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May 052012


Keane returns with their fourth effort, Strangeland, after three albums and an EP. Best known for the hits “Everybody’s Changing” and “Somewhere Only We Know” from their debut album Hopes and Fears, they produced a third album that heavily drew on their 80s influences. Strangeland, on the other hand, is a return to their piano rock roots and is an enjoyable listen but still lacks the staying power of their first two albums.

The entire album sounds much more cohesive than Perfect Symmetry, having an overall brightening mood as compared to the darker undertones of the first two albums. Unfortunately it falls a little flat as not many of the tracks on the album are memorable and can be considered as merely inoffensive pop with semi-catchy melodies. But there are a few gems on the album such as “You Are Young”, which is a perfect opener for the album and start to the day. The chorus “of all the things you don’t know/ you’ve got time to realise you’re shielded by the hands of love/ cos’ you are young” and a great sing-along “oh-oh-oh” refrain a la Coldplay sets a cheery tone for the album. Second track “Silenced By The Night” is the first single of the album and also has the same uplifting mood, continuing in the same vein, being a great love song yet having the same wisp of yearning and melancholy that characterises their music.

Other catchy tunes with great hooks on the album include “Disconnected”, the second single off the album and “Sovereign Light Café”. A personal favourite is “The Starting Line”, expressing the despair (“this town was a lovers stage/ but now you can’t recognise/ the streetlights that are daggers to your eyes/ you can’t find your bearings/ your slipping into the ground/ the scene has no colour and no sound”) that follows distrust and renewed hope and determination. The album is definitely for fans and non-fans alike, and is a triumphant return to form.

(Melissa Ng)

Check out a special Amazon Live Q&A / Performance webcast here.


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May 012012

Jon Auer (The Posies/Big Star) is back with a new project – Dynamo Royale (with band mate/partner Tiz Aramini) – who are in the midst of recording a new album. Auer and Aramini are looking for funding of recording, CD manufacturing and other ancillary costs (approx. $8,000/-) and thus have listed this project at Kickstarter. If this interests you, then please check out the Kickstarter page and support generously.


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Apr 122012


Now, the introduction to “There Is No Love” swept me literally off my feet, my heart melted and chills ran down the length of my spine. No mean feat. I’m talking about the second track on Charlie Lim‘s amazing debut eponymous EP that was released sometime last year. Better late than never eh?

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Charlie Lim has been gaining admirers at a healthy pace with his sophisticated soul-pop-rock. To these ears, there is such a wide range of compelling musical influences at play in Charlie Lim‘s repertoire that it can get dizzying at times. It’s hard not to appreciate the love and thought put into these intricate songs.

Off the top of my hat, I hear Sting, Paul Weller, Maxwell, Jeff Buckley without too much difficulty. Give me a couple more plays of this EP and I am sure I can come up with more. There’s no denying the sheer talent on display here not to mention the hard work behind the arrangements, individual performances and production.

The opening sample of a needle hitting vinyl is instructional and telegraphs exactly what Charlie Lim‘s intentions are. The phrase ‘old-school’ is used too often with derogatory connotations. In Charlie Lim‘s case, I prefer the term ‘timeless’ – as he plunders the rich treasure trove of the great soul-inflected pop-rock of the 70s and 80s (pre-compact disc era) with much aplomb.

In only 4 songs, Charlie Lim adequately demonstrates that he is a force to be reckoned and the funky jazzed up beats of “Pedestal”, the gorgeous heart-stirring “There is No Love, the smooth, silky sounds of “What Can I Do” and the warm, folky vibe of “Rust” are clear signs of a mature songwriter at work.

All I say is I want MORE…

Official Site | Bandcamp

Apr 092012

“Another Circle of Fifths” (Off upcoming new album, Are’s and Els)

Okay, I clicked on this link because of the following -

Michael The Blind is Michael Levasseur, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living in Portland, Oregon. Think Leonard Cohen, but not so low. Elliott Smith, but not so high. Suzanne Vega, but not so female. John Fahey when acoustic, Paul Westerberg when electric. A lyrical style that is both e.e. cummings and Mother Goose.

Now that’s winning copy! And what about that song title – which only music geeks will get? Priceless. The song itself, nasal high register voice, rockabilly rhythms, sawing violins and twang up to the wazoo. WIN WIN WIN WIN!



