A good friend recently suggested that I should emulate the renowned music critic Bob Lefsetz and cut loose on music and bands that I did not like – the proverbial ‘take no prisoners’ kind of commentary. Not that I haven’t done this in the 20 odd years that I have been writing about music and pop culture. And this includes telling the ‘truth’ about the music of local bands and artists as well. However, I find that it does not serve any purpose and often the targets of the criticism are not able to benefit from those remarks – so why bother?
With a vibe that recalls the popular British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, comes the debut single from Gentle Bones (aka Joel Tan) viz. “Till We Die”. If you like what you see and hear, you can buy the single from either iTunes: http://bit.ly/untilwedie or from BandCamp: http://gentlebones.bandcamp.com/. Proceeds will go towards the funding of the upcoming full-length album. Check out the official video below.
Yeah, more power pop/pop underground music you should be listening to if you dig sophisticated melodies with crunchy guitars and clever arrangements. Please take notes…
The last time this wonderful band released new material was 2003 – unsure whether the band still exists as the official site has not been updated since 2004! Tough being a power pop in this current environment. In any case, I need to highlight three essential LPs that need your attention. Enjoy!
Quirky indie rock n’ roll that presses most of the right buttons. Lyrically and vocally, there’s a Lou Reed/VU vibe (“Flatbush”), a geek-rock Weezer ambience (“Junky’s Life”) and other general ironic references to outsider music that will endear Pravada to music lovers who need something a little off the beaten path. The melodies are in short supply but that’s the intention, presumably. Promising.
Truth be told I am not a huge fan of Dashboard Confessional aka Chris Carrabba but I totally understand his appeal to fans who were teenagers when the band was popular. A decade ago I recall reviewing its third album – A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar – and songs like “Hands Down” and “Rapid Hope Loss” represented the critical and commercial apex of Dashboard Confessional.
Music Matters, the region’s premiere music conference returns in May 2014 and that also means it’s another round of Music Matters Live! Thus far, Music Matters Live has previously hosted acts like Simple Plan (Canada), Jezabels (Australia), Boyce Avenue (USA), Katie Noonan (Australia), Gurrumul (Australia), Prata Vetra (Latvia), Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia), Little Boots (UK), Electrico (Singapore), flumpool (Japan), Kreva (Japan), Drunken Tiger (Korea), Indus Creed (India), Nidji (Indonesia), Faber Drive (Canada) and many others.
For artists who want to perform at Music Matters Live 2014, they may contact firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to submit their applications online. Submissions close on 17 Jan, 2014!
Supertramp will always be remembered as a crucial influence on my music making in my late teens. Formed around the nucleus of two brilliantly gifted singer-songwriters Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies, this English quintet managed to come up with a successful blend of prog-rock and pop music sensibilities that resulted in two classic LPs in Crime of the Century (1974) and Breakfast in America (1979) as well as a couple of chart hit singles in “Give a Little Bit”, “It’s Raining Again” and “The Logical Song”.
You can listen to the band’s entire discography at Spotify but of course, check out my playlist for the comprehensive introduction to the delights of this iconic band. Enjoy!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is here and guess what? The movie looks like Spider-Man 3 – y’know three villains overkill. Mm. Hopefully, it will make more sense than Spider-Man 3 did. Note: that last sequence really looks like a video game. Ugh.
The CAVE – four teenagers who surprise with an old skool rock n’ roll agenda. Currently material for a debut release, check out “Personal” and you will agree that this is one young band that you need to keep eyes and ears on.
Virtually impossible to watch this without the inevitable lump in throat and teary-eyed response. The measure of love, admiration and respect that the late great Freddie Mercury and Queen engendered amongst their peers is plainly obvious judging from the stellar lineup of this tribute concert.
This 3-DVD collection contains the whole shebang – the opening acts (Extreme does an awesome Queen medley), the main event itself (simply mind-boggling from start to finish) and a bonus DVD of extras (10th anniversary documentary, rehearsal performances and photo galleries).
Aussie singer-songwriter Lenka‘s recent concert at the Esplanade Theatre was actually her fourth one in Singapore! Judging by the sizable crowd, there was no danger of over-familiarity yet! Lenka’s pixie like demeanor, her vibrant stage presence and her strong melodic songs account for her popularity and she had no problem with holding the attention of a rapt audience in her hour-plus set.
