Advertising

Monday, December 31, 2007

STASIS 10: PLAIN SUNSET

A Plain Sunset gig is a sight to behold. Sunshine punk pop that generates a response that is at once energetic and passionate. A veteran of the local scene, the band shows no sign of slowing down, having wowed the kids at Baybeats and undertaking a tour in the Philippines this year. Sham kindly agreed to answer my nosy questions -

What kind of year did Plain Sunset have in 2007?

Oh we had a few hiccups with the recording but its all sorted out. We played a great set at Baybeats 07! Played shows in KL and the Philipines so it is a great year! We can't wait to release the new record in 2008 ... so watch out for that one.

What were the unforgettable moments in 2007?

The packed crowd at baybeats 07 and our Philipines tour ... that's awesome!

What are you hoping for in 2008?

Hope people buy our new record and play more shows!
As veterans of the local scene, are you optimistic about the years to come?

We just do what we like and think is right. It's ok if people don't really like what we are doing but the most important thing is that we are still having fun and enjoying what we do since day 1.

What can fans expect from Plain Sunset at Stasis 10?

A sweaty, energetic and fun set! Better than stasis 9!

What more incentive do you need?! More info about Plain Sunset here.

STASIS 10: PEEPSHOW

Melody junkies will be drawn exorably to the irresistible toons & the cool classic pop vibe of PeepShow. Sprinkle liberally edgy modern alt-rock sensibilities and you will be hooked! I must confess I've not watched the band live but if the vibrant, heartfelt songs on their myspace is any indication... then, hold on tight, baby!

OK, here's the interview...


What was it like to be PeepShow in 2007?


Well, for PeepShow, 2007 was a year of growing and developing into a better band than we were previously. With our previous bassist leaving us at the end of 2006, we found ourselves lacking as we played as a 4-man band in the 1st quarter of 2007. With the addition of Samuel, we found a new resolve to play harder and better than before.


Peepshow's favourite moments of 2007


PeepShow recently played at Esplanade for New Year's Eve, and that show was great. All that we've learned and practiced throughout the year came to fruition and PeepShow gave their best show to a packed audience.

What's in store for PeepShow in 2008?


PeepShow has begun recording their originals for their EP which will be launched in April 2008. We've been selected to audition for Baybeats 2008, and hopefully you'll see us performing at Baybeats 2008 with all the other local bands. We're also looking into adding a new member to the band - a keyboardist. Don't worry, you'll be seeing him play alongside us in Stasis 10. And, of course, we'll be working harder to make better music and put up a better performance for the whole of 2008.


Who are your favorite Singaporean/Malaysian bands?


We've got a lot of favourites, so it's going to be a long list: Electrico and EIC, upcoming bands like King Kong Jane and S.P.O.N.G.E., and Couple and Tragic Comedy.


What can fans expect from PeepShow at Stasis 10?


A really good show. PeepShow is excited to play for Stasis 10.


So. 5th Jan 08. Substation. Be there!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

AULD LANG SYNE

2007.
Almost over.
A memorable year, by all accounts.
If you've been following this blog since its inception, then you'll know what I'm talkin' about.

What I will fondly remember about 2007 -

Playing in Central Park for Singapore Day - good vibes, cool people, crackin' band.

(Thanks again, Ric!)

Baybeats - Performances from The Fire Fight, Allura, Reza Salleh, City on Film, Plain Sunset, B Quartet, King Kong Jane, Giants Must Fall...

Zoukout - Playing with GSE, Pinholes & Ngak at 4am on Siloso Beach - will never forget those happy faces :)

Rock the Sub - Pinholes & B Quartet tearing up the Guiness Theatre.

Home Club - Josh and Jon running around on the dancefloor, You and Whose Army? quietly stealing my heart, Bittersweet britpopping the nite away and GSE at close quarters with a body surfer to boot.

HYR, Ngak, Jack & Rai - hilarious times at the Youth Center.

On a personal note, jump-starting my solo 'career', putting the Groovy People (thanks Adam, Beni & James - love you all!) together - that 1st gig at Earshot was magical.

However, hands down, my favorite thing about 2007 is/was THE GREAT SPY EXPERIMENT. Certainly the band of the year with Flower Show Riots easily the album of the year. Five talented & committed people - Saiful, Fandy, Song, Mag & Khai - who deserve every single word of praise that has been given to them. I thank God for each one of them - they filled my 2007 with many many highlights - from Dragonfly to Central Park, from Singapore National Museum to Raffles Place, from Timbre to Stage @ Powerhouse... and so on... THANK YOU, GSE!!!!

Honorable mentions - Pat, Ben, Razi, James, Bonk, FreakyFir, Audie, Natalie, Jade, Ivan, Sun, Raja, Brian, Esther, Michael, Fong Cheng, Gary, Mike, Rozz, Joan, Kewei, Aidil, Zack, Wayne, Bang, Jonathan and to every else who enriched my soul in 2007...

... and there's more ...

STASIS 10: VERTICAL RUSH

In the context of the Singapore rock scene (to include the term "indie" would make it an oxymoron!), any band that lasts longer than five years may be described as "veterans" of the scene. So it is with Vertical Rush. The band indulges itself with hearfelt, emotionally intense alt-rock, which aims to encapsulate the myriad experiences of the human conditions. Well, that and drummer Daren's onstage antics - which to these eyes recall the legendary Keith Moon! Trust me, you will enjoy this little Q&A...

What do you consider to be the high points of 2007 for VR?
Ironically, The high point of 2007 is when we all got to do nothing at all. We've been so busy with all these life changes that having nothing to do, is truly something.

How did VR musically progress in 2007?

We moved from sounding polished and heading towards something more raw.

What does VR hope to achieve in 2008?

To finish the damn album (recording since 2004) do more shows and hopefully release another because we've been very inspired of late. haha

Name three local bands that impressed you in 2007.

The Fire Fight, B Quartet, Giants Must Fall & an honorable mention to Winterhalter.

What can fans expect from VR at Stasis 10?

They can expect a good show! And hopefully some wild stage antics by Nick.

Heh! More from VR at Stasis 10. Be there!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

STASIS 10: THE GREAT SPY EXPERIMENT

Do I really need to introduce this band? Suffice to say that GSE is/was the band of 2007. Take it away...

2007 was a good year for GSE - any particular high point that sticks in the mind?

Fandy: The US trips definitely and of course the release of the album after sooooooo long. The album marks a milestone in our otherwise mundane lives as rockstar wannabes. heh.

Saiful: Ditto. But there were also a couple of local gigs which won't be forgotten for a while, like TPRawks (TPRiots!), Lime Sonic Bang, ZoukOut, Junk Launch, etc. This year we're starting to see more and more people dancing and singing along at our gigs, and that for me is a huge highlight. We've also met some really wonderful people along the way, fans who've become friends because of our common passion for music. Yup, it's been a good year indeed.

What plans does GSE have for 2008?

Fandy: A music video, a concert, several marriages hopefully and a second album.

Saiful: Several marriages?? In one year?? Haha.. Not likely. But the rest, for sure. And if possible, a regional tour for fans in neighbouring countries.

What can fans hope to see from GSE at Stasis 10?

Fandy: The usual champagne fuelled orgy lor.

What expectations do you have for the local scene in 2008?

Fandy: I expect more bands to surface from the abyss, each one better than the one before. I also think there will be more opportunities for bands to showcase with a lot more support from the media and people in general.

