5 YEARS // 400 SONGS
200th post. What a coincidence.
Alas. Even a writer will run out of things to say about the one thing she loves the most. I suppose, there is a reason after all, why music stay but rhythm and melody in our head, instead of mere words.
It’s been a swell journey, folks.
It’s now time to turn off the radio.
Top 5 posts of all time
+ Friday Five: 5 Songs About Jack Kerouac
+ Local Wednesday: DFP Spotlight Series presents Reza Salleh
+ Local Wednesday: DFP Spotlight Series presents Yuna
+ Friday Five: 5 Icelandic bands to check out other than Sigur Ros
+ Spotlight Sunday: Angels and Airwaves, Melbourne, Australia
[ x ]
I was a mere church mouse back then, trailing behind Once Upon A Time There Was A Sausage Named Bob into the depths of the acclaimed Laguna Music where the band laid down tracks for their first album. I watched in silent amazement as the Little brothers went about their work at the panels, me too afraid to get in the way of these Little giants.
Fast forward a couple of years later, I had the pleasure to finally meet Jeremy in person via an interview with the KIL crew, after hearing so very much about him and his works in the local music industry.
The next thing I know, we were sitting down at the Starbucks in KLCC, you humouring this little nobody as she went on about this Records Store Day gig she organised under her teeny weeny music blog. Till this day, I can never thank you enough for your limitless and kind help, and getting bigger bands like Pesawat and Lab The Rat onto my line up.
I can only imagine how much more you have touched the lives and dreams of the ones closer to you. You have already achieved so much albeit being so young, and I was really glad you got well enough last year to see what you sow being rewarded, when ‘KIL’ won four awards at the 2013 Anugerah Skrin.
“Love is who you are… I’ll remember you…”
We’ll remember you, Jeremy. RIP.
Six months flew by just like that, and what was once a time when we were anticipating on how the second part of Justin Timberlake’s two-part release The 20/20 Experience would sound like, has arrived. The slick from Justin’s hair has not even set in, and the fog cleared from his mirrors, and already, we are to cram down our throats what might as well be considered a whole new album altogether, which, based on Timberlake’s track record, is OK to be released three years later anyway.
In continuation from the previous post on the first part of the album, one does worry if this second part would create as much hype as it did the first, with the help of notable singles like Suit and Tie and Mirrors, or if it will just be an act of milking the cash cow till it is all dried up. Well. Whilst I would have to say that it does not personally thrill me as much as the first instalment did, I am just glad that he still has some of them creative juice in him to keep the second part going.
The first album saw Timberlake experimenting a lot with his sounds in the Hip Hop and R&B circle, but for this second instalment, it feels more like a record of reminiscence with the undertone of pop from the good ol’ N Sync days lurking their heads out. We see Timberlake hitting those high notes in You Got It On, Amnesia and Not a Bad Thing. Especially Amnesia, a personal stand out track for me much like Mirrors was, when he breaks it down slow for the second part, and you hear him crooning like he did in Gone. However, Not a Bad Thing, is pretty much a bad thing when you can picture the other and, in my personal opinion, less prominent Justin, a.k.a Biebs, taking over the vocals. And not just the nostalgic pop, but we see Timberlake paying tribute to his hometown stronghold when he brings out the blues for Drink You Away, with its popular “girl leaves boy, boy is heartbroken, boy drinks his sorrow away” formula: “I’ve tried Jack, I’ve tried Jim, I’ve tried all of their friends” – Yes, all of them.
Besides that, his cheesy lyrics still stand in Cabaret: “I got you saying Jesus so much its like we are laying in the manger” and “Even though I’m a professional, I like to do my work at home”. The beats are sex, but the lines are just – not. And experiment as much as he may, but when you hop on the Gangnam-slash-The-Fox bandwagon, sing about the overrated vampire fad and call it True Blood, you know it is just an experiment gone wrong. Sure, it may be hanging onto the once acclaimed Sexy Back, but it is just a quick turn off when you start it off with an Eurotrash introduction.
