FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE

2 DAYS TO SKY FULL OF HOLES – CEMETERY GUNS

I was incredibly blessed back in 2009, not only to meet Chris Collingwood but to also perform with him at Baybeats 2009. Before the electric set, Chris did a half-hour acoustic performance at the Esplanade Concourse where he played a new song called Cemetery Guns. Chris was quite proud of the song and to him it was a good indication that the next FOW album would be a great one (he was a little ambivalent about Traffic & Weather, to be candid). Chris had every reason to be satisfied with this track – an anti-war diatribe that succeeds on every level. The track is the last one we get to hear on Sky Full of Holes (the title comes from its chorus) and it is a sombre number that seems light years from FOW’s usual tongue-in-cheeky material, using as it does the civil war imagery to reflect on the devastating impact of war – death. A perfect way to close this near-immaculate album that will be released on 2nd August.

Official Site

PoPTV – ANOTHER HOME

What better way to usher in August and a month of celebration than to check out this funny video parodying the National Day Video. Brought to you by the good folks at SINdie. That ending is hilarious!

LISTENING BOOTH – ALBERTEEN

ALBERTEEN – A GIRL AND A GUN (RHYTHM & NOIR)

Here’s an intriguing single from this new UK band with shades of John Barry’s Bond theme echoing in the background and mysterious lyrics about illicit activities. A tad repetitive but aren’t the catchy ones usually like that? A definite earworm that is already receiving airplay on UK radio. Worth checking out. Released on 5th Sept.

01 A Girl and a Gun by milkpressPR

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DEEP PURPLE

Shades of Deep Purple (1968)/The Book of Taliesyn (1969)/Deep Purple (1969)

Before UK band Deep Purple became a hard rock behemoth in the 70s, the quintet – consisting of Rod Evans (vocals), Richie Blackmore (guitars), Nick Simper (bass, vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards) and Ian Paice (drums) – was a mildly successful outfit that specialized mainly in psychedelic/progressive rock material.

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FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE

3 DAYS TO SKY FULL OF HOLES – WORKINGMAN’S HANDS/HATE TO SEE YOU LIKE THIS/RADIO BAR/FIRELIGHT WALTZ

Winding down as we approach the US release date of Sky Full of Holes, we look at the last four tracks (bar one).

Workingman’s Hand – A rustic folky number that bears tribute to the working man (hence the title). A nice enough song with a pleasing subject matter.

Hate To See You Like This – A midtempo slow burner that almost reads like an intervention – “you’re lying around in those sweat pants/you staring off in the distance”. A lyrical downer with melancholy vibe to match. Not one to play at the all-night parties, methinks.

Radio Bar – A perky singalong stomper that recalls The Kinks’ Come Dancing. Hooky and humorous as in-jokes abound – “They put our song in the jukebox/It was a hit with the drunk jocks/Even the guys with the dreadlocks/Sang along at the Radio Bar”. Innocuous but good fun nonetheless.

Firelight Waltz – A sentimental piece in three-four time that looks back at a kinder, gentler time. With a genuinely catchy folksy chorus, it sounds like a song my late Dad would have thoroughly enjoyed. Good enough for me.

The band recently performed A Dip In The Ocean on Late Night with David Letterman. Check it out!

Official Site

DRIVE

This one looks like a cool crime drama, very Euro in tone with award-winning Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn at the helm and a stellar cast including Ryan Gosling (above), Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks, Check out the trailer below, I really dug that classical piece at the end.

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NEON TREES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

NEON TREES INTERVIEW | 26 July 2011

I met up with Neon Trees when they were in town earlier this week, along with other media. They performed with We Are Scientists on Tuesday night at Fort Canning. The band was extremely sincere and nice to all the fans and media they met, even remembering those who met them at MTV World Stage Malaysia as well.

It’s your first time in Singapore, so what have you guys been doing since you arrived?

Tyler: We’ve went to Newton Hawker Centre, and had good food!

Branden: The grilled stingray was really good!