Saiful: I'd like to see our local bands break into television. Also, there are a couple of albums due our next year that I'm really looking forward to - I just hope that the general public would show their love for local bands and go out and buy these albums.

Which band are you looking forward to see in Stasis 10 and why?

Fandy: B-quartet. Why? Do i need to say why??

Saiful: Same, but I will say why. Because they're brilliant.

Hey, you know the drill by now, catch GSE at Stasis 10 on 5 Jan 08 and go here if you need to know more about GSE.

STASIS 10: LEESON

Leeson unabashedly describes itself as a ‘pop band’. Which is fine in my book! The boys certainly dress the part of a Britpop-influenced group – sharp and edgy with dollops of sugar poured all over…let’s see what Leeson has to say about itself…

Was 2007 a good year for Leeson?

Well the year started late for us but Yes cos we made our long awaited comeback after almost two years away from the scene.

What kind of year will Leeson have in 2008?

2008 will be the year that Leeson becomes the biggest and most popular band in Singapore(?)

What can fans expect from Leeson at Stasis 10?

Something different from your run-of-the-mill rock/alternative/emo bands,a new exciting pop sound never heard before from the likes of a Singapore band. And of course a good time. Satisfaction Guaranteed! Or we will refund you your time back (to claim look for the white guy after the show).

Is 2008 gonna be even better days for the local rock scene?

Yes.

Why did you say that?

The new talent that emerges from out of nowhere (it seems, sometimes) never fails to impress. It just gets better every year. We like!

Heh! If you like what you've read, you can check out Leeson's music at its official site and also the new song - Absolute Beginners - over at myspace.com.

Oh and of course, at Stasis 10!

Monday, December 24, 2007

STASIS 10: AMATEUR TAKES CONTROL

Don't let the name fool you. The sound that emanates from the collective effort that is Amateur Takes Control (ATC) is any but amateurish. In fact, the intricate and delicate instrumentals that the band has dedicated itself to, would not be left in the shadow even by the leading lights of its chosen genre. The band name checks the likes of Mogwai, Pele, Unwed Sailor, Gloria Record, Explosions in the Sky et al, and it does an excellent job in conveying mood and tone in its spider-web lattices of ambience and guitar noise.

ATC's Adel was on hand to answer some queries -


What did ATC achieve in 2007?

In 2007, ATC achieved many things. We've played numerous shows in the nation such as The Arts House, Home Club, *scape at Youth Park and also the Esplanade. We also self released a 7 track EP in August 2007. Recently, we also went to Kuala Lumpur for a short two-show tour and played alongside Malaysia's biggest experimental/instrumental acts such as KLPHQ, Telephony Delivery and Citizens Of Ice Cream.


What is the high point of 2007 for ATC?

For us there would be 2 highest points - Our EP launch with The Lovesong (HK) and Tookoo (China) at Home Club because we felt like we've closed a huge chapter in our lives as a band. Secondly it would be the KL tour because we made so many new friends and got closer as a band.

What are ATC's goals for 2008?


ATC's goal would definitely to make people take a hard listen at us and to make more people cry. :)


What can fans expect from ATC at Stasis 10?

New listeners should expect something emotional and hard coming from us because we've moved on from the nice sweet sounding instrumental band that everybody think we are. Ultimately, they should just expect real music more than anything else.


What do you hope to see in the local scene in 2008?

My friends and hope to see foreign bands covering Singapore music. That's how it should be rolling!

Experimental instrumental indie rock may not be as immediate as your drivin' alt-rock but closer inspection has its own payoffs. Find out more at Stasis 10.


More about ATC here.

DAVID BYRNE'S SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR EMERGING ARTISTS — AND MEGASTARS

Excellent piece authored by David (Talking Heads) Byrne in Wired Magazine. In his article, Byrne outlines the six models available to artists to sell their music.

To quote the man: "For existing and emerging artists — who read about the music business going down the drain — this is actually a great time, full of options and possibilities. The future of music as a career is wide open."

Read all of it here.

Also, for all you Radiohead fans out there, check out the interview Byrne did with Thom Yorke regarding the unique sale and distribution of InRainbows. And if you didn't know the connection already - Radiohead is the name of a Talking Heads song...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

STASIS 10: YOU AND WHOSE ARMY?

Faithful readers will be aware that three-quarters of YaWA are also in the Groovy People. Despite that, please believe me when I say that this fledging band stands out from many of their peers for their unique sound, which is a muscular hybrid of classic psychedelic blues and modern post-rock.

I posed some questions to YaWA frontman Bonk and here are his responses -

What do you think YaWA achieved in 2007?

YaWA? started to come out of the closet..erm..ok..jamming studios in 2007. We started to play live shows but we didn't get to play many...

What was the high point for YaWA in 2007?

I feel that there were a couple of high points this year. First, our first "real" gig at Bar None. It was like a "breakthrough" gig for us. Some of the people who attended the gig were people we really respect and look up to. A really amazing night! Second was joining the Ballyhoo programme by MFG and getting to record a song (Ordinary is King - KM), which turned out very nice in our opinion. We got to see our song transform from the jamming studio/live version to a real album sort of version. It was mindblowing even for ourselves.

What does YaWA hope to do in 2008?

We hope to record an EP. In order to fund that, we need to play more shows( which we really like to do as well). So yeah, playing more shows and releasing a physical EP.

What can fans expect from YaWA at Stasis 10?

Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

What do you hope to see in the local music scene in a year's time?

We hope to see musicians being able to quit their day jobs doing their own original music.

So make a date with YaWA at Stasis 10 on 5 Jan 08 at the Substation. In the meantime, you can listen to YaWA music here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

STASIS 10

The first major gig in the local rock scene in 2008 comes courtesy of the NUS Original Music Society with Stasis 10: Curtain Call. As its name suggests, this will be the final Stasis event and the NUS OMS has assembled a stellar line up of established and up and coming acts.

Stay tuned to S-ROCK as I hope to bring you some thoughts from the participating bands in the two week lead up to this not-to-be-missed gig.

...still there's more...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

MARCHTWELVE - NOT JUST A DATE

Emo pop meets math rock in Marchtwelve's strident perspective on modern "indie" rock. Between Dewi Marie Vincoy's sweet yet sinewy vocals and Joseph Cinco's versatile guitar work, there is enough space to explore the possibilities beyond the obvious reference points of this Singapore-based band.
Dear You is the standout track in this 4-song EP, as it weaves through incongruant chord changes with surprisingly delightful results. The synth lines assist to meld the transitions well and as usual, Dewi Marie's dreamy voice carries the listener on a joyous journey.

The rest of Not Just A Date is worth investigation - the emo-psychedelia of Sequence: Repeat, the driving heat-seeking Night Before the Bonfire and the military drilling The Last Letter.
All told, a mature accomplishment from one of the more interesting groups in South East Asia.
More info here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

FIRST TIME

A week of firsts came to an end last night at the Stage @ Powerhouse, as the Groovy People and I performed for the first time at the Esplanade.
According to schedule, we were to sound check at 5pm but due to the heavy downpour, everything was delayed and we only managed to have a soundcheck almost just before our actual first set!
Alright then.
So by the time I took the stage to sing my three songs solo, there were many empty seats - blame the weather - and that fact may have affected our performance a tad.

