It’s 24 hours later even as I type out my thoughts on last night’s Time Trails gig. Considering the behind-the-scenes issues that led up to that magical 85 minute set where Cheating Sons demonstrated once again why they are one of the most exciting musical prospects on our little island. Wearing my two hats (manager & session musician) was never difficult as I savored every single second of that long day. From unloading of gear, to sorting out dressing rooms, stage setups, line/sound checks and rehearsals it was steady progress all the way. Much of this had to do with the professionalism of the Esplanade crew and for that we are grateful. What was also particularly gratifying was the inclusion of extra talents into our Cheating Sons family viz. backing singers Rachael, Xue Yi, Narelle, horns section Joel, Ying Da, Erik, not to mention Wan on occasional bass and acoustic guitar. It was an amazing time of bonding, sharing and making beautiful music together as we all came together as one to celebrate the power of rock n’ roll.

The 13 songs whizzed past in a flash during which the crowd lapped up every moment – from Renyi almost forgetting to play “Amber Lights” to dropping his guitar (!) to our talented dancers (Fay and Yeong Wen) illuminating “End of the Day” and “Shadow Opera” to the sold-out crowd receiving warmly every new song that was delivered to them. And when the band walked off stage it was obvious that the crowd wanted more and the band returned to provide a two-song encore of “The Last Queen” and “Last Rites” before accepting the well-deserved standing ovation.

To the people who played their part in the background – Frankie, Nick, Goose, Caryn, Faizal – I salute you. Your contribution to making Time Trails a success was just as vital as the talented musicians on stage! And of course, the enthusiastic crowd who bought tickets, CDs and T-shirts, thank you very much!

… still there’s more…

(Photo by Lionel Ng)


(Answers by Nate – second from the right)

1. Why play music?

When I listen to a really good pop song, it’s like a high. I desperately want to chase that feeling, and surround myself with it constantly. I can’t stop listening, and I can’t stop creating…

2. Who are your influences?

The obvious ones would be The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but other influences include Jellyfish, Linus of Hollywood, BC Camplight, Harry Nilsson, Camera Obscura, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., The Zombies, Merrymakers, Seth Swirsky, Heavy Blinkers, it goes on and on…

3. What is success?

The moment I’m able to quit my real job.

4. Why should people buy your music?

I’ve put a lot of time, energy, effort, money, and passion into it over the years. Plus, I love my mom but she can’t be the ONLY one who buys copies…

5. Who do you love?

My friends, my family, and my girlfriend. My two cats and dog, who almost all my songs are about in the demo stage, are pretty great too…

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

My main goal in music is to make another Spilt Milk or SMiLE. This despite the fact that I don’t have even a 10th of the talent or genius of those guys, but it keeps me going anyway… Aim high, right?

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Mostly just the other bands on the bill at this point… please come?

8. What is your favorite album (at this moment)?

“Soundshine” by David Myhr. It’s impossible to be sad while listening to that.

9. What is your favorite song (at this moment)?

“Guy on Guy” by David Mead. Hilarious, happy, and a little heartbreaking.

10. How did you get here?

I was bit by a radioactive band geek.

Sweet Diss and the Comebacks‘ album – Emerald City Love Song is out now.

Official Site



To be honest I didn’t like Sweet Diss and the ComebacksEmerald City Love Song on first listen. Somehow, my state of mind dictated that the band was twee, fey and (probably) listened to too many Broadway musicals (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Well, obviously I was wrong (so what’s new?). Subsequent critical listens have revealed that Sweet Diss and the Comebacks (which is an unfortunate name) is a powerpop band in every sense of that word. Equal parts power and pop!

Power – crunching guitars help of course but it’s really about the dynamism of those song arrangements – hooks that stick in your head and the little sonic details (like percussive patterns) that make you go – “aha that’s cool!” Not to mention the sheer ambition (and balls!) of including a song suite (hence the earlier Broadway musical reference) viz. “Seattle’s Best” which consists of five parts and documents the eclecticism of Sweet Diss and the Comebacks (yeah it’s a mouthful). Sophisticated melodies, careening variations in mood and tone with tongue firmly in cheek. Genius!

Pop – think of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Badfinger, Sparks, Queen, Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick, Jellyfish, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne as Emerald City Love Song transport the faithful true blue POP listener (that’s you, kind visitor!) into the kind of pop Shangri-la that almost doesn’t exist anymore. I mean, “Never Stop Wooing You”, “Maybe Someday” and “Hey Indie Girl” are examples of driving, hummable powerpop magic that would teach those so-called ‘punk-pop’ (UGH!) poseurs (you know who the fuck you are!) how it’s all supposed to be done! They remind me of the sadly missed Splitsville (to these ears anyways) and other mighty 90s pop underground legends.

