CHARLIE LIM’S TIME/SPACE IS A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF SINGAPORE ROCK. AND IT’S LOOKING GOOD. DAMN GOOD.

CharlieLim

There is no sense of the where and when listening to Singapore singer-songwriter Charlie Lim‘s double EP Time/Space. It simply is.

The music of Time/Space is the honest expression of a young man coming to terms with life issues and a burgeoning musical talent. Taken as a whole – 8 tracks and two bookends – Time/Space is a polaroid shot of where Charlie is, and from an artistic perspective, it is looking very very good.

From the outset, with the ragtime-infused “Blah Blah Blues”, it’s clear that Charlie is not interested in cliches and limitations on his music but will go wherever his muse takes him.

“I tend to make my mountains out of molehills” he sings plaintively before he vamps on the chorus – “Itʼs not that hard to sing about being hurt/
Itʼs kind of lucrative to write a love song/Because everybody else just canʼt get enough” – an ironic comment perhaps about his own persona?

Personally, Charlie always hits home with his ballads – wonderful melanges of folk, soul & indie pop that never fail to send chills down spine. “Choices” is the first one – where Charlie’s sweet larynx combines with guitar patterns and trademark cutting lyrics – “I can take complication/If I can comprehend/But I can’t deal with ignorance/Even if you think it’s bliss” – to produce an overwhelming emotional resonance.

This leads us to Charlie’s magnum opus “Bitter” – the rollercoaster ride of ‘feels’ as Charlie shares some of the most poignant lyrics – “Was I trying to cash in the fantasy without the reality check?”, “Embrace the silence when thereʼs nothing left/You got no room for demons when youʼre self-possessed” and of course, ” Was I spoilt for love/Have you had enough/Wait out the danger/You donʼt have to ask/This maudlin moment/Will soon come to pass”. Sheer bloody genius.

Incredibly, Charlie offers two potential “Bitter”-killers, so to speak, here with “Light Breaks In” and “I Only Tell the Truth”.

The former is a early 70s folk-inflected stunner where Charlie slays with guitar and voice. And when the string sections moves in, I challenge you not to feel that lump in the throat moment before the tears well up. Fuckin’ gorgeous with sentiments to match – “Pour out all your sorrow/Were you waiting for a sign/Only breathing just a little/And calling it a life”. Beautiful.

The latter is the closing track and yet again is another melancholy masterpiece as you listen to the airplane pilot giving instructions for landing. Wonderfully arranged and primed for the kill once Charlie gets to the heart-breaking chorus – “But I won’t catch you if you let go/I’ll pick apart the things you let fold/If that’s what you want I guess we’ll move on/I’m sorry” – and for anyone who has lived through the death of a relationship, these words take on massive proportions. For me personally, I have broken down more than a few times when feeling the intensity of the emotions that Charlie is conveying here. All too real. And when the “Outro” hits, its hard to describe as the sad lonely piano plays out to the sound of children.

But then, it’s over, and I press play again and let the magic of Charlie Lim wash over me once more.

Time/Space will be released on June 6th at the House of Riot concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets available from SISTIC. 

PoPTV: DRU CHEN PROVES HE’S STILL GOT IT WITH NEW SINGLE “YOU GOT IT BABE”

Dru Chen YGIB MV Press Photo

Let’s say it plain, LOVE LOVE LOVE Dru Chen’s songwriting. He seems to come up with these soul-inflected pop ditties so effortlessly that it’s almost criminal!

“You Got It Babe” finds Dru once again putting together yet another winner. Trust me when I say that once this groovin’ earworm hooks you, it is not gonna let go too easily. Diggin’ Dru’s old skool soul vibe once more! Check it out!!

Pick up “You Got It Babe” at iTunes.

SAVING THE SINGAPORE MUSIC SCENE 2015

rock-n-roll

The recently concluded All That Matters conference (which includes Music Matters) once again brought music industry stalwarts and luminaries to Singapore, a city notoriously unfriendly towards its own music industry. It’s always eye-opening for a Singapore indie artist like myself to appreciate the sheer size of the global music industry even though it’s no longer what it was say twenty years ago.

And whilst, the music industry has always been Western-centric, that is slowly changing as Asia begins to assert itself strongly as a consumer base and down the line as content creators and drivers. But unlike USA and Europe, Asia is not culturally homogenous music-wise and to this day, the industry is trying to make sense of the Asian market. This dilemma is exacerbated for Singapore where we have neither quantity nor quality of audience to justify any kind of attention from the global players.

