Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fad of the land: Playlouder

With an obese amount of online music zines out in the world at the moment, it's kinda tough to pick a select few to pledge your tastemaking allegiance to. I mean, how can anyone possibly say with absolute confidence that a vote of approval from PopMatters is more trustworthy than a sneer of disdain from Tiny Mix Tapes? Or how does a 4-star rating from Slant outweigh a C- from Stylus?

Yeah, it's tough. The possible answer: read them ALL!!! Like a greedy wombat. Like me.

So anyways, Playlouder is one of those sites that I regularly dip my tongue in. I thank them for exposing me to 65 Days of Static, and sparing me from The Stills. Plus, they've got that ragtag, renegade look to the site (complete with GIANT, BOLD ARIAL FONT) that kinda makes it the music equivalent of movie site Ain't It Cool News. Which in a weird way, adds to their appeal.

Nevertheless, they've been undergoing a site redesign lately, in line with some broadband service offer their running in the UK. They have allowed anyone who receives an invite to access it. Problem is, you can only get an invite if you know someone who is involved with Playlouder, or who already has an invite—y'know, the whole thing Gmail did when it began.

So, given that I don't know anyone who falls in that category, I resorted to option 2: asking them for one. So here's the email I sent:

Can I have an invite? I'm all the way in Malaysia, so poor lil' me has little to no chance of knowing someone over in the UK who is involved with Playlouder. Google has failed me, as has Hype Machine, Technorati and my pigeon Nigel. Any chance you can help?

And here's the reply:

I definitely think you deserve one after trying that hard on your own! I'm sending you an invite now, and I hope you like the beginnings of the new Playlouder, even though it's obviously still a work in progress!


So I got one.

And so far, I am happily gallivanting across the site's new look and features. It's certainly more streamlined than before, which could work against them if readers are bored of the glossy, eliter-than-thou fronts of many other zines. That broadband offer thingy I mentioned earlier is called Playlouder MSP, which is (quoting them) "the world's first ISP network to license from music companies the right for its subscribers to download and stream music from other subscribers". Unfortunately, it's only available to UK-based peeps.

So what's in it for the rest of us? Hmmm. Well, I like the whole 'stash' concept, which allows you to pick tunes from albums they sell in their online store and listen via their player. Plus, the writing's still itchin' to be bitchin'. Which means that while it won't win any awards for prestige or poetry, it does enough to draw in the non-graduate who listened to way too much Velvet Underground during his uni days to bother with the Economics paper, and is now working in the neighbourhood laundromat scrubbing the crap off his high school crush's eight-year-old son while she smooches the high school jock who wedgied him every three hours—but who will never trade his 42-year-old LP collection for just one more snog. He's the real music fan, and kudos to Playlouder for remembering him.

Link: Playlouder.com

65 Days of Static - Retreat! Retreat! (from The Fall of Math) [BUY]

Tragedy befalls Bottom Of The Hudson

Brooklyn band Bottom Of The Hudson have lost their bassist Trevor Butler (second from left) in a van accident on Sunday. The accident occurred as the band were returning home from promotional activities for their new album Fantastic Hawk. Drummer Greg Lytle (second from right) was also badly injured and is currently in ICU.

Tragic stuff, 'specially for a band that makes such delectable indie rock. Thankfully, the band's label, California-based Absolutely Kosher, have set up a space on their homepage to donate to the victims and family. Visit www.absolutelykosher.com for more info and updates.

Bottom Of The Hudson - Bee Hive (from Fantastic Hawk)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Look what I found in the bargain bin

Fountains of Wayne
Welcome Interstate Managers

Price: RM10.00

Fountains of Wayne are an enigma. Signed on a major, making bubblegum pop but yet retaining enough interest to warrant a review on snobby-wobbly sites like say, Pitchfork.

And they're funny too. I mean not quite as funny as me, but you know, they get by and all that. Like there was once, I was asked to do this stand-up act for some wedding. I mean, even before I got on the bloody stage, people were laughing. I stood up there and everyone was laughing so hard, they were rolling on the floor. Then most of them started laughing till they were puking. Some of their guts started ripping and there was half digested food everywhere. Then the bride's head exploded as well. And I was told 'Show's over son.'

And I haven't even said a thing yet.

Man I'm good.

Fountains of Wayne - All Kinds of Time (from Welcome Interstate Managers)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Funeral For A Friend in Singapore: Tickets on Sale Now

If this keeps up, Singapore will be swimming in piss by the time these bed-wetting emo rock bands are done touring through it.

Yes, here comes another one, straight out of Ryan Giggs' country, otherwise known to him as 'the crappy footballing country I chose to play for instead of England'. Welsh bands in itself are rather rare. Cause they all speak funny there so no one can understand them. A Welsh emo band is about as rare as satay celup that's halal. Why? Cause they just don't wear their hair that way there.

Funeral for a Friend has just released a concept album titled Tales Don't Tell Themselves. It's about some fisherman that gets lost at sea and how he's fighting to get back so that he can see his loved ones. Touchy-feely story. Only one problem. Every song sounds the same. Unlike previous concept albums where there are peaks and valleys, this one seems to be an unending flat line. But perhaps that is the band's intention. To show how boring a fisherman's life is. Or maybe, it's an attempt to show how cool the fisherman is. 'No tension at all, lets just cruise this baby through this 100 hurricanes, 1000 whirlpools and 10,000 million crocodiles and we'll be home before you know it'.

