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Aug 192011

LOLA DUTRONIC New York Stories EP (Red Star)

With this Lola Dutronic review, it would be marked down in history – at least for me, as they will be the first artiste that I have ever reviewed for a second time; and maybe with that, more would come in the near future. So let me pen my thoughts diligently as this review progresses…

New York Stories EP is the follow-up to Musique EP, and contains five (only five!?) covers of originals by Blondie (In The Sun), Suicide (Cheree), Johnny Thunders (You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory), Alan Vega and Martin Rev (Keep Your Dreams) and The Fast (Kids Just Wanna Dance), the latter written by the late Miki Zone.

With the first two songs on the tracklist (Kids Just Wanna Dance and Cheree), I had initially thought that Lola Dutronic had ditched and progressed from their previous “lounge-y” sounds and ventured back into the basics of electronica. However, leaning towards my favour, they swing back in style with the remaining tracklist of the EP. I guess it has got a lot to do with the original songs and their lyrical contents, as well as finding the best and most suitable arrangement to improvise the Lola Dutronic sound elements into the tracks, without screwing up the classics.

Pizzicato Five floats into my mind, and even though one is clearly targeted with French pop and the other disbanded with Japanese, one can easily feel the connectivity between both artistes, despite the time lapse and the distance of miles separating them apart. Of course though, nothing really beats P5.

The usual naggy commentary about the number of tracks in an EP and to have more creative writing inputs (instead of just covers) is applicable here to this EP review as well, but don’t let that stop your outreach to this release, unless you are generally put off by artistes doing covers and releasing albums filled with nothing but.

The end result is procrastinatively chilled, and it seems like we’re still stuck in the same hotel room as we were at the start of the Musique EP review, if not, several floors higher and slightly more complexed (with a beautiful room view). Let’s not ever check out.


Buy New York Stories at Amazon

Aug 172011


The new sexay single from the New York Stories EP, out now on Red Star Digital Music. Download it at iTunes. Enjoy the cool 80s electro-pop vibe.


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Jul 212011

BON IVER Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)

If you’re an indie music fan, then there’s not much more to say about Bon Iver. Having almost come out of nowhere with a debut album of mythological proportions (you know, the lo-fi cabin recording and so on). Comprising delicate shades of folk, electronica and avant-garde soundscapes, that debut (For Emma, Forever Ago) captured the imagination of indie music fans worldwide.

This eponymous sophomore album builds on the austere foundations of the debut to deliver greater sophistication without sacrificing an iota of the artistic integrity that Bon Iver has come to represent. Consisting of songs named by places, the high art pretensions become irrelevant once the music plays as Justin Vernon and company strip away every artifice and construct to present the raw essence of soul.

Vernon maintains his trademarked affected falsetto double-tracked vocal style as well as the various electronic loops and soundscapes but this time, we have organic instrumentation as well. Acoustic pianos and strings embellish these gorgeously fragile tunes that transport the listener into wind-swept landscapes and snow-topped mountains. Expansive and insular at the same time, songs like Perth, Minnesota WI, Holoscene and Wash. (to name but 4 prime examples) leave no doubt as to the deft ability of Bon Iver to touch and invigorate with melancholy charm.

2011 continues to spoil us music lovers with beautiful musicality that proves conclusively that in the end, good music wins out, no matter what.

Official Site

Jun 152011


For some reason, this song reminds me very much of the Canadian 80s new wave band, Men Without Hats. I suppose it has something to do with the very idea of North Americans singing with a baritone Anglophile accent. Whatever the form, this Baltimore-based band have enough synth-pop savvy to make good use of the now-popular style. In any case this new single Before the Bridge will be the A-side from the 7″ of the same title, out July 19 on Thrill Jockey. Check it out and make your way to Future Islands…

Future Islands – Before the Bridge by thrilljockey

Official Site


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May 252011

ADEBISI SHANK This Is The Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank (Sargent House)

This album is well, er, the second album from Adebisi Shank, an electronic band hailing from Ireland. The band is to say the least, ambitious. They aim to “create a global new form of music” which captures “the anthemic optimism of your era (which) will eventually enrich the entire world”. And do they match up to their aim? Well, whether it will reach the entire world is one matter, but it does create a type of futuristic-progressive-electronic-robots-talking-to-each-other music I’ve never heard before. d.v.d, recently in town for the Mosaic Music Festival, produces the closest type of music found in this album.

