A Lovely Day at Laneway

There were some bumps along the Laneway road, but it was stellar ride nonetheless.

I’m loser with no friends so I had to plough through the hipster fest alone but I have absolutely zero regrets. However, I only attended half the festival and entered the grounds at 5pm. There was no re-entry and I didn’t feel like wallowing by myself for a full day. Plus, I didn’t want to throw my money down the drain by paying for overpriced food which could at least pay for a week’s worth of lunch. Even though I only attended half the festival, I left with a full heart (yes, this is a cringe-inducing sentence).

I was there when Laneway alumni The Internet started their set to a very eager audience who were happy to welcome back the band. I was kind of indifferent to their return and was honestly just patiently waiting for Mac Demarco’s set to start. But band members Syd and Steve Lacy are enjoying some sort of rising influence and you can hear the enthusiasm from the crowd. They were extremely excited for Steve Lacy so much so that I was wrapped up in the energy (which was mostly made of attraction for Steve). While I was bopping my head along to The Internet, waiting for Mac, I realised that The Internet might just continue to rise in popularity if this alluring charm of theirs manages to captivate an even bigger audience.

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Another returning Laneway alum is Mac Demarco, who is probably the prince of the indie scene but being trapped amongst his fans was tormenting (and I’m one of those fans). I’m fine with a couple of people shoving me to get to the front as long as they’re aware that they are horizontally challenged. I got shoved by so many huge titans and they all blocked my view of the pepperoni playboy (which made me pissed). God bless Mac Demarco for his music because it was the only thing that made me forget about how I’m sandwiched between jerks chanting “USA” out of nowhere. Chamber of Reflect on your behaviour please.

Shout out to Andy who sang “Under The Bridge” out of key but his candid rendition still makes me laugh and brings me joy because I too relate to not having a partner.

One of the harder bands on the line-up, Wolf Alice, definitely brought it. Ellie Roswell, the lead singer of the alternative rock band was at that moment, the epitome of female empowerment. She looked so elegant in her white dress and neatly tucked blonde hair but the girl could shred on her guitar while delivering some impressively fierce vocals. She balances the line of femininity and ferocity with such effortlessness that just leaves me absolutely envious. As much as I love this band, I hit a low point during their set when they were performing one the fan favourites “Bros”. Ellie told the crowd to dance along with their best friend and since I am a lonely loser, had nobody to dance with (oh woe is me). I had to just constantly tell myself that I am an independent mofo that doesn’t need anybody while internally crying and screaming. I just had to yell my unwanted emotions out as I sang along to their song “Space & Time” (which is a banger btw).

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Slowdive legitimately had me in a hypnotic state that I don’t remember much except an inner feeling of calm and ecstasy. Also a girl yelling “IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL I COULD CRY” which sounds extreme but I share her sentiments.

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The highlight of the night was hands down the man who just oozes charisma and confidence, Anderson. Paak. PAAK ME, I love this man. His stage presence is truly divine. Hearing and watching him perform with a million dollar smile was like catching a glimpse of paradise (despite being drowned by sweaty young adults). The man got me to get low during “Lite Weight” which basically meant doing squats for 5 minutes and I willingly obliged despite being averse to exercise – that’s how much this man has me wrapped around his little pinkie. And it wasn’t just me, he had the whole crowd bewitched. It was an unforgettable atmosphere that was thirst-inducing (not just for water, but also for Breezy Lovejoy making some hot moves on stage). One qualm I did have was the technical difficulties his set endured, forcing the already aggravated crowd to wait another 20 minutes. I had to breathe in the musky air of the people around me and listen to them chit chat arrogantly about their superior music taste (me heaving a big sigh right around here). But would I wait an eternity for Anderson. Paak? Yes Lawd!

Anderson isn’t the only one who possesses a magnetic stage presence because Father John Misty, or Josh Tillman, has a way about him that you just gravitate towards. Mr Tillman has a lot to say about the glaring flaws of humanity (which I think sometimes just goes over a lot of listeners’ heads) but masterfully constructs his beliefs into songs that are memorable and substantial. You can look at his music as somewhat preachy, but he sways you with his melodies and cleverly written lyrics that is brimming with playful wit. It’s hard to knock Father John Misty as merely pretentious especially after he delivers a fervent performance that just shows he belongs on the stage. I regret not being closer to the stage to soak up his spirited energy because I talked to a stranger in an attempt to make friends, and I don’t think she liked Father John Misty so we stood near the back. (She eventually ditched me when she left to “go to the bathroom” but I was secretly relieved to be by my lonesome again).