It is an exciting time to be a music lover in Singapore as leading pan-Asian independent music company Hostess Entertainment Unlimited launches its unique live series Hostess Club Weekender in Singapore!
As part of Hostess’s continuing regional expansion, HCW will land in Fort Canning Park on Saturday February 22nd next year. The inaugural show in Singapore will feature critics’ darlings The National, Mogwai as well as up-and-comers King Krule, Asgeir and Buke & Gase to make the most compelling, irresistible and fresh lineup.
A PoP feature where we examine the influence on ART on rock and pop music, in particular album covers.
Today we look at Pop-art, a movement that began in UK and the USA in the 50s. The dominant figure in this ‘genre’ is probably one of the most influential artists in contemporary art – Andy Warhol.
Released in 1967, The Velvet Underground & Nico may not have sold many units but it’s enduring significance cannot be over-emphasized. What was also unique about the album design was that early copies of the album invited the owner to “Peel slowly and see”, peeling back the banana skin revealed a flesh-colored banana underneath. Recently, there was a legal battle between the Andy Warhol Foundation of Visual Arts and the band over copyrights over the cover design.
This is the kind of pop music that inspired Power of Pop to begin with viz. retro-pop-rock that looks back to the 60s with echoes of The Byrds, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys and The Beatles unashamedly reflected in songs like “This is the New Normal”, “It Must Be Summer” and “Famous Blue Anorak”. Lover-ly. Like! Follow!
Nowadays with streaming sites like Spotify, it’s a cinch to check out the new albums that music tastemakers (like yours truly) are raving about and then you can decide whether you wanna buy the CD or the vinyl versions, download the digital album or just listen. The choice is yours. Here are a couple of recent albums I gave the thumbs up over for, over at TODAY online.
The Cribs Interview – Camp Symmetry 2013 2nd November 2013
Power of Pop, along with representatives from other media, sat down with Ryan and Ross of The Cribs at Camp Symmetry two weekends ago, at a roundtable interview. It was conducted after their energetic, frenetic and rocking set at Camp Symmetry, and though the guys were tired and sweaty, they obliged us in answering our questions and were very fun to talk to!
In the 70s, during the hey day of progressive rock, record labels were looking out for bands that might be the next money-spinner like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull or Genesis. Thus, numerous second tier prog-rock bands were given the opportunity to become viable recording artists. Not all of these LPs were easily available in Singapore and even if they were, I would be spending my hard-earned allowance on those aforementioned top-tier bands… But thanks to Spotify, I can now listen to these now lesser known outfits. Enjoy…
A supergroup in every sense of that word, U.K. originally consisted of John Wetton (vocals/bass), Bill Bruford (drums), Eddie Jobson (keyboards/violin) and Allan Holdsworth (guitar). That lineup recorded a eponymous debut LP which was released in 1978 but the band subsequently imploded. Still, this record remains a wonderful landmark for progressive circa the late 70s.
Camp Symmetry 2 November 2013 The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay
Last Saturday, indie fans descended on The Meadow at Gardens By The Bay for the first edition of the annual Camp Symmetry, organised by Symmetry Entertainment, who has brought us gigs by Beach Fossils, Yacht, Carl Barat & The Libertines and The Drums. Starting at 12 noon, the festival line-up presented 12 hours of indie folk, indie pop, indie rock and post-rock. The festival expectedly attracted hipsters and music lovers ranging from the ages of 15 to 40. Camp Symmetry invited comparisons to Laneway Festival – having similar programming, targeting the same audience, being held at the same venue, and the festival held up very well. There was a good variety and somewhat affordable F&B choices for a festival, with more activities like bouncy castles and ping-pong tables. The festival also ran like clockwork, with each set starting and ending at its scheduled time, which is remarkable for a festival!
More recommended listening @ Spotify! This week we look at obscure post-punk from the late 70s/80s that fans of contemporary revivalist bands might wanna check out…
SOUTHERN DEATH CULT (1981 – 1983)
A early 80s goth rock band that is best remembered for providing singer Ian Astbury the platform from which he would form Death Cult with guitarist Billy Duffy before finding success as The Cult. Listen to its eponymous debut LP below.
