Nothing Is Pure (Better Days Records)

Think of a heavier Good Charlotte, a no-rap/Mike Shinoda’s Linkin Park, or even a younger Metallica.

Nothing Is Pure is Placeholder’s debut LP offering, after their Demonstration EP under the moniker of Coastal. Both were released within the year span of 2011, earning them my recognition of a focused and hardworking rock band.

Described as playing “emotionally intense post-hardcore” in their press release, one will not feel short-changed at such a descriptive, and it perfectly describes the musical direction of the album and the first sounds of Placeholder.

Scream-core, angst and an unsettled sea – those are the emotions and scenarios felt consistently throughout the record. It’s not a bad thing with consistency, but rather hard to find a standout track to significantly recommend.

Maybe it is right what their album title suggests – nothing is, indeed, pure.





Sun Worshipper (Ujikaji)

Where experimental music intersects with heavy metal – this is the fecund proving ground in which Magus exists. Consisting of guitarist Leslie Low (Observatory) and drummer Mark Dolmont, Magus is an instrumental metal duo that doles out sonic trances with heft. Low and Dolmont first hooked up when both were working in the same production company in Singapore and performed a couple of gigs before Canadian Dolmont left the country. With basic recording completed in a day in San Francisco and assembled online between Low and Dolmont, Sun Worshipper is an amalgamation of sludgy guitar riffs (reminiscent of metal pioneers Black Sabbath and progressive rockers King Crimson), percussive assaults and musique concrete, enveloped by the kind of ambient noise developed by the likes of Shellac and Sunn O))).

The opening Chakravyuha sets the doom-laden tone with typical Iommi-isms with the strident Slow Birth and Chinese Spirals maintaining the unrelenting attack. In between, tracks like Floatations and Riders On Psychedelics allow for slightly funkier rhythms, providing relief somewhat from the metallic shock tactics that dominate. Not for all tastes, it must be emphasized. But certainly for the metal fan who appreciates an artistic, experimental flavor, then definitely Magus’ Sun Worshipper will more than satisfy. Set the controls for the dark side of the moon…

Official Site



The Jealous Sound is back, with its sophomore effort, nine years after the release of its debut album. Called A Gentle Reminder, the new album drops Tuesday, 31st January 2011. And until that release date, fans can listen to A Gentle Reminder in its entirety. What are you waiting for?


Almost coming to two weeks since this event took place on 14th January. I did not want to comment personally because the issues are very close to my heart and I was afraid that my voice would be tainted with lack of objectivity. Bearing that in mind I asked Sam to come up with this feature in order to avoid any pre-convceived bias on my part. Yes I know some of you will say that that has never stopped me before but the scene (such as it is) means too much to me to not at least give it a fighting chance…

If there’s one thing the local music scene is not short on, it’s talk. After all, for years now we’ve been circling around ourselves discussions of reform and revival and revolution, framing every promising up-and-rising band with words of messianic hype and hopes. Is this the one to make a real commercial breakthrough? Is this the one to transform our fledging music scene into a true industry?

After a few rounds of disappointment we learn cynicism, bracing ourselves psychologically for when domestic life and social demands erode away youthful idealism and another one bites the dust. What we are short on are specific, pragmatic solutions that take into account the economic and media reality of the modern music climate.  To that extent a music forum was called to session at the Arts House last Saturday on the 14th of January, with key figures from the Canadian music industry present to, on paper at least, share their experiences and dispense words of wisdom.

The chief instigator was Graham Perkins, a long-time supporter of local music, and to his credit he had gathered together a pretty impressive panel. Tick the names off:  Jasper Donat, president of Music Matters, Eric Lawrence, manager of Simple Plan, Stuart Johnson, the president of the Canadian Independent Music Association as well as Timbre co-founder and scene veteran Danny Loong and local singer-songwriter Inch Chua.

Of course, with so many big names you’d expect things to get a tad corporate, and Messrs Donat, Lawrence and Johnson took up the better half of an hour droning on about their respective organizations. (I couldn’t help but giggle when halfway through the corporatalk Danny took a subtle dig at the irony of a forum about Singaporean music talking about anything but.) Still, if I were a Canadian music executive I wouldn’t be terribly excited about having to fly halfway around the world to give a talk to a commercial dry well of a scene, so credit where credit is due.

A particular point of relevance was brought up when Stuart Johnson talked about the MAPL system in Canada, which requires Canadian radio to fulfill a certain quota for Canadian content, and there was a brief discussion about the possibility of adopting something similar for Singapore.

The success of the MAPL system speaks for itself, of course, with the mainstream success of acts like Feist, Stars, Broken Social Scene, Metric and that critically acclaimed virtuoso Justin Bieber. It should be noted though that before the introduction of the MAPL system the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and The Band had already achieved mainstream success in the Sixties, so it remains to be seen how effective a similar system for the local industry would be.

Things started getting really interesting when the session was opened up to the floor, with various audience members taking to the mic to pepper the panel with questions: How do we achieve local acceptance among our own population? Is local acceptance even necessary? How do we develop content that is commercially relevant and exportable?

A few common themes started to emerge that bridged genre divides. Everyone agreed, for example, on the need for exposure even as opinions divided over a government mandated quota versus free market economics. Similarly, even though opinions might differ over the the semantics of funding a fledgling band, nobody dissented against the need for capital investment in order to achieve sustainability.

