Tag: Indie rock

THE KAMCO MUSIC RE-ISSUE PROGRAMME BEGINS NOWTHE KAMCO MUSIC RE-ISSUE PROGRAMME BEGINS NOW

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KAMCO Music started life as KAMCO Records in 1998 – a label through which I could self-release Popland’s Groovy album. 17 years later, KAMCO Music (physical releases are so passé) embarks on a new adventure with digital distributor Believe Digital with the re-issue of my three solo releases thus far.

#alpacablues (2014)

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Previously released only on Bandcamp, this EP is now available at iTunes, Amazon (etc) and the relevant streaming platforms for the first time. Contains the radio-friendly “I Want What I Can’t Have” and you can buy it for a reasonably low price.

iTunes

Emo FASCISM (2013)

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My first album since 2001, was released on the 20th anniversary of my first LP, Democracy (with Watchmen). Notably distinctive for containing mostly jazz-pop numbers (!) and also having a single rejected for radio play by Mediacorp Radio viz. “Beyond the Ashes”. Now you really need to pick this up!

iTunes

@midnight (2008)

@Midnight

Originally released under the Watchmen moniker (and also only on Bandcamp), I have decided to reclaim @midnight EP as a solo release. Significant for featuring a youthful incarnation of The Groovy People viz. Esther Low (keyboards), James Lye (guitars), Low Han Quan (drums) and Brian Leery (bass). Mid-priced as well! Enjoy…

iTunes

Re-issues of Watchmen, The Crowd and Popland to come in the next two weeks.

… still there’s more … 

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

LIGHTCRAFT – COLOURS OF JOYLIGHTCRAFT – COLOURS OF JOY

Released at the very beginning 2014, Colours of Joy, the sophomore album from Indonesian indie band lightcraft is quite the thing of beauty. Whilst its live dynamic is waves of shoegazey dreamy noise pop, the sonic agenda on this album is more lilting, more subtle and ultimately more graceful.

And this marked contrast works brilliantly from a recording perspective where there is less pressure to deliver an immediate high. It’s quite impossible not to fall in love with the luscious sounds and melancholy sentiments evident on songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Get Out on Your Way” – singer Imam’s voice is almost a ghostly whisper hovering like an angel over swaths of heavenly constructs.

Things do get slightly more expansive in the epic soundscapes of “The Other Side of the Glass”, “Starlit Eyes” and “Hello Goodbye” which are both more representative of the band’s live sound albeit without sacrificing an iota of the emotional resonance that marks lightcraft’s work.

If I had to make comparisons, I would have to say that lightcraft reminds me of a more stripped down version of one of my favourite bands – Starflyer 59. Believe me, as high as the standards Jason Martin has set, lightcraft do a more than credible job in evoking the same nuances, references and power. Highly recommended.

Connect with lightcraft!

 

BABY ALPACA – EP [REVIEW]BABY ALPACA – EP [REVIEW]

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Chris Kittrell aka Baby Alpaca is yet another Brooklyn artist aiming to make a significant impact on the American and world indie rock worlds. Whatever commercial successes might be ahead of him, this eponymous EP at least demonstrates that Kittrell has a pop-savvy musical head on his shoulders. ‘Classic Rock N Soul’ is how Kittrell chooses to describe his music and yet again, it is refreshing to find a songwriter pulling together the myriad strands of rock and pop references at the disposal of a smart pop artist in 2013.

These four songs will keep rock scholars reaching for their stock lists of influences and inspirations as they attempt to pigeon-hole Baby Alpaca’s agenda into neat little packages. But that is ultimately a futile and frivolous exercise. For me, it’s the manner in which Kittrell manages to take 70s R&B rhythms, 80s power chords, folk harmonies and post-punk melodies to forge reasonably distinctive songs. But even without such anorak-like analysis, it’s a simple pleasure to just enjoy the infectious “On the Roam”, the svelte “Run With You”, the smoky reverb-drenched “Sea of Dreams” and the soul-inflected “Wild Child” for what they are – quality pop songs!

Keep an eye (and ear) out for Baby Alpaca!

Purchase the EP from iTunes. Like Baby Alpaca.

TRI-STATE – EP [REVIEW]TRI-STATE – EP [REVIEW]

‘Old school indie rock band’ – has a certain ring, don’t it? The phrase has an air of authenticity that distinguishes its proponents from the hipster poseurs that dominate the modern rock world at the moment.

Tri-State hail from Essex County, NJ and consist of Mason Rather (bass/vocals), Jeff Zelevansky (guitar/vocals), Brady McNamara (drums), Julian Brash (guitar/vocals). In its email request to us, the band claimed an affinity for “Built to Spill, Guided by Voices, Pavement, and so on”. All fine references!

In actual fact, it’s probably more accurate to describe Tri-State as classic rock n’ roll band in the grand tradition of The Rolling Stones, The Band and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers where the stylings of country, folk, rock and pop meld together to produce a heady, melodic groovy brew.

This six-track debut EP may be low on production values but that doesn’t detract from the integrity of sound and vision, an open-minded rock lover will definitely discover. An attitude that prioritizes substance over form pervades the EP with songs that are lovingly crafted to be the best they can be. It’s always refreshing to listen to a band that ignores artifice and pretense in favor of honest music-making.

Whether it be the working class invocations of  “Hawk in the Fog”, the gleeful jangly abandon of “All Different”, the balladic whimsy of “Search Party”, the Westerberg-channeling “Muddling Thru”, the dynamic earthiness of “Back Before” or the quirky folk of “Country Squire”, Tri-State hit the right notes, by and large.

In the final analysis, good songwriting and a dogged determination win the day for rock n’ roll excellence! Recommended.

More info at Facebook.

MUM, WAVVES & SHELVES – LIVE AT ZOUK [REVIEW]MUM, WAVVES & SHELVES – LIVE AT ZOUK [REVIEW]

Picture by Dawn CHUA

Mum by Dawn CHUA

It ain’t rock n’ roll. 

Well, for most part (two-thirds) this oddly curated gig featured the loud, brash, melody-driven indie rock that I personally get my rocks off to completely. And whereas the likes of Shelves and Wavves had whipped up the crowd into a frenzy of sorts, Icelandic experimental outfit Mum duly engineered a totally different mood and tone. Minimalist, arty-farty, esoteric and pretentious, it left some members of the audience scratching their heads (figuratively, of course) though for the diehards, it was manna from heaven.

Wavves by Dawn Chua

Wavves by Dawn CHUA

Now, believe me, I have sufficient knowledge to be able to understand where Mum was coming from, artistically and creatively but that merely reaches out to my head and not my groin. No such problem with Wavves who plunged headlong into punky no-wave feedback-drenched bubblegum ditties with a vengeance that compelled many a audience member to mosh and headbang. Short, sharp and sweet songs that needed no artful explanation to comprehend.

Shelves by Dawn CHUA

Shelves by Dawn CHUA

Shelves, as always, ever dependable to provide the sugar and the beat, Noel Yeo animated as usual, fronting the band with geeky abandon and it is indeed encouraging to see new lead guitarist Daryl Peh getting into the groove, whilst the reliable rhythm section of Robin Chua and Brian Leery lock down the ever important pulse.

A curiously eclectic lineup that challenged the usual conventions well enough to just about… work. Kudos goes to the organizers (Chugg/19SIXTYFIVE) accordingly. MORE!