What? There are no crocodiles in the sea? What books have you been reading? The one I have been reading tells me that crocs can live in sea, on land, fly and occasionally shoot missiles. Its called A Beginner's Guide to B-Movies. Just look under the entry 'Crocasaurus Rex 4'.

I rock so hard.


Date: September 8, 2007
Time: 8pm
Venue: Glass Pavilion, Far East Square, 28 China Street

To get yourself a ticket, go here

Funeral for a Friend - Into Oblivion (Reunion) (from Tales Don't Tell Themselves)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

B-Side of the Week - I Gots The Magic

Lucky Soul
I Gots The Magic (from the Ain't Never Been Cool single)
(Ruffa Lane)

What do you do if you're a band from Greenwich? Get stuck in timezones, right? Right. And what do you do if you start your career opening shows for the Pipettes? You get stuck in that 50s girl group thing, right? Yeah, you're a smart-ass reader. More questions. What are you likely to get when you put all that Shangri-Las and Ronettes action against a more contemporaneous sound? What? You don't know who the Shangri-Las are? What's wrong with you? And how old are you anyway? Twelve? Guys, they don't know who the Shangri-Las are! What? You don't have their records? But you're both Pirates! What? Oh you're questioning MY record collection now? What do you mean I have no black metal records from the 70s? I gots tons of them! No, I will NOT name you five tracks from Black Sabbath's Paranoid. Look, why da heck are we talking about black metal anyway? I'm trying to talk about 50s girl groups and how Lucky Soul are carving out a niche for the genre's 21st century relevance. No, I do not just blog about the stuff I like. Yes. So what if I'm obsessed about 50s girl groups? No I am not. I am not. Say that one more time and I'll give you and your sexuality something to think about. Shut up you prick. The Shangri-Las were seminal. The Ronettes were seminal. Oh you're just saying that because Mr Wall of Sound Phil Spector produced their records. Man, you guys are such fascist dicks. What? You can't swear on this blog? Screw you. Lucky Soul kicks all your Flaming Lips ass back to Saigon. Oh I'll start shit on Wayne whatever. Yeah, he or anyone in your army. Yeah, you go ask him to pull out a b-side from his third single and I'll bring mine on. Mine on, you jerk. I'll bring I Gots The Magic. It's a b-side. That's my column. Yeah. We'll see who's gots the best damn b-side this side of the millennium. Oh whatever. You guys are losers. And yes, I know that it's called Ho Chi Minh City nowadays. Jerks.

Lucky Soul - I Gots The Magic

Word for the week: Damn


I was this close to getting time off work because of suspected appendicitis. But a trip to the doc revealed that it wasn't (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to make the trip to the doc). Okay fine, so it's a good thing. But couldn't the lady have at least given a half-day MC? Damn.

John Butler Trio - Damned To Hell (from Sunrise Over Sea)
Saw JBT live three years ago; since then, I'm convinced that this enviro-freak can stop global warming, cure cancer and repair my computer.

Damn Dirty Apes - In Tents (from Ape Kill Ape)
Defunct Penang-based post-rockers and their razor-sharp guitars make fairy dust out of tarpaulin.

Be Your Own Pet - Damn Damn Leash (from Be Your Own Pet)
Four-piece punkers sound like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have done a Queen tribute and are touring with Arctic Monkeys. Namedrops keep falling on my head...

Rupee - Do The Damn Thing (from 1 On 1)
Barbados-originating soca muso lent this song to Desperate Housewives. Which is a crappy show, by the way.

Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing (from The Best Damn Thing)
I was smirking the other day as a radio DJ struggled to find a way to say "Damn" when talking about this album during some family-friendly slot. Tough job.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fad of the land: HBO Voyeur

It's probably no secret that HBO produces the greatest TV serials. You've got the given critical darlings like Sopranos, The West Wing and Six Feet Under, and then you've got the unsung ones like Entourage and The Wire.

Now, I personally can't confess to liking every single HBO-produced show (like, Deadwood? Like, Rome? C'mon). But what the studio has done with Voyeur has simply blown me away. It's basically a bunch of 5-minute clips only viewable online, which center around a New York apartment building. There are eight stories, all interlinking, and each one is told with that HBO trademark of a rich, dense plot with Shakespearean complexities and Hitchcockean intrigue. And, get this, no dialogue (thus sidestepping another HBO hallmark, how gutsy). Which means that we basically stare through windows and watch a wife plot the butchering of her husband, or an elderly couple dance with their underwear, and wonder what they're all on about.

Best of all (to me), you get to pick your soundtrack to match the story, from a list that includes M83, Dean and Britta and Interpol bassist Carlos 'D' Dengler.

It's brilliant. I'm tired of calling HBO shows that (because it's not always true), but this one deserves it.

Link: HBOVoyeur.com

Interpol - Pace is the Trick (from Our Love To Admire) [BUY]
M83 - Safe (from Before The Dawn Heals Us) [BUY]
Dean and Britta - You Turn My Head Around (from Back Numbers) [BUY]

Who's Who at Baybeats 2007: Azmyl Yunor & the Sigarettes (M'sia)

"Who cares about fashion man?", drawls Azmyl Yunor. "What does fashion have to do with art?" The crowd is divided. The passers-by are unsure about what they're gonna get but the regulars know he's on form. "Do you think Robert Johnson cared about his hair? HE DIED man! He died for his art. F*** the AIM man. All they know about is... hair."

Now, Azmyl Yunor is a funny guy. He's as funny as they come. And depending on what version of Azmyl Yunor you get when he shows up at Baybeats, you might either find him funny or mega ultra super funny. Like that day when he closed his eyes and played the verse of Coming Home a few times and never eventually made it into the chorus. Or that day when he was having so much fun, someone had to strap his guitar on for him while he bantered before the first song.

