Power of Pop is proud – yes, proud – to report that Singaporean singer-songwriter Inch Chua has been invited back to the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas. Together with her backing band, The Metric System, they will perform multiple showcases from March 10-14, 2012 during SXSW. Following SXSW, Inch will debut at Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto from March 21-22, 2012.

Inch was first featured by Power of Pop in 2007 in an interview as the front person of indie band Allura ahead of its appearance at Baybeats Festival that year. In the five years since, the singer-songwriter has blossomed into a formidable solo artist in her own right. Inch is now signed and represented by Mighty Fresh, an award-winning talent management company based in Santa Monica, California. We wish Inch all the best in North America! If you are in the vicinity, listed below are when and where you can catch Inch Chua & the Metric System.

Los Angeles Dates:

Inch Chua @ Genghis Cohen

Date: March 22, 2012 (Thursday) Venue: Genghis Cohen, 740 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles Time: 10:00 PM

SXSW Tour dates:

Sweet Relief Musician Fund @ The Beacon

Date: March 10, 2012 (Saturday) Venue: Austin Convention Center Time: 3:30pm

Ainjel Emme & Inch Chua

Date: March 12, 2012 (Monday) Venue: Ming’s Café, 2604 Guadalupe St, Austin TX Time: 9:00pm

SXSW Style x Fashion Show

Date: March 17, 2012 (Saturday) Venue: Austin Convention Center Time: 6:30pm

Official SXSW Showcase

Date: March 14, 2012 (Wednesday) Venue: Beale Street Tavern, 214, East 6th Street, Austin TX Time: 9:00 pm

Official CMW Tour Dates:

Official CMW Showcase (Acoustic)

Date: March 21, 2012 (Wednesday) Venue: Free Times Café, 320 College St, Toronto Time: 11:00PM

Official CMW Showcase (Full Band)

Date: March 22, 2012 (Thursday) Venue: Tranzac (Front Room), 292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto Time: 8:00 PM

Lomography, Toronto

Date: March 23, 2012 (Friday) Venue: Lomography Gallery Store, 536 Queen Street West, Toronto Time: 8:00 PM

Official Site



“You Say Yes, I Say No”

Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone’s got one. The problem with the interweb culture especially in relation to “hip and cool” music is that just like cheerleaders, popularity pretty much trumps everything else. Music itself is very subjective such that opinions vary so much when discussing any particular musical style or ‘genre’ or even the relative merit thereof. I mean, to use yet another proverb – ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ – and opinions have to be put into perspective of the person espousing such opinion. In the final analysis, it’s all a matter of taste and there’s no accounting for taste.

Take the latest exercise in diluting the legacy of Queen – as remaining members Brian May and Roger Taylor are slated to perform with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert (for the umpteenth time) at the upcoming Knebworth festival. For Lambert fans (predominantly music listeners in the flush of youth) this sounds like an excellent and may even seem like a tribute to the late Freddie Mercury but to those of us Queen fans who were actually alive when the band was in its prime, this appears to be offensive and an affront to the memory of Mercury and Queen. Nothing against Adam Lambert personally but May and Taylor should really know better. But as you can see, the differing opinions lay very much in the ‘generation gap’.

This same ‘generation gap’ rears its ugly head when discussing the relative merits of a band like Foo Fighters. Those of us who remember Dave Grohl as the drummer of Nirvana rather than the alt-rock icon that he has become, may find Grohl’s current status as the undisputed godfather of indie rock rather mystifying when the kids who revere him have probably never heard of Husker Du or Pixies (I assume that they have heard of Nirvana to begin with!). Which is why I was bemused at the online frenzy when the announcement of Foo Fighters‘ concert in Singapore was first made as personally, I have never much rated the Foo Fighters (probably not the confession to make if I ever want to attain any ‘indie cred’)…

Before the lynch mob gathers, this phenomenon is nothing new. I recall Wings fans not being aware of the Beatles or hard rock fans being repulsed by punk (“the bands can’t play”) in the 70s and the circle of life continues…but please don’t kill me just because you don’t like my opinion, alright???



“Our Hearts” (off And So They Ran Faster… album)

Firehorse is a captivating project from singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Leah Siegel. The NYC artist released the well-received And So They Ran Faster… in 2011 with the assistance of Steve Elliot on guitar, Tim Luntzel on bass, and Brian Wolfe on drums. “Our Hearts” is gorgeous minimalist pop that carries a lovely melody over 80s synth-pop references. The official video is wonderfully surreal and for want of a better comparison, think of Siegel as an alternate reality Katy Perry. Only much more cooler. Certainly, expect a review of And So They Ran Faster… soon. In the meantime, enjoy.