And this point was hammered home by none other than Sandy Monteiro, (President, Universal Music South East Asia), who at the Music Matters Academy could barely hide his disdain for Singapore music artists. Don’t waste time if you haven’t got what it takes to be a successful music artist was his message. Go back to your day job, in other words, if you haven’t got what it takes!

But seriously, can you blame Monteiro for having this negative attitude towards Singapore music artists? From his corporate music perspective, it’s all about bottom line and results, especially in these challenging times. The fact that his label only signed Gentle Bones because of a grant from the Economic Development Board (EDB) was particularly telling. But fair play to Monteiro for admitting that he had never heard of Gentle Bones until the hits starting appearing at #1 on the iTunes Charts. I found his candour and straight talking at once disturbing and refreshing but exactly the sort of bitter pill needed to wake up our moribund music scene!

So it’s no point for Singapore indie artists to whine about how major labels ignore them. The goal is to create a viable mainstream of Singapore music so that an alternative can thrive. By whatever means necessary! So yes, it’s fantastic that the EDB is incentivising major labels so that the likes of The Sam Willows, Trick, Sezairi (SONY) and Reuby (Warners) can be at the forefront of a new Singapore pop mainstream. Add to this THELIONCITYBOY at BMBX and of course, Gentle Bones at Universal and we have the beginnings of something new and something different in Singapore!

(Kudos again to Branded Ltd for making all this possible!)

… still there’s more … 

 

GEEK OUT! PERFECT FLASH FINALE COMPLETES THE BEST EVER SUPERHERO TV SERIES SO FAR

FlashFinale01

The last two years have been amazing for superhero comic book geeks. In the wake of the mega-success of The Avengers, superheroes have gone from strength to strength with Arrow and Agents of SHIELD setting the pace for superhero TV as well. But it is with The Flash, that geeks can truly see the potential of TV series that are faithful to the core values of the original comic book. From the very beginning, the folks behind The Flash have been committed to the tone of DC Comics’ Silver Age – superheroes created by science, tongue-in-cheek reference points without sacrificing the crucial human element – by getting the casting right (Grant Gustin must be the find of the season!), ensuring quality writing on the episodes and giving something back to the diehard geeks on a consistent basis (Mark Hamill saying the line “I am your father” for one!).

FlashFinale02

Could the much anticipated finale live up to the hype? Yes it could and how! The pacing of the finale kept keen watchers on tenterhooks for most of the duration as Barry Allen tried to resolve the conundrum – should he change the past and lose his present? The emotional resonance was kept to a reasonable degree but that didn’t stop me from crying buckets at different points. Along the way, the writers also offered glimpses of things to come in Season 2, even as The Flash made his critical decision to pursue justice instead of mere sentimentality. Still that did not prepare me for the shock twist at the end! A brilliantly conceived denouement that brought about a catastrophe that left Season 1 on a cliffhanger.

And so, we are left hanging and looking forward to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow before The Flash Season 2 speeds into our lives! Can’t hardly wait!

KAMCO MUSIC PRESENTS: FAERYVILLE OST – AN INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER ALEX OH

AlexOh

Tzang Merwyn Tong’s Faeryville is a dystopian teen movie, a stylish coming of age film about youth making sense of their idealistic dreams in our increasingly surreal world – a fictional manifestation of very real issues prevalent in the Post 9-11 world. The movie features an original score composed by Alex Oh.

Oh is one of Singapore’s most prolific and versatile film composers. His philosophy to scoring is telling the story of the film through music. In his career, he has scored many award-winning features, ranging from comedy, family-oriented, action films like Taxi!Taxi!, My Dog Dou Dou, Imperfect, It’s A Great Great World to darker films like Bait 3D, Rule Number One and The Maid . He was nominated for Best Original Music Score from Asian Television Awards in 2004 for the TV Series, The Frontline.

Oh’s music score complements the movie perfectly with its edgy synthesiser ambience and choral nuances providing a contrast between innocence and danger. Also included is the dynamic driving “Baptism of Fire” which feature Jessel Yam and Alan Chan on guitars, Meryvn Lim on bass and John Ho on drums.

Read below what Oh thought and felt about working on Faeryville.

As the film’s composer, you’re probably one of the first few people to have seen Faeryville, edited and cut. What are your thoughts when you watched the first cut of the film?

Faeryville turned out beautifully. It has lots of depth. I like the characters, the Nobodies, Laer, Chloe, Belle, Fraternity members. There are debates on whether society is becoming or has already become dystopian. I like how Tzang uses the film to address certain issues we are facing in our society. In that aspect, I think he is successful in bringing these to light, as many will find after watching the film that they can relate to it someway or another.

Do you have a philosophy bout your music scoring?

