ANNIE – REVIEW + INTERVIEW

Ella Crossland shares the role of Annie with two other girls, Katie Howard and Charlie Hall (not pictured)

A crowd of people dressed in rags and whatever they can find to weather the city winter gather. They pull tight amongst themselves and share whatever warm food they can find.

They speak and commiserate in equal misery. They sneer and jeer and they sing sarcastic plaudits to the former president for his part in driving the country off a fiscal cliff, into poverty and economic wreckage.

A little orphan girl tries to cheer them up.  Before anything can be done, however, the police crack down tight. This city must not tolerate its own uglier underbelly.

An account of the Occupy Wall Street movement from last year?

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MTV WORLD STAGE REVIEW

MTV WORLD STAGE 2012 

(created on actual date of event, 14th of July, with finishing touches on the 23rd of July)

A heat wave is sweeping over Malaysia at this very moment as I write this. That is, besides the hot and humid weather that has surrounded us after several days of moody cloudiness. It is the time for this year’s MTV World Stage Live in Malaysia!

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THE STONE ROSES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE REVIEW

ARE YOU MADE OF STONE?

Simply put, The Stones Roses proved their skeptics (including yours truly) WRONG! This controversial reunion tour was not about one last massive paycheck (well, not only in any case) but judging from what was happening on stage – the verve, the energy, the sheer joy of performance and the chemistry amongst Reni, John Squire, Mani and Ian Brown, it was clear that the music was uppermost in the band’s mind and giving the fans exactly what they wanted.

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GEEK OUT! THE DARK KNIGHT RISES REVIEW

Batman Begins was – after the risible Batman Forever and Batman & Robin – a shot in the arm for the Batman movie franchise and the superhero film genre. Director Christopher Nolan together with writers Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer presented Batman in a more realistic and darker tone. Batman Begins was a critical and commercial success and paved the way for the even greater things to come.

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RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – OUT OF THE GAME

OLD MOTHER HUBBARD

Never let it be said that Rufus Wainwright has gone to the cupboard of influences, inspirations and references and found said cupboard to be bare. On his latest album – Out of the Game – Wainwright seems to pull out sophisticated pop-rock gems effortlessly, and with vaunted British producer Mark Ronson providing the necessary relevant and appropriate sound values (good old-fashioned vibes basically), this album of fecund material is destined to be one of the finer albums of 2012.

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THE CRIBS – IN THE BELLY OF THE BRAZEN BULL

BACK TO BASICS

In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is a stunning return to form by The Cribs, fresh off the departure of guitarist Johnny Marr (of Smiths fame) from the band. Their long-awaited album (long-awaited as they have been waiting for the corporate indie ship to sink, article here) is their best yet, marrying the best of their signature no-holds-barred grunge and punk sound and the slicker and cleaner sound of their last release, Ignore The Ignorant. Declaring that with this album, The Cribs are taking on the mainstream “pop hell”, it sure doesn’t disappoint being chocked full of tunes, anthemic choruses, raw emotion, direction and attitude.

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GEEK OUT! OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL [TRAILER]

A Wizard of Oz prequel directed by Sam Raimi. Sounds like a winner right?

Here’s the plot summary – When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

A prequel that works? We’ll see…

PoPTV: THE SPRING STANDARDS – HEAVY HOME [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

I sense a strong Fleetwood Mac vibe when listening to this wistful rustic song. Old-school sophisticated pop-rock works for me every single time. So yes, I dig it! Well, it appears that “Heavy Home” is featured on The Spring Standards‘ new release – yellow//gold – and if the rest of the material is as good as this then it’s worth reviewing here at the Power of Pop. In the meantime, check out the video…

Official Site

KING KONG JANE: STILL IN THE GAME

 

I first met up with S-ROCKers King Kong Jane five years ago before its first appearance at the Baybeats Festival and I found the boys (at the time still NTU undergrads) affable and genuine, excited about the prospects of exposure on a bigger stage. I interviewed them last year prior to the release of its debut album – Waiting for Friday – older but with passion undiminished. You can read the interview here.

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PoPINIONS: IN PRAISE OF SOPHISTICATED POP-ROCK

Pugwash

So what is the old fart on about again?

