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Mar 142012

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.


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 132012


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

Mar 132012

(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!


 TV  Comments Off
Mar 132012

(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


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 132012

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.

Mar 122012

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)

Mar 122012

(Press release)

KittyWu Records presents BITCH MAGNET for a one-night-only performance at HOME CLUB on Friday, 13 April 2012. Formed in the fall of 1986 by Jon Fine (guitar) and Park Sooyoung (bass and vocals) and Orestes Morfín (drums), BITCH MAGNET have been recognized as a significant influence on generations of aggressive and musically complex bands, including Mogwai, Don Caballero, Rodan, June of 44 and Battles.

BITCH MAGNET, inactive since 2004, had their entire remastered Bitch Magnet catalog, plus six previously unreleased tracks, released as a triple-CD and a limited edition triple-LP in late 2011 by Temporary Residence Limited. It was greeted by rapturous critical responses from outlets ranging from the New York Times to Total Guitar, including four-star reviews in Rolling Stone and Mojo and a five-star review in Uncut.

The post-hardcore pioneers reunited at All Tomorrow’s Parties “Nightmare Before Christmas” festival in December 2011, and the band also performed a handful of dates in the UK, Europe and Asia in late 2011. Those performances marked the first onstage appearance of the band’s original recorded lineup – Morfin, Park and Fine – since 1989.

BITCH MAGNET will be joined by Singapore band AMATEUR TAKES CONTROL.

Event Title: KittyWu presents BITCH MAGNET (US)

Event Date: Friday, 13 April 2012

Event Time: Doors open at 8pm

Venue: HOME CLUB, 20 Upper Circular Road, #B1-01/06, The Riverwalk

Tickets: SGD25 (Advance) / SGD30 (Door)

Purchase advance tickets from


 FILM, MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 122012

The Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight Live DVD (Eagle Vision)

Nostalgia is a powerful force especially in relation to rock music. Much of 70s classic rock has faded into obscurity and remembered mostly by the young generation of the time. Styx is a band that had massive commercial success in the late 70s and early 80s but its platinum albums are not given much critical merit in the scheme of things nowadays. A shame really.

So how does one approach a live DVD wherein the band reproduces two of these best-selling albums (viz The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight) in their entirety? Especially when the main player (i.e. Dennis De Young) is no longer on board? Purely I suspect only as a well-crafted instance of nostalgic entertainment.

I would confess to being a big fan of Styx’s recorded output of this special era and songs like “The Grand Illusion”, “Superstars”, “Come Sail Away”, “Sing For the Day”, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Queen of Spades” still resonate with me strongly. So with that in mind, I must say that as an exercise in nostalgia this DVD succeeds wildly.

To his credit, Lawrence Gowan has filled De Young’s shoes (as singer and keyboards player) very well and to such an extent that if you didn’t look at him, you’d never think that De Young was absent. Gowan is an excellent showman and he possesses all the chops to keep anyone from missing De Young. Whether this is a good or bad thing is hard to say actually!

To be fair, the concert overall is top notch with the songs re-produced perfectly. Considering all the work and effort that was obviously put into the show, one cannot fault the professionalism of all involved. The sold-out audience lapped it up eagerly and if this DVD somehow gets new music fans to check out Styx’s discography then at least something more than mere nostalgia would have been achieved.

Mar 112012

Tiger Talk

Country + Rock n’ Roll is still one of the most potent music out there in the modern rock wasteland. Thankfully, bands like Yukon Blonde is smart enough to eschew current obsessions with 80s post-punk/synth-pop and deal exclusively good old fashioned alt-country magic. For one week only, PoP visitors get to check out the upcoming new album – Tiger Talk – streaming in its entirety at Soundcloud. The album is due for released on 20th March. Can hardly wait!

Official Site

Mar 092012

“Debut” (off Adio Amigos EP)

Not your usual 80s-derivative indie pop but something a bit more old-school eccentric. Listen and/or download if you like!


