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BAYBEATS AUDITIONS 2012

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Feb 132012
 

Goodbye, emo

I have no clue what band competitions/auditions are like overseas but in Singapore’s indie music scene, ‘emo’ has been the genre of choice for many of our young musicians in the last five years. However, unlike musicians in other countries, Singapore’s young musicians are rather sheltered, with a very limited range of musical influences. This is not their fault, as social engineering and an education system that rewards rote-learning over critical thinking have made our young people apathetic towards an appreciation of the history of the arts and music. (That and silly youtube videos!)

The annual Baybeats Festival has been a barometer of what’s hip and cool within the Singapore indie music scene for the last decade or so and has introduced many promising young bands to the music scene through its auditions process, which presents eight young bands to opportunity to play at the Festival on equal footing. I was privileged to have been a judge and mentor for Baybeats 2009 and Baybeats 2010 (together with Daniel Sassoon, Jon Chan and Amanda Ling). In those two years, ‘emo’ bands would perhaps account for the majority of the hopefuls at the auditions and my own personal take on this saturated ‘genre’ is that unless you are better than West Grand Boulevard and Caracal – two of the top ‘emo’ bands in Singapore – then you are not going to go very far.

This year, I spent the day with my Esplanade Youth Budding Music Writers as we covered the Baybeats Auditions 2012 together. At the end of the Auditions, I felt overall that the standard of the performances was generally very good but in terms of songwriting and arrangements, much work still needed to be done. Also, the ‘genres’ were more spread out evenly and I think this would be the case when the results are finally announced.

There were only two recognizable ‘emo’ bands at the Auditions viz. Summerstate and Andrew Sane. Whilst I felt that the efforts were honest and heartfelt, the ‘emo’ style is fast becoming jaded and the bands were not able to make the crucial connection. Pop-punk is the other popular ‘genre’ with the kids and on this count, we had Attention! The New Portsdown, Godzilla and Dropbeat Heartbeat. All three were very tight and dynamic although tunes were formulaic (my chief beef with pop-punk) and again, the risk of sounding ‘like every else’ always prominent. Two of my RP students (Matin and Ro) are part of Dropbeat Heartbeat and I personally thought the band did a good job within the context of what they were trying to achieve – sharpen the songwriting/arrangements and the band will be much stronger.

For me, the standout bands were the ones who did just that – stand out from the crowd. So the likes of Cashew Chemists, Obedient Wives Club, Pep Talk and Anechois had in their own way, delivered different takes of the pop-rock spectrum – with greater emphasis on songwriting than their peers managed to achieve – which makes all the difference. So I am sure you can guess where I am going with this. It is important to master your instrument and to rehearse regularly but without good songwriting (which includes arranging skills), it’s tougher to make an impression. Now, with respect to the metalcore/screamo ‘genres’ where vocals are hard to discern and music is presented in a dense block of sound, and it’s difficult to tell the difference between songs, the bands often depend on showmanship to win over their audiences. In this category, we had Monsters in Living Flesh, Embrace These Ghosts and A Town in Fear. Watching these bands perform, one can admire the enthusiasm and gusto in which their ‘attack’ their music but songwriting can be shallow and needs to be adequately addressed if they do not want to written off as a ‘one trick pony’.

The remaining three bands – The Auditory Effect, Atlas and Black Diamond Folds – possess a similar post-punk art-rock vibe amongst them and again while they have the sound and look down pat, the songwriting again is patently lacking. I know I am sounding like a broken record now but that’s where the key issues reside. For all the bands who participated (whether selected or not) my sincere plea to them is to continue to hone their craft with special focus on songwriting. Only then, can the Singapore indie music scene earn the respect it craves…

 

 

 

LISTENING BOOTH – ETC

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Feb 062012
 

Just a Dream (Sleep, With Me)

A live version performed by Ben Harrison – all haunting, dreamy… magnificient. Understand that a full band recording is in the works. One to look out for – in the meantime, enjoy…

Originally posted on 1 Feb 2012

 

 

Designed by Frankie Pan

Slightly more than a year after Cheating Sons released its well-received debut album – Masters, Wives, Daughter – the band will be playing its sophomore effort in its entirety at the Esplanade Recital Studio for Late Nite @ Esplanade – Time Trails. Unfortunately, that second album will not be completed in time for this event but think of it as a extended teaser of the delights to come.

In addition to my role as band manager, I will also doubling up as keyboards player for this gig and believe me when I say that if you liked the tracks on the first one, the new material will blow your minds away! If you have caught any of the Sons’ shows in the last year you would be familiar with the likes of Jefferson, Amber Lights, Pale Rider, To Dance with the Devil and The Shadow Opera. As great as the aforementioned tracks are, the new songs up the ante somewhat and mine 60s rock n’ roll wonderfully as traces of the Beatles, Stones, the Band and Dylan are clearly evident together with the Sons’ own inimitable style and sound.

Of course, Power of Pop (together with the newly minted Cheating Sons website – to be launched soon) be showcasing the Sons’ preparation – both for the new album and the upcoming gig. It’s going to be exciting 2012 for Cheating Sons fans. If that’s you then first thing you need to do is quickly purchase your tickets for Time Trails at SISTIC.

… still there’s more …

SINGAPORE MUSIC FORUM

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Jan 262012
 

Almost coming to two weeks since this event took place on 14th January. I did not want to comment personally because the issues are very close to my heart and I was afraid that my voice would be tainted with lack of objectivity. Bearing that in mind I asked Sam to come up with this feature in order to avoid any pre-convceived bias on my part. Yes I know some of you will say that that has never stopped me before but the scene (such as it is) means too much to me to not at least give it a fighting chance…

If there’s one thing the local music scene is not short on, it’s talk. After all, for years now we’ve been circling around ourselves discussions of reform and revival and revolution, framing every promising up-and-rising band with words of messianic hype and hopes. Is this the one to make a real commercial breakthrough? Is this the one to transform our fledging music scene into a true industry?

After a few rounds of disappointment we learn cynicism, bracing ourselves psychologically for when domestic life and social demands erode away youthful idealism and another one bites the dust. What we are short on are specific, pragmatic solutions that take into account the economic and media reality of the modern music climate.  To that extent a music forum was called to session at the Arts House last Saturday on the 14th of January, with key figures from the Canadian music industry present to, on paper at least, share their experiences and dispense words of wisdom.

The chief instigator was Graham Perkins, a long-time supporter of local music, and to his credit he had gathered together a pretty impressive panel. Tick the names off:  Jasper Donat, president of Music Matters, Eric Lawrence, manager of Simple Plan, Stuart Johnson, the president of the Canadian Independent Music Association as well as Timbre co-founder and scene veteran Danny Loong and local singer-songwriter Inch Chua.

Of course, with so many big names you’d expect things to get a tad corporate, and Messrs Donat, Lawrence and Johnson took up the better half of an hour droning on about their respective organizations. (I couldn’t help but giggle when halfway through the corporatalk Danny took a subtle dig at the irony of a forum about Singaporean music talking about anything but.) Still, if I were a Canadian music executive I wouldn’t be terribly excited about having to fly halfway around the world to give a talk to a commercial dry well of a scene, so credit where credit is due.

A particular point of relevance was brought up when Stuart Johnson talked about the MAPL system in Canada, which requires Canadian radio to fulfill a certain quota for Canadian content, and there was a brief discussion about the possibility of adopting something similar for Singapore.

