Singapore indie music as an art form is still fairly young. Even the National Arts Council has in the last couple of years recognized Singapore indie music as a viable art form deserving of financial support. Despite all this, Singapore has in the last twenty years seen true indie music artists develop their craft to such an extent that acceptance at home has inevitably followed recognition overseas.

Amongst them, perhaps singer-songwriter Leslie Low is most worthy of the accolade of ARTIST OF THE YEAR for all that he has achieved within and without the Singapore indie music scene in 2014 (and the two decades before that).

As a key member of Humpback Oak & The Observatory (and various other side-projects) and as a solo artist, Low has constantly been on the vanguard of indie-art-rock. 2014 saw not only the release of The Observatory’s Oscilla album but also the solo efforts Longing and No such thing as ghosts. In addition, with The Observatory, Low has also played the role of curator/event organizer – providing Singapore with insights into fresh musical forms.

We caught up with Low recently to get his thoughts on 2014.

PoP: It’s been 20 years since the release of Pain Stained Morning (Humpback Oak’s debut album), where do you see your current work in the context of that?

Low: I’ve recently been reminded that it has been that long. Was doing a tour of living rooms and had to relearn my older repertoire of songs, a lot of memories came flooding back, locked up in the dark corners of these old songs. It was daunting initially, drudging back all those moments of my life. Re-living all those experiences. It felt pretty emotional and cathartic as the tour went on. I guess I was asking for it. When No such thing as ghosts was made, there was a conscious decision to revisit the past. Even the microphone used was one of the mics I used to record with during the Humpback Oak days. So it sounded familiar to begin with. And easier to take that trip back in time. Over the years, I’ve tried different approaches mostly informed by the people I make music with or by whatever I was into in that point of my life, and also personal experiences and relationships that play a huge part in shaping the emotional content of the work. It seems to all lead back to the heart and the mind. How it makes you feel above and beyond what the words may mean on paper. I think that still remains true today.

PoP: You were very involved in the Singapore arts/music scenes in 2014, are you optimistic that the scenes will develop further in the years to come? If so why?

Low: I think we have no choice but to evolve and grow. That is the natural way. Putting a stop to it would be unnatural.

PoP: From a third party perspective, 2014 seemed like a very good year for the Observatory and yourself – how was it for you? Are you personally satisfied with what you have achieved this year?

Low: It has been quite a long year of changes, ups and downs. It was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. Despite all the difficulties, we still managed to finally release the songs we have been developing for about a year culminating in our 6th album, Oscilla. That felt good after we released it. My ears were shot by then from mixing. Our buddy Johnny Sarcophagus recorded us in our own rehearsal space. We could just focus on the playing in the comfort of our own space. We also toured twice this year with new band mates Wai and Cheryl, and it was Dharma’s last couple of tours with us. Still we managed to gain some ground musically and grew into our own as a new unit. I feel quite fortunate to be able to do this actually. Touring is a fairly recent thing for me, and as much as I enjoy staying put, being on the road chases the blues away, constantly slipping into the cracks of time.

PoP: Looking back, what were the highlights of 2014 for you?

Low: The recent Flux and Formlessness Tour with The Observatory was a highlight for me. It was gruelling with a lot of driving and train hopping but with the material on Oscilla, the highlight has always been playing the songs live. It’s probably the first album that I hardly listened to after it was mixed, other than checking the masters, because gigging the songs live has been a much bigger preoccupation. On the side with my solo stuff, it was a pleasure to have worked Jeremy, Tini and the Diarists team. It was quite an experience finally getting to meet different circles of people, friends in their cosy living rooms. It’s the closest I’ve come to touring Singapore.

PoP: What have you got planned for 2015? Anything you’d like to announce at this point?

Low: Hopefully a new record with this current line-up with Yuen Chee Wai, Cheryl Ong, Vivian Wang. January will feature two of our continuing projects, Anitya // Skandhas and Otomo Yoshihide & the Playfreely Ensemble and Far East Network (FEN) coming up. In February, we will be heading to Japan for a mini-tour with our friends from MOE.


“Jealousy originates from fear or anger over the prospect of failure in achieving a desired goal”.

A simple online search will lead you to various definitions of ‘jealousy’. Basically, it comes from intense feelings of insecurity. This is compounded in the modern age by social media, where one is able to see other people apparently succeeding while one is seemingly failing. As a person who suffers from low self esteem, I understand this state of mind completely.