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Mar 092012

“Rosebud” (off Prisoner album)

Australian anthemic rock quartet The Jezabels deliver their latest video for “Rosebud,” directed by Ben Reed. You can watch the dark, VHS-reminiscent clip over at VEVO. “Rosebud” is the latest single from the band’s debut full-length Prisoner, which will be available physically in the US via Mom + Pop Records on April 3.

Official Site


Mar 082012

“Come On, Be A No One” (off new album, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull)

The band of brothers known as the Cribs returns with their 5th album in May. Taking the 90s alternative rock aesthetic (I really hesitate to use the term ‘grunge revival’) to its logical conclusion, the album is co-produced by Steve Albini and Dave Fridmann and promises to be a cracker. This track is a example of the goodness that resides in the new album – boasting a garage vibe and a screaming chorus that sends the adrenaline rushing. Yeah, it’s fun.


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Mar 072012

Chronology DVD

Talking Heads. Now what more can one say of this iconic, legendary band? Especially when its legacy continues to seep into the contemporary indie-alternative rock scene. This DVD collects choice videos of the band: -

(a) from its early days as a trio (David Byrne – vocals, guitar/Tina Weymouth – bass/Chris Frantz – drums) in New York City’s famous CGBG where a shy Byrne never makes eye contact with the audience whilst nervously singing “Psycho Killer” and “The Girls Want to be with the Girls” to

(b) the accomplished quartet (with Jerry Harrison) as Byrne transforms into the confident frontman on classic Heads material like “Don’t Worry About the Government” and “Warning Sign” to

(c) morphing into a full-blown live act (embellished with backing singers, percussionists and extra musicians) with “Love –> Building On Fire” and “Burning Down the House”.

As a bonus, the DVD also includes a 35 minute South Bank Show documentary in 1979 and an interview with Byrne circa 1978. Not only that but every band member contributes to an audio commentary as well.

No other way to say this – if you’re a music lover, this DVD is essential.


 COMICS, TV  Comments Off
Mar 062012

Nerds of the Square Table

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a GEEK OUT! but watching the new AMC reality series Comic Book Men has inspired a return of sorts to all things geek at Power of Pop. What’s Comic Book Men about? According to AMC, it’s an unscripted one hour series, which dives deep into fanboy culture by following the antics in and around master fanboy Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The series also features features Secret Stash employees Walt, manager and de-facto leader; Mike, a comic book virtuoso; Ming, the store’s technical expert and go-to whipping boy; and Bryan, who doesn’t actually work at the Stash, yet can always be found perched on a stool behind the front counter.

Having worked at a comic book store in the mid-80s (and enjoying every minute) this is like a geek fantasy/reality show and will definitely appeal to all the hardcore geeks out there. So far four episodes have aired and the latest one where Ming pitches his idea of a Zombie-themed store promotion to Walt is probably the one I’ve enjoyed the most. The show intercuts scenes from the store and the round table discussions, which includes Smith as well. Along the way, customers will be featured either buying or selling comics or toys to/from the store. An interesting segment found Walt actually paying top dollar for rare John Buscema Silver Surfer original artwork.

It’s a lot of fun with loads of laughter and even if you’re not a comic book fan, you will appreciate the banter amongst the various characters and of course, Smith is always good for a laugh or three! Only two more episodes before the first season wraps up – hopefully there will be more to come… Check out the trailer below.

Mar 062012

The Mosaic Music Festival (MMF) is back bringing to our shores bands/artists that cover a wide range of ‘genres’ and musical styles. Some are world-famous and some are obscure but the unifying tread amongst them is the programmers’ belief that these bands/artists can provide that ‘one magical musical moment’ as Esplanade chief Benson Puah states in the official MMF programme.

Certainly, MMF appears to cater to every taste imaginable and scanning through that programme, I would like to highlight the events that would probably appeal to PoP visitors.