The success of the MAPL system speaks for itself, of course, with the mainstream success of acts like Feist, Stars, Broken Social Scene, Metric and that critically acclaimed virtuoso Justin Bieber. It should be noted though that before the introduction of the MAPL system the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and The Band had already achieved mainstream success in the Sixties, so it remains to be seen how effective a similar system for the local industry would be.

Things started getting really interesting when the session was opened up to the floor, with various audience members taking to the mic to pepper the panel with questions: How do we achieve local acceptance among our own population? Is local acceptance even necessary? How do we develop content that is commercially relevant and exportable?

A few common themes started to emerge that bridged genre divides. Everyone agreed, for example, on the need for exposure even as opinions divided over a government mandated quota versus free market economics. Similarly, even though opinions might differ over the the semantics of funding a fledgling band, nobody dissented against the need for capital investment in order to achieve sustainability.

The theme that rang the loudest bell, for this writer anyway, was the issue of community integration–it was pointed out several times by both Danny and Stuart Johnson that the only way to wield social and political clout was for the music community at large to collectively come together and speak with a single voice.

Of course, that’s easier said than done–the idea of unity can be easily dismissed as a hippie ideal. Scene veterans might feel like they’ve paid their dues in personal and financial sacrifice, while I’ve heard dark mutterings on more than one occasion about nepotism,  protesting that this scene remains too cliqued up and intolerant of dissenting opinions. Then there are those who resent the advantage that Mandopop or Malay artists have over English indie musicians when it comes to media airtime.

All of this talk, in my very humble position as a lowly amateur some-time music writer, amounts to missing the point. Fighting for a bigger slice of the pie is an inefficient and myopic strategy–why not grow the pie altogether? That’s not to dismiss the legitimate concerns that some might have of course– the ability to disagree, to beg to differ is the greatest strength of a team and a community.

At the risk of sounding like an insufferable know-it-all, though, I firmly believe that our only hope for long-term sustainability and breakthrough is dialogue and communication, to seek a midpoint between idealism and cynicism that is objectively pragmatic. After all, we destroy our enemies when we make them our allies…

A forum like this one is a step in the right direction definitely, and Graham Perkins deserves to be praised just for getting a working microcosm of the community at large into the same room (though the free breakfast did wonders to help). Of course, work remains to be done both strategically and semantically. Nevertheless, dialogue can only be a good thing, especially when it occurs across genres and across scenes like it did last Saturday, and I personally look forward to seeing future sessions advancing the agenda even further.

To steal a pet phrase from a good friend of mine–still there’s more…

(Samuel Caleb Wee)

Jan 212012
 

The People’s Party - 15 January 2012 | *SCAPE Warehouse

After the success of bringing in MGMT, French Horn Rebellion and Hurts last year, Untitled Entertainment expanded The People’s Party tour to Singapore, bringing in acts such as Metronomy, The Jezabels, The Naked and Famous and Bombay Bicycle Club. The line-up for the second day of the mini-festival held at *SCAPE featured MUON (SG), Noughts & Exes (HK), Analog Girl (SG), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (US/NZ), In Each Hand A Cutlass (SG), The Naked & Famous (NZ) and Bombay Bicycle Club (UK).

MUON opened the festival right on schedule, playing to a crowd of about hundred people, which slowly expanded as people trickled in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Their set was overall disappointing, as they sounded unprepared for their performance. Their first attempt to perform their new track Failure of Plan B ended in a mess, which Nick (programming/bass) somewhat saved with an awkward joke about “the failure of the intro”. At a point in their set, a few sound samples were played and quickly cut, as if the band was indecisive or unrehearsed. To their credit, the rest of their set was wonderfully intense, but unfortunately the crowd had not fully warmed up to the ambient soundscapes created by the band.

Noughts & Exes’s performance that day was their third one in Singapore (last being Baybeats ’11), and received an overwhelming positive response from the crowd. Playing tracks from their albums The Start of Us and Act One Scene One, the band soared through songs such as The Crime and Everything. Their set was heartfelt and honest, especially Joshua’s vocal performance. Their set became an intimate affair as he the strain of his vocals revealed him laying bare his feelings through the songs, and the interaction with the audience felt sincere. The rest of the band was also lost in the music when they played, showing their utter commitment and faith in the music they were making. However, the actions of the backup vocalist marred their set. Her vocals were very suited to the songs and matched Joshua’s vocals, but her hand actions and dancing felt extremely forced and awkward, as compared to the natural movement and charisma of the other musicians on stage. The placing of the drumset could also have been improved, but perhaps due to logistics, the drummer was very far upstage, so much that he was visually unnoticeable. As a whole their set was a real treat for those present at the time, as they also played a new track that they had not played anywhere else yet.

Following Noughts & Exes’s indie-folk set was The Analog Girl’s brand of electro-rock. Her set was an impressive visual and aural experience, with her use of a Tenori-On and AudioCubes. The lighting design during her set was also particularly noticeable, as it created a strong and dark atmosphere for her creation of soundscapes. Her vocals contributed to the impressive live experience as they were not the sole focus of her music, but added an element of the dreamy and ethereal to her music.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) also made their Asian debut at the festival, immediately making an impression on everyone in their tribal-ethnic clothing, prompting an audience member to shout “nice shirt!” Surprisingly, the band already has a fanbase here, clear from the roar that went up in the crowd as they arrived onstage. Playing tracks from their self-titled debut album such as Bicycle, Jello and Juggernauts and Boy Witch, they had everyone in the crowd grooving and jumping to their lo-fi psychedelic rock. Their brand of guitar rock was definitely a breath of fresh air in the festival after much electronic music. The band members, Ruban Nielson (vox, guitar), Jake Portrait (bass) and Julien Ehrlich (drums) also communicated well with each other, continually maintaining eye contact with each other throughout their set. The band also thoroughly impressed the crowd with Ruban’s shredding on his guitar and Julian’s relentless and precise drumming. Their performance ended on a high as the audience were very pumped up and sang along for their biggest hit, Ffuny Ffrends.

Next up was In Each Hand A Cutlass, who only released their debut album late last year and brought the intensity to the festival. In Daniel Sassoon’s words, they are “from Singapore and we (they) represent”! Their brand of post-rock was the heaviest music heard that day, with tracks such as A Universe Made of Strings and Chocolate and the Lovelorn Girl, verging on metal. Unfortunately the crowd noticeably thinned after UMO had left the stage. But Daniel Sassoon was certainly the most dynamic musician performing that day, with his jumps and twirls, and even sliding on the floor with his guitar. The crowd was receptive to the band, but they definitely did not enjoy their performance as much as the others, as audience members were overheard saying the music was too heavy for their liking. Nelson Tan’s imitation of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean certainly drew many comments and much (good) attention.

The crowd swelled up to the warehouse’s full capacity in anticipation for The Naked And Famous, whom the crowd went wild for throughout their set. It seemed as though a majority of the crowd was there for The Naked And Famous rather than Bombay Bicycle Club, with their catchy indie-pop tunes. All eyes were on Alisa Xayalith during their set as she lost herself in the songs and led the sing-alongs to their famous tunes Punching In A Dream and Girls Like You and of course, Young Blood. Though most present thoroughly enjoyed their set, it felt a little stale to this reviewer as the organisers could easily have just done a playback of The Naked And Famous songs, as the band didn’t attempt to change any of the songs and they sounded as if they were entirely played off a recording, which at the same time also attests to their musical skills. There was also little attempt to engage the audience, as the band chose to simply perform their songs instead of bantering.

