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Saturday, June 02, 2007

STATE OF THE INDIE SCENE

So I went down to the Fruit Records gig at Earshot, the Arts House and arrived at the following conclusions about the Singaporean indie scene -

1. Different genres have different supporters. The audience at this gig was composed of very different people from the alternative rock gigs e.g. the recent one at Home Club.

2. The three Singaporean bands that played before Ferns were unfortunately way off the mark especially Quasimodo and Backspace who came across as amateurish: out of tune guitars and vocals and unremarkable songs, I tried my best to stay awake. Yes, folks, that bad. Shamejoannshame were quite tight but I could not understand their music, which sounded like they were auditioning to provide music for TV soundtracks, background musak that lacked focus and direction. Back to the drawing boards, people!

3. Malaysian bands are ahead of their Singaporean counterparts. Thus far, the likes of Couple, Bittersweet and Ferns have displayed considerable professionalism, maturity and songwriting craft that put many Singaporean bands in the shade.

Sad but true. Ferns were polished and presented songs that were distinctive and well-written even if their overall sound owed a huge debt to Felt, Orange Juice, Josef K and of course, Belle and Sebastian. It was not easy to make out what vocalist Warren was singing but the melodies were sharp and the chord structures were charmingly inventive. Note - Earshot is not a great venue...

But I glad I went to the gig cos I met Ben Harrison whom I'd not seen for too long a time. Great to talk to someone with similar musical sensibilities. FINALLY! Thank the LORD! Seems his band etc has been spending more time in KL than in Singapore so obviously Ben shares my view.

Which is why I do not intend to be part of this indie scene - the way forward is the mainstream which at the moment is the Cheena music market and the local pub circuit. I want to make a difference... where it matters... so in the meantime I observe, comment and promote the worthy.

And ... tomorrow is another opportunity to assess three more local indie bands who will be opening for Anberlin and Copeland.

... see you there...?

HERE COMES THE WEEKEND!

As usual, found myself (with the missus) at Timbre to catch Timmy. Man, the queue was really long and it took me 45 mins to get a table. A measure of Timbre's success, I'm glad to report.
Fortunately, Ian was on hand to keep me company whilst I waited. You the man, Ian!
It was good to see Ngak performing again, after the enforced absence.
We had to leave early as the missus needed to pack for her RAV4 road trip, which leaves me with time on my hands this weekend.
The good news is that I've managed to get on the guest list of the Copeland gig on Sunday, 3rd June 2007. Here's how I did it...
Some of you are aware that I am a freelance music writer and one of the magazines I write for is Amplifier. So I've recently received the new Chase Pagan disc to review and Chase is on the Militia Group label, and isn't Copeland also on TMG?
Now, I got in touch with Paul G. Maziar and Lindsay Strannigan of TMG, hoping to get a press pass for the gig. Paul and Lindsay informed me that Copeland was no longer with TMG but had been signed by Columbia! But ... they would put me through to Kyle Griner, their manager and incredibly, Kyle told me this morning that he'd put me on the guest list. Wow, praise God! Thanks so much to Kyle, Paul and Lindsay...
I am so looking forward to this gig as Copeland is a band with an eclectic pop-rock approach.
See you there. More info here.

Friday, June 01, 2007

THE POWER OF POP PART II


I have resolved to only review albums that have been sent to me either by the band or the label in question (or maybe the publicists - hi to all the great people at Fanatic!). However, I just have to say a couple of good words about Voxtrot so here it is.
Voxtrot hail from Texas, though their lead singer Ramesh is of Indian descent (check out his blog http://thevoxtrotkid.blogspot.com/). I first heard of Voxtrot at the venerated indie rock mag Big Takeover (www.bigtakeover.com) and managed to download one of their singles at emusic.com and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Like their peers, Voxtrot has a definite 80s Britpop vibe about them - the Smiths, the Cure, the Wedding Present, the Housemartins - and features a sophisticated, literate sonic approach that sets them apart from the new wave revival clones out there.
Well, Voxtrot's eponymous has finally been released and it comes highly recommended - energetic, passionate, melancholy and blue, Voxtrot is a triumph of heady strings, edgy guitars and other-worldly attitudes. You can find Voxtrot at www.voxtrot.net
Oh and I've updated the Power of Pop with reviews of Brad Brooks' Spill Collateral Love and the Ferns' On Botany. www.powerofpop.com
By the way, Ferns will be performing at the Arts House, Earshot from 5pm tomorrow, Saturday 2nd June 2007.
Guess I'll see you there...

HOSTAGE

Anyone who knows me will know that I have never thought highly of Mandopop or Cantopop (although I do remember playing a Sam Hui song in the 80s...but that's another story).

Of course, when HYR sent me a couple of his songs, I've completely changed my opinion. One particular song has really held me "hostage" - hee hee - yes, the song of that name performed by Taiwanese pop diva A-Mei. It's a haunting track with an irresistible melody that never quite lets go... a great inspiration for my future songwriting ...

See what I mean...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR32L_xb-84

Thursday, May 31, 2007

IN THE BEGINNING...


This is the first mention of Watchmen or myself in the local press. It was 1991 and thus only BigO magazine was talking about local music. Seems like eons ago now...

If anyone is interested, I have digital files of two of the songs from that demo, send me an email.
soulalt@gmail.com and I'll email you the mp3s.
Don't be shy...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

THE WAIT

Is it just me, or is nothing really happening? It’s been more than a month since I returned from New York and everything’s gone really quiet. All those ideas and plans I had have been eclipsed somewhat by the overwhelming work at the office.

So what should I do next?
Answers on a postcard, please…
… is there more?

I guess I should really be spending more time in earnest prayer.
Isaiah 40: 31 comes to mind.

But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.

So I’ll wait…

Monday, May 28, 2007

THE PINHOLES ROCK THE PARLIAMENT

On Saturday, I headed down to the Arts House, at the kind invitation of Famie to catch the Pinholes. Some of you might know that the Arts House is the former Parliament House, now converted to a centre for arts and music.
Saturday afternoon was an extremely humid one and I arrived at the Playden, paid my 8 bucks, took a seat and fell asleep! No disrespect to Destroy All Monsters who were sound checking but the aircon comfort was hard to resist.
The venue was pleasant enough but seemed unsuitable for a rock gig. There were seats on the perimeter of the room but mostly people were expected to sit on the floor. I mean, with the bands on the same level as the audience, if everyone stands, many would not be able to see the bands.
Anyway, first band up were Destroy All Monsters (www.myspace.com/destroyallmonsters3), a trio consisting of vocals, bass and drums – drum and bass was how the singer Andz described it to me later – which seemed limiting but I found it actually worked. Rather inventive, the band’s sound encapsulated hardcore punk and classic 70s rock. Intriguing.
But of course, I came for the Pinholes and though the boys seemed a little ragged and lacking their trademark madcap energy, there was no denying the power of the songs. The tunes always put a smile on my face, retro-futurist is how I would choose to call it. And most of all, loads of fun… Haffiz did his best to work up the crowd but even though I’m everyone at the Playden was thoroughly entertained, most looked comatose!
Before I knew the set was over and feeling rather tired, I left as well…
… Remember to catch the Pinholes the next time they’re playing… a splendid time is guranateed for all …