Oct 062015


I have been in love with The Jam (viz. Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton & Rich Buckler) for so long that sometimes I take them for granted. Yeah, you know what’s that like, right? I can still remember the exact moment I first encountered the band.

It was at the old Funan Centre Department Store sometime in 1980 and I was fishing through the record bargain bins and I found the In The City and This is the Modern World LPs on cheap sale! (Aside – that’s where I got hold of Elvis Costello & the Attractions’ Armed Forces as well)

And that was that. Truth be told, I was that enamoured with the first wave of punk, when it happened and it did not help that The Sex Pistols was banned in Singapore. But from the moment I heard “In the City”, it did not sound so much like punk as a revival of Sixties pop i.e. The Beatles, The Who, The Small Faces, The Kinks etc. So I scoured record stores to find more albums but only got hold of the then newly released Sound Affects. Only then I took an interest in finding out more about the trio in the music magazines.

And boy did I! Since much of the albums & singles were not available here, I had to mail order quite a bunch – mind you, those were the days, when bands did not necessarily release single tracks on albums and by the time, The Jam released its swan song – The Gift (1982) – I had more or less completed my collection.

In the 33 years since Weller broke up The Jam, I have been kept up to date with all the re-issues and compilations, with the Direction Reaction Creation boxset, the pick of the lot. However, this new compilation – About the Young Idea (a quote from “In The City”) – somewhat slipped under my radar.

Listening to this compilation, I must say it’s serviceable if you are a newbie and apart from an unreleased demo of “Takin’ My Love”, there’s no surprises here for diehards. Sound-wise again, nothing revealing from these particular remasters. As expected, all the singles are here (classics like “Going Underground/The Dreams of Children”, “When You’re Young”, “Strange Town”, “Town Called Malice”) and deep cuts like “English Rose”, “Away From the Numbers” and “To Be Someone”.

Like I have mentioned before, that 1997 boxset is all you need is you are an obsessed fan like me. But this compilation works if you have just begun your journey of discovery of one of the finest rock bands of all time.

Oct 032015


What the fuck is ‘sparkle punk’? It’s probably an ironic made-up genre but that and the fact that there’s a song called “Cock” is what caught my attention.

Welcome to the world of Glasgow ‘glitter trash’ trio Breakfast MUFF. The Feels is the very anti-thesis of everything is ‘proper’ about popular music in 2015. Y’know lofi, shambolic, amateurish, three chords, low grade fuzzed guitars, disturbing lyrics, songs that never hit 3 minutes and singers who sound like they don’t give a fuck!

Musically it reminds me of edgy, post-punk guitar pop-rock of 1979-era XTC, The Slits, The Raincoats and Wire – which never hurts.

I’m just a bit concerned that The Feels might be a novelty record. I fucking hope not!

If you really must –

Sep 302015


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.”

So… Ricecrackers, more of the same, please!

Download now from Bandcamp!


Jul 262015
15 Aug 1993 --- Rock Band Nirvana --- Image by © Jesse Frohman/CORBIS OUTLINE

© Jesse Frohman/CORBIS OUTLINE

Will we ever see a band like Nirvana again? It’s hard to believe that the Nevermind album – which changed the face of the music industry in the early 90s – is now 24 years old! And since the decline of rock ‘n’ roll music in the late 90s, no other rock band has come remotely close to replicating the impact of Nirvana. Yes, we have had successful rock bands since viz. Nickelback, The Strokes, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay et al BUT relatively speaking, these have been minor successes when compared to the seismic pop culture impact of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce and the like. Artistically as well, most of these aforementioned bands have failed to deliver.

Curiously enough, the last time critics declared the demise of rock ‘n’ roll was in the late 80s, when Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston ruled the roost, but as the wheel turned rock bands like R.E.M., Nirvana and the Seattle grunge scene ascended to the top of the charts. Well, it’s almost 25 years now and there appears to be no sign of rock ‘n’ roll ever returning to those levels of influence in the mainstream pop industry.

Still, that does not mean that good rock ‘n’ roll music (whether in the guise of pop-rock, indie pop, hard rock, electro-pop, blues rock, garage or punk) wasn’t being made in the last 15 odd years, it’s just that the environment of the music industry has been altered so drastically that it is virtually impossible for what happened in the early 90s to occur once again. The decline in record sales, the rise of singing contests (American Idol, X-Factor etc) and the ubiquity of Youtube, has meant that the major labels have had to hedge their bets and cynically control the musical output and fan appreciation thereof.

