. Caucasian) band to make its appearance! I probably should be used to this kind of prejudice from our own people by now but it still rankles whenever I am a witness to it. Seriously, the band that followed Cheating Sons was vastly inferior but did that matter? As long as they were young white-skinned men, young Singaporean girls are going to go all weak in the knees (and wet between?). Hurm.

I guess that was simply rubbing the salt into the wound as this Music Matters event continued to emphasize how Singapore bands are 2nd-class citizens in their own country and play second fiddle to Foreign Talents. Rather symptomatic of our entire socio-political reality, isn’t it?

The solution? FORGET about Singapore and look beyond our shores and find the fans who will not hold it against you that you are a Singaporean and move on…


Poor them, barely four years old and The Jezabels are already burdened with three critically acclaimed EPs (The Man is Dead (2009), She’s So Hard (2009) Dark Storm (2010)), sold out shows, award nominations and seeing their songs hit the top music charts in Australia and abroad. Their first LP is on the way too.

The quartet from Sydney, Australia is made up of Hayley (vocals), Heather (piano), Sam (guitars) and Nik (drums). It’s their first time in the island of Temasek and they are one of the 40 bands from 18 countries who performed at Music Matters Live 2011 on the 26th to 28th of May.

We sat down together with Sam and Nik (friendly chaps they are) on the 27th to find out what they had to say about their namesake from the Bible, touring with women and whether file sharing is a good thing (to Mediafire or not? that is the question).



If anyone personifies the future of popular music, English singer-songwriter Imogen Heap is surely top of a very short list. Inviting Imogen to share her experience engaging the online world in the last couple of years was a masterstroke by the organizers of Music Matters 2011. For me, Imogen represented all that was exciting and insightful about Music Matters 2011 – with due respect to all the other speakers and contributors (including the great Steve Lillywhite) – she stole the show and warranted attention whether she was talking about her life, performing her amazing songs or during the subsequent interview session.

Continue reading “MUSIC MATTERS, DAY ONE”


(Press release)

SQNC is proud to present Manila’s very own TAKEN BY CARS. TAKEN BY CARS will perform a one-night only concert at HOME CLUB (Singapore) on Friday, 10 June 2011. This will be the band’s Singapore Album Launch for their latest album “Dualist”, released 15 April 2011.

Tickets are sold at the door.

Event Title: SQNC Presents “DUALIST”, Taken By Cars Singapore Album Launch Event Date: 10 June 2011 Event Time: Door opens at 1930hrs Event Address: Home Club 20 Upper Circular Road, B1-01/06 The Riverwalk Singapore Tickets: $15 – Admission + 1 drink // $25 – Admission + “Dualist” CD + 1 drink

Gate ticket includes entrance to BEAT! Opening Acts: Plainsunset (SG) + A Vacant Affair (SG)


Back to front – here’s a concise summary of what I thought of Music Matters 2011, day 2.

The first two panels focused on China. First there was a panel (“China Spotlight: Beijing and Beyond”) consisting of the main players in the Chinese indie music scene. I was especially impressed by Helen Feng (FakeMusicMedia) and Stephanie Sun – not that one! (Converse) as they articulated their insights well. In many ways, it sounded very much that the indie music scenes in China and Singapore were rather similar. Confused. At the beginning of the panel discussion, there seemed to be a suggestion that the indie music scene was growing – even away from Beijing – and that local indie bands in Shanghai, Chengdu and Wuhan were able to make a living. But towards the end of the discussion, a certain discontent surfaced – not enough proper venues, not enough investment and it was hard to make any money from the indie music scene in China. So which is it? Your guess is as good as mine.

