Weish has a well-received opening slot for Tegan & Sara under her belt already and her star is certainly in the ascendency. Find out what all the fuss is about this Wednesday (May 29) at Timbre @ The Substation from 8pm.
Part of their promotional tour for their latest album Heartthrob, Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall on the 13th of May.
Apparently handpicked by Tegan and Sara themselves, homegrown singer-songwriter Weish delivered a memorable opening act that featured her signature searing vocals and electric looping shenanigans. Continually layering, looping, and effecting her voice into rich tapestries of songs, this reviewer thinks Weish is an act to watch, and a breath of creative fresh air in a local scene crowded with too many plaintive guitar-based songs from singer-songwriters.
This is special. I’ve first came across Esther Lowless back in 2007 as the frontperson of the now-defunct Indus Gendi and was duly impressed by her vocals, songwriting and keyboard playing. With respect to the last matter, enough to have her on board as part of The Groovy People and she contributed amazing vocal and keyboard parts to the Watchmen@Midnight EP. Since then, she’s gone on to be a side-woman of sorts in Monster Cat and DEON but finally, Esther Lowless steps out of the shadows and releases her debut EP, Strange Place to Meet, on 21st June.
But there’s more. Esther herself is also a freelance actress and in that spirit, decided that her project could serve as an “anthological mosaic of short films that displayed the brilliance of Singapore’s filmmakers” with the music films in Strange Place To Meet made possible by Henry Hiah, Leonard Soosay, Gerald Stahlmann, Sivaraj Pragasm, Wu Jun Han, and Esther herself.
To be released via http://www.youtube.com/user/estherlowlessmusic from 19th of May onwards, the 6 short films – visual representations of Esther’s songs – will lead up to the album launch of Strange Place To Meet, to be held at the Esplanade Recital Studio this 21st June 2013, 9pm. Tickets can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org one’s name, contact details, and number of tickets one wishes to purchase.
Apart from the launch, Esther will also be playing with a full band at Hood Bar and Cafe on the 18th of May 2013, 7.15pm, and three acoustic sets on Baybeats Day 3 (30th June 2013): one acoustic set at the Esplanade library at 3.30pm and two acoustic sets at the Chillout Stage at 7pm and 8.30pm.
Reviews to come. Suffice to say that Esther Lowless has truly evolved into a genuine art-rocker and the music on her EP will rather amazingly evoke the likes of Sakamoto, Massive Attack, Russian Circles and more. A truly scintillating EP!
A promising sign of a developing indie music scene is the ability to embrace different styles of music where the key factor is not ‘genre’ but an appreciation of ‘good’ music. Melodic pop-rock quartet Tricks & Cider is a wonderful example of this.
I first met singer-songwriter-guitarist Victoria Ho (above, far left) a few years back (as part of the Noise-Timbre Singer-Songwriter Showcase) and was impressed by her lovely husky voice and songwriting (and easy going manner). I remember her sharing with me some tracks she had recorded (live in a jamming studio) with a band and though the songs were promising, the performance itself was at best, shambolic.
Fast forward to last year and I’d invited Victoria to Sing A New Song, a songwriters’ showcase held at Esplanade Library (which included then-newcomers The Sam Willows and Tall Mountains). She performed as part of hew new band, Tricks & Cider (which included a former piano school colleague, the talented Dawn Ho on bass) and by all accounts, most were impressed by their set.
And so here we are in 2013 and the Tricks & Cider debut EP is playing on my laptop speakers – five songs that showcase the individual talents of the band (multi-instrumentalist Karen Lee and drummer David Liu round up the team) – and indicate that there is certainly a place for well-crafted melodic pop-rock in our S-ROCK scene as well!
Basically, the songs on this EP straddle different styles across the length and breadth of pop-rock – from 70s-channeling “Girl from Outer Space” to the new wave-evoking “Superstar” to the jazz balladic “Summer Breeze”, the tunes will stick in your head and the instrumentation/arrangements will impress the more musically-inclined listener.