So if you have been reading this review all this while and you are still not convinced on the merits of powerpop and in particular Sweet Diss and the Comebacks then perhaps a pop cleansing of sorts need to be conducted in order to align the planets once more in the direction of true blue pop! Picking up Emerald City Love Song would be the perfect start…

Official Site

Check out “Hey Indie Girl” below.


(Press release)

Back by popular demand, Youtube sensation Jayesslee is set to bring their Asia tour to Singapore this coming May.

Clocking over 300,000 channel subscribers on Youtubesince their cyber debut in 2009, Janice and Sonia have captivated audiences all over with performances in many countries, including sold out shows in Thailand and Singapore.

Armed with angelic faces coupled with sweet personalities, these social media sweethearts make it easy for one to fall in love with them with their infectious energy and carefree stage performances.

After much eager anticipation, the vivacious twins from down under are finally ready to take on Asia and enchant the audience in a night filled with melodious indulgence.

Singapore is the first stop in this 8-cities tour, which will kick off at the iconic and newly revamped Kallang Theatre come 4th May.

Ticket prices start at $38 and will go on sale 28th March at all Sistic outlets islandwide and also made available online via

Do not miss your chance to catch them live in this one night only performance.



Date: 4th May 2012

Venue: Kallang Theatre

Time: 7.30PM

Tickets: $78, $58, $38

**Above prices do not include SISTIC handling fees



In the Singapore indie music scene, playing at the Late Night @ Esplanade series is a benchmark for any local indie band. For Cheating Sons, a band that only released its debut album in February last year it’s been a quick ascent to this particular summit. Of course, as its manager (and biggest fan), I’m probably expected to say that! That all said, Time Trails has certainly given the band the opportunity to flex its artistic and creative muscles to present a music show it can call its own. In this respect, we must thank The Esplanade for its faith, belief and support.

The first quarter of 2012 has been spent on two fronts – recording the new album and preparing for Time Trails – this process somewhat overlaps as the gig will only feature new material – the new album in fact – and so it has been a challenge for these two processes to be undertaken in parallel. Apart from the usual administrative and logistical headaches (all settled now, I hope!), the added pressure of working in several guest musicians (including yours truly) has also presented exciting possibilities. All things considered, the guest musicians have added a dimension to the new music that it’s safe to say that fans of Cheating Sons will be pleasantly surprised by how different the band sounds now.

For me personally, this will also be the first time I’ve ever performed at the Esplanade Recital Studio and I am going to savour every minute, believe me. It’s been a thrilling ride with The Sons so far and based on the new material that’s coming together it feels like the journey has only begun! All that’s left for me to say is that I hope you will get your tickets whilst they’re available cos it’ll be Cheating Sons as you’ve never heard them before and all the craft and artistry that everybody involved has put into Time Trails will make your $25 investment a worthy one…in the meantime, check out the wonderful video teaser by Nick Pan (if you haven’t already) and we want to thank SONY Electronics for its generous loan of the NEX-VG10E handycam that made it possible. Still there’s more…

Tickets on sale at SISTIC. Like Cheating Sons at Facebook.

Poster design by Andy Yang.



I am going to cut to the chase. If you love sophisticated music-making that draws from the deep well of 60s and 70s classic pop-rock, then you must get yourself a copy of Brad Brook‘s new LP – Harmony of Passing Light. Brooks is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who may well have delivered the finest album of his life. Well certainly, Brooks’ album will sit comfortably alongside his avowed influences viz. Elvis Costello, Wilco, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Queen. What truly shines through is the sheer range of styles and ‘genres’ that Brooks employs – nothing is utilized for effect alone – instead, every stylistic choice enhances the strong songwriting in evidence.

Imagine your favourite 60s and 70s music being distilled into a heady brew that is at once sweet and sharp and you might just have a grasp of what Brooks has achieved here. My personal favourites (and believe me, I am digging every single track) would include the opening authentic R&B-inflected “Calling Everyone”. The sitar embellishment keeps the pop footing steady as Brook’s blue-eyed soul evocation of the likes of Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall is a distinctive joy to behold. High on my list as well is the baroque “Night Fades” with its Zombies/Left Banke-referencing chamber pop twists and turns. The banjo and string quartet arrangements do turn one’s mind to Brian Wilson’s singular music visions though, it must be said. No mean feat!

Elsewhere, “Exemplary Girl” brings Beatlesque psychedelic rock channeling to its logical conclusion with melodic hooks coming at you left, right and centre, in particular the revolving violins! The obligatory faux-classical piano ballad comes at the end with “Grand Manner” but true to the 70s singer-songwriter tradition, this comes with genuine pathos and an erudite charm that will stir hearts and place lump firmly in throat.

Believe me, folks, the delights come at every milestone on this brilliant album. No exaggeration to say in an age of throwaway pop, Brooks has concocted a mini pop masterpiece that gives true pop music lovers that there may still be hope for us yet. Essential listening.