This has resulted in the most basic pop formulas viz. hip-hop/R&B accounting for the lion’s share of the chart action. These are 3 of the top 5 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 right now.

The one main thing connecting all three singles is a highly designed discipline to present the melody/rhythms as simplistically and repetitively as possible so that the hooks are very easy to remember. A deliberate lack of musical sophistication that dumbs down to the lowest common denominator creating an audience that is not able to appreciate anything that does not sound like what it hears on a non-stop basis on the radio. The perfect marketing tactic.

In fact, guitar rock is totally absent for the Top 20, with the nearest example being Maroon 5, and even though the music video for “Sugar” shows the band with guitars, it does not sound like there are any guitars on the song itself! In fact, it adheres greatly to the hip-hop/R&B formula with Adam Levine’s vocals heavily auto-tuned. Talk about soul-less! Going down the rest of the chart will depress any fan of rock ‘n’ roll with the genre’s utter lack of representation.

So, are the rumours true? Is rock ‘n’ roll dead? Well, not at the grass roots level of course, as both in the USA and the UK, there continues to be scores of bands who create great rock ‘n’ roll music, it’s just that even with the oft assumed ability of the internet to connect bands and fans, it’s the major labels leveraging on radio stations, streaming services and Youtube (again!) who will have the attention of mainstream music fans.

There’s the rub. If the major labels feel that the new rock ‘n’ roll have the fan base to make them sit up and notice, then they might feel the need to throw money that way. The question is — will the youth of today ever get tired of the formulaic pop stars being paraded before them? Will they ever hunger for something different enough to alter their listening habits? The signs have not been encouraging. The irony is that whilst the internet is always being trumpeted as the champion of free and alternative choices, the harsh reality is that the internet is still ultimately the tool of our corporate masters to dictate what food we should eat, what clothes we should wear and of course, what music we should listen to.

However, for those of us who are able to think critically for ourselves, the internet provides a means of escaping these corporate shackles and we can only do this by supporting the bands that do not conform to the grand masterplan of our overlords. Then, these bands might have the opportunity and liberty to create the kind of music we desire and love. So, is rock ‘n’ roll in a crisis? Not if rock ‘n’ roll fans continue to support the right bands and be evangelistic about the music they love.

Yes, PoP visitors, the ball is in YOUR court…

In the meantime, check out the Power of Pop playlist at Spotify highlighting 30-odd British guitar rock bands you should be supporting! Please FOLLOW!

… still there’s more … 


Feb 022015


Punk is conveniently used as the defining moment in the 70s where the rock scene was fractured bringing about bands/artists with more arty, conceptual and experimental sensibilities. Of course, by the mid-80s post-punk or new wave or whatever the hell you wanted to call it became the norm and by the 90s, something else had come along i.e. grunge and alt-rock. It’s revival in the last 15 years or so has rendered the ‘movement’ a fashion trend and nothing more. But it’s worth looking back to those special moments in the 70s, where the seeds were planted…

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Nov 122014


Here at Power of Pop, we emphasize substance over form, artistry/creativity over genre/styles and champion the right attitudes over cynical media manipulation. PUP fits the bill perfectly. Its eponymous album is a shameless celebration of edgy pop-rock music with energy and melodies to die for! Power of Pop caught up with the band via email and vocalist/guitarist Stefan was kind enough to answer our queries.

POP: How did PUP get together?

Stefan: The other 3 guys have known each other forever. Zack and Nestor grew up on the same street. They were playing around town in a few shitty bands and I was in a shitty band as well. Eventually we got bored of those projects and decided to band together to form a slightly less shitty but still shitty band called PUP.

PoP: What is the best thing about being PUP?

Stefan: We’ve had the chance to travel the world the past year. It’s been incredible. Getting to play music with your best friends every night in different weird places is the best thing in the world. And sometimes you get to play with your favourite bands and that’s cool too.

PoP: Why should anyone listen to PUP?

Stefan: You probably shouldn’t. But if you do it’ll be because you’re bored.

PoP: How do decide which song gets on the album?

Stefan: We wrote a bunch of songs, and just chose our favourite ones. We weren’t trying to choose ones that sounded the same or worked together or anything… We just wanted the 10 songs on our first record to be the best 10 songs we’ve written.

PoP: Would you wanna play in Singapore?