The last band of the night was Bombay Bicycle Club, which Power of Pop also interviewed earlier that day! General opinion among the crowd was that Bombay Bicycle Club’s set was better than The Naked And Famous, perhaps because of their engagement with the crowd. All the band members besides Suren (drummer) repeatedly made an effort to come closer to the audience and play to them, especially Jamie (guitar). It was a special night not only for fans of the band present, but also Jack (singer) as it was his birthday, and Jamie led a massive sing-along for Jack, who added that he was glad to celebrate his birthday playing in Singapore. The crowd lapped up every moment of the hour-long set, as they played songs from three albums, but especially their first, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose. The audience also expectedly chanted for an encore following the band’s departure from the stage. Combined with the strobe lighting used and the band’s infectious and obvious love for performing their music, their set was an enjoyable and special experience for everyone there.

Much thanks to Untitled Entertainment and props to them for improving the overall sound quality of the venue those two days and for making the festival an intimate and enjoyable experience.

(Melissa Ng)

Picture of Bombay Bicycle Club courtesy of Alvin Ho.
Jan 212012
 

 

The People’s Party is a music festival originally from Hong Kong, this year bringing their lineup of international, regional and local artists to Taipei, Jakarta, and Singapore.

Their two-day Singapore stop kicked off at *SCAPE on Saturday 14 January, with headliners Metronomy (UK) and The Jezabels (Australia), and local and regional acts including Plainsunset, Monster Cat, and Tenderfist (Malaysia). When I first got there, at least half an hour later than the stipulated starting time, there were still only about two dozen people milling about the place. It looked to be a rather dismal audience for the first two performers, Monster Cat and Tenderfist.

Local band Monster Cat’s acoustic-led set was quite a delight, the instrumentation tight and the vocals spot on (both lead vocals and harmonies). Electric guitar effects made up for the lack of a synth/keyboard. Also the sound balance looked set to be at optimum enjoyment level for the rest of the evening – fantastic job, festival sound crew!

By the time Tenderfist took the stage, several more people had filled the ranks of the “early” crowd. Tenderfist, who hail from KL, were a two-man guitar-keyboard band for this event, with a drum machine backing track and loop pedal providing the necessary musical layers. They were engaging and proficient enough in their craft, though not particularly memorable.

Side note: During these first two acts there were a few moments where I wasn’t sure if they were soundchecking or not, because they were signaling to the sound crew about volume levels and whatnot. It was a bit distracting.

Kevin and I missed Plainsunset’s set as we popped over next door to Mandarin Orchard for an interview with The Naked and Famous (to be posted… later). We also didn’t stick around for K8OTIC and Poptart after coming back for The Jezabels’ set, only returning for Metronomy to end off the night.

The Jezabels… where to begin? They were, for lack of a more descriptive word, rather amazing. Despite not having a bassist, this didn’t take away from their overall sound as the keyboards more than made up for it. Their stage presence was like an artfully restrained explosion, with lead singer Hayley Mary appearing lost in the melodies and yet intentionally drawing the audience in at the same time, and with electric guitarist Sam Lockwood giving quite the energetic performance. The effect of the octave-apart blend of Mary’s and keyboardist Heather Shannon’s vocals was intensely atmospheric.

Also, the lighting for both The Jezabels and Metronomy’s sets was mouth-watering; impeccable coordination with the music there.

Metronomy’s brand of electronic pop appealed slightly less to me but that sentiment obviously wasn’t shared by everyone else present – the entire crowd was pulsating with energy at the exuberant and exciting musicality that defined the set. Bassist/vocalist Gbenga Adelekan was a real treat to watch as he worked the audience and delivered every line (both vocal and bass) with infectious conviction. I liked the way they mixed it up by having drummer Anna Prior sing lead vocals (while still drumming!) on one song, and the sax solos by Oscar Cash were an entertaining touch as well.

So The People’s Party headliners did not disappoint, and I’m looking forward to more years of this festival to come, hopefully! It was just a pity – unsurprising, but a pity nonetheless – that the local and regional acts faced such a disinterested turnout and reactions from their home base.

(Desiree Boey)
Picture of The Jezabels by Alvin Ho.
Thanks to the kind people at Untitled Asia (Dash, Tim & April) for making this review possible.
Jan 112012
 

Lunarin’s spanking new album – The Midas Sessions – has been on heavy rotation here at Power of Pop central and we got in touch with singer-bassist Linda Ong to get her thoughts on the new album…

Why an acoustic album?

Few people know this, but playing acoustic has always been a part of our repertoire. We have always made it a point to play acoustic gigs alongside our usual electric ones ever since forming Lunarin in 2003. I remember playing an acoustic show organized by Double Yellow Line at Yusof Ishak House in NUS before the Chrysalis was released. During the time when we released the Chrysalis, we played an acoustic show at Earshot at the Arts House (one of the songs appeared on our EP “Little Pieces”). After we released Duae, we played an acoustic show with you at the library at Esplanade.

Nothing gives us more joy than to watch bands and songwriters that we love play stripped down, acoustic sets. There is something very heartbreaking and sincere in listening to a well written song stripped down to its barest elements, with only raw emotions and pure musicianship in support. I never thought of going acoustic as a “step down” or a sign that we have mellowed. It is just a different direction that is worth exploring and developing.

Having our own home studio gave us the luxury of deciding to record these songs instead of just leaving them as material for acoustic gigs. This was a luxury we didn’t have previously! 

What were the major differences between recording Midas Sessions as compared to Duae?

Well this time we had Natalie and Victor playing on the album. So we had to figure out how to record violins and cello properly with our limited equipment and space. That took a fair bit of trial and error, because when it came to dealing with violins and cello, it was important to try and capture their natural organic sound. It was very different from recording an electric album when we could just run the bass and guitars through effects. Lucky for us both Natalie and Victor were two very patient people. So after the initial teething problems were sorted and a modus operandi was established, recording them was a breeze.

Because of our experience recording Duae, recording the rest of the instruments (guitars, bass, piano, drums) was relatively painless. Personally for me, recording vocals was the highlight of the recording process. Going acoustic enabled me to explore a wide range of styles vocally. I must confess to being a tad over indulgent. I did far too many vocal overdubs and far too many different vocal harmonies than I would have liked!

Kah Wye was away for quite a bit of 2011 due to overseas work commitments. Because of this, I had to assume a greater role in recording this album than I did in Duae.  Quite a far bit of the cello and violins on the album were recorded with just me, Natalie and Victor, which was fun. 

Lunarin is very much a D-I-Y operation – what keeps you going (recording and performing) despite the pressures of everyday life?

A love for music. It isn’t really that difficult! (Good answer! KM)

What are your promotional plans for Midas Sessions?

We are planning an album launch at The Pigeonhole on Sunday 15 Jan 2012 8pm, which is also the official release date of the album. After that we have a remix of Right of Sleep, done by someone we hugely respect, that we plan to release shortly after the album is out. We’re looking forward to that! 

It took you 4 years to record Duae and 2 to finish Midas Sessions, will the next album surface in 2013?