Fortunately, there are a few experiments that have gone right, such as Murder, Only When I Walk Away and TKO, with its vivid metaphor of the boxing ring: “You’ve been swinging after the bell and after all of the whistle blows / Tried to go below the belt, through my chest, perfect hit to the dome” – the portrayal of love is as innovative as Mirrors was.
You know how an artiste would lock himself up in the studio, and just purge and purge and purge, songs after songs after songs, before throwing all of them at the wall and see which ones stick? Timberlake should have done that, in my opinion. It is not really necessary for a two-part album; throw away a few fillers from the first and second, and you have a pretty sturdy album to last you for at least three years. It was a great comeback introduction with Pusher Love Girl, but with Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want) as a continuum, it is way feeble in comparison.
But, I suppose this is what you get when you ask for a complete 20/20 experience: you get the good, the bad and the ugly all at the same time. The whole package. Like settling for the partner you are in a relationship with for ten years, you make do with his sensible style and unacceptable flatulence. And even that is a poetic way of hauling in the cash cow, it is rather understandable. At the end of the day, a boy’s still gotta eat, you know. And now with a Mrs Timberlake waiting at home, boy’s gotta be ready to provide. (Don’t mind me, I am just giving my favourite boyband-boy-turned-suave-man excuses).
“Does Rock ‘n’ Roll even need saving in the first place? And who died to make them responsible with the valiant salvation of Rock ‘n’ Roll, someone who had been on two-year plus hiatus prior to that?” That was my initial reaction to the title of Fall Out Boy’s fifth studio album.
But on second thought, I realised that perhaps Rock ‘n’ Roll does need saving. I mean, look at all the long-time rock bands lately. It’s like time has finally taken its toll on them, and they are not about to go all out like they used to back in the days (afraid they must bust a hip or something, I don’t know). It’s like their doctors have decided unanimously to prescribe them with placidity, “It’s soft rock music from now on, boys, I mean, men.” The Strokes with Comedown Machine, Stereophonics with Graffiti on the Train, Foo Fighters with Wasted Light, and Incubus with If Not Now, When?, to name a few.
And who could blame them. Believe it or not, age is something but a number. Pair that up with this generation’s music trend of dream electro pop, it’s like the general music industry is falling into an imminent coma, with the old ones too old to keep up with their pacemaker, and the young ones too disinterested to feel the need to do more than sway along to their electronic keys.
So, what now? Fall Out Boy to the rescue? I’ll be honest with you, the Illinois pop rock band has never quite got me hooked on securely past their chart-topping singles like Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down, Dance Dance, This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arm’s Race, and Thnks fr th Mmrs. They never quite got me through their mouthfuls of song titles, and they totally lost me when Folie a Deux was released in 2008. By the time they announced their indefinite hiatus two years after that, things just seemed – expected. Maybe the time has come; Fall Out Boy has finally, well, fallen out.
It’s the usual “they’re still around?” credulity buzzing about when they announced their tour date for Singapore earlier this month, (I mean, by releasing a Greatest Hits, it’s like a self-explanatory conclusion that that is it for the band), and even more so from me, when I decided to give Save Rock ‘n’ Roll a go in light of their concert. And I have to say, I was genuinely impressed with their comeback, probably one of the few albums recently released that I really like.
After two years of what could be considered collectively as the band’s “darkest depression ever”, Fall Out Boy re-emerged from their all time low – lead Patrick Stump over sixty pounds lighter, and exhibitionist bassist Pete Wentz, now a divorcee and “embracing maturity” – and rose from the ashes like the mythical bird in the opening song, The Phoenix. With a hint of Bon Jovi’s riff scratching at the back of your mind, it is a perfect opening for a comeback album. Not only a call to this generation to wake the fuck up and take back what is theirs, but what I would like to believe, for themselves too: “So we can take the world back from a heart attack / One maniac at a time we will take it back.” The catchy reverberation for this fifth instalment continues on to their lead single, My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up), one of those few songs with long titles that work, and makes you want to raise your hand and wave it from side to side, and sing at the top of your lungs like no one is looking at you in the other car.