Especially, during the festive season, one is inundated with images and videos of people celebrating and having a good time. For me personally, seated alone at home, looking at all this, it’s easy to become jealous and even angry, that sense of being marginalized because nobody invited me to any of these wonderful activities.

As a musical artist, the same applies as well, when people share about their successes and I can also witness the multitude of likes and positive comments that accompany said Facebook post or tweet. Again, seated alone at home, it doesn’t take much to feel like a failure in comparison – I begin to wonder why I have not achieved similar success in my artistic life.

Then there is anger and it is pushed outwards as a defensive mechanism. Instead of constructive reflection, jealously would drive oneself to direct the blame at others. The usual excuses – that person must be rich or have connections or very lucky or be good looking but untalented etc.

But none of this really helps – all it does is isolate the jealous sufferer even more and exacerbates the situation. Ultimately, self-awareness is the ‘cure’ for jealousy. Acknowledge your failures and do something about them. Seek advice and make a plan to overcome failure in order to take that first step towards success.

… still there’s more …



Only one contender for PoP Album of the Year. JPNSGRLS epitomizes the best hope for the continuing history of Rock ‘n’ Roll even as the tsunami of prefabricated pop threatens to wipe our beloved music off the face of the earth. Nothing remotely hipster-ish about Circulation and thank GOD for that! Find out why below!!

Continue reading “2014 IN MUSIC”

2014 IN FILM

Favourite movies of 2014. And why.


1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Directed by James Gunn)

No surprise here. Gunn took an unlikely B-grade space opera comic book story and transformed Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot into a family of heroes fighting for the galaxy. In doing so, Gunn infused comedy and drama brilliantly to convey all the wonder of a ‘real’ comic book experience.

2. Predestination (Directed by the Spierig Brothers)

Sleeper of the year! Low budget scifi at its best. Sterling performances from Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook coupled with a very tightly woven tale makes for an enthralling film. Very faithful to its source material (Heinlein’s -All You Zombies-), Predestination is way up there with all the best ‘mindfuck’ flicks like 12 Monkeys & Inception. Keep a close watch on Michael and Peter Spierig.

3. Nightcrawler (Directed by Dan Gilroy)

An intense study of sociopathic attitudes (as embodied in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom), debutant director Gilroy presents a scathing commentary on the modern law of the urban jungle. In the mind of Bloom, survival of the fittest takes on ominous tones and Gyllenhaal’s masterful performance is both chilling and impressive. Gilroy is another directorial talent to look out for.

Continue reading “2014 IN FILM”


It pains me to say this but I think I’ve finally lost any connection whatsoever to new music. Recently, I’ve been looking at the new movies coming out in 2015 and getting rather excited about the prospect but new albums? Not any more. That saddens me a great deal but the harsh reality for me is that the last great rock decade was the 90s and nothing since can match up to what came before anymore.

One big step is that I will not be writing music reviews anymore in the format that I have been accustomed to for over 20 years. I mean, what’s the point of describing new music when one can simply listening to the music at Youtube or Spotify? Sure I will still feature deserving new music but it’s got to be more than a standard review to justify inclusion. In addition, more attention will be given to the Singapore music scene cuz at least that provides me with emotional resonance and aligns with my personal goals.

So from 2015, Power of Pop will be focusing more on film in general, ‘old’ music and of course, #sgindie music. I will try my best to highlight worthy comics and books as well but the priority will be given to film.



Omitted from our list of Coming Movies in Jan 2015, this biopic of the legendary British painter J.M.W. Turner is a must-see for Mike Leigh’s direction and Timothy Spall’s award-winning performance as the seminal artist. Mr. Turner opens in Singapore on 8th January.

… still there’s more … 


20 Os Artistry - 1

I experimented with 20 Originals performance events earlier this year at a local outlet, which was not perfect but was a good platform to push the novel idea that original music made in Singapore needed to build a fan base in order for the local indie scene to survive.

The biggest difficulty was as usual, getting people to attend. I always laugh when folks describe me as a ‘legend’ cos if that was true I would not struggle to get people to my gigs (especially when the admission is FREE). So that’s the reality — nobody really gives a fuck about original music in Singapore, and in particular, mine.

Of course, that’s a generalization – a sweeping statement. Sure, there ARE people who dig my music, even if it’s a minuscule group. There are people who pay ‘lip service’ – flatterers who maybe believe that they can get something out of me in return. But these are the same people who NEVER attend any of my gigs. So there you go, actions speak LOUDER than words! You know who you are! Aha!

