Dr. Martens presents The Heartbreaks live in Singapore

British band The Heartbreaks, trendy haircuts and well-crafted lyrics in tow, have just been announced to perform in Singapore this January as part of Dr. MartensIndividual Style, United Spirit campaign, which looks to capture the true essence and spirit of the people who wear their iconic shoes.

The four-piece, made up of of singer Matthew Whitehouse, drummer Joseph Kondras, guitarist Ryan Wallace and Chris Deakin on bass,  have been dubbed ‘the next great benchmark in British rock ‘n’ roll mythology’ since forming back in 2009.

If Joe Kondras (drummer/songwriter) is to be believed, they’re the best thing since The Arctic Monkeys: big claims; though with Dazed & Confused praising their debut album, Funtimes, with statements like “every song is capable of being a single”, there must be some foundation to them.

The Heartbreaks

This is The Heartbreaks’ debut Singapore performance, and Dr. Martens are bringing us their charming indie rock with a promise of free entry to all attendees wearing Dr. Martens footwear.*

The performance will be preceded by a style showcase by local personalities, and punters can expect a pre-show DJ set by Poptart’s Jah to kick things off for the night.

Watch The Heartbreaks’ ‘Liar, My Dear’:

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo4dXOX05OA&hl=en-GB&gl=SG[/youtube]

The Heartbreaks
Zouk Singapore
11 January 2013
FREE in your Dr. Martens footwear*

*subject to club capacity and rules.

Pairs @ The Pigeonhole (23.12.12)

Imagine yelling your inner thoughts till your throat pumped acid.

Then yell some more.

I’m no expert in this glass-shattering genre of music that Pairs brought to us on Sunday night, but whatever it is, it’s got me sold. Dubbed as ‘noise rock/punk’ on the web, Pairs is a twosome from Shanghai that just makes, well — noise.

With a drumming frontman and a back-wall facing guitarist, experiencing Pairs live was both bizarre and new. From the very start, their coarse sound grabbed us all by the ears as we dipped in a surprisingly comfortable shard-filled pool of honest lyrics and abrasive sounds.

Loud banging drum rhythms took center stage, and unfussy guitar riffs followed with splintering vocals. It felt like Pairs were getting excited creating music together for the first time, and they just ran with it on the stage where anything goes. Their spontaneity was refreshing and their performance was the perfect balance of a well-practised but not over-rehearsed set, with enough room for mid-song banter and improvisation.

The genuine charm and synchronisation between drummer Rhys and guitarist F reached a place where other sounds often would not, on the cusp of pain in the most enjoyable way — my ears have not hurt this good in a long time.

Watch ‘Don’t Fly My Body Back’:
[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPwdeQ3DPck[/youtube]

By Ian Liu

Regina Spektor @ Esplanade Concert Hall (22.12.12)

Though not quite the cozy setting you’d hope for, the sanctity of Regina Spektor’s performance a few days before Christmas at a theatre that easily fit almost two thousand strangers was kept intact by the knowledge that everyone seated on the extravagant, red-upholstered seats was in love with her.

We were nervous and fidgety, adjusting our clothes, glancing at our phones and idealizing how the night would turn out: if she would be everything we imagined her to be and more importantly, if she would sing any of her old songs that would surely feel like a giant embrace.

One of the first things she said was that she was nervous, charming the audience and explaining that she was a curse machine. It was the perfect ice-breaker to our first date at a fancy restaurant with the beautiful and talented woman we had loved from afar. And once she opened her mouth to sing, her voice shook us and showed us how much she loved not only music but also the performance, one of which is often missing in younger performers.

Despite the occasional distraction from the lights, Spektor’s voice and the melodies her fingers made on the grand piano always stole back whatever attention was so momentarily lost. The quality of her voice, her confidence mixed in with her quirky quips, her relationship with her songs and her beloved piano – the whole performance was, quite honestly, sheer perfection, perhaps partially attributed to her training in classical piano.

Twice she fumbled, and twice she recovered with the grace and mannerism of someone so comfortable with her instrument that it evidently seemed like an extension of her being. “Professional” could not even begin to describe those little moments that made her human.  It just made us love her more. It was the last show of the Regina Spektor tour and she indeed made us feel it: we were special.

Every single one of her twenty-four songs (including three encore songs including ‘Us’ which she performed with a band; and the other two, ‘Fidelity’ and ‘Samson’, which she performed solo) appeased any hesitation we’d had during the night — how long we waited between the main and opening acts, how restless we got before her set began. All things were absolved, resolved and forgiven by the end of the set, as we rose from our seats to give her a standing ovation after an enchantingly raw version of ‘Samson’ — because sometimes you get a sweet kiss at the end of your first date at a fancy restaurant – and it’s only natural to give a kiss back.

