Tag Archives: music

Lulled by Lucy

img_5310-edited-2.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 almost 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 (which could probably explain why the audience fell silent). 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 even has chops as a 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 friend. 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).

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 from 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 before the show. I’m not entirely sure that it was Diiv’s music that spurred them on though, I’m guessing they’re youngsters who are taking full advantage of their youth (like they should).

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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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All of a Sudden I Miss Explosions In The Sky

Me being me, I missed Explosions In The Sky when they first came to Singapore in 2013 but in my defense, I had a national exam coming up (excuses). This post-rock outfit just manages to strike a chord with me, and many others I’m sure and there was no way I would miss seeing them in the flesh. There was a particularly large crowd that night, pleasantly surprising the band who didn’t expect so many people to show up (it’s nice to see a band being fully supported by a sizable crowd). They absolutely deserved that crowd, delivering a compelling live performance.

The supporting act, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, was a band that managed to show off their wide range of musicianship during their set, going from slow and psychedelic “Ffunny Ffrends” to the upbeat and dynamic “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”. I’ve heard many compare them to Tame Impala but I think that UMO has a sound of their own with Ruban’s sultry voice that’s full of affection, singing about issues that he is emotionally invested in such as his polygamous relationship. Their music also has a bit more funk that contrasts with his  mellow makes it more textured and enthralling to listen to. I love the diversity of this band’s discography and it was a blast hearing a passionate performance from the band. UMO and EITS may be an odd pairing but UMO’s soulful, psychedelic and mellow sound nicely accompanies EITS’ ethereal music.

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Proudly introducing themselves to hail from Texas (their love for the Loner Star State was quickly established by Munaf), Explosions In The Sky put up a surreal performance that was unforgettable. The band is known for their work on the TV show Friday Night Lights, producing the theme song of the show and several songs for the soundtrack. Their music is one that evokes strong emotions in a person, it is notable and memorable without the assistance of words and lyrics. Friday Night Lights has definitely benefited from EITS’s ability to add sentiment to a pivotal moment of a story which what differs the post-rock outfit their contemporaries such as This Will Destroy You, Mogwai or even 65daysofstatic. It’s because of EITS’s straightforward compositions of crescendos and melodies which provides a a sound that is somewhat much more tender in the post-rock genre, resonating with a wider audience (like me).

To hear their music live, elevated those strong emotions, captivated me in a moment of absolute awe. I was engaged in a narrative that was brought to life with the guidance of the band’s music. Even though they’re not a band that gets you pumped with hands in the air, the crowd around me were more than engrossed in a world of their own. It was a varied set list that delighted long-time fans (like my brother who takes credit for introducing me to EITS) with favourites like “Your Hand In Mine” and “The Only Moment We Were Alone”. The band also performed new songs off their recent album The Wilderness  like “Logic In A Dream” and “Disintegration Anxiety”. That album took a different direction from the band’s other discography, showing off the band’s experimental creativity. The few songs from the album also contributed to diverse sound in their live performance. My personal favourite from the band, “Catastrophe and the Cure” is a song that has brought me through some rough times ( basically not getting good grades and typical shit like that). The moment I heard it, I immediately relived these memories I’ve associated with this song (I’m sure you can do that with any song but this song specifically has accompanied me through some tough times). Hearing them perform this song live was like having a friend comfort you in a time of need and it was hard to keep my emotions in check (cheesy, but true).

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The band played so well with an intensity that left me preoccupied with these uplifting feelings  that were still lingering from the concert. Their concert was one that impacted me to a point where I found myself missing the moments of the strong emotions that I had while watching this band play stellar music.

I also kind of miss seeing Munaf sway from side to side, totally focused on his guitar.

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On My Loop: Aesop Rock – Kirby

Heeyyyyyy Kirby, whatcha doing Kirby? This song is addictive.

For a guy who’s been making music for at least 2 decades, I kind of hope that he gets more recognition for the great music he’s putting out. If he can rap about his new cat with pretty impressive lyricism, I don’t think he’s a rapper that should be dismissed. His lyrics vividly tell the quirky behaviour of his pet cat but in such a creative manner that I sometimes forget that it’s just about a pet cat.

‘The Impossible Kid’ as a whole is pretty darn good too (even though I’m late to get to it).

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