Official Site


“Fight the Good Fight” / “Heavyweight” (off upcoming new album, Curve)

In the sixties and seventies, pop music was considered subversive as rock stars allied themselves to the revolutionary spirit that railed against the Vietnam War and other injustices of that era. Of course, forty years on that concept seems rather antiquated and pop stars are now simply neutered pawns doing the bidding of corporate masters. So it is rather surprising (and uplifting) to come across this song and video from Canadian band Our Lady Peace written in tribute to the Occupy Wall Street movement that has swept the globe.

Thirty-somethings will remember OLP as one of Canada’s leading contributors to the grunge scene of the mid-90s but the quartet has survived the rise and fall of that short-lived ‘genre’ to emerge as an alternative rock outfit of some note. The band enters 2012 in good musical health with the release of its eighth album, Curve in April. “Heavyweight” is the band’s initial offering and the song is a good combination of the U2 sonic aesthetic married with Rage Against the Machine‘s rhythmic sensibilities. Still, the track is unmistakably modern with a strong melodic chorus anchoring its appeal. Check out both videos below and look out for the review of Curve to follow…



“Primitive Girl” (off upcoming new album A Wasteland Companion)

Merge Records artist M. Ward is probably best known nowadays as Zooey Deschanel’s partner in She & Him or a member of Monsters of Folk.  Of course, the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter has been recording and releasing his own material for over a decade now and new album, A Wasteland Companion will be Ward’s eighth LP. “Primitive Girl” is the lead single for Ward’s new album and to these ears, it’s poppy veneer seems a mild departure from Ward’s more classicist/rootsy ventures. In fact, in some ways, it does appear to be similar to Ward’s She & Him excursions. The song structure itself is still fairly old-school and typical of Ward’s sonic preferences but overall, rather slight. That all said, it is meant to be lead single and in that respect it should do the necessary to generate interest in the upcoming album. Review to come…


Official Site




What I really like about Winfred E Eye and its latest LP – Today Was Another Day – is that the band does not sound like it’s really trying too hard to please anyone. Except maybe themselves. There’s a casual, laidback vibe on this collection of songs that is both charming and daring. In some ways, songs like the ethereal “Void” and “Sentimental Junk” might come across like something off Bon Iver’s sophomore effort but it does not take itself as seriously. Know what I mean?

No? Well simply put although there are elements of ‘indie cred’ in Winfred E. Eye’s songwriting, overall the sound is so rustic and homespun, it seems that the band is taking the piss! It’s all very 70s Laurel Canyon most of the time, equal parts Neil Young and James Taylor in approach especially in songs like “Hard Time Comin'” and “Burnin’ Alone”. In fact, on the latter track, the discerning music lover may also find traces of Giant Sand’s so-called Desert Rock agenda. It is spare and uncomplicated, letting the plain folk melody and emotive words carry the power.

All said and done, Today Was Another Day is Americana at its very best – in whatever era you might be listening from, this arcane country-folk-blues-rock transcends mere ‘genre’ to deliver a potent magical strange brew. For want of a better word, this is magnificent alternative country.

Official Site




Thinking California (off Whiskey Farmer)

No ‘indie cred’ necessary here as singer-songwriter James Low spins a rustic yarn about a farmer desperate to escape his dead end life. The track is featured on Low’s new album – Whiskey Farmer – which will be released on 21st Feb. It’s straightforward country-folk with twangy melodies that serve the heartfelt sentiments. Check out the video below and also the preview of the upcoming album. Review to come…

‘Thinking California’ from James Low on Vimeo.




Dangerously Uncool

Seriously folks, when was the last time power pop was considered ‘hip and cool’? The 90s maybe, when power pop bands still got major label deals e.g. Weezer, Jellyfish, The Grays, Wanderlust, Semisonic et al. NYC singer-songwriter Jeff Litman makes no bones who inspires his craft – Tom Petty, Elvis Costello & Paul Westerberg have all been favorably mentioned – and in this day and age, that just about might be career suicide! After all, if the kids of today don’t even know who the hell Sir Paul McCartney is then how in the world would they be able to connect with songs that trickle down from the seminal work of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Byrds?

