Electric Light Orchestra

Regular visitors to PoP will be aware that I believe that the 70s was the finest decade for pop and rock music ever. And one excellent resource which allows the avid music fan to access this classic rock music is Spotify (haha you saw that coming!). But seriously folks, I’d like to leave you with introductory playlists I’ve curated of three classic 70s rock bands, which I hope will encourage you to explore more on Spotify.

Continue reading “DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY”


Alright. In the booklet insert, there are claims that Caro Emerald‘s music is some unique hybrid of jazz and hip-hop. But clearly, it isn’t! Which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to bios and press releases that do not tell the truth! C’mon!! At best, Emerald is a jazz-pop singer, and regular visitors will know that that is one ‘genre’ I find particularly risible. It positively reeks of entitlement, designer clothes and 1 percenters. Of course, these are all gross generalizations but I guess you should not have started this argument with this talk of a jazz/hip-hop hybrid then!?!?! Sorry if this is a negative review (something I personally try to avoid) but this is such pretentious bullshit. Avoid.





Kevin Tihista

The final part of our look back at 2013’s recommend album list – accessible at Spotify.

Kevin TihistaModern Standard

Under the radar perhaps but fully deserves your attention. Pop music making at its best.

Continue reading “DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY”


There’s little doubt that Cliff Richard is the one true Peter Pan of pop music. Now in his early 70s, he still looks and sounds good enough to belt out his famous hits in his own inimitable way. The set list on this performance video is dominated by his earliest numbers, like “Livin’ Doll”, “Move It”, “Young Ones” and “In the Country” etc but as well as the obligatory 70s songs like “Devil Woman”, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and “Wired for Sound”. Naturally, unless you are a diehard Richard fan, there is nothing much here for even the most studious of rock scholars. It’s all rather glitzy and entertaining – not necessarily a bad thing but Richard represented the musical establishment that the likes of The Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks et al would soon overturn and by now, it’s appeal is limited at best.


The Parson Red Heads

Part two of our recommended 2013 listening list from music currently streaming at Spotify.

The Parson Red HeadsOrb Weaver

Probably one the bands that come closest to the spirit and vibe of 90s alt-country (viz. Son Volt, The Jayhawks, Wilco), The Parson Red Heads released one of the most 60s-evoking albums this year.

Continue reading “DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY”


The premise of Thanks for Sharing is promising enough as it centers around three people undergoing a 12-step process to recover from their sexual addiction. In addition, the strong cast – which includes Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad and Alecia Moore (aka P!nk) – flesh out this intriguing premise well. However, the main problem lies in the third act where the various plotlines descend somewhat into cliche.

Continue reading “REEL TO REAL”


Besnard Lakes!

As promised, here is the first part of a list of recommended listening of 2013 releases that you have access to on Spotify! Enjoy…

Besnard LakesUntil In Excess, the Imperceptible UFO

Have been loving this Montreal band for a while now, and music fans should take them seriously as an alternative to fellow countrymen Arcade Fire. Their gorgeous mix of Pink Floyd meets mid-60s Beach Boys is enthralling. “Specter” is one of my songs of the year.

Continue reading “DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY”


This live performance film from Luna Park, Bueno Aires, captures Dream Theater Mark II as the band tours 2011 album A Dramatic Turn of Events. After having drummer Mike Portnoy leave the band a year earlier, as explained in the documentary bonus feature, Dream Theater was revitalized with the recruitment of Mike Mangini and the subsequent release of A Dramatic Turn of Events. Judging from the album and this concert film, Mangini has assisted to reshape the band’s sound towards progressive metal, which has certainly not hurt the band’s reputation. Mangini in facts takes centrestage quite a bit with his enigmatic style. No slouch in the virtuosity department, Mangini more than keeps up with his illustrious partners viz. guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and keyboardist Jordan Rudess. That all said, it does seem at times that singer James LaBrie is unsuited for this change of direction but there’s little doubt that he still makes the material his own. Dream Theater fans will not want to miss this as the band goes from strength to strength.