It is a good time to be a S-ROCK lover in Singapore and you need to add Tricks & Cider to the burgeoning list of essential Singapore bands you have to listen to and savor…
… and you can this coming Friday, May 3rd at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre when Tricks & Cider perform three sets viz. 7.30pm – 8.15pm /8.45pm – 9.30pm /10pm – 10.45pm.
Last Friday (19th April) Fred Perry launched a vinyl exhibition at the Fred Perry Laurel Wreath Collection Shop, held in conjunction with Record Store Day, which is curated by #vinyloftheday and record store Vinylicious and showcases over 100 exclusive vinyl editions alongside all-time favourites.
Thursday’s (April 18th) S-ROCK gig at Night & Day Bar was significant for two things. One, it was the debut performance of Bored Spies (Cherie Ko, Sooyoung Park, Orestes Morfin & Adel Rashid) and two, it was the final performance (before a short hiatus) of everyone’s favourite spector-gaze band, Obedient Wives Club.
Of course, most importantly, it was another impressive show of how much indie rock has grown in the Singapore music scene in the last couple of years. A packed crowd jammed the arty venue and soaked in the ambience and atmosphere engineered by these two bands.
Bored Spies’ repertoire consists mainly of midtempo slow-burning numbers which accentuate Ko’s pleasant vocals and Morfin’s controlled rhythms. Considering that this was the band’s first gig, it was a very calm and assured performance, as if the band had been together for years and it was refreshing to encounter and appreciate the beauty of subtlety in songs like “Summer 720”.
Obedient Wives Club is practically an indie rock staple now in Singapore and the songs off their two EPs have become classic S-ROCK in a short space of time. I have always felt that – of all the new bands out there – OWC best channels the spirit of 90s S-ROCK. The songs are sweet but never lacking for an edge, with vocalist Yinqi coming into her own more and more with each succeeding gig. “Murder Kill Baby” is a special track, retaining a Singaporean quality in the way Yinqi sings in her lower register at the end of each phrase – spine tingling! The band will be preparing a new EP in the break and so there is much to look forward to!
It was also good for the S-ROCK scene that this event was hosted by a ‘new’ venue – Night & Day – and hopefully we will have more venues opening up to S-ROCK as we are currently very very short on venues like that. So all in, a very significant night for S-ROCK!
“Beyond the Ashes” is the second teaser off the upcoming album, EMO FASCISM – due in August.
Catch Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People play “Beyond the Ashes” next Friday, April 26th at Identite 9.3 – KAMCO MUSIC at Home Club from 8pm. Cover is $12 (one free housepour and free entry to Kicks! afterwards). Also on the bill – Enec.e, Tricks & Cider and TypeWriter.
Other Sounds has a second show and this time the featured band is Australian garage rockers Dune Rats. The Brisbane duo will be bringing their raucous and energetic live show to Singapore at Night & Day Bar, alongside local garage pop favourites The Pinholes.
Date: Friday, 31 May 2013
Venue: Night & Day Bar (139 Selegie Rd)
Tickets: $15 at the door (includes one drink)
Two bands will be coming together for a secret pop-up gig this April 18! It will be a night of fuzzed out intrigue! Fans are invited to solve a crossword puzzle to reveal the line-up and location of the gig. The bands will also be seeding clues with the hashtag #KODoubleBill via Twitter and Instagram leading up to event day. Solve the puzzle and find out who and where. Free Entry! For more clues, look for #KODoubleBill
I am a people pleaser. Chronically so, in fact. Sometimes it hurts so much to realize that another human being actually hates me that I lose all rationality and respond in the wrong manner. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But in the final analysis, I’ve come to understand that you just can’t please everyone, no matter how you try.
My inherent inferiority complex and low self-esteem have been the bane of my existence but one truth I’ve learnt is that I can never control the way another person thinks or feels, I can only control my own response to this person’s opinion. Of course, there have been challenging negative experiences that have tested this principle to the hilt and whilst it has always been difficult to navigate those stormy seas, I think I arrive home, safe and sound at the end of each voyage.