But I will emphasize – who cares, right? Call me a blind optimist but for me, holding on to the melodic ideals is really what it’s all about. So yes, I will champion a talent like Jeff Litman who (on his second album – Outside) puts such loving detail in every chord, arrangement and lyric without cynical pandering to attention-deficit young people. Elvis Costello once put his songwriting into perspective by describing it as “creative plagiarism” – the key word being “creative”. So whilst it is clear that the tools Litman utilizes comes from a kinder and gentler age (crafted tunes, organic instrumentation, thoughtful arrangements) but with these implements, Litman has fashioned an album that has enough flair and verve in it to maybe sway the shallow, casual music fan.

So the joy and pleasure comes in equal measure in the soaring chorus of “Over and Over”, the rollicking rhythm of “Runaway”, the hypnotic chord progression of “Chasing My Tail” and the way the melody falls comfortably together on “Don’t Want to Talk About It”. It is easy to discern that with the elements of country-folk, rock n’ roll and power pop prominently featured that the kind of music that Litman deals in is so out of synch with everything that passes for modern pop music in 2012 that there is an almost contrarian appeal working here.

And why would you be content to be lemmings hurtling down sharp cliffs at the bidding of the hipster pied pipers (mixed metaphors whoa!) when you can – if you so choose – broaden your minds to rock music that is timeless and will never ever date. Even as I allow the sweet balladic tones of “Time Heals Nothing” to sweep me away, I realize that I do not need to succumb to the principle that just because classic pop-rock is unfashionable, we can ignore the quality songwriting and arrangements that this kind of music invariably possesses in favor of image and ‘indie cred’.

So here I am again drawing a line in the sand – yes Outside isn’t perfect and it may not even be 100% original but it sure has enough heart n’ soul to encourage this foolish lover of ‘old school’ rock to continue to keep the faith. Indeed.

Official Site



Ryan Chang/Chugg Entertainment

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

I went to Laneway Festival Singapore 2012 in search of Power Pop (as opposed to ‘power pop’) underneath the hyperbole, the manufactured hip and cool factor and the PR machine that defines what’s popular in contemporary pop-rock nowadays. With the sunny weather returning with a vengeance after last year’s conspicuous absence, a huge turnout was expected and I understand that almost 8,000 punters (up from 6,000 last year) were in attendance!

With 14 bands to choose from, I am pretty sure that most (hipster) tastes were satisfied but what I desperately wanted was music with substance, which had nothing to do with looks, fashion sense or pandering to a festival crowd’s need to dance. As someone with a media pass, I was also given the rare opportunity to come up close and personal with the artists, if I chose to. To be honest, these media conferences are quite superficial as well – just not to possible to conduct a meaningful interview with an artist in those challenging circumstances. So my goal really was just to see the artists in the flesh. Yes, cheap superficial thrills and all that but what to do?

I must confess that at the end of the day and in the final analysis, I was most affected by Chris Owen and Girls and found his honesty refreshing. As you know, I have been eagerly anticipating catching Girls based on what I’ve heard on its recordings (especially 2011 album, Father Son Holy Ghost). I was rather taken aback when I saw him in the media tent – he was a rake, pale with bloodshot eyes and his hands were shaking uncontrollably. He did not look well at all… I tried to engage him with a few interview questions but it was a difficult process overall. In that moment, I felt so much empathy for him – this tortured musician who only wanted to play his music and not be bothered with all this media bullshit and truth be told, felt a little guilty at that as well.

However, later on when Girls came on for its set, Chris seemed more comfortable in his own skin and he started out by paying tribute to Whitney Houston with a heartfelt solo rendition of “I Will Always Love You” to which the crowd responded (he tried out “American Pie” later on as well!). The band drew mainly from the latest album and it was a relief to hear ‘old school’ constructs with bluesy guitar licks, folk chord progressions and memorable melodies. “Honey Bunny”, “Alex” and “Love is a River”. Only disappointment was the failure to play my current favourite – “Forgiveness” – but probably was not considered appropriate for the festival crowd. Pity.

The only other media conferences I caught were early in the day with Cults and Yuck. The contrast between the two bands was rather distinctive. As Americans, Cults‘ Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion came across very determined to please the amassed media, focusing on saying all the right things. I asked them about how a new band like them managed to get signed by major label, Columbia (no, kids, Cults is not an ‘indie’ band per se) and Brian seemed as surprised as anyone would be about becoming a ‘overnight sensation’ but it was obvious that the duo was thrilled by it all (and well they should be).