 

 

I stayed around for Bonobo and The War on Drugs knowing that these two were kind of the stars of the whole line-up. But look, I’m neutral on these two musicians. I don’t hate them, but I don’t love them either. It’s possible that I might come to be more interested in both of them in the future, but for the time being, I’m okay with sitting down and watching them on the screen.

Like Anderson, Bonobo also suffered from technical difficulties (like Laneway, get your shit together because I did not pay good money only hear problems with your sound system). It’s especially frustrating with Bonobo as his sound is recognised for being more polished or refined. It’s what makes his music more prominent than his (I want to say electronica?) counterparts. What made it even more disappointing was that his vocalist’s mic had some issues as well and her voice couldn’t shine through (use your customers’ money to fix this Laneway). But the silver lining was that I think people were drunk enough to dance and wobble their head along to Bonobo anyway.

I had similar feelings during The War on Drugs’ set as I did at Slowdive’s set. It was made clear why this is a grammy-nominated band with their excellent musicianship and songs that conveyed a magnitude of emotions and earnestness. I’m complimenting the band to the high heavens now but the truth is I left early because I wanted to catch the last train home (woops). Nevertheless, I sincerely enjoyed what I did hear and experience from their set and I think the band’s heartfelt indie rock sound was a perfect choice to close the entire festival.

Laneway wasn’t perfect; I was alone, there were technical issues and I hate crowds (hipsters that remind me of my own presumptuous self are particularly bad). But music has always been a priority for me, something that I religiously follow and something that also acts as a companion (perfect for someone with no friends, like me). Laneway delivered on that front and I wouldn’t mind being slightly miserable again if I can revel in amazing live music.

 

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Not Fazed One Bit

IMG_54072If 4 big burly men willingly and wholeheartedly declare that they’re a “lucky girl” repeatedly, Amelia Murray has successfully infected her diverse audience with her bright, bubbly and glowing indie pop hits.

Amelia Murray or aka, Fazerdaze, caught attention when her single “Lucky Girl” became one of the many viral indie songs that YouTube sometimes just won’t stop recommending you (but i’ll gladly take it over any vlogger that YouTube won’t stop shoving down my throat). The lucky girl collected a few million views from her saccharine song that was just sticky with peppy synths and mixed with composed vocals that just feels like it’s in a far away place. However, the song doesn’t accurately represent the rest of her album “Morningside” which might even sound like a laid-back listen just for leisure. But Murray has some angst and agony that she showcases in songs like “Friends,” “Half-Figured” and “Misread”.  She sounds a tad bit more vexed in her shortcomings such as not being able to equally divide her attention among her friends or even not fully understanding her feelings towards someone (same, honestly). The instrumentals become more fierce, almost emulating Angel Olsen in way (at least that’s how I hear it). Her album doesn’t fall flat on one song style and it was even better to hear that variety live on stage.

It wasn’t much of a stage by the way, it was more of like large desk in a very poorly ventilated room but the intimacy of the setting was very apt for a musician like Fazerdaze. Being only about 2 meters away from her felt quite surreal (or it could be because I was lacking air). She seemed to be such an amiable person and constantly communicated her appreciation for her sold-out show (she also stopped the show for a girl who passed out from the humidity,  you can’t be any more of a better person that). The sentimentality of her songs that shares her personal emotions resonated with a lot of teenagers, some, who were at the show, were quite exuberant and lively. That energy is sometimes pretty rare at concerts in Singapore where stiffness and rigidity is commonplace sadly. It might sound like any other indie music to an outsider, but there’s a poignancy to her songs that has a great effect on a fan.

Amelia wasn’t phased by the uncomfortable environment and braved through the heat with her audience (who were all drenched in sweat) and it showed some form of resilience on her behalf. Even if the energy from the crowd died down eventually (unsurprisingly because it was literally hard to breathe with no fresh air), she never really showed any signs of slowing down and progressed with a good level of vigor.  When the much anticipated song “Lucky Girl” began, the crowd (or at least me) went nuts. I did mention the men who unashamedly chanted I’m a lucky girl right? Our high energy was reciprocated by Amelia’s enthusiasm and her “stage dive” – she joins the crowd and rubs elbows with us peasants while still jamming on her guitar (so cool). She made what could have been and unbearable night, a pretty remarkable one honestly.

P.S. To further emphasise her friendly personality, she was actually patient enough to meet and greet almost every single one of us hipsters who are undeserving of such kindness.

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Lulled by Lucy

img_5310-edited.jpgSomething’s changing in Lucy Rose, but her warm and kind-hearted self always shines through.