OMD Saturday 10 March Theatre

Elbow Saturday 18 March Concert Hall

Russian Red Sunday 11 March Recital Studio

Blind Pilot Sunday 18 March Recital Studio

Architecture in Helsinki Friday 9 March Theatre Studio

Craft Spells Saturday 10 March Theatre Studio

Los Campesinos! Saturday 17 March Theatre Studio

Also of interest will be ‘up close and personal’ sessions with OMD, Russian Red, Craft Spells, Blind Pilot and Los Campesinos! at the Esplanade Library on the day of the performances.

For more information, check out the official site.

Mar 052012

‘There is Only Love” (Single)

In the spirit of presenting you, kind PoP visitor, the most promising and exciting new power pop out there in the wasteland of contemporary pop-rock, I give you The Running Jumps. Consisting of Joel Martin (vocals, guitar, keys), Todd McDearman (guitar, keys, vocals), Dave Johnstone (drums) and Sid Jordan (bass, vocals), The Running Jumps claim an affinity for albums like XTC‘s Skylarking, Jellyfish‘s Spilt Milk, The BeatlesSgt. Pepper, The Kinks‘ Village Green Preservation Society and The Zombies‘ Odessey and Oracle.  All this with a Guided By Voices or Superdrag edge.

“There is Only Love” is the band’s new single and the influences mentioned above offer fair representation of what to expect. Edgy and sweet when it needs to be, the song has an engaging chorus hook which will keep you humming along before too long. The vocals probably need work in certain points but there is no denying the strength of the songwriting. Looking forward to more from The Running Jumps!

Buy the single from CDBaby.


Can I be candid? I was really concerned about my NOISE mentee Maricelle Wong‘s performance at the NOISE Music Showcase. Not that I believed that she did not have the talent and ability to impress everyone on the day. It’s just that in the performances prior, she had experienced serious bouts of stage fright that compromised her ability to express herself freely. Then on the day itself, she casually mentioned to me that she had a Cajon player – Peep Show drummer Edmund Khoo – playing with her as well! Honestly I freaked out a little (it was the first I’d heard of this arrangement) – I asked her half in jest – “Does he know your songs?” but later found out from Edmund that they had rehearsed twice so I heaved a sign of relief.

Halfway through her set, I knew she was fine as she warmed her way into the hearts of every single person watching at the Esplanade Concourse. She was breezy, bubbly, vivacious and impossible not to enjoy. Her simple heartfelt songs connected easily with everyone and it was obvious that people liked Maricelle. Best part of all, she remained true to herself in the event and that was enough. Much credit to Edmund certainly for helping her to settle her nerves and just have fun – I have never seen her so relaxed on stage ever before. I especially loved the ‘fast’ version of “Apple of My Eye” – the song we wrote together – and the fact that songs like “Love is a Drug” and “Take A Picture” resonated strongly.

And that’s it for another year of NOISE TMM but it’s certainly not the end for my working with Maricelle and Ming See. Stay tuned because there will be more to come…

Picture (c) Thomas Tan


 FILM, MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 052012

We Come In Pieces DVD (Eagle Vision)

So if my recommendation for this live DVD is ‘strictly for fans only’ – would you take that positively or negatively? I mean, when you consider that UK trio Placebo has sold ten million records worldwide, then that’s a whole bunch of people who would be interested, right?

But seriously, as a non-fan myself, I found Placebo‘s androgynous image and 90s alternative rock approach enjoyable and interesting enough – especially as a sometimes Smashing Pumpkins listener – but beyond that I do not place much significance on the band in the history of rock music.

So definitely fans will want this excellent live recording of a 2010 gig in Brixton Academy with the highlights being lively renditions of “Nancy Boy”, “Ashtray Heart”, “Infra Red” and “Taste in Men”. Hardly essential but fans of 90s alternative rock will certainly want to check out We Come In Pieces.

Watch the trailer below.