Stefan: Of course! that’s another adventure for us.

Hopefully we’ll get to see PUP in action in Singapore sooner rather than later! In the meantime, listen to PUP (the album) now.

Official Site

… still there’s more …


Oct 222014


10 songs in 18 minutes – this is a playlist that lives up to its name! Drawn from the early days of hardcore punk – as young North Americans inspired by the Punk & New Wave of Heavy Metal explosions in the UK in the late 70s, began to express themselves in this new and exciting ‘genre’. Yeah, there are probably more fine examples of early hardcore to be found out there but this only takes 18 minutes to listen to, so this will be the quickest rock history lesson ever.

… still there’s more …


Oct 102014

Regular PoP visitors will be keenly aware of my aversion towards ‘pop-punk’ in modern rock parlance. But of course, there is still a place for punk-rock in 2014 for any band who is clever enough to not be limited by ‘genre’ but instead is able to use punk as an attitude to approach music making. Case in point – Toronto outfit PUP, who consists of Stefan on vox / guitar, Zack on drums, Steve on guitar and Nestor on bass and simply classify their music as ‘loud’!

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Sep 252014



My first proper gig overseas went without any hitch whatsoever. Got a nautical wheel stamp on my inner right wrist to indicate that I was on the guest list! (Well, it was the Neptune Theater). The Neptune was a small venue with ornate trimmings and classical ambience. Stained glass images of gods and goddesses of the sea. Arrived early and was actually carded (!) as the floor was meant for ‘+21’ only!


Opening band Cymbals Eat Guitars started at 8pm in the dot and played a lively 30-odd minute set punctuated by energy, passion and musical endeavor. Playing mostly songs from the new LP, LOSE, the crowd was suitably impressed and for me the final two songs viz “Jackson” & “Laramie” were outstanding with singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino and drummer Andrew Dole, the focal points. Definitely a band with tremendous potential as their style mixes up decades of rock & pop influences intelligently. I would love to see them do a full set in Singapore!


Of course, all of us were waiting for the legendary Bob Mould and I daresay nobody was disappointed with his visceral delivery of melodic alt-rock that spanned the decades from Husker Du, Sugar and recent solo material. Right from the get-go with the triple punch of “Flip Your Wig”, “Hate Paper Doll” and “Changes”, you just knew you were in for a wild ride. The crowd went ape shit as young and old in the audience moved along to the high energy hardcore punk and sang along to those catchy tunes. What a killer combination – no exaggeration to describe Bob as a godfather of grunge (on equal footing with Neil Young) or a seminal influence on a slew of 90s bands that came in the wake of Husker Du (including Nirvana & Foo Fighters).

Backed by the amazing rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk) and bass player Jason Narducy (Verbow), there was no stopping the intensity and dynamism emanating from stage as Bob, Jon and Jason managed to present old and new songs as a coherent whole – fast, loud & infectious. Thus, brand new instant classics like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” had no problem whatsoever blending in with legendary tracks like “Makes No Sense At All” (a blistering encore song).

But for me, the most memorable moment arrived when Bob slowed things down with “Hardly Getting Over It” (from Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey) where Bob beat Neil Young at his own game – a feedback drenched country-folk ballad that sent chills down my spine and tears into my eyes. Truly incandescent. Bob sent everyone home happy with an obscure Husker Du cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme – “Love is All Around”. There was little doubt in my mind that we were in the presence of a living rock n roll legend – thank you Bob Mould!

Thanks to Jesse O’Connor/Tell Your Friends PR for making this review possible!


 MUSIC  Comments Off on PoPTV
Feb 012014

The Zolas

THE ZOLAS – “Ancient Mars” (Official Video)

The video was inspired by a story that captivated the world: the disappearance of Elisa Lam, who went missing nearly a year ago on a solo trip to Los Angeles. Although The Zolas singer Zach Gray didn’t know her personally, Elisa was a friend of a friend, all attending the same University, and he was immediately stricken when the LAPD releases the bewildering CCTV video. “Seeing that video really hit me hard. It’s terrifying. I didn’t know her but she was so much like so many girls I do know and care about.”

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May 302013

Skinny Girl Diet

Is it 1991 again? I sure hope so! This split 7″ shared between two London-based punk outfits viz. Skinny Girl Diet and The Ethical Debating Society, is a refreshing kick in the nuts for music lovers tired of the travesty known as ‘pop-punk’.