But I digress. Despite the challenges, I plod on. Ultimately, I believe in myself and my music, even if the world does not. And that’s what it’s all about really. Perhaps it’s self-delusion – so what? At least, I know that the handful of people who do turn up on Saturday for this event are truly the people who do believe in me and my music. And for that, I am eternally grateful and that little encouragement drives me to keep moving forward.

So, here’s the deal. Two sets of 10 songs each. The first set will concentrate mainly on the 90s (and mostly ‘love’ songs) and the second set will focus on newer material (mostly ‘hate’ songs) and will also see the debut of four new songs that will form the bulk of my upcoming 2015 EP. See you there if you’re interested. And oh yeah, NO FUCKING COVERS!

More info etc – https://www.facebook.com/events/740476162667896/746885612026951

... still there’s more ...




Here’s a New Year Resolution for ya. Power of Pop will be expanding our film coverage in 2015 to highlight the movies we think PoP visitors will be interested in. Good stuff, no fluff (cannot bluff!) or something like that…

Anyways, here’s a couple of films we are interested in for January 2015.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
(Written & directed by Ned Benson)
New Year’s Day

Ignore the gimmicky title – this has nothing to do with The Beatles. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is the collective title of three films subtitled Him, Her & Them respectively. As you can guess, Him and Her are told from the perspectives of the male (James McAvoy) and female (Jessica Chastain) characters accordingly. Them is the compromise, a combination of Him and Her into one movie – which probably makes much more sense from a commercial point of view but less so, from an artistic standpoint. Presumably, moviegoers who enjoyed Them will then want to watch Him and Her, which will be released in the latter part of 2015. Fascinating premise, nonetheless.

Continue reading “REEL TO REAL: COMING MOVIES FOR JAN 2015”


Go Loco Local 2015 Countdown Party-1

Gentle reminder that this event is happening on new year’s eve.


4-piece pop-rock band ORANGECOVE, Marc X Hashy of the Final One Fame, up-and-coming pop-punk band JJ and The PaperPlanes, finalist for ‘SG50 The Gift of Song’ competition Ciao Turtle and acoustic act The Jaywalkers, will take to the stage with punchy made-in Singapore numbers and covers of familiar favourites to end your year on a high note.

Also hosted by Singaporean blogger and a familiar face to the hosting circuit, Mint Leong will keep the crowd entertained through the night with her effervescent personality and entertainment segments.

The Loco Local 2015 Countdown Party will be held at the Lobby Lounge of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport from 31 Decemeber 2015, 9:00pm to 1 January 2015, 1:30am.




Our look at the geek movies of 2015 continues with the 2nd half of the year dominated by the return of the Star Wars movie franchise with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Nothing even comes remotely close between that and Avengers: Age of Ultron – which means serious moolah for Disney, doesn’t it? Not many trailers to feature here but will update as and when trailers are released. Check out Part One here.

Terminator: Genisys (1 July)

Cameron’s Terminator gets rebooted with a couple of twists & turns along the way. Most ridiculous thing is that Arnold is back as an aging robot! A non starter but might be good for (unintentional) laughs.

Continue reading “GEEK OUT! COMING MOVIES IN 2015 – PART TWO”



Here we go again, as 2014 wraps up, let’s take a look at the geek movies coming our way in the first half of 2015 and examine which are the ones we must watch and the ones we might need to avoid.

Alien Outpost (30 Jan)

Typical alien invasion flick with the look and feel of those recent Iraq/Afghanistan war movies. The aliens (heavies?) looked really silly in the trailer though. Not essential whatsoever.

Jupiter Ascending (6 Feb)

The Wachowskis are back with an original screenplay, their first since The Matrix trilogy. With Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis as the leads, this movie will appeal to the young adults set. For the rest of us, it’s hard to tell at this stage but The Wachowskis have still enough goodwill left for geeks to give this film a chance.

Continue reading “GEEK OUT! COMING MOVIES IN 2015 – PART ONE”



Seems appropriate to start this series with Bob Dylan, doesn’t it? Considering that The Beatles are currently not on any streaming service, Dylan deserves top billing. After all, can one imagine talking about singer-songwriters without mentioning Dylan’s massive influence?

The man is the very definition of the modern folk troubadour but more than that, Dylan’s legacy extends to rock as well, of course. For me personally, I remember hearing Dylan on the radio when I was a kid – especially his well known early folk songs but I really got into his work (ironically enough) – with his controversial Christian conversion album Slow Train Comin’ (1979), which explains why I kick off the playlist with “Precious Angel” (which also features incandescent guitar work from Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler). Including “Make You Feel My Love” was necessary to provide Dylan’s continuing relevance as Adele’s cover version proved conclusively. The rest of the playlist focuses mainly on his seminal 60s/70s works. Enjoy!