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Apr 072012

“No Reflection” (off upcoming album, Born Villain)

Marilyn Manson is back with a new single and a new album. Born Villain will drop on 1st May and in the meantime you can check out the first single – “No Reflection” via this somewhat non-descript by-the-numbers music video. The song itself is grooving glam (Bowie/T Rex) via Metallica – if that makes sense. But with enough hooks to make you wan to press ‘repeat’. *Growl*

Official Site




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Apr 062012

“Silenced by the Night” (off upcoming new album, Strangeland)

I did not like the last Keane album. Glad to see that the band themselves admitting that they somewhat dropped the ball in that instance. Based on the first two albums, it’s clear that the band is capable of much much better. Will Keane re-capture former glories with the new album, Strangeland? First single sounds promising even if the synth string sound is quite jarring and out-of-place. The less said about the corny video the better. We hope to interview the band soon. Stay tuned.

Apr 042012

“Bully” (off upcoming album, When The New Wears Off)

Am digging the early 70s classic pop-rock vibe (think: Rod Stewart, Big Star) of The Only Sons’ “Bully”. Am guessing you will too. Review of When The New Wears Off to come.

Official Site


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Apr 042012

Got this email from Brad Lyons/Oceanship -


This is Brad of Oceanship. A while back you signed my mailing list. I’m this guy, if you recall (Youtube video):

I initially attempted to write each one of you in person, but my wrists broke down (no joke). I got to approx 600 people. It was a valiant effort. I was mailing you individually because this is something important to me. Forgive the group mail.

My new album effort is underway and it is going to be good. I have a video that you can view here:

Let me know what you think of the video by commenting, or feel free to drop me a line on the Oceanship FB page and I’ll respond.

With all the sincerity an email can muster, thank you for your support to date. Really.

Brad Lyons/ Oceanship

If you want to contribute to the fund to produce Oceanship’s 2nd album, you can do so here.

Official Site

Apr 032012


If Robert Pollard was more obsessed with Brian Wilson/Beach Boys and less with Pete Townshend/The Who, perhaps then Guided By Voices would have sounded more like The Squires of the Subterrain. A cursory search online will tell you that “The Squires of the Subterrain springs from the do-it-yourself, lo-fi (but certainly not low-quality) pop ingenuity of a single man, Christopher Earl (born Christopher Earl Zajkowski)” and with six albums already released (since the 90s), there’s a lot to say about the stamina and self-belief of Christopher Earl.

And so Sandbox arrives as album #7, the title inspired by Brian Wilson’s notorious installation of a sandbox in his living room whereupon he placed a piano so that he could feel the sand between his toes as he composed! So it’s no stretch to describe Sandbox as chock full of Beach Boys-referencing pastiches from the early surf-rock days (“Idling in the Sun”, “Surfin’ Indiana”) to the psychedelic Smile-infused “(I Still) Mow Your Lawn”, “Fun House” and “Woodrow Wilson”. The latter track is a absolute Wilsonesque gem that fans of the legend will thoroughly savour.

Fair warning – the production is ‘lo-fi’ and Earl’s vocals (despite his best efforts) could never match his one true inspiration but that’s never an issue if one is able to appreciate the sheer love, passion, dedication and craft that Earl has put into yet another album. Lovers of sixties pop will dig Sandbox.

Get your Sandbox (and other Squires albums) here.

Mar 282012


To be honest I didn’t like Sweet Diss and the ComebacksEmerald City Love Song on first listen. Somehow, my state of mind dictated that the band was twee, fey and (probably) listened to too many Broadway musicals (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Well, obviously I was wrong (so what’s new?). Subsequent critical listens have revealed that Sweet Diss and the Comebacks (which is an unfortunate name) is a powerpop band in every sense of that word. Equal parts power and pop!

Power – crunching guitars help of course but it’s really about the dynamism of those song arrangements – hooks that stick in your head and the little sonic details (like percussive patterns) that make you go – “aha that’s cool!” Not to mention the sheer ambition (and balls!) of including a song suite (hence the earlier Broadway musical reference) viz. “Seattle’s Best” which consists of five parts and documents the eclecticism of Sweet Diss and the Comebacks (yeah it’s a mouthful). Sophisticated melodies, careening variations in mood and tone with tongue firmly in cheek. Genius!

Pop – think of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Badfinger, Sparks, Queen, Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick, Jellyfish, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne as Emerald City Love Song transport the faithful true blue POP listener (that’s you, kind visitor!) into the kind of pop Shangri-la that almost doesn’t exist anymore. I mean, “Never Stop Wooing You”, “Maybe Someday” and “Hey Indie Girl” are examples of driving, hummable powerpop magic that would teach those so-called ‘punk-pop’ (UGH!) poseurs (you know who the fuck you are!) how it’s all supposed to be done! They remind me of the sadly missed Splitsville (to these ears anyways) and other mighty 90s pop underground legends.