In succession throughout Save Rock ‘n’ Roll are numbers with that Fall Out Boy hook fans have gotten familiar with over the years, and have missed while they were gone, like throaty resonance of Wentz’s bass intro in Where Did the Party Go, that is little too much reminiscence of the once-upon-a-time hit Dance, Dance. Whilst the opening chords of Just One Yesterday, featuring synthpop singer/songwriter Foxes sounding suspiciously like Adele’s Rollin’ in the Deep, the album continues to keep one on the edge of his/her seat with infectious beats of The Mighty Fall, Death Valley and Rat a Tat, featuring the rockstress herself Courtney Love. The remainder of the album plays it safe on the pop rock zone like Alone Together, the synthpop influenced Miss Missing You, clap-infused Young Volcanoes, before wrapping things up with the titled track, (one which can easily slip into a medley with OneRepublic’s Secrets), furnished with the delicate piano keys of legendary pop superstar Elton John, strengthened by the sturdy words of “I will defend the faith, going down swinging / I will save the songs, that we can’t stop singing” and “Wherever I go, go / Trouble seems to follow / Only plugged in to save rock and roll”.
In the end, maybe Fall Out Boy did manage to save rock ‘n’ roll after all. With the help of more senior collaborators like Courtney Love, Elton John, and not forgetting the Sergeant in command Butch Walker, and Stump’s ever brilliant voice calling the kids to march to war. (Although they may have latched on to something that may have already been written the past in terms of rhythms and hooks – be it intentionally or accidentally). Who says a comeback is not possible once your glory days are over? In a time when the music genres are slumbering through one electro pop band to the other singer/songwriter, here is Fall Out Boy with their punk rock overhaul that urges the young ones to rebel for a cause, to be the one band from the many more that has mellowed down. Passing the baton to the next in line, saying, “It’s your turn now to keep Rock ‘n’ Roll alive. Make us proud.”
5 favourite music moments from ‘The O.C’
A couple of weeks back, the once popular television series about Orange Country, California, The O.C, celebrated its 10th year anniversary since the first episode of the first season piloted on TV. I vaguely remember the day when it first hit our shores, but I do remember my weird resistance towards something EVERYONE is hooked on. Trying not to conform to the usual crowd, I decided to favour One Tree Hill instead, which premiered about a month later. But my resistance is futile, because I was surfing StarWorld one night, and The O.C was on rerun, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, I went into my Uni days, armed with all four box sets of The O.C like a staunch clutching her Holy Bible, watching from season one till season four, over and over again, so much so that if you were to namedrop a song that was in the series, I can name you which particular scene was happening when it happened. Yes, I was that crazy.
10 years on, my favourite scenes and the songs played during still mean as much to me as it did back then. Whilst I am one of the many (this coming from someone who tried so hard to resist initially) who find the fourth season a bit of a stretch, I am glad they did not run it as long as One Tree Hill did, which in turn, gave The O.C a pretty clean and neat end. Here be the scenes and their music.
#1: Wonderwall by Ryan Adams
From The Heartbreak.
#2: If You Leave by Nada Surf
From The Leaving Girl.
#3: World at Large by Modest Mouse
From The Family Ties.
#4: For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti by Sufjan Stevens
From The Heavy Lifting.
#5: Hallelujah by Imogen Heap
From The Graduates.
5 good vibing songs to listen to when getting ready for Good Vibes Festival
by Commas & Industry
Good vibes are just around the corner, tomorrow to be more precise, and I bet everyone in town is getting ready for another round of festival fun, what with international acts like Modest Mouse, Japandroids, Ash and, oh me oh my, Smashing Pumpkins headlining the Good Vibes Festival. The event organisers themselves must be up to their necks right now getting ready for such a massive set for an inaugural festival! On the forefront are the lovely ladies from this humble little PR firm Commas & Industry Communications, and here they are with their choices of good vibing songs as they tie up some loose ends and get ready for the best Saturday ever.