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Mar 232011

CHEMICAL BROTHERS Hanna: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Yet another electronic duo scores a major motion picture, in this case the artist is Chemical Brothers and the film is Hanna. I must say that I really only understood the value of Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy when I saw the movie. No such problem here. Although it would be impossible to assess how successful the soundtrack music is in embellishing Joe Wright’s spy movie, there is little doubt in my mind that this film score is more than able to stand on its own, even without visuals.

There is a childlike motif that permeates through many of the tracks here (due to the subject matter of the film – a teenage girl trained to be a killing machine by her father), which makes for enjoyable listening. Naturally, there will be the gritty fight/chase music, the emotional fear-inducing soundscapes and the Wangerian string-laden epic ‘epiphany’-type moments, one can expect from most action movie scores, but overall, there are enough unique electronic musical highpoints (eg. Hanna’s Theme, The Devil Is In The Details, Marissa Flashback, The Devil Is In the Beat, Bahnhof Rumble) to satisfy fans of Chemical Brothers.

Now available from iTunes.

Official Site



Mar 222011


This new song comes from the critically acclaimed electronic duo who have made an intense and hypnotic score for the upcoming adventure thriller Hanna – in theatres April 8th through Focus Features. A little short but an interesting teaser, one might say…

The Devil Is In The Beats by The Chemical Brothers by Hannamovie



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Feb 142011

DEATH KIT Devadesi 7 inch single (Fort Lowell)

Devadesi is Death Kit’s debut physical release following the digital release of their first single, I Can Make You Love Me, in 2010. Said to have been formed in response to “a Los Angeles indie rock scene too witheringly lazy to pursue the potential and precision of electronica”, the band clearly has a lot of confidence in what they have to offer to the scene.

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Jan 242011

PENGILLY’s Ode Vii single (Good Foot)

“Pengilly’s is the project of 20 year old Ric Hollingbery and his band.  Pengilly’s mix orchestral arrangements with beats; shouts, choral phrases and processed sounds.  They play live with strings, brass, laptop, bass and drums” goes the official press bio. Not far off the mark certainly, as this debut single fully demonstrates. Stripped of the electronics, one could conceivably describe Ode Vii as baroque folk-pop and in this way share affinity with the current wave of British neo-folk. A refreshing combination. Augers well for the full length album to come.

Buy | Myspace


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Dec 222010

TECHY ROMANTICS Touch (Party Bear)

When I first saw Philippine trio Techy Romantics at Baybeats 2010, I was struck by how much it seemed to be a hybrid of electronic music and twee pop! With Dondi Virrey manning the machines, Ryan Villena playing guitar and Camyl Besinga singing on top, it all just seemed perfectly engineered to present the best of technology and romance. Voila! Techy Romantics, indeed!

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Dec 182010

The mainstream strikes back? Well, not really. The major labels have slowly but surely been losing ground as fans continue to rip and download CDs. There may be less of them now but the stronger labels will survive even if they will have to be leaner and meaner in the process. There are still successes out there, that manage to retain certain aspects of musical artistry whilst being commercial enough to justify major label backing. We look at three examples, either released or distributed by Universal Music.

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Dec 142010

ELECTROLIGHTZ It Happened Over Night (Self-released)

It should be understood and made clear to musicians that we, humans, do not feel the need to dance all the time. So stop – stop with this current trend of making all possible tunes out there as danceable as possible. Humans, as we are, have different sides/moods at different phases of our lives, different times of the day.

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Dec 122010

Press release

3 acts which showcase live electronic music will take centre-stage at HOME Club on Friday 17 December 2010. Synth-pop quartet Elektone, electro-hip hop act The Lard Brothers and live drum’n'bass crew Breakbeat Theory will share the same stage.

Electronic music with the dynamics of live musicians will be performed as a seamless showcase, akin to a DJ set. The electronically programmed beat sets the pulse for the show while musicians augment the tunes by layering additional pulsating rhythms and carefully crafted melodies.

It would be the first time in Singapore which 3 such acts with different electronic genre leanings have come together to work as a community, presenting their craft as a whole unit.


Date: Friday 17 December 2010

Time: 2000hr

Venue: HOME Club (22 Upper Circular Road, The Riverwalk)

Ticket charge: S$12 (including 1 drink).