Official Site


Songbird is a Singaporean singer whose music fuses heartfelt lyrics, bouncy rhythms and saccharine pop melodies into radio-friendly tunes. Her first single, “Maybe”, is a sun-soaked ditty that shows off Songbird’s gift for balancing complex emotions with lighthearted flair. Songbird will make her debut at The Singapore Arts Festival from 24 to 27 May 2012. Book your seats at


Overthrown’s 2nd Album Launch: A Hardcore Celebration!

Emily Hill came alive with the Reconstrux Hardcore Fest last Sunday evening as 6 hardcore bands joined our home-grown band Overthrown for the launch of their second album, As It Is. The 8 tracks in their self-released CD included collaborations with Death Before Dishonor and Down To Nothing from the USA, No Turning Back from the Netherlands, King Lychee from Hong Kong, and Restraint from Malaysia.

Overthrown showed the crowd a roarin’ good time! Bringing the spirit of their new album to life onstage, they shared the limelight with guest bands Restraint from Malaysia, The Vampirates from Australia, Anchor from Sweden, and local bands, 2Fold, Obscure and The Jabs. And the crowd reserved their loudest shouts for Overthrown, singing along, going mental in the circle pit, kicking and punching the air, head-banging, and body surfing. What a wild ride!

Waiting while the bands get ready for their sets, watching the crowd buy CDs, T-shirts, stickers and other hardcore memorabilia, applauding the bands that played, watching the crowd goin’ nuts in the mosh pit, seeing everyone enjoy the company of other like-minded individuals – this isn’t just a gig fest, this is a family of friends. The Lion City hardcore experience is not just about the music, it’s a whole lifestyle in itself, and the people who live it take it very seriously indeed. As seen on a cap worn by the bassist of Obscure, “Passion is the reason”.

While it’s hard to appreciate the hardcore sound, the folks who made the climb to Emily Hill that day really had a blast! They walked the walk, and they talked the talk, and by the end of the night, I came to realize that as long as Lion City hardcore lives, these bands and this crowd just won’t back down!

(Jeanette Chin)

Pictures by Steven Chew


Back in late 2008, our writer Adam Gregory raved about Passion Pit‘s Chunk of Change EP describing Passion Pit as “a blast of fresh air”. Since then, the band has released its debut album – Manners – in 2009 to critical acclaim with songs placed on TV (Big Love), video games (FIFA 10), a performance at the Glastonbury festival and an opening spot on the last Muse US tour cementing its burgeoning reputation. Now the American electropop band makes its way to Singapore as it supports the upcoming release of its sophomore full-length effort in June 2012.


Date: Tuesday, 21st August 2012

Time: 7.30pm

Venue: Esplanade Concert Hall

Tickets are priced at $48, $69, $88 and $98 (excl SISTIC fees). Promoter Greenhorn Productions will make an announcement as to when tickets go on sale so stay tuned!

Facebook event page


Friendly Fires | 16 March 2012 | Avalon

Fans of indie band Friendly Fires were treated to an energetic and highly enjoyable set at the band’s performance in Singapore last Friday. Having released two albums, the band commanded a much larger fanbase than their last performance in Singapore supporting Faithless. Ed, Edd, Jack and their live band certainly showed their appreciation for the crowd as they provided non-stop entertainment for the audience for ninety minutes, especially with Ed’s manic dancing.

Greeted by familiar indie tunes at the beginning of the night (spun by Home Club BEAT! resident Ginette Chittick), the crowd made up of young adults filled up the dancefloor at Avalon, cheering as Ginette played songs by The Cure, The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand and such. But the crowd had clearly conserved their energy for the performance, as the band took their places on the cramped stage and sent the crowd into a wave of dancing as they launched into “Lovesick”. Singing along to every word, audience members altogether moved to the beat, encouraged by Ed’s hip-shaking.

As with many other bands, the first album from Friendly Fires was clearly more popular among their fans in Singapore, apparent when the band started on “Running Away” and “Blue Cassette” and many paused to take a breather. But they were soon sent into a frenzy when Ed jumped into the audience and danced his way through the entire crowd on the dancefloor, all the while singing “True Love”.

Performing most of the tracks from their two albums, it was a night of euphoric dancing, especially so when they seemingly ended the night with “Paris”, their biggest hit. “Every night, we’ll watch the stars, they’ll be out for us, and every night the city lights, they’ll be out for us” – never seemed so apt set against the backdrop of the city skyline with the crowd jumping, arms raised to the sky and singing every word.

The band proceeded to leave the stage, and yet – there was more. The band ran back on stage within minutes, dripping with sweat while launching into “Hawaiian Air”. Their encore of “Hawaiian Air” and “Kiss of Life” would have easily impressed anyone, let alone a roomful of their fans. Performing an extended version of “Kiss of Life” with the help of their extensive percussion section of their live band, they ended the night on a high. Overall, their live performance was highly enjoyable with the infectious energy of the band, but was marred by the venue’s sub-par sound system, as Ed’s vocals could barely be heard throughout their set, drowning in the sound from the bass and drums.