Ok so you don't know which Azmyl Yunor you'll get. But the one constant with Azmyl is that it'll be a bloody good time. Armed with his harmonica, mic-stand lifting antics, and the tendency to at some point roll of the floor, Azmyl and his non-smoking backing band the Sigarettes are this close to pulling off a showstopping, folk-rocking, Dylanesque-drawling festival debut.

So remember to shout during 'Makan Gaji'.

Azmyl Yunor - Makan Gaji (from Tenets EP)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gig-gles: Bodysurf Music 10th Anniversary

So it's no Carling Weekend at Leeds and Reading or anything, but I reckon Malaysia's equivalent of the whole two-city party thing isn't exactly a shabby substitute. It's happening this weekend for Ipoh indie label Bodysurf's 10th anniversary, and the line up includes three bands from Southeast Asia's music capital Indonesia (including Bandung shoegazers Polyester Embassy, a pretty slick bunch), plus some of Malaysia's creme de la creme. And you don't have to pay a month's worth of nasi lemak to attend. Plus, if anything, it's like a middle finger flash to those big types who think that indie labels in this region have no future. Flash away, I say.

Kuala Lumpur
Venue: The Annexe, Central Market
Date: Friday, 27 July
Time: 7pm
Admission: RM15
Line up: Polyester Embassy (Bandung), Harmacy, KLPHQ, Furniture, Televators, Couple, sforzando! (after party at Loft, Zouk featuring Twilight Actiongirl and Poptastic! Army)

Venue: Babyface
Date: Sunday, 29 July
Time: 2pm
Admission: RM18, Pre Sale RM15 (limited to 200 people)
Line up: Polyester Embassy (Bandung), Cherrycola (Medan), Muck, Elmkids, The Rhaman, Myra, He-Libra, Hujan, Free Love, Harmacy

Polyester Embassy - Polypanic Rooms (from Tragicomedy)
Cherrycola - Berdegup (from upcoming debut album)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Let's get lyrical, lyrical: Ferns - I Won't Forget

Dearest I'll break this word in two
And give a syllable to you

This heart's reserved for two
I'll share my seat and more with you

So I won't forget
These giddy feelings

And all the good things
I see you
I won't forget My one true calling And all the meaning I draw from you Dearest Wasn't it obvious An awkward boy should fall for you
If you would not mind
I'd sooner steal a kiss than rhyme

So I won't forget
These giddy feelings
And all the good things I see you
I won't forget
Our sweet endeavours
And all the wonders I dream in you

Why don't we
Try to be all we can be Why don't we Try to be all believe
Love is all that's truth to me

I've never been a sappy yappy. I mean what's the bloody point. No one in the last 2 decades has managed to do sappy as well as Air Supply. I mean what's more romantic than two big-haired dudes with exposed chest manes singing about two less lonely people in the world? Better still that one of them has a high-pitched wail while the other a low grunt. Woo hoo.

But Ferns, now Ferns have managed to restore some class into romantic sap. The first line qualifies as one of the smartest/sweetest thing ever said on any record. I would know, I am a sub-editor and I can honestly say, to break a syllable is not easy. In fact, it's downright impossible. Like how Tom Cruise can kung-fu kick his gun up from a pile of sand and take down the baddy. Or like how Singaporean food can sometimes taste good.

And love should be impossible, like breaking syllables. Who wants a two dates per-weekend kind of romance anyways. One should have a ninja-fighting/nuclear bom-defusing romance every week. What is love without some explosions and gunshots anyways? Haiyaaaaahhhh ... I love you. Die sucker ... let's go have dinner. Look out behind you ... yeah we can watch a DVD after that.

Damn cool right?

Ferns - I Won't Forget (from On Botany)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Word for the week: Trip


The other pirates (and some pirettes) blindfolded me and hauled me to Malacca last weekend, where we ate five meals in 10 hours and gallivanted 'round the rustic town a lil'. I could live there.

Sonic Youth - Eric's Trip (live) (from Daydream Nation: Deluxe Edition)
The song's original demo, also included on this reissue, had Thurston Moore, one guitar and decipherable lyrics. Screw that; give us that atonal, wailing, shrieking racket, like this live version.

Kasabian - Last Trip (In Flight) (from Empire)
Brit dance rockers cook the Beatles in a primordial soup called Cream of Pink Floyd.

Stereolab - Extension Trip (from Aluminium Tunes)
Breezy, effortless and waltzing with more charm than a witchdoctor; why can't all trips be like this?

Tommy Emmanuel - Lady Daytripper Lady Madonna (from Great Tommy Emmanuel)
Just had to put this in. The bloke's performing in Singapore this weekend, and I'd have made the trip in two blinks if I hadn't already seen him perform. Twice.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Who's who at Baybeats 2007: Kate of Kale

The first time I saw Singaporean punk band Kate of Kale, it was in a brightly lit church in Bangsar. It was a Friday night and them and Pension State were in town for some good-natured punkalicious goodness. They were quite good. In a punk kind-of way. You know? The whole jumping like my ass is on fire thing. Or the whole I must keep a constant power chord downstroke action or the world could be destroyed thing. Or the whole I seriously need to pierce my nipples to prove I'm not gay thing. Yeah you know, things like that? Good in a punk kind-of way.

Though saying a punk band is good in a punk kind-of way is about as good as saying that KFC is nice in a fried chicken kind-of way. Or that Starbucks is good in a overpriced coffee kind-of way. Or that Conan is gay in a barbarian kind-of way.