SGD‘s two tracks – “DMT” and “Homesick” strike a blow against pristine, hi-fi, politically correct teenybopper crap that poses as ‘punk’ in 2013.  Literally three chord wonders that bleed with attitude and a reckless disregard for the conventions of what a female pop band should sound like (especially like the way “Homesick” actually speeds up during the song!). Sure, it’s a style and look that recalls the Riot Grrl movement of the 90s (and all its antecedents) but definitely, something we desperately need in these anti-sceptic musical times!

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Similarly, TEDS owe a debt to the Riot Grrl movement with its strident anti-pop agenda. The two songs here – “Child’s Play” and “Creosote Idea” are slightly more structured punk fare with an agitprop slant. Lots of shouting backed by slashing guitars and over before you even know it – but ultimately catchy as all hell.

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For all the angsty people out there — this means YOU!


More info




Mar 282013


Paul Weller first caught the public eye as a teenager with The Jam during the emerging punk years (late 70s) in England. Taking his cue from the Beatles, Small Faces, Kinks and The Who, Weller’s punchy and relevant songs launched the Woking trio (with bassist Bruce Foxton & drummer Rick Buckler) into the hearts and minds of British youth, achieving much success and acclaim on the way before calling a day in 1982 at Weller’s insistence.

Weller felt constrained by The Jam’s image and collective persona and formed (with keyboard player Mick Talbot) The Style Council to broaden his artistic horizons. So he literally plunged in at the deep end, developing an image that was miles away from the Jam – chic, sophisticated, Gallic, jazzy & brassy, the Style Council carried on where The Jam left off and Weller personally intensified his own socio-political ambitions during that time. However, things would eventually turn sour between Weller and label Polydor culminating in the label’s rejection of the last TSC album and its ultimate demise in the late 1980s. Weller seemed to disappear completely from the UK music scene. Spending his hiatus in reflection and regeneration, he re-emerged as a solo artist – unable initially to secure a UK record deal (he signed up with Pony Canyon Japan for his eponymous solo debut) – his star would rise again with the coming of Britpop in the 90s as bands like Blur, Oasis & Ocean Colour Scene acknowledged their debt to Weller. By his third album, Stanley Road, Weller had once again reached the summit of the UK Albums Chart.

“Down in a Tube Station at Midnight,” Jam single (Polydor, 1978)

“Down in a Tube Station at Midnight” proved that Weller was more than just punk opportunist or mod revisionist, he was an artist. Its structure is stop-start and its monotonous rhythmic underpinnings express perfectly the movement of a train. Lyrically, it provides a concise snapshot of the England of the late 1970s – claustrophobic, class conscious, economically depressed and socially dangerous. Its story is simple and stark, a tube passenger is ‘mugged’ by gangsters (‘they smelled of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs and too many right-wing meetings’) on his way home to the wife. And in the closing verses even as the protaganist’s life ebbs away, his last thoughts are of advertising images and graffiti on the tube walls. Powerful and affecting. Note: the album version (on All Mod Cons) completes the picture with the sounds of a train opening & closing its doors and moving off even as the instrumental passages fade in and out again – truly poignant.

“The Paris Match,” B-side Style Council single, A Paris (Polydor, 1983)

A torch song in every sense of the word and tucked away as a b-side (!) no less, “The Paris Match” remains Style Council’s finest moment where Weller was able to blend romanticism and sophistication with Gallic flair and savvy – no mean feat for a Woking lad! The accordion solo is pure heaven.

“Tales from the Riverbank,” B-side Jam single Absolute Beginners (Polydor, 1981)

Moody and introspective, “Tales from the Riverbank” provided the flip side to the Jam’s more recognisable anthems. With its insistent bass line, spidery guitar patterns and concepts of urban decay & menace, “Tales from the Riverbank” is a wondrous highlight buried obscurely as a B-side, which bore testimony to Weller’s prodigious talent.

“That’s Entertainment,” from The Jam Sound Affects (Polydor, 1980)

A Weller diary-in-a-song: with George Harrison headily evoked, “That’s Entertainment” spoke of the mundanity of day-to-day living – ” A smash of glass and the rumble of boots/An electric train and a ripped up ‘phone booth/Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat/Lights going out and a kick in the balls ” – sheer bloody poetry!

“Sunflower,” from Paul Weller Wild Wood (GO! Discs, 1993)

On his sophomore effort, Weller decided to flow with the Traffic – decidedly more Steve Winwood than Steve Marriott! Transparent as usual with his influences, Sunflower is an intense rocker that is as soulful as it is pastoral. A great introduction to this breakthrough solo album.