(Melissa Ng)

Photos courtesy of Dominic Phua and Ryan Peters/ Untitled Entertainment. Thanks to April Lam for making this review possible. 


Christopher Martin (left) and Chris Phillips (right)

1. Why play music?

It’s fun to create and perform. That’s the same question as “why play sports?”

2. Who are your influences?

We draw from everyone. We have such different musical tastes. We try to learn songs in every genre, and every era.

3. What is success?

We strive to be more successful every year. That being said, success to us is achieving our goals. We set all kinds of goals for the business side of things, and the music side of things

4. Why should people buy your music?

Because its going to put you in a good mood, make you more attractive to others, and causes spontaneous rambunctiousness.

5. Who do you love?

Our families and friends mean everything to us.

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

A long lasting worthwhile career. Our backup plans are lame! This is the fun job!

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Hopefully everyone! It always starts out with your close friends and like your mom and dad. But if you keep playing and have a fun live show… The more people you meet, the more crowded it gets. We do love meeting new people every time we play.

8. What is your favorite album (at this moment)?

Phillips: Mutemath – Odd Soul.

Martin: Iceage – New Brigade

9. What is your favorite song (at this moment)?

Phillips: Whiskey Lullaby – Brad Paidley/Allison Krause

Martin: I’ll Go Crazy – James Brown

10. How did you get here?

Phillips : My parents had sexual intercourse with each other. “It’s science”.

Martin: Interpretive dancing opened alot of doors for me.

IAMDYNAMITE’s new album SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC is out on 5th June.


I HAVE no scientific basis for saying this, but I suspect it might be physically impossible to refrain from dancing while listening to Trombone Shorty and his supafunkrock band of soul brothers, Orleans Avenue. 

Seriously. Try it. Better men than me have tried and failed to keep their feet from tapping while listening to the infectious grooves and velvety melodies captured on their past two records, Backatown (2010) and For True (2011). The effect is irresistible live– at the Timbre Rock and Roots music festival held here last year, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue stole the show with an explosive, lethal performance that blended together funk, hard rock, hip-hop and bebop in the proud gumbo spirit of New Orleans.  

We catch up with the 26-year-old Trombone Shorty (real name Troy Andrews) in a short interview where he reveals how it felt like to play for President Obama, how excited he is to be returning to Singapore as well as his thoughts on Asian music.

Hey Troy! Where are you calling from right now, what time is it? 

I’m in New Orleans man! It’s 830pm over here.

How’s your day and year been? 

It’s been alright, taken care of a bunch of business, ran a couple of errands. The year’s been extremely busy so far, yeah. We’ve been playing a a bunch of gigs and popping back home occasionally.

Well, so far your year has included playing for the President and meeting B.B King…



Melissa with the SONY Tablet

SONY rolled out the full slate of its communications and entertainment devices with a stress on “connectivity” at a media event this morning held at Sentosa Cove. Melissa and I listened to presentations regarding the ability of the various SONY devices (viz. Xperia smartphones, BRAVIA televisions, Tablets and VAIO notebooks) to share content amongst themselves via DNLA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface). This integration would allow a consumer to, for instance, flash photos or video contained on a smartphone on a television screen by wireless network, play music files (residing on a Tablet or notebook) on Network Speakers.

There was also much capital made of SONY’s new BRAVIA TV which boasted of the most vivid HDTV pictures (including 3D) ever. I must say that the X-Reality PRO Engine was the most impressive with its picture quality and contrast. There was also a demonstration of HDTV 3D required fairly comfortable 3D glasses although the value of watching 3D TV I must confess still eludes me.

In addition, SONY launched its latest Xperia smartphones which certainly look sleek but user-friendliness still remains an issue. And for those who thrive on listening to music and watching videos on their phones would be dismayed the information that only 4GB is available for your media content on these phones. There is some way to go before SONY’s Xperia catch up with the standard  bearers for the mobile phone market.

One product that mystified us somewhat was the SONY Tablet P (above). It’s two screens split in half contained in a device that folds in on itself like a spectacle box! One cannot imagine the practicality of the design or how it would translate into user-friendliness but it’s definitely a curious looking Tablet.

Without prolonged use of the new devices, it’s difficult to give a proper assessment but suffice to say, that I was most impressed with the new BRAVIA TVs, especially the X-Reality PRO engines which certainly brings the term “picture quality” to totally new level.


(Answers by Lincoln Barr, above centre)

1. Why play music?

Quite simply, it’s all I’ve wanted to do since I first picked up a guitar at age 13. There’s nothing else like writing songs – the initial spark of an idea, the satisfaction of hearing it all come together, and all of the hard work in-between.

2. Who are your influences?

Craftsmen – Nick Lowe, Alex Chilton, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson. These guys might not’ve been blessed with Sam Cooke’s voice or Elvis Presley’s good looks, but they found a unique approach to songwriting and music-making and developed it, diligently, over long and winding careers, driven only by what was interesting to them at that moment. That’s what I want.