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FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE

SIX DAYS TO SKY FULL OF HOLES – ROAD SONG

The way albums are sequenced nowadays, chances are the first three tracks are usually the best with the rest of the album more or less filler. So it’s amazing that one of my favorite tracks off Sky Full of Holes viz. Road Song is #8! Reminiscent of the band’s earlier rustic material (Valley Winter Song, in particular) the song is a touching and intimate message from a band member to his loved one. Down to earth and humorous, it’s hard not to love this pleasing little ditty especially with lines like “I bought you a light-blue t-shirt last night/From some band I couldn’t stand but their logo’s alright” and “I know it’s not you call necessary/And I know that I’m no Steve Perry…” Clocking in at a mere 3:04, Road Song would make a pretty decent single. Check out the band’s live rendition below.

Official Site

 

NEON TREES/WE ARE SCIENTISTS – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

We Are Scientists and Neon Trees | 26 July 2011 | Fort Canning Park

We Are Scientists kicked off the night with a 50-minute set at Fort Canning Park on Tuesday night, and had warm reception throughout their set from the largely hipster crowd. As heard and seen on Twitter, many felt that Neon Trees should have opened for We Are Scientists instead of the other way around. That prevailing opinion resulted in about nearly half the audience being there for We Are Scientists. The WAS fans eagerly shouted out all the lyrics to their songs, such as After Hours and The Great Escape. Keith, Chris and Andy’s experience in touring showed in their casual and quirky conversation with the audience, which had none of the cheesy and typical “We love you Singapore!” and “How are you Singapore?”

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FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE

8 DAYS TO SKY FULL OF HOLES – ACTION HERO/A DIP IN THE OCEAN/COLD COMFORT FLOWERS

Smack right in the guts of this 13-track album, are a trio of songs which offer a pause in the proceedings as the band takes a deep breath. Action Hero is a vignette about a struggling facing up to his imminent mortality. Delivered with nuanced dynamic, full of heart and guaranteed to put a lump in your throat. Musically, it builds up to a crescendo between verse and chorus brilliantly. A Dip in the Ocean is a jangly reminiscence as Chris Collingwood narrates a couple’s retreat. It’s breezy countenance is most appealing, which belies the slightly melancholy nostalgic undercurrent. Cold Comfort Flowers finds the band in Elvis Costello land – a veritable folk rock treatise, which includes a twangy solo from Jody Porter.

Check out a live rendition of the last track, circa 2009.

Official Site

THE VON EHRICS

The Von Ehrics – Two Foot Stomp

Having not heard of The Von Ehrics before, I presumed – purely with initial judgemental views – that they could be an electronic pop duo with a supersonic, outer space inspired sound; and that this album release would probably set the dancefloor on fire, leading to the conveniently titled Two Foot Stomp; as a result, making listeners catch on with the infectious dance melodies, which they couldn’t help but to find themselves swaying to. You know, kind of like how today’s mainstream music is sounding. How much more wrong could I be, I realized, after I listened.

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PoPTV: S-ROCK

It has been suggested that it is very difficult to find S-ROCK online. Hardly any videos or even official sites of S-ROCK bands can be found online. I guess that just means that S-ROCK bands are basically not popular, have no commercial appeal or many fans. Or maybe some people do not know how to use the internet…

Facebook

Facebook

Official Site

Official Site

Official Site

Official Site

And this… is only the tip of the iceberg. Happy hunting, S-ROCK fans…

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS TO PUBLISH THE EC COMICS LIBRARY

(Press release)

Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that it has entered into a publishing agreement with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. to publish the EC Comics Library, be- ginning in Summer 2012. The announcement teams two of the most storied comics publishers in history and aims to reintroduce the timeless work of EC to contemporary readers.

Fantagraphics will re-package the EC Comics (with the exception of MAD, which is now owned by DC Comics/Time Warner) in a series of handsome hardcovers devoted to specific artists and writers. While virtually all previous EC collections have been published by comic book title, Fantagraphics will collect the comics by artist, allowing fans to finally own single-volume tomes collecting the work of their favorite creators.