Set List
Imagine
Keep the Faith
Feel the Same Way
Silent Night
Calypso Carol
Have yourself a Groovy little Christmas
Never Liked the Beatles
Beautiful
Here
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Once we cracked into Groovy little Christmas, I believe we hit our stride although Beatles was a bit too punk.

The second set was an entirely different proposition. Slightly more bums on seats and a more relaxed stage atmosphere conributed to a tighter performance - go figure!

Set List
To Love Somebody
Orchard Road
The High Cost of Living
Silent Night
Calypso Carol
Have Yourself a Groovy little Christmas
I Love Singapore
My One & Only
Gum
We Wish You A Merry Christmas

The crowd response to Gum was phenomenal and James' guitar solo was positively blistering. Adam did something different with My One & Only which really clicked - very impressive!

Overall though, I did feel that the sound lacked a textural quality that perhaps the keyboards and a bass would provide. Hmmm.

So, t'was a groovy night indeed. Thanks to Adam, James, Pat, Flint, Lu, Keith and the excellent Esplanade staff for making it all happen. Also, thanks to Angela, Jade, Barnabas and all of James' friends for kind support.

Oh yeah, earlier in the day, I made a cameo appearance in Eric Khoo's next movie. Not going to say much but what I witnessed was pretty amazing. A film to look out for in 2008.

...and there's more...

Friday, December 14, 2007

INTO THE GROOVE

Last night, James and I played in our first corporate function gig at MWH's Christmas Party 2007. It was a challenge as we had to perform two 45 minute sets to an audience that were to all intents and purposes at the party to eat, drink and be merry.

By all accounts, I believe that we went down pretty well, all things considered and the audience responded positively not only to the familiar covers but to some of my originals also. Thanks to Bian and all at MWH!

Cool!


Set list-


Imagine (John Lennon)

Yesterday (Beatles)

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (Beatles)

Never Liked the Beatles

Beautiful

Calypso Carol

My One & Only

Have Yourself A Groovy Christmas

Gum


I Started A Joke

Massachusets

To Love Somebody

I Love Singapore

Here

Silent Night

Feel the Same Way

Keep the Faith

We Wish You A Merry Christmas


*whew!*
I really dig James' guitar work - so complementary and graceful - of course, it would have been cooler with Adam/Benita... but good enough.
Also, the gig was a fine warm-up for the Esplanade show tomorrow. Hope to see you guys and gals there!


...still there's more...

Monday, December 10, 2007

FEELIN' GROOVY

Sunday had started well enough at 4am with that GSE gig at ZoukOut but with the onset of heavy weather and an unfortunate accident - I slipped at the entrance of my condo and fell unceremoniously on my arse - I was having my doubts.
So when the Groovy People (Adam, Benita & James) and I arrived at the Hacienda for the charity gig, our spirits were certainly dampened by the torrential rain. But in my heart, I chose to ignore the circumstances and had faith that the LORD had a purpose for our being there.
As it was, we took to the stage an hour later than scheduled and so delivered a truncated set - My One & Only, Beautiful & Gum. Minor hiccups with the 1st two songs but I could tell that, especially with Gum, we went down well with the predominantly caucasion audience.
But kudos to the Groovy People, who put in a short & sharp performance - tight & edgy - it went so natural and so right. Being in front and in control - so to speak - was an entirely different experience from playing with GSE.
Don't get me wrong. As much as that thrilled me, there is nothing quite like hearing your songs coming together into a thing of beauty!
If anyone reading this was at Hacienda yesterday evening, I want to apologize for the brevity of our set and promise two 45 minute sets this Saturday at the Esplanade, Stage @ Powerhouse if you want more of the Groovy People...
Thanks so much to Shazz, Matt and Miles - really hope that we can work together again!

... and there's more...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

HIGH AS A KITE

I had a few concerns about how performing at ZoukOut would turn out.
I mean, 4am? Wasn't sure whether I'd be up (or down) for that.
Also, would I remember the words, would I look awkward during the moments I was not singing?
Especially, how would I look with my grey hair...?
:)


Glad to report that all the doubts melted away the moment we launched into Dance With Me and the best gig I've done since New York in April got underway.


The energy levels were overwhelming. On stage, we had Fandy(!), Ngak, Haffiz, Famie, Mojo and myself singing, dancing and generally getting crazy as the sizable crowd fed off and reciprocated the passion.
I sang lead vocals for The Great Decay and Late Night Request and I could see that the audience was really into the songs and the performance. So it came so effortlessly to sing and put my heart into every line.

And even when I was not singing, it was just being electric being on stage - doing the backing vox, jumping like an idiot or simply soaking in the atmosphere.
The instrumental sections sounded so powerful from stage - Fandy, Mag, Khai, Song and Matt simply clicked and the sheer intensity was like a bullet train speeding through the Siloso Beach!
It was fun to see all those happy faces smiling, singing along and wincing in pleasure, fists punching the early morning air, hands clapping. pogoing, swaying, shaking... you name it, they did it!
After it was all over, I knew that in my heart I would never ever forget last night/this morning - an inspiring event on par with Central Park for Singapore Day.

... I want MORE!!!

Thanks to the Great Spy Experiment, truly the hottest band in Singapore now, the Pinholes - the people's band - to Ngak, a true rock star in every sense of the word and of course the awesome fans, for making Zoukout 2007 a memorable occasion for me.

Unforgettable!
Thanks to FreakyFir for the pix!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

IMAGINE

I still remember the day. I was at home and my Dad rushed out of the kitchen (yes, my Dad cooks) to tell me that he'd just heard on the radio that John Lennon had been shot dead! I could not accept it but sadly, it was all too true.
Twenty-seven years on, it is still a senseless death and sometimes I try to imagine what things would have been like if he was still alive...
Yes, 8th December is his death anniversary and I understand that there are two movies coming out about his murder which proves that almost thirty years, it is still a tragedy that will never be forgotten.
Lennon will always be my first musical hero - he taught me that you could write songs about everything and anything. I try to emulate his genius everytime I strap on a guitar and sit at a piano. I hope my music honours his memory in some way...

THE EMPTIEST VESSELS MAKE THE MOST

...noise.
Having been AWOL from the local gig circuit for a while, I was looking forward to catching Indus Gendi at the Youth Centre last evening. But alas, I was confused about the time (I thought it was half and hour later) and when I arrived, the band was into its last song.
Arrrgggghhhhh!
What to do?
Anyways, I hung around with the band as we watched Muddy Banks (as that Nirvana live album - geddit?), a bunch of severe Nirvana wannabes. I presume they are a fairly new band and so they can be forgiven for the abject derivative nature of their music. Performance-wise, it could do with more polish but they've certainly got all the grunge rock poses right. Yikes, I can't believe I'm still using the word "grunge" in 2007.
*Sigh*
After consuming a so-so plate of lamb chops, we headed over to the Heeren where the Noise Singapore 2007 showcase got underway. The two bands that were playing I've heard before and in order to be kind, I will not comment on what I thought of their performances. Suffice to say that I believe that bands should have something special to say if they wanna get up on that stage. And they sure don't. Yeah, I'm crazy that way...
Adam, Bonk, James and I tried to make sense of the entire proceedings as MPs and other VIPs made their obligatory appearances although I'll bet they didn't have an inkling of what was going on. Embarrassing.
Yes, what I am saying is that as well-intentioned Noise Singapore is - and it is - it is merely a token effort to support the more "commercial" arts in Singapore. With all the money that is available, the NAC and others can do much more for local music. But that is the subject of a different rant...
Saw Colin (King Kong Jane) and Pat there too.
See you at Zoukout, 4am...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

FINALLY... THE POLICE IN SINGAPORE!