Kate of Kale - On that Day (the Three Letter Sessions B compilation)

B-Side of the Week: Bishop's Robes

Bishop's Robes (from Street Spirit (Fade Out) single)

Have you ever been a bohemian? How about a penniless bohemian? No, wait, how about a coloured, female, gay, communist, illiterate, pagan, jobless, penniless bohemian with one amputated leg?

If you have then maybe you feel a bit like today's b-side Bishop's Robes. Because it's pretty bad to miss out on a boat trip into Radiohead's 1995 classic The Bends. It's also pretty bad to miss out after that on a plan ride in their 1997 epic Ok Computer. Heck, as if that's not bad enough, this song had to end up as a b-side on the last single from The Bends, Street Spirit (Fade Out).

Heck, as if being a b-side on a last single isn't bad enough, Bishop's Robes had to be outdone one last time, by another b-side, none other than the cult classic Talk Show Host - the b-side that would end up on the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack, the b-side that would end up in Radiohead setlists for the years to come, the b-side that has its own bloody wiki page. Yeah, you bet it sucks to be a b-side that gets overshadowed by another b-side between getting passed over by two seminal albums.

So if you're a coloured, female, gay, communist, illiterate, pagan, jobless, penniless bohemian with one amputated leg, you are the minority of the minority of the minority of the minority of the minority of the minority, and so you might like this song.

As for me, i'm what they call a "white heterosexual monotheistic educated capitalist man with two legs". And I think this song sucks.

Radiohead - Bishop's Robes

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lets get lyrical, lyrical: Pedro the Lion - Priests and Paramedics

Paramedics brave and strong
Up before the break of dawn
Putting poker faces on
Broken bodies all day long
The neighbors heard a fight
Someone had a knife
It must have have been the wife
Husband's lost a lot of blood
He wakes up screaming

"Oh my god, am I gonna die?
Am I gonna die?"
As they strapped his arms down to his sides
At times like these they'd been taught to lie
"Buddy just calm down, you'll be alright"

Several friends came to his grave
His children weren't so well-behaved
As the priest got up to speak
The assembly craved relief
But he himself had given up
So instead he offered them this bitter cup

"You're gonna die, we're all gonna die
Could be twenty years, could be tonight
Lately I have been wondering why
We go to so much trouble to postpone the unavoidable
And prolong the pain of being alive"

A sparkling showcase of David Bazan's storytelling ability within the confines of 5-minutes under, a bittersweet melody and a tale for rainy days.

I once wrote song titled 'Rojak Sellers and Bank Tellers' too. But it did not have much of a tune. In fact, come to think of it, it did not have many chords too. Nor did it have too many words. Just the words 'Rojak Sellers and Bank Tellers' written on the top and underlined. I stopped there cause I thought it was already seriously too good. Don't want to cause a commotion or anything. Peace and love.

Pedro the Lion - Priests and Paramedics (from Control)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who's Who at Baybeats 2007: Marchtwelve

I just want everyone to know that March 12 is just two days after my birthday. Why? Because during some dramatic juncture within the last six months, I realized that I have no financial capability to buy myself an iPod. Yep, not even a Nano. So if everyone can just contribute a buck here and there I should be able to get one by the turn of the century. Why you guys should do that? Because there is a thing called humanity, and there is seriously nothing more humane than buying someone an iPod. Yep, not even buying them a meal. Why? Because you shit out a meal the next day while the iPod is unlikely to go wonky for at least a week. A week man. So cool.

Oh yeah the band. Female fronted, soaring choruses and chunky riffy guitars. Its Rainer Maria minus the arty farts. They recently reformed after a short hiatus and are shaping up an EP for Baybeats. Woo hoo. Here's a rather old track.

Marchtwelve - Telephone (from the Three Letter Sessions B Compilation)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Look what I found in the bargain bin

Let It Come Down

Price: RM10.00

I am going to lobby for some record store clerks to be given the Nobel Prize. Why? Because seriously, we talk a lot about how so much work done by so many people around the world is advancing so many fields but come on, what is it all for if we can't go back, slot a CD in and kick back to some orgasmic music. It means absolutely nothing. And on top of that, what's better than being able to do that for a measly sum?

Like this album by veteran shoegaze remnants Spiritualized I found in a Tower store over the weekend. It's not their best, sure. But after giving it a few spins, songs such as 'The Straight and Narrow' have slithered their way up the top of my favourite songs list. Cataclysmic in moments but absolutely gorgeous in the quieter bits, its an absolute steal at RM10.00.

So to the guys who man the Tower store in 1U, the work you guys are doing is seriously advancing the field of music and arts. Keep chucking them goodies into that bargain bin baby.

Spiritualized - The Straight and the Narrow (from Let It Come Down)

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Release: Tempered Mental - The View From Here

If you talked to me two years ago, you'd have known that Tempered Mental were uncontested in my hallowed list of the greatest Malaysian bands (and also right up there in the jostle for worst band names). Of course, if you talked to me then, you'd also have thought that Murni's nasi lemak was the world's greatest nasi lemak, and that my mum's roast chicken was untouchable.

But time shifts, and so do allegiances. Although in this case, I'm more inclined to believe that it isn't me who has become unfaithful, but Tempered Mental. No, it's not like they've gone and done a three-way orgy with electropop or something. It's more like they've forsaken the Spyro Gyra-meets-A Perfect Circle template that made them so seminal, and instead done some tonsil-hockeying with Chester Bennington and other nu-metal punkers.