3. What is success?

See above! Finding a supportive audience, and building it slowly but surely. The ability to travel and experience different cultures through music-making would certainly qualify as ‘success’ in my book.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Well, because we spend a lot of money (not to mention time) recording and delivering it to your ears! All proceeds go toward our continued efforts in that department.

5. Who do you love?

My wife, my family, my bandmates and friends. People that inspire me. Bo Diddley, for sure.

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

I’ve already achieved a lot of the things I dreamt of when I started writing songs – I’ve shared stages with some of my favorite musicians (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Chuck Prophet, Jason Falkner), made albums with them (Ken Stringfellow), and spent countless hours in the studio and in a van with my buddies, playing music all over the western US. As I approach 10 years trading under the Red Jacket Mine name, I suppose I’d just like continue expanding in all directions – more music, more friends, more travel and shared experiences. Very few people that I know are getting rich in this business, so to a certain extent, that’s what we’re all collecting – experiences.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends and friendly strangers, mostly. The occasional mummy.

8. What is your favorite album (at this moment)?

Can I choose an upcoming one? My favorite new band of the last few years, Toronto, Ontario’s Zeus (, has a new album called Busting Visions coming out on March 27 via Canadian super-indie Arts & Crafts. Their debut album, Say Us, was my hands-down pick for 2010, and something tells me they’ll take the crown this year, too.

9. What is your favorite song (at this moment)?

Well, I’m enjoying the Staple Singers’ Uncloudy Day this fine Sunday morning, and that’s sounding pretty mighty, but my current pick comes from another brilliant Toronto artist – “Caught Me Thinking” by Bahamas (aka Afie Jurvanen, erstwhile guitarist for Feist, Jason Collett, and others). Check out the video, and then pick up his new record, Barchords.

10. How did you get here?

I was born in southeast Missouri in 1982, and moved around a bunch as a kid, spending my formative years in northwest Mississippi (near Memphis, Tennessee). I returned to Missouri for college, where I met my lovely wife (and started releasing four-track recordings under the Red Jacket Mine moniker), and we’ve lived in Seattle for the last seven years.

Red Jacket Mine’s new 7″ single – Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell) is out now! Find out more.



Indie supergroup seems like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? Well, Wild Flag is perhaps best known for consisting of ex-members of the bands Sleater-Kinney, Helium and The Minders. In all probability, most of you reading this will have no clue about the bands just mentioned, so it’s largely irrelevant. But what we do have is a band in the here and now that combines the now forgotten Riot Grrl aesthetic with the new danceable indie pop sound. This video of “Romance” (taken off 2011’s self-titled debut album) is both thoughtful and entertaining. Band musicians with a day-job will identify with the hi-jinks that the girls get up to here!


Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)

I make no apologies for being a lover of ‘old-school’ pop music cuz ultimately it’s about substance and not mere form. Pleased to report that bands like Red Jacket Mine, which focus on 80s-styled soul, country, blues, rock, and pop (think: Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Style Council, Hall & Oates) are still out there, if you know where to look!

Red Jacket Mine has already released two studio albums (including 2009′s Ken Stringfellow-produced Lovers Lookout) and currently consists of  bandleader Lincoln Barr, longtime drummer Andrew Salzman and bassist Matthew Cunningham. “Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)” is a brilliant slice of soul-infused pub rock that bears repeated listening.

So check out this surrealistic music video for Red Jacket Mine‘s new 7″ single and please send them your love, okay?

Official Site | Facebook

Limited edition of 500 hand-numbered singles on colored vinyl, out now on Fin Records. Purchase on iTunes.


(Press release)

Steel Pulse Announces Spring Tour Dates

Look Out For New LP This Year

Steel Pulse may have explored various styles of music since they started out in 1975, but when it comes to the message, the UK’s Grammy – Winning reggae band has remained close to their roots. The Group have continued their commitment to fighting injustice, educating the masses, and promoting positive messages through spiritually uplifting music.

“We just can’t ignore the politics, because every life and soul that’s born on this earth is a political manoeuvre for someone, at some point”, Hinds explains. “From a spiritual aspect, it’s really an upliftment through facing reality – what’s out there. We deal with positive spirits. It means putting aside the guns, the drugs and all of the things that are ailments of society – especially in the black communities right now”.

Continue reading “STEEL PULSE”


(Answers provided by Noel Yeo)

1. Why play music?

I enjoy playing music. As I’m sure some people enjoying riding bicycles, driving cars, shooting pigeons. It’s just something I enjoy doing.

2. Who are your influences?

Teenage Fanclub and all of its power pop brethrens. There are so many. Big Star. Matthew Sweet. Badfinger. Some not so obvious. T-Rex. Boo Radleys. Hefner. God, I miss Hefner. I also enjoy Pavement a great deal. It was really punk, the attitude of not really caring. Not caring that you’re wearing a buttoned-down collared shirt.