The first 50 guests get an additional glass of Heavy Water vodka.

More info –


FINAL FANTASY Heartland (For Great Justice)

Don’t be confused. Final Fantasy is the name singer-songwriter-multi-insturmentalist Owen Pallett chooses to record under. Yes, he is a big fan of the video game, naturally. Pallett’s music is not easily described or pigeon-holed but I guess if I had to, I would define his music as experimental, avant garde, neo-classical, electronic pop. Mostly, it is challenging songwriting and arrangements of the top artistic order.

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Oct 182010

DOUG POWELL The Apprentice’s Sorceror (Self-released)

If you wanted to set the fundamentals of Christian apologetics to rock music, you would probably need to be an expert on the subject and a talented singer-songwriter at the same time. Well, oddly enough, I have just described Doug Powell.

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LOLA DUTRONIC Musique EP (Red Star)

Imagine a stormy, rainy day outside, in the dark city landscapes, where the streets are alive and the people are walking by, dressed in heavy raincoats and sheltered by umbrellas, unaware that you are looking from a window above, in one of the high rise buildings; and within the walls of your apartment, with a mug of hot cocoa in hand, steam arising, accidentally fogging your reading glasses and bringing you a certain familiar feeling – possibly of love, lost and found.

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WORKING FOR A NUCLEAR FREE CITY The Jojo Burgest Tempest (Melodic)

The Jojo Burger Tempest is the 3rd album from Working For A Nuclear Free City (WFANFC), an electronic post-rock group hailing from the UK.

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OMD History of Modern (Bright Antenna/ILG)

Probably one of the my most significant musical epiphanies happened when I saw a live clip of Liverpool synth-pop band Orchestral Manoeurves in the Dark (OMD) on the epoch-making Urgh! A Music War (1981) film. The band performed Enola Gay and I was well and truly hooked – not only on OMD but on post-punk & synth-pop!! Exciting days!!!

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WILLIAM ORBIT Pieces In A Modern Style 2 (Decca)

Nothing new about pop-classical hybrids is there? Deep Purple’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1969), Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s adaptation of Pictures in a Exhibition (1971) and the ascent of progressive rock witness classical element in rock music.

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Just a quick note to say that I received exciting news this morning about a new OMD album! Read on -

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The Lard Brothers are celebrating National Day with a free download of new EP, Just A Tool. Here’s the word -

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COSMIC ARMCHAIR is an Electronic Pop duo based in Singapore and its music has been distributed internationally. Cosmic Armchair’s unique brand of electronic pop music has been described as “Trance with a New Wave feel”. On their latest album, A Different View, Cosmic Armchair combines dance and future pop influences with thought-provoking lyrics and driving beats in 5 fresh and original Electronic Pop Songs. Cosmic Armchair shares its secrets about music making.

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Created in 2006, ELEKTONE has been busy guesting for notable visitors to Singapore shores such as Jens Lekman, DYKO, IGO, Goodnight Electric and Montag. Codenamed de_selecta, themes of the ELEKTONE sound is intimately pegged to the love+hate/forgiveness+revenge equation. Coupled with their computer-aided manipulations, crying guitars, coaxing synthpads and a stable of beats, ELEKTONE has progressively made significant changes to their ‘live’ setup to streamline their bedroom creations into forms of realism.

Why make music?

Zulfadly: To stay sane. Some people do other things to stay sane e.g. Fishing, dancing, gambling. Making music makes a lot of sense to us cos it moves us, be it physically or senti-mentally.

Eswandy: I think we have gained a lot from just listening to music; from there the inspiration drives us to make our own. The act of creation keeps us excited about the future, the act of performing keeps us excited about the now while the act of listening helps us to understand the hidden and the past.

Azman: Music is a universal language & without it, there will be no joy in this world.

As the Tower Records slogan goes “No Music, No Life” and Nietzsche’s “Without music, life would be a mistake”, it’s important to keep it going. No one should stop!

When did you start making music?

Zulfadly: I was 12 years old when I picked up the guitar and started making my own music. Before that I had learnt to play the keyboards and electone organ from my uncle Rahim who used to play for that 80′s band Tokyo Square.