Over at Sting's website, it has been announced the legendary band will be performing at the Indoor Stadium on 4 Feb 08.
Wow!
Ever since the Police began their reunion world tour, I'd been hoping for this to happen...
... and it is!!!
Can't wait.

Latest: Tickets for the concert are priced from $98 to a whopping $600! After much deliberation, I booked two $200 tickets for the missus and I. Guess Sting's mansion needs some refurbishing... just imagine a Singapore band commanding that kind of price....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

SEE YOU AT 4AM ON SUNDAY MORNING

Ah.
I am most definitely the kind of person who would never attend an event like ZoukOut.
Nothing to do with age.
I don't really dig the beach. I like to be asleep in the wee hours of the morning. Techno music isn't really my cup of tea.
So you've just gotta appreciate the irony that come 4am this Sunday morning, I will be on stage singing with the Great Spy Experiment, Haffiz and Ngak on the Siloso Beach in Sentosa for ZoukOut.
How did that happen?
Simple, GSE asked...and so here I am...
Wow, gonna be a day of firsts for me.
1st time at ZoukOut
1st time playing with GSE
1st time performing at 4am
Wonderful.
The rehearsals have been coming together nicely with new vocal arrangements between the three of us gelling well. I am pretty excited. Fans of GSE will not wanna miss this gig as I would imagine it being a "once-in-a-lifetime" event!

... still there's more ...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

COME TOGETHER

Here's a bit of a summary of what has happened in the last couple of days...

Thurs, 29 Nov - attended the press con for Michael Wang's Carrot Cake Conversations. Met Cat Ong, the kind person who gave us (Jon How & I) tickets to the New Minstrels show, and who happens also to be related to Michael! Small island. Was also introduced to Danielle, the Aussie actress who will be playing Kate in the movie. Very nice girl - she's 21. Two good contacts to keep in mind.

Sat, 30 Nov - worked for most of the day but managed to make it to the Singapore Writers Festival panel discussion featuring Kurt Busiek and Gail Simone. The 40 minute discourse left me a little bored - instead of being about writing, centred on marketing. Ho hum. Saw JF there though and I must remember to call him one day soon.

Sun, 1 Dec - a new month, the last of 2007 and it was crammed with two jams. First, with the Groovy People - the songs are sounding tighter - Beni's harmonies are simply heavenly, Adam's adding more inventive touches and James is easing himself into the band nicely. Second, GSE with Ngak and Haffiz. Pure fun. I worked out more harmonies with Ngak and the songs are coming together well. Can't wait for 8 Dec - will I be the eldest person ever to perform at Zoukout? I wonder...

...still there's more...

Friday, November 30, 2007

SATISFACTION

Well, I arrived at Home Club last night at about 10pm. It was virtually deserted.
Score one for the ego!
I was not too bothered. I was more interested in seeing how James would work out on his Groovy People debut. In a lot of ways, this line up was infinitely more portable but of course, not as fun as the full band (even sans bass).
Also, gave me the chance to get to know James a little better.
The set unfolded easily and came across well enough, I guess. It was great to have James’ lead guitar in the mix – certainly added more flavor and colour to the proceedings. The boy is good, no doubt!
I enjoyed playing the Stones covers – very cool feeling…

Set list –

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Lady Jane
Dead Flowers
Wild Horses

Never Liked the Beatles
Beautiful
I Love Singapore
Gum

Razi was as usual in apologetic mood but there was no need to be. I am so glad to have Razi as such a loyal supporter. It was also great to see Cherie, Esther, Jade and Soowei (who both missed the performance!), Bang and Jbarks! Also, it was a pleasure to meet Benjamin and Mark from sweetmusic.fm.

A satisfying night, all told.

… but there’s more …

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

WILD HORSES

I know.
It's been awfully quiet here at S-ROCK.
I haven't been to a gig in a while - since GSE at Timbre I believe.
So no gig reviews.
I skipped Lime Sonic Bang, that nEBO thingy & the Confessions of a Pop Junkie, mainly because I've been jamming or writing songs or plain chilling out at home. Or feeling a little alienated... guess you could say I'm trying to avoid certain um people... but that's another story.
Tonight I'm jamming again with GSE, Thursday, James & I will be playing at Home Club & will also be attending the press con for Michael's Carrot Cake Conversations on the same day.
Friday... the missus will be gone for another two weeks (!) and the melancholy blues are comin' again.
*Sigh*
Guess that means more songwriting on the cards.
See you when I see you...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE

Performing at the Peace Concert for Burma today seemed like a token effort in support of the Burmese people being oppressed by the military junta. Personally, it was yet another rewarding experience as I lapped up the appreciation of the crowd.
I began the set with Lament, a song from 1992's This Savage Garden cassette album which I was playing live for the first time. Sad thing is that fifteen years later, the lyrics remain relevant. Perhaps that was why I was pretty nervous at the beginning and my voice was wavering but I soon got over the nerves and began enjoying myself.
Maybe, it had something to do with the live debut of the Gibson Dove acoutisc guitar that the kind folk at Gibson Guitars had loaned to me. (Thanks, Pat!)
Whatever, at the end, I was feeling really good about the gig and it went down well.
Set list -
Lament
Imagine (John Lennon)
Beautiful
Here
I Love Singapore
Gum
Thanks to Terence for the invitation and to Ivan and Sun for coming down.
(Photograph courtesy of Sun Koh)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

THREE GREAT SPIES, TWO PINHOLES AND ONE GROOVY PERSON IN A JAMMING STUDIO

So the countdown to Zoukout begins for this Groovy Pinhole Experiment project as Haffiz and yours truly attempted to get to grips with things that Saiful does so well...
As usual, I got off work late and so I rushed down to Rockstar Studios in Highland Centre.
Where?
My question too as the cab driver pointed out this dingy, non-descript building to me. I walked in and the place looked deserted. Ran up the staircase and could vaguely make out Mag's synth intro to Dance With Me.
Eureka!
And so for the next hour, I could pretend I was not me (i.e. this boring overworked lawyer) and act as if I was the lead singer of Singapore's hottest band...
... so cool...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

THROUGH IT ALL

Last two months have been tough at work. Not that it's that much better now but enough to have some breathing space. But I thank God for the "hard times" cos I had no choice but to rely on Him rather than on my own strength.
In the meantime, things are "hotting up" music-wise for me. Thus, I'll probably be setting aside reviewing local gigs at least till the end of the year while I concentrate on my music solo and with the Groovy People. Meaning: Will be missing Lime Sonic Bang (unless someone can convince me otherwise...)
Tonight, I am jamming with the Great Spy Experiment (!) in preparation for Zoukout (!) and I am so looking forward to that. It'll be an absolute blast!
Tomorrow's Rolling Stones tribute has been postponed (maybe to 29 Nov) and might give me a chance to get the Groovy People involved as well... will see how it goes.
On Saturday night, will be rehearsing with the Groovy People (including James!) to get ourselves ready for the December gigs and on Sunday afternoon (pending the public entertainment license) will be performing at the Peace Concert for Burma at the Substation.
And... with the many film music projects in the near future... it's gonna be a very interesting end to 2007.
I thank God for His faithfulness. For being with me... through it all.
... STILL THERE'S MORE...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WATCHMEN REVISITED?