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 052012

Readers who grew up in the 90’s (like yours truly) would clearly remember the rise and fall of The Boyband: love-song-belting, fangirl-generating male singing groups that took the world by storm. One of the more memorable lineups was the hugely successful A1, originally comprising members Mark Read, Ben Adams, Christian Ingebrigtsen and Paul Marazzi. After their subsequent split in 2002 following Marazzi’s departure from the band, the individual members embarked on various career paths and musical efforts; but finally, in 2009, the remaining trio announced a comeback, with new studio album Waiting For Daylight releasing in Norway in October 2010. Since then A1 has continued to tour worldwide, and on February 28, 2012, just last Tuesday night, together with fellow boyband Blue and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees, they filled the Singapore Indoor Stadium with tunes both familiar and fresh, to the delight of the thousands of Singaporean longtime fans.

The day after the concert, I got the (enviable?) opportunity of speaking with frontman/vocalist Ben Adams in a roundtable interview at the Axis Bar and Lounge in Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Adams was a real joy to interview, full of enthusiasm and easy banter, with a nice bit of shameless self-promotion thrown into the mix, expressing his hilarious friendly outrage when he found out that two out of the three of us interviewers had not heard Waiting For Daylight nor attended the previous night’s show.

When asked about what he, Read and Ingebrigtsen had been doing in the years between 2002 and the reunion of the band, the cheeky reply came immediately: “I’ve just been playing PlayStation!” Still, Adams was quick to assure us that they’d “always still been doing music even if it hasn’t been A1”. He also mentioned his “strange” experience on reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2009. “It was weird! It was kinda fun with some of the people in there, because I love Austin Powers, and Mini Me was there with me, and that was weird, but it was great!”

Naturally, given the length of time that A1 have been on hiatus, one topic of conversation that came up was about growing up, or rather, growing older. “You’ve been known for your ‘pretty boy’ image in the past,” one interviewer asked, “Now that you’re older, what kind of image are you going for?” To which Adams had a suspiciously ready answer… “UGLY GIRL. That’s what I’m going for! Pretty boy to ugly girl!” Much to our amusement, he then proceeded to recount an anecdote of actually being ID’ed when he went to buy a pack of cigarettes for a friend (the minimum age is sixteen). “I’m thirty! I was dancing around the shop!”

Speaking of stories and experiences, Adams regaled us with memories of some crazy fan encounters, and of aww-inducing generosity from fans “especially in Japan”, for some reason. “People following us all over the world on planes and minivans for every show… and I think the craziest thing was when a fan came up to me, and we’d seen her loads of different places, and she’d been following us everywhere, and we’re like, Oh great, what’s your favourite song on the album? and she’s like, Oh I don’t have your album. I spent all my money following you around! … That was interesting.”  Well, judging from the reception they’ve got since their reunion, I don’t think they’ll have any shortage of such dedicated fans now that they’re back!

More questions and answers from the roundtable interview:

How are you finding Singapore?

I’m finding it amazing, you know I think when we were on our way here, ‘cause it’s been ten years since we’ve been here, we didn’t know if anyone would remember us really, so a bit of worry… then obviously seeing everyone at the show last night, people waiting for us at the airport, hotel and stuff, it’s incredible! Amazing, people really do remember us, and also seem to love the new stuff.

How is touring and sharing the stage with Blue and Jeff Timmons?

It’s been really fun. Ten years ago we’d done shows with Blue and 98 Degrees as well, so we’ve known each other for a long time. We all do very different shows. We don’t do any of the boyband dancing with backing tracks anymore, we brought a whole live band and play everything totally live, so we do very different shows, and I think it works out well.

What was it like, back together after seven years, standing on the stage like that after so long?

It was brilliant, I mean it wasn’t really a planned thing for us to get back together, we did one TV show over in Norway, and the reaction was so good that Universal wanted us to make an album, and then we went on to do sixteen sold-out concerts over in Europe. And it was just magic really; doing all our solo projects was really fun, but I think we all felt that we could have more fun together. It’s like when you watch a movie, you don’t really want to watch it alone, you want to watch it with someone, so things like last night at the concert, to be able to look over to Mark and Christian and go “wow, we’re doing this!”, it’s amazing, it’s much more fun.