Eswandy: I was in school at 16 years old, writing my first song about my mom on a guitar. I got inspired after listening to Soul Detergent by The Stoned Revivals, that super band from Siglap, Singapore. They made me believe Singaporeans can actually make good music.

Azman: Haha never really keep track of it, maybe when i was 19 or 20?

What is the most important thing about making music?

Zulfadly: Having the freedom of expression

Eswandy: I find musicians very odd personalities who are at best underutilised here in Singapore so opportunities working with these strange but brilliant people is just priceless and very, very important to me.

Azman: Most importantly, to be sincere of what’s coming from the heart. Also nice melodies that will stay on people’s head for a long time.

Where is your favorite place to make music?

Zulfadly: On the bed ;)

Eswandy: In the bedroom ;)

Azman: No particular spot really and strange but true, you’ll think of some of the best melodies in the toilet!

How do you keep making music?

Azman: I don’t really make it a point to “make” music, though making music is a beautiful process.

In fact I think I “play” music more than i make music. But for me, listening to old school classics such as funk, soul, rhythm & blues can get me inspired to make new music all the time.

Zulfadly: The 3 of us are quite into music technology in our own terms. With technology driving a lot of how they make musical instruments these days, I feel this can help in making sure we keep making music. How can you stop technology?

Eswandy: Yup, technology to me definitely makes it even more interesting. Even more difficult for us not to make music! But on the other hand passion has never stopped human beings from doing what they want or are good at. We would want to do this all our lives but can’t say too soon cos we understand that sometimes priorities change over time for different people. Personally my reference point has always been M.Nasir who successfully moved from Commonwealth Crescent to Kuala Lumpur and responsible for almost all the hit songs in Malaysia. Not forgetting Ryuichi Sakamoto, still making great music and in the forefront of cutting edge music even though he’s a senior citizen now.

Catch Elektone at Baybeats 2010: 5.30pm 21st August at the Chillout Stage (Concourse).

Myspace | Baybeats


THE GOLDEN FILTER Voluspa (Self-released)

New York based synth-pop duo, The Golden Filter, actually consists of lead singer Penelope Trappes, who grew up in Lismore, near Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia, and disco and analogue synth programmer Stephen Hindman is originally from Ohio, United States.

Critically speaking, there is not much that distinguishes The Golden Filter from the slew of girl-boy electronica duos trawling the modern rock landscape for your attention and patronage. Sure, Trappes and Hindman are adept at channeling the sounds and styles of 80s synth-pop, for which yours truly is a sucker. However,  there is nothing distinctive enough about The Golden Filter (unlike, say Crystal Castles) that would entice me to listen to Voluspa more than once.

For diehard electr0-pop buffs only.

You can find out more about The Golden Filter at or at their Myspace page -

Buy Voluspa at Amazon


CRYSTAL CASTLES “Crystal Castles” (Polydor)

It’s so easy to look at albums like this with a pontificating glare. Synth-pop second time around can seem like a lost cause. But why should that be? After all, I have no problem with bands in 2010 sounding like bands from the 70s. Is it because that synth-pop is so associated with the 80s that it sounds out of context in 2010?

Perhaps then, it’s appropriate that the cover of this Ontario duo’s second eponymous album is (what looks like) a picture of a zombie girl rising from her grave. Really puts you in the right frame of mind for the horrors contained within. Don’t get me wrong, I mean that in the best possible way. The music on “Crystal Castles” is not quite the sweet, popular synth pop that the early 80s pioneers like Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Heaven 17 and Human League proposed but more industrial and confrontational like “underground” electronic heroes like Throbbing Gristle and Caberet Voltaire.

Despite hailing from Canada, the duo’s exercises on discordant electro-clash sounds like it originated somewhere in icy Scandinavia. Whilst Ethan Kath programmes mildly pleasing/disturbing concoctions, vocalist Alice Glass sings like she’s from another planet or dimension – like a banshee or a wraith trapped on some otherworldly plane – and in a indecipherable language, recalling both Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and Jonsi (Sigur Ros) in execution.

With intriguing titles (Fainting Spells, Suffocation, Violent Dreams, Pap Smear) to match the sound collages that pass for songs, Crystal Castles is an “indie” rock fans’ wet dream and the fact that its released by a Universal Music company is doing my head in somewhat. I guess all that’s left to say is that this is highly recommended, bloody essential head music. Really.

Official Site | Myspace | Amazon

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