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Friday, June 29, 2007

SAVING THE SINGAPORE MUSIC SCENE

Yeah, right!
This is an article I wrote a few years back (SIX actually) for Audioreload.
Does it still apply in 2007?
Comments, please... really...
C'mon...

THIS SAVAGE GARDEN

It was 1992. BigO magazine offered some hint of recognition for local musicians in the form of reviews of 'demo' cassette albums. I had by that time 'released' two demo cassette albums of songs recorded a few years ago viz. Who Watches the Watchmen and Industry & Commerce. I wanted to record a 'political' album - not exactly sure why - but Mun, my cousin-in-law (who's now living in Sydney) offered to record it for me in his spare time (he was undergoing NS at the time). So I recorded the songs on acoustic guitar, Mun recorded the backing tracks and voila! This Savage Garden was taken from Anne Rice's Vampire novels (this was before the Aussie band, mind!) and represented the jungle of a world that was out there.
I'm pretty proud of these songs - if not the recordings which were extremely lo-fi - and would probably perform a couple of them live when the Groovy People are up and about.
I have managed to digitize at least two songs - Fast Forward and Lament - please email me if you're interested, on condition that you comment on them on this blog - positive, negative views all welcome...

THE GROOVY PEOPLE, PT 2

Well... last night was the first gathering of the Groovy People!
Mr.R, Mr. T and I met up at good ol' TNT Studios & jammed away figuring out a few classic pop-rock songs like I Can't Explain, She Said She Said, Waterloo Sunset before giving up when The Jam's To Be Someone proved to be too much of a challenge! We'll get it right the next time...
Even ran through an old song of mine which the Poplanders always avoided... Negative Vibes, a post-punk song with reflections of the Police, XTC and Blur (think I wrote during the last Britpop revival but sounds fresh today...!) which was easy for all concerned to learn...
... with Mr. Y expressing interest in playing bass, there's still the dilemma of finding a good keyboards player but thank God, we may just get there sooner than I dared imagine...
...yes, there's more...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MESSAGE FROM EIC


PoP UPDATE 28 JUNE 2007



How does a band from Ipoh, Malaysia sound so uncannily like it could have emerged from Sheffield, Oxford or London?

Check out the rest of my review at the Power of Pop.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY

Regular visitors to LaWR may recall me writing up a Malaysian band called Bittersweet and especially raving about a song called Perfect Match when I caught their performance at Home Club recently.
I vowed to get hold of their debut album (also called Perfect Match) and it arrived last night! (Thanks, guys!)
… and I am totally digging it!
Trouble is that Perfect Match is such a gorgeous opening track that I am in danger of never listening to the rest of the CD!
Kidding, of course.
Expect a glowing review at the Power of Pop soon and look out for Bittersweet when they return to our shores in late July for Northern Exposure.
… and there’s more…

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

THE BEST SINGAPORE INDIE GIG… AND I MISSED IT!

Yes, unfortunately, due to other commitments, I missed last Saturday’s Rock for Wayne concert at the Glass Pavilion, Far East Square. However, by all accounts and listening to what GSE, HYR and Brandon Khoo had to say about the gig – it seems like it was a memorable occasion and a high water mark in the local music scene.
With more than an thousand attendees, enthusiastic moshers and an impending DVD to come, the only black spot on the success of this event was that – in the words of HYR – someone had to die to bring the Singapore indie scene together.
Sad but so true.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the Singapore Music Scene belongs to every music fan living in Singapore. It will only be vibrant and exciting if we support the bands and the gigs… talk is cheap. For the bands, it’s all about working hard to make sure you have something unique, something different to say, to express to the world out there.
From what I’ve read and heard, Wayne Thunder believed in the Singapore Music Scene and he put this belief into action in his brief time on earth. The best way the Singapore Music Scene can honour his memory is to make sure that the scene explodes in the years to come so that one day, Singapore music fans will come from Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, UK and even the USA…
… it’s all in our hands.

Monday, June 25, 2007

TIMMYHEAD!

Covers band.
These words used to induce nausea and images of cheesy imported Filipino bands come straight to mind.
(No offence intended but the Singapore music scene was very much dominated by Filipino bands in the 80s and 90s)
Now, Timmy is a covers band, make no mistake and I have to thank Ngak, HYR, Syed and Clement for changing my opinion about covers band. I make no bones about it – Timmy is one tight outfit! Check out their version of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android – it’s really dynamic, visceral & passionate (maybe the next best thing to watching Thom Yorke and co) – and you begin to wonder why doesn’t Timmy perform any original material whatsoever?
Not that I haven’t made it a point to nag Ngak about this every chance I get but he has his reasons and I respect them, really I do, but at the back of my mind I’m thinking that a crack band like Timmy should be playing originals…
On Friday, before playing another white-hot Paranoid Android, Ngak remarked that the song was going out to the music lovers in the audience and was not the usual commercial shit … they usually played (?).
Hmm…
I guess that’s what Timmy is about – giving people what they want – and doing a bang up job at that as well. Why not?
I know for a fact that the Timbre management does not insist on an all-covers policy so don’t blame Danny or Edward. In the final analysis, does it matter?
I realize that for Ngak and HYR, the Cheena market is where the artistic effort of creating original material has the greatest opportunity (for now) to reap financial rewards (hey, I understand that perfectly – I’m hoping to do the same thing) but I honestly believe that if Timmy can also start to play a few originals, these songs may be as popular (and as requested) as say, Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars (ugh)…
… it has to start somewhere…

Sunday, June 24, 2007

THE MOST IMPORTANT BAND IN SINGAPORE

Hyperbole be damned!
It's one thing to praise bands that you're friends with - it's another to discover a shit hot band that you're delighted to find, subsequently, are cool human beings as well - and then give them the props they so richly deserve.
Last night, at Timbre, the Great Spy Experiment treated the largely clueless audience to an exercise of music myth-making. Perhaps only a handful of us fully grasped that we were witnessing a performance by THE MOST IMPORTANT BAND IN SINGAPORE in 2007.
And it wasn't the tone-perfect playing or the high energy levels or even the kind of music presented - it was all down to synergy. The best music makers learn how to bring together a myriad of influences and genres to create a unique sound and GSE have that quality in spades.
In the course of their wondrous set, I detected influences from Pink Floyd (circa Syd Barret), the Knack, Echo & the Bunnymen, the House of Love, Oasis all filtered through the collective consciousnesses of Saiful, Song, Fandy, Khai and Mag, whether they knew it or not.
And the songs... from the fragile beauty of Late Night Request to the crowd pleasing stomping Class 'A' Love Affair, GSE is able to anchor atmospheric shoegazing dynamics with earthy rock 'n' roll that sends chills down spines whilst moving feet.
Which probably is why I was mystified as to how most of the folks at Timbre could remain stoic in their seats... whatever... there is little doubt in my mind that the upcoming album promises to be an essential item not merely for indie rock fans but for every rock fan out there. Sure, the Singapore music scene can be an unforgiving bitch but GSE has the potential to outstrip every Singapore rock band before them and throw down the gauntlet in this region and beyond for rock music made in Singapore. Yes, there is a sense that this is a zeitgeist-defining epoch in the history of Singapore rock, such as it is, and I believe that GSE is at the very forefront...