By contrast Yuck was rather sullen as they took their seats (having just finished their soundcheck). I hardly noticed that bassist Mariko Doi was in the media tent as she barely said a word during the whole time. Most of the questions were answered by Max Bloom and he seemed pretty pissed off by the comparisons the interviewers were making between Yuck and 90s band like Dinosaur Jr and Teenage Fanclub (mostly valid, mind you) and so came up with obtuse replies that made little sense. Rather cool actually! My perspective is that the Brits were not trying too hard to please and were really trying to figure out how to respond to those questions honestly and probably came across a little cold. Cultural differences and all that jazz!

Putting these observations aside, I believe both bands acquitted themselves well on stage. Stripped of much of the reverb-drenched production of its debut album, Cults actually sounded even more retro live (if that is even possible!) although it seemed that the pitching of the songs were brought down a little to accommodate Madeline’s voice and made the songs challenging for Brian. Not that the crowd cared as they were enthralled throughout. A comforting thought that the Singapore crowd was able to appreciate Phil Spector and 60s girls groups (I’m sure they didn’t have a clue who these people were). Highlights for me were “Abducted” and “You Know What I Mean” – though the songs do border on being highly derivative.

Yuck‘s influences do not stretch as far back as Cults (90s instead of 60s) as previously mentioned and as someone who loves the kind of music Yuck was playing I was quite torn between digging it and feeling offended. I mean, I would really rather watch Teenage Fanclub but would the same kids who were cheering and dancing along to songs like “The Wall” and “Shook Down” turn up in numbers for the Fannies? Would that be commercially viable in Singapore? Probably not. Sad but true.

Between Girls and the highlights of the evening’s setlist. I rather tuned out for Chairlift and Austra, though was rather amused by the new-age female singers in the latter – all Stevie Nicks-like though again I’m sure those bright-faced kids would be clueless about Fleetwood Mac! The current synth-pop revival is just too derivative for my liking – having been there when synth-pop was new. If only there was something distinctive about this revival. Which is the same reason I skipped out on The Drums, Twin Shadow and Toro Y Moi. There was just too much ‘been there heard that’ in the equation. Nobody’s fault – it’s just that kids today don’t care about the influences and inspirations of the bands they like – almost as if these new bands sprang fully grown without any debt to the past. (And I missed Anna Calvi – dinnertime! – but heard she did quite well.)

However, before I wax lyrical about the closing highlights of the Festival, it behooves me to point out that both The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and The Horrors were simply awful. Simply put, if these bands were performing at the Baybeats Auditions, they might not get through! Both bands again look back to the 80s/90s strongly – which is fine in itself – but have no distinctive sound or competent songwriting to keep your attention. In the case of the former, technical glitches marred its set, and it didn’t help that the band’s performance was poor as well. No hooks or memorable melodies and an American singer (Kip Berman) who tried too hard to do a Brit accent (and failing miserably) make for a painful experience (pun intended). Ironically, UK band The Horrors lived up to its name and delivered a sludgy, incomprehensible set. Ostensibly, you could hear traces of Simple Minds and Psychedelic Furs but the overall sound was so punishing that the crowd barely acknowledged the band when it finally trooped off the stage! It’s not hard to imagine that any of Singapore’s top indie bands could have put up a better showing than these two but let’s just not go there…

It was easy to appreciate what Laura Marling and Feist were trying to achieve. Both of them sounded like nothing else at the Festival. Marling of course, had an almost baroque approach to her songs but was not aided by the unsympathetic venue. I mean, cello and double bass do not work at the Fort Canning Park. It would have been more appropriate to appreciate her set at the Esplanade Concert Hall, for example. Maybe next time? But kudos to her for trying her best to overcome the constraints and to be truthful, her set felt too short – she is one talented young lady. Feist had a highly percussive element to her sound and she took risks with her rhythmic arrangements- it was a joy to behold but again, the nagging question of whether her music would be more suitable for an indoor acoustic environment could not be ignored. But both singer-songwriters went down very well as the unbridled enthusiasm of the crowd attested.

Finally, the headliners M83 strutted its stuff and the crowd was not disappointed. Turning Fort Canning Park into a dance floor, the crowd – putting aside any weariness – literally danced the night away as we moved into the wee hours of Monday morning. With a spectacular light show and cracking line up on hand, Anthony Gonzalez demonstrated why his band is such a hot live draw now on the back of its critically acclaimed 2011 album, Hurry Up We’re Dreaming. There were only sweaty, smiling young people when M83 brought the curtains down on a highly successful Laneway Festival Singapore 2012.