Lucy Rose is on tour to promote her new album and film “Something’s Changing” and I was eager to catch a glimpse of what “changes” the singer-songwriter had to share with her fans. Her short film documented her gutsy journey to travel Latin America (despite being warned about the dangers), solely depending on the support of her fans. Her fans would book shows for her and she would perform for them in return. It was heartwarming showcase of graciousness on both ends, the singer and the fans. You could feel special knowing that she was sharing these profound moments and revelations that she experienced during her time in Latin America. I’m a crybaby, but watching these heartfelt interactions between Lucy and her fans made me tear a bit (I now realise watching Lucy Rose live usually makes me cry actually).

This genuine allure of Lucy Rose is what attracted me to her music, it’s sincere and relatable. She writes music that’s so calming and reassuring that it’s hard not to come back to it. She even manages to add a little more ‘Latin flavour’ into her new album “Something’s Changing” which gave it more dynamism than her previous albums so it was interesting how it would play on stage alongside her other music.

Her charm on stage is magnetic and has an adorable wit that hard to match. She’s so comfortable and confident on stage that even when she expresses doubt in singing “Like An Arrow” without the crowd’s help, it’s hard to believe. Her performance was sentimental and especially in an intimate setting, the emotions felt like they were revved up. I’ve said that I was a crybaby before but it’s always a challenge to hold back tears and an apple in my throat when I hear “Shiver.” Lucy herself also always seems affected by the song with tears welling up in the eyes, which just tells you how much of herself and her emotions she inserts into her music and performances. Just to add on to how brilliant she is, she is a great live performer, never showing any signs of a slip-up except forgetting the lyrics to “Our Eyes” for the first time ever which was forgivable (it’s okay Lucy, you’re human). But nevertheless, she never sounds far off from her studio-recorded self, she sounds better actually because of this greater connection she has with her audience.

Her commitment to her fans is commendable. She met almost every single one her fans (those who were willing to brave the long line), hugging them and engaging them in actual conversation. She wasn’t a star out reach in those moments, she was kind of like your trusted companion. She basically gave boasting rights to everyone who could now say “hey, I know Lucy Rose personally.” I myself had the pleasure of meeting her in the flesh and she said she liked my shoes and I said that I liked her shoes and … you get how awkward I am now. But you know that cozy feeling when you listen to her music? It’s exactly that when you meet her but so much better because she’s encouraging, amiable and I could list all the synonyms to describe her compassionate character. Even though I’ve seen her live once at Neon Lights, it was still a great seeing her live again. (Heck my friend’s seen her five times and she still can’t get enough and I guess that’s impact of Lucy Rose).

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Doused with Diiv’s Delightfulness

IMG_5245 editedWho knew a band like Diiv could warrant mosh pits and crowd surfers?

Zachary Coleman, the frontman of Diiv, may not seem like much but this timid and gentle being produces some delightful music that manages bring a calm over me. Listening to ‘Oshiin’ is like an ethereal escape into a different space dimension (with the exception of Doused which is just a banger). ‘Is The Is Are’ is a mouthful to say and also levels up the intensity of the music from ‘Oshiin’. It definitely shows a distinct shift away from the slow serene sound that I enjoyed a lot more in their previous album. But even with slightly more vigorous songs under the band’s discography, I was still only expecting an intimate night with them accompanied with a tranquil energy.

The show was not at all what I was expecting. People right in front of the stage seemed a bit more enthusiastic than usual and started moshing during the third song. I was pretty taken aback because I don’t always encounter such an energetic crowd in Singapore. The mosh gave me an opportunity to push my way to the front though. I only managed to keep my place at the front for a short moment cause my stamina’s low and this mosh was almost never-ending (so were the crowdsurfers, like once or twice just wasn’t enough for them goddamn). The band played off of our rambunctious antics and their momentum just kept on going (see, this is what happens when you actually move during a concert). Zach and co. responded accordingly and became much more engaging with the sporting audience.

And Zach may be the face of the band but he’s not exactly a frontman in the conventional sense. He’s not exactly one for great conversation and I get that (I’m socially inept myself) but to suddenly converse about baseball on stage was little awkward for the rest of the audience. It was pretty funny though and I get that it’s Murica’s favourite pastime. So long Zach was there before me in person instead of flaking out like last year’s Laneway, I was satisfied.

The band did put on a solid performance, sure Zach’s vocals were sometimes hard to hear but isn’t it most of the time anyway? Fan favourites like “Under the Sun” and “Doused” really got that lively crowd I mentioned before to mosh some more. I was starting to think I should have warmed up before the show.  Despite initially being a particularly serene band in my mind, DIIV somehow spurred these robust youngsters to take full advantage of their youth by moshing or crowdsurfing (cause you can’t do it when you’re 60 right?)