Unfortunately no. The Midas Sessions consisted of B Sides and songs from our earlier albums, so the songs were already written when Duae was released.  The time spent after the release of Duae to work on this album was purely spent on recording. This however, can’t be said of any subsequent album to this one. After this album is out, we will need to go back and start writing new material again. At the rate we are going, we’ll see you in five years’ time!

Check out the excellent music video of Right of Sleep. The Midas Sessions will be launched this Sunday, 15 Jan at 8pm at the Pigeonhole. Admission is FREE.

Right of Sleep from lunarin on Vimeo.

Official Site

THE PEOPLE’S PARTY

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Jan 092012
 

The first major rock festival this year arrives on our shores this weekend as The People’s Party takes place from 3pm to 10pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Looking at the wide array of bands, it’s comforting that the organizers have made it a point to spread the range of bands over several countries from local to regional to international. With top headliners like Metronomy, The Naked & Famous and Bombay Bicycle Club mixing it up with our very own Monster Cat, Plainsunset, The Analog Girl, Muon and In Each Hand A Cutlass, The People’s Party sounds like a groovy ground-breaking event not to be missed.

Tickets available at SISTIC.

PoPINIONS

 MUSIC, PERSONAL  Comments Off
Jan 022012
 

 

COPY AND PASTE

It’s strange that in 2012, we are still addressing the issue of ‘cover songs’ and ‘tribute bands’ in Singapore. Don’t get me wrong I believe that there is a place for ‘cover songs’ and ‘tribute bands’ – these serve a certain niche market worldwide. The problem is that in Singapore, it’s not a niche market but the only market! Whereas in the western world, new bands may be able to get away with playing cover songs early in their career, there will come a point where their success as a band will depend on the quality of their original music.

It seems almost ludicrous to have to discuss this issue at all. I mean, in the 90s, Singapore indie bands played original music and nobody thought twice about it. Radio and TV featured Singapore indie bands playing their original music and nobody demanded that these bands played familiar cover songs. I mean, that’s what you expected if you had the Oddfellows, Padres, Concave Scream or Stoned Revivals performing on stage. After all, these bands were songwriters and artists in their own right – it’s almost as ridiculous as going to a Coldplay gig and demanding that Chris Martin and company play U2 and Radiohead songs!

But visit any bar or club in Singapore nowadays and chances are that the band on stage will be playing cover songs. Again, I must stress that I am not against this per se but why must being in a cover band about the only way that Singaporean musicians can make a living from music in Singapore? So who is to blame? Musicians? Business owners? Patrons? Media? Government? All of the above?

Is the artistic voice of the Singapore musician not treasured at home? Why do Singaporeans switch off when confronted with unfamiliar Singaporean original songs? Lack of quality? I do not believe so as the acceptance of original Singapore music overseas proves otherwise. Lack of support? Ah, that’s a sticky issue. Especially when it relates to the question of the economic value and worth of music compared to other kinds of ‘products’.

Of course, these issues are not unique to Singapore indie music and apply across the board whenever one discusses the local arts & entertainment scene. But these issues must be addressed head-on by all the stakeholders (mentioned in my third paragraph) and the beginning of the new year seems like a good place to start.

But naturally, if you are reading this here then I’d assume that you are on board with my sentiments and the whole cliche of ‘preaching to the converted’ seems all too applicable. The real question is that do you, dear reader, believe in Singapore music (and musicians) enough to be evangelistic about the cause of Singapore original music? To put it bluntly, what are you willing to do?  For my part, as a music journalist, singer-songwriter, artist manager, mentor and teacher, I am fully committed to doing whatever I can in 2012 (and beyond) to raise the profile/support the cause of Singapore original music in any way that I can. Will you join me please?

Note: This is not meant as a personal attack on anyone within the Singapore music scene so please take this post in the positive and constructive spirit that it was written. Thanks!

Dec 312011
 

I thought the gig at Hood Bar went very well last night and that Maricelle and Debra impressed all who were present. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed my set and certainly would like to do more performances in 2012. Thanks to Clement (for being the kind host) and also to Narisa, Ginelle, David and Bevlyn for being in attendance.

These last few weeks of 2012 have seen more videos by yours truly uploaded to Youtube. Frankly, I really quite dislike the proliferation of ‘covers’ at Youtube so as usual I thought I’d do the exact opposite. Thus far, I’ve had a fair amount of videos uploaded with minimal covers (only Gram Parsons’ Hot Buritto #1 & Big Star’s Ballad of El Goodo) but the emphasis has been on my originals. Here’s a compilation of the orginals I’ve uploaded so far on Youtube.

So expect more in 2012. And yes I do accept song requests (of my originals of course). Send your request to kamcomusic AT gmail DOT com.

… still there’s more …

Dec 262011
 

WATCHMEN Democracy (Odyssey Music, 1993)

I often pontificate about how fortunate our young musicians are today. I frequently read about our young bands recording and releasing debut EPs and albums at such a tender age and I am reminded that by the time Democracy was released by Odyssey Music in August 1993, I was already THIRTY-TWO years old!

But back then – now 18 years ago – it didn’t matter how old I was. All that mattered was that I had a recording contract (in my OWN name) and I was finally going to have my own album! Looking back at Democracy, there’s much on the record that sounds pretty terrible – the drum machine for one! – but I will stand by those songs anytime of the day or year. I am still rather proud of the songwriting overall and chuffed by the ‘critical acclaim’ that followed but am also glad that 18 years later I am a much better singer and songwriter now (in my humble opinion).

Thus, for nostalgia’s sake, I am making a download of the entire album available from today till 11.59pm 1st January 2012 as my new year gift to you, my loyal and faith reader. Send an email to info AT powerofpop DOT com and I will send you a link and password. And one more thing, please go to my Facebook page and click ‘LIKE’. Thanks again for your marvelous support over the years. Auld Lang Syne

Check out the Democracy review at rock in the fine city.

Dec 252011
 

IN certain circles of the local music scene, you’ll find the term “mainstream” bandied about almost as an insult. Catalogue V will take that gladly as a compliment–this self-styled schizo-pop outfit is unabashedly hungry for commercial success and radio play.

Live, this six-man outfit consisting of Razil Razil Razil (lead singer), Matt Raham (drummer), Alfredo Lucius (guitars), Mal Mikhal (bass), Hans Ibrahim (guitars) and Rave Zulo (keyboards) are an electrifying, bottom-end moving act, combining sticky pop hooks with irresistible jackhammer funk grooves that disguise the oft-weighty lyrical themes of their songs.

Fresh off a November visit to South Korea for the Yamaha Asian Beat competition as the representative champions for the Singapore edition, we catch up with the homecoming heroes and find out what they have in common with army infantry units, Stanley Kubrick and leprechauns.

One month ago you guys were in S. Korea for the Yamaha Asia Beat. What was that like?

Mal Mikhal: It was an awesome experience. Definitely it was something different from what we have over here in Singapore. The atmosphere was quite encouraging.

Alfredo Lucius: We arrived in the middle of autumn so the weather was very cold. We were stuffing our hands in our pockets, bringing heat packs, wearing gloves…anything to keep ourselves warm.

Matt Raham: The entire experience was surreal, from the moment we boarded the plane at Changi Airport to the sound check before we played the gig. When we stepped on stage to a full house crowd…it was a really “wow” experience. The crowd numbered about 3000 to 4000, which makes it the largest audience we’ve ever played for.