The theme that rang the loudest bell, for this writer anyway, was the issue of community integration–it was pointed out several times by both Danny and Stuart Johnson that the only way to wield social and political clout was for the music community at large to collectively come together and speak with a single voice.

Of course, that’s easier said than done–the idea of unity can be easily dismissed as a hippie ideal. Scene veterans might feel like they’ve paid their dues in personal and financial sacrifice, while I’ve heard dark mutterings on more than one occasion about nepotism,  protesting that this scene remains too cliqued up and intolerant of dissenting opinions. Then there are those who resent the advantage that Mandopop or Malay artists have over English indie musicians when it comes to media airtime.

All of this talk, in my very humble position as a lowly amateur some-time music writer, amounts to missing the point. Fighting for a bigger slice of the pie is an inefficient and myopic strategy–why not grow the pie altogether? That’s not to dismiss the legitimate concerns that some might have of course– the ability to disagree, to beg to differ is the greatest strength of a team and a community.

At the risk of sounding like an insufferable know-it-all, though, I firmly believe that our only hope for long-term sustainability and breakthrough is dialogue and communication, to seek a midpoint between idealism and cynicism that is objectively pragmatic. After all, we destroy our enemies when we make them our allies…

A forum like this one is a step in the right direction definitely, and Graham Perkins deserves to be praised just for getting a working microcosm of the community at large into the same room (though the free breakfast did wonders to help). Of course, work remains to be done both strategically and semantically. Nevertheless, dialogue can only be a good thing, especially when it occurs across genres and across scenes like it did last Saturday, and I personally look forward to seeing future sessions advancing the agenda even further.

To steal a pet phrase from a good friend of mine–still there’s more…

(Samuel Caleb Wee)


Red Affair (DAIS)

Italian Horn is a solo project of New York City writer Anthony Pappalardo. The 90s lo-fi aesthetic of early Guided By Voices, East River Pipe and Sebadoh is very much in evidence here on Red Affair. Buried under a dissonant sheen in the vein of The Jesus & Mary Chain, its extremely brief duration (2:23) will leave you hungry for more. Just as well that the six song Red Affair 12″ (yeah vinyl as well!) will be released shortly with – wait for it – a cover collage from Robert Pollard. Check it out below.


Still fresh in the memory of Singapore fans is the magnificent performance of The Jezabels at the recent The People’s Party. Well, the Sydney quartet’s new album – The Prisoner – is due for release soon and you can now listen to Try Colour, a powerful teaser for the delights to come…

The Jezabels – Prisoner (Sampler) by Mom + Pop


Movies are supposed to provide their audiences with an escape from grim realities. Some films however, do the exact opposite.

Steven Soderbergh’s ultra-realistic Contagion chronicles the life-span of a pandemic from ‘Day 1’ to a time where a vaccine is produced to return the planet to ‘normalcy’. Plot-wise it is really as simplistic as that but what keeps Contagion intriguing are the many interweaving stories of characters caught up in the web of the pandemic.

With a stellar ensemble cast including Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, Contagion is never short of star power (Singapore’s Chin Han appears as well) and whilst there are twists and turns along the way (as both Paltrow’s and Winslet’s characters do not survive the movie), the main plot is rather predictable. As mentioned before, Soderbergh’s intention was to represent how the world would react to a pandemic with all its attendant implications.

To such extent, Soderbergh has succeeded. Although it does make for frightening viewing for most part – I mean, who really gets scared by vampires, zombies or ghosts which we know do not exist? A pandemic (remember SARS, H1N1?) is a totally different proposition. Still, there is the underlying hope that despite the new threats the human race will always survive (as history has attested to many times).

Clean and efficient, with the feel of a documentary – Contagion comes across exactly that but ultimately a little cold, stark and humourless.


The People’s Party – 15 January 2012 | *SCAPE Warehouse

After the success of bringing in MGMT, French Horn Rebellion and Hurts last year, Untitled Entertainment expanded The People’s Party tour to Singapore, bringing in acts such as Metronomy, The Jezabels, The Naked and Famous and Bombay Bicycle Club. The line-up for the second day of the mini-festival held at *SCAPE featured MUON (SG), Noughts & Exes (HK), Analog Girl (SG), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (US/NZ), In Each Hand A Cutlass (SG), The Naked & Famous (NZ) and Bombay Bicycle Club (UK).

MUON opened the festival right on schedule, playing to a crowd of about hundred people, which slowly expanded as people trickled in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Their set was overall disappointing, as they sounded unprepared for their performance. Their first attempt to perform their new track Failure of Plan B ended in a mess, which Nick (programming/bass) somewhat saved with an awkward joke about “the failure of the intro”. At a point in their set, a few sound samples were played and quickly cut, as if the band was indecisive or unrehearsed. To their credit, the rest of their set was wonderfully intense, but unfortunately the crowd had not fully warmed up to the ambient soundscapes created by the band.

Noughts & Exes’s performance that day was their third one in Singapore (last being Baybeats ’11), and received an overwhelming positive response from the crowd. Playing tracks from their albums The Start of Us and Act One Scene One, the band soared through songs such as The Crime and Everything. Their set was heartfelt and honest, especially Joshua’s vocal performance. Their set became an intimate affair as he the strain of his vocals revealed him laying bare his feelings through the songs, and the interaction with the audience felt sincere. The rest of the band was also lost in the music when they played, showing their utter commitment and faith in the music they were making. However, the actions of the backup vocalist marred their set. Her vocals were very suited to the songs and matched Joshua’s vocals, but her hand actions and dancing felt extremely forced and awkward, as compared to the natural movement and charisma of the other musicians on stage. The placing of the drumset could also have been improved, but perhaps due to logistics, the drummer was very far upstage, so much that he was visually unnoticeable. As a whole their set was a real treat for those present at the time, as they also played a new track that they had not played anywhere else yet.