“It pleases me greatly to be in partnership with such an influential company as Fantagraphics,” said Cathy Gaines Mifsud, President of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. “It’s a pleasure to be working with a company that shares similar values, yet retains unique and distinct creativity. I trust them fully to carry on the iconic EC brand.”

Entertaining Comics may have been the greatest mainstream publisher in comics history, with an attention to quality and consistency that has never been rivaled. Under the stewardship of William Gaines (who took over the company from his father, Max Gaines, in 1947), EC’s “New Trend” line employed a Murderer’s Row of writers and artists including Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Johnny Craig, Al Feldstein, Reed Crandall, Will Elder, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, John Severin, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, and many others.

“EC was the most consistently literate and quality-minded publisher in the history of mainstream comics,” said Groth. “Editors Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman were aware that comics was an artistic medium in a way that few editors did, and publisher Bill Gaines was unique in taking a hands-on approach to his comics line, choosing his editors wisely, giving them such editorial freedom and latitude, and taking such personal pride —and responsibility— in his comics. This was simply unheard of in mainstream comics; if more publishers had had Gaines’ integrity, the history of comics would’ve been vastly different.”

Like most of its contemporaries, EC specialized in genre fiction, specifically horror, crime, science-fiction, war, and satire, with several titles that seeped into the public consciousness long after their demise, including Tales from the CryptTwo-Fisted TalesWeird Science, and of course MAD. Unlike most of its contemporaries, Gaines and his staff took great pride in crafting socially aware works that transcended their genres. “At a time when comics were consid- ered sub-literate junk by the reading public, Gaines and the EC creators were impressing people like Ray Bradbury with the aesthetic possibilities of the medium. That was no mean feat,” Groth added.

Continue reading “FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS TO PUBLISH THE EC COMICS LIBRARY”

MY MORNING JACKET

MY MORNING JACKET Circuital (ATO)

Jim Janes and company can be fairly depended upon to provide good music. Circuital is the band’s sixth album in slightly over ten years and the band still manages to sound fresh. Maybe it has something to do with the band’s eclectic approach, never quite sticking to one ‘genre’ or style, instead letting the songs dictate their own approaches.

The album really kicks off with the title track which is broken up to essential halves – the first, reminiscent of Radiohead’s Creep chord progression and the second, a folky rave up that recalls Fleet Foxes. From then on the band never keeps still and maintains the listener’s interest with twists and turns: The Day is Coming is soulful, Wonderful (The Way I Feel) is baroque, Outta My System is psychedelic, Holding On to Black Metal is quirky funky (!), First Light is groovy, You Wanna Freak Out is Spectoresque pop, Slow Slow Tune is 50s-ish ballad and Moving Away is delicate.

Never a dull moment with My Morning Jacket, add Circuital to the burgeoning list of 5-star albums popping up in 2011. Highest PoP recommendation!

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PoPINIONS

HISTORY TEACHES US NOTHING

As some of you may know, I am a part-time facilitator at Republic Polytechnic. This semester, I am facilitating a module called History of the Arts. This module basically covers mostly Western art from the pre-historic age to the modern era in 15 weeks. Early on, I had a student question me about why she had to study History of the Arts – how was it relevant to her? So I enquired what diploma she was undertaking and she replied, “arts management”! Sometimes, you can’t make this shit up!!

This is not an unusual attitude. It’s rather commonplace in our music scene where even our bands and songwriters do not appreciate the importance of knowing the history of pop & rock music. For many of them, the scope of reference is often nothing earlier than 2000, if you’re lucky! And so, they are blissfully ignorant of the bands of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s! That is a whole lot of great music to be ignorant about.

What’s the big deal you say? Well, to put it simply, you can only create from what you know and if you know very little, then you probably will not be capable to create much either. And what is truly amazing is that in the internet age, it is so easy to listen to any music from any age. So let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s take a significant band from each of the aforementioned decade (which are related and associated music wise) and feature a video taken from youtube (where else?).

1960s

The Kinks

Ray Davies, the band’s principal singer-songwriter has been cited by many (yours truly included) as a seminal influence (including the bands that follow below). He is best known for his observational songs about his native England.