The result is a long-awaited, mildly disappointing debut The View From Here. Unlike the refreshing unpredictability of Honestly (their 2004 "seven-track single"), this one has those chuggy grindcore guitars that you thought left God's green earth along with swimming trunks. I'm tempted to blame it on their lineup switch, roping in "Malaysia's Steve Vai" Jack to replace founding guitarist Khoo. The dude's got some blistering runs, sure, but what use is a shredder sans the pop sensibility?

Nevertheless, they don't suck. Not like their band name, at least. They're still a bitchin' live act, and 'Recall' demonstrates why that Melina-Jimmy rhythmic union is still watertight and quite alright. Plus, if you've never heard the band in their early years, then this is still likely to pee on most of the grub in your CD collection.

And so where's the best nasi lemak? I vote for the one near the Maybank in Seapark. Murni's still has the best naan though. And my mum's roast chicken? Don't eeeeven compare.

Track List:

1. Space
2. Design
3. Recall
4. Cold
5. Open
6. Undone
7. Simple
8. Nothingness
9. Superstar
10. Cross

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Who's Who at Baybeats 2007: Plainsunset

I've been told that for a local (Singaporean) band to close a stage at Baybeats, it is apparently an honour. Why? Same reason why we buy Ikea furniture instead of Hup Lee.

But if anything, this Lionsome foursome have built enough of a live reputation to close the Friday night stage with a decent bang. Expect plenty of mid-air moves and crowd brawls.

But seriously, local products have gotten heck of a lot better these days. Look at our national car. The design is bloody genius. I mean if you really blood it in, then your auto windows won't wind up anymore and all of a sudden your car feels likes its about 20,000 more expensive because it has that convertible impression. And if you seriously, seriously blood it in, the trunk won't close properly so you can actually feel like you own a semi-pick up truck and sit someone in it. And if all fails and you get bored with the design you can just knock it around a few walls and you can rehsape your car. I heard its a new technology called T.I.N.C.A.N.

Damn genious man.

Plainsunset - Closure (from The Gift)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Frank err ... SINGfest

Ladies and gentlemen I bring you - Franken-Fest.

It's like any other fest except that its not like any other fest. It's a music fest where artistes that usually won't even waste time nuking each other's house, share stage and sing Kumbaya like its Vietnam all over again. I went to one and I nearly puked my bunghole out because some of the bands were just so bad. I mean, one idiot thought he was Jean-Claude Van Damme or something with his stupid shades and leather jacket. Another band kept talking about the time he shagged Madonna and how that was the best moment from his sad-ass career. It was seriously so bad.

Oh wait a minute, shit. This is SINGfest. Must've made a mistake. I could've sworn it was the same damn festival I went to.

Date: 8th and 9th August
Venue: Fort Canning Park
Time: Wed, 5:00PM - 11:00PM and Thu, 1:00PM - 11:00PM

Artist Lineup

8th August

The Stranglers
Cyndi Lauper
Pet Shop Boys
Sugar Ray
Sasha Bach Band

9th August

Gym Class Heroes
Avenged SevenFold
The Academy Is
The Noisettes
Crowned King
Cobra Starship
One Buck Short
Great Spy Experiment

Tickets are on sale now. Go here for more details.

The Academy Is - Season (from Almost Here)
Pet Shop Boys - Liberation (from Very)

Birthday Brat

Yes, I turned 25 yesterday. In the spirit of narcissism, here are five bands who are as old as me, and almost as great, plus one who I'd gladly concede my superiority to if only they just kissed, made up and got that bloody world tour going.

Primal Scream
Arguably the most seminal of all those '82 start-up bands, the Bobby-Gillespie-plus-whoever-feels-worthy band grinds on.
MP3: Dolls (Sweet Rock 'n' Roll) (from Riot City Blues)

Can't believe these dudes are still around.
MP3: Tony Blair (non-album single)

The Might Be Giants
Since their formation, this alt-rock duo has lent their songs to kids shows, documentaries and Malcolm In The Middle. Meanwhile, I was a puffin in my Primary 4 school play.
MP3: With The Dark (from The Else)

Culture Club
No matter what he does, Boy George will always look uglier than my mum's placenta.
MP3: Mystery Boy (from Kissing to be Clever, Japanese edition)

The Pogues
Anglo-Irish punkers had their first breakup the same time as I did. We feel each other's pain (and subsequent pleasure).
MP3: Thousands are Sailing (from If I Should Fall from Grace with God)

PLUS: The Smiths
Yes, they're defunct. So, I'm cheating. But, it's my birthday. No, I'm not a brat.
MP3: What She Said (from Meat is Murder)

Cover Story: Son Of A Preacher Man

Man swings by town with his not-so-little-anymore boy. man goes to the local parish. man preaches. not-so-little-anymore boy sneaks out with parish girl. they have good times.

that may or may not be the life story of some of the editors up here at Pirates. after all, pirates travel. and pirates dock. and pirates dig parish girls.

girls like dusty springfield. who sang the original.

boy is she hot.

Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man (from Dusty in Memphis)
Tanya Tucker - Son of a Preacher Man (from Tanya Tucker)
Natalie Merchant - Baby I Love You / Son of a Preacher Man (from limited edition of Tigerlily)
Joan Osborne - Son of a Preacher Man (from Early Recordings)

(happy birthday senior editor)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who's Who at Baybeats 2007: Utopium (FRA)

What are the French absolutely top notch for? Headbutting yeah, that's right. You know what makes a good headbutt? A good head yes. You're on a roll. And you know what a good head can do? Well, besides putting together a Lego sculpture of Godzilla and remembering the names of all the Autobots in Transformers Generation 1, it can also make good music like this.