What are the ‘genre’ flicks we are looking out for in the coming new year? Top of the list just has to be Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (May). Somehow managing to be a sequel to both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class, DOFP is an ambitious endeavor, not only does it pool together two generations of X-Men characters but it is adapting one of the most significant X-Men comic stories of all time. When you also consider the stellar cast viz. Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence et al, there’s little doubt that DOFP is one of the most anticipated blockbusters in 2014.

Continue reading “GEEK OUT!”



Was 2013 a good year for popular music? It all depends on your definition of a ‘good year’. I believe that since the end of the 90s, the decline in the quality of popular music being written and recorded has been alarming. Compared to the previous 40 years, it’s fair to say that much of the popular music that has come out of the new millennium has been – with some exceptions, of course – largely forgettable.

Continue reading “2013: THE YEAR IN MUSIC”


Finally! Charlie Lim has released two new singles (viz. “Bitter” and “Conspiracy”) and both tracks can be downloaded for FREE from Bandwagon (limited to first 1000 signups) so HURRY!!!!

Suffice to say, “Bitter” is a heart-wrenchingly gorgeous jazz-pop piece with dynamism, virtuosity and dollops of soul that deserves to be a worldwide hit (whatever that means nowadays) – please don’t miss out! “Conspiracy” demonstrates a different side of Charlie as smooth R&B inflections, infectious funky beats and cool vibes make the song a hot dancefloor hit contender! Another essential track for your collection!

Find out more about Charlie Lim here.


When Bryan Ferry burst onto the UK scene as Roxy Music’s leader/singer in the early 70s, the band found itself branded as somewhere between art-rock and glam. However, as the band evolved from a progressive rock to a sophisticated pop outfit, its image would also change from quirky to glamourous and chic. Ferry himself has always been the epitome of rock cool – inspiring numerous followers in the 80s New Romantic movement – and even though he is in his late 60s, he has lost none of these indelible qualities as evidenced by this live performance recording. Naturally, the man has put on quite a few pounds and there are wrinkles all over his visage but there’s no mistaking the fact that Bryan Ferry’s stage presence and attitude is still able to capture the attention of a modern audience. This solo performance finds Ferry and band (not forgetting sexy dancers and backing singers!) cherry picking from his illustrious career including Roxy Music hits, solo favourites and interpretations of the Dylan songbook. Bonus feature – Making of Olympia (Ferry’s most recent album).


The true measure of a rock star is the kind of fans he or she has. Springsteen & I is a documentary with a difference – it was made for Springsteen fans by Springsteen fans! By the end of the documentary, you will be convinced about the depth of love and passion that Springsteen fans hold for their icon. Judging from the diversity in age and nationality, it’s clear that Springsteen’s appeal covers a broad range of fans. This special connection is what makes this documentary unique. Also worth checking out – numerous previously unseen archive footage of performances from throughout Springsteen’s career. The DVD bonus features include performances from 2012’s Hard Rock Calling (including two songs with Paul McCartney) and fan homemade video submissions.


David O. Russell has done it again! After the director’s success with last year’s romance-drama Silver Linings Playbook, Russell puts his own spin on “ABSCAM” a well-publicized scandal from the late 70s. The storyline behind American Hustle is quite complicated and difficult to summarize in a sentence or two but I will try my best.

Continue reading “REEL TO REAL”


Yours truly with the legendary Robert Plant

It’s easy to be glib about the year that has passed and focus simply on how time flies and all that. I want to resist that temptation and reflect upon the amazing experiences I had in 2013 that I will always cherish to assist me in looking forward to 2014.