Following Noughts & Exes’s indie-folk set was The Analog Girl’s brand of electro-rock. Her set was an impressive visual and aural experience, with her use of a Tenori-On and AudioCubes. The lighting design during her set was also particularly noticeable, as it created a strong and dark atmosphere for her creation of soundscapes. Her vocals contributed to the impressive live experience as they were not the sole focus of her music, but added an element of the dreamy and ethereal to her music.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) also made their Asian debut at the festival, immediately making an impression on everyone in their tribal-ethnic clothing, prompting an audience member to shout “nice shirt!” Surprisingly, the band already has a fanbase here, clear from the roar that went up in the crowd as they arrived onstage. Playing tracks from their self-titled debut album such as Bicycle, Jello and Juggernauts and Boy Witch, they had everyone in the crowd grooving and jumping to their lo-fi psychedelic rock. Their brand of guitar rock was definitely a breath of fresh air in the festival after much electronic music. The band members, Ruban Nielson (vox, guitar), Jake Portrait (bass) and Julien Ehrlich (drums) also communicated well with each other, continually maintaining eye contact with each other throughout their set. The band also thoroughly impressed the crowd with Ruban’s shredding on his guitar and Julian’s relentless and precise drumming. Their performance ended on a high as the audience were very pumped up and sang along for their biggest hit, Ffuny Ffrends.

Next up was In Each Hand A Cutlass, who only released their debut album late last year and brought the intensity to the festival. In Daniel Sassoon’s words, they are “from Singapore and we (they) represent”! Their brand of post-rock was the heaviest music heard that day, with tracks such as A Universe Made of Strings and Chocolate and the Lovelorn Girl, verging on metal. Unfortunately the crowd noticeably thinned after UMO had left the stage. But Daniel Sassoon was certainly the most dynamic musician performing that day, with his jumps and twirls, and even sliding on the floor with his guitar. The crowd was receptive to the band, but they definitely did not enjoy their performance as much as the others, as audience members were overheard saying the music was too heavy for their liking. Nelson Tan’s imitation of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean certainly drew many comments and much (good) attention.

The crowd swelled up to the warehouse’s full capacity in anticipation for The Naked And Famous, whom the crowd went wild for throughout their set. It seemed as though a majority of the crowd was there for The Naked And Famous rather than Bombay Bicycle Club, with their catchy indie-pop tunes. All eyes were on Alisa Xayalith during their set as she lost herself in the songs and led the sing-alongs to their famous tunes Punching In A Dream and Girls Like You and of course, Young Blood. Though most present thoroughly enjoyed their set, it felt a little stale to this reviewer as the organisers could easily have just done a playback of The Naked And Famous songs, as the band didn’t attempt to change any of the songs and they sounded as if they were entirely played off a recording, which at the same time also attests to their musical skills. There was also little attempt to engage the audience, as the band chose to simply perform their songs instead of bantering.

The last band of the night was Bombay Bicycle Club, which Power of Pop also interviewed earlier that day! General opinion among the crowd was that Bombay Bicycle Club’s set was better than The Naked And Famous, perhaps because of their engagement with the crowd. All the band members besides Suren (drummer) repeatedly made an effort to come closer to the audience and play to them, especially Jamie (guitar). It was a special night not only for fans of the band present, but also Jack (singer) as it was his birthday, and Jamie led a massive sing-along for Jack, who added that he was glad to celebrate his birthday playing in Singapore. The crowd lapped up every moment of the hour-long set, as they played songs from three albums, but especially their first, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose. The audience also expectedly chanted for an encore following the band’s departure from the stage. Combined with the strobe lighting used and the band’s infectious and obvious love for performing their music, their set was an enjoyable and special experience for everyone there.

Much thanks to Untitled Entertainment and props to them for improving the overall sound quality of the venue those two days and for making the festival an intimate and enjoyable experience.

(Melissa Ng)

Picture of Bombay Bicycle Club courtesy of Alvin Ho.


Bombay Bicycle Club Interview – 15 January 2012

Indie-folk rockers Bombay Bicycle Club were in town a few days ago for The People’s Party festival, presented by Untitled Entertainment. I caught up with Ed (bass, left) and Suren (drums, right) with other media at the swanky (more like sweltering) Ku De Ta on a Sunday afternoon at Marina Bay Sands.

Touring Asia for the first time and being in Singapore, what has it been like?

Suren: It’s been very nice but to be honest, we haven’t seen much since we just got here yesterday. We haven’t seen much apart from the hotel, which is pretty mindblowing.

Ed: We can see a lot of it, and after this we’ll walk around before the show.

You have quite a solid fanbase in the UK, but were you surprised by the response in Asia?

Ed: Obviously we had some idea from Facebook that people wanted to see us here. It’s always surprising that on the other side of the world, people are singing back to you. I don’t think I ever really predicted that, and it’s really a big shot.

Watching your Shuffle video, it seems you guys really have a lot of fun on tour. Were you up to any crazy antics in Tokyo or even here?

