Background An alternative rock trio (Natalie Pauley, Tye Hammonds & George Pauley) from Nashville that brings to mind the early to mid-90’s. This EP follows closely on the heels of their sophomore full-length Get On Feelings that came out in late January.
Background Nathan Corsi, an Akron, Ohioan, made his way to Kansas City after a featured role in a year-long documentary about life as a busker in New York. It wasn’t long before Nathan and Liam Sumnicht, drummer native to KC, hooked up to form Not A Planet. A rotating cast of bass players tagged in and out alongside the duo on national tours and local shows for years, but in 2012, William Sturges enlisted as a permanent player.
Background The Norwegian band Family Values have been in the studio together with the Norwegian powerpop legend Tomas Dahl (Caddy, Turbonegro, Wonderfools etc.) and the result is the band’s second EP Time Stands Still.
Background Formed in 2014, Norwich’s The Magic Es consist of Pete Thompson (vocals/guitars), Jasper Stainthorpe (bass), Stuart Catchpole (drums) and Phil Woods (guitar). We Are Magic is their debut release.
Not a day goes by without me pining for the days of the 90s pop underground movement. It was a retro-delicious time (to steal a phrase from Robyn Hitchcock), where bands developed the influences of the 60s (The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Byrds and The Who) & the 70s (power pop, glam, pop-rock and rock ’n’ roll) into a heady melodic yet erudite melange.
if there’s anything that Singapore pop band Strait Groove deserves full marks for, it has to be perseverance. Formed in 2011, the band has already released two full albums that went under the local music radar somewhat.
Saving the best for last? I must confess that this spanking new EP from Cashew Chemists might very well be tied for best release of 2015 with Cheating Sons’ eponymous sophomore effort. Mainly because of its doggedpersistence in the pursuit of old school pop-rock excellence.
I am listening to the Letters to Ubin EP and smiling to myself because I am thinking of how a critic/observer of the local scene slammed iNCH’s music for being ‘soft’ and ‘not edgy’. Fact is that could not be further from the truth. Perhaps that critic was fooled by iNCH’s public persona! Certainly, there are numerous elements of Letters to Ubin that most casual listeners would consider too arty and indulgent — definitely ‘edgy’!
It’s amazing to consider that a mere decade ago, bands dominated the local indie music landscape. Now, singer-songwriters release music with a frequency that suggests some kind of epoch is upon us. This is a natural development of a maturing music scene. After all, singer-songwriters can express themselves to an audience without a band and thus, in practical terms it’s easier for singer-songwriters to find performance opportunities.
For a singer-songwriter who grew up in the Noughties, the influences of Damien Rice and John Mayer cast longish shadows on one’s own music making. That’s neither here or there, in the final analysis, it’s what one does with your inspirations that counts.
The Quartermasters want the music to speak for itself – no hype, no labels, just the music. On that count, this debut EP should be enjoyed on its own merits. By and large, it will be.
From a reviewer’s perspective, stripped of the need to pigeonhole this music, it is obvious that the Quartermasters’ goal was to make emotionally resonant music and again, on that count, they have succeeded.
For the bulk of the EP (viz. “The Harlot Train”, “Catch on Fire” and “Invincible”) reflects the influence of country-folk music that runs across the past five decades. Whether or not this music has been somehow appropriated by modern indie-pop fans (due to the popularity of Noah & the Whale, Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Son), there’s little doubt that the ‘age’ of the reference points have not impacted on opinions of millennials who have adopted this kind of music as somehow relevant and suitable modern pop.
Which goes to prove that folks still judge a book by its cover. Form over substance.
But these extraneous concerns are moot when one comes to the gorgeously soulful “Worry”, which manages to insert jazz-inflected harmonic progressions within its generic country-folk construct. No mean feat and at over six minutes there’s a whole lotta country-soul to enjoy!
The first time I heard Suasion live I fell in love with the band’s basic approach to songwriting and performing. Whilst it is true that more often than not, you can walk into a club in Singapore and hear country-inflected melodic pop-rock but typically, it would be played by a cover band. Suasion were a refreshing change – playing their well-construction originals within a popular medium that for some reason is overlooked by artists and bands here.
For me, this reflected the band’s strength of conviction – not content to merely get on the bandwagon – but to make music on their own terms. The kind of music that they wanted to make. The kind of music that they wanted to listen to themselves. Highly admirable it must be said.
Frontman Michael Intrator – a Swiss expat – possesses a honest voice that resonates with power and feeling on tracks like “Resolve”. Backed brilliantly not only instrumentally by lead guitarist Chris Bong and bassist Lyndsey Long but also on luscious three-part vocal harmonies that elevate Suasion’s music from the typical Singapore indie sound. Completed by drummer Alvin Lim, the quartet keep things simple but accomplish the task with some aplomb.
This comes across in memorably infectious tracks like “Melanie in the Morning”, “Firelight” and “Drinking on Sunshine”.
My last word? Forget about Ryan Adams’ lame attempts at covering 1989, best spend your time checking out the Suasion EP.
Suasion launches its debut EP at the Substation on 30th October 2015 (with Joie Tan).
So… I got to know about this Boston outfit as guitarist Huxley Rittman used to play in Singapore band The Cave. But once I began listening to the tracks, my attention was drawn to two things. One, the sheer eclectic spirit of the music and two, the dynamic vocal chops of singer Olivia.
If nothing else, Kolohe Kid reminds me of something an English band might put together during the post-punk era. You know, it’s edgy, cool and doesn’t give a fuck. I mean take “Perspective”, where Olivia wails on the chorus like a Banshee (Siouxsie, of course) – “Riding alone/Not ready to go home/Take all I own/Then leave a message at the tone” whilst the band does their best Nirvana impression.
“Mall Girls” is an observational ditty that overstays its welcome rather quickly. “Fish” is a minute long but contains this rather tasty couplet – You know, you know, this is not how anything should go/You’re just a man, and I’m a bitch”. But save the best for last why don’t you? “My Asian Grandma” fills a punk rock fortune cookie with auto-biographical disses like “My Asian grandma will fuck me up if I get a B/Strange fashion sense but still a mother fucking P.I.M.P.”