Monthly Archives: February 2012

#382 Randy Newman – I Think It’s Going to Rain Today

Much as I enjoy the cantankerous side of Randy Newman as a songwriter and his gift for barbed satire, it’s often his more sentimental numbers that I love most when I listen to his albums, those songs of simple, unadorned beauty such as “Marie” and “Real Emotional Girl”. A recent song such as “Losing You” from his 2008 album Harps and Angels is a good example; “I Miss You” from Bad Love (1999) is another great one, even if he professes with regards to this song that something in him “can’t be straight about romance”. The one song that always kills me when I come across it is “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today”, released on his self-titled debut in 1968 and a song that’s covered many times. Randy Newman’s own version is probably the closest anyone can come to the core of the song’s sad lament, his vulnerable rendition conveying all the stark loneliness and disappointment in his somewhat ambivalent lyrics. Human kindness is overflowing, and I think it’s going to rain today. – Keith.

mp3: Randy Newman – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today

We couldn’t resist digging up Keith’s first post for us just over two years ago on Scott Walker’s “It’s Raining Today”. Thanks Keith!


#381 Ferns – Dismay

The weather in this part of the world is pretty straightforward but never predictable, something that applies rather well to the new climate-themed album by Malaysian band Ferns. While their debut On Botany strove admirably for the laziest perfection, Fairweather Friends goes for a clearer distillation of their winsome dreampop sound. Yet, it’s not so much about a more polished studio production, but the band’s intent at taking their music beyond just that sound. And as with the weather, surprises are aplenty especially with frontman Warren Chan’s whispery vocals vacillating between newfound confidence and vulnerable brittleness.

Following the featherweight melodies of the opening title track, “Miss Stormcloud” introduces the band’s crisp, glistening and upbeat pop, and along with it the album’s foremost protagonist – the “girl who’s good at bringing out the rain“. The meteorological themes that follow in the album serve as open-ended allegories for shifting hues of emotions (“When the clouds turn grey / she keeps sunshine at bay“) and commentaries on the localised condition of the heart (“Sweltering hearts wandering round in a tropical haze / a physical ailment these days“). Regardless of the literary device deployed, the lines delivered are personal and cleverly honest.

Today I’m okay / but tomorrow, forecast gloom and sorrow“. In “Dismay”, Chan’s voice comes close to trembling point, quivering at the thought of what lies ahead. Tragically, it seems that any declaration of love comes just too easily to shoulder the weight of the impending storm, with the sentiment here expressed with the fullest certainty and most gripping fear. It’s with at least a drizzle of irony that consolation is sought: “I could use some warmth“. Such a powerful moment here, that for me captures most succintly the album’s understated beauty. – Dan.

Ferns – Dismay

Fairweather Friends is out now on both digital and CD formats on Bandcamp.

Laneway Singapore 2012 – The Horrors

Photo courtesy of Chugg Entertainment

And what costume shall the poor boy wear? