PoP RECOMMENDS: PUGWASHPoP RECOMMENDS: PUGWASH

Pic by Ger O'Donnell

Pic by Ger O’Donnell

If like me you are besotted with classic pop and love the music of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, ELO and XTC, then my question to you is – why aren’t you listening to Pugwash? And if this is the first time you have heard of this awesome Irish band, then your timing is impeccable.

A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash (to be released on 23rd September) collects songs from the band’s 1999 origins through the present day and when placed together in one place like this, is probably the closest a classic pop fan will get to heaven in 2014.

Pugwash A Rose In A Garden Digi

It is impossible not to fall in love with perfect pop songs like “Be My Friend Awhile,” “Apples,” “Answers on a Postcard,” “Fall Down”, “It’s Nice to be Nice” and so on and on and on. These 17 tracks constitute some of the finest pop music made since the new millennium and deserves as much attention as possible, if there’s any justice left in this cruel world.

I was lucky enough to catch the band live last year in London and believe me, it’s a wonder to behold. That Rickenbacker sound, those harmonies and infectious tunes will have you singing along in no time, unfamiliarity be damned! So check out the US tour dates below to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun, PoPies!

Check out the video for “It’s Nice to be Nice” below…

CHARLES BURNS: SUGAR SKULL BOOK SIGNING AT FANTAGRAPHICSCHARLES BURNS: SUGAR SKULL BOOK SIGNING AT FANTAGRAPHICS

Sugar Skull

If you watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you would have noted the use of the graphic novel Black Hole as a plot point, which is of course such a cool geek thing! Creator/artist Charles Burns will actually be in Seattle this Friday to sign copies of his latest book – Sugar Skull – which is the perfect opportunity for this lapsed comic book (and Black Hole) fan to get re-acquainted with the man’s work and to erm meet the man himself. Stay tuned for the obligatory photographs!

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SEATTLE – VANCOUVER 2014: DAY THREESEATTLE – VANCOUVER 2014: DAY THREE

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Day Two was spent recovering from my jet lag so I was only able to get out on Day Three. Basically spent the day with my good friend Chris, visiting EMP Museum. It’s really a pop culture buff’s dream to a certain extent. EMP expanded their scifi-fantasy section into separate scifi, horror and fantasy. In truth the latter two were boring whilst the scifi section was better, there wasn’t too much to get excited about.

The music exhibitions were what EMP was all about – with the focus on Hendrix in London and Nirvana. While both were also relatively small, the detail to attention put into the exhibitions was a wonder to behold and worth the price of admission. Viewing Kurt Cobain’s demo cassettes was interesting as well as the live-size props for the In Utero tour.

It was heart-warming to visit a museum that was dedicated to rock music with its due recognition of our beloved rock music as art in its own right. What a statement to make! I was particularly intrigued by a graphic that highlighted the various indie bands that came out of Seattle and Washington state in general. It put the idea of ‘support local’ into perspective. I am certain that the folks watching Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Death Cab for Cutie etc had no idea that their local bands would one day become superstars – but that’s how every band starts, as a local band.

More pics here.

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SEATTLE – VANCOUVER 2014: DAY ONESEATTLE – VANCOUVER 2014: DAY ONE

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Just a short update as I am pretty much frazzled from that 20 hour traveling to Seattle via Taipei. Having left Singapore at about 1pm on Sunday it’s weird to arrive at Seattle at 7plus that same night after all that travelling. At check-in, there were problems coz I forgot to register with ESTA but managed to solve it by doing so all on my iPhone in 10 minutes. The wonders of modern technology. Am going to try to convince my body that I’m am on PST now, ignore Singapore time and go to sleep.

But first up on Wednesday…

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GEEK OUT!GEEK OUT!

MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN:

WHAT GOES AROUND…

The Generation Gap! The stuff of endless arguments about who’s music was better etc etc etc. What about comic books? I personally believe that after the Marvel Age of the 60s with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, the finest era of comic books is the Eighties, when writer Alan Moore was changing the industry.

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GEEK OUT!GEEK OUT!