The S-ROCK scene is nascent but growing. There are many players who are doing their part in their own way to improve the scene for musicians. The authorities are also involved in this process. It isn’t easy by any means – so much emotional and historical baggage to overcome but nothing worth fighting for ever comes easy. Scour through social media and you will, of course, find the ‘haters’ – folks who post potentially libelous statements against these players (yours truly, included) making accusations that are plainly inaccurate and unwarranted. Conduct a simple online search and you will discover these defamatory posts easily.
What can we do? Do we resort to legal means to protect our hard-earned reputations? Certainly, we would be legally entitled to do so but what good would that do, ultimately? Do we fight fire with fire – by posting similarly hateful statements targeted at these ‘haters’ – to name and shame them?
No, we take the higher ground – we simply ignore them. Not entirely of course – which is the whole point of this op/ed. If you’re reading this, dear ‘haters’, I would humbly ask that you would consider spending your energies in more productive activities and stop your futile personal attacks, especially if you truly love the S-ROCK scene. No good can ever come out of this course you are taking. Of course, this is a ‘free’ country and whilst you are entitled to your opinion, at least show respect to a fellow human being, if nothing else. Let’s agree to disagree but kindly stop the personal attacks. Thank you very much.
1st April to 5th April 2013 | Yellowbox Studios, 1 Ubi View, Focus One, #01-19, Singapore.
SGMUSO are presenting four Singapore bands, the fantastic opportunity to record with the legendary producer Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite will select from submissions, three bands with SGMUSO selecting one other band, to join him on Monday 1st April to record LIVE. From this recording session, Lillywhite will critique and select one band from these four, to spend the rest of the week to further record material whilst the other three bands will be able to observe some of the following 4 days of recording. There will be other potential opportunities announced for these bands at a public event called SOUNDcheck (details to follow).
Joining Lillywhite for this Production Week will be three Singapore producers who will be mentored by Lillywhite, with these producers being matched with the remaining three bands to come back to Yellowbox Studios at a later date to mentor and record one track each. These recordings will be further critiqued after completed via a video call with Lillywhite, the Singapore producer and band members present.
Bands submit by sending one song, one picture, one-page bio and a paragraph on why they should be recorded by Lillywhite Friday 15th March and closure will be end of Friday 22nd March
The Production Fee for the selected bands, is subsidised from S$6,000 by e2i, SGMUSO, WDA and Yellowbox Studios and will be $500 per band who are members of SGMUSO (the subsidy is for Singaporeans/Permanent Residents only).
This production week will give the selected Singapore bands, a chance to be around one of the top international producers in the world and help them develop their music craft. The producers present will also gain greater skills in production through the mentorship of Lillywhite. SGMUSO will be documenting throughout and posting via social media throughout the week and follow ups thereafter.
The week-long activities will culminate with a new initiative from SGMUSO called SOUNDcheck. SOUNDcheck is to develop a deeper advocacy of Singapore music by providing an update for key advocates such as media, promoters, venues, labels and other music companies. Details on SOUNDcheck to follow.
“NEW YEAR, NEW PLACES, NEW FACES TO MAKE BABIES WITH”
I may secretly – unknowingly even to self – be a punk rock music fan – just a little bit, admittedly.
Originally, I had my reservations. Openly, I am not a fan of All Time Low, and long had I moved on from the mainstream, ready-made radio-friendly formulae. The concert venue added some additional icing on the cake – the last concert-going experience spent at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel was for Nelly Furtado, and waiting two hours in line for a show to start could have very well tested my patience to a whole new all-time low (pun shamelessly and completely intended). I should’ve and would continue to stay the night with my guard let down, thankfully.
First thing one notices when listening to Natalie Hiong‘s new EP is the sound production — a marked improvement from her debut EP certainly. This time around, everything one hears seems more organic and more ‘human’, and it’s much easier to get into the songs itself. Natalie has also improved in the vocal department and extended her range of singing styles as well. No longer relying on the cutesy little girl vibe of her debut EP, one senses that this is a chanteuse now coming into her own.
Treading on partially wet grounds for my first concert-going experience at the west side of Singapore, The Star Performing Arts Centre served as a blooming fresh outlet for events of sorts. Despite the grandeur of the new environs, it was let down somewhat by the spectacle of snaking (really year of the snake, isn’t it?) queue lines at the ticketing counter .
