It is a not-so-nice, humid afternoon here in Singapore but… I am having some brilliant crème caramel (aka caramel pudding). What is this crème caramel you ask? Well, it looks something like this:
(P.S. Do click on the image if you’re interested in a wonderful recipe for crème caramel goodness)
While enjoying my wonderful pudding, I put together a rather mellow post-rock playlist. (Hence the title) It features a mix of the familiar and unfamiliar, unless of course, you are very well versed in everything post-rock.
1.Under the Big Bright Yellow Sun - Circus Travelling Show
2.Folkvang - Istanbul
3.Caspian - Moksha
4.Mogwai - Take Me Somewhere Nice
5.Arajua - Vgujh
6.The American Dollar - Anything You Synthesize
7.tide/edit - Pagbangon
8.Explosions in the Sky - Remember Me as a Time of Day
Singaporean band The Sam Willows are set to hit North America! Specifically, the South by Southwest (SXSW) and Canadian Music Festival (CMF) festival circuits.
The band’s rise has been pretty amazing by local standards; about a year ago they didn’t even know what to name themselves. Since then, they’ve had a sold-out EP launch at local pub venue TAB and performed at a New Year’s Eve countdown party that was televised nationwide. Their rise isn’t all that unexpected however.
On top of having likable personalities, the band has amassed some pretty impressive original material. Their distinct brand of soul-folk is easy on the ears and complemented by intriguing arrangements. Perhaps my own personal expectations of the quartet are rather high, but beyond their current “pleasantly polished” sound, the Sam Willows have yet to craft a sound that is undoubtedly their own.
Regardless, take a listen to ‘Glasshouse’, my favourite track off their self-titled debut EP.
Fine. I admit it.
I was far too busy having a good time at the Sapporo Safaris EP Launch to pay adequate attention to the very band that had me busting awkward dance moves (and simultaneously embarassing myself).
Thankfully however, I had the sense to get a hold of their debut EP, Figures of Eight.
My first impression upon looking at the EP cover? This is a band that you would want to take seriously without taking them too seriously. There is a playful nature about the Sapporo Safaris, and this translated into a light-hearted release with Figures of Eight. The EP barely skims the potential of the band however. The arrangements on this four-track release suggest that the Sapporo Safaris are a band capable of so much more.
(Photo courtesy of Syarul Nizam/Kurks)
Midway through my interview with the boys of Silhouette, the tables had turned and I found them interviewing me instead. While drummer, Hafiz and guitarist, Ahmad drilled me about the who’s, what’s, when’s and where’s of my life – bassist, Mahfuz was trying his best not to snort into his pasta. Vocalist, Shahrizal however, had a knowing smile plastered on his face. Just minutes earlier, he boldly declared that the band was practically a second religion – a part of him he could not imagine himself living without. His declaration was met with nods of agreement from the rest – signalling that they too, shared the same faith in Silhouette.
The band is currently finalising and putting the finishing touches on their upcoming full-length album, due for release later this year. The album took several years to make as the band struggled to find time in between commitments such as National Service and the fact that they were starting to have full-time work commitments. The long process of making the album however gave room for the band to explore different genres and incorporate elements from various influences in their music.
There was never a dull moment during the interview – the band would burst into giggling fits, crack jokes and tease each other throughout. They were also surprisingly honest in their responses. Yes, the following interview might be lengthy – but I assure you, it is pretty entertaining.
I recently wrote a piece on talented singer-songwriter These Brittle Bones on 5minutemusic.
It was my first phone interview with an act actually. The challenge was that unlike face-to-face interviews where you can actually pick up on one’s facial expressions and body language, I had to rely on my own instinct as well as cues from his voice. Chris Jones was thankfully however, amazingly articulate. I could tell that it stemmed from a passion for his music.
He might not have the most fantastic voice out there but his voice definitely packs an emotional punch. I never thought I could hear as much thoughtfulness in a person’s voice after Bon Iver but Chris comes pretty close.
Here’s the brilliantly shot music video for the track, “Anchor Bleed”.
To find out more about These Brittle Bones and my thoughts on his music, read the following piece: http://5minutemusic.com/post/35046690473/under-the-radar-these-brittle-bones
I know the featured track here is from Humpback Oak – but let’s digress a little and talk about The Observatory. My first ‘real’ experience listening to The Obs – by ‘real’ here I mean sitting down and actually listening to their songs once, twice, thrice through – was with the Catacombs release.