1970s

Big Star

Often considered to be one of the pioneers of power pop, Big Star melded a melodic sensibility and shiny guitar attack to produce a highly influential concoction. Fronted by the late Alex Chilton, the band would inspire many guitar pop bands in the 80s and 90s.

1980s

The Replacements

Part of the alt-rock movement that ruled US college radio back then (with R.E.M., Husker Du and others), this Paul Westerberg-led outfit has left deep impressions which resonates strongly with numerous indie bands today.

1990s

Pixies

Black Francis, the frontman of this beloved indie band, claimed that the above song was inspired by The Kinks, which brings us full circle.

As you can see, it isn’t too difficult to gather together some amazing music and bands from four different decades with the right research and of course, interest.

So, my message to all young bands and singer-songwriters out there in the S-ROCK scene, what’s stopping you???

FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE

10 DAYS TO SKY FULL OF HOLES – SOMEONE’S GONNA BREAK YOUR HEART

“Staring at the sun with no pants on” – a great line that opens the 4th track of Fountains of Wayne’s new album, Sky Full of Holes, is probably the most radio friendly song on this highly melodic LP. It’s a dynamic rocker with oodles of hooks and riffs to catch the attention of even the most casual of pop listeners. Naturally, it’s one of the singles promoted by the band. Deservedly so. Check it out…

Official Site

 

PoPTV – BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – SHUFFLE

After the acoustic diversion of Flaws, BBC return to electric instruments on new album, A Different Kind of Fix, to be released on 22nd August. First single, Shuffle, is a jaunty Britpop number that recalls the exuberance of musical forbears like The Kinks, XTC, Blur, Supergrass et al. Pretty infectious too. The video maintains the joyful mood throughout. Bodes well for the album to come. Enjoy…

Official Site

 

POWER OF POP CONFIDENTIAL

DROPBEAT HEARTBEAT

Regular PoP visitors will be aware that I really hate pop-punk. To me, it represents everything that is wrong in the modern rock scene. Notwithstanding that, I am listening to the music of local ‘pop-punk’ band, Dropbeat Heartbeat. To be honest, I would have probably ignored the request for a review if not for the fact that two members viz. Ro and Matin are my students at Republic Poly! (I wonder if they’re regretting this now – hehe)

Well, in all honesty, DBHB is really a baby band. They are so ‘wet behind the ears’ that it’s really going to take much more time, effort and guidance to knock them into coherent shape. At the moment, there is a glimmer of potential in their original material – melodies that hint at a certain creativity (the energetic Wherever You Go and the piano ballad That One and Only Thing), even though the songs are hugely derivative/cliched and the performances are generally below par.

So my two cents worth of advice to the boys – listen to more music and do not limit yourself to the ‘pop-punk’ genre and practise, practise, practise! Check out the band’s Facebook page.

NEON TREES/WE ARE SCIENTISTS – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Wanna win free tickets to the Neon Trees/We Are Scientists double header coming up next Tuesday at Fort Canning Park? Yeah, silly question right? Well, Power of Pop – in conjunction with FIJI Water – is giving away a pair of tickets (worth $88 each) to TWO lucky winners. What do you need to do, you ask?

First, follow Power of Pop at Twitter @powerofpop

Second, look out for a tweet from @powerofpop before midnight tonight with hashtag #powerofpop and then RT the tweet anytime during this weekend.

Third, wait for a tweet from @powerofpop confirming that you are a lucky winner of a pair of Neon Trees/We Are Scientists tickets.

Simple, right?

Remember, follow @powerofpop and look out for that contest tweet!

A big thank you again to FIJI Water!

 

BON IVER

BON IVER Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)

If you’re an indie music fan, then there’s not much more to say about Bon Iver. Having almost come out of nowhere with a debut album of mythological proportions (you know, the lo-fi cabin recording and so on). Comprising delicate shades of folk, electronica and avant-garde soundscapes, that debut (For Emma, Forever Ago) captured the imagination of indie music fans worldwide.