I read Orson Scott Card’s scifi masterpiece when it was first published in 1985 and at the time, I was thinking that it was a superb cross of Starship Troopers and Lord of the Flies. It’s one of my favourite stories and you can imagine my emotional state as I was watching this film adaptation. Yes, I was crying like a baby. The adaptation is very faithful (I believe Card made that a condition of the option and license) and director Gavin Hood did a fairly reasonable job in getting the main plot points and themes of the book across. This achievement is aided by the strong cast with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and the young Asa Butterfield giving solid performances.
Funny how Thor (the mightiest Avenger) is probably the weakest and least interesting character amongst the stars of the Marvel Studio flicks. The first movie spent time introducing Thor and like most origin stories, the interest was kept at a respectfully high level most of the time with the key being the character development of Thor himself.
This is where the sequel falls flat. Once you understand that Thor is arrogant, brash and headstrong (and loves Jane Foster), there is nowhere else to go unless you spice things up and the writers of Thor: The Dark World fail to do that completely. Thor is utterly boring (despite Chris Hemsworth’s best efforts) and predictable – lacking any edge whatsoever. Thor’s flaws and weaknesses (evident in the first movie) are glossed over and somehow he becomes the least interesting character in his own movie.
I got into Lou Reed relatively late in life. 1989 to be precise – the release of the New York album, which I bought on cassette. That prompted me to investigate Reed (and the Velvet Underground, of course) in piecemeal form in the 25 years since.
As a rock scholar, it’s impossible not to recognize Reed’s importance to much of modern rock music – there’s really no point in setting out the sheer number of bands and artists that Reed had a tremendous impact on – suffice to say that Reed was influential. As a songwriter, Reed’s honesty and creative thinking was always challenging to me, with his lyric writing truly seminal.
His passing was hard to take – a sense that an era of rock music has ended. But Reed’s legacy will never be forgotten – the sound and attitude of indie pop & alt-rock bear his indelible stamp. Yes, Lou Reed may no longer be with us but his music will live on forever, something to cherish.
For the uninitiated, begin with Velvet Underground & Nico, Transformer and New York and work your way through from there.
“The music is all. People should die for it. People are dying for everything else, so why not the music?”
In collaboration with Gardens by the Bay, supported by TOTE Board, Ding Yi Music Company presents its 3rd outdoor fantasia at the Gardens by the Bay, Supertree Groves viz. Animal Carnival and Insect World.
On 9th November, come by the Gardens to enjoy the Animal Carnival, a concert featuring Ding Yi Music Company’s Chinese wind instruments such as the Suona, Sheng and Dizi as well as Chinese percussion instruments like Drums, Cymbals and Gongs. Ding Yi Music Company will be performing music pieces that re-create the sound of bird, bull, tiger, lion and mouse, incorporated with theatrical acting by its musicians.
On 10th November, Ding Yi Music Company with conductor Mr Quek Ling Kiong presents Insect World, a concert comprising works about insects! Listen to tunes that feature the bees, butterflies, grasshoppers and ants. If you haven’t heard familiar favourites such as Flight of the Bumble Bee played on the Erhu, or grasshoppers represented by the Dizi, then please do not miss this special concert!
Last time out, we ran the rule over the opening five bands at Camp Symmetry viz. Veronica Falls, Last Dinosaurs, San Cisco, Wild Nothing and William Fitzsimmons. We continue the lowdown with the final five!
RA RA RIOT 4.35pm – 5.20pm
American indie rock band with three albums and numerous EPs released since 2007. The band plays an energetic brand of melodic pop-rock with classical underpinnings. Comparisons have been drawn between the quartet and Vampire Weekend, Broken Social Scene and The Polyphonic Spree.
BEST COAST 5.40pm – 6.55pm
An American rock duo (Bethany Cosentino and Robb Bruno) that blends Indie Rock and Power Pop influences brilliantly. Two well-received LPs so far and the new EP Fade Away is a instant winner in my book! Definitely a crowd favourite – the party well and truly begins here. Not to be missed!