So if you have been reading this review all this while and you are still not convinced on the merits of powerpop and in particular Sweet Diss and the Comebacks then perhaps a pop cleansing of sorts need to be conducted in order to align the planets once more in the direction of true blue pop! Picking up Emerald City Love Song would be the perfect start…

Official Site

Check out “Hey Indie Girl” below.


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Mar 262012


I am going to cut to the chase. If you love sophisticated music-making that draws from the deep well of 60s and 70s classic pop-rock, then you must get yourself a copy of Brad Brook‘s new LP – Harmony of Passing Light. Brooks is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who may well have delivered the finest album of his life. Well certainly, Brooks’ album will sit comfortably alongside his avowed influences viz. Elvis Costello, Wilco, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Queen. What truly shines through is the sheer range of styles and ‘genres’ that Brooks employs – nothing is utilized for effect alone – instead, every stylistic choice enhances the strong songwriting in evidence.

Imagine your favourite 60s and 70s music being distilled into a heady brew that is at once sweet and sharp and you might just have a grasp of what Brooks has achieved here. My personal favourites (and believe me, I am digging every single track) would include the opening authentic R&B-inflected “Calling Everyone”. The sitar embellishment keeps the pop footing steady as Brook’s blue-eyed soul evocation of the likes of Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall is a distinctive joy to behold. High on my list as well is the baroque “Night Fades” with its Zombies/Left Banke-referencing chamber pop twists and turns. The banjo and string quartet arrangements do turn one’s mind to Brian Wilson’s singular music visions though, it must be said. No mean feat!

Elsewhere, “Exemplary Girl” brings Beatlesque psychedelic rock channeling to its logical conclusion with melodic hooks coming at you left, right and centre, in particular the revolving violins! The obligatory faux-classical piano ballad comes at the end with “Grand Manner” but true to the 70s singer-songwriter tradition, this comes with genuine pathos and an erudite charm that will stir hearts and place lump firmly in throat.

Believe me, folks, the delights come at every milestone on this brilliant album. No exaggeration to say in an age of throwaway pop, Brooks has concocted a mini pop masterpiece that gives true pop music lovers that there may still be hope for us yet. Essential listening.

Official Site


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Mar 182012

Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)

I make no apologies for being a lover of ‘old-school’ pop music cuz ultimately it’s about substance and not mere form. Pleased to report that bands like Red Jacket Mine, which focus on 80s-styled soul, country, blues, rock, and pop (think: Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Style Council, Hall & Oates) are still out there, if you know where to look!

Red Jacket Mine has already released two studio albums (including 2009′s Ken Stringfellow-produced Lovers Lookout) and currently consists of  bandleader Lincoln Barr, longtime drummer Andrew Salzman and bassist Matthew Cunningham. “Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)” is a brilliant slice of soul-infused pub rock that bears repeated listening.

So check out this surrealistic music video for Red Jacket Mine‘s new 7″ single and please send them your love, okay?

Official Site | Facebook

Limited edition of 500 hand-numbered singles on colored vinyl, out now on Fin Records. Purchase on iTunes.


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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 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



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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.

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.

Feb 222012

“Primitive Girl” (off upcoming new album A Wasteland Companion)

Merge Records artist M. Ward is probably best known nowadays as Zooey Deschanel’s partner in She & Him or a member of Monsters of Folk.  Of course, the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter has been recording and releasing his own material for over a decade now and new album, A Wasteland Companion will be Ward’s eighth LP. “Primitive Girl” is the lead single for Ward’s new album and to these ears, it’s poppy veneer seems a mild departure from Ward’s more classicist/rootsy ventures. In fact, in some ways, it does appear to be similar to Ward’s She & Him excursions. The song structure itself is still fairly old-school and typical of Ward’s sonic preferences but overall, rather slight. That all said, it is meant to be lead single and in that respect it should do the necessary to generate interest in the upcoming album. Review to come…


Official Site


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Feb 102012

Surfing on Nothing

My first exposure to Nada Surf (viz. Matthew Caws – vocals/guitar, Daniel Lorca – bass/vocals and Ira Elliot – drums) arrived in the form of a review CD of its second album, The Proximity Effect. The moment I played opening track – the propulsive “Hyperspace” – I was quite properly blown away! You could say that since then I’ve been hooked and have religiously followed the fortunes of this awesome trio. Every subsequent album has maintained (and sometimes even outperformed) the high standards set by The Proximity Effect.