Have you faced any difficulties during the comeback?

Not yet! Thank goodness. Some bands, it doesn’t work, and we’ve been really fortunate that everywhere we’ve been, people seem really responsive and really receptive, especially to the new music. And I think that’s because a lot of bands that try and get back together, they always used to rely on songwriters to give them the songs, and so perhaps when they’re coming back they’re not given the best songs, the best songs are given to the artists that are very big at the time. Whereas we always wrote our songs, we’ve written the new album ourselves, so we can just recreate ourselves, we don’t need anybody else!

What inspired you back then and what inspires you now?

…It’s a tricky thing. You gotta remember that the old fans that used to love us back in the day, they’ve all grown up too. So we don’t really have to think about trying to cater for them back in the day, we just do the music that we love to do. We all keep up to date, we’re inspired by loads of different stuff, music today, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, all of our favourite artists coming back, like Christian’s is Bruce Springsteen, Mark’s is still the Beatles… so I think it’s important to keep an eye on what’s going on and the trends of music, but still keep it A1 clearly, we don’t want to copy other people.

Any plans to release another album?

Yeah, sure! We’re always writing… I think as a songwriter you always think that your last song that you’ve written is the best one, so we’ve got lots of new best songs that we want to release, but we’ve got to obviously take it one step at a time. We’re very proud of Waiting For Daylight so we have to make sure that that gets its own life… You know the last time, we were so busy and we didn’t actually get to enjoy any of the success or any of the places that we were and stuff, so before we started this time, we were like “okay, if were gonna do this again, let’s take our time, let’s enjoy what we’re doing”, you know? Of course let’s be busy and stuff, but let’s not be too busy.

What message do you have for your fans in Singapore?

Thank you for your support, fantastic to be back here, hope you’re enjoying the new album. If you don’t have it, go get it! And we can’t wait to come back and do more concerts.

(Desiree Boey)
Mar 042012

My NOISE mentee Maricelle Wong is a relative novice to the world of music performance and songwriting. But from the time I met her under the The NOISE Music Mentorship Program, I could see that she was passionate about wanting to learn as much as she could. Maricelle is raw in many respects but there is no denying the talent she possesses for both songwriting and performance. Slowly and surely, she is gaining confidence in these areas and I have seen great steps forward in her journey. Tonight is a significant milestone for Maricelle as she makes her debut at the Esplanade Concourse. Two highlights in her set will be her originals – the bubbly “Take A Picture” and the dark “Love Is A Drug” – which represents both sides of Maricelle’s persona effectively. Also look out for “Apple of My Eye”, the lyrics of which were inspired partly by the recent Taiwanese film and for which I wrote a melody for. Come on down to witness a budding music talent on our own shores with more to come… In the meantime, check out Maricelle‘s video performance of “Apple of My Eye” below.

Maricelle’s Facebook Page.


Mar 022012

When I started Power of Pop back in 1998, my favourite ‘genre’ was ‘power pop’. Wiki defines ‘power pop’ as

“…a popular musical genre that draws its inspiration from 1960s British and American pop and rock music. It typically incorporates a combination of musical devices such as strong melodies, crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements, and prominent guitar riffs. Instrumental solos are usually kept to a minimum, and blues elements are largely downplayed. Recordings tend to display production values that lean toward compression and a forceful drum beat. Instruments usually include one or more electric guitars, an electric bass guitar, a drum kit, and sometimes electric keyboards or synthesizers. While its cultural impact has waxed and waned over the decades, power pop is among rock’s most enduring subgenres.”

When discussing ‘power pop’, inevitably the song used as a reference point is Big Star‘s “September Gurls”.

It’s easy to discern all the elements of ‘power pop’ that Wiki listed out in this song. Melody, harmony and gleaming guitars all in strong evidence. Of course, Big Star itself had many other kinds of musical styles but ‘power pop’ will always be the ‘genre’ the band will be most closely associated with.