By Cat Cortes

The Other Sounds: December

Our present to you this Yuletide is a December playlist that has avoided, at all means, the trap of simply choosing one song from each of Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas albums. This list is an attempt to sum up not just how we feel this winter — okay, slightly less scorching summer in Singapore — but also the incredibly dramatic year of 2012.

So rest assured we’ve kept our alternative integrity intact, and even though there are, inevitably, a few tracks with vibraphones in them, we’ve also added in touches as eclectic as metal and rap.

Merry Other Sounds Christmas, folks.

1. It’s Christmas, But It’s Not White Here in Our Town / Kishi Bashi
2. Careless / Beach Fossils
3. Violent Youth / Crystal Castles
4. Promises / The Presets
5. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards / Tame Impala
6. Wild Things / San Cisco
7. Same Love / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
8. Dissolve Me / Alt-J
9. Sadness Comes Home / Converge
10. Her / Jam City
11. Bad Mood / The Vaccines
12. Ceremony (New Order cover) / Radiohead
13. Burner! / ScotDrakula
14. L’enfant Sauvage / Gojira
15. Hypnotic Winter / Jeff The Brotherhood

[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDZpcfnKQYjNzilZ4d_CQnf4_w1Ib3pdW[/youtube]
By Zixin Lin

Chief Keef – Finally Rich

‘Laughin’ to the Bank’, the seventh track of Chief Keef’s debut album, Finally Rich, is the epitome of Chief Keef’s sound. It’s an obnoxious song in every aspect – from the repetitive HA HA HA’s in the chorus to the follow-up LA LA LA’s or HIGH HIGH HIGH’s that end most lines on song’s two verses. I’m still not fully certain there are two verses in the first place, because, somewhere along the four minutes that span the track, the lines morph together into some kind of chant, lose meaning (as with any word you stare at until it resolves itself into a string of dead letters) and I enter some sort of listening limbo.

Essentially, ‘Laughin’ to the Bank’ is pretty much both the best and worst song in Finally Rich. It’s exactly the kind of mind-numbing, dulled-out by-product of Chicago’s violent hip-hop youth culture you would expect when you play Finally Rich for the first time, but you’re still mind-blown nonetheless. It goes beyond what you’d last heard on YouTube-topping singles ‘Love Sosa’ or ‘I Don’t Like’, which are, while still following that same formula, actually highly enjoyable and merit repeated listens. It’s just a matter of whether you’re ready for a good 45 minutes of that (55 if you’re on the deluxe edition). There’s not a whole lot of variation throughout, except when guest spots come in (50 Cent weak as he’s been for a long time).

At the end, we’re left wondering how long Chief Keef’s formula could last. It sure did for almost an hour’s worth of an album. It’s highly probable he’d fade out like previous one-album-wonder Soulja Boy. Chances of that are most likely going to up to Chief Keef’s own health condition. The guy who passionately (hilariously) introduced Finally Rich at the beginning didn’t touch on that, so it’ll be interesting to see where whatever mental illness he has (some say Asperger’s, others think autism) takes him. Meanwhile, I’m just glad he’s got the money to care for his baby daughter.

Listen to: ‘Love Sosa’, ‘I Don’t Like (feat. Lil Reese)’

I Don’t Like (feat. Lil Reese):
[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WcRXJ4piHg[/youtube]

By BJ Lim

Other Sounds official launch party!

Other Sounds has been alive and kicking for three months now and the time has come for us to throw a massive party to celebrate the official launch of the website for all our friends and readers!

We are thrilled to announce that Melbourne’s ScotDrakula, who turn reckless garage rock and lo-fi grit into positively catchy sing-alongs, sugary sweet fuzz-pop band Obedient Wives Club, and indie/pop gems Lost Weekend will be playing for us in the first of many shows we’ll be putting on for the year.

To finish the night off is Home Club’s KICKS! with Joe Ng and Roland Ngoi.

The Other Sounds official launch party is proudly sponsored by main sponsors Asahi and Vans, and supporting sponsor Urbanears.

Let’s kick off the beginning of a new era of music journalism in Singapore!

Watch ‘Burner’, the new video from ScotDrakula:
[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsZutY2vYEk[/youtube]

Home Club, Identite, and The RSC present…
Other Sounds launch party

Friday, 18 January
Home Club

Stay tuned for more announcements and the show poster/artwork!

Rocketswan and Lost Weekend @ PoW, Little India (20.12.12)

First thing’s first: the soundchecks weren’t handled too well by the first act Rocketswan. The first test plucks came in at about 9:12pm (Rocketswan were scheduled to play at 9pm), and it was about ten minutes of soundcheck band jamming before the first song kicked in. And even then, the band still found kinks with its sound. Reverberation was converging at a point just before feedback and the vocals were maybe a little too soft.

But they roughed them out by the second song, and the small audience at the Prince of Wales, Little India backpackers’ pub could finally focus on the music. And it turns out the reverb and soft vocals might have been rather intentional after all; Rocketswan, a five-piece setup with a female lead vocalist, play surf rock with elements of dream pop and lo-fi in the mix. It all comes together sounding rather retro, but the only comparison that immediately pops to my mind is how their fourth song, ‘Slidey’, sounds a great deal like the very much modern Best Coast (themselves lo-fi surf rockers) with its upbeat melodies and sing-a-long whoa-oh’s.

Best Coast isn’t five people though, so you’d forgive them if they were rather one-dimensional in their sound. Rocketswan’s songs tend to be like that sometimes, and it’s their greatest weakness. There’s not a great deal of progression in their music, and the dreamy reverberation doesn’t help either. They could do a lot better to mix it up in future live shows.

The band left the best for last in the form of an explosive closer in the form of ‘Soon’. “An MBV cover?” was what came to mind as frontwoman Rachael announced the title. While not exactly My Bloody Valentine, the song was undoubtedly shoegaze nonetheless, kicking off softly but heavily with a warm and fuzzy guitar drone. And as good closers go, the song soon turns explosive with its wandering guitar amp effects, a reflective and retrospective ending to Rocketswan’s very short gig. It showed an experimental side to the band, something unseen from the songs earlier on in their setlist (excluding ‘Lazy Bones’ which had the lead guitarist briefly playing a toy piano), and I’d wished they’d displayed more of it.

Lost Weekend‘s bassist and supporting vocalist Mark, a muscular, cooler looking (no offence) Hossan Leong, breathes into his microphone, “This song is called soundcheck,” proving that he’s got the humour too, just like Hossan Leong, if only more dry and sardonic. ‘Soundcheck’ was rather enjoyable, they should’ve made it a real song.

Lost Weekend, who are four-strong and with a female lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (who knows how to sport bangs), come across as more chill than Rocketswan. Is it because they’re less surf rock or generally more calm about their playing? Things feel effortless, and with such levels of comfort you can afford to do a guitar solo here and there, which they were more than willing to do for several songs.

They get their groove on somewhere in the middle. Even Mark’s taken off his earplugs and is smiling for once, beneath all the dry witticisms he’d been remarking (to great comedic effect) at the audience for most of the show. By the penultimate song, however, which begins with just female vocals backed up by minimal instrumentation, I’ve begun to have doubts over the suitability of a small venue such as a pub for this kind of music. During this time, the female lead was the only musician who made a sound; with just her vocals, now loud and clear (pretty good), backed up by her own Korg accompaniment. It’s during these quieter moments where the pub setting feels just about right. But Lost Weekend are a rock band, after all… And it gets pretty loud again soon enough.

Wrapping things up for this two-fer was an original Christmas number by Lost Weekend. The getup changes, with the lead guitarist taking the Korg to play some bell-like synths. Tasty mellow melodies started playing, with the lead vocalist’s equally saccharine voice clearer than ever. The music was softer than usual. It was sweet and to those who left after Rocketswan or in the middle of Lost Weekend: you  missed out!

By BJ Lim

Baybeats Auditions bands announced for Round 1

After two weeks and several listening parties spent deliberating over more than one hundred applications, the Baybeats team have just announced the thirty successful bands who have made it to Round 1: live auditions.

The Baybeats Auditions initiative offers emerging Singapore bands an opportunity to share the stage at Baybeats, one of the region’s biggest alternative music festivals.

The thirty successful bands will now go on to Round 1 auditions on 5 January 2013, where they will each be given a 15-minute time slot to set up and perform two original songs in front of a judging panel. Fifteen bands will then be shortlisted to perform again at Round 2 auditions on 2 February 2012, after which a final selection of 8 bands will be mentored and developed by prominent local musicians in the lead up to their debut performance at Baybeats festival from 28 – 30 June 2013.

This year’s batch of bands includes a noticeably larger number of hardcore/metal bands, but an overall diverse pool of talent in terms of genre and experience:

Abraham The Short
Before The Tempest
Dropbeat Heartbeat
False Plaintiff
Hi-Fi Stereo
I Left A Monarchy
Light Up Charcoal
Lost Weekend
Monsters In Living Flesh
Off The Cliff
Science of Space
The Blue Experience
The Good Life Project
Tricks & Cider
Vanessa Faith
Weekend Firemen
While The Kids Are Surreal

Baybeats Auditions
Esplanade Outdoor Theatre
1st Round Auditions: 5 Jan 2013, Sat
2nd Round Auditions: 2 Feb 2013, Sat

Baybeats 2013
28 – 30 Jun 2013 (Fri – Sun)