I try to find where the heart of the movie is. I will watch the film with the Director and talk about it. I want to understand the film from his/her perspective and hear what he has to say. Why he/she wants to make the film? What is it about? What is it the story that he’s telling? Once I have an understanding about the film, I will let the film speak to me. I do not want to come with any pre-conceived ideas.

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MUSIC MATTERS LIVE ’15

MML15

If discovering exciting new music is your thing (and it should be), then you must check out Music Matters Live 2015 to be held at Clarke Quay from 20th to 23rd May.

Here are Power of Pop’s recommendations.

Jaime Wong (SG)

Courtney Conway (AU)

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GEEK OUT! DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – First Look – YouTube

Legends-of-Tomorrow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MubNoWQiSc

CW and DC up the ante in the Superhero TV stakes with a super-team of time travellers. This is really ambitious but if done properly could be a game-changer and force Marvel/ABC to look beyond the lame grey super-spy concept of Agents of SHIELD. It’s a good time to be a geek!

… still there’s more …

GEEK OUT! Fox Mints ‘The New Mutants’ X-Men Spinoff; ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ Helmer Josh Boone To Direct

 

Well, with the successes of CW’s DC superheroes, it was inevitable that Fox would jump on the bandwagon with their stable of mutant stars. Guess Marvel will counter with New Inhumans, eh???

Source: Fox Mints ‘The New Mutants’ X-Men Spinoff; ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ Helmer Josh Boone To Direct

KAMCO MUSIC RELEASES: THE FAERYVILLE OST, ILLUMINE SYMPHONY AND LYDIA LOW

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KAMCO Music is pleased to announce that it will release on all digital distribution platforms worldwide the following albums –

FAERYVILLE OST (by Alex Oh) on 19th May

ILLUMINE SYMPHONY – Life on 22nd May

LYDIA LOW – Wrecked till Further Notice on 2nd June

… still there’s more … 

 

FAERYVILLE – A FAIRY TALE OF NIGHTMARISH REAL WORLD CONSEQUENCES

Faeryville

The problem with Tzang Merwyn Tong’s FAERYVILLE – if one can even call it a problem – is that the movie might be too ambitious for its own good.

FAERYVILLE is a movie with a strong message, in fact there are quite a few to go around. These themes are expressed in the context of a surrealistic satire on modern life. The title refers to an imaginary fairy tale like setting and in particular, a tertiary educational institution.

Within this context, there are two main competing factions/power bases viz. the haves and have nots. Tzang wants us initially to sympathise with the Nobodies, a group of outsiders (ostensibly led by Poe – wonderfully played by Lyon Sim) who spend their time being rebellious by committing illegal albeit harmless pranks. The group is joined by the mysterious Laer (a moody performance from Aaron Samuel Yong) and then the stunts turn dangerous and events spiral out of control.

The group’s antics are contrasted with the bullying tactics of the Calvary (the frat boys equivalent of the college) who lord their authority over everyone else – seemingly with the acquiesce of its principal  – which often turns very dark without warning. This conflict invariably and inevitably leads to disaster, tied in inexplicably with former anarchist Belle, before panning out into a disturbing conclusion.

Trying to find a delicate balance between art and commerce, Tzang has had to cast his actors carefully (eye candy is in abundance – look out for Tanya Graham and Jade Griffin) and mix up his high concepts with highly charged moments (including several explosions and sexual scenes) but without compromising the underlying message, where possible. Overall, I believe Tzang has succeeded in creating a thought-provoking movie but fear that it might somewhat fly over the heads of most people in his own homeland.

Which is ironic considering that much of FAERYVILLE is inspired by growing up in Singapore but what is the saying about a prophet not being recognised in his own hometown? A brave and remarkable vision that might be a little obscured by technical and budgetary issues but for the true seeker, there is much hidden treasure to discover in FAERYVILLE.


FAERYVILLE will open in Singapore on 26 May 2015, exclusively at Filmgarde Bugis+
Tickets on sale from 7 May, www.fgcineplex.com.sg

For more information, visit www.faeryville.com
Follow us on Facebook.com/faeryville
Twitter and Instagram @Faeryville

GEEK OUT! Ultron’s Massive $188M Debut Falls Short of Avengers Record – Box Office Mojo

According to Box Office Mojo, “Avengers: Age of Ultron ruled the box office this weekend with a huge $187.7 million, which is the second-biggest debut ever. Unfortunately, the top opening ever belongs to its predecessor, Marvel’s The Avengers ($207.4 million)” which is a great start, of course, and continues to augur well for the future of the MCU.