As is obvious, I take issue with some of the band selections but it is instructional to note that I am not the target audience of Chugg Entertainment! If 7,800 young punters spending money on tickets, merchandize, food & beverage isn’t the mark of success, then I don’t know what is. Whether Chugg Entertainment should concern itself with the artistic, non-commercial aspects that I highlighted above is really up to them as a commercial entity. As a critic and music lover, this is my two-cents woth, as always. At the end of the day, I was happy enough to find embers of soul music (even superficially) burning in the music of some of these buzz bands and I am realistic enough to recognize more cannot be expected or demanded.

Till Laneway Festival Singapore 2013…

Thanks to Sammy Shirra-Moore and Chugg Entertainment for making this review possible.



Goodbye, emo

I have no clue what band competitions/auditions are like overseas but in Singapore’s indie music scene, ’emo’ has been the genre of choice for many of our young musicians in the last five years. However, unlike musicians in other countries, Singapore’s young musicians are rather sheltered, with a very limited range of musical influences. This is not their fault, as social engineering and an education system that rewards rote-learning over critical thinking have made our young people apathetic towards an appreciation of the history of the arts and music. (That and silly youtube videos!)

The annual Baybeats Festival has been a barometer of what’s hip and cool within the Singapore indie music scene for the last decade or so and has introduced many promising young bands to the music scene through its auditions process, which presents eight young bands to opportunity to play at the Festival on equal footing. I was privileged to have been a judge and mentor for Baybeats 2009 and Baybeats 2010 (together with Daniel Sassoon, Jon Chan and Amanda Ling). In those two years, ’emo’ bands would perhaps account for the majority of the hopefuls at the auditions and my own personal take on this saturated ‘genre’ is that unless you are better than West Grand Boulevard and Caracal – two of the top ’emo’ bands in Singapore – then you are not going to go very far.

This year, I spent the day with my Esplanade Youth Budding Music Writers as we covered the Baybeats Auditions 2012 together. At the end of the Auditions, I felt overall that the standard of the performances was generally very good but in terms of songwriting and arrangements, much work still needed to be done. Also, the ‘genres’ were more spread out evenly and I think this would be the case when the results are finally announced.

There were only two recognizable ’emo’ bands at the Auditions viz. Summerstate and Andrew Sane. Whilst I felt that the efforts were honest and heartfelt, the ’emo’ style is fast becoming jaded and the bands were not able to make the crucial connection. Pop-punk is the other popular ‘genre’ with the kids and on this count, we had Attention! The New Portsdown, Godzilla and Dropbeat Heartbeat. All three were very tight and dynamic although tunes were formulaic (my chief beef with pop-punk) and again, the risk of sounding ‘like every else’ always prominent. Two of my RP students (Matin and Ro) are part of Dropbeat Heartbeat and I personally thought the band did a good job within the context of what they were trying to achieve – sharpen the songwriting/arrangements and the band will be much stronger.

For me, the standout bands were the ones who did just that – stand out from the crowd. So the likes of Cashew Chemists, Obedient Wives Club, Pep Talk and Anechois had in their own way, delivered different takes of the pop-rock spectrum – with greater emphasis on songwriting than their peers managed to achieve – which makes all the difference. So I am sure you can guess where I am going with this. It is important to master your instrument and to rehearse regularly but without good songwriting (which includes arranging skills), it’s tougher to make an impression. Now, with respect to the metalcore/screamo ‘genres’ where vocals are hard to discern and music is presented in a dense block of sound, and it’s difficult to tell the difference between songs, the bands often depend on showmanship to win over their audiences. In this category, we had Monsters in Living Flesh, Embrace These Ghosts and A Town in Fear. Watching these bands perform, one can admire the enthusiasm and gusto in which their ‘attack’ their music but songwriting can be shallow and needs to be adequately addressed if they do not want to written off as a ‘one trick pony’.