Ed: I’m not sure if it counts as crazy, but we had some time off after show in Japan, and we were going sightseeing. We thought if we come this far away from home, we might as well try to experience as much as we can, so we always tried to see the city. The Shuffle video is basically us walking around Amsterdam and Berlin partying and stuff, just us trying to make the most of being in a cool place.

What are your plans immediately following this tour?

Ed: Immediately we’re spending a week in Tokyo, in fact we might go from Tokyo to Russia then to Kyoto.

Suren: Then we go home, and have an American tour coming up, so we’ll start getting ready for that. This is the first time we’re doing an intensive tour, since we haven’t done that much touring. We’ll see how it goes, we might end up killing each other!

Since you have been touring non-stop intensively, how do you cope with that? Are you guys on the verge of going insane?

Suren: Yeah I think we’re going insane!

Ed: We just try to take the most from every place we go to, I think that really helps because it gets you away from hanging in the band because we get to see new cool stuff and that helps a lot. Exercise is also a good, like swimming.

What is your favourite memory of the tour so far?

Ed: I would say being up here is pretty mindblowing, you can see the whole of Singapore from here. It’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in my life. I think this is the coolest thing on the tour so far.

Suren: Indeed.

Did you have any idea that you would become this big or did you have any big dreams?

Ed: I never really thought about it, we were just four people at school!

Suren: It sounds really cliché but we just “go with the flow” and even now I don’t think we dream of being a massive band. We just see what happens and are just having fun, really.

You guys began your music career at 15, so how did you juggle school and music?

Suren: It was kind of tough at times, but to be honest the band took a backseat while we were at school. It was just something we did for fun in our spare time. We made a decision that we wanted to finish our school education and work as hard as we could.

Ed: It worked out really well because we could build the band really slowly, play gigs on the weekends and tour when we had time off from school. We could get the band to the point where we wanted it to be without it being really big and having people look at us.

Were you guys the rock stars of the school?

Suren: There were actually quite a few bands at our school, there was another band in our year called Cage And Dance Party, and they’ve since split up. They were much bigger than us while we were at school and took a different approach. They went for it quite quickly. They didn’t have the time to build up but tried to get as big as they could while they were at school. They even signed a record deal while we were at school, whereas we wanted to wait.

Ed: And we can see which one is better now!

Suren: There was also another guy at our school who is now writing songs for Mika I think? He seems to be doing pretty well for himself. I don’t know how there were so many bands from the same school.

You guys have released an album every year since 2009, so what are your plans for this year?

Ed: I don’t think we’re going to do another album, but I think we might need a little time off. For the first two albums, we didn’t tour as much as other bands would. As soon as we finished one, we were straight onto making the next one, which is why we haven’t been out here.

For the new album, Jim Abbiss was the producer, who also produced your debut album with Ben Allen and your frontman Jack. What was the dynamic between the three producers? Is there a reason why Ben was chosen?

Suren: Basically we worked with Ben on the more electronic sample-based songs, and we thought he would produce them pretty well. We did worry whether the album would end up coherent, since it was produced by three sets of producers, but we did get them mixed by the same guy, who tied the album together quite nicely.

Ed: I’m a huge fan of Ben Allen, and he produced some of my favourite records last year, three of them actually. He’s a very prolific guy.

How is it like to have a change in your music direction on the second album and then back to electronic music on the third?

Suren: It was always our intention to go back to that electronic sound for the next album, and the second album was kind of a little diversion. We just wanted to put it out for our own pleasure really, and our label back home wasn’t sure about releasing it, but it blew up into a thing we didn’t expect and managed to get into the Top 10 in the UK, which was very unexpected. It took on a life of its own.

How long did you take to record A Different Kind of Fix? Was it a smooth process and can we see any B-sides from the album?

Ed: We only did one B-side in the album recordings. We literally had the songs we wanted to put in the album, and dropped one off that has already been released. So we’ll have to record some more, because we have more songs that we didn’t record that we would like to do. It took just under a year to record the album, and we started in September 2010. It was bitty, as we would do a little bit of recording and Jack would have some time to write more songs, then we would book some more time and record some more songs. Since we had different producers like Ben Allen, we only had blocks of time. It was kind of three recording sessions over a period of six months.

You guys have played many festivals, and are even playing one in Singapore. Do you prefer playing at festivals or having your own concert?

Ed: I prefer playing our own concerts, but festivals do have their charm as well. We’ve done many festivals in the UK, and it’s completely different. You play to a lot more people, and the people in the crowd may not necessarily know who you are. They’re kind of passing by or have been recommended your music and you have to work very hard to win over the crowd, whereas at your own show they’re there to see you and they know what to expect. But we get to play with really cool bands and that’s always lovely. On this trip, we’re playing with Metronomy and The Naked And Famous, and that’s always amazing. That’s my favourite part of festivals.

How did your song end up being featured in the Twilight movies? It’s also one of the songs written earlier, is there any reason why it didn’t end up being the lead single of an album?

Ed: We had it a long time ago, and I guess we just submitted it or someone submitted it for the Twilight soundtrack. The soundtrack stands apart from the movie; even Thom Yorke has a song on it. The version on Twilight is actually the demo version recorded in Jack’s room, not the album version. We always knew it would be the lead single on the album, before Twilight. That was always the intention before Twilight. Suren actually went to watch Twilight, and the song was in the background for a few seconds.