The site also noted that “the Avengers sequel also continues to do strong business overseas, where it’s earned $439 million before even debuting in China or Japan”. Which hopefully means that the movie will go on to outgross Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Source: Weekend Report: ‘Ultron’s Massive $188M Debut Falls Short of ‘Avengers’ Record – Box Office Mojo

VICTOR LOW’S SONGS OF THE WELL WILL THRILL CHILDREN OF ALL AGES!

SongsoftheWell

Now here’s something completely different!

Victor Low (formerly of Concave Scream and The Observatory) has recorded and released an album of short instrumental tunes (mostly under 2 minutes), that he says were inspired by his own childhood and the bedtime stories shared with his young daughter, Ee Shahn.

These ten tracks are delightful and thoughtful experiments into songwriting targeted for children or the young at heart. Mostly neo-classical in tone with acoustic guitars (steel and nylon) at the fore, assorted percussion and the occasional cello (courtesy of Zhong Ren Koh), it’s easy to simply play through the duration of Songs of the Well and revel in its rustic sophistication.

My personal favourites are “Drip Drop”, “Swallow” and “Geckos of Eastwood” – which highlight Low’s focus on naive charm but the arty “Song of the Well” recalls Low’s time with art-rock ensemble The Observatory. It’s an atmospheric ambient song whose origins, Low was kind enough to elaborate on.

“When I was writing the songs in this album. I would often bring my guitar out of my studio to sit in the stairwell where I live, just to get a bit of a natural reverb. This really helped me to ease into the ideas and finish writing the songs (or the main bulk of it) rather quickly. A thought occurred to myself that these songs seem to be coming from “the well”, and it ended up being the title of the album. Ironically the track “Song of The Well” was the only song not written from the stairwell. Instead it was done in my studio, using music boxes, cymbals and effects”.

If there is one obvious complaint, it is that the songs are too short! I mean, once a enthralled listener really gets into the piece, it’s over!! Hopefully, Low will see fit to expand on the artistic success of Songs of the Well to give us fans more in the years to come. Please encourage that possibility by purchasing Songs of the Well.

… still there’s more … 

PET SOUNDS FROM BIG PINK: CHEATING SONS RECLAIM SIXTIES’ ROCK N ROLL LEGACY

CheatingSons

Cheating Sons!

Years in the making but definitely worth the wait. 10 tracks of such instrumental sophistication and erudite witticism that it is barely imaginable that the former cultural desert of Singapore is able to produce an album that absorbs the wondrous legacy of 60s rock and pop so well.

With the songwriting template pioneered by the likes of Roy Orbison, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Band the band have also adopted the production values of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson to deliver a unique aural experience that will please rock scholars and casual music fans alike. An additional distinctive element is the band’s ability to incorporate East Asian sounds and melodies into the mix to create a East meets West amalgam that is surprising and pleasing.

Believe me it’s difficult to point out any particular highlights here as every track is an entity to itself but I will say that songs like the ghostly Beatlesque “Mercy of Cain and Abel”, the atmospheric folky “Patriach”, the country bluesy “Blood the Prize” and the Orbison-Teresa Teng channeling “Honeymoon” certainly deserve special mention.

In an amazing year for Singapore rock so far, this eponymous album is a definite standout and a statement of intent that hopefully will bring forth more exciting music from this wonderful band in the years to come.

CDs and digital albums will be available on cheatingsons.bandcamp.com and CDs also at Curated Records and Roxy Records & Trading.

GEEK OUT! TO THOSE WHO DISLIKED AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

ultron

If you have read my spoiler-free review, you would be aware that I loved Avengers: Age of Ultron and consider it by far the best superhero movie ever so far. However, based on numerous online comments, it has become de rigueur to label the movie as a disappointing sequel to the first movie, with the common criticism being that the movie has too much going on. My first reaction to this is — have these people ever read an actual superhero comic book before? Probably not. In that regard, I believe that director Joss Whedon made Avengers: Age of Ultron for us geeks and for that I am certainly grateful!

— SPOILERS ALERT —

Continue reading “GEEK OUT! TO THOSE WHO DISLIKED AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON”

PoPTV – SONGS FROM THE NEW MILLENNIUM

New-Mill

During a discussion with a student about pop music – which revolved mainly around me dissing modern pop – Raj (that’s his name) challenged me to cite worthy music from the new millennium (he was born in the late 90s, after all) and so, here are ten examples (and yes, many of these artists started before the year 2000, but why should that matter?). Enjoy.

BECK – THE GOLDEN AGE (2002)

Continue reading “PoPTV – SONGS FROM THE NEW MILLENNIUM”