“A Town Called Malice,” from The Jam The Gift (Polydor, 1982)

Perhaps the Jam’s best known tune, “Malice” featured Weller’s incisive assessment of English life – ” Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the diary yards/And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts ” sung to a tune reminiscent of The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” (Yup! The one that Phil Collins took to the top of the charts)

“Uh Huh Oh Yeh,” from Paul Weller Paul Weller (Pony Canyon, 1992)

More than debut single “Into Tomorrow,” this R&B inflected mover announced that Weller was back! Based around a familiar three-chord progression, embellished with swirling organs, tight horns and a simple choral riff, one cannot help but be carried away by its cheerful optimism.

“In the Crowd,” from The Jam All Mod Cons (Polydor, 1978)

“And life just simply moves along/To simple houses, simple jobs and no ones wanting for the change ” bear Ray (The Kinks) Davies trademark slice-of-life writing applied to The Who pyrotechnics resulting in an incandescent commentary of English society that well and truly rocks!

“Speak Like A Child,” Style Council single (Polydor, 1983)

The re-invention of Paul Weller began with this Motown-inflected pleaser. However, Jam observers would not have been surprised as the stylistic shift is evident on The Gift, the final Jam album. What perhaps shocked was the total absence of the GUITAR! If only we knew what was in store for Weller fanatics!

“Peacock Suit,” Paul Weller Heavy Soul (Independiente, 1996)

“Peacock Suit” appears to poke fun at Weller’s own well-known satorial obsessions – ” I’m a narcissus in a puddle/In shop windows I gloat/Like a ball of fleece lining/In my camel skin coat”. Set to a driving beat, the song is a sheer delight and demonstrates Weller’s deft skill with the post-modern take on British R&B traditions.

“To Be Someone,” from The Jam All Mod Cons (Polydor, 1978)

With the critical beating that This Is The Modern World received, Weller and The Jam returned with a vengeance with All Mod Cons their best album. “To be Someone” opens the album and seems to uncannily forecast Oasis (!) both in its music and lyrical target  – “And there’s no more drinking after the club shuts down/I’m out on my arse with the rest of the clowns.”

“My Ever Changing Moods,” Style Council single (Polydor, 1984)

Here is Paul Weller in full Curtis (Mayfield i.e.) mode, driving treble rhythms, tasty horns and a rhythm that just won’t quit.

“The Changingman,” from Paul Weller Stanley Road (GO! Discs, 1995)

Weller’s tribute to Jeff Lynne no doubt, as he freely pilfers from ELO’s “10538 Overture” shamelessly (down to the cellos) to sing lyrics about being a “changing man” with tongue firmly in cheek and a riposte to all his critics. Creative plagiarism at its best.

“You’re the Best Thing,” Style Council single (Polydor, 1984)

Weller’s finest romantic hour, as he concocts the perfect heart-tugger for lovers everywhere – the urban counterpart to the pastoral “English Rose”.

“In the City,” Jam single (Polydor, 1977)

Where it all began: an 18-year-old Steve Marriott wannabe lumped in with the punk set but possessing a breadth that would surpass most of his peers delivers his first stab at pop greatness. Clocking in at 2’20” In the City functioned as a statement of intent and a reaffirmation of British pop ala The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces and so on.


Oct 252012

Is this a Riot Grrl revival?

Lead singers Brigette Herron and Mary Jane Hassell front Tunabunny, a refreshing perspective of the punk rock girl chick aesthetic. Channeling the inspirations of Pretenders, Blondie, The Runaways, Bikini Kill, The Breeders and Sleater-Kinney into a free-form punk-fueled rock style that is difficult not to be entranced by.

Highly prolific – Genius Fatigue is Tunabunny‘s third album in as many years – the band is shot in the arm especially if (like me) you’ve gotten a little sick to the gills of all the namby-pamby, girl group retro jive that hipster tweens seem to get a huge kick out of. There is nothing vaguely pandering (or lowest common denominator) in this collection of confrontational, uncompromising songs.

Tracks like the the hyperventilating “Duchess for Nothing”, the buzz-sawing “Government of Throats”, the atonal “You Do What You Want” and the reverb-drenched Spectoresque satirical “Slackjawed” bring together several strands of contrarian rock through the ages (e.g. The Fall, Pixies, Captain Beefheart, Syd Barrett and Pavement) where an abrasive sound coupled with cryptic lyrics provide a superb combination for musical enlightenment!