#1: Infinity Ghosts by Sleigh Bells
#2: Darkness on the Edge by Japandroids
#3: Rich Girls by The Virgins
#4: Recover by Chvrches
#5: Start Stop by OJ Law
Good Vibes Festival takes place tomorrow at the Sepang Go Kart Circuit from 4PM onwards. Doorsale tickets will be available at RM188 at the venue entrance. For more information on the artiste line up and other activities available that day, log on to http://www.goodvibesfestival.com
Disclaimer: This review of sorts may contain spoilers for the film. But then again, the event has happened back in the 90s, so a few clicks in Wikipedia would have revealed the ending anyway.
Naturally, when an indie film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival or Cannes Film Festival, moreover, gone right ahead and win itself some Oscars along the way, you would want to check out what the fuss is all about, and what is so special about this film that garnered them not only the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, but also Best Documentary at the BAFTA Awards and the Academy Awards, foreign platforms that more recently only sees indie films filling up some spots. Like Argo and Silver Lining Playbook, Searching for Sugar Man does make me wonder, what’s it all about, and what’s so special about it.
And since it’s about an obscure folk singer from the 70s, it breeds in me further questions: what is so special about this “Sugar Man”, and why are people going through such desperate lengths to uncover his tracks and find him? Why should we watch it? Should we even care? If Searching for Sugar Man hasn’t gotten the awards it has, would we even care enough to watch a documentary about a none-hit-wonder back in the 70s that we couldn’t care less about? Of all the musicians that have gone unnoticed, disappeared in the shadows of Bob Dylan (in fact, Rodriguez does sound like Dylan too) and Cat Stevens, why especially him?
Granted, I watched the documentary because of work purposes, and I’ll be honest with you, throughout the first half of the film, those abovementioned were going through my head, putting myself in the shoes of someone else who does not have to watch it for work purposes, but yet has no idea who the film is about. But granted also, I am just a cynical bitch who would prefer to immerse myself in my own bubble, oblivion to the world around me anyway.
Without giving away too much, Searching for Sugar Man is about two man’s journey back in the 1990s, a fan Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segarman and a music journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom, who set off with nothing but the ambiguous debut album Cold Fact, in search of a 70s folk musician Sixto Rodriguez, someone who might as well be considered a myth with the lacked of information on him in the archives. Whom despite his musical talents, was disregarded in his hometown in Detroit, Michigan. A musician whose fame, overlooked even by he himself, instead took flight all the way in Cape Town, South Africa, where back in the 70s, was going through an Apartheid era, and whose album is known to be “the soundtrack of their lives” to many back then.
A star that never quite shine as brightly as it should, and eventually dwindled off the surface of the Earth in a death known by many then to be a suicide, in which he aimed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger after the last song he performed, Forget It: “But thanks for your time / Then you can thank me for mine / And after that’s said / Forget it”. But as it turns out, it wasn’t true, and he is still alive and well.
Throughout my years interviewing personalities from different walks of life, especially musicians, I do believe that an article depends a lot on how the subject communicates with you, and how his/her life transcends and inspires your words that you will put down for his/her accord. For this, cinematography aside, I believe that Searching for Sugar Man would not have gotten the recognition it did without the way Rodriguez’s life turned out in the end. And what sweetens the deal further is Rodriguez the man himself, his character and his persona, his modesty and his humbleness, shaped by the state of things, probably would not be as it is if things would have turned out right for him years ago.
The second half of the film was what truly caught my attention: how the searching duo finally found him living an honest and modest life in Detroit all along, and how still he was unaware of the immensity his songs instigated in another country decades ago, and how he could have been living a king’s life instead of a peasant’s life he does now, even after it has brought to his attention the fame that he deserves by this bunch of crazy fans who have decided to look for him, and make a film about him.
