Indian Head Massage
2010 / 10 tracks, 42.6 mins / Universal
[Full Track List / Review / Commentary Here]
I can't say much about the album itself, but I can try. Their lyrics are mediocre, their music is mediocre. Cookie-cutter, nothing new. I'd be very disappointed if they're considered good because they don't go 'all computer-y'. It's dull. TypeWriter lack a concrete, convincing style or format to follow to. They just remain in blurry 'indie' ideals, possibly meaning Pop music (inclusive of ballads, rocky tunes, etc etc) only packaged for the 'different thinkers' of today's world. That's good, because you probably got to 'think different' to be into Singaporean music.
Track Cuts: "Beautiful Knows"
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Banned in da Singapura
1999 / 17 tracks, 1 hour / BigO Records
[Full Track List / Review / Commentary Here]
Banned in da Singapura is something that would most definitely strike the hearts of men and women in Singapore, particularly men though; It's vulgar, it's multilingual, it's anarchistic, full of energy and everything that made (single sex) schools so fun. The Janelle Monaé of Singapore, the Clash of Singapore, I can make up all these comparisons. The Boredphucks' Banned in da Singapura is in a league of its own here. And don't let the authorities get in your way of having fun, brothers.
Track Cuts: "Ai Sio Kan Mai", "Phuck You Pt 2"
2009 / 9 tracks, 50.9 mins / EARBLEEDWAXPOPSUPERSONICWHITENOISEFEEDBACKFUZZKILL
[Full Track List / Review / Commentary Here]
Aural haze meant to kill your eardrums and force you to mute the thing even with it running so that it could be registered on Last.FM. And enjoyable at that, only if Stellarium knew how to stop using unadulterated noise as a form of public masturbation. And stop sounding like My Bloody Valentine as well. God, that fact is probably even more spine-tingling than the music itself.
Track Cuts: "Fader"
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With the examination period (mostly) over and the purchase of a new computer imminent, I'm honestly stoked to get back into writing more of these reviews that will sum up as one in documenting Singaporean music on a whole. This October, on top of my heaping mountain of projects ranging from the aural to the visual, I'll be reviewing more and more of what Singapore can offer, including Postbox's debut EP as well as Stellarium's new album.
I don't mind if they're old or not. As I've been getting more contacts over the last month, I've learnt more about Singapore music's history and its noticeably expanding genre scope. It's not that it's actually growing; more of my own view getting less and less blinkered as I know more.
I'll also be compiling playlists, featuring singular songs from each of the albums that have been reviewed thus far. Of course it'll be the picks- I am promoting here! Criterion for each album to be in the playlist is as long as it doesn't fail. I don't think I'm actually going to give any album a score lower than D7, however - I do think I've been far too critical in the review of the Great Spy Experiment's 2007 dance rock breakthrough Flower Show Riots, which I'd given a C6. Not that my review was too critical for the album. I'm talking about the C6. (Flower Show Riots sucked.)
So if a 'sucked' album could get a C6... where could I go from there? I'm here mostly for critique anyway, not just plastering F9's like nobody's business as it is within my greatest interests to see that all of these talented musicians do well. An E8 and an F9 could very well be rarer than an A1, which I have also yet to give.
It's been highly tempting to give MUON's "The New Mutants" an A1, but when I say A1, I mean, hell, this is totally mind-bending. They change my perspectives of music and what it has in store for me (in a good way). "The New Mutants" is fantastic, but nothing extraordinary. What's extraordinary? Looking at music elsewhere, I'd say DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing...." (1996), the Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Take Five" (1959), the Clash's "London Calling" (1979) and maybe even Dizzee Rascal's "Boy in da Corner" (2003) if I'm feeling particularly grimey at the moment.
Otherwise, best not to get all tight on grading and reviewing and critiquing and exalting. Opinions, thoughts, mindsets, ideals, they all change, and at this adolescent age of mine, I'm an absolute ideology chameleon.