Suren: I actually took my whole family to watch Twilight on a big trip, and it was a letdown, because the film wasn’t very good and you couldn’t really hear our song at all, so it was disappointing.

Lucy Rose has been part of your album and the live line-up, are there plans to include her in the future in any of your albums?

Ed: She’s been on tour with us for a while, but she’s not here in Singapore. She’s recording her own solo album, which means she might be around less because obviously she’s going to concentrate on that. But we’ll have her when she’s free!

Looking back since you guys started, would you say your sound now is really representative of who Bombay Bicycle Club is?

Suren: I don’t know if we really know what Bombay Bicycle Club is, since all our albums have been very different from each other. We just made music that felt right at the time, simple as that. So this album best represents us now.

(Melissa Ng)

Much thanks to Sarah and Alan from Universal Music!



The People’s Party is a music festival originally from Hong Kong, this year bringing their lineup of international, regional and local artists to Taipei, Jakarta, and Singapore.

Their two-day Singapore stop kicked off at *SCAPE on Saturday 14 January, with headliners Metronomy (UK) and The Jezabels (Australia), and local and regional acts including Plainsunset, Monster Cat, and Tenderfist (Malaysia). When I first got there, at least half an hour later than the stipulated starting time, there were still only about two dozen people milling about the place. It looked to be a rather dismal audience for the first two performers, Monster Cat and Tenderfist.

Local band Monster Cat’s acoustic-led set was quite a delight, the instrumentation tight and the vocals spot on (both lead vocals and harmonies). Electric guitar effects made up for the lack of a synth/keyboard. Also the sound balance looked set to be at optimum enjoyment level for the rest of the evening – fantastic job, festival sound crew!

By the time Tenderfist took the stage, several more people had filled the ranks of the “early” crowd. Tenderfist, who hail from KL, were a two-man guitar-keyboard band for this event, with a drum machine backing track and loop pedal providing the necessary musical layers. They were engaging and proficient enough in their craft, though not particularly memorable.

Side note: During these first two acts there were a few moments where I wasn’t sure if they were soundchecking or not, because they were signaling to the sound crew about volume levels and whatnot. It was a bit distracting.

Kevin and I missed Plainsunset’s set as we popped over next door to Mandarin Orchard for an interview with The Naked and Famous (to be posted… later). We also didn’t stick around for K8OTIC and Poptart after coming back for The Jezabels’ set, only returning for Metronomy to end off the night.

The Jezabels… where to begin? They were, for lack of a more descriptive word, rather amazing. Despite not having a bassist, this didn’t take away from their overall sound as the keyboards more than made up for it. Their stage presence was like an artfully restrained explosion, with lead singer Hayley Mary appearing lost in the melodies and yet intentionally drawing the audience in at the same time, and with electric guitarist Sam Lockwood giving quite the energetic performance. The effect of the octave-apart blend of Mary’s and keyboardist Heather Shannon’s vocals was intensely atmospheric.

Also, the lighting for both The Jezabels and Metronomy’s sets was mouth-watering; impeccable coordination with the music there.

Metronomy’s brand of electronic pop appealed slightly less to me but that sentiment obviously wasn’t shared by everyone else present – the entire crowd was pulsating with energy at the exuberant and exciting musicality that defined the set. Bassist/vocalist Gbenga Adelekan was a real treat to watch as he worked the audience and delivered every line (both vocal and bass) with infectious conviction. I liked the way they mixed it up by having drummer Anna Prior sing lead vocals (while still drumming!) on one song, and the sax solos by Oscar Cash were an entertaining touch as well.

So The People’s Party headliners did not disappoint, and I’m looking forward to more years of this festival to come, hopefully! It was just a pity – unsurprising, but a pity nonetheless – that the local and regional acts faced such a disinterested turnout and reactions from their home base.

(Desiree Boey)
Picture of The Jezabels by Alvin Ho.
Thanks to the kind people at Untitled Asia (Dash, Tim & April) for making this review possible.


Two Lines

Lightships is actually Teenage Fanclub’s Gerry Love’s side project and also includes the likes of Dave McGowan (guitar, Teenage Fanclub), Brendan O’Hare (drums, formerly of Teenage Fanclub), Tom Crossley (flute, International Airport and The Pastels) and Bob Kildea (bass, Belle & Sebastian) in support. Two Lines is the lead single from Lightships’ debut album – Electric Cables – to be released on 2nd April by Geographic, an imprint of Domino Records. If like me, you’re a big fan of Love’s sweet, melodic songwriting then Electric Cables is pretty much essential listening for 2012.


My first impression of this film (based on the title) was that it was a remake of the 1975 film. It’s not.

In fact, Killer Elite is based on the 1991 novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes which deals with the SAS involvement during the Dhofar rebellion in Oman in 1972. Set in 1980, Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) and Hunter (De Niro) are mercenaries who get involved in a job to assassinate three former-SAS operatives for a deposed Omani sheikh. This puts Bryce in direct conflict with Spike Logan (Clive Owen) the head enforcer of The Feather Men, a secret society of ex-SAS operatives who protect former SAS members.

And that is the gist of it. Don’t expect anything more than good old-fashioned action as two hard men go toe in toe to achieve their ends. There are no heroes or villains here as both protagonists seem to have ‘valid’ motivations for all the killing that goes on. If that is all possible. The attempts to humanize Bryce and Logan work for the most part but the plot relating to The Feather Men and the British government’s involvement in Oman comes across muddied and confusing. Although the scene where Bryce, Owen and the spook are three-way battling is intriguing.