Judging by the response at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Tuesday night, Ellie Goulding’s first performance in Singapore was an undisputed success.
The full house consisted of a good mix of young tweens and older hipsters, who eagerly lapped up her every word and note. Even Goulding herself repeatedly remarked at her awe and surprise with the number of people at her first show here.
Starting off the night with songs mainly from her recently released sophomore album, Halcyon, such as “Figure 8” and “My Blood”, Ellie Goulding blew us away from the very start with her beautiful voice. It was amazing to hear the entire audience sing along to the chorus of “Guns and Horses”. However, it took some time for the sound engineer to get the mixing right, as it was difficult to hear her voice over her backing track in the beginning.
Also, it appeared that she took a while to adjust to the stage, only moving around to interact with the inviting audience after taking awhile to get used to the venue.
Goulding was not fazed for too long though, and one of the most memorable segments of the concert was when she slowed things down with tracks like “I Know You Care” (she admitted it was about her father) and “Joy”. The audience was also in for a special treat as she sang a wonderful cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”.
Picking things back up with harder hitting songs “Only You” and “Salt Skin”, Goulding gamely danced in her sheer dress through these songs, eliciting more cheers from her fans. During other parts of the show, she also treated the audience to performances of “Hanging On” and “I Need Your Love”, which she wrote with Tinie Tempah and Calvin Harris respectively.
Most of all, it was impressive to see how she took her music to a whole new level with her live show. Her music sounded so much bigger, expansive, richer and complex live than on her studio albums. Moreover, her live energy was explosive, even reminiscent of Hayley Williams (of Paramore fame).
All in all, Eliie Goulding had great charm and clearly enjoyed performing, and her infectious energy in turn made it especially fun and enjoyable for all present. With “Lights” as her final euphoric song, she left everyone without a doubt that she could just very well be the reigning queen of the current crop of synth rock songstresses.
Thanks to Dan Gordon (Now/Live) for making this review possible.
It is a good time to be involved in the S-ROCK scene. Interest in the scene is definitely growing as the media gives it attention it properly deserves. More releases, more gigs, more open mikes, more bands, more venues…more, more, more! In the last two weeks, I managed to witness two launches – first, by Another Sunday Afternoon and last Friday, by Obedient Wives Club. These bands are very different in terms of musical approach and execution but share the same passion, talent and ability to touch and thrill true-blue music lovers. Also worth considering – the fledging outfits that opened viz Victoria Street and Rocketswan, interestingly enough, both female-fronted! Exciting times, indeed.
Six years in the making, the sophomore effort of The Great Spy Experiment arrives with the band a completely different entity to what it was when I first met Saiful, Fandy, Song, Khai and Mag in the rehearsals for Singapore Day in 2007. Interim period has seen marriages, children and daily challenges with the ubiquitous work-life balance. Factor in the creative musical need of recording artists and things no doubt become complicated.
Dare is the first track to be made public from the Emo Fascism recording sessions which took place mainly in September last year at Patrick Chng’s excellent home studio. The album will consist of ten tracks (with two bonus tracks on the CD) and for the most part I wrote, sang, performed and produced the lot with Patrick engineering, mixing and mastering the recording. Only one other musician played on Emo Fascism (Dare to be specific) and I am proud to say that it was none other than Daniel Sassoon.
First off, let me get something off my chest. The SCAPE Gallery is a horrible avenue for live rock music performance. No two ways about it – the sound was so harsh and unbalanced at the venue that I felt physically nauseous at times. Which is a pity because certainly the four bands that played at this gig deserved a much friendlier platform to showcase their music. But there you go…
Yes, this review of the Other Sounds launch party is a little late. Yes, I had loads of fun with friends and new acquaintances, not to mention the delivery of good good music. What else do you need to know?
Upfront let me just say that congratulations are in order to Other Sounds for hosting a fabulous party. I mean, the food was simply yummy and even though I had dinner before I came, I still managed to polish a couple of burgers and pizza slices. So kudos! And… the free flow alcohol, courtesy of Asahi was much welcomed as well. Is the indie music scene coming of age. Step by step, in the right direction.