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By the way, shoutout to the poor guy who kept asking them to play ‘Earthboy’ and they never did. Hearing him request the band play ‘Earthboy’ so many times made it comical, like an extra in a show who kept having his ice cream ruined.

 

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On My Loop

Bless the internet for the unlimited access to great music, which brings me to share what I’ve been playing on loop for awhile now.

Kane Strang – My Smile is Extinct

Given the subject of the song, breaking up with a cheating girlfriend, Strang’s unvarying vocals isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when accompanied with dispirited twangs of the guitar. I actually really love the whole dejected energy of the song. As morbid as that sounds, the lyrics actually carry some sort of sharp wit which are pretty clever and humorous, taking jabs at an existence that becomes troublesome to live on after a break up. And the song’s been stuck in my head for long time now.

Zack Villere – Cool

Formerly known as Froyo Ma, Zack Villere returns with a quirky little tune that is reminiscent of his other-worldly work as Froyo Ma. Villere makes music that’s akin to comfort food. It’s relaxing, comforting of course, melodius and just fun to listen to. “Cool” in itself sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon with its animated and zany tune (also, his resemblance to Arnold from the Magic School Bus kind of adds to this image somehow). In spite of his desire to be cool and requests for approval from others, he actually comes across as if at peace with who he is, emitting a certain confidence that is quite charming.

Brockhampton – Sweet

This group has.been.blowing.up and it’s not hard to see why. Despite each person’s strong personality that clearly shines through in the track, the group manages to come together cohesively through truly unique beats such as this one in “Sweet”. The whole of Saturation and Saturation II is quite a feat and I implore anyone who reads this to go and listen to both albums because their creativity in this short period of time is impressive and inspirational (I mean, it got me off my lazy ass to actually do something). However, this particular song stood out with its earworm of a hook. Kevin Abstract (leader of the group I suppose?) just has a knack for producing choruses that are extremely memorable. “Sweet” particularly has the tune of a snake charmer playing me into a trance, which would make sense as to why I haven’t stopped listening to this song. This is a boyband I can get on board with.

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On My Loop: Charly Bliss – Ruby

With vocals akin to the likes of Mars Argo (which I might describe as a “baby doll” with helium?) and instrumentation that’s a mix of grunge and pop, there’s very little to not like about this band. The lead singer’s vocals aren’t usually something I’d stay around for but there’s a high-powered energy to her style of singing that I just got hooked on. It feels like she’s managed to harness the impossibly high falsetto in her voice into something that sounds deceivingly sweet (she sounds nice and innocent but would daringly flip the bird right in your face). And I do hear a tinge of Weezer in the guitar solo – what’s not to like about that? The band may not be revolutionary but definitely has something that has been missing in the indie-rock genre (cause I suggest that hipsters branch out from something other than chillwave or synthwave or something of that like).

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Caught up in the Melodrama

1200x630bb.jpgLorde | Melodrama |

I rarely write about albums because I’m usually unfamiliar with the artist’s entire discography and I always think to myself that it’s necessary for me to hear how a particular musician has developed their sound through different albums. And I think I’m familiar enough with Lorde’s musical career that while listening to her new release, Melodrama, I had a few thoughts on how the singer-songwriter has either made alterations or improvements to her sound, both of which showcases Lorde’s maturity as a musician. I found her in the beginning to be an indie darling with her debut “The Love Club EP,” (when I was young and was very into electropop). It was a decent album but was just slightly lacklustre and was missing this special something. Then came “Pure Heroine” which of course garnered critical acclaim which was rightly deserved. That album was a refreshing take on pop music that felt different, authentically youthful and goddamn catchy. So it was normal to be excited to hear that Lorde was making new music but after hearing the first single “Green Light” I was kind of dubious about the new album. But “Liability” was then released and my hope was somewhat restored. It was a great ballad track, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in Lorde. I understand that musicians can take different directions with their music but the style of music on “Pure Heroine” had such an effect on me that it was hard to not look forward to it in her new album (she did not disappoint btw).

I think it’s great that Lorde took her time with “Melodrama” and it shows, the album feels complete and carefully thought through. But me being a huge snob had some qualms with some tracks. I’ve heard time and time again that “Hommade Dynamite” is probably the best track off the album and was the single that was never meant to be, but I kind of disagree. The track played out like it was targeting for the top charts (which I’m not too fond off). I feel the same way about the closing track “Perfect Places” (which I’m sure after a few more listens I’ll come around to it but for now I just kind of see to who it’s being catered to). “Hommade Dynamite” did however have one redeeming quality in which Lorde says so gingerly “now you know it’s really gonna blow” and makes an explosion sound which definitely shows her quirky (and down-to-earth i guess?) aspect of her music.