There is a happy ending of sorts, which is rather convenient, but fairly satisfying. Although there is that nagging suspicion that the producers will wring out a sequel if the box office numbers justify. Hopefully not.


Building This House (Self-released)

Domesticity seems diametrically opposed to the rock n’ roll lifestyle. So what happens when a singer-songwriter begins a family in earnest and then determines that recording music is still very much on the agenda? Well, Meghan Cary is a prime example. From 1998 to 2004, Cary released three well-received albums before apparently closing the door on her musical career to become the devoted mother. Of course, it’s never easy to ignore the siren call of music and Building This House represents Cary’s attempt to balance these two important sides of her life.

In this instance, it does not hurt that her husband is a working musician – multi instrumentalist Peter Farrell – and that a home studio was made available for Cary to record this, her fourth album, in-between her domestic chores. The result is Building This House – a full album consisting of ten songs that reflect Cary’s journey which compasses past tragedy and current bliss.

As one might expect, the music on Building This House, is pretty much laid back and casual, relying heavily on folk and jazz constructs to convey Cary’s thoughtful ruminations on life and love. The production values are slick and smooth (and sometimes sterile though) but overall there is a homespun quality about the finished work that is easy to feel comfortable with.

Definite highlights include the quirky countrified title track, thoroughly poignant Through Walking and the rollicking Live! Not much an edge to the general proceedings but that is to be expected considering the circumstances surrounding the genesis of Building This House. What you see is what you get, more or less.

Official Site




The popularity of poker has reached record heights over the last 10 years thanks largely in part to televised poker. As such, it is no surprise that many celebrities and now even pop stars have taken to the game in droves. Below are a few pop stars that play Texas Holdem poker.

When the song “Poker Face” came out a couple of years back, many thought that it was just a cleverly written song for pop superstar Lady Gaga. However, the pop diva is known to play the game from time to time. Lady Gaga made headlines when she took part in a poker festival in Ireland in 2009, but from the lack of reports from the event about her results, one can assume she sings about the game better than she plays it.

Madonna has been known to play the game from time to time, especially if it is for charity. She has been involved in various events, including a recent start studded event for the Shane Warne Foundation where players put up $10,000 a piece to play in a poker tournament benefiting the foundation. Madonna has been known worldwide for her charitable side and poker is just another way she gives back to the less fortunate.

Irish pop star Shane Lynch is more than just your recreational poker player. The 34 year old most popularly known as a member of Boyzone was signed last year to a sponsorship deal with the online poker site Ladbrokes. Lynch started playing at the 2008 Ladbrokes Poker Festival and quickly became adept at the game. He now plays for the online site and is a sponsored player at various major events like the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

The above are just a few examples of how poker has swept the world and how players of all walks of life now play the game. With so many different sites offering the game online, it has become increasingly simple to pick up the game and learn the ins and out of strategy. Do not be surprised if in the future you see more top pop stars pick up what is becoming a worldwide pastime.


At the recent Singapore Music Forum I met a unassuming young man who introduced himself as Sean. Then he mentioned that he had a band/music project called I Hate This Place. Instantly I loved the name and then finally got a link. Whoa! IHTP basically comes from a similar place as Owl City except that IHTP does not suck! Am not being facetious here! As regular visitors would know, I love my synth pop nice and sweet (but not saccharine!)  and Future Girl, Retro Style fits the bill perfectly – you will be singing that chorus by the end of the track, believe me! Check it out below and make sure you come back for more electronic goodness from I Hate This Place.

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Foster The People’s Singapore show was a memorable night as people across different age groups joined together for a night of fun dance music. The night started with opening band,  The Auditory Effect warming up the crowd with its beats to dance to and its catchy guitar riffs. The Singapore band’s music set the anticipation and by the time it ended the set, the audience was pumped up for Foster The People.

Before Foster The People came on, the ladies from Poptart spun tunes from their decks to get audience hyped. The response was positive, with many popular songs from bands such as Franz Ferdinand and Vampire Weekend being played, both whom have made stops in Singapore.

Foster The People were met with an overwhelming welcome as they walked on stage. The band comprises of Mark Foster (vox, keyboards/piano, guitars), Cubbie Fink (bass, backing vox) and Mark Pontius (drums and percussions).

The band started with Houdini and played songs off the debut album, Torches. Between songs, Mark would talk to the audience and share stories. It was an incredible experience, hearing him talk about the band and how they got that far by following their dreams. Another highlight was hearing the story about how he met Rivers Cuomo and how Weezer covered Pumped Up  Kicks. From there, the band proceeded to cover Say It Ain’t So by Weezer, which got many cheers of approval from the audience. The night ended with Pumped Up Kicks, which was a perfect way to close proceedings.

Foster The People is an amazing band to catch live, with its catchy riffs and synths and its dance-infused music. A big thanks to Chugg Entertainment for bringing the band to Singapore for a wonderful musical experience!

(Rebecca Lincoln)

A special note of appreciation to Sammy Shirra-Moore.


S-Rock Will Never Die

This past weekend has been a eventful one for yours truly as my many different roles in Singapore music rather converged into one hectic three-day sequence.