Continue reading “2013: A REFLECTION”


Keanu Reeves is back in a genre film – his first since the conclusion of the Matrix trilogy. 47 Ronin is a re-telling of the classical Japanese tale of honor and revenge as a sword (or katana in this case) and sorcery fantasy.  An additional twist is the inclusion of Kai – Reeves’ half-breed protagonist – to highlight the Japanese prejudice against outsiders and to provide a doomed romance.

Continue reading “GEEK OUT!”


Notre Dame de Paris is not a musical. It is promoted as a ‘musical spectacular’, and indeed, it is more of a pop-rock concert with songs that are more of ‘inspired by’ the story of Victor Hugo’s classic novel than a traditional musical. Hence despite all the singing and exciting dance and acrobatic sequences on stage, unless you are familiar with the tragic story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, you never really get a clear idea of what is happening on stage, or why the characters do what they do.

Continue reading “NOTRE DAME DE PARIS [REVIEW]”


Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Does this sad fact of life really need to be shoved down our throats by movie entertainment? Yes, as many times as possible so that hatred, bigotry and prejudice will be marked and branded as atrocities and crimes against humanity and not justified in the name of religion, economics or self-preservation.

Director Steve McQueen has, with two feature films viz Hunger and Shame, demonstrated a razor sharp ability for telling the unflinchingly unblemished truth about the unsavory aspects of life. Now with this adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography – Twelve Years a Slave – McQueen turns his keen eye on a dark chapter in American history – slavery.

The plot is straight-forward enough. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a free negro plying his trade as a carpenter and violinist in Saratoga, New York in the mid-1800s. He was kidnapped and sold into slavery at New Orleans. He remained a slave for 12 years before finally re-gaining his freedom. Throughout those 12 years, he had to confront and endure physical and mental abuse – not to mention the despair of losing his family and his own identity, and in the latter case, for the sake of survival.

The story itself may be simple but the making of the film is anything but. Everything – from the cinematography to the acting performances, from the art direction to the costume design – demonstrates an attention to detail. McQueen is renowned for the realism of his films and 12 Years a Slave is no different. The locations – four historic antebellum plantations – come alive on screen and one is able to experience what it was like to live in those times.

The excellent cast flesh out these historical characters with conviction. Apart from Ejiofor’s sympathetic portrayal of Northup, special mention must be made of Michael Fassbender’s sadistic Edwin Epps, Lupita Nyong’o’s tragic Patsey, Paul Dano’s petty John Tibeats and Benedict Cumberbatch’s benevolent William Ford.

Not an easy or comfortable ride the moment Northup discovers his horrible plight – McQueen takes aim at the American South and Christianity and lays bare the monstrous attitudes that gives rise to the worst kind of behavior – that one segment of mankind is superior to the rest – demonstrated in Epps’ response to Northup’s accusation of sin – “A man does what he wants to his property” – even as he lashes the slave girl Patsey to an inch of her life.

Definitely a serious contender for best film of the year. Do not miss it!



Regular visitors will be aware that I didn’t like the first installment of this bloated adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Unexpected Journey ironically had too many familiar elements and tropes taken from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as if director Peter Jackson was at pains to remind us of the association between the two trilogies!

(Spoilers appear below!)

Continue reading “GEEK OUT!”



Netflix is an on-demand video streaming web service – an online version of the video rental store, one might say. In 2011, the service announced that it was venturing into original programming as well and the first series – House of Cards – a political drama adapted from the UK series of the same name & starring Kevin Spacey, was a resounding success.

Well, here comes Season 2 and based on the official trailer, it looks like the series is upping the ante in delivering shady political shenanigans as the Machiavellian politician Frank Underwood is now a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the USA but obviously has to work hard (and smart) to keep all his dirty secrets under wraps.

Take a look – the entire series drops at Netflix on 14th February next year!



Tickets now on sale for next year’s much anticipated Hostess Club Weekender in February over here.

To set the tone, here is a video of the intriguing duo that is Buke and Gase

… and listen to one of the essential albums of 2013, General Dome!

…still there’s more…