Continue reading “MUSIC MATTERS 2011, DAY TWO”


Working at Power of Pop, you never know who you might just bump into…


(Samuel C Wee with Jon Foreman)


(Rachael Teo with Imogen)



(Melissa Ng with the boyz)


(Melissa Ng/KM with Owen)


(KM with Conor O’Brien)





ASOBI SEKSU Florescence (Polyvinyl)

Asobi Seksu, one of the most well-known dream-pop and shoegaze outfits around, is back with their sixth offering, remarkable since their popularity has only grown, proving their staying power. Fluorescence offers the same brand of dream-pop which many are probably familiar with, and perhaps that provides a reason for the album feeling average.

Continue reading “ASOBI SEKSU”


Besides the two days of conferences and talks, Music Matters also features a live component, which will take place at Clarke Quay from 26th to 28th May in the evenings. Apart from S-ROCK bands like Typewriter, Cheating Sons, Jack and Rai and 53A, there are also intriguing foreign bands to take note of. For example, The Jezebels (Australia), Noughts and Exes (Hong Kong), Sweet Jane (Ireland) and so on…not to be missed!

For full details, please check at the official site.


ADEBISI SHANK This Is The Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank (Sargent House)

This album is well, er, the second album from Adebisi Shank, an electronic band hailing from Ireland. The band is to say the least, ambitious. They aim to “create a global new form of music” which captures “the anthemic optimism of your era (which) will eventually enrich the entire world”. And do they match up to their aim? Well, whether it will reach the entire world is one matter, but it does create a type of futuristic-progressive-electronic-robots-talking-to-each-other music I’ve never heard before. d.v.d, recently in town for the Mosaic Music Festival, produces the closest type of music found in this album.

Continue reading “ADEBISI SHANK”


Hong Kong neo-folk ensemble Noughts and Exes will be playing three free shows very soon – in fact this coming Saturday, 28th May! Listen to the sparkling folk-pop songs from its 2010 album The Start Of Us here and you will agree that the band’s performance at the following venues should not be missed.

3:30PM – THE PIGEONHOLE (52/53 Duxton Road) RSVP here


7:50PM – SE7EN 1NCH (3B River Valley Road, #01-16, The Foundry, Clarke Quay)




Of all the movies slated for release this summer blockbuster season, the one which seemed to lack the necessary geek credibility was Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds. The first trailer did not help this perception as it played more like a comedy (think: Batman & Robin) than a dark epic superhero drama (think: The Dark Knight). But since then, Warners has taken great pains to address that imbalance with a second trailer which has certainly raised the expectations amongst the geek community.

With the movie release coming up very soon and perhaps concerned about public perception (non-geek), a third (and final) trailer has been released – narrated by GL Toma Re (as voiced by the excellent Geoffrey Rush), this trailer gives the requisite background into the GL universe so that neophytes may also understand what Green Lantern is all about. Take a look and you will be convinced that the Green Lantern movie will be a superhero action-adventure to look forward to.


Music Matters is the pioneer music industry event in the Asia Pacific region and is a gathering of key players in the global music industry.

So perhaps it’s a lil surprising that this year’s edition of Music Matters is being held in Singapore. Well, of course, Singapore is a popular location for big scale business conventions but one that involves the music industry? That seems unlikely prima facie, doesn’t it? Still, it bodes well for the immediate future of the Singapore music industry (such as it is) that this event is indeed on our shores from 26th-28th May.

Apart from the industry conferences which will be conducted during the day – on 26th and 27th, and including eminent music folk like legendary producer Steve Lillywhite and iconoclastic artist Imogen Heap (back in Singapore for the 3rd time!), there will also be Music Matters LIVE with HP, a live international music festival featuring a dynamic line-up of over 40 international and Singaporean bands performing at numerous venues around Clarke Quay from 26th to 28th May 2011.

More information here.

Power of Pop will be covering the main highlights of this important music industry event so stay tuned for updates as they come in

…still there’s more…



What goes around comes back around. 80s music-based indie pop has been around for a decade now so it makes sense that a revival of 90s alternative rock sensibilities should also make a comeback. Norwich based band, Sennen, certainly fits the bill, with expressed influences such as Spaceman 3, Mercury Rev and Teenage Fanclub. To these ears, it’s clear that the early 90s shoegaze bands like Ride and Chapterhouse also figure in the inspiration stakes. Whatever, it’s all lively, catchy pop-rock whatever you want to pigeonhole it as. Listen to With You, off the upcoming debut album – Age of Denial – and you will realize that Sennen is a band you need to keep an eye out for. Age of Denial will be released digitally by Minty Fresh on 31st May.