What's me listening to now outside of Singapore? The Shins' "Chutes Too Narrow", a fantastic progression of pop music cleverly crafted, Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back", the most balanced hip-hop album ever, Flying Lotus' "Pattern+Grid World", short and sweet and sensational, Jason Moran's "Ten", a modernistic jazz piece with an unthinkable Theolonious Monk cover, James Blake's "Klavierwerke" and "CMYK", who I wish a complete album from, and lest I forget, EZA's "Minimal Variations", whose Badupbebop still plays like a broken recorder in my head.
Also, Cee-Lo's profanity party of a track "**** You" is absolutely wonderful and a joy to hear on the radio. And also uttered by little 10-year olds who have an all-too-clear idea of the world surrounding them.
Amateur Takes Control
You, Me, and the Things Unsaid
2008 / 11 tracks, 54.2 mins / Kitty Wu Records
[Request for Download Link] (125MB)
"Built On Miles of Hope" comes in like fresh air when you've just come out of an air-conditioned building, that is, air-conditioned with large doses of boring and noisy. And the tracks thereafter too. Not to say that Amateur Takes Control stops being noisy after "Built On Miles of Hope", and not to say that they stop being boring either. But their form is well-improved, with "The Difference is" and "Leaving It Under Carpets" proving Amateur Takes Control has got the catchy hooks to keep one interested. Unfortunately, they're just too sparse, and the album ends on a horribly weak note, culminating in huge misstep title track "You, Me, and the Things Unsaid", where wildly unnecessary snippets of hip youngsters adorn the sound waves talking about things with their mouths pouting and their eyeballs rolling to look at the top, thinking about the smartest things they could say; Seems artful, maybe, seems clever, seems hip, seems utterly distracting, seems stupid and out of point. I never felt love or any of the things said in that song during the run-through of the album, but whatever - I've got MP3 players for a reason, and one of them is that I can make "Ghost Promises" the closer.
Track Cuts: "The Difference is", "Leaving It Under Carpets"
I've always wondered what the radio stations in Singapore have been doing for the local scene here. But I don't usually listen to the radio - It just isn't my type, if you know what I mean? It's to limited, confined to only a low spectrum of music. I can't disagree that there are some tracks on the airwaves which are great stuff, only not everything is, and there's too little to choose from anyway.
I just went to 91.3FM party, which was commemorating DJ Adam's last days in the studio before he's getting his hair (or half of it) shaved off and his next two years sentenced to mandatory National Service. It's all good. Then I asked a question while the music was playing at the DJs were off air.
I asked what they were doing to help in the local scene. DJ Sam liked For This Cycle, a band which gained popularity through competitions such as the ones NoiseSingapore hold, but mainly because he's got a distant cousin who plays for them. As for the radio station itself, they've got a segment on their website which features local artists. And on the radio, they mention it out so that people could have a look at it. Or be suggested to. Or be mentioned. Forgotten.
It's very little on the radio station's part to be so minimal on their support for the local scene. Whereas radio stations elsewhere, like the States, would be very proud of their hometown heroes and rotate them heavily, local radio stations here seem almost embarrassed to be showcasing the music in Singapore.
I know bands like Ronin and the Great Spy Experiment, maybe even Allura have gotten play time on the radios here. Specifically, 987fm, part of Mediacorp. But that's not enough. Sure, you've got band interviews here and there live with the DJs, but that's it...
Maybe it's down to money constraints. People don't care about unheard nonsense like EZA or Parking Lot Pimp. They want tracks they already know, mostly international hits by the time it's reached their ears. And it won't sell to be playing local music. And there isn't any major record label constantly prodding you to play a famous artist's song more often on the radio.
We need more support. It's time to forget about money. I know it's hard. But for the nation's sake. Remember how we cheered in the Singapore Youth Olympic Games? Let's have the same enthusiasm for local music too!
One day I'll retire as a millionaire and start up my own frequency with money being no object. There won't be no bloody commercials, maybe fake ones, a la Grand Theft Auto. Stuff like "Got problems? Don't worry! Here's caller telling you the best solution possible to all the difficulties in life: 'I used to be scared of my children getting hurt. So I killed them. Now I'm not scared any longer!' " will be on it. And the radio station will play 50% local music.
Millionaire. Music. 50% local.
I can sure as hell dream.