Highly recommended!!

Official Site


Oct 202012


(Press release)

Snowbird Productions proudly presents “The Ataris: Live in Singapore”. This will be the exclusive first ever performance of legendary American punk rock band on local soil. This event will be held on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 from 7pm – 9.30pm at the Boiler Room, St James Power Station. Plainsunset and Rancour will be opening the show.

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Sep 072012


Once in a while, I take a review request because the email sounds so sincere like –

“We were wondering if you could do us a small favor: My band Wasted 24/7 is about to release its debut EP, and we would like to have it reviewed by someone with experience. We really wanna make it in this business and if you could help us out with just a little of your time we would really appreciate it!”

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 MUSIC  Comments Off on THE REVELING
Sep 252011

Tributaries (Black Numbers)

Opening summary: The Reveling’s sounds are as polished as any credible punk rock bands out there enjoying commercial success.

The Reveling are made up of Sean Morris (vocals, guitar), Dave Kramer (guitar, vocals), Dennis Murphy (bass, vocals) and Brendan McGroggan (drums). Tributaries is their third release, following their first two self-released albums (truly independent), 3D Radio EP in 2009 and the self-titled debut in 2008.

The ten tracks whiz through your listening and engaging ears. An easy explanation will be that exactly half of that number of tracks is under the duration of 3” minutes each, but even those that are not also delivered the same fast-paced feel. Not that it is a bad thing here. The songs are like short punk rock anthems, meant to please within a certain timeframe before the riot is silenced.

Lead singer Sean Morris has the dry and crispy voice that is oddly clear as well, as though he is trying to make some sense while punk-rocking it out with his fellow bandmates. Each member and the sounds of each musical instrument complement one another in certainty – whether it is the rolling of the drumbeats of the snare drums, or the occasionally coordinating/collaborative, occasionally conflicting relationship between every guitar and bass note strung. My first listen wasn’t originally ideal for the band or this review, but the album slowly gets to and grows on you, like a slow invasion of your heart, mind, body and soul.

The press release says much truth about the band and the album: “… manages to capture the spirit and fire that made that ’90s sound so vital – while simultaneously infusing its songs with the immediacy and melodic muscle that makes modern punk rock a powerful force in its own right.”

So, are you ready to punk rock? Well, are ya?


Official Site


Feb 042011

VARIOUS ARTISTS The Emo Diaries, Chapter 12: I Love You, But In The End I Will Destroy You (Deep Elm)

The second word in the title probably describes it all about this (12th) installment in this series of compilation releases dedicated to unsigned, independent acts, and only unreleased, unheard-of tracks.

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Dec 062010

(Sham 69. From left to right, Al Campbell, Tim V, Ian Whitewood, Dave Parsons)

Apart from the Buzzcocks, Singapore has not had the privilege of playing hosts to any of the original wave of English punk bands that emerged in the late 1970s. Well, that oversight will be partially corrected when Sham 69 roll into town to play a one-night-only gig at Home Club (virtually the ‘go-to’ place for all things indie in Singapore). However, as with many bands still rocking on from the 60s and 70s, personnel changes are inevitable and only Dave Parsons remains from the original lineup. Completing Sham 69 circa 2010 are Tim V (vocals), Ian Whitewood (drums) and Al Campbell (Bass Guitar). In an email interview, lead singer Tim V, got upfront and very personal with the Power of Pop.

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Aug 202010

BANQUETS This Is Your Concern, Dude 7″ (Black Numbers)

Banquets consists of a four-piece who are no strangers to the business of making energetic punk rock, dishing out a polished 4-course debut EP This Is Our Concern, Dude. But unlike contemporaries like Fall Out Boy and similarly punctuation-obsessed Panic! At The Disco, who bring out the snark and clever wordplay to carry the spark of rebellion, Banquets garnish their offerings with cultural digs, with titles like Lyndon B. Magic Johnson and I Wish I Were A Little More Lou Diamond Phillips. This recipe takes is not without risks, though, one of them being the alienation of listeners who might not appreciate the finer nuances of their All-American references– or at least, not appreciate them without copious help from Google (guilty as charged).