Superboy_Vol_1_89 Mon-El

MON-EL

He was introduced to comic books in 1961 in Superboy #81 as “Superboy’s Big Brother”! Visually, his costume was the reverse of Superboy and since he possessed the same powers as Superboy, he was thought to be from Krypton as well. Therefore, the name, “Mon-El” – he arrived on Earth on a Monday and El is Superboy’s family name! At the end of the story, Superboy indadvertedly poisons Mon-El with lead but ‘saves’ him by sending him into the Phantom Zone (where Krypton imprisoned their worst criminals) where he remained till freed by the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century.

mon-el

Mon-El would join the LSH and become a key member, marrying Shadow Lass in the process. He was my favourite Legionnaire and he always seemed to me, a better character than Superman. But sadly, due to DC’s decision to start fucking around with their continuity (which is still going on to this day) in the mid-80s with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mon-El’s character (and the LSH overall, to be fair) was altered irreversibly and his origins were ret-conned (damn I hate that word) and he was renamed “Valor” (fucking awful!) and then later “M’onel” (even worse!).

The character has been ret-conned so many times now – he even became a Green Lantern at one point in time (!) – and this is one of the many reasons why I have stopped reading superhero comic books. That said, I will always remember the Mon-El I once loved – and that is something Detective Comics Comics cannot take away!!

 

 

THE LEFTOVERS SEASON 1THE LEFTOVERS SEASON 1

The Leftovers Season 1

The Leftovers Season 1 is the first season of an American supernatural drama television series created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta. Based on Perrotta’s 2011 novel of the same name, the series begins three years after the “Sudden Departure”, a global event that resulted in 2% of the world’s population disappearing.

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ORIGINAL SINORIGINAL SIN

Original Sin

Original Sin is a 2014 comic book storyline published by Marvel Comics. The story features Nick Fury and the Avengers investigating the murder of Uatu the Watcher, only to suffer trauma from what they see in his eyes. They also come into conflict with a group of misled self-appointed investigators led by Black Panther and Punisher.

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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FORSIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

Dame

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller. Starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levett, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis and Eva Green.

I loved Sin City. Frank Miller‘s ground-breaking comic book series, that is. Miller stripped down film noir to its bare essentials and presented them in cutting edge fashion, winning several Eisner & Harvey Awards in the 90s as due recognition.

However, when adapted to film, the very noir elements that made the comic book innovative in the 90s look positively banal and farcical now. Granted, this approach seemed fresh (to the average film goer) in 2005 when the first Sin City movie was released but it has certainly worn out its welcome.

The voice-over narration (a staple of film noir, of course) comes off the worst in this sequel when the characters give flowery descriptions of people, objects and events we can see clearly, without the need for embellishment. All irony and contrast is totally lost in this context.

Everybody seems to be over-acting and this becomes unintentionally comical after a while – any scene with Jessica Alba comes across as ridiculous – even while she is cutting up her face! Eva Green titular (emphasis added) characterization is a failure – though she is definitely nude most of the time, her ‘wicked’ demeanor makes her deception of the men around her utterly implausible.

Overall, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a disaster – you might enjoy the movie for its visual style, the unintentional laughs and maybe its star power but that only lasts a very short time before you start hoping for the film to end.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is now streaming on .

MUSIC OR NOTHINGMUSIC OR NOTHING

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MUSIC OR NOTHING

Being involved in the music scene in Singapore is all about what one makes of the situation. Compared to a mere five years ago, there are many opportunities to fill your time with life-enriching activities. You just know where to look…

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On Thursday (21st August) I met up and interview Julie Edwards (above, left) and Lindsey Troy of LA-based blues-rockers Deap Vally and found them to be intelligent, beautiful women who knew exactly what they wanted out of life. Mightily impressed with them in that short space of time we chatted.