Razil Razil Razil: It was a regional competition showcasing the champions from each country. We were the third band to play and we performed a song called “Mighty Night‟. Previously we had been told that Korean crowd was hard to please, but they actually stood up and danced and sang along during our performance. At the time we thought that the crowd was warming up and that they were going to do the same for the other bands, but they only did it for us.

It was quite amazing. We took a break outside of the hall and slowly the people from the audience started coming out and going, “eh Singapore!” We don’t get this kind (of recognition) in Singapore. We took a lot of pictures with both members from the audience as well as the other bands.

Did you guys play any other gigs in S. Korea?

Razil Razil Razil : Our trip was entirely sponsored by Yamaha, so we had to strictly abide to their terms and conditions. We weren’t allowed to extend our stay or play other shows.

Was winning an important thing for you guys?

Razil Razil Razil: Winning wasn’t an objective. The main objective was to leave them remembering the band from Singapore, and in that respect we’re quite satisfied. After our performance they (the other competitors) were saying they would tell their juniors back home to watch out for SIngaporean bands. That made us very proud…the main fuel for this band is not to impress, but to imprint. We want the whole experience to be imprinted in the minds of the audience.

I heard the rhythm section won quite a few awards…

Alfredo Lucius: One of the judges was a very good drummer named Akira Jimbo (from fusion-jazz band Casiopea) and when he came to Singapore to do his drum clinic a few weeks he actually mentioned our rhythm section by name. To get a comment like that from an international musician was a very big endorsement.

Razil Razil Razil: Apparently, there was somebody who was being condescending towards local music and putting down our musicians,, saying that the most Singapore could hope for was to replicate Japan’s music industry. Akira was actually pissed off, and defended Singaporean music by citing Matt as an example of local talent.

He might have a point though. Local music is not exactly financially sustainable. How are things on that front for you guys?

Razil Razil Razil: Financially it’s getting better and becoming clockwork. Before Korea we had a lot of doubts about whether we could sustain this financially as a career. After Korea I think most of the doubts have been cleared. Right now it’s a world ruled by the Internet. Online you can sell your music, talk to people, forego labels, and forego the middleman…so we’re planning to break into the digital market.

Definitely, with digitalization, you can distribute your music internationally a lot easier, but the flipside of that is that people are putting a lot less value in recorded music–they see it as something free and sharable. How do you guys make sure all those listens translate into actual money to recoup your costs?

Razil Razil Razil: It will be and it has always been very hard… it’s a matter of mental stamina. I think the only thing we only care about right now is our main focus, our passion to get the music out there. Money is always a need, yes, at the end of the day you need to put food on the table, but we take that as a secondary priority.

Matt Raham: We will probably do something different live from what we have on record and add something additional to our live experience. We can arrange something more extravagant…the challenge of trying to reinvent our songs live and add value is the proof of our musicianship.

For the benefit of our readers, take us through how the band started.

Alfredo Lucius: It basically started when I was playing an acoustic show at a company corporate show in mid ’09. I can‟t remember who the singer was, but Razil was in the audience and we met. We both wanted to start something and slowly we started sourcing for musicians. I knew Mal from NS and so I roped him in almost instantly and Razil met Matt in reservist training.

Razil Razil Razil: We were looking for a permanent keyboardist, and while Matt was sessioning for another band he met Hans. We intended him to be a keyboardist, but when I heard him playing guitar I was like…hell no, I‟m not gonna let this dude not hold the guitar. The line-up was complete when we saw Rave at the Boat Quay underpass outside Home Club, busking and playing keyboards early this year.

How long did it take for you guys to find a musical identity–what’s the creative dynamic in the band like?

Matt Raham: We basically came from different genres and…when you get different colours from different rainbows, you get a new rainbow which is unique.

Alfredo Lucius: And if you try hard enough, you might find a pot of gold…

Razil Razil Razil: And Fred would be the leprechaun.

Alfredo Lucius: Creatively, we work like an infantry section. The rhythm groove section are kinda like the SAW gunners who sit back and lay down the suppressive fire… and the vocal instruments like the guitars and the keyboards and the vocalist, we’re the soldiers doing the flanking.

Rave Zulo: For example, for “Mighty Night‟, Razil came up with the initial idea and we all tried to contribute. On my part I wanted to find the right kind of sound, the right kind of melody that would make people dance.

Razil Razil Razil: We’re all writing the song, and we don’t want to consciously set out to replicate the same sound with every song. We‟re not one of those bands that go, “Oh, we want to sound like The Strokes!” Basically our mindset is that every song is a movie.

How do you mean that?

Alfredo Lucius: Well, you can look at certain directors who‟ve directed movies of various genres, but their movies are still very distinctively them. People like Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, they‟re all directors who touch on various different themes but still retain a distinctive identity.

I’ve noticed some pretty interesting terrain in terms of the lyrics. What are your influences?

Razil Razil Razil: As a lyrics writer I’m very influenced by narrative song writing, people like Babyface, Anthony Kiedis, and Jay Kay from Jamiraqoui. I try to be ambiguous and make it relatable. The song “Dancer‟, for example, is a sarcastic song about girls who lead guys on, but I get female dancers who come up to me and tell me they identify with the song! So my approach is to leave it open so that the listeners can find their own meaning in the song.

Alfredo Lucius: We try not to do the obvious thing. “How I Am Alive‟, for example, is a song that has a very serious message about human trafficking and sexual exploitation, so we tried to make it easy-listening so it would grab attention.

Razil Razil Razil: It’s about the psychology of the song. We didn’t want to write a slow song which would only put people into a mood for moping and complaining–we wanted to inspire people to get up and do something about it.

So what’s your definition of success?

Razil Razil Razil: Our definition of success is having our songs played on local radio. Other radio stations might be friendlier, but our goal is still to get our music on local radio even though friends might tell us not to waste our time. It‟s not a matter of wanting to prove something. We want to be mainstream; we’re not shy of being mainstream. Some people come up to us and call us sell-outs–we don’t care. We want as many ears as possible. We’re doing the digital media thing but we also want the conventional media recognition because nobody is trying to change the system.

Doesn’t it frustrate you though, going to a foreign country and getting such a warm reception from fans and musicians alike, only to come back to Singapore only to run into so many walls?

Razil Razil Razil: It does but we’re still gonna be very optimistic about it. We take it as a new challenge to make Singapore react as much as a foreign audience would. We’re not giving up on Singapore…I still believe that if you can’t succeed in your own country, what makes you think a foreign country will be any different? We want to make Singapore dance.

So any concrete plans for the future? Is a full-length album coming out?

Razil Razil Razil: We‟re working on an EP right now, and “Mighty Night‟ is going to be the first single for sure. Most likely we’re gonna focus on releasing our songs single by single and afterwards compiling them into an EP.

Alfredo Lucius: It‟s a singles market now. With Katy Perry‟s last record, ten of her songs hit the charts–every song has to be a single.

Razil Razil Razil: You need all killers, no fillers now. The way music is consumed is something that‟s not in our control anymore. You used to be able to package your music and have the audience experience it the way you want it to tell a story, but audiences are much cleverer now. They mix-and-match, and music is like a candy store to them where they cherry-pick the songs to put on their iPod.

Alfredo Lucius: We’re living in the age where everything is being customized to what we want. Everyone has the option of a playlist made for themselves.

(Samuel C Wee)

Watch the video of Catalogue V’s performance in South Korea at the Yamaha Asian Beat below.