The remaining three bands – The Auditory Effect, Atlas and Black Diamond Folds – possess a similar post-punk art-rock vibe amongst them and again while they have the sound and look down pat, the songwriting again is patently lacking. I know I am sounding like a broken record now but that’s where the key issues reside. For all the bands who participated (whether selected or not) my sincere plea to them is to continue to hone their craft with special focus on songwriting. Only then, can the Singapore indie music scene earn the respect it craves…





Our New Favorite

Crooked Fingers – Eric Bachmann’s country-folk vehicle is back with another collection of warm rustic songs. The new album is called Breaks in the Armor and was released in late 2011. The wistful tone found on “Our New Favorite” is emblematic of Crooked Fingers‘ overall tone and style – heartfelt without mawkish sentimentality. There is a certain dissonance about the way the verse moves into chorus without interrupting the flow of the song (the angelic backing vocals smoothens things up nicely) that makes “Our New Favorite” particularly appealing.

According to label Merge Records‘ emailer – the video below was “directed and edited by James Fleischel” and “beautifully illustrates the feelings of impermanence and connectedness suggested by the song by capturing and slowing down the fleeting moments of everyday life.” No argument there! Expect a review soon. In the meantime…

Official Site




The last time UK 80s-influenced dance pop band Friendly Fires played in Singapore, it was as opening act for Faithless. This time, the band returns to perform a full set on Friday, 16th March at Avalon. To these ears, the band really reminds me of the fag end of the 80s electronic movement when synth-pop totally dominated the UK charts. I’ll leave it to you whether I think that was a good thing or not. In any case, Friendly Fires is certainly a buzz band at the moment and at least the rhythmic patterns of its songs do extend beyond the ubiquitous disco beat that too many young indie dance bands rely on nowadays.

Event details: –

Doors open at 7.30pm

Venue: Avalon, Marina Bay Sands (Table reservations, contact [email protected])

Tickets: Advanced $58 / Standard $70 via

Presented by Untitled Entertainment.


Surfing on Nothing

My first exposure to Nada Surf (viz. Matthew Caws – vocals/guitar, Daniel Lorca – bass/vocals and Ira Elliot – drums) arrived in the form of a review CD of its second album, The Proximity Effect. The moment I played opening track – the propulsive “Hyperspace” – I was quite properly blown away! You could say that since then I’ve been hooked and have religiously followed the fortunes of this awesome trio. Every subsequent album has maintained (and sometimes even outperformed) the high standards set by The Proximity Effect.

Ironically enough, I was never too enamored with the band’s debut hit album – High/Low – produced by the Cars’ Ric Ocasek and containing the quirky hit single “Popular”. I suppose I lumped the band together with all the Nirvana wannabes that crawled out of the woodwork in 1996. Unfortunately for the band, label woes/legal problems delayed the release of The Proximity Effect independently before the band settled with noted indie Barsuk Records for its magnificent third album – Let Go.

Back in 2002, this is what I wrote – “Let Go is the masterpiece that Nada Surf has been promising to deliver and comes at a time where rock ‘n’ roll requires reinvention without sacrificing the basic foundations of melody and passion. Whilst eclecticism is always to be prized, Let Go does not stray too far from the folk-infused arousing power rock that Nada Surf excels in. In my conclusion, I compared Let Go to Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head (!) – yes, that line looks quite ridiculous now in hindsight!

The Weight is a Gift followed in 2005 and kept up the momentum with heartfelt, sensitive, sophisticated songwriting that highlighted Caws’ gorgeous tenor. However, in my view, it was with 2008 release Lucky that Nada Surf finally confirmed its heavyweight status as artists with an album that rocketed into my albums of the year without difficulty. My review simply gushed non-stop pausing to describe Lucky as “perfection”.

The band itself paused in 2010 to deliver a covers only album – If I Had A Hi-Fi – before finding the impetus recently to come up with yet another cracking instant classic – The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy – managing to salvage some of the propulsion of earlier material (check out the driving opener “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” and marrying these elements to the emotional weight of latter years. In songs like “Waiting for Something”, “When I Was Young” & “Jules and Jim”, the best of the 60s meets the 90s and and that is a potent combination!

Over the course of six albums, Nada Surf has proven conclusively that it is the ‘real deal’, oblivious to the hip and cool trends that come and go and concentrating on producing some of the best indie pop-rock of the past decade. Every album – from The Proximity Effect onwards – is highly recommended and you are guaranteed hours of pleasurable music listening.

Official Site 




Designed by Gene Whitlock

I hate the word ‘blog’. Worse still, ‘music blog’. Power of Pop is a website not a ‘music blog’. And Power of Pop will always be a vehicle for my personal views and opinions. This website will NEVER become a corporate music blog. That is a promise. I started this website in 1998 and whilst there have been hiccups along the way I am glad to say that we move into our fourteenth year in the pink of health. Sure, the website does not generate any revenue but that was never the goal – it has always been about the music.