… still there’s more …



In this day and age, when computer-generated imagery (CGI) is able to create the most outrageous special effects for movies, it is ironic that instead of engendering more creativity, CGI has become a crutch for film studios/producers/directors. Thus, CGI has replaced effective story-telling, dazzling audiences with visual gimmicks that provide superficial gratification for the eye without anything left over for the soul.

Whilst CGI has certainly benefitted the super-hero movie genre the most, it has also at times marginalized the strength of super-hero stories to begin with – strong characters and plot. Recent casualties of this trend include Man of Steel and Amazing Spider-Man 2, where the sheer massive scale of the battles begins to wear on the filmgoer and taxing that tenuous suspension of disbelief. And please do not get me started on the Transformer or Hobbit movie franchise.

Invariably, scifi geeks (like yours truly) have had to search for high concept flicks with low budgets where directors & writers have had to resort to creative means to tell an effective story. Thankfully, there have been quite a few in recent years that fit this description. Here’s a handy list for your reference (not necessarily in order of merit).

District 9 (Directed by Neill Blomkamp)



Photo taken from the Caracal Facebook page.

Pride. I guess that was the emotion coursing through my veins as I watched Caracal deliver a set full of passion, dynamism and yes, even fun last Thursday at the launch of the new album, Welcome the Ironists, at the Substation.

The sold out concert attracted many familiar faces from the indie music scene but it was encouraging to see strange new faces, evidence that the scene is also appealing to newcomers, a very good sign.

I first caught sight of the band during Baybeats 2007 and it’s safe to say that Caracal is a totally different proposition as we come to the end of 2014. As they have grown older, the music has become slower and deeper, with tidy references to 90s grunge (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees et al) cementing the band’s burgeoning reputation.

The prime examples being “God Damn Tree”, “Divergence” and “Entrepreneur” where the band displayed an unprecedented emotional heaviness. But the highlight for me was probably when singer KC Meals dedicated “Given Breath” to all the band members’ parents – a touching moment that resonated.

Another high point – the encore that included crowd favorite “Cheers to Love” when audience and the band truly become one. Yet again, a spine-tingling memory to cherish. All told, a thoroughly satisfying rock experience. Kudos.

Thanks to Kitty Wu Records for making this review possible. 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/caracalnoise
Twitter: http://twitter.com/caracalnoise
Instagram: http://instagram.com/caracalnoise
Website: http://www.caracalnoise.com



Directed by Peter Jackson.
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace and Luke Evans.

How did we get here? How did the director responsible for the Best Picture of 2004 (a decade ago) morph into Michael Bay? Was it greed on the part of the studios or Peter Jackson’s hubris?

I have no answers but suffice to say that if you love over-bloated blockbuster spectacles like Transformers: Age of Extinction, then this superfluous final installment of the Hobbit trilogy is highly recommended. However, if like me, you are a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, please avoid this shameless exercise in lining the pockets of all involved.

At least the nightmare has ended.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is in the cinemas now.



Directed by The Spierig Brothers
Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook & Noah Taylor.

Brilliantly conceived, this film adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1960 short story “All You Zombies”, is a delightful ‘mind fuck’ movie that will have viewers rapt in attention to decipher the clues that lead to the twist at the end. Suffice for me to say that the twist involved the concept of time paradoxes and leave it at that.

On the surface, the plot revolves around a Temporal Agent’s quest to capture a murderous killer (the “Fizzle Bomber”) but of course, it is much more than that. Unlike, most time travel stories, Predestination avoids jaded cliches commonly attached to the ‘genre’ and transcends the standard tropes to deliver a thought-provoking fantastical tale.

A low budget film supported by Screen Australia, Predestination punches well above its weight shaming blockbusters like Transformers: Age of Extinction with story-telling and performances that are amongst the best of 2014. Don’t miss this!

Predestination is in cinemas now!


alt-J - Show Artwork

Secret Sounds Asia presents award-winning indie outfit alt-J live in Singapore on Sunday, 17 May 2015 at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa.

Event page link: https://www.facebook.com/events/594140407352140
Ticket Link: http://www.sistic.com (Tickets on sale from Friday 19th November, 9am)


NFG poster_final

New Found Glory is an American punk rock band from Florida USA formed in 1997. The band currently consists of Jordan Pundik (vocals), ChadGilbert (guitar), Ian Grushka (bass) and Cyrus Bolooki (drums). The band have released eight studio albums, one live album, two EPs, and three cover albums.



