Sebastian Grainger – Yours to Discover

A few words come to mind when listening to Sebastian Grainger’s Yours to Discover: Nostalgia. Generic. Laughter. Twerking. Southern Cali. Blink-182 concerts. 1980’s disco princes.

The former Death From Above 1979 frontman/drummer has pioneered an album so electronically and sonically diverse that it might seem confusing at first listen. Packed with electronic beats, crazed yelpings, a blatant Neil Young record (“I’m looking for a hand”), and preppy synth hooks, Sebastian Grainger’s debut effort feels like a sketchboard of bored musings, a creative output in place of DFA 1979, instead of a proper decent record.

After the introductory reversed tune of pianos in ‘Overture’, the album immediately kicks into into a resounding punk track, ‘Waking Up Dead. ‘Waking Up Dead’ is a straight-up punk record, a record that throws a firm nod in reminescent of DFA 1979’s glory days. Things seem to go increasingly crazy from here, with the album transforming into a molten pot of electronic beats, soul, half- baked lyrics and 1980’s synth-pop disco.

‘The Streets Are Still A Mess’ is a trippy song, a political salvo at characters in the geo-political scene, while ‘I’m Looking For A Hand’ is a folk track which Grainger attempts to channel his inner acoustic spirit over elongated, screechy choruses and vocal beat sampling. ‘A Second Of Love’ is a decent track, launching preppy indie-pop synth beats that turns into a giant, sloppy love ballet, and lead single ‘Going With You” has Grainger singing like Bruce Springsteen over Van Halen’s keyboard riff in Jump.

One track that stands out from the cacophony of 1980’s dance music is ‘Let’s Move To NYC’, a sterling track which mixes palm-muted funk grooves over soft, whispered singing. The album then leads into ‘I Want Sebastian Grainger’ — a deathly epilogue that throws the album back completely into oblivion.

Packed with a couple of nostalgic disco hits and a decent punk song, Yours to Discover lacks solid direction. Ultimately, Sebestian Grainger’s debut effort feels like a record of all sorts, and a confusing listen for listeners in general — a good listen for oldies, but somewhat out of place in this 21st century. We’re still waiting for DFA 1979 to put out a promising record. Six years and waiting: it’s been a long time.

4/10

Listen to: ‘Let’s Move To NYC’, ‘Going With You’

Let’s Move To NYC:
[youtube width=”457″ height=”343″]http://youtu.be/BSEqem28ofI?t=15m7s[/youtube]
By Evan Woon

Urbanscapes Festival 2013 @ MAEPS (23-24.11.13)

Itchiness aside, Franz Ferdinand, Tegan and Sara and Efterklang, made the trip to Urbanscapes worthwhile

By the time you read this review on the Urbanscapes Festival that took place over the weekend, we’re pretty sure you would’ve heard enough about the rashes and the itchiness that festival goers have taken home with them.

To the unacquainted, the rash outbreak currently happening among Urbanscapers is reportedly caused by the hairs of the caterpillars that live in the ground of the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), as explained on Facebook by venue managers.

Apart from the unprecedented itchy outbreak that has befallen us though, we are still glad we feasted on the wholesome event.

This was the eleventh Urbanscapes festival and the second time that the event, which celebrates a wide mix of comedy, art, fashion, food and music, has brought in international acts.

Other Sounds were there to catch the headliners, the regional bands, and extend a support to our very own homegrown bands like In Each Hand a Cutlass and Plainsunset.

Day two of the festival was considerably a better experience than the first for various reasons that include the weather, familiarity to the event and the line-up for the respective days.

The festival venue, which changes each year, was held for the first time in MAEPS, located at a remote corner of Serdang. The vast park make for a perfect setting in a Woodstock film. Tents and artistic sculptures sprout in the middle of the green field felt surreal. The excitement came for a brief period until the scorching sun begun to encroach upon us. On the second day, however, it was a cloudier day and the day felt cooler.

The journey between the four stages on that vast open park seemed never-ending. Traversing the park and climbing the steep slopes surely drained most of our energies. Figuring out places to eat, drink, charge your phone, catch a bit of air-condition among others, was proves that it was important to pace yourself and not get to consumed by the event. However, on the second day, it seemed more relaxed as more people had acclimatised to the environment – except for the caterpillars.

As you may have read from reports, the scratching only began after the 2-day event ended and immediately took over the buzz that had previously been about the headliners and the last minute cancellation of the indie pop-rock outfit, Two Door Cinema Club (TDCC), who were rumored to have already been in the country when they announced the cancellation.

The cancellation was announced via the band’s Twitter, while In Each Hand a Cutlass was rocking out at the main stage on Saturday afternoon in front of a sparse crowd.

Further talk about the weather continued among the acts.

“It’s cold in Malaysia, isn’t it?!” said Fuad, lead singer of Malaysian rock and roll band Kyoto Protocol. Fuad, who was wearing a jacket in the balmy evening, had jokingly asked the crowd while referring to his choice of wardrobe.

The perfect day-time spot at Urbanscapes has got to be the Upfront stage, located at the other extreme end of the venue and stands close to air-conditioned tents and a make shift beer garden. The stage tent houses the bulk of the better acts during the festival – Efterklang, Last Dinosaurs, The Experience Brothers and L’Alphalpha – and showcasing the most spectacular display of lights with better controlled sound.

The tent could have been more ventilated and aired (add fans maybe?) and even the members of Efterklang looked like they had a hard time adjusting to the heat. Vocalist Casper Clausen managed to keep his blazer on only until halfway through the set before getting rid of it.

Even so, the Danish band gave an A-grade performance for the crowd – some of them even mentioned that they felt the same when they caught Mew, another Danish band that had earlier performed in the region.

Still, it was not enough for TDCC fans, especially those arriving from Singapore and Indonesia, to accept that the highly anticipated Northern Irish indie rockers were not going to be playing. And it looked like Kyoto Protocol (KP) had shared the same sentiments with them.

KP filled up TDCC’s slot – yes, they played twice at the event – and sang a cover of TDCC’s ‘Eat That Up It’s Good For You Too’ before clearing the stage for Franz Ferdinand. It was only necessary to have a bit of TDCC that night, despite the actual band’s absence!

For some reason, Tegan and Sara seemed the most out of place among the predominantly danceable indie line-up. But the popular twins – who do not look like they’ve aged at all — nonetheless gave a good show as expected. Twenty years singing together and they still sang each song as if it was their first. Although, we sure wished the fans at the front had sung along a little more quietly, because we had stretch out our necks trying to heard the actual voices of the Quinn sisters!

The finale performance by Franz Ferdinand – who was also performing their first show ever in Malaysia — was grand, energetic and tight as f*ck. They played the longest set at the festival – 1.5 hours – and were sure to perform favourites like ‘Take Me Out’, ‘Love Illumination’, ‘Do You Want To’, and their new stuff, ‘Evil Eye’ and ‘Right Action’. All of their songs were greeted with rave responses from the crowd, most of whom had sang along to not just the words but the riffs as well. And who wouldn’t? Franz Ferdinand is one of those rare bands whose riffs can become more infectious than their catchy choruses.

Now, we wonder if the headliners are itching as much as we are too.

By Nurl Azlea

One OK Rock @ The Coliseum (22.11.13)

All of us could learn a thing or two from the Japanese, punctuality being one of them. While the rest of the world gets embroiled in being “fashionably late”, the Japanese continue to take being on time extremely seriously. Like clockwork, an awkwardly cute female voice announced five minutes before eight, in both Japanese and English no less, that the show would start shortly and for recording devices to be put away. Not that anyone cared about the latter. It felt like being in Disney World waiting for a ride to start.

And a ride it was indeed. One OK Rock has the sort of live energy that engulfs the audience, the type of energy that makes their live tracks far better than anything they produce in the studio. Or perhaps it was the rabid fangirls that helped to fuel the atmosphere. Even with the band members bounding across the stage, the performance was still top notch, their playing amazingly tight. The light choreography only added to the experience, providing a perfect complement to the band’s show.

The great thing about bands such as One OK Rock, is that there seems to be an appeal somewhere no matter who you are. The girls get their gorgeous eye candy, and the metal-heads even managed to get a circle pit going in the centre of the arena for a good half of the show, much to the horror of some of the girls and their accompanying boyfriends. Can I suggest a designated mosh pit area at concert venues in the future?

The band was plenty adorable, and it is no wonder that they are such heartthrobs with the girls. The band’s interaction with the audience despite only knowing smatterings of English was met with cheers from the crowd. Tomoya, the drummer, sounded like a minion that came straight out of Despicable Me, shouting, “SINGAPORE. YOU’RE FUCKIN’ AWESOME!”

It seemed like a pity though, that most of the audience seemed to only be there for their pop-rock hits. The second half of the band’s set, which held a number of the band’s instrumental pieces — arguably their more accomplished and complex pieces — were received with only lukewarm responses from the crowd. It’s the pop hits that sell these days, unfortunately.

That being said, the pacing of the setlist was as close to perfect as one could expect. The energy-packed songs that kicked off the gig segued into mellow ballads as people recuperated before picking up again into the final climax of ‘The Beginning’. The band came out for one last encore with ‘Wherever you are’, the ballad providing a gentle landing from the night’s emotional rollercoaster.

It was an amazing night. And One OK Rocked.

By Joel Teo

New tunes from across the sea: Homes releases first single ‘Best Disguise’

You all surely know by now that we are suckers for Australian music — and in a landscape of great diversity, nowhere is this more evident than in its self-proclaimed ‘arts capital’, Melbourne.

Fin Bradley and Henry Badgery have been hitting city stages for a few years now with various accomplices, under various names and within various genres, though they seem to have found a staying project with Homes, an encapsulation of their shared appreciation of disco and soul, with the vintage sounds of 1960s rock ‘n’ roll thrown in.

The pair have just released their first single, ‘Best Disguise’, pitting traditional hooks and grooves picked straight from the crates of soul records against the ordered chaos of experimental electronic music, resulting in an innovative blend of old and new that features horns and a kazoo.

Homes launches ‘Best Disguise’ this Thursday, 28 November at The LuWow with special guests Meg Mac, Seven Year Itch, and Disrute.

By Eleanor Turnbull

Bee Eyes are the friends your mom never wanted you to have

Bee Eyes is opening for a man whose work they admire: Mac DeMarco, the “sketchy” Canadian musician who was long-listed for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize on the back of his second release, 2. The three-piece band, consisting of Julius Valledor on lead vocals and guitar, Idris Vicuna (more popularly known as Eyedress) on guitar (who also does the beats for the band), and Diego Abad on bass, have been around for years now without having released anything formally — now, they are finally ready, but are not quite forthcoming with details for the release of the upcoming album.

Julius talks to Other Sounds about the story of Bee Eyes, his impressions of the Manila music scene, and his very coincidental meeting with Mac himself earlier this year.

How did Bee Eyes get started?
We actually used to be a different band before Bee Eyes, with Idris on the drums. It was called the Love Team. I think it was 2006 or something? Back then, we played really loud and noisy stuff — we just wanted to be like Sonic Youth, I guess. It was just what we were doing back then before we kind of dropped that whole thing and got into garage.

Why did your band choose the name ‘Bee Eyes’?
I guess because we always used to hear from friends’ mothers that we were a “bad influence.” You know, like when you go to someone’s house and you talk to someone’s mom, and then later on, your friend will tell you, “My mom doesn’t like you. She thinks you’re a B.I.” I’d go, “What’s a B.I.?” And he’d go, “A bad influence!”

Can you tell us what your first gig was like?
Our first gig as Bee Eyes? It was probably just a normal gig, you know, like when only your friends — I mean, nobody  — really knows you. The people who really go are your friends. It was probably 2008 and one of those gigs with our own musician friends actually, probably with The Dorques or something.

In all those five years you’ve been playing as Bee Eyes, what has changed about the band?
We’ve had a lot of drummers, which is the most obvious change, even though Eyedress is the one who writes the drum parts. I guess the biggest change is that we’ve opened ourselves up to different styles of music, so instead of trying to be this one band that plays garage-rocker lo-fi music, we try to make different types of songs.

For example, Eyedress makes these beats on our computer, and we incorporate that kind of stuff into our music. I think just learning how to record is one thing that changed. We had so many songs back then, but there was no recorded history of it because we didn’t know how to record. I mean, we have rare recordings by people on their cell phones or whatever, and then we’ll rip the audio, but that’s all we really had. Now, we just record our own music.

And how has the music scene in Manila changed in the same five years?
As far as the music scene as a whole is concerned, I think it’s getting better — there are a lot more people involved now. It was harder before to get gigs, because only a few people were putting them together.

A big person who helped us out just getting us gigs was Mei Bastes, and from there, there were a lot of other people who helped. But now there’s just a lot of productions, and they’re doing even bigger things now, like inviting foreign bands.

Can you tell us anything about this mysterious, long-delayed album we’ve been waiting for?
I think it was first published in Status magazine in 2009 that we were coming out with a new album. Ever since then, until now, we’ve told everyone, “Oh, our album is going to come out!” But it’s never happened…

And you’re opening for Mac DeMarco very soon! How does it feel to open for someone like him?
It’s crazy, because we’ve opened for other bands before that we weren’t really fans of, but something like Mac DeMarco — who we listen to and we’ve been fans of for a while, that’s pretty cool. It was hard to believe at first, it’s just kind of surreal.

I actually got to meet him in LA earlier this year, around the same time we found out we were opening the show. I went to see him at a festival and I met him and told him about it, and he said, “Oh, see you in December.” It’s different when you’re opening for someone you’re really fond of.

By Ren Aguila

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival looks to widen expansion in Asia

Now approaching its tenth year of success, Australia’s Laneway Festival is once again looking to expand, this time exploring opportunities even farther east.

The news comes as the festival announces its sideshows throughout Australia, and now a unique addition of Asian sideshows has been revealed, with UK producer James Blake touring the region with four “Laneway Festival presents” dates in Taipei, Seoul, Shanghai, and Beijing followed by exclusive Singapore and Auckland appearances at the festival.

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Laneway has seen continuous growth year on year since its humble beginnings in Melbourne’s laneways, establishing itself in New Zealand in 2010, Singapore in 2011, and most recently, launching in the US earlier this year.

And now, the festival will be capitalizing on the often forgotten but fast-growing region of East Asia, offering fans too far from its existing Asian hub in Singapore a chance to catch their favourite bands in action.

While not quite the full-blown festival they have brought to Singapore, these sideshows are nonetheless another exciting move from organizers — and hopefully an indication of more to come for fans in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and mainland China.

Celebrated electronic music virtuoso and 2013 Mercury Prize winner James Blake will perform in the following six cities over eleven days next January:

17 January — Taipei Legacy, Taiwan
19 January — Uniqlo AX Hall, Seoul
21 January — QSW, Shanghai
23 January — TBC, Beijing
25 January — Laneway Festival, Singapore
27 January — Laneway Festival, Auckland

By Melissa Yong