When I started Power of Pop, I defined ‘Power Pop’ as Pop music with Power and this term transcended genre as my idea of Pop was/is very inclusive. Thus, I want to go back to that ideal that only music that fits that criteria will be featured on Power of Pop – I want this website to be the kind that seriously talented and innovative artists/bands would give their eyeteeth to be featured on. No compromises.

There will still be news items, gig reviews, band interviews, local music coverage in the general context of pop culture significance but when it comes to reviews, I am going to exercise much more quality control. There might be less reviews but when an album is featured, you can rest assured that it is music that has passed the Power of Pop test of excellence.

Thank you for your kind attention and I look forward to more years of support. Please leave comments if you have any at our newly minted Facebook page.


Days of Our Lives DVD (Eagle Vision)

This “Definitive Documentary of the World’s Greatest Rock Band” was first aired last year on BBC TV Two in two parts. Now commercially available in DVD, the documentary is well worth repeated viewings especially if you are a Queen fan, which I wager would be quite a lot of you out there.

As a fan myself, it is easy to be caught in the thrill of Queen’s early years as they released one exciting album after another – A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, News of the World, Jazz and The Game – racking out numerous worldwide chart hit singles in the process. Some contemporary insight is provided by guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor and previously unseen footage is also brought to bear in order to flesh the incredible success that Queen obviously was (and still is)

The latter half of the documentary comes to a sad conclusion naturally with the untimely death of singer Freddie Mercury 20 years ago in 1991. It is difficult not to be choked by emotion if like me, you loved Mercury for his incredible talent, showmanship and charisma. The interviews can get almost unbearably personal as May and Taylor share their last memories of Mercury on video.

At the end there is a sense that even in this day and age, Queen’s legacy remains strong and May/Taylor have done a good job to ensure that the music of Queen will never be forgotten. Essential for all Queen fans.




Has it really been a year since thousands braved the rain at the inaugural Laneway Festival in Singapore? Yes and on 12th February 2012, a host of popular alternative pop-rock luminaries will thrill audiences at the Fort Canning Park, where hopefully the weather will prove more hospitable than the last time out.

Here’s the Power of Pop guide of the day’s proceedings for your kind consideration.

The day will begin with Cults, who is scheduled to kick off the festivities at 1.50pm (Stage One). This buzz band is riding on the fuzz-Spector-derived-pop wave that is sweeping the indie-alternative scenes worldwide. 90s alt-rock revivalists Yuck then bring Stage Two to life at about 2.30om. Synth-pop duo Chairlift come on at 3.15pm (Stage One) before electronic trio Austra at 4pm (Stage One)

Then at 4.45pm (Stage One) Girls, one of the bands to watch, brings its retro-delic rock n’ roll to the mix and then post-punk outfit The Drums (who visited our shores in 2011) gets us dancing at 5.25pm (Stage Two). The seductive Anna Calvi (6.15pm, Stage One) and new wave-channeling Twin Shadow (7.05pm, Stage Two), two distinctive solo projects.

Laura Marling – another major highlight – will provide warm acoustic vibes at 7.50pm (Stage One) beforeThe Pains of Being Pure At Heart turn on the noise at 8.40pm (Stage Two). Still with me? Into the final lap,Toro Y Moi brings exotic, progressive beats to the affair at 9.30pm (Stage One) and then indie rockette Feist delivers heartfelt sophistication at 10.20pm (Stage Two).

And… if you’re feeling a little tired by then… trust The Horrors to spice things up with its brand of post-punk/new wave retrospectives (11.15pm, Stage One) and as Sunday becomes Monday, hot electronic band M83 will end the festival on an extremely high note at Stage Two!

But… after all’s said and done. Are you ready Singapore? And have you got your tickets yet?

Tickets available at SISTIC.


’11 EP

Discovered on Twitter! Yes, thanks to a chance encounter on social media about an hour ago – I am reviewing this really cool EP from Transmission Party (aka Tommy Byrnes). This four-track EP provides a good range of what Transmission Party is about – a classicist take on pop-rock music that takes the best of the sounds of 60s, 70s & 80s and refreshes them for a new generation. If music is cyclical (and it is) then surely it is time for smart, melodic and imaginative pop-rock to make its return.