NATALIE’S PLIGHT

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Dec 192011
 

What You See Is What You Get EP Launch

As what their EP title suggests, what you see is what you get – and what you get from the EP launch performance from Natalie’s Plight is a set of visionaries and dreams come true for the homegrown band.

Formed in 2007 by four Republic Polytechnic students, the band is now made up of Ashlee Tan on vocals (from picture – second from left), Chris Cheah (right most) on drums, guitarist Mark Spencer (third from left) and newly included bassist member Sharime (left most). Youthful looking bunch, I must say, but with big dreams to fill.

Performing hits both old and new, as well as doing two song covers, the band appeared more than confident in their approach for live delivery, with clever management from the lighting crew (lights off, everyone, so that all’s welcome to wave their light sticks provided at the entrance’s ticketing counter).

Contrary to the opening band serenading with covers, Natalie’s Plight shines more on their original material than their live cover renditions. They were more able to connect and associate with their lyrics, melodies and anthems than those of their agreed favourite tunes, which I reckon they pretty much enjoyed singing them live as well. However, Use Somebody (by Kings Of Leon) deprived of the desperation needed to complete the tune basically, and The Only Exception (by Paramore) lacked the emotional element of love entanglement. Next time, my advice would be to pick songs to cover that are just plain fun seeking, catchy and silly.

That said, the foursome’s expressions on their faces were more than pleased to be jamming together and in front of a small and intimate set – of audience filled mostly of close friends and family members. Afterall, this is their own EP launch, something they should be proud and accomplished for.

There was even a midpoint acoustic set made up of Ashlee and Mark, as she sang through a couple of songs seemingly with torn emotions left on the sleeves of her shoulders (one of which is called San Francisco). Even Mark had a special dedication to a member of the audience, his girlfriend in the crowd of spectators. The night rounded up with an encore of Hello Buttercup, one of three songs featured on their new EP.

In a good way, some of Natalie’s Plight tunes felt like they could have easily come from the soundtracks of Twilight. Before the hippies pass this off as a negative comment (because the movie series is… too bloodsucking), some artistes that had been featured previously include Metric, Beck and Bat For Lashes, Florence + The Machine, to name a few.

Find out more about Natalie’s Plight on their Facebook page. Their EP, What You See Is What You Get, is out now.

[cj]

 

 

Dec 172011
 

I’ve decided to forgo the usual ‘best of’ lists that I’ve been putting out for years. Maybe I think it’s quite cliched and I don’t quite have the stomach for the exercise anymore. So instead, I am writing this quite on the fly ‘stream of consciousness’ post reflecting on some of the musical highlights of 2011.

Album-wise, it must be acknowledged that 2011 was a very good year for new albums (and reissues) and there was no shortage of exciting music to keep a music lover fixated. Again, am not going to do the usual anal top ten list or whatever but will say that I totally enjoyed the following albums this year (in no particular order of merit).

Sky Full of Holes – Fountains of Wayne, Hurry Up We’re Dreaming – M83, The King is Dead – The Decemberists, A Creature I Don’t Know – Laura Marling, Codes and Keys – Death Cab for Cutie, Bon Iver’s sophomore effort, Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes, Father Son Holy Ghost – Girls, Let England Shake – Polly Harvey, Mockingbird Time – Jayhawks.

On the home front, I began working with two new local artists viz. Cheating Sons and Lydia Low and am pleased to include their debut works – Masters, Wives, Daughter LP and Electric Flower EP respectively – as major recordings for 2011. Also notable were the solo debut of Concave Scream’s Sean Lam with his album, Hanging Up the Moon, Don Richmond’s remarkable EP, Reset and of course, In Each Hand A Cutlass’ excellent debut. But sad to report that other than these bright notes, 2011 was a bad year for Singapore indie music. Highlighted most by Dick Lee’s blunt dismissive snub via the SingaPop event, lack of Singaporean representation at the Music Matters conference and the lack of Singapore acts to be considered good enough for Laneway Festival 2012.

That all said, it was a fantastic year for live music again as Singapore was deluged by a flood of foreign acts week in and week out. The ones that stick in my mind? Elton John at the Indoor Stadium, Michael Franti/Spearhead at Rock and Roots, Sara Bareilles at the Esplanade Concert Hall, Villagers and Owen Pallett at the Esplanade Recital Studio and Deerhoof at the Up In The Sky Festival (with special mention to Couple and the White Shoes Company).

In the final analysis, 2011 was a excellent year for music lovers but not particularly memorable for anyone plying their craft in the Singapore indie scene.

 

The Baybeats Festival is one of the biggest indie music feativals in the region attracting about 75,000 fans over its three-day duration. The Esplanade Youths Budding Writers Program provides an excellent opportunity for tertiary students (JC, Poly, University) who are aspiring music journalists to cut their teeth by covering the Baybeats Festival 2012.

As a lucky budding writer, you will be receiving mentorship (from yours truly) in such areas as music reviews and band interviews with the Baybeats Festival 2012 as the perfect proving ground. This time around, the process begins with the auditions for new bands to win a prestigious spot at Baybeats Festival 2012. You will cover the two auditions, get up close with the bands and have the unique opportunity to perhaps break the next big indie band in Singapore!

Not only that but you will get to interview other established Singapore and regional bands and to ultimately review the performances at Baybeats Festival 2012 itself! All this in an exciting seven-month period in 2012. And it all begins with you submitting two samples of your work to to [email protected] by 29th December 2011 or call 6828 8330 if you have any enquiries about the programme.

See you on the other side – I will be waiting for you…

Dec 122011
 

(Press release)

Throughout 2009 and 2010 The People’s Party (TPP) series of shows became synonymous with bringing fresh, cutting edge music talent to Hong Kong. Now, TPP is expanding and will be focused on its new core home of Singapore. The four-city TPP tour builds to a climax in the Lion City with a special mini-festival to be held at Scape on the 14th and 15th of January 2012.

From Europe and Australasia: Metronomy, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Naked and Famous, The Jezabels, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have all confirmed. Most crucially however, TPP’s commitment to put Asian talent front and centre with regional groups including: Plain Sunset, In Each Hand A Cutlass, The Analog Girl, DP and many more taking prime spots over the weekend. This is all of our Asian music community and we’re going to do every thing we can to support it.

2011 UK Mercury Prize nominees Metronomy headline the series with their brand of feel good sunset pop funk already firm favourites amongst the Asian indie elite. Three albums in and a famed live show leave us giddy with delight at having them over for their SE Asian debuts. Also hailing from the UK is Bombay Bicycle Club throwing in a chill wave of rhythmic hooks and having solidified their presence in the music scene with a succession of knock-out festival performances this summer are an ideal addition to the TPP bill. New Zealand’s chart topping #1 artists The Naked & Famous join in riding the crest of a wave of popularity that has seen them grow in profile across the globe. We defy you to listen to ‘Young Blood’ and not be instantly hooked. Sydney four-piece, The Jezabels make for another exciting addition to the line up and are our tips for future greatness. A cocktail of power and elegance, the band have been on a non-stop world tour stunning audiences everywhere they go. Their star is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more proud to be able to present their first full tour of the region. Unknown Mortal Orchestra round up the billing of international acts with their raw, beatnik psychedelic sounds curling ears and turning heads while intoxicating listeners with their uniquely lush and verdant tunes.

So join us for the Singapore debut of The People’s Party, a celebration of good music and good people. Great times!