French band Utopium strides a blur line between stylish NY post punk ala Interpol with a dash of stomp box-prosthetics thrown in for a good sonic measure. Will perhaps provide a more subtle and classy alternative to the general emo bed-wetting that's going to happening all over Baybeats.

And no, none of them are named Thierry or Henry or Zinedine or Zidane or Youre or Sostupid.


Utopium - Maintenant Vous Pouvez Fermer Les Yeux (from No Memory Man)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Word for the week: Green


The recently-concluded Live Earth showed rock stars trying to be noble sons to Mother Nature, even if they probably didn't fly economy class to flaunt their eco-savvy heinies. Time has a decent article on trying to find meaning in an event like this. Time also has an article about the most important gadgets of the modern era, which includes the Atari 2600. Which someone should TOTALLY make a movie about, starring Zach Braff as the dude who played too much Space Invaders.

Deerhoof - Green Cosmos (from Green Cosmos EP)
Schizo band employs some yang-sy instrumentation (read: drum pads, tambourines, church organs, chuggy guitars) to balance Satomi Matsuzaki's ying-sy squeals. How that sounds, I have no idea.

Yo La Tengo - Blue-Green Arrow (from Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs: 1985-2003)
The trio borrow a few melody lines from 'Silent Night', then keep the volume knob at 3. And the angels sing along.

R.E.M. - Green Grow the Rushes (from Fables of the Reconstruction)
In preparation for album number 14, the chaps recently played five sold-out nights in Dublin. "Working rehearsals", they called it. Sure, and those free beers are like coffee breaks.

Yusuf Islam - Green Fields, Golden Sands (from An Other Cup)
With a quiver and a sigh, the artiste formally known as Cat Stevens delivers a plaintive litany to an Earth he has never known. The dude should just migrate to Gondor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Look what I found in the bargain bin

Dirty Three
(Touch and Go)

Sigur Ros
Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do

Price: RM10.00 each

Sigh, its the life ain't it? When you can kick back on a weekday night, with a whole season of Entourage in front of ya, a bag of Cheetos on the side and with the full knowledge that you picked up two darn blazingly good records for RM10.00 each during the course of the day.

Never mind that the Sigur Ros one degenerates into a fuzz of noise and bleeps after 20 minutes or that Warren Ellis' lines occasionally slips into quasi art rock arenas but hey, you have to pay proper respect where its due.

Okay I did not pick out of a bin per se. I mean if I did I probably would have to shoot the store attendant in the arm, put him in a figure four and force him to cough out his address. I would go over to the house and karate chop his kids and wife before dropping a smoke bomb and disappear like how all good samurais do.

Damn, I know my Japanese folklore.

Sigur Ros - Ba Ba (from Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do)
Dirty Three - Flutter (from Cinder)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Who's Who at Baybeats 2007: The Lovesong (HK)

Remember Whence He Came? Well I shouldn't ask as though they were an offshoot of Queen or something. But you know? That spunky emo rock band from the land of Dim Sum which played Baybeats a couple of editions back?

Anyways, The Lovesong are essentially Whence He Came minus one or two peas in the stew. Hong Kong has delivered its fair share of regionally-worthy indie rock acts in recent times. Hardcore veterans King Lychee springs to mind.

The Lovesong's brand of disco punk is seriously classy. Falling somewhere around Interpol's angular guitar assaults. What? I wouldn't know what classy is? Sure I do. It's about books and attendance right? I am damn good at faking my attendances. Damn right I'm classy.

The Lovesong - Eastern Moments Western Skies (from DD/MM/YYYY)

Friday, July 6, 2007

New release: Naif - Televisi

(Electrified Records)

With Indonesia being the current hotbed of indie rock in South East Asia, it comes as no surprise that indie veterans Naif are one of the scene's front-most flag bearers. These Jakarta art college grads pay homage to the idiot box with Televisi, their fifth album in 12 years that, although predominantly power pop, is also about as indecisive as a 12-year-old. The title track shimmies like it stole James Brown's shoes and Of Montreal's falsettos, while 'Di Mana Aku Di Sini' is the token lighter-in-the-sky ballad that you'll hum even when you pee. And the collective whole is pretty much an aural reenactment of the timeless activity of channel surfing.

Speaking of which, I wish surfboards could double up as remote controls. I mean, think about it: at the beach, surfers can use it to nail that killer hang-ten maneuver, while at home, they can prop it next to their beer and bag of chips. And if the visiting nephew tries to nick it away to change to Nickelodeon, then Mr Surfer can use it to bash the kid unconscious, or use the edges to slit bratty boy's throat. And then to clean the blood, he can just go for another surf.

Track list:

1. Televisi
2. Di Mana Aku Di Sini
3. Itulah Cinta
4. Ajojing
5. Tersenyumlah
6. Nyali
7. Kuda Besi
8. Kontak Jodoh
9. Bye Bye Baby
10. Katakan Iya
11. Superstar
12. Lagu Wanita
13. Haru Biru

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Who's Who at Baybeats 2007: Aloha (US)

You know what they say about festival closers? Come on, you know it. Come on. What? You mean you seriously don't know? Oh nothing, just that they pretty much have to kick everyone's (including the prudish old lady in the corner) ass straight up to their nostrils. Yeah!

The task of delivering that Power Rangers kick at Baybeats 2007 falls on American indie rock band Aloha. Tons of sweet picking guitars and breezy melodies cover Aloha's music from top to feet. One for the lovers perhaps.