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May 282010

SHELLSHAG Rumors in Disguise (Don Giovanni)

The guy Johnny “Shell” plays guitar (and sings) whilst the gal Jen “Shag” plays drums (and also sings). I know what you’re thinking – White Stripes, right? Well, yes and no.

I mean, sure, that “fact” ties Johnny & Jen to Jack & Meg somewhat but as I’ve often ranted and raved, its all about the songs. What do they say? Let’s put it this way, it’s refreshing to listen to a band that knows its shit y’know. At its most basic, Shellshag songs string together the history of lo-fi melodic fuzzed-up guitar rock drones – The Velvet Underground, the Stooges, T. Rex, the Ramones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Guided by Voices, Pixies, Nirvana – all feature as choice inspirations for these stripped down paeans to pure rock bliss.

In songs like the groovin’ Resilient Bastard, the relentlessly drivin’ He Said She Said, the slowburning caustic Get Right and the primal Rock and Roll Ruined My Life, Shellshag demonstrate that they possess the right influences and the means to express them creatively to deserve the attention of all discerning rock lovers.

Fifteen tracks of consistently and dynamically intriguing songs with little filler merits a PoP recommendation. Check Shellshag out. NOW.

Free download – Crashing Rockets



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May 102010


Purported LCD Soundsystem’s final album, This Is Happening, is quite possibly one of the albums of 2010, as James Murphy (who is essentially LCD Soundsystem) continues to mash up post-punk electronic and old school punk aesthetics into a highly pleasing new entity.

Songs like first single Drunk Girls, One Touch and All I Want are instant pop classics for the ages, mixing up classic melodicism (Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Beatles) with edgy 80s post-punk sensibilities (Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, New Order, Human League). Which is a perfect combination of pop savvy and technical brilliance, in my book.

Tracks like I Can Change, You Wanted A Hit and Somebody’s Calling Me gloriously evoke the special synth pop period from 1979 to 1984, pop songs built out of a inventive use of electronics. Uncanny how Murphy is above to re-create this wonderful epoch but at the same time keeping it fresh and making it his own – a great achievement!

Official Video for Drunk Girls, directed by Spike Jones.

Official Site



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Apr 272010

LAFARO s/t (Smalltown America)

When I got in touch with Belfast indie label Smalltown America regarding And So I Watch You From Afar, the label requested a review on Lafaro. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with what I heard on their Myspace but didn’t let that stop me from asking for a review copy and now I’m certainly glad I did!

Pardon me, if I must declare that this is one of the hardest rockin’ debut LPs I’ve heard in too long a time. I mean, anyone can be heavy for heavy’s sake but to be able to make it exciting and visceral at the same time is a thrilling gift. Basically a perfect meeting of metal and hardcore punk – and I don’t mean metalcore – Lafaro’s face melting RAWK is something to behold.

Imagine if you must, the marriage of Metallica and Fugazi and the kick-ass attitude of Lemmy and you might just about get a glimpse of where Lafaro are coming from. Consisting of Jonny Black (guitar/vocals), Dave Magee (guitar), Herb Magee (bass) and Alan Lynn (drums), the band take no prisoners with pummeling yet catchy material such as the old school riff-tastic Tupenny Nudger, the drivin’ Chopper is a Fuckin’ Tout, the hectoring Not A Song and the Pixies-channeling Great Conversations Remembered: No 36 – Jeff Hinton.

Damn objectivity – I LOVE LAFARO!!!!!

Music Video of Tupenny Nudger below.

Official Site



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Mar 112010

LET’S WRESTLE In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s (Merge)

This album is the sort of freewheeling beautiful mess one would be expected to become obsessed with. I mean, Engish trio, Let’s Wrestle – Wesley Patrick Gonzalez (vocals and guitar), Mike Lightning (bass and vocals), and Darkus Bishop (drums) – like to play it as if they don’t give a fuck but listening to this fine LP, it’s clear that they obviously do. And they have the chops and attitude to match.

Don’t let the austere production and light arrangements fool you into believing that these songs are anything but well-crafted and finely-honed. Betraying catholic tastes that includes The Beatles, Neil Young, Pavement, Nirvana, Swell Maps, Pixies, The Raincoats, Bowie, Beach Boys, Fugazi, ELO, Dinosaur Jr, Buddy Holly, Black Sabbath, The Clean, Denim, Grandaddy, Husker Du, Wire, Yo La Tengo, Phil Spector (*whew*), Let’s Wrestle has delivered a quirky, melodic, spiky mini-masterpiece.