Ironically enough, I was never too enamored with the band’s debut hit album – High/Low – produced by the Cars’ Ric Ocasek and containing the quirky hit single “Popular”. I suppose I lumped the band together with all the Nirvana wannabes that crawled out of the woodwork in 1996. Unfortunately for the band, label woes/legal problems delayed the release of The Proximity Effect independently before the band settled with noted indie Barsuk Records for its magnificent third album – Let Go.

Back in 2002, this is what I wrote – “Let Go is the masterpiece that Nada Surf has been promising to deliver and comes at a time where rock ‘n’ roll requires reinvention without sacrificing the basic foundations of melody and passion. Whilst eclecticism is always to be prized, Let Go does not stray too far from the folk-infused arousing power rock that Nada Surf excels in. In my conclusion, I compared Let Go to Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head (!) – yes, that line looks quite ridiculous now in hindsight!

The Weight is a Gift followed in 2005 and kept up the momentum with heartfelt, sensitive, sophisticated songwriting that highlighted Caws’ gorgeous tenor. However, in my view, it was with 2008 release Lucky that Nada Surf finally confirmed its heavyweight status as artists with an album that rocketed into my albums of the year without difficulty. My review simply gushed non-stop pausing to describe Lucky as “perfection”.

The band itself paused in 2010 to deliver a covers only album – If I Had A Hi-Fi - before finding the impetus recently to come up with yet another cracking instant classic – The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy – managing to salvage some of the propulsion of earlier material (check out the driving opener “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” and marrying these elements to the emotional weight of latter years. In songs like “Waiting for Something”, “When I Was Young” & “Jules and Jim”, the best of the 60s meets the 90s and and that is a potent combination!

Over the course of six albums, Nada Surf has proven conclusively that it is the ‘real deal’, oblivious to the hip and cool trends that come and go and concentrating on producing some of the best indie pop-rock of the past decade. Every album – from The Proximity Effect onwards – is highly recommended and you are guaranteed hours of pleasurable music listening.

Official Site 



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Feb 062012

’11 EP

Discovered on Twitter! Yes, thanks to a chance encounter on social media about an hour ago – I am reviewing this really cool EP from Transmission Party (aka Tommy Byrnes). This four-track EP provides a good range of what Transmission Party is about – a classicist take on pop-rock music that takes the best of the sounds of 60s, 70s & 80s and refreshes them for a new generation. If music is cyclical (and it is) then surely it is time for smart, melodic and imaginative pop-rock to make its return.

I personally am quite taken with (You’re My) Lighthouse, which channels the Dukes of Stratosphear uncannily with its poignant Beatles and Beach Boys references to produce a truly gorgeous chorus. Right Left Good Bad and Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me are bouncy catchy numbers that recall the blue-eyed R&B of early Who, Mick Jones’ B.A.D, Todd Rundgren and Paul Weller. Finally, we have the psychedelic nugget that is Boredom which is a little by-the-numbers but still interesting for its faithful evocation of flower-powered 1967. Certainly, one can detect glimpses of The Idle Race, the Move and Traffic.

All very exciting stuff and am looking forward to more from Transmission Party!

Download the EP at the Official Site. Watch the video of Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me below.



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Jan 252012

Red Affair (DAIS)

Italian Horn is a solo project of New York City writer Anthony Pappalardo. The 90s lo-fi aesthetic of early Guided By Voices, East River Pipe and Sebadoh is very much in evidence here on Red Affair. Buried under a dissonant sheen in the vein of The Jesus & Mary Chain, its extremely brief duration (2:23) will leave you hungry for more. Just as well that the six song Red Affair 12″ (yeah vinyl as well!) will be released shortly with – wait for it – a cover collage from Robert Pollard. Check it out below.


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Jan 202012

Two Lines

Lightships is actually Teenage Fanclub’s Gerry Love’s side project and also includes the likes of Dave McGowan (guitar, Teenage Fanclub), Brendan O’Hare (drums, formerly of Teenage Fanclub), Tom Crossley (flute, International Airport and The Pastels) and Bob Kildea (bass, Belle & Sebastian) in support. Two Lines is the lead single from Lightships’ debut album – Electric Cables – to be released on 2nd April by Geographic, an imprint of Domino Records. If like me, you’re a big fan of Love’s sweet, melodic songwriting then Electric Cables is pretty much essential listening for 2012.