It’s very hard to describe an album that takes you beyond and transports you to realms you never even knew existed. Mere words won’t do this album justice. Catacombs is an album that needs to be experienced, it needs to be listened to.
That said, the album is rather dark. The darkness is comforting though. It’s the kind that might envelope you but it isn’t a suffocating darkness in any way. It’s just … well, I did say it’s hard to describe the album in words didn’t I?
Now where were we. Oh yes.
Humpback Oak was a previous project that the Observatory’s Leslie Low once fronted. If for some reason you’ve yet to press play on the Youtube video at the top of this post, I’m telling you right now that you should. If you’ve done so, you would have noticed just how excellent the songwriting on this track is.
Unlike the atmospheric sounds of The Observatory, “If I am Weak” is accompanied by a simple acoustic guitar, a beautifully melodic bassline and a modest drum beat. This simplicity augments magnificently written lyrics. Leslie Low’s voice also seems to quiver at the right moments, with hints of something almost guttural welling up within.
Humpback Oak might be no more (they disbanded about a decade ago) but there are 500 Humpback Oak boxsets out there that contain their albums as well as some rare tracks. I think I’m about to hunt down one for myself. You don’t get music as heartfelt as this any longer.
You really don’t.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s Baybeats. The line-up is spectacular – Obedient Wives Club, Pep Talk, Anechois and of course Cashew Chemists amongst other great acts! The diversity is amazing.
I’ve been hearing good stuff about Cashew Chemists for some time now.
I’ve been hearing a whole lot of good stuff actually.
I’m glad that I finally checked them out. (took a while huh?)
Check out some of their other tracks here-
Here are some relevant links for you to check them out further:
Cashew Chemists and Typewriter play MAAD at the Red Dot Design Museum this Friday the 13th.
Admission is free.
Set starts at 9pm.
See you there!
Had the opportunity to catch The Cheating Sons at the Esplanade Recital Studio on the 30th of March. The Esplanade Recital Studio is one of my favorite gig venues – partly because it is intimate and comfortable, partly because the sound there is pretty solid.
Man, was it a great night! I was really impressed and thoroughly enjoyed the Sons set.
The Sons mainly performed new songs off their upcoming second album. And if the sounds of the night were anything to go by, I think I might prefer their second album more than their debut!
The stage was set spectacularly – fairy lights decorated the stage and brilliantly distracting visuals were looped on projector screens behind the band. Additionally, Don looked every bit the retro maestro with his bellbottoms and the crazy array of instruments all around him.
Personally I felt that the night’s set would have been a hard act to follow for any band – be it local or international. There were some minor boo-boo’s sound wise – but of course this might also be because of where I was sitting. Anyway I doubt the general audience would be like me – staring at the back-up vocalists and wondering whether they were just mouthing lyrics or actually singing. (Or maybe I’m just deaf)
Following a brilliant encore and a rousing standing ovation for the Sons, I left the recital studio with good vibes that night … and a really fancy Cheating Sons T-shirt too!
If you haven’t already done so, check out “Masters, Wives, Daughter” from the Cheating Sons at their bandcamp site here.
(Photo: Copyright Andrew Tan, taken off the Cheating Sons Facebook Page here; )
Attended the Syndicate Subsessions on March 24th at The Substation Theatre. The main push factor for me here was MUON and the fact that I wanted a copy of their album. It was also a great opportunity to unwind after a hard week.
First up was multi-instrumentalist Gema. Personally I thought Gema’s performance was still a little raw. That said though, Gema most definitely showcased some mad hooks. It’s a slight pity that his set was short. His last track – which I believe was this track below – was probably his best performance of the night.
A short intermission followed Gema’s set before MUON’s current four piece line-up took the space. Their set was pretty similar to their previous gig at the Esplanade but this time the band seemed more expressive. It might have had something to do with the intimate nature of the Substation Theatre though.
I managed to get a copy of MUON’s fourth album + a t-shirt at an unbeatable price of $15. I haven’t had the chance to sit down and listen to it properly yet – but am expecting great stuff as usual from one of my favorite bands.
The next Syndicate Subsessions is due sometime in June.
Do check out http://syndicate.sg/ for more great music and great shows!
You can check out MUON here; http://muonmagick.com/