Event Details Dates: Saturday January 14th, and Sunday January 15th Venue: *SCAPE

2 Orchard Link, Singapore 237978 Tickets: On sale from Dec 13th through SISTIC

***Join Untitled Entertainment’s FB Page www.facebook.com/untitledsg to access a special promo code that gets you an exclusive CD single from the award winning EP “Dark Storm” by The Jezabels along with your ticket purchase. Limited stock and availability so act fast!*** ***Follow us @TPPSG on Twitter for more updates! ***

 

UP TO THE SKY FESTIVAL

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Dec 082011
 

Singapore is fast becoming the place to be in South-East Asia if you’re an indie music fan. Already on the calendar are the Baybeats (which features mainly regional indie acts) and Laneway (which features international indie acts) Festivals and the Up To The Sky Festival (which features BOTH regional and international indie acts) is a welcome recent addition to this burgeoning scene. Held at the Old School at Mount Sophia – soon to be another casualty of Singapore’s ‘progressive’ urban development – there was an indie rustic charm to the event, which belied the cutting-edge quality of the music on view throughout.

Unfortunately, the risk of organizing (and attending) a open-air festival from during December to February in Singapore is rain. Lots of rain in fact. Thankfully, this did not dampen the ability of the bands to deliver top notch sets or the enthusiasm of the crowds that assembled sportingly in the incremental weather to witness some of the finest indie music around. I split my time between the main stage (outdoors) and acoustic stage (indoors) which allowed for continuous music enjoyment. Of course, as schedules tend to slip due to technical issues, after a while I had to make a choice between either stage. I did ultimately plump for the main stage but still managed to catch 9Maps, Cambodian Space Project and our own MUON at the acoustic stage. Overall sound was not perfect but in the case of the latter two acts, the room shook with the power of their amplified performances which provided the necessary oomph to drown out any sound problems (yes I know that sounds vaguely ironic).

Over at the Main Stage, Indonesian bands Sore, The Trees and the Wild and White Shoes & The Couple Company demonstrated why Indonesia’s indie music scene is vibrant and exciting. Special mention must go to White Shoes and The Couple Company who delivered a rollicking jumping set that had the audience dancing and singing along! Particularly impressive were front-woman Aprilia Apsari and lead guitarist Saleh. Apsari had the crowd in the palm of her hand with her choreographed moves and stage banter. Sadly, her vocals were indistinct throughout the set.

After the brilliant showing by the Indonesian bands, Singapore’s own The Great Spy Experiment had it all to do but glad to report that the band more than held its own with a set consistently mostly of songs that will be featured on the follow-up to the now classic debut, Flower Show Riots. Still the audience saved the biggest cheers for the crowd pleasing trio of Late Night Request, Siti in the City and Class ‘A’ Love Affair. The S-ROCK scene eagerly anticipates that sophomore effort with bated breath!

The main event – in my humble opinion – arrived after Chad Valley’s electronic affair – as the wildly experimental Deerhoof took to the stage and blew everyone away with their idiosyncratic style which manages to combine the work of Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch and The Who into one heady brew. With remaining original member drummer Fred Saunier clearly the star of the show with his incredible pummeling, brilliantly complemented by singer-bassist Satomi Matsuzaki (with a Macca Hofner bass no less) and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez, Deerhoof produced sublime squalls of beautiful noise that were at once avant-garde and juvenile. An experience never to be forgotten.

Which brought the curtain down (for me) anyways on an intriguing outdoor indie rock festival which deserves a return in 2012. What say you?

Pictures by Hakym Noh.

LEPA(R)K!

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Dec 042011
 

Lepa(r)k!: A Gig At Tiong Bahru Park

Tired of not being able to attend frequent music festivals in the outdoors, like how they seem to happen everywhere else except here in Singapore?

Now there, Lepa(r)k was the answer for you on 19th November 2011, where six local bands shared the stage in celebrating a night of local music delights, right in the comforts of a very neighbourhood park. You can’t get any more heartland than that, seriously. The six bands, in order of schedule, are: In Each Hand A Cutlass, Obedient Wives Club, Ingride, Run Neon Tiger, Cheating Sons and Plainsunset.

If you were present there for the night, you would have been served with a vast variety of music and genres; and for the very Singaporean in you (indirectly meaning kiasu), free popcorn and candyfloss – I saw a line queuing there.

The gig unveiled itself with In Each Hand A Cutlass (http://www.ineachhandacutlass.com/), an instrumental, ambient and progressive rock band, whose music sits and paints itself well against the landscapes of familiarity behind – of concrete rising buildings and surrounding greeneries. And what better way to welcome the night than the band with the man responsible for pulling together a gig like this, Daniel Sassoon.

Next on the bill was the summer-y, 50’s-60’s infused indie pop-rock Obedient Wives Club (http://www.facebook.com/obedientwivesclub). I think their music was the most suitable, most appropriate fit with the overall feel and theme of having the gig in the park. Ignoring the evening hour ambitious runners, it was the comfortable feeling of being able to lepak (Malay for chill) on the grass without worrying about wet marks and patches on the butt of your favourite jeans and skirts, while elsewhere on the island it poured cats and dogs. They brought a dash of Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls (considered influences) into the fix, much thanks to lead singer YinQi Lee’s quirkiness; and covered Shimmering Stars, Raveonettes and Lesley Gore before wrapping up with their popular smash and well-known number, That Boy.

Ingride (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ingride/128732987245), an ambitious post-hardcore, rock outfit demonstrated and showcased the alternate darker side, in heavy contrast with the previous OWC’s set. Lead singer Mahathir, if he ever explores, has the troubled, ballad-y vocals of a blues rocker-lover, before he let his better alter ego took control and let loose an inner, burning man with passion.

Ladies’ favourite Run Neon Tiger (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Run-Neon-Tiger/245915307468) was next, and it was good to watch the lads again almost a year after their Baybeats performance. Not quite sure if it was due to lead singer, Paddy, being a little tad under the weather, but it felt to me that the lads had become a little washed out, maybe with the letdown of living and struggling with the music dream in Singapore. Not that they could be blamed or are generally at fault for it. Still, their friendly indie pop were met with spontaneous cheers, let alone their covers of indie favourites like The Killers and Two Doors Cinema Club.

Cheating Sons (http://www.cheatingsons.com/), one with the promising future in Singapore music, was definitely the highlight of the night for some in the crowd. You got the unanimous feel of unity in a band – the togetherness in spiritual and musical entanglements, and the poetic lyrics and vocals of lead singer Renyi. There was even a song performed dedicated to Redhill, creeping around the corner from Tiong Bahru, of its old histories, senior residents sitting by the wayside and of stories long forgotten and untold of. They ended their set with a rockin’ high, letting their fiery fingers on their musical weapons do all the walking and the talking.

Plainsunset (http://www.facebook.com/plainsunset) Now vets in the indie scene, Plainsunset thrilled the crowd with their user-friendly pop-punk filled with infectious hooks that left smiles on many. Frontman Jon Chan was in his usual jovial mood, humorous stage banter abounded and the tightness of the performance reflected how comfortable the band members were with each other. A new song was debuted which provided the icing on the cake for a milestone night for S-ROCK.

Lepa(r)k! was presented by Snakeweed Studios and Incursive Productions and organised by Tanglin Cairnhill Citizens’ Consultative Committee. Also present for the night was Member of Parliament (MP) Indranee Rajah, who gave the green light for this gig to happen and to become a reality; in a way, a Singapore dream come true.