“Monophobia” is the fear of being alone. It is an anxiety that I am all too familiar with. Coupled with a slight case of agoraphobia (fear of crowds), it can make going out particularly challenging. Especially when I go for music events, there is always the acute fear that I will be on my own, looking awkward, with my mind screaming for me to get out of there immediately. Add that to the low self-esteem that I have and it is a constant obstacle to overcome. A internal battle that takes place every time I leave home for an event. It’s amazing I haven’t completely lost my marbles yet!

So if you see looking decidedly uncomfortable at an event, please be a kind soul, come up and re-assure me that I am welcome and accepted in that company. Of course, nobody is really thinking that I do not belong but that is certainly what is going on in my head. In that environment, alcohol definitely helps in silencing all those negative voices. So I usually will try to get two bottles of whatever into me to settle down those nerves. So if I suddenly transform into this gregarious character and have too much to say then you know it’s the alcohol successfully calming me down to something closer to normal. Although, over-compensation might be the next issue on the horizon. But that’s another story …

… still there’s more …




Written and directed by Dan Gilroy. 
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed & Bill Paxton

Nightcrawler marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy. It is an unflinching look at the underbelly of modern-day news reporting where ratings dictate that sensational fear-mongering trumps journalistic integrity.

Thrown into the middle of Los Angeles’ news reporting industry is opportunistic lowlife Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), who at the beginning of the film is shown stealing from a construction site and resorting to a life of petty larceny to make ends meet.

By chance, he discovers that there is a business opportunity in filming grisly accident and crime scenes for news stations and his journey begins. Gyllenhaal plays Bloom brilliantly as an amoral psychopath – he admits to not liking people to his assistant Rick (Ahmed) – who has absolutely no scruples when it comes to furthering his own interests.

Along the way he comes across a competitor (Paxton) and a collaborator (Russo), who are both deeply impacted by Bloom’s unscrupulous actions with the worst conclusion reserved for the hapless Rick. Through it all, Gyllenhaal plays Bloom with a dangerously emotionless intensity, his dead eyes reflecting a steely determination to achieve his goals at all costs.

A tour de force performance from Gyllenhaal engages from start to finish with first time director Gilroy making an impressive debut as well. One of the movies of the year.

Nightcrawler is playing at the cinemas.


Photo credit: Jensen Ching
Photo credit: Jensen Ching

I must confess that when I first heard about Bandwagon‘s intention to feature bands in the bus on the way to Urbanscapes, I was skeptical. But after the actual experience, I must admit that they pulled it off, despite my reservations. The road trip itself had quite a few unnecessary delays but probably expected. And yes, that was my only quibble!

Photo credit: Jensen Ching
Photo credit: Jensen Ching

The lovely Aarika Lee was the ‘hostess with the mostess’ on my bus (consisting mainly of media folk) and we had a blast there and back. There was quite bit of banter and fun was had with spontaneous open mics where caution was thrown to the wind to make a long coach journey a whole lot of bearable and some.

Jared Rezel-112
Photo credit: Jared Rezel

I must applaud the selection of artists – Pleasantry (above), iNCH (below), .gif and Gentle Bones – and they did themselves and our awesome indie scene proud with intimate performances that were unique (and well improvised), to say the least.

Photo credit: Jensen Ching
Photo credit: Jensen Ching

What about the Urbanscapes festival itself? It was a refreshing time in rarified atmosphere of Genting Highlands with scattered showers for good measure. It was definitely excellent weather for music enjoyment and the likes of our very own Cashew Chemists, reformed Lemonheads (Evan Dando even commented on my Flying Burrito Bros tee), Local Natives and Kimbra (pictured at top) providing primo entertainment!

Thanks to Bandwagon for making this all possible. A parting note – check out the video I shot of iNCH performing “Dear Paramour”.



Screen shot 2014-12-09 at AM 12.11.10

2014 is coming quickly to a close but there’s still one more excellent #sgindie single out there demanding your attention. And it is “Skin” from Jaime Wong. I have waited quite a few years for this talented singer-songwriter to finally record “Skin” and I am glad to report that it is a shimmering thing of beauty. The music video might be a little mystifying (as they tend to be) but enjoy the visuals with that awesome song and then pre-order Jaime’s upcoming debut EP to download “Skin” now. You know you need to.

Don’t forget to come down to Artistry on Wednesday 10th December to catch Jaime Wong live together with The Little Giant, from 8pm. $10 at the door.

Official Site