I personally am quite taken with (You’re My) Lighthouse, which channels the Dukes of Stratosphear uncannily with its poignant Beatles and Beach Boys references to produce a truly gorgeous chorus. Right Left Good Bad and Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me are bouncy catchy numbers that recall the blue-eyed R&B of early Who, Mick Jones’ B.A.D, Todd Rundgren and Paul Weller. Finally, we have the psychedelic nugget that is Boredom which is a little by-the-numbers but still interesting for its faithful evocation of flower-powered 1967. Certainly, one can detect glimpses of The Idle Race, the Move and Traffic.

All very exciting stuff and am looking forward to more from Transmission Party!

Download the EP at the Official Site. Watch the video of Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me below.



Morning Sun

Video for the lead single, Morning Son, off Twister, Country Mice’s critically acclaimed 2011 album.

Lead singer Jason Ruerger explains what the video is all about – ”I live on the fourth floor of my apartment building, and you see this whole world of moving parts below you. It makes you feel removed and connected at the same time. The song has this outside looking in perspective on how it feels to lose everything you’ve gained, while not caring of the destruction it does around you. Kind of like floating above a car wreck. The cars, the people, are all part of this surreal movie that plays out around you and how most of the time you have no control in what is temporary or permanent in your life. The video is compiled of footage that was shot on our last tour. It’s us seeing a lot of these cities for the first time, capturing the moments in between shows. Our friend Gordon Holmes edited it together and wove it into a narrative within the context of the song.”

Originally posted on 1 Feb 2012


Just a Dream (Sleep, With Me)

A live version performed by Ben Harrison – all haunting, dreamy… magnificient. Understand that a full band recording is in the works. One to look out for – in the meantime, enjoy…

Originally posted on 1 Feb 2012



It’s no secret that I sometimes wish that I was born at a much later time. Being a young person during the 70s and 80s when rock music was considered ‘yellow culture’ by the Singapore Government (and heavily suppressed) meant that I missed watching my favourite bands coming down to Singapore to play. Of course, the Singapore of 2012 is totally different from the Singapore of 1982, where rock concerts of contemporary popular bands happen almost every week.

Thus far, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to catch a few musical heroes from this era viz. The Police, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lloyd Cole and even Bob Dylan. Come 10 March 2012, I can add Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark (OMD) to this rather short list as the band play the Esplanade Theatre.

OMD was instrumental in getting me to jump on the post-punk bandwagon back in 1980. I was struck by the band’s performance of Enola Gay in the post-punk/new wave film Urgh! A Music War and the rest, as they say, is history. OMD quickly became one of my favourite bands and I consider the first three albums – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Organisation & Architecture and Morality – to be essential listening for any scholar of the synth-pop epoch.

Back when OMD released its strong comeback album – History of Modern – I was fortunate to be able to interview Andy McCluskey (whom together with Paul Humphries form the core of OMD) via email but now am looking forward to actually speaking to the duo by phone very soon (for TODAY) ahead of their performance during Mosaic Music Festival (MMF) 2012. I can only hope now that I will get a chance to meet my heroes sometime in March. What say you, MMF organizers???

Tickets now available at SISTIC.

Originally posted on 1 Feb 2012



Designed by Frankie Pan

Slightly more than a year after Cheating Sons released its well-received debut album – Masters, Wives, Daughter – the band will be playing its sophomore effort in its entirety at the Esplanade Recital Studio for Late Nite @ Esplanade – Time Trails. Unfortunately, that second album will not be completed in time for this event but think of it as a extended teaser of the delights to come.

In addition to my role as band manager, I will also doubling up as keyboards player for this gig and believe me when I say that if you liked the tracks on the first one, the new material will blow your minds away! If you have caught any of the Sons’ shows in the last year you would be familiar with the likes of Jefferson, Amber Lights, Pale Rider, To Dance with the Devil and The Shadow Opera. As great as the aforementioned tracks are, the new songs up the ante somewhat and mine 60s rock n’ roll wonderfully as traces of the Beatles, Stones, the Band and Dylan are clearly evident together with the Sons’ own inimitable style and sound.

Of course, Power of Pop (together with the newly minted Cheating Sons website – to be launched soon) be showcasing the Sons’ preparation – both for the new album and the upcoming gig. It’s going to be exciting 2012 for Cheating Sons fans. If that’s you then first thing you need to do is quickly purchase your tickets for Time Trails at SISTIC.

… still there’s more …