Hopefully, the first of many such events.

[cj]

UP TO THE SKY FESTIVAL

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Dec 022011
 

We are one day away from this unique indie music festival that features both regional and international acts in equal measure. A rarity in itself on our shores. On that count alone, Up To The Sky Festival at Old School may be the kind of indie music festival that will be more ubiquitous in the years ahead as the stature of regional bands grow surely but steadily.

Check out the exciting schedule below: -

MAIN STAGE

11:30am Gates open

11:30am-12:30pm They Will Kill Us All

1:00 – 2:00pm Sore

2:30 -3:30pm The Trees and The Wild

4:00-5:00pm White Shoes and The Couples Company

5:30-6:30pm The Great Spy Experiment

7:00-8:00pm Chad Valley

8:30 – 9:30pm Deerhoof

10:00-11:00pm Mogwai (DJ Set)

MACKIE ACOUSTIC STAGE

12:30 – 1:15pm Little Fox

1:45 – 2:30pm 9Maps

3:00 – 3:45pm Cambodian Space Project

4:15 – 5:00pm Bani Haykal

5:30-6:15pm Muon

6:45-7:30pm Tenderfist

8:00-8:45pm Zebra and Snake

As you can well see, there’s enough excellent indie music here to satisfy almost every taste or whim. In addition, the festival will also feature video screenings and art exhibitions. More information at the Official Site.

Get your tickets now.

UP TO THE SKY FESTIVAL

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Nov 232011
 

It’s probably a bit of a cliche but Singapore is fast becoming an ‘indie’ music hub of sorts for South-East Asia. As it is, the likes of Laneway Festival and The People’s Party (slated for 2012) are already making waves in the region and taking the jump on them both will be Up To The Sky Festival to be held on 3rd December 2011.

Up To The Sky Festival will focus primarily on Singaporean and regional acts, with a couple of international acts thrown in for good measure. Which immediately sets it apart from Laneway Festival, where no Singaporean or regional bands have been invited to participate.

Held at the Old School (which will be making way for even more condos – that’s progress for ya!), indie music fans will be thrilled to find out that the lineup consists of the following – Mogwai (DJ Set), Bani Haykal, The Great Spy Experiment, MUON, Deerhoof, Cambodian Space Project, Deerhoof, Tenderfist, They Will Kill Us All, The Dorques, Orange Grass, The Trees and the Wild, White Shoes and the Couple Company, Sore, Zebra and Snake, Chad Valley, 9Maps and Little Fox.

More information at the Official Site.

Tickets available at Gatecrash, S.A.M Machines, SingPost Offices, STB TicketCube@Orchard.

Nov 212011
 

Back from the US for Christmas, Singaporean rocker Inch Chua celebrates this festive season the only way she knows best: through music.

Bringing a mixture of tunes from her debut album ‘Wallflower’ and songs from her upcoming album ‘The Colour Wheel’, she and her backing band, the Metric System will tear through a setlist of crowd favourites and a selection of festive tunes.

We are still firming up appearances by special guests as well.

If it’s not just the season to be jolly, it’s also Inch’s birthday as well. So come by and have a great night with Inch Chua & The Metric System!

Ticket: S$18 (Limited to 100 seats) Get your tickets at: www.apesnap.com/event/xxiii

 

DON RICHMOND

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Nov 182011
 

RESET (Steam)

It isn’t difficult to fall in love with Don Richmond’s latest EP – just press play! Five tracks of simple beauty that belies the blood, sweat and tears obviously poured into every single one. Like Bruno Mars and Ceelo Green, Richmond is never shy to mine the rich vein of ‘old-school’ goodness offered up by 60s & 70s pop ‘n’ soul. Not comfortable with ‘old-school’? Then think of the terms ‘timeless’ and ‘classic’ instead!

No mere hyperbole as tracks like the flowing Beautiful, the infectious Turn Me On, the rustic A Little Song For You, the retro-delicious Sweetness and the fragile Flower reveal Richmond’s melange of richly mellifluous influences – from Stax-Motown R&B to early 70s singer-songwriter folk to Burt Bacharach soft-pop. The ease in which Richmond is able to pull out nuggets of sublime melodic lines with pitch-perfect vocals is staggering.

Let me make this clear – if Don Richmond was an American, he would be bigger than Bruno Mars. Nuff said.

Facebook page

S-ROCK

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Nov 172011
 

Tis a good time to be a S-ROCK fan! Especially this weekend as two significant events take place which spotlight the local talents we have in our very own indie music scene.

First up, on Friday 18th November, the fifth installment of Fred Perry Subculture Night goes down at Zouk from 8pm (doors open at 7.30pm) with We The Thousands, Lost Hat and punk vets Plainsunset. On Saturday, 19th November, the likes of In Each Hand A Cutlass (above), Ingride, Run Neon Tiger, Obedient Wives Club, Cheating Sons and Plainsunset (once again!) bring S-ROCK to Tiong Bahru Park for LEPA(R)K!

So there you go – take your pick or take it all – the choice is yours. Fly the flag, come on down, see you in the pit…

 

 

Wake Me Up Music, the Singaporean indie label that brought us the likes of Plainsunset and Fire Fight is calling it quits with a farewell show.

Details

Venue – Home
 Club
, 

20 
Upper
 Circular
 Road

Date 
& 
Time

 ‐

 10
 December 
2011
:
 8‐10pm

11 
December
 2011
: 
5‐10pm

Charge

 ‐

 $10 
for
 2‐Day 
Pass

Day 
1
 features 
today’s
 hot 
indie 
acts 
–
 Kate
 of 
Kale,
 Caracal,
 A
 Vacant
 Affair
 and
  The
 Marilyns.

Day 
2
 sees 
the 
highly 
anticipated
 one‐time
 reunion 
of 
influential 
underground
 bands
 from 
the
 past
 ‐‐ 
Surreal,
 Vertical
 Rush,
Marchtwelve,
 My
 Squared 
Circle,
 Sky 
In
 Euphoria 
and 
Pension
State.

Nov 132011
 

Subculture – The Perfect Fifth

(Press release)

Join us as we conclude the year off with a fifth installment of Fred Perry’s music initiative, as Subculture returns on Friday, 18 November 2011 at Zouk.

Expect a night of unpretentious sounds and good fun fueled by servings of music genre inspired ice cream shots by Seventh Heaven and refreshing Fred’s Punch, a special cocktail concocted by 42 Below.

The talented line up of homegrown musicians for the night which include Plainsunset, We The Thousands, The Lost Hat and indie trio, Poptart as they end the night off with non stop dance hits!

For the first time, Subculture will be coupled with Singapore’s one and only visual-audio collective, Syndicate as they project unprecedented visuals throughout the night.Priority entry will be given to those dressed in Fred Perry so wear your tips* proud.

*tip – refers to the coloured lining on collars and sleeves, an iconic feature on Fred Perry Polo shirts.

EVENT DETAILS

Date: Friday, 18 November 2011 Time: 8pm (Doors open at 730pm) Venue: Zouk, 17 Jiak Kim Street Line Up: We The Thousands, The Lost Hat, Plainsunset , featuring Poptart and Syndicate. Register for guestlist at Facebook.

Club rules apply. Fred Perry Subculture is made possible by SingTel, 42Below, Seventh Heaven and Zouk.

 

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