I’ve adored Lorde for her signature sound of layering her own voice over in tracks which presents her distinct originality and even puts her above the rest of other pop singers that just fall into the category of generic. And this was what “The Louvre” delivered – the track had a simple guitar riff in the beginning that built up Lorde’s own layered vocals that echoed throughout the track, giving it some sort of insurmountable depth. The chorus of this track, “broadcast the boom boom boom and make ’em all dance to it” is again something representative of Lorde’s quirkiness – it’s simple, meaningful and pretty memorable.

“Hard Feelings/Loveless” is basically two tracks combined into one and seems to have no bearing on each other (and I’m still not sure why they’re one track instead of two, probably could be how Lorde herself has transitioned and moved on from her past relationship and becoming a whole new person or something like that). Lorde said in an interview that “we can all do whatever we want in terms of instrumentation” and I think she tested that theory in this track (Hard Feelings) because I kind of hear a beat made out of doors squeaking. At times it sounds innovative and inventive, but at other times it really just sounds like a squeaky door.

Lorde also explored new sounds with the addition of orchestral instrumentation in “Sober II (Melodrama)” elevates the outpouring of emotion from the singer-songwriter (it changed my mind on solely looking for electropop when listening to her music). This pretty much goes for “Writer in the Dark” as well, with simply just piano instrumentation, it places focus on Lorde’s Fiona Apple-esque vocals and the emotion poured into this track was palpable. Lorde came across as genuinely hurt, portraying herself as the type to leap into a relationship rather than just dipping her toes in and accepting the consequences of her openhearted nature.

“Supercut” is alike to “Green Light” nothing breathtaking but not terrible either (I probably just need to listen to it on repeat or something).

“Liability (Reprise)” kind of brings a calming close to the emotional album before “Perfect Places.” It seemed like she’s come to terms with not only her shortcomings as a partner but also how the other had their own faults as well (basically it made me feel emotions). Her vocals are particularly raw here (maybe less so than “Writer in the Dark” but felt honest nevertheless) and the beat feels reminiscent of her previous single “Tennis Court” (which felt like a throwback to me).

A significant part of the album is Lorde divulging into a past relationship that has affected her in a big way and it felt like an open letter to her listeners. An open letter about her experiences as a youth under the limelight and the consequences of fame. The album had stellar production that suited Lorde’s unmistakable musical style and the countless commendation is well-deserved.

 

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Peppy Hipsters

The other day I accidentally clicked on a Hippo Campus music video from my YouTube recommendations (i say accidentally because from the pastel-coloured thumbnail I was guessing I’ve heard this band’s sound before) and I realised how long I haven’t listened to simple, catchy and snappy indie guitar music. For some reason I always feel like I have to listen to music that’s unconventional and groundbreaking  (most probably to pander my insecurities regarding my self-worth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Trying to be a  music snob isn’t as easy as a melon (theneedledrop) makes it out to be. Experimental music isn’t exactly a genre you want to put on to unwind during vacation. So I decided to click on all the YouTube recommendations of indie music (after clicking that Hippo Campus music video) and I’ve compiled some of my favourite tracks into a playlist. I have no intention of offending hipsters with the title of this playlist but let’s face it, hipsters (including me) tend to gravitate towards music like this like a moth to a flame. Could you blame us? It’s like instant gratification in easily digestible tunes (which were made by people that kind of carry that hipster aesthetic as well?).

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Phoenix – J-Boy

Phoenix has been a band that I’ve gone to for polished indie-pop when I just want to give myself some sort of mental break because of the simplicity of their sound (I can’t listen to Death Grips all day can I?). I love Phoenix for their upbeat, jangly and animated sound which I often use to compensate for the lack of good and solid pop songs (bless the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen for changing that fact). Phoenix’s music is usually pretty energetic and spirited which I think is lacking in “J-Boy”. The instrumentation is great, very reminiscent of Phoenix’s signature peppy synths. The synths in this track also bring to mind The Human League a little bit (not complaining since I’ve unashamedly sung out loud to “Don’t You Want Me”). But Mars’ autotuned vocals are a turn-off for me as it overshadows the charming hushed voice I’m so used to hearing from Mars’. It also kind of takes away from their romantic vision of love and desire since the autotune makes him sound more detached and dispassionate to me. I’d still play this song on repeat though, just until it grows on me.

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