Jan 112012

White Snow

Red Wanting Blue’s previous album – These Magnificent Miles – was a firm favourite here at Power of Pop central and so we are definitely looking forward to the upcoming new album From the Vanishing Point. The opening teaser – White Snow – with its rollicking demeanor and heartfelt sentiment will win over country-folk-pop-rock fans all over the world. Check it out and come back for the Power of Pop review…

Red Wanting Blue – White Snow by fanaticpro

Official Site


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Dec 252011

Ghost Written Confessions (Blue Tuxedo)

Captain Wilberforce (a nom de plume for Leeds-based singer-songwriter Simon Bristoll) has been a firm favourite here at Power of Pop for his psychedelic-laced pop-rock adventures. This latest album has been lying on my desk for some months now. Mainly because it’s a little different from the dominant pop-psychedelia of previous releases. The main thrust behind Ghost Written Confessions is an affinity for the classicist folk leanings of the likes of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling. Which is fine in itself but I guess came across a little jarringly initially.

Of course, Captain Wilberforce going all folky on us isn’t actually the whole story here. As fourth track, the 80s poppy Get Hurt indicates, it’s all about confounding expectations, denying easy pigeonholing. And certainly I can understand that – after all, simply basing a review on the first three tracks is just sloppy.

So the whole rustic approach of A Beautiful Waste of Time, In Hell and Your Imaginary Friends seems to have been a red herring of sorts. By the time, the edgy bouncy Brit-pop of The Day Your Mouth Stood Still, the wonderfully spacey textures of Baby Girl and the freaky beaty Los Angeles hit you between the eyes, you’ll be marveling at Captain Wilberforce’s deft ability to change lanes in midstream. And the momentum is maintained till the end of the album with the Lennonesque Me And Your Mother (Before You Were Born), the sweet This Little Miracle and the quirky She’s My Kryptonite.

Never judge an album by its first three tracks seems to be the moral of the story. So, Ghost Written Confessions is an album pop fans need to consume from start to finish for maximum enjoyment!

Official Site


Nov 222011

The gentrification of rock is something one cannot escape, considering the fact that rock ‘n’ roll first reared its zeitgeist-defining head in the 1950s. With this comes the distancing between rock ‘n’ roll and its original raison d’être as an outlet for teenage rebellion. Still, it must be said that for certain artists now firmly in the twilight of their careers, the music remains the focal point.

Definitely, Elton John – despite the controversies over the years concerning his sexuality, his eating disorders and elaborate stage costumes – is (in the final analysis) all about the music. Certainly there was a certain stiffness about the atmosphere at the Indoor Stadium initially as the front rows of (high priced) seats seemed intent to cross their arms and appear bemused at the phenomenal show that was unfolding before them. This was not helped by the ushers stopping the audience from standing up and dancing in their seats or approaching the stage – presumably that would have disrupted the enjoyment of the high-paying patrons at the front (who were killjoys to begin with)!

None of this was down to the fantastic performances that was happening on stage it must be emphasized. 2Cellos, a pair of cellists from Croatia, kicked off the night’s festivities with virtuositic deliveries of popular rock numbers, in particular Welcome to the Jungle, With Or Without You and Smells Like Teem Spirit. The majority of the 10,000 strong crowd certainly enjoyed the efforts of 2Cellos and demonstrated such appreciation wildly.

The moment 2Cellos finished, Elton and band launched into Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting and it was all systems go! And from then on it was almost three hours of non-stop hits and even more impressive improv moments. For the former, the likes of Tiny Dancer, Honky Cat (!), Candle in the Wind, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Daniel, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Philadelphia Freedom, Bennie and the Jets brought tears to the eyes. Backed by a crack band that included stalwarts Davey Johnstone (guitar) and Nigel Ollsson (drums), the years rolled back and I certainly felt 15 again!

For the latter, Elton demonstrated his ability to lead a prolonged improv session with codas to Madman Across the Water and most significantly to Rocket Man which ran the gamut from blues, jazz, soul and even prog rock! Definitely, Elton and band were never content to go through the motions but proved what magnificent musicians they all were in the process.

Finally, for the last few songs, the audience were allowed to approach the stage and we were now treated to rollicking renditions of The Bitch Is Back (!) and Crocodile Rock – now this was more like it! Why did the organizers leave this to the end only? If anything that was the main letdown to an otherwise perfect night of awesome rock ‘n’ roll.

And an amazing night it was too – embellished by the presence of actor Kevin Spacey (whom Elton introduced, much to the obvious delight of the audience) – and it was such a pity that it had to end. Sure, I would have loved to hear Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Someone Saved My Life Tonight or even Ticking but really there was no arguing with that red-hot setlist. Through it all, it was obvious that Elton was having a ball and there is little doubt in my mind that we will never see an artist like him ever again. I am so very glad that even though it took me 35 years to do so, I finally watch Elton John live. Long may he run…

Thanks to Sammy Shirra-Moore for making this review possible. Pictures by Aloysius Lim/Live Music.


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