It begins with the tolling of a bell, ambient noises and the howling wind and proceeds into a pseudo-classical piano instrumental, with synthesizers and lead guitar weighing for good measure. This is Funeral For A Friend, the first half of an amazing opening track to Elton John’s legendary Goodbye Yellow Brick Road double LP, released in 1973. The instrumental would take on Spanish-Flamenco nuances as the track builds up momentum and an emotional crescendo.

Not merely content with such an illuminating tone, the instrumental segues into Love Lies Bleeding, a blues-rock tale of heartbreak. With a memorable piano chord pattern and guitar riff, John begins to sing “The roses in the window box are tilted to one side…” By the time the song reaches its chorus, the listener is hooked by the power and the glory of this awesome track. With his crack backing band (Dee Murray – bass, Nigel Olsson – drums, Davey Johnstone – guitars, Ray Cooper – percussion) in full flight – including heavenly harmonies that will guarantee chills down spine – the performance is measured and muscular at the same time.

Then, an instrumental bridge revisits the motif of Funeral For A Friend once more before Johnstone’s lead guitar sears and soars its way into classic rock immortality as John and band meld into one driving awe-inspring rock machine! Not forgetting to mention, Murray incandescent bass lines which belie the relative simplicity of the song itself.

A fantastic way to open a rock masterpiece that also included the masterly Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets, amongst many other sonic gems. If you only listen to ten classic rock songs from the 70s, this has to be one of them. Check out the video below if you know what’s good for you…


Watching a foreign indie band is no longer a novelty in Singapore. The list of bands that have visited our shore in recent years is getting longer and longer. Invariably, these bands get received warmly and enthusiastically by the local audiences. Even a relatively obscure band like The Drums will not pass through these parts unnoticed or unappreciated. The Brooklyn band’s rather short performance at the St James Powerhouse was plagued by inferior sound although the band to its credit more than made up with high energy levels and infectious tunes/beats.

Continue reading “THE DRUMS – LIVE IN SINGAPORE”


There is no escaping Joe Bonamassa.

Joe Bonamassa is an American blues rock guitarist and singer, who pretty much knew very early in his life – as young as age four – that he had wanted to be a musician. Perhaps part of this determination and ambition in music could have been rubbed off from his parents, both then owners of a guitar shop; and not forgetting the music talents of the males in the Bonamassa family line (a father who plays guitar, and a grandfather and a great-grandfather who both played the trumpet).



Malleus Maleficarum by Mike Rosen (SLG Publishing)

How about this for an idea? Take a 15th Century bestselling Latin book, give it a modern day spin with a generous dose of humour and …Viola!

You have Mike Rosen’s new graphic novel based on an actual book written by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor of the Catholic Church in 1486.

It’s the subject matter that’s gonna get you. It’s a “How to” book on how to identify and prosecute witches! Remember, it was 1486.

A direct translation of this now would probably present it as a misogynistic piece of work. A humorous graphic novel format, on the other hand, is a perfect vehicle to bring Kramer’s book out to the masses.

The first part of the book is for the disbelievers and tries to convince you that witches and witchcraft are real. The second part spells out (heh heh, I couldn’t resist…) how and why, they do what they do. Finally the third part instructs you on the proper way to go about, tracking them down, catching them and then conducting a trial where you can finally mete out justice!

It’s all in good fun and the illustration adds to the hilarity.

Certainly a novel way to adapt this body of work and a totally unexpected joy to read.

(Kenneth Chaw)

Official Site


The finals of Stardust 2011 is coming up pretty soon (11 June) and the finalists have been recently confirmed.