“Sophisticated pop-rock music” – isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? Maybe, in this day and age, when today’s version of “pop-rock” is labeled as “indie-alternative rock” and is designed to appeal to the hipster set. As regular PoP visitors will be fully aware, yours truly believes (as the late great music writer Ian McDonald expounded in his book The People’s Music), all the good music happened in the 60s and 70s – okay I am seriously paraphrasing here – and therefore the principles laid down by those magnificent music makers of that special epoch must be adhered to if you want “sophisticated pop-rock”.

So who is out there in 2012 who qualifies as purveyors of “sophisticated pop-rock”. Listen and learn.

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PETER LACEY – WORLDS END AMATEUR MELODRAMATIC SOCIETY BALL

THE SKY IS FALLING!

British singer-songwriter Peter Lacey has been slogging away in the salt mines of sophisticated sixties-channeling pop-rock for over a decade now and it’s clear that for Lacey, it’s all about making the kind of music that he loves and that pays tribute to his musical heroes. Lacey has consistently drawn from the deep influential well that includes the works of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Nick Drake, Van Morrison, Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Andy Partridge and Marin Newell.

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THE LOVELY HORRIBLE STUFF BY EDDIE CAMPBELL

BETTER BY HALF

Alright, let me get this out of the way first. This graphic novel actually consists of two distinct stories related tenuously to writer/artist Eddie Campbell’s over-arching theme of MONEY (i.e. The Lovely Horrible Stuff in question). Now, the second story concerns the island of YAP and the significance of its currency Rai to its populace. To be honest, it reads like a research paper and unless you are really interested in the subject matter, is going to bore the pants off you.

Thankfully, the first story concerning Campbell’s financial troubles with his father-in-law is probably worth the price of admission on its own. The first story recalls Campbell’s autobiographical style (remember Alec from the 80s?) and simply put, it’s an account of Campbell’s bitter experience with money and how it affects his personal life.

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GEEK OUT! THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: JOURNEY TRAILER

We are a week away from the movie event of the year – forget about The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises is the real deal! Four years ago, after watching The Dark Knight, this is what I wrote.

“One imagines that it would be difficult for director Christopher Nolan to follow this wonderful movie achievement but it will be intriguing to see him try.”

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METRIC – LIVE IN SINGAPORE : SYNTHETICA REVIEW

4REAL

“I’m just as fucked up as they say…”

Canadian band Metric is a true-blue indie artist in every sense of the word. Formed around the nucleus of singer-keyboardist Emily Haines and guitarist Jimmy Shaw in 1998, Metric has made its distinctive music on its own terms. Synthetica is the band’s 5th album and quite possibly its best yet.

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CORRINNE MAY PRESS CONFERENCE

Photo by Diana Rahim

What was discussed at the Corrinne May (above right) press conference as revealed by Jeanette Chin and Samuel C Wee.

So Corrinne, you’re now based in LA. How do you feel about coming back to Singapore and being the first local artist to perform here at Gardens by the Bay?

I always love coming back to Singapore, because this is where my family and friends are, and where I can get my favourite foods. So yeah, I’m really happy to be back…I’m really excited! It’s a beautiful venue. We were given a tour, took a look around, and went to the Cloud Forest. It’s a beautiful forest with an amazing waterfall, and it’s just a wonderful setting to just reflect, and to just think, and just to be. It opens itself for reflection and I think it goes well with music, so I like that.

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GEEK OUT! LOOPER TRAILER #2

The more I see of writer/director Rian Johnsons’s time-travel flick, Looper, the more I think that this is going to be one of the best scifi films of the year. Already, I am totally sold on the fact that the two leads – Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – play the same person at different ages in a life-and-death struggle with each other! All possible through that wonderful scifi device called time-travel. Wonderful!! Check out the trailer. Looper opens in late September.

 

GEEK OUT! TOTAL RECALL TRAILER

Remakes can be tricky. Early on, the producers talked up the new version of Paul Verhoeven’s classic Total Recall as being more a adaptation of Philip K Dick’s short story We Can Remember ItkFor You Wholesale rather than a straight remake of the original movie. WRONG! As it is clearly apparent from this latest trailer, this is a straightforward remake of the movie as there are no three-breasted ladies or actual trips to Mars in the short story. Fact is, the short story would make a boring action movie if faithfully adapted. So is there any point to repeated the whole exercise once over again. Well… I think so. Based on the trailers, the effects and action sequences look pretty good and having Bryan Cranston on board as the villain of the piece never hurts. Also, the combined eye candy of Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale should make up for Colin Farrell’s anticipated over-acting. I mean come on, look at the image above and not picture Arnie in that chair. Try…