3. What is success?

Success is being able to express yourself fully. No reservations. No self-censorship. No hang-ups. No fear of reprisals. When the music in your head plays the same as when it’s out in the real world, that’s success. That said, often times the music changes because you’re in a band, so it gets better; that’s another form of success!

4. Why should people buy your music?

It’s hard to say why anyone should do anything. But let’s just say we’ve kept the music as honest as possible. It really reflects what we love doing as a band. We get ourselves into a state of euphoria sometimes when we play. We hope it comes through in the record.

5. Who do you love?

You mean besides wife, family and all that? I don’t actually have an idol. “Kill your idols” is a popular phrase amongst writers, and I find that to be true in almost all aspects of life. No one is that important you can’t take a piss on. But if you’re talking about just people whom I generally admire, I admire anyone who seems to be living their lives without internal conflict. By that I mean anyone who does what they want to do without holding anything back. Morrissey seems to do that. The late Steve Jobs. Ricky Gervais. Larry David. Simon Amstell. I love stand-up comedians. The good ones. Think they show the way.

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

There is no agenda beyond getting the music heard. I don’t think there’s much else you can do as a creator beyond creating that piece of work. Sure you can help promote it, but what happens after is beyond your control. The only thing you can control is the work and the quality of the work. And hopefully, if it’s good enough, it’ll be shared.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends! Past, present and future.

8. What is your favorite album?

Of all time? There are so many, but if you held a gun to my head and force to me to state one, it’d be The Beatles’ “White Album.” It’s an opus from a band I love so much I one day woke up crying because in my dreams they had somehow reformed, all members were there playing, and I was there. It is also an album about a band being broken. Each wanting to do their own thing. But as an outsider, you see them as The Beatles more than ever.

9. What is your favorite song?

“In My Life”. Although I certainly don’t want that at my funeral. That’ll be too obvious. I don’t actually listen to that song a lot. Or any other song. I don’t replay much of any music. There is so much new music out there I can barely keep up. Better to listen to new songs. I love new music.

10. How did you get here?

How very zen. Everything in my life, all the left turns and rights, all success and failures, got me here. Not even sure exactly where here is.

Shelves’ eponymous debut album is available now.

Official Site



It’s Heavy In Here

The Observatory may have a reputation for being an arty, cerebral band but deep down the quartet (viz Leslie Low, Vivian Wang, Dharma & Victor Low) is a rock band at heart. Whilst previous album – Dark Folke – had strong elements of neo-folk sprinkled throughout, there is little doubt that the main inspiration for new album Catacombs is music of a heavier nature. Apart from the dirge-like reveries of “Insomnia” and “Anger & Futility”, long time fans may be surprised by the sheer visceral metallic envelopes that the band wrapped this intricate songs in.

The title track is a prime example of this. As heavy as something you might find on that legendary first Black Sabbath album, “Catacombs” is a cathartic squall as Low sings, “Behind these eyes are catacombs”, you will definitely shiver. Likewise on unsettling “Headworm”, the disturbing metaphor is raised – “For the worms in my head/How are you?/You have been with me through thick and thin” Brrrrr. And then there is “Accidentagram”. Is this dark atmospheric track an examination of lunacy? Taking the words and music together, it is a representation of madness that one will find chilling.

There is no pandering to hip and cool tastes on Catacombs. Only an uncompromising honest work of art that expresses the deepest feelings and emotions of the artist and lays them bare for its audience to dissect, absorb and devour. Kudos to The Observatory for being brave and talented enough to bring us all this sonic tour de force.

Online ordering for Catacombs is now available. Proceed to

Catch The Observatory live at the Substation. Details below.

April 20 & 21
The Substation Theatre
45 Armenian Street Singapore
Standing only

Tickets available from The Substation Box Office
Open Monday – Friday
Phone +65 6337 7800
Email [email protected]



What can I say except that I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Stanton’s adaptation of the now century-old A Princess of Mars. At the end of the movie, I felt like a young teenager again in the 70s thrilled by fantasy films like Jason & the Argonauts and the Golden Voyage of Sinbad. In these films, we had swashbuckling heroes, damsels in distress, gigantic monsters and epic battles sequences. The plot was simple (but not simplistic) with the themes of loyalty, sacrifice and love high on the agenda. You might even call the storyline in John Carter, archetypal planetary romance and deep influences on blockbusters such as Star Wars and Avatar.

John Carter has been planned as the first in a trilogy of movies about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ titular character and it is very much framed as an origin story, with the ending setting up for a sequel nicely. Whether we will get to see the sequel will really depend of course on the film’s box office performance. Which at the moment, is not not faring as well as Disney would have hoped. That I believe is partly due to the fact that most movie-goers unfamiliar with John Carter’s place in science fiction may consider the movie to be an inferior facsimile of Avatar or Star Wars.