Problem is, I don't think they are up to the brutal task of kicking everyone's face in. I mean, after The Posies delivered a literally bleeding performance last year, I don't think the blood-thirsty masses will be happy unless at the very least, one Aloha member brings out a medieval axe and lop off another's head. That would just about top The Posies. I mean if they seriously want to kick major butt, I mean I am not going to suggest thaaaaaaat strongly or anything but you know, they could take out a shoulder-mounting ray gun and start zapping the crowd to dust. I mean, they don't have to take the suggestion or anything. But yeah, that would be pretty much kick butt. Peace.

Here's a song from their 2006 album Some Echoes:

Aloha - Ice Storming (from Some Echoes)

B-Side of the Week: Mersey Paradise

Stone Roses
Mersey Paradise (from She Bangs The Drums single)

May 1989. The English first division title has gone to London, and for the first time in seven years, the champions of England isn't a Merseyside team. July 1989. A Manchester band on a mercurial rise to domestic stardom pays homage to the city of Liverpool in what must be the fondest display of affection by a bunch of Mancunians for a neighbour many would describe as nothing short of bitter rivals in numerous ballparks.

Mersey Paradise is the b-side on The Stone Roses' fifth single, She Bangs The Drums, and is far and away a fan favourite and a cult hit in its own right. This deeply loved surrealist jangle takes place on a river bank and meanders to one drowning and ends with another. The motifs: rocks, water, sand, a boy, a girl, bricks, bikes, a rusty oil paints tin can and a man-eating pike. This is art-school cleverness meets Manchester new wave meets British psychedelia.

Of course, Mersey Paradise means something entirely different to me. Mersey Paradise were those seven years when the first division title remained in the clutches of Liverpool and Everton. Mersey Paradise is is seeing the London clubs crash and burn. Mersey Paradise waking up in the morning to this.

The Stone Roses - Mersey Paradise

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Word for the week: Kind


I dropped my wallet in the car park of a shopping mall during lunch, and went back to work without realising it was gone, and received a call from a friend who said it was with a man, and got it back 15 minutes later. Which kinda suggests the word of the week should be "stupid", but the only song I got with that is Garbage's 'Stupid Girl'. And well, that's only half right.

Yo La Tengo - Pass The Hatchet, I'm think I'm Goodkind (from I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass)
I must confess: I struggled to keep awake when these indie gramps (and granny) played this one-riff-for-10-bloody-minutes song during their Singapore gig in March. But somehow, listening to it again through headphones is rather invigorating. So maybe it was the dim lighting.

American Analog Set - The Kindness of Strangers (from Know By Heart)
If all music were like this delicate piece of dream pop, decibel meter makers would be out of business.

Copeland - I'm A Sucker For A Kind Word (from Eat, Sleep, Repeat)
Trilly guitars, soaring "oooh"s, epic drum rolls—these emo upstarts sure like their genre's bread and butter. So do I.

The Observatory - Wonderkind (from A Far Cry From Here)
'Dreamy' is a convenient adjective to describe this mellow tune from the epitome of Singapore indie purity. Which is fairly accurate, if your dreams involve those creatures from Pan's Labyrinth.

Grateful Dead - One Kind Favor (from Birth of the Dead)
You know that you're old when your a band covers a 1920s number (a Blind Lemon Jefferson ori previously entitled 'See That My Grave Is Kept Clean'). You know you're older when your cover version has been around for the past 60 years.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

La Lista: The 12 artistes with the most consistently acclaimed discography

To kick off a new segment in this blog that aims to list all things listable, I'm picking off from a conversation the pirates had some months ago. The Geek posed us this question that had been troubling him over the previous weekend: Is there any band or artiste who has received widespread critical acclaim for every single one of their albums?

Now, without delving into the sheer subjectivity of a phrase like "critical acclaim", that is a very pressing question indeed. So I've gotten down to tackling it, and am mildly proud to unveil what I think is a decent answer.

When we talk about a discography that is unanimously praised, it turns out to be a tougher hunt than one might imagine. I've been brutal in excluding acts that have one blemish lodged in their entire collection of brilliance. I've also set a few boundaries. First, I'm only looking at critical response to full-length studio releases, not EPs or singles or live albums. Secondly, an artiste has to have released at least four such albums. Lastly, I've limited this list to existing bands. No never-ending-rumours-of-reunion business or one-off lovey-dovey shows. It's a tough call, because you could make substantial cases for the Pixies, Pavement, Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith and Eric B & Rakim all jostling for top spot. But we're into currency, so nostalgia has to take a back seat this time.

With that in mind, here's the list. I think I revised it 234,750 times. Completely biased, always debatable.

12. Sparklehorse
Sparklehorse have demonstrated that timeless tunes require time-honed tunecrafting, and the duo of Mark Linkous and Scott Minor have found satisfaction in releasing one lushly composed record every three to five years, and just four overall. Less is best.
MP3: Shade and Honey (from Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain)

11. Tindersticks
These jazz-rock boundary pushers have operated under the radar for 16 years now, moving no further than cult band status. But any cult that requires its devotees to order their lives around the gospel of Tindersticks deserves to be followed religiously. And if they give out free white robes, even better.
MP3: Can We Start Again? (from Simple Pleasure)

10. Modest Mouse
I was a latecomer into the Modest Mouse hole, only getting acquainted with them on 2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News. But it was a most pleasant acquaintance with a band who have a fetish for long album titles and knack for crafting peculiar yet gorgeous songs. No rodent is simultaneously more vexing and alluring. Except maybe those freaking chipmunks that keep nibbling on my hot water pipes. They make a great soup.
MP3: Little Motel (from We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank)