On Friday, I was the singer-songwriter-mentor performing two sets at MAAD Sounds whilst helping Maricelle and Ming See as best as I could with their own short sets. In an intimate setting, I delivered few of my ‘oldies’ and a couple of new songs (Follow Your Heart, I Lost Myself, Less Than Home) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Then I had to pay special attention as Maricelle and Ming See played three songs each. Still work to be done before they ready for the Noise showcase in March. Thankfully, there’s still time.

On Saturday morning, I attended the Singapore Music Forum and had the pleasure of witnessing the continuing growth of Inch Chua, she was astounding in her delivery of two new songs. Certainly working in LA has improved her skills by leaps and bounds. So much more to expect to this talented young lady. As for the Forum, I was rather disappointed that most of the time was spent with panel speakers trying their best to sell us their products – ‘tooting their own horns’ (I will not even bother to go into detail) and hardly any time given to Singapore music itself. That’s all I am going to say about this…

In truth, I was feeling rather depressed and discouraged after the Forum and was thankful that I could forget and focus on Ming See and Maricelle as they played a couple of songs at OOOM. Maricelle was less nervy than the night before and the performance was better for that. Ming See played a beautifully haunting Reminds Me of You which underlined why I think that she is a songwriter with tremendous potential for depth and substance. I believe that you can catch part of these performances (and more) on Okto in February.

Then it was off to the first day of The People’s Party (with Desiree) – a solid mix of local, regional and international acts, with each accorded due respect. I was particularly struck by Monster Cat’s powerful display of nuance and dynamic and was impressed by their calm assured stage presence. The band is certainly ready for bigger things. I also liked Metronomy’s rather atonal and quirky style (very XTC and Wire influenced) although the standard (jaded) disco beats spoilt it for me somewhat – I am getting so tired of that rhythm now. But the prize for the best performance of the 1st day clearly was won by The Jezabels. The Sydney quartet simply blew the audience away with singer Hayley Mary channeling Belinda Carlisle, Chrissie Hynde and Kate Bush, there was something special going on here and some transcendental moment brought me to tears. A band to watch, no doubt!

Desiree and I took some time off The People’s Party to interview The Naked and Famous (courtesy of Universal Singapore). I found the band down-to-earth – they were pleasantly surprised when I could name a couple of NZ bands (the others in the room had probably heard of) and generally found that ‘cool’. Nice touch! Pity I had to miss their performance…

When I finally got to 2nd day of The People’s Party (after piano class), I caught the kids grooving to psychedelic rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra, which I found strange as the band did not utilized the overused disco beat. The last Singapore Rock band of the Party was the wonderful In Each Hand A Cutlass and it was heartening to see the crowd totally get into IEHAC’s intense instrumental rock. There is still hope for you, Singapore music fan!

I decided to miss TNAF and Bombay Bicycle Club in favour of Lunarin’s launch of The Midas Sessions at the Pigeonhole and definitely there were no regrets on my part. After all, these were people I knew and loved and music made in our very midst. The band played most of the new album and the intimate settings suited the gorgeous ‘chamber’ music to a ‘t’. I was particularly tickled by Linda’s comparison of Singapore Rock to a cockroach. No matter what the challenges may be, Singapore Rock will always survive. That alone was worth being seated right in front of the band savoring every second. Make sure you got hold of the album!!!

And that for me, was the perfect way to end the hectic weekend – with a positive affirmation of Singapore Rock. In the final analysis, even if the government or the record labels or foreign interested parties ignore us, WE will still be hear making our music for ourselves and whoever is interested enough to listen to…


I had mistakenly assumed that this film adaptation of John Le Carre’s classic spy novel was a remake when actually the only other adaptation was a TV mini-series (with the late Sir Alec Guinness). Directed by Swede Tomas Alfredson (of Let the Right One In fame) and featuring a stellar British cast, this film adaptation contains the right mood and tone of a 70s spy novel written at the height of the Cold War. This is no action movie with the emphasis placed instead on narrative and nuance. Granted one needs to pay careful attention to the plot to make sense of everything and Alfredson never hits you on the head in this respect, thereby showing tremendous respect for the audience.

In a nutshell, our protagonist is former Deputy Head of British Intelligence George Smiley (Gary Oldman) who has been tasked by the undersecretary in charge of intelligence to investigate accusations by disgraced operative Ricky Tar (Tom Hardy) one of the leaders amongst the top echelon of the British Intelligence viz. Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Bill Hayden (Colin Firth) and Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) is a Soviet mole.

The story is told in numerous flashbacks, often in innovative stylized fashion and the unfolding of the tale leads us inevitably to the traitor in the midst of British intelligence. Enthralling throughout but my primary reservation is that the film lacks tension, there is no single time when one felt that any of the characters were in serious danger. But I guess it’s not really that kind of story. In any case, a wonderful respite from the inane blockbuster action flick.


Deep Purple with Orchestra: Live at Montreux 2011 (Eagle)

I’m sorry but for me the spine of Deep Purple has always been Jon Lord and Richie Blackmore. You can take away anybody else but once Lord and Blackmore are not part of the equation, to me it’s not Deep Purple. Of course, the current incarnation of Deep Purple has had Don Airey on keyboards and Steve Morse on guitars for some time now.