The film would have ended in a totally different way, perhaps even a cliched way, if he did in fact committed suicide onstage by pulling the trigger on him. We would probably be watching another story akin to Jackson, Buckley and Cobain.
And the ending truly puts the sweetness in the “Sugar Man”, when these fans gave him something that he should have seen happening in his career since he started off back in the 70s – a panoramic view of a sold out crowd cheering at him and singing along to songs from his albums of yesteryear, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality. I can only imagine it’s something a musician could not have asked for more, one that has been looking for a break all his life, and has probably given up looking for one, one who was somehow overlooked by God or Lady Luck while they were busy sorting Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens out, along with the many revolutions going on in the world back then. To finally see his dream come true, right before his eyes, and fortunately, not one that fomented due to his death like the late Jeff Buckley. Like they always say: better late than never, eh?
It was truly a zero to hero kind of story worth telling, but not quite, actually. And I suppose, it is a film that is worth watching. It does not carry this artsy futility and boring drag that most indie films somehow fall prey for, but a consistent breakthrough as the film progresses, and as the search continues to unfold more and more surprises as they went along.
So back to my questions in the beginning: Why should we watch it? Should we even care about a has-been that didn’t even make it once upon a time?
Well. Watch it for how the story turns out, an ending that is quite unlike any other – well, so far anyway. Perhaps the few reasons I went on rambling about above, maybe, would get you clicking on your search engine to look for the torrent download, who knows? And there’s nothing wrong learning something more on a piece of the music industry that has never been put down in record before, gives you music junkies something new (or old) to talk about. And heck, it’s an Oscar-winning Sundance film; aren’t you the least bit curious how they even win the awards?
If you are indeed curious, and having some problems finding the torrents to download, Searching for Sugarman premieres on the Sundance HD (Channel 438) on Astro b.yond this coming Friday at 10PM.
What comes after a comeback album? A “comedown” album, apparently.
Things have definitely settled down for the New York indie rock band, The Strokes, two years after the release of their preceding album, Angles, which is known amongst their fans to be their comeback album, after an extensive five-year break prior. But one does wonder if this fifth studio album marks the next chapter for the five piece, or it is, ultimately, the last chapter.
Ask any The Strokes fans out there, and they will tell you that Is this It, their debut album back in 2001, is probably it for the band. It is all downhill from there. Not to say that albums succeeding the debut suck, mind you. Despite hitting the right notes when they first burst into the scene in the early Noughties, one thing The Strokes are good at is striking the right chords for a good pop song. This latest album release does not fall short either, with a little bit of room for some experimenting even. That’s what you get when a control freak lead, namely Julian Casablancas, in this case, let loose and allow his other band members to play along in the songwriting process.
In Comedown Machine, The Strokes still hold true to their signature sound in tracks like Tap Out, Welcome to Japan and 50/50. But they also try out more atmospheric resonance in the docile 80s Comedown Machine, Slow Animals and Partners in Crime, where Casablancas has a go with some falsettos, a higher octave where none has ever gone before, and lastly, the pensive closing track Call it Fate Call it Karma, an unusual tune that The Strokes have never done before in their entire career.
For a band that has successfully kicked of the Noughties, (they have been known to have given a new lease of life to rock ‘n’ roll), Comedown Machine is where The Strokes have ended up with. Coincidentally, this album also marks the New Yorkers’ final album release with their music label RCA Records. (Hence, the vintage RCA reel-to-reel tape box as the album cover). So, after what they have been through over the last decade: internal arguments, the loss of that ‘spark’ when it comes to making music, and the extensive touring around the US, etc, perhaps with the end of this contract, and the inferior state of this latest album (and the title of the album, might we add), they are hinting at something: that the end may be nigh and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Is this it for The Strokes? Will they rise from the ashes from here on out, or are they just dwindling embers waiting to be put out?