9. White Stripes
Icky Thump, album number six for Jack and Meg, is like a "back to square one" venture; out go the glocks of Get Behind Me Satan, in come the floor toms and tweed amps. But they could have gone back to squares two, three, four or five and still have quality material to rattle our bones with.
MP3: Conquest (from Icky Thump)

8. My Morning Jacket
Long before Dave Matthews' record label ATO Records discovered them, MMJ were making alt-country tunes that indie chicks could indulge in without having to click their heels. Going big label hasn't hurt their stock too much either, as four quality studio works will testify.
MP3: What A Wonderful Man (from Z)

7. The Decemberists
If Neutral Milk Hotel hadn't gone all elitist-y and purist-y and stuff, they'd be the ones getting their fluffy necks stroked here. Nevertheless, that's no big loss; The Decemberists have proven to be a more-than-worthy heir apparent to the baroque folk-pop throne, bringing us four astounding LPs while adding to my growing vat of big words to impress nerdy girls with. Now I've just got to find a way to use "falderal" and "palanquin" in a sentence.
MP3: Shankhill Butchers (from The Crane Wife)

6. Mercury Rev
I've got my ticket to see them in August in Singapore. It was piss expensive, and I don't even know if they'll do anything from Deserter Songs, but I'm fine with eating food off the floor and drinking drain water for the next two months just for this. Wait, I did that in school already...for one buck...drat.
MP3: Nite and Fog (from All Is Dream)

5. Massive Attack
I'm tempted to call Robert Del Naja a "lazy piece of shit" for his pathetic output of four albums in 19 years. I would, if his music and that of his buddies wasn't so darn delicious. So I'll just shut up, and soak in the goodies that have been excreted from the collective asses of these founding fathers of trip-hop. Wait, that's like a really weird analogy...
MP3: Five Man Army (from Blue Lines)

4. Outkast
Yes, not everyone fancied Idlewild—but I did, so that's that. No really, lots of others did too, and even if you consider that 2006 effort their weakest, it says plenty about this rap duo's insanely consistent output of seven albums in 13 years.
MP3: Makes No Sense At All (from Idlewild)

3. PJ Harvey
A few qualifications are in order here. First, the moderately received Dance Hall at Louse Point was a collaborative with producer John Parrish (hence it's not counted), while Is This Desire had enough drool on its lap (including mine) to smother the rare ho-hum. Therefore, anyone with any of Polly Jean's nine angsty records in his or her collection can hardly go wrong; there are diamonds in every corner, and the roughest ones would still effortlessly slice through the kennel of of bitch rock pretenders that have tried to follow suit.
MP3: You Come Through (from The Peel Sessions: 1991-2004)

2. Bjork
Considering that Bjork fronted 12 bands (all now defunct) before going solo, one would not be blamed for wondering whether the Icelandic lady's own career would last beyond 1993, when she chuckled in with Debut. Six OMG albums (and two soundtracks) later, the only wonder left is the "wow" kind.
MP3: The Dull Flame of Desire (from Volta)

1. Beck
Nine albums, 13 years, and not a turkey in sight. Everyone from Grammy voters to voting grannies has something to say about Beck, and it's usually nice things. He's the consistency champion for this generation, and a likely title holder for years to come.
MP3: High 5 (Rock the Catskills) (from Odelay)

The Verve Reunited

Band forms. Band breaks up ten years later. Band takes ten years to record their magnum opus. Such a shame it ended. Lead singer goes on to churn out decent albums that yield a few hit singles but nothing fanboys wake up in the night needing to change their pants over. Fanboys grow up. Fanboys find new bands to be fanboys over.

Band reforms.

Yes, The Verve have regrouped. The facts are as follows:

1. The original line-up (ie no Simon Tong) are back together.
2. They will record a new album this summer.
3. They have at least six shows booked this November.
4. I need to change my pants.

Last night, I was listening to a Richard Ashcroft acoustic version of Lucky Man as I tenderly fell asleep, tears falling on my feathered pillow. Today I wake up to this piece of news. What does that say about good luck? Nothing. It only says that I don't read news in the weekends, cos this story broke late Friday.

But why would I be reading the papers on a Friday evening anyway? On Friday, my girlfriend's pet salamander got infected with xeroderma pigmentosum and I had to trek into the jungles of Sandakan to retrieve the young sapling of the juncus bufonius and cure it before its poisonous salamandic breath killed half of my girlfriend's condominium, rendering me sad and single, or possibly dead.

Richard Ashcroft - The Drugs Don't Work (acoustic solo version, originally from Urban Hymns)

Monday, July 2, 2007

They Will Kill Us All head into studio

Yes, the lords or paranoia tube-driven power-packed indie rock finally pack up their eleborate octave chord-heavy sound into the nearest studio for some serious tape time.

Rumor has it that the set is produced by JD of Pop Shuvit fame. Yes the same Pop Shuvit that sold out Japan clubs, was endorsed by Eastpak and plays that down-tuned genre from hell called rap rock. Not sure how that's going to pan out. Would it be a Godrich-The Strokes mismatch? Blunt-Nemcova? Curry chicken-banana chocolate cake?

As reported by us Pirates, the band will also heading to Baybeats as part of the Malaysian contingent. It will be the band's debut at the festival and chances is high that they will kill us all. Like seriously. Spear-through-the-chest kind of serious

They Will Kill Us All - Bright Lights (unreleased demo)
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