This eponymous sophomore album builds on the austere foundations of the debut to deliver greater sophistication without sacrificing an iota of the artistic integrity that Bon Iver has come to represent. Consisting of songs named by places, the high art pretensions become irrelevant once the music plays as Justin Vernon and company strip away every artifice and construct to present the raw essence of soul.

Vernon maintains his trademarked affected falsetto double-tracked vocal style as well as the various electronic loops and soundscapes but this time, we have organic instrumentation as well. Acoustic pianos and strings embellish these gorgeously fragile tunes that transport the listener into wind-swept landscapes and snow-topped mountains. Expansive and insular at the same time, songs like Perth, Minnesota WI, Holoscene and Wash. (to name but 4 prime examples) leave no doubt as to the deft ability of Bon Iver to touch and invigorate with melancholy charm.

2011 continues to spoil us music lovers with beautiful musicality that proves conclusively that in the end, good music wins out, no matter what.

Official Site

POINT JUNCTURE, WA

POINT JUNCTURE, WA Handsome Orders (Mt. Fuji)

“Quiet, then real loud, then quiet again.”

This was the description put up on the band’s Facebook page, though I would protest slightly about the loud part, as probably the only songs on the record considerably close enough to creating a riot have got to be New Drags and Boston Gold – in other words, a handful from the tracklisting of ten.

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ABOUT GROUP

ABOUT GROUP Start And Complete (Domino)

It’s about time for the About Group album review, and also about time since my last review/entry here on Power Of Pop.

For artistes or musicians who are ambitious and often engage themselves in numerous side projects – which, in today’s music world is oh-so-common, there is always the possible issue with sounding somewhat similar across. Alexis Taylor, lead singer of both About Group and Hot Chip, is a good example. With him fronting and providing the vocals to the group, it easily comes off as an acoustic, stripped down approach to his antics displayed in Hot Chip. And yes, that also does mean taking away the fun (beats) which is much required to accompany Taylor’s geeky voice.

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SIMON PETTIGREW

We recently spoke to Ghosts frontman Simon Pettigrew about what he has been up to and he was kind enough to share with us, a new song, Strawberry Smile which we simply dug. Well, we are happy to inform you that Simon has made the track available for download at Bandcamp for £0.99!

Check it out!

THE TWILIGHT SINGERS

THE TWILIGHT SINGERS Dynamite Steps (Sub Pop)

The haunting opening piano notes of The Last Night In Town give way to a burst of electronica beats, setting the trend for the rest of the album – again and again ominous quietness alternates with these explosions of sound: it happens in Waves, Gunshots, The Beginning of the End, Dynamite Steps…

Greg Dulli’s vocals are not something to gush over, but solid. Though they tend to get overwhelmed by the music, I don’t think the vocals were meant to be a stand-out main point in the first place. His lyrics are darkly enigmatic, making you feel as if something you can’t figure out is lurking just beyond your reach.

The tendency to layer the instrumentation gives every song complexity and texture, especially with the synth and piano providing substance and atmosphere. Lots of minor keys, biting guitar tones and liberal amounts of mournful strings and synth create an angst-ridden and sombre mood.

It might have been better to throw in one or two happier-sounding songs here and there, just for a glimpse of sunlight, before taking us through the back-alleys again.

Get Lucky gives me goosebumps; oh the thrill when that delicious electric guitar line creeps in… and the looping guitar riff and bassline in the background are the perfect accompaniment for the cry of a tormented soul trapped in some kind of vicious cycle. Gunshots, with its soaring background vocals, could fill stadiums. Never Seen No Devil is vaguely reminiscent of something off The Joshua Tree. And Ani DiFranco’s guest vocals bring a welcome fresh sound to Blackbird And The Fox; there’s also some sweet guitarwork on this song, from the opening fingerpicking to the ending wailing solo.

All in all, Dynamite Steps contains some really marvelous musicianship… but it’s not for easy listening. Excuse me while I go listen to classic Disney songs to relieve the tension.

(Desiree Boey)

Official Site