First thing one notices when listening to Natalie Hiong‘s new EP is the sound production — a marked improvement from her debut EP certainly. This time around, everything one hears seems more organic and more ‘human’, and it’s much easier to get into the songs itself. Natalie has also improved in the vocal department and extended her range of singing styles as well. No longer relying on the cutesy little girl vibe of her debut EP, one senses that this is a chanteuse now coming into her own.
Every kind of music under the sun
WAS IT ALL A DREAM WITH NORAH JONES?
Treading on partially wet grounds for my first concert-going experience at the west side of Singapore, The Star Performing Arts Centre served as a blooming fresh outlet for events of sorts. Despite the grandeur of the new environs, it was let down somewhat by the spectacle of snaking (really year of the snake, isn’t it?) queue lines at the ticketing counter .
Judging by the response at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Tuesday night, Ellie Goulding’s first performance in Singapore was an undisputed success.
The full house consisted of a good mix of young tweens and older hipsters, who eagerly lapped up her every word and note. Even Goulding herself repeatedly remarked at her awe and surprise with the number of people at her first show here.
Starting off the night with songs mainly from her recently released sophomore album, Halcyon, such as “Figure 8” and “My Blood”, Ellie Goulding blew us away from the very start with her beautiful voice. It was amazing to hear the entire audience sing along to the chorus of “Guns and Horses”. However, it took some time for the sound engineer to get the mixing right, as it was difficult to hear her voice over her backing track in the beginning.
Also, it appeared that she took a while to adjust to the stage, only moving around to interact with the inviting audience after taking awhile to get used to the venue.
Goulding was not fazed for too long though, and one of the most memorable segments of the concert was when she slowed things down with tracks like “I Know You Care” (she admitted it was about her father) and “Joy”. The audience was also in for a special treat as she sang a wonderful cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”.
Picking things back up with harder hitting songs “Only You” and “Salt Skin”, Goulding gamely danced in her sheer dress through these songs, eliciting more cheers from her fans. During other parts of the show, she also treated the audience to performances of “Hanging On” and “I Need Your Love”, which she wrote with Tinie Tempah and Calvin Harris respectively.
Most of all, it was impressive to see how she took her music to a whole new level with her live show. Her music sounded so much bigger, expansive, richer and complex live than on her studio albums. Moreover, her live energy was explosive, even reminiscent of Hayley Williams (of Paramore fame).
All in all, Eliie Goulding had great charm and clearly enjoyed performing, and her infectious energy in turn made it especially fun and enjoyable for all present. With “Lights” as her final euphoric song, she left everyone without a doubt that she could just very well be the reigning queen of the current crop of synth rock songstresses.
Thanks to Dan Gordon (Now/Live) for making this review possible.
Nothing quite compares to a British pop band trading in the fine legacy of Britpop and being able to make the connections between The Kinks and Blur and beyond. Instant Species has been around since 1997 and according to its official site, “we’ve made music we love, played gigs to entertain people and released records with an enormous sense of pride. It’s more than a hobby but it’s far from a career and it’s always fun. We don’t have a “plan” or “bid to be” anything other than 4 blokes playing some music we hope is half decent.”
More than “half-decent” I’d say — This Rome… is the quartet’s new album (#8) and it is chock full of catchy tunes, spiky rhythms and an edgy pop smart attitude. It’s clear from songs like the languid “Rise of the Idiot”, the bouncy “Simple Repetition”, the chirpy title track and the garage-y “I Need A Little Help” that the band writes and records the kind of music it loves without any thought about trends. Essential for fans of classic British pop music.
No frills melodic rock n’ roll is the only item on the Hot Nun agenda and why the hell not? With a bio that declares that rock is not dead, Jeff Shelton (guitars, vocals, bass) and Braden McGraw (drums) keep things simple and straightforward on this eponymous debut. With eight songs that celebrate “The Spirit of ’76”, the album is aimed directly at classic rock n roll lovers and fans of Cheap Trick, KISS, T. Rex and Glam-era Bowie. Rollicking numbers like “Who Do You Love” and “Fight Fight Fight” will get adrenaline pumping easy enough. No denying the sheer power of this uncanny album, with the faithful rendition of Bowie’s “Queen Bitch” the perfect touchstone of what Hot Nun is all about.