Sometime back, Danny Loong suggested that I form a new band and call it “Watchmen Revisited” which I balked at albeit in a very polite manner. After all, Danny is a very nice guy…
Whilst not using that exact phrase, it inspired me to think about revisiting some of my old songs for the debut release of Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People.
Have also been encouraged by the positive response these old songs have received by audiences when I perform them, not to mention the great emails I’ve been getting.
So why not? Maybe a 5-track EP consisting of My One & Only, Never Liked the Beatles, Beautiful, I Love Singapore & one more…
Kind reader, I need your feedback on this – would you support such a release with your hard earned cash? Comments, please…

Monday, November 12, 2007

COUNTRY ROAD, TAKE ME HOME

Have I become the “go to” guy when it comes to tribute shows involving classic rock bands? Well, thus far, I’ve performed at tribute shows to the late John Lennon and Pink Floyd and this Thursday, 15 November 2007, I will be at Home Club (again) to pay tribute to the Rolling Stones!
Which is all well and good, cos basically, the Stones are one of the most influential rock bands of all time and also, one of my favorites. Therefore, it will be an absolute pleasure to cover such wonderful material.
But much more than that, I intend to sneak into the show, my own personal tribute to a close associate of the Stones and a critical influence on their own work – Gram Parsons.
Yes, boys and girls, expect me to focus on good old Americana, which sadly gets very little attention in the Singapore Music Scene and hopefully, I will be able to collect some country music converts along the way.
So please don’t let that turn you off from coming down to the Home Club this Thursday, and if (and when) you do, please come up and say hi… I would very much like to meet and chat with you…

Saturday, November 03, 2007

DRAGGED

I got this CD from Rosli Mansor’s manager Eleanor more than a month ago and today is really the first day in maybe a month since I’ve time to myself to just sit down and digest this album. Eleanor requested that I do a track-by-track review, an unusual request but always willing to accommodate…

pakoo boomi

The melody has an Arabian feel and is, to my ears, highly reminiscent of Dream Theater in approach. Rosli dos not shred much on this track, focusing on the overall texture and composition of the piece. A solid opener.

hear me, river of love

This is a song that you might pick up from a Malay TV show, and has a strong Mat-Rock vibe, which is cool. I am serious, it’ll make a really top notch TV theme. Again, quite mid-tempo.

dragged

The title track will always have the pressure of being distinctive. In that respect, Rosli succeeds. The arrangement is deliberately crafted, never hurried with a slow rock ambience.

rescuing rukia

This one’s a crowd-pleaser as Rosli conjures a Santana tribute that is notable for its guitar tone and memorable tune. Backing vocals from Lily Anna are a very nice touch. Radio should be playing this round the clock.

invasion

Trying to beef up the mood a little, this track contains subtle metal undertones but retains the signature mid-tempo pace which to be honest tends to drag the whole album down a little.

deeply uncommon

It’s time for an acoustic guitar to make an appearance as unusually, a monologue in Cantonese (from Mary Lee) is laid over the jazz-inflected number. All told, a little mystifying but maybe that’s the idea. Uncommon indeed.

purple

Ah, this is a little more like it as Rosli gives us a classic 70s rock special that has the requisite country-boogie to make listeners of Gold 90FM quite happy. I really dig the guitar playing here as well.

seeking flaws

A bit lightweight and inconsequential.

quarantined qarin

A B-movie soundtrack? Y’know, one which features cyborgs and dystopian back drops? Neo-prog in parts (Flower Kings?) with its synths and shredded guitars, it’s less accessible but I admire Rosli’s ambition in delivering something more complicated.

farewell september, pizzas & sparklers

A mighty fine closer and one you might find on a 80s romantic comedy soundtrack. Like the scene when the lovers have a spat and there’s a montage of the two of them doing things apart and being wistful about the fact. Cute.

Overall, something for everyone on Dragged. Well played and well produced, Rosli and gang must be congratulated for a wonderful rock instrumental effort, which is a rarity in the Singapore music scene.

More info here.

Thanks to Rosli and Eleanor for sharing Dragged with me...
... and there's more ...

Friday, October 26, 2007

INTO THE GROOVY

The next two months promise to be exciting gig-wise for the Groovy People and myself as there are a couple of shows lined up even at this stage. So do mark your calendars, won’t you?
In November, we should be playing for the re-scheduled Peace for Burma Concert at the Substation, this time “indoors” in the theatre I suppose.
In December, I will perform with the Great Spy Experiment (!) at Zoukout on the 8th (Saturday). Yes, you read that right! Should be enormous fun.
The next day, the 9th (Sunday), we will be playing at a charity gig at the Hacienda and on the 16th (Saturday), we’ll be delivering two sets at the Esplanade for the On the Waterfront series. We’ve been asked to do happy songs including Christmas-y ones!
More details as and when they come in… and there’s more…

Monday, October 22, 2007

GAMA GAMA GAMA GAMA GAMAJAZILLION*

What else can I say about Allura without it sounding like the ravings of a totally unhinged lunatic? Everything that Inch, Mark, Han Quan, Matt and Aaron does, seems to turn to gold.
As faithful readers probably know by now, I rate Allura highly – and, together with the Fire Fight – I believe are amongst the best young Singaporean bands around.
The acoustic setting is always the best test for tunes and arrangements, not to mention vocal performance. This night was the debut of Allura in acoustic mode and even though I've probably been watching Allura more than most, proved to a revelation!
The songs were stripped down and built up. Opening with Pheromones with just Inch and Mark, the song was intimate, and without loud electric noise to compete with, Inch could whisper huskily and hit those high falshetto notes beautifully. Aaron joined in on Closure, and though the twin guitars did clash rhythmically at first, the boys worked out the kinks and settled into a hypnotic groove that gave this ode to breakup resolution superb resonance.
Matt and Han Quan completed the line-up as the band delivered jazzy overtoned versions of Liberty With Wings and Limbo. By the time, Ladeda arrived the band was in full flight with Mark chipping in on backing vocals, an absolute bonus. Saving the best for last, Gamajazillion literally shone in the quiet setting, it's uncommon choral hook stretching out its wings and soaring - what a fabulous song, the best from this wonderous young band yet! Good news is that these songs are being recorded now and I urge all of you out there in S-Rock land, do whatever you can to support Allura - buy their merchandise, come to the shows and perhaps then you can say that you played your little part in bringing Allura to the world...
I must say a few words about Stentorian. These guys look and sound the part of a commercial rock band. A little bit too funky for my tastes but with the right radioplay, Stentorian could make some waves...
... and there's more...

(*Not sung to the tune of Karma Chameleon)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ONE

The monthly tribute gigs organized by Rock Star Collective can be real hit or miss affairs. On Thursday, 18th October 2007, the Home Club bore witness to the unique on-stage chemistry of Jean (Giants Must Fall) and Josh (The Fire Fight) - not forgetting Iain on percussion - as they treated the audience to their interpretation of popular U2 chestnuts like With Or Without You, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, One, Pride (In the Name of Love) etc


Kudos to Razi for this inspired selection as the duo showed the potential of the pairing with tasty harmonies and interesting variations on the beloved U2 canon. Wonder if more collaborations will be in the works for Jean and Josh?!