Free Download: We’re the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon and check out the video below.



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Feb 172010

ANNIE STEVENSON 2010 EP (Self-released)

Scottish pop-rockers – Annie Stevenson – take the best of old school punk and 90s Britpop to deliver spiky, edgy  and tuneful songs that recall the likes of the Clash and Blur. This 4-track self-released EP gets better with each subsequent listening and I personally am impressed with the range of Annie Stevenson’s music, without sacrificing accessibility. Songs like the quirky Country Killer and I’m the One You Hold contrast well with the more straightforward rockin’ Get Off the Street and TV Took My Soul. A band that promises much.

2010 EP is available for free download here. Get it whilst you can!



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May 082009


NOFX Coaster (Fat Wreck Chords)

How do you keep your edge in an industry that moves faster than a celebrity’s ghost tweeter, much less satisfy your ever growing fan base after a span of 25 years? If you were taking a page out of NOFX’s book, then the answer is simple: Keep it real.

Fat Mike (vocals, bass) and the boys – Eric Melvin (guitar, vocals), Erik Sandin (drums) and El Hefe (guitar, trumpet, vocals) have emerged with their 12th consecutive album that has their seal of punk branded on every track. These guys are hailed as trailblazers in the punk rock genre for late Gen X-ers especially during the early to mid 90’s revival of the punk rock/skate punk movement – cases in point: The Offspring, Green Day, Bad Religion, Rancid, etc.

NOFX doesn’t disappoint with Coaster released on Fat Mike’s very own Fat Wreck Chords label which houses some of today’s influential acts on the punk scene. As usual, no subject is taboo and it doesn’t warrant any raised eyebrows especially when their material isn’t on heavy rotation on radio nor video veins. The band still exercises wit-whipped rantings on politics combined with their ever-evolving take on the usual subjects of religion, racism, inequality, capitalism and society in general. I have personally always admired their talent for witty word play and to have lyrics that make you smile, wince, frown and laugh out loud, all the while tapping your feet to the fast, melodic beats and riffs, it’s not something to sniff at.

Coaster kicks off with a fast punk rock track entitled We Called It America, a political satire on the current state of the country commencing with, “Remember when America had a middle class, and an upper class, that was way before the exodus…” and finishing off with “National bankruptcy, circumcised society, USA dined and ditched, Fox reports: poor is the new rich…”. The provocative riff on this track with Fat Mike’s trademark tone (turning the bass and treble all the way up, and the mids all the way down) is highly addictive.

The band’s take on religion is covered with Best God in Show and Blasphemy (The Victimless Criminals) sharing insights such as “Horus similar to Mithra, Attis analogous to Krishna, Jesus – different name same story, all based on ancient Egyptian allegory…”, which leads me to believe that the subject has been either thoroughly researched or that they’re recent viewers of the documentary Zeitgeist.

Tracks worthy of mention (if not every single one of them) include; Creeping Out Sara, a slower paced, tongue-in-cheek account of a back-stage conversation on lesbianism with either Tegan or Sara Quinn (Mike isn’t sure), one of the identical twins from band Tegan and Sara. Another track is the hilarious Eddie, Bruce and Paul which pays homage to Iron Maiden’s mascot and members (Dickinson and former Paul DiAnno) with a love triangle scenario, complete with the trademark Dickinson falsetto and the heavy metal guitar riffs.

The Agony of Victory (as opposed to the agony of defeat) is the band dealing with their success in a nonchalant manner, citing “We’ve got no competition, we’ve got no accomplished mission…” and My Orphan Year is a track where Mike speaks of his parents’ recent demise and memories of his lonely childhood.

The final track of the album aptly titled One Million Coasters is a dig at the music industry, coasters, frisbees and Christmas tree ornaments are one of the many current and future uses of compact discs (CDs), which would be the jest of the album’s chosen title.

Expect dives into ska and hard rock styles with a couple of the tracks, not overtly overwhelming but definitely in line with the messages and subjects in question. Again, not the best album from NOFX, if you’re using Punk in Drublic (1994) as a benchmark but definitely one for the fans and followers alike. Why? Because these guys are keeping it real.

Strictly for fans: NOFX have also released a DVD in March this year titled NOFX: Backstage Passport, which showcases their stints and stunts during their tour stops in countries where they felt punk music wasn’t too popular and this includes their antics during their stop in Singapore in 2007.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

You’ll find the trailer on their website and Myspace page.