Which would be a pity because Stanton has fashioned a loving tribute to the original tale that does Burroughs’ vision justice. Whilst the lead actors viz Taylor Kitsch (Carter) and Lynn Collins (Dejah Thoris) are serviceable in their roles, the true appeal lies in the plot idea of a human being transported to Mars (Barsoom to the natives) and becoming embroiled in a conflict that will determine the fate of the planet itself. Director Stanton (best known for helming Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Wall-E) keeps delivering the storyline as his focus and with the aid of top notch digital effects, there is no problem in enjoying the ride.



With the resurgence of 90s alternative/powerpop/rock, bands like Girls, Yuck, WU LYF, Radical Dads and the like channel the influences of Pixies, Teenage Fanclub, Dinosaur Jr and Weezer into a beautiful noise. In these circumstances, it seems appropriate that in the Singapore indie rock scene Noel Yeo, Melvin Ho and Robin Chua, members from two nineties bands (viz Suchness and Livonia) have, together with Brian Leery (from Leeson) released a smashing debut album that succinctly captures the zeitgeist of these  sweet and fuzzy times.

The name of the band is Shelves and the eponymous debut LP that has resulted from this collaboration rivals anything its Western contemporaries have mustered so far. Seriously folks, songs like “Against The Wall” and “(She Wakes Up To) The Beat” would have gotten the hipster crowd at the recent Laneway Festival agog with blind worship, if not for the notoriously illogical anti-Singapore sentiment that pervades music lovers here.

Bottom line, kind people, is that it can only be about good music i.e. memorable melodies, crunchy guitars and an easy vibe that appeals to the teenage pop-rocker in all of us. Tracks like “Holiday”, “Killer Concern”, “It’s Always Summer”, “Sussed Out” and “Superstar” are so filled to the brim with superior tunes that it’s almost criminal that a songwriting talent like Noel Yeo still remains an obscure commodity.

Hopefully, Shelves will redress any injustices in this respect and earn Shelves the love and acclaim the melody-driven quartet truly deserves. You can either purchase the vinyl LP at one of the band’s shows or digital download at the Bandcamp link below.

Official Site


Upcoming Shelves gigs:

Mosaic Music Festival 2012 Esplanade Outdoor Theatre 13 Mar 2012

Identite w/ Obedient Wives Club HOME Club 23 Mar 2012

The Pigeonhole 30 Mar 2012


(I Hate This Place – Gayle Nerva, Sean Nerney and Roman Tarrasov. Responses from Sean)

1. Why play music?

I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember. For me it’s a pure form of expression, a way to communicate things with more than words. So aside from being a lot of fun, it’s also a very good outlet.

2. Who are your influences?

I’ve been heavily influenced by electronic and pop groups of the 80s as well as people who are active in the contemporary electronic music scene. I’m a big fan of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, as well as the Postal Service and Lights.

3. What is success?

For me success would mean being able to make a living doing something that is also creatively fulfilling. I think people are happiest doing something that they personally believe in. If that thing can also sustain you materially I think that is all to the good.

4. Why should people buy your music?

For me, people buying my music is not as important as having them connect with it. If people have a genuine connection with the songs, not only will this add to their lives, they will also support the music, either through coming to shows or purchasing merchandise.

5. Who do you love?

Anyone who loves life 🙂

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

I would love for I Hate This Place to carve a space for itself in Singapore’s music scene. There is so much going on right now locally. I think the time is right for a project like this to step up and try to contribute to everything that is happening.

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Friends, family, randoms…. 🙂 I think one of the good things about I Hate This Place is that it has a wide appeal – I think it doesn’t purposely try to appeal to any particular scene. If you’re a fan of electronic music you’ll probably have a good time.

8. What is your favorite album?

It changes all the time, but currently devouring Siberia, the new album from Lights, and Oh Land. In terms of timeless appeal, I can always out in The Downward Spiral from Nine Inch Nails, Massive Attack’s Mezzanine or Kid A by Radiohead.

9. What is your favorite song?

From the albums above: “Suspension”, “Wolf & I”, “Piggy”, “Inertia Creeps”, and “How to Disappear Completely”.

10. How did you get here?

I didn’t die 🙂

More information about I Hate This Place at its Facebook page.

Join I Hate This Place for some ElectroPop Music at BluJaz Cafe, 3rd Floor (SPACE) on the 28th March! The last Wednesday of the Month. 7PM SHARP! Also playing – Cosmic ArmchairRiot !n MagentaDJ Nate and DJ Kithsa from the Electronic Music Lab on decks!


(Press release)

EPIX, the premium entertainment service available to subscribers on television, video-on-demand, online and consumer electronic devices delivers another high profile original comedy event in March as comedian Lewis Black marks his return to the premium service. The new special follows up his Grammy winning special, Stark Raving Black, which continues to be a top performing original event on EPIX.