Before the Jean and Josh show, the night was opened by 3 Way Street, whose standard modern guitar emo-rock fare seemed par for the course, with way too many instrumental breaks but redeemed somewhat by the cool vocalist who managed to stay stoic (and yet witty) amidst the messy cacophony swelling (and swirling) all around him. They played mostly originals but stumbled their way through a half-hearted Vertigo. Interesting in its own way.

So who's next, Razi?
... and thanks to Jon for the good company and the rum 'n' coke - you rock, dude!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

YESTERDAY ONCE MORE

So last night I went to watch the reunion of The New Minstrels - Together Again - at the Esplanade Concert Hall. I went mainly to support Adam, who was playing drums in the backing band.
It was a thoroughly entertaining, nostalgic trip. You could say that it was relief to hear people in a concert who really - and I mean, really - sing.
Though the set list was mostly composed of covers, the performance was well arranged with ambitious medleys of Burt Bacharach material, R&B classics and musicals. The group also performed a few of their originals, done in the 70s soft pop style which was clearly their forte.
Personally, I found the many testimonies interspersed throughout the concert very satisfying.
A memorable night...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

STUCK

Sometimes that's exactly how I feel. Caught, helpless in a rut. The last two work weeks have certainly felt that way. Overwhelmed almost, holding on to the only hope I have - the Word of God. But that's another story...
Last night was the first time I heard You and Whose Army? (YaWA) live and it was the perfect tonic for the tough week before. Regular readers will know that I'm pretty close to Adam and Beni since they've been kind enough to be part of The Groovy People. Whilst Bonk and James, I have watched before playing for Indus Gendi and so, once again, is my objectivity tainted?
You decide...
The event was a tribute to the greatest DJ of all time - the late John Peel - and the venue was the Home Club, and as usual, saw some familiar 'old' faces viz Pat, Chang Kang, Joe, Ivan, Robin, Ben and some familiar 'new' faces viz. Inch, HQ, Aaron, Bang...
...anyways on with the show...
YaWA performed a 5-song set and with most fledging bands, began tentatively, almost like a cold car engine warming up. All four looked nervous as they launched into When Desire Strikes, a mid-tempo number with a distinctive lead guitar figure during the chorus which unfortunately was a little soft to leave a deep enough impact. This 'warming up' phase carried on with All Is Full Of Love, a brief two chord wonder which left the crowd bemused I think, not quite knowing how to react when the song ended.
Beni shifted to keyboards and Adam strapped on Bonk's guitar for Bjork Misplaced, a gorgeous piano ballad which changed the entire tone of the set as the music moved a step beyond your typical local indie rock and into the sublime...
A breakthrough had been achieved as the band belted out a confident Ordinary Is King, with James' slide guitar work reminiscient of the legendary David Gilmour himself, though the overall sound seemed more Neil Young than Pink Floyd live. And as much as I liked that, the band outdid itself with a truly incandescent Stuck, with Bonk delivering an impassioned vocal performance that surprised me. This dynamic shimmering live version blew the tame demo recording out of the water and lifted my spirits.
At the end, it was invigorating, my only regret was that the crowd did not seem to totally get YaWA with its cerebral brand of studied alt-rock.
But hopefully, that will come...
...but there's more...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SO GOOD ...

... to realize that your music has touched lives, even in a small way. Makes the effort all worthwhile. Here's an email I received recently from Alvin Tan...

Dear Mr Mathews.

Greetings. I chanced upon your blog searching for the one thing you were most famous for. In case you have a list of noteworthy accomplishments the length of your arm, that one thing, specifically, is the song you released under the moniker Watchmen - "My one and only".

Of course, that was all I knew about you and your song, prior to reading your post detailing its origins. I have to say: as an implement of romance, this song certainly takes the cake. And, when it debuted on radio, was positively pleasing. Just the song to labouriously practice on my guitar and eventually to croon outside a moonlit veranda. However, since I was bereft of both musical talent and besotted female, I had to settle for making tape recordings and singing along in my bathroom.

Anyway. Those cassettes are long gone. I'm not sure if your kind offer to let people rekindle old memories still stands, but it would be really nice if you could send me your very famous song (yes, the one mauled by various actors over the years. OK, at least one version wasn't too bad - no, I'm not referring to Sharon Au's). I'm aware of the terms you set out; unfortunately, I'm no music critic - my opinions on music are binary ( i.e. like, don't like) - but I will try to write something nice on your blog. Failing which, I will gladly buy you a beer in exchange.

Regardless, thank you for those 4 minutes of aural pleasure. You made my secondary school days that much more pleasant.


Thanks so much, Alvin, you really made my day...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

THE TRAIN SONG

A snippet of the Train Song from the Fire Fight's gig at Home Club on 30 Sep. Apologies for poor sound quality but I think in this case, you will admit, that the pictures paint a thousand words. Enjoy!

"DELAY RULES!"

Blurry-eyed and tired of limb, I stood at the back of the audience as the odd mix of curious passers-by, gawking tourists and genuine local music buffs gathered at the Stage @ Powerhouse at the Esplanade to witness the longest Allura gig to date.

Two sets of 45 minutes promised much, but did the fledging group have any material to sustain 90 minutes showtime?

It has been a mini-journey for me and the band having seen the band for the very first time in May this year at the Open Stage @ *scape and having gotten to know them as friends and observing their musical development in the last five months.

It's no secret that I love Allura as a band and as people but that never taints the objectivity of my assessments of their value and potential and it pleases me no end, when others "get" them as well, which acts as an independent affirmation of my opinion.

That said, the first set was tentative in parts, Inch's voice was rough in spots and she didn't quite hit the high notes in Closure, for example and there were bum notes, out of tune strings, out of sync timings etc. Although, throughout that whole first set, Mark John was in fine form - a true blue guitar hero.

The highlight of that first set had to be the debut of Gamajazillion (Thanks, Mark) and it was an impressive one. The chrous especially had a distinctive chord sequence that pleased my melody g-spot no end... a cool hybrid of Who/U2 chord voicings and modern alternative vibes.

I must say that Sangwich is beginning to wear a little, its contrived nature going against the grain of the organic underpinnings of most of Allura's material. It's almost seems like the band are pandering to the moshers with its call and response section, which falls flat and Inch sounds like she's hectoring - never a good sign.

So perhaps it was ironic that the best performance of that first set was a cover, U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday, which was delivered with panache and guts. I think I got chills listening to it and the sparse crowd milling at the stage certainly enjoyed it...

It rained briefly in the interim period and so the second set started late, almost at 10.15 pm and with the seats wet, most of us stood at the stage to bask in the music. Noticably, the band was tigther and in better form. Inch's voice was almost perfect and hardly faltered. In fact, I must say that she gave a performance that was mesmerising and left me smiling. I tell you when that little girl turns it on, there are very few young performers who can match her intensity, energy and showmanship.

Wow!

Same was true for the entire band, playing like there was no tomorrow (although the band did repeat songs from the earlier set - thankfully, no Sangwich - and it was cool to hear Closure and Gamajazillion again...) and blessing the crowd with an incendiary Ladeda, which has become their signature song.

Looking around, it was obvious that there were many were sharing my feelings about the band, singing (even shouting) along, bopping and stomping to the sonic calvacade.