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DOCTOR WHO SEASON 8DOCTOR WHO SEASON 8

Doctor Who

DOCTOR WHO SEASON 8

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme broadcast by the BBC since 1963. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called the Doctor, an extraterrestrial being who appears to be human. The Doctor explores the universe in a time-travelling space ship called the TARDIS. The TARDIS exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. With various companions, the Doctor combats foes, works to save civilisations, and helps people in need. (Wikipedia)

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYGUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Guardians of the Galaxy

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

I must confess that when Marvel first announced a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I was incredulous. How could they possibly make an obscure team operating in outer space work? However, from the moment I saw the first proper trailer, I just knew that GOTG might well be the best comic book movie ever. I loved the way James Gunn approached the movie – as a fun, light-hearted romp of epic proportions. Using classic pop songs also did not hurt its appeal as its soundtrack (eg. 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”, The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way” and Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)).

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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APESDAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldham & Keri Russell.

The original Planet of the Apes film might well have been the first scifi movie I had ever seen back when I was abut seven. I quickly became a fan and watched every single sequel and even the TV series obsessively. PotA was a cautionary tale about man’s self-destruction and the rise of the intelligent apes to replace man as the dominant species on Earth. The franchise lost steam around 1975 but was revived in a risible remake helmed by Tim Burton.

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JPNSGRLS – CIRCULATIONJPNSGRLS – CIRCULATION

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In just the first four tracks of Circulation – the Vancouver quartet’s full-length debut (released by Light Organ Records on 15th July)  – JPNSGRLS (pronounced as “Japanese Girls”) clearly demarcate what makes them so special in this age of pristine pop hacks and artless copyists. There’s the visceral melodicism of 90s grunge (“Smalls”), the slinky dynamism of 70s power pop (“Tiger”), the epic urgency of the millennial post-punk revival (“Brandon”) and the post-modern appropriation of Afrocentric music (“Circulation”), that demonstrate the band’s ability to slip and slide across the various musical references that have driven contemporary indie rock into mainstream acceptance.

Central to JPNSGRLS modus operandi is a willingness to break down its song components into clearly definable roles that is distinctive enough to stand on its own but the sum of which is greater than its individual parts. In theoretical terms, whilst the song accompaniments perform their harmonic functions, there are also enough polyphonic elements in the guitars (Oliver Mann), bass (Chris McClelland) and drums (Graham Serl) to create entirely unique arrangements that elevate these songs way above your what even the most competent rhythm sections are able to achieve in indie rock.

Singer Charlie Kerr’s vocal delivery of the meaningful lyrics is the glue that keeps this intricate latticework moving together like a well-designed well-oiled music machine. Kerr certainly has a way to make his singing almost conversational in tone, emotionally resonant and yet operating as highly intelligent banter as well. Like in the way he expresses a sense of low self-esteem in the title track – “Like I’m counting Mississippi’s till it’s convenient/You say I’m nothing baby, we’re in agreement” or in the manner he pays tribute to the late Brandon Teena in “Brandon” (a trans man who was tragically raped and murdered) “Cause Brandon really understands/What it means to be a man” or in the internal psychological warfare that thrives within relationships expressed in the animalistic iconology of “Tiger” – “I’m a spider/I wanna crawl up your legs girl”.

But of course, Circulation is more than its first four tracks as the band brings the lyrical and musical concepts further in the frenetic “Mushrooms”, the mesmerizing “Tennis Shoes”, the rollicking “Laughing Gas” and the angularly funky “David and Goliath”. Simply put, Circulation is one of those albums, rock lovers can listen to all the way through – a rarity in itself in 2014. Bloody essential!

Official Site

EDGE OF TOMORROWEDGE OF TOMORROW

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow is a 2014 American science fiction action film starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and Brendan Gleeson. Directed by Doug Liman with a screenplay written by Christopher McQuarrie and the writing team of Jez and John-Henry Butterworth.

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X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PASTX-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a 2014 American superhero film directed and produced by Bryan Singer and written by Simon Kinberg from a story by Kinberg, Jane Goldman, and Matthew Vaughn. The film is based on the fictional X-Men characters that appear in Marvel Comics, the fifth mainline installment of the X-Men film series.

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THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man. The film was directed by Marc Webb and produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach. It is the fifth theatrical Spider-Man film produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Entertainment, the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

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