It is a good time to be involved in the S-ROCK scene. Interest in the scene is definitely growing as the media gives it attention it properly deserves. More releases, more gigs, more open mikes, more bands, more venues…more, more, more! In the last two weeks, I managed to witness two launches – first, by Another Sunday Afternoon and last Friday, by Obedient Wives Club. These bands are very different in terms of musical approach and execution but share the same passion, talent and ability to touch and thrill true-blue music lovers. Also worth considering – the fledging outfits that opened viz Victoria Street and Rocketswan, interestingly enough, both female-fronted! Exciting times, indeed.
Six years in the making, the sophomore effort of The Great Spy Experiment arrives with the band a completely different entity to what it was when I first met Saiful, Fandy, Song, Khai and Mag in the rehearsals for Singapore Day in 2007. Interim period has seen marriages, children and daily challenges with the ubiquitous work-life balance. Factor in the creative musical need of recording artists and things no doubt become complicated.
Nothing beats shameless self-promotion, eh?
In any case, I wanted to share with you the ‘video’ I put together to help push “Dare” along. It’s actually a simple photo montage chronicling my experiences in the local music scene in the last six years, the bands, the gigs and the people who made a difference. Yes, it’s a little self-indulgent but there you ago…
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: EMO FASCISM – “DARE (FT. DANIEL SASSOON)”THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: EMO FASCISM – “DARE (FT. DANIEL SASSOON)”
Here we are – all set to go!
“Dare” is the first track to be made public from the Emo Fascism recording sessions which took place mainly in September last year at Patrick Chng’s excellent home studio. The album will consist of ten tracks (with two bonus tracks on the CD) and for the most part I wrote, sang, performed and produced the lot with Patrick engineering, mixing and mastering the recording. Only one other musician played on Emo Fascism (“Dare” to be specific) and I am proud to say that it was none other than Daniel Sassoon.
Daniel has of course, in the past, been closely involved with legendary S-ROCK bands like Livonia and Electrico. Of late, Daniel has been leading the instrumental rock outfit – In Each Hand A Cutlass – and is renowned for his talent and skill on the guitar. Sometime back, I had finally recorded a proper demo of “Dare” (which has been kicking around for decades – I shit you not) and sent it to Daniel for feedback. What I got was an offer to contribute guitar ideas to the track and I jumped – didn’t need to asked twice! So earlier this year, Daniel laid down his amazing guitar lines (and a mind-blowing solo) for “Dare” in a fecund three-hour session at Thom’s Loft.
And now you can hear the results! I am particularly proud of the final product and I am so excited to be able to share the first fruits of our labours with you all. If you liked what you heard, I hope you will share the links on your respective social media platforms and spread the word around! That would be so cool and greatly appreciated! Remember – Emo Fascism is due for release in August 2013.
…still there’s more…
The French rock n’ roll band known as Fuzzy Vox behaves as if no new music was made after 1969! This myopic vision provides incredible focus as this five-track EP amply demonstrates. The music here is simple yet powerful, straight-forward and visceral. If push came to shove, probably the most accurate reference point would be the first Stooges album. Sure, one could also point to the influences of the mod greats (The Who) and blues-rock legends (The Rolling Stones) but there’s a basic garage-punk energy that suggests Iggy and his band of freaks held greater sway. In the modern context, The Hives come to mind immediately and every other garage-punk revivalist you would care to mention. The scintillating cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” provides a clarity of purpose, translated well on the meaty title track, the beaty “Same Old Story”, the big “I’ll Be Gone” and the bouncy “Hurricane”. Pure & easy.
Listen to “I’d Be Gone” and the rest of the EP at Soundcloud.
After a wait of 22 years, without much fanfare, comes the third My Bloody Valentine album.(more…)
SAPPORO SAFARIS “FIGURES OF EIGHT” LAUNCH [REVIEW]SAPPORO SAFARIS “FIGURES OF EIGHT” LAUNCH [REVIEW]
First off, let me get something off my chest. The SCAPE Gallery is a horrible avenue for live rock music performance. No two ways about it – the sound was so harsh and unbalanced at the venue that I felt physically nauseous at times. Which is a pity because certainly the four bands that played at this gig deserved a much friendlier platform to showcase their music. But there you go…
ST. JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2013 SINGAPORE [REVIEW]ST. JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2013 SINGAPORE [REVIEW]
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM!