A truimphant gig!!!

Whew! A great way to end an otherwise disappointing week.

...still there's more...


Monday, October 01, 2007

DANCE WITH ME

Why support local bands? Simply put, because they’re our bands. Not Japanese, not American, not British, OUR bands.
Now, it must have been cool to have been at the Cavern in the early sixties to watch the Beatles when they were just a “local” band to the kids in Liverpool. Did any of those kids ever imagine the huge impact that the Beatles were going to have in the years following? Unlikely. And at that point in time, it didn’t matter; the Beatles were their band. One of their very own.
I keep reading and hearing about why and how Singaporeans will not support local bands. Do Singaporeans prefer foreign because it’s perceived to be better or because of the more recognizable brand name? Fine in itself but imagine what a thriving local music scene would mean to us, as Singaporeans.
Imagine having our very own Beatles or Led Zeppelin or Police or Oasis or Coldplay in our own back yards? Impossible? It’s up to us, really…
Last night, the Fire Fight gave me enough reason to believe that with the right support, the boys could really set the music scene ablaze, not only in Singapore but in the region
as well.
The mostly teenage crowd at Home Club – sizable for a Sunday night – were thrilled by the familiar indie anthems, awestruck by the passionate musicianship (the rhythm section of Jbarks and Iain was out of this world!) and touched by Josh’s ability to connect with his audience.
Closing up the exhilarating set with the popular Train Song, Josh and Jon put down their guitars and leapt into the crowd, to dance with the fans – no grander statement of the unity between band and audience. It felt like a symbiotic relationship – giving and taking – that left all witnesses breathless at the end.
This is what music is all about – touching hearts and moving feet – and right in your hometown. No need to wait for the next big foreign act to fly in or to make that expensive trip to LA or London.
The music's out there right where you want it - whether it's the Great Spy Experiment at the Prince of Wales on Friday, 5th Oct or Allura at the Esplanade on Saturday, 6th Oct - what you get out of the Singapore music scene is as much as you're willing to put into it...
... and there's more ...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

BEAUTIFUL

It's been six months since I was in New York for the Singapore Day event, playing with top notch local musicians and being fired up to get involved in the Singapore music scene once again, both as performer and as observor.

Since then, it has been a tremendous time - making new (great) friends, receiving encouraging responses from young crowds and just feeling good about the life decision that I made in April.

Last night at the Arts House, a rather packed Earshot witnessed the debut of Kevin Mathews and the Groovy People and it was an absolute blast!

It has been a blessed experience playing with Benita and Adam. Adam is going to be a top musician and even at 20 years old, has the potential to be one of the best drummers in Singapore. He picked up the songs at the first jam and actually added his own touch to the decade-old material and made it all so exciting for me. Benita has been providing the important link between Adam and me, with her keyboard and backing vocal work. Not having our own keyboard, we had to borrow one from the Karl Maka (thanks, Ken and Jonathan!!!) and it was literally the first time she was playing the keyboard at the gig itself and she did well to adapt. You see, during our jams, she would play piano but now she had to play organ but, barring a few hiccups, managed perfectly. Thanks, Beni, you're a Godsend...

Set list time -
Never Liked the Beatles

Beautiful

Here

I Love Singapore

My One & Only

Gum
The gig itself was pure fun. I could see that the audience was getting into the songs - singing along, smiling, bobbing heads and showing appreciation - wow, applause is such a rush! And it all went by so quickly and smoothly - in a flash.

At the end, it felt so good - not only because of the compliments and positive feedback, but because I feel confident that there will be greater things in store for the Groovy People.

I must apologize to the other bands viz. The Karl Maka, Uberskank, V and Super Illegals, that with all that was going on, I never had the opportunity to sit down and properly review the gig but by all accounts you all rocked!

I just wanna thank Ben Harrison and Natalie Tan for having us, Inch and Bonk for good company, Fahmy and Modjo for making an appearance and for those who missed us, this is only the beginning, I promise ...

... still there's more ...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

GET UP! GET UP! GET UP!

A question.

How do you properly enjoy a rock concert sitting down on the floor?

You don't...

Singaporeans love to be comfortable, don't they?

It's either moshing or sitting down, take yer pick...!

Rant over.

Last night, Tiramisu, Typewriter and The Great Spy Experiment helped to celebrate the Substation's 17th anniversary. And it was a great show... despite the bad sound (I know, I know - it's Singapore & it's something we need to live with... for now).

This is the first time I've ever seen Tiramisu perform... incredible when you consider that they've been around for a decade, though during that 10 year period, I had more or less given up on the local scene.

I've heard good things about the band and all the rave reviews were justified. I love their edgy Britpop approach, with traces of Oasis, Verve, Orange Juice and the like easily discerned. But Tiramisu's main focal point is the antics of frontman Rizman Putra, who effortlessly builds a rapport with the crowd with his stage presence and humor....and they did an ace cover of that old soul chestnut Never Can Say Goodbye. Hard to believe that they haven't issued an album yet but I understand that it's in the works. Can hardly wait.
I've known Chang Kang and Pat since the early 90s and it's always good to watch them cos you're assured of melody and power. Typewriter basically plays powerpop with a Neil Young twang and with strong vocals from Chang Kang, Pat and Des, this sweet tune junkie's need was well satisfied. Again, no sign of an album from Typewriter yet but with material this dynamic, it's a travesty if that long awaited debut album does not appear soon... So Chang Kang, how?
The icing on the cake was of course, GSE whose set consisted of all the songs off the wonderful Flower Show Riots...

(Get it! Get It! Get it! Now!!!)

The band began a little tenatively, the truly bad sound getting in the way but once the band warmed up, there was no stopping them as they reeled out the gems - Late Night Request, Class 'A' Love Affair, The Great Decay and Siti in the City - to rapturous applause and cheers from the audience. Although, it still amazes me that one can listen to GSE's dance-oriented rock and not ... move...

Mmm, Singaporeans and their comfort zones...

It was past 11pm by the time GSE finished and I decided to hang around and was pleased to witness Norman, a German fan, pick up Flower Show Riots, proof positive of its appeal...

I was feeling rather peckish and so I tagged along as Fandy, Mike, Mag, Khai Song, Alex and Ros hopped over to Timbre for food and drinks.

Over at Timbre, Goodfellas were playing and what a impressive professional performance it was. Tight and versatile, the Goodfellas were equally at home with rock, rap and reggae. Man, if they'd entered the farcical contest that is Live The Dream, they would have won easily... well, IMHO anyway. Great food, great drinks and Great Spies, what more could anyone want?

Oh... and a shout out to the awesome GSE street team - FreakyFir and Audie - you guys RAWK!!!

... still there's more...