Filmed at Minneapolis’ historic State Theatre, In God We Rust features Black’s inimitable comedy tirades as he jumps up and down and wags his finger at the absurdities of our lives. With topics taken from the front pages, Black leads the audience on a hilarious, cathartic journey from politics to Valentine’s Day to Facebook’s popular application, Farmville. “People do this, because really, everybody’s always dreamed of having a fake farm,” says Black.

“Lewis Black connects with our audience,” said EPIX President Mark Greenberg, welcoming the return to EPIX of the bestselling author and The Daily Show contributor. “His last special continues to draw heavy viewership on the network, on demand and online. Now, as EPIX expands to Internet connected devices like Xbox, Roku and others, we are providing fans with even more ways to see him.”

“I’m thrilled to be back,” Lewis Black added. “I don’t claim to understand the technology behind EPIX and all the platforms, but I’m thankful that they do. And I’ve been told by people barely out of diapers that it’s actually not complicated.”

In God We Rust joins a growing roster of A-list comedy events on EPIX which include “Craig Ferguson: Does This Need to be Said;” “Louis CK: Hilarious” (nominated for two 2011 Emmy awards); “Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story” (nominated for a 2010 Emmy); Lewis Black’s “Stark Raving Black” (which received a Grammy nod) and shows featuring David Cross, Seth MacFarlane, Janeane Garofalo and Kevin Smith. Music related events have included exclusive concerts by Britney Spears, Usher, Bon Jovi, Black Eyed Peas, and Madonna.

Check out what Lewis Black has to say about… Farmville.

Lewis Black‘s In God We Rust Premieres on EPIX March 17


1. Why play music?

Never really thought about doing anything else. Music got its hooks in early. I guess its the only art form that can immediately and completely change your emotional state to something totally unexpected. Something about melody and lyrics and groove that just tap into something in the brain.

2. Who are your influences?

My influences are kind of all over the map…80’s metal, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Mozart, Schubert…but the most directly relevant to my music would be melodic artists that come out of one or another tradition that the Beatles launched….Elvis Costello, Paul Westerberg, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Wilco…

3. What is success?

Being able to do good work that is challenging and rewarding…and making enough money to keep doing it.

4. Why should people buy your music?

Well, hopefully because they like it and want to listen to it. If you mean why should they “buy” it instead of stream it etc…because I am an independent artist, and everything I make from records goes right into making more records. If you want to hear more of my music, you can look at the money you spend on my stuff as investments for future rock.

5. Who do you love?

Family, friends, and anyone that cares enough about my music to listen, come to shows, write blog posts, share with friends, and help me keep doing what I’m doing.

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

Apart from world domination, I just want to keep making music that connects with people. Play more shows, make more records. more, more, more…

7. Who comes to your gigs?

Fans, friends, other musicians. There’s considerable overlap there.

8. What is your favorite album?

Very difficult question. Probably either Abbey Road or Pet Sounds…but Damn the Torpedoes is up there too…also Imperial Bedroom…also Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Sorry…I can’t choose just one.

9. What is your favorite song?

Again…hard to choose, but “What’s so Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding” is a pretty damn good tune.

10. How did you get here?

Started playing when I was 6. Listened to tons of music. Practiced a lot. Wrote a lot. Played in bands. Went to music school. Kind of the old fashioned way. Since I’m too old for American Idol, I’ll have to settle for the old “10,000 hours” model.

Jeff Litman‘s album Outside is available now. Read our review here.


A Concert For The Fans

Iconic ‘80s band Duran Duran played the Singapore Indoor Stadium and treated everyone to a Saturday night filled with a selection of their greatest hits and songs from their latest album, All You Need Is Now. The band gave a tremendous performance, emphasizing they are first and foremost a live band.

Opening the show in dramatic fashion with instrumental number “Return To Now”, leading into the lyrically poetic “Before The Rain”, the band then launched into an energetic rendition of “Planet Earth” and James Bond theme “A View To A Kill”. Mixing fast songs with ballads, the band delivered wave after wave of musical ecstasy.

Spending 2010 promoting All You Need Is Now, the band embarked on a tour spanning the globe in 2011, taking them through UK, Europe, North America, Dubai and Singapore. They will also be heading to Seoul, Hong Kong, Australia, and South America.

Midway through the tour, lead singer Simon Le Bon had encountered problems with his voice, forcing the band to take pause and wonder about a possible future without him. Tour dates were re-scheduled, so that he could recover, and after 3 months, they were back on the road again.

On Saturday night, Simon was in fine form. His voice was buttery smooth in “Come Undone” and showed no sign of strain throughout the evening, not even with hard-hitting tracks like “Wild Boys”.

With the band returning to the early ‘80s sound of their first 3 albums, it is evident that Duran Duran have come full circle. Through its ups and downs, changing band members and personal struggles, this band has survived. This concert was for the fans. Through the challenges, all they needed to do was to focus on the people right in front of them. The ones who’ve stuck by them through the years. Nothing else matters. All we need is now.

(Jeanette Chin)