There is little doubt that St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival (Singapore edition) has become a landmark indie music event in SE Asia since it made its debut in 2011. Fans from all over the region flock to our shores to catch a glimpse of indie artists/bands hand-picked by the team at Chugg Entertainment. With the recent deluge of performances available to Singaporean music lovers, it is sometimes easy to take an event like the Laneway Festival for granted. After all, it’s not often that a true blue music fan gets to watch 14 bands/artists in a single day in Singapore and for a reasonable price (especially in the context of today’s rock concert market).
Who are Bored Spies? Well, think of the trio (Cherie Ko, Sooyoung Park & Morfin) as some kind of off-the-wall Canadian-Korean-Singaporean musical venture that somehow perfectly falls into contemporary indie rock space circa 2013. Privileged as always to be slightly ahead of the game, I am listening to the debut single from Bored Spies and marveling at the immediacy and intricacy of the music – sweet yet brash, bold yet amiable – full of contrasting hues and yet dead-eyed focused on heart and soul.
“Summer 720” opens with a psychedelic rock motif that would not be out of place on a Jefferson Airplane record before Ko’s languid vocals pulls us violently into the present and the so-called retro-wave, where high treble guitar arpeggios provide relevant soundscapes. A brilliant summer anti-anthem for the 360 degree summer nation (720 is 360 doubled, geddit???).
“沙鼠E” is a slowburn 90s alt-rock channeling number where bass chords, guitar riffs, synthesized string attack, tempo shifts and Ko’s swooning vocals produces a bittersweet effect. With soaring musical phrases to keep one’s attention, it’s gone too soon after it begins, leaving the listener bereft and begging for more.
Bored Spies’ “Summer 720” b/w 沙鼠E will be released on 25th January 2013.
IDENTITE 8.4: BIG NIGHT OUT LAUNCH PARTY – THE XINGFOO&ROY INTERVIEWIDENTITE 8.4: BIG NIGHT OUT LAUNCH PARTY – THE XINGFOO&ROY INTERVIEW
Another Friday, another Identite presented by Home Club and RSC. On 25th January, The Livid Sun, Xingfoo&Roy and Deon Toh take to the stage for the Big Night Out Launch Party. We managed to get hold of Daniel out of Xingfoo&Roy to respond to our queries…
What is Xingfoo&Roy?
Xingfoo&Roy is a band comprised of three boys, Gabriel, Jeremy and Daniel. We’ve been playing together since early 2011 and have been writing music ever since. The reason why we love to write music is because we’d like to share our views on certain subjects in the form of musical expression. The name came about from a short story Gabriel wrote about two characters. Xingfoo and Roy. We also decided on the name, as it was a reference to Sigfred and Roy, the magicians. We wanted a local sounding band name as well feel that many local band are trying to sound western. Got to stick to your roots man.
Yes, this review of the Other Sounds launch party is a little late. Yes, I had loads of fun with friends and new acquaintances, not to mention the delivery of good good music. What else do you need to know?
Upfront let me just say that congratulations are in order to Other Sounds for hosting a fabulous party. I mean, the food was simply yummy and even though I had dinner before I came, I still managed to polish a couple of burgers and pizza slices. So kudos! And… the free flow alcohol, courtesy of Asahi was much welcomed as well. Is the indie music scene coming of age. Step by step, in the right direction.(more…)
To be honest, I never expected to write this review. Up to the point that I received the email from Peipei (LIKES Communications), I had not even heard of Hong Kong/Canadian singer-songwriter Ellen Loo. And when Peipei invited me to catch Ellen’s show at the Esplanade Recital Studio, I was feeling a bit mixed. After all, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of Mandarin pop but I thought – “nothing ventured, nothing gained” – and I am so glad that I took the plunge.(more…)
A look back at classic albums from rock history, this time Depeche Mode with its debut album, Speak and Spell from 1981. Released by pioneering indie label Mute Records in the United Kingdom.(more…)
Simon Townshend released one of the more intriguing albums of 2012, the under-rated Looking Out, Looking In. We were fortunate and privileged to be able to pose a couple of questions to Townshend via email and we set out his responses below.
As a musician/recording artist, has being the younger brother of Pete Townshend been an advantage or disadvantage and why so?
I think it works both ways. I suppose I have a lot to live up to, especially when some people expect so much of me. Having said that my name has opened a few doors that would have perhaps remained shut. I am really proud of my brother and have always loved his music / lyrics – The Who are one of my all time favourite bands. However, I have many other musical influences and my sound is unique. I think once people realise that the sibling association takes a back seat they will judge me on my own merits. At the end of the day it’s down to me and my music to win music lovers over.(more…)