Lydia Low, Farah Erfina, Stephanie Phang, Md Afiq, Abigail Yeo, Md Faizal, Md Sufie, Andrew Sophian, Carmen Ang and Md Danial


Veritus Fire, St. Helens, Audio Kream, Shockers, Krayons, Secondary, Fuzeno, Freedom

I will be a judge during the finals, which should be interesting (for the finalists). So I hope to see you at the NUS Cultural Centre.

Tickets available here.


Towards the end of my interview with Jacob Graham (guitarist/keyboardist with The Drums, far left above), we spoke candidly about the electronic features of The Drums’ music, how he wanted people to know that none of the synth arrangements were sequenced and were in fact recorded live, cos he wanted them to sound ‘human’. That pretty much sums up Jacob and the Drums as a whole. To this Brooklyn-based band, the manner in which the music was put together was just as important as the music itself. That made the 20 minute chat with Jacob a particularly enjoyable one as he is certainly a seriously deep thinker about pop music as I proceeded to pick at his brains – and he shared my love for OMD! Read on…

Kevin: How old are you, Jacob?

Jacob: Huh? How old am I? Let me think…. 27.



“15 minutes with you”

Never ever connected with “post-punk” as a genre in the 80s (I detest the word ‘genre’ to begin with). At the time, it was all pop-rock music and the words “indie” or “alternative” held no meaning for me. But certainly in the early 80s, there was a whole shitload of exciting music coming out of the UK and I spent much time, effort and money obsessively collecting singles, EPs and LPs, and reading NME, Sounds, Record Mirror (and even Smash Hits) to find out as much I could about the UK music scene. There was no local music scene to speak of and I knew very few people who shared the same passion and interest in music that I had. So it was very much a solitary obsession.

Continue reading “SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE”


RORY GALLAGHER Irish Tour ’74 (Eagle)

Although fairly marginalized now, the late Irish blues-rock singer-guitarist Rory Gallagher was a superstar in his prime – selling in access of 30 million albums worldwide. Gallagher’s style mixed up blues, folk, rock and even elements of prog rock in his passionate manner.

This DVD  follows Gallagher on his 1974 Irish tour – splitting time between live performance and backstage interviews. The former demonstrates Gallagher in his element – visceral and earthy – whilst the latter finds Gallagher the man as he shares with us his different guitar techniques, like a genial teacher. Highly instructional.

It’s clear that for Gallagher it’s all about the music, and his fans. Often, Gallagher would be approached in public and he would make a point to spend a little time chatting with his fans, such rapport translated on stage, where a rapt audience drank in every riff, lick and solo.

A true legend, gone but not forgotten. Relive those magickal moments…


Sony BDP-S380 Blu-ray player

My basic impression of Blu-ray players was that you could only play Blu-ray discs (and ordinary DVDs) in them. Meaning that if you didn’t fancy purchasing Blu-ray discs, it was pretty much pointless to get the Blu-ray player.


Fact of the matter is that there are two other features that make the Blu-ray player a worthwhile acquisition. One, you can easily play video files with minimal loss of quality. Yes, avi, mkv, mov and so on. Quite a impressive feature. Two, you can easily stream online videos as well via the Blu-ray player onto your TV screen! Connect the Blu-ray player to your router/modem and you can get onto Youtube and the like to stream the countless number of online videos. Amazing access to video content either way!

Oh and of course, watching Blu-ray discs is whole other ball game. I watched Karate Kid and 2012 and believe me, the hi-def certainly enhanced the viewing experience – imagine if I actually liked those movies! Not only that but ordinary DVDs also look much more defined on the Blu-ray player which is a definite bonus.

So, yep, I guess you could say the Sony BDP-S380 Blu-ray player is hardware Power of Pop would heartily recommend.

PoPWare is a brand new feature where we review the latest hardware which makes your enjoyment of pop culture that much more pleasurable! If you’re interested in getting a review, get in touch at info (at) powerofpop (dot) com.