The 90s Pop Underground was definitely influenced by Jellyfish (pictured above). The band formed around the nucleus of Andy Sturmer (Vocals, drums) and Roger Manning Jr (keyboard, vocals) and released two legendary albums (in ‘power pop’ circles, in any case) viz. Bellybutton and Spilt Milk. Sadly, Jellyfish‘s ‘power pop’ was out of synch with what was popular at the time i.e. ‘grunge’ and the band soon broke up after the failure of Spilt Milk. But its legacy was felt strongly for the rest of the decade. Here’s a video of the band playing “Joining a Fan Club” live. Amazing harmonies and dynamics.

In the wake of Jellyfish, many other ‘power pop’ bands also signed with major labels and released excellent albums which failed to register with the ‘grunge’ loving public. This list would include The Grays, Wanderlust, Jason Falkner and Greenberry Woods. A couple of ‘power pop’ indie labels like Not Lame and Big Deal soon surfaced to feed the appetites of the Pop Underground fans but by the early Noughties (despite initial mainstream successes of Fastball and Semisonic, the scene had faded away somewhat.

In the UK and Europe, there were also pockets of ‘power pop’ bands that also drew from 70s punk and 80s post-punk to remain relevant to critics but were essentially holding true to the traditions. Teenage Fanclub and a host of bands from the Scottish indie scene (like BMX Bandits and Captain America/Eugenius) flew the flag strongly for melodic guitar pop that bordered on ‘power pop’. But one UK band that really captured the imagination of the Pop Underground was Silver Sun.

Great melodies with crunching guitar work makes for primo ‘power pop’! However, the same decline that was seen in the USA was basically mirrored in the UK as well for ‘power pop’. So here we are in 2012 and the last decade or so has not been kind to ‘power pop’ and there has not been any significant ‘power pop’ band/artist in a long while. However, if you looked closely at bands like Surfer Blood, Best Coast and Cults, the unmistakable affinity for 60s pop blended with the modern guitar sound may be a subtle re-invention of ‘power pop’ for a entirely new generation of music lovers. I leave you with Singapore’s very own ‘power pop’ masters Typewriter with its instant classic, “That Deepest Blue” and hope that like me you will dream of a ‘power pop’ future…

Mar 022012

This coming weekend (Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th March) marks the end of yet another NOISE Music Mentorship Programme with the NOISE Music Showcase at the Esplanade viz. The Concourse and the Outdoor Theatre. For me, I have been very fortunate to form relationships with my two mentees, Ming See and Maricelle.

Ming See is a quiet and reserved person, someone who chooses to shun the spotlight. So for her, performing can be a bit of a challenge, with handling stage fright a major issue. But this is probably true for all performers. However, what is really special about Ming See is her songwriting. Literate concepts and classic UK folk influences make Ming See’s music a bit different from the usual singer-songwriter fare we might get here in Singapore. Her music is rather quiet and spare, with a voice to match. So the Concourse surroundings will be suitable if everybody simply focuses and listens carefully.

I am looking forward to hearing Ming See at the Concourse tonight at 7.15pm. If you are interested in the exciting musical talents developing right at our door steps then I hope to see you there too.


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Feb 272012

Power of Pop is proud – yes, proud – to report that Singaporean singer-songwriter Inch Chua has been invited back to the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas. Together with her backing band, The Metric System, they will perform multiple showcases from March 10-14, 2012 during SXSW. Following SXSW, Inch will debut at Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto from March 21-22, 2012.

Inch was first featured by Power of Pop in 2007 in an interview as the front person of indie band Allura ahead of its appearance at Baybeats Festival that year. In the five years since, the singer-songwriter has blossomed into a formidable solo artist in her own right. Inch is now signed and represented by Mighty Fresh, an award-winning talent management company based in Santa Monica, California. We wish Inch all the best in North America! If you are in the vicinity, listed below are when and where you can catch Inch Chua & the Metric System.