Friday, September 21, 2007

CLOSURE

Call it serendipity... call divine orchestration... whatever, but when I heard Jonathan announce that Elsa Faith was in the house, my heart leapt! You see, I had been corresponding with Elsa on myspace.com regarding getting hold of the new CD of her US-based band, Soul Distraction. Well, she had mentioned that she would be in Singapore in September and there she was in Singapore Art Cafe tonight. So I went home with the new Soul Distraction CD in my possession. Amazing.
It was good night of live acoustic music at SAC although in the first hour, the place was really quiet. I did three fairly new songs viz. Keep the Faith (off the Be with Me soundtrack), Inside (intended for the Popland EP that has not been finished) and It's Heaven (hopefully to be included in my first solo album) and it was fun to give these songs a run-through, unrehearsed...
I was rather impressed with Shyam, who delivered a powerful rendition of Caroline, an original. Also with Cashvin (Face Off guitarist) who proved that he was much more than a mere pop-punk rocker with a pleasing original of his own.
With Aaron playing guitar, Inch was in her element and belted out Closure and Ladeda with the confidence and ease, you usually get from an Allura performance. Watching Aaron play acoustic guitar, I realized that he is a much better guitarist than often given credit. You rock, man!
Aries closed the evening with a charming version of a Simple Plan song and that was that!
A honorable mention to Dom and Elias who sang a couple of modern rock covers competently and passionately. Any originals to throw our way, boys?
Till next week...

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

It was a rather full Thursday for me yesterday. After a day's work, I took the train to Aljunied and met up with Benita and Adam for dinner (Indian food - mutton murtabak!) Once satisfied, we proceeded to the jam studio and knocked out the songs we'd be playing next Saturday at Earshot, Arts House. (Yes, my roundabout way of announcing this gig!)
By the time we finished at 9pm, I was quite knackered but I guess it was a good warm up for Re-discovering Pink Floyd.

Got to Home Club at 9.30pm and met Razi and Bang, then Fandy and FreakyFir. Apparently, it was still too early for the gig and so we had some drinks and watched a DVD of the Floyd live at Earls Court in 1994.

Then surprise, as Josh, Jonathan, Iain (of the Fire Fight) turned up with Jon Chan (Plain Sunset) and it was really encouraging to see them.

Deputy Siren went on first and I must say that I enjoyed their short set. Good tunes, they're a fairly popular band and you can see why. A month or so ago, I wrote that I was not too impressed with their Baybeats performance and was especially with singer May's vocals. Well, last night, I'm pleased to report that the one month has made all the difference. Although pitchy in places, overall May did very well and I believe that with more time together, Deputy Siren with their melodic songs and dynamic image should win over quite a few people in Singapore. Keep up the good work!
Bang was up next and he played one Pink Floyd song - Hey You - nervously but provided humor when he screwed up. A confident performer! Bang has some good songs as well, including one McCartneyesque number called Letters and Poems, which I really liked. He's quite handy with the acoustic guitar as well, not something you'd expect from the drummer of Ronin, but there you go...
It was past 11pm when I went to play. Without a music stand, I struggled somewhat with the three Pink Floyd covers and was so relieved when I could finally play my own stuff. The songs went down well, which again is pretty amazing for me - Benita leading the backing vocals for Beatles and everyone joining in at the end for Gum. Really fun and it left me with a buzzy feeling when I finished. Nothing quite matches that...

Anyways, setlist was -


Breathe

Arnold Layne

See Emily Play

Never Liked the Beatles

I Love Singapore

Gum


Thanks to everyone who turned up... till the next one.

... and there's more ...


Pix by Benita.

Monday, September 17, 2007

WISH YOU WERE HERE

So I will be performing for this Pink Floyd tribute show at Home Club this Thursday, 20th September 2007. Not sure when I come on actually but will fill you in on the details when I get them. I will probably play three Floyd covers (any suggestions?) and 3 originals, rather like the Lennon tribute I did recently. Also at Home. Hope to see some of you there...
...and there's more...
Latest - Documentary starts at 8pm followed by performances by Deputy Siren, Bang (Ronin) and yours truly...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

“THIS IS AMERICAN MUSIC!”

You got to hand it to Josh, the leader of the Fire Fight for his gumption. Most bands would – when faced with similar circumstances – give in to the environment, stare at the ground and proceed to go through the motions.
What am I’m talking about?
Just hours ago, I was outside the Heeren at the *scape road show as gawking Orchard Road shoppers gave half-interested glances at the live Singapore music being showcased.
When I arrived, Marchtwelve was halfway through their set. Vocalist Dewi looked rather subdued and guitarist Joseph had to explain to the crowd that Dewi was under the weather and had undergone wisdom tooth extraction earlier in the week…
Poor thing!
Let me tell you that I’ve experienced wisdom tooth extraction and it was a tribute to Dewi’s passion and commitment that she gamely sang all those high & powerful notes. But clearly she was in much discomfort…
The moment the Fire Fight cranked up Candela, you just knew this was on an altogether different level. And when Josh introduced the band as a foreign band before launching into an impassioned When Spring Comes Home (clip below), it was both commentary and humor at the same time.
Priceless!
Despite the tiny ‘stage’ and limiting sound set up, the Fire Fight managed to get it together enough to really put up a good show. Sure, Josh’s vocals would go flat now and then, Chris’s keyboards would go in and out and it was difficult for the band members to hear anything on the monitors but the boys did not let that get in the way of a sincere attempt to connect with the audience.
And isn’t that what it’s about?
Oh… and the Fire Fight will be back at the Heeren tomorrow at 5pm… don’t miss it!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

YaWA JAM SESSION CLIP NO. 2

Enjoy...

ORDINARY IS KING

You and Whose Army? (YaWA) is the name of a young Singapore band. It's also the name of a Radiohead song. Well, of course Radiohead was also the name of a Talking Heads song... but I digress.

On Monday, the guys (and gal) were kind enough to invite me to one of their jamming sessions where they were working on a new song. (A short clip above).

Though, the Radiohead references are obvious, I'm beginning to sense a bent towards jazzed-up psychedelic space rock ala Pink Floyd in the YaWA method. I like!

And this is certainly the case with new demo (fresh from the oven!) of Ordinary is King which displays all the qualities that I truly dig about YaWA. Intriguing songwriting and tight musicianship - not to mention the skills of one of the best young guitarists in the country!

Oh, YaWA consists of Adam (bass), Benita (drums), Bonk (guitars/vocals) and James (lead guitar) and you can find Ordinary is King at www.myspace.com/yawamusic.

Do check YaWA out when they next play and hopefully that will be very soon...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

ROCKIN' THE CBD!

It was a bit strange to hop onto the MRT at Somerset and head towards Raffles Place on a Saturday evening. You see, I work at Raffles Place and thus, it was weird attending a gig in the heart of the Central Business District. But go I did... and it was cool to see the Great Spy folk twice in two days! All looking casual, it was fun to just chat. Best part - my own signed copy of Flower Show Riots (In stores now - you know the drill... go get it!) finally delivered into my grubby hands.
By the time the band went on, it was 6.30pm and as they launched into a seven song set, the sound was just awful as the guitars went AWOL and the bass was simply overwhelming. Seriously the quality of sound technicians we have in Singapore has got to be raised somehow if the local music scene is going to improve and grow.
Thankfully, the kinks were sorted out just in time for my fave GSE song viz. Late Night Request. No Great Decay or Captain Funkycurls but it was good that the band could fit in the quieter moments on the album, like the medley of The Sunset Theme and Miss Kensington. And when Siti in the City arrived to close the set, the CBD was truly rockin' (though the crowd was erm sittin' in the city!) with the drumming duel of Fandy and Saiful a visual and sonic treat!

I hung around with the band - together with Des and Amanda (Electrico) - for a bit while taking in Analog Girl, MUON and Moods - just realized how cute Amanda is (well, so is Des but well y'know)...

*Whew*

Now that's what I call a good day of music...

... and there's more ...