Worse still, based on this DVD, it really seems that singer Ian Gillian has lost his legendary vocal chops as well. Not that it matters to the sold-out crowd at this concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2011. To compound the problem, the band is backed this time by a full orchestra to provide horns and strings to classics such as Highway Star, Maybe I’m A Leo, Woman from Tokyo, Space Truckin’ and Smoke on the Water. It’s not hard rock anymore I’m afraid. It’s all very soft, wet and flaccid.

So in many ways, this like a Vegas show version of the legendary band and of course, they’re perfectly entitled to continue to tour and bring the classic rock repertoire to willing fans worldwide but I don’t have to like it. Strictly for die hard fans only.


White Snow

Red Wanting Blue’s previous album – These Magnificent Miles – was a firm favourite here at Power of Pop central and so we are definitely looking forward to the upcoming new album From the Vanishing Point. The opening teaser – White Snow – with its rollicking demeanor and heartfelt sentiment will win over country-folk-pop-rock fans all over the world. Check it out and come back for the Power of Pop review…

Red Wanting Blue – White Snow by fanaticpro

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Lunarin’s spanking new album – The Midas Sessions – has been on heavy rotation here at Power of Pop central and we got in touch with singer-bassist Linda Ong to get her thoughts on the new album…

Why an acoustic album?

Few people know this, but playing acoustic has always been a part of our repertoire. We have always made it a point to play acoustic gigs alongside our usual electric ones ever since forming Lunarin in 2003. I remember playing an acoustic show organized by Double Yellow Line at Yusof Ishak House in NUS before the Chrysalis was released. During the time when we released the Chrysalis, we played an acoustic show at Earshot at the Arts House (one of the songs appeared on our EP “Little Pieces”). After we released Duae, we played an acoustic show with you at the library at Esplanade.

Nothing gives us more joy than to watch bands and songwriters that we love play stripped down, acoustic sets. There is something very heartbreaking and sincere in listening to a well written song stripped down to its barest elements, with only raw emotions and pure musicianship in support. I never thought of going acoustic as a “step down” or a sign that we have mellowed. It is just a different direction that is worth exploring and developing.

Having our own home studio gave us the luxury of deciding to record these songs instead of just leaving them as material for acoustic gigs. This was a luxury we didn’t have previously! 

What were the major differences between recording Midas Sessions as compared to Duae?

Well this time we had Natalie and Victor playing on the album. So we had to figure out how to record violins and cello properly with our limited equipment and space. That took a fair bit of trial and error, because when it came to dealing with violins and cello, it was important to try and capture their natural organic sound. It was very different from recording an electric album when we could just run the bass and guitars through effects. Lucky for us both Natalie and Victor were two very patient people. So after the initial teething problems were sorted and a modus operandi was established, recording them was a breeze.

Because of our experience recording Duae, recording the rest of the instruments (guitars, bass, piano, drums) was relatively painless. Personally for me, recording vocals was the highlight of the recording process. Going acoustic enabled me to explore a wide range of styles vocally. I must confess to being a tad over indulgent. I did far too many vocal overdubs and far too many different vocal harmonies than I would have liked!

Kah Wye was away for quite a bit of 2011 due to overseas work commitments. Because of this, I had to assume a greater role in recording this album than I did in Duae.  Quite a far bit of the cello and violins on the album were recorded with just me, Natalie and Victor, which was fun. 

Lunarin is very much a D-I-Y operation – what keeps you going (recording and performing) despite the pressures of everyday life?

A love for music. It isn’t really that difficult! (Good answer! KM)

What are your promotional plans for Midas Sessions?

We are planning an album launch at The Pigeonhole on Sunday 15 Jan 2012 8pm, which is also the official release date of the album. After that we have a remix of Right of Sleep, done by someone we hugely respect, that we plan to release shortly after the album is out. We’re looking forward to that! 

It took you 4 years to record Duae and 2 to finish Midas Sessions, will the next album surface in 2013?

Unfortunately no. The Midas Sessions consisted of B Sides and songs from our earlier albums, so the songs were already written when Duae was released.  The time spent after the release of Duae to work on this album was purely spent on recording. This however, can’t be said of any subsequent album to this one. After this album is out, we will need to go back and start writing new material again. At the rate we are going, we’ll see you in five years’ time!

Check out the excellent music video of Right of Sleep. The Midas Sessions will be launched this Sunday, 15 Jan at 8pm at the Pigeonhole. Admission is FREE.

Right of Sleep from lunarin on Vimeo.

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Milk-Heavy, Pollen Eyed

Talk about your cool one-take videos! Laura Gibson (aided and abetted by Aleksandr Karjaka on clarinet) proves that sometimes the simplest version of a song is often the best. The song is featured on Gibson’s upcoming new album – La Grande – to be released by Barsuk Records. Check it out!

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Photo Credit: Parker Fitzgerald


(Press release)

Built to Spill have confirmed their first tour dates for the New Year in support of the current Warner Bros. Records album, THERE IS NO ENEMY. Dates begin Feb 23rd in San Francisco.  All confirmed dates are listed below.

Thur Feb 23 – The Fillmore San Francisco, CA

Fri Feb 24 – Visalia Fox Theater Visalia, CA

Sat Feb 25 – Uptown Theatre Napa, CA

Thur Mar 8 – Spanish Moon Baton Rough, LA

Fri Mar 9 – One Eyed Jacks New Orleans, LA

Sun Mar 11 – Denton 35 Festival Denton, TX

Mon Mar 12 – Fitzgerald’s Houston, TX

Check out the official video for Hindsight below.

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Credit: Graham MacRae