Los Angeles Dates:

Inch Chua @ Genghis Cohen

Date: March 22, 2012 (Thursday) Venue: Genghis Cohen, 740 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles Time: 10:00 PM

SXSW Tour dates:

Sweet Relief Musician Fund @ The Beacon

Date: March 10, 2012 (Saturday) Venue: Austin Convention Center Time: 3:30pm

Ainjel Emme & Inch Chua

Date: March 12, 2012 (Monday) Venue: Ming’s Café, 2604 Guadalupe St, Austin TX Time: 9:00pm

SXSW Style x Fashion Show

Date: March 17, 2012 (Saturday) Venue: Austin Convention Center Time: 6:30pm

Official SXSW Showcase

Date: March 14, 2012 (Wednesday) Venue: Beale Street Tavern, 214, East 6th Street, Austin TX Time: 9:00 pm

Official CMW Tour Dates:

Official CMW Showcase (Acoustic)

Date: March 21, 2012 (Wednesday) Venue: Free Times Café, 320 College St, Toronto Time: 11:00PM

Official CMW Showcase (Full Band)

Date: March 22, 2012 (Thursday) Venue: Tranzac (Front Room), 292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto Time: 8:00 PM

Lomography, Toronto

Date: March 23, 2012 (Friday) Venue: Lomography Gallery Store, 536 Queen Street West, Toronto Time: 8:00 PM

Official Site


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Feb 252012


“You Say Yes, I Say No”

Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone’s got one. The problem with the interweb culture especially in relation to “hip and cool” music is that just like cheerleaders, popularity pretty much trumps everything else. Music itself is very subjective such that opinions vary so much when discussing any particular musical style or ‘genre’ or even the relative merit thereof. I mean, to use yet another proverb – ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ – and opinions have to be put into perspective of the person espousing such opinion. In the final analysis, it’s all a matter of taste and there’s no accounting for taste.

Take the latest exercise in diluting the legacy of Queen – as remaining members Brian May and Roger Taylor are slated to perform with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert (for the umpteenth time) at the upcoming Knebworth festival. For Lambert fans (predominantly music listeners in the flush of youth) this sounds like an excellent and may even seem like a tribute to the late Freddie Mercury but to those of us Queen fans who were actually alive when the band was in its prime, this appears to be offensive and an affront to the memory of Mercury and Queen. Nothing against Adam Lambert personally but May and Taylor should really know better. But as you can see, the differing opinions lay very much in the ‘generation gap’.

This same ‘generation gap’ rears its ugly head when discussing the relative merits of a band like Foo Fighters. Those of us who remember Dave Grohl as the drummer of Nirvana rather than the alt-rock icon that he has become, may find Grohl’s current status as the undisputed godfather of indie rock rather mystifying when the kids who revere him have probably never heard of Husker Du or Pixies (I assume that they have heard of Nirvana to begin with!). Which is why I was bemused at the online frenzy when the announcement of Foo Fighters‘ concert in Singapore was first made as personally, I have never much rated the Foo Fighters (probably not the confession to make if I ever want to attain any ‘indie cred’)…

Before the lynch mob gathers, this phenomenon is nothing new. I recall Wings fans not being aware of the Beatles or hard rock fans being repulsed by punk (“the bands can’t play”) in the 70s and the circle of life continues…but please don’t kill me just because you don’t like my opinion, alright???



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Feb 242012

“Our Hearts” (off And So They Ran Faster… album)

Firehorse is a captivating project from singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Leah Siegel. The NYC artist released the well-received And So They Ran Faster… in 2011 with the assistance of Steve Elliot on guitar, Tim Luntzel on bass, and Brian Wolfe on drums. “Our Hearts” is gorgeous minimalist pop that carries a lovely melody over 80s synth-pop references. The official video is wonderfully surreal and for want of a better comparison, think of Siegel as an alternate reality Katy Perry. Only much more cooler. Certainly, expect a review of And So They Ran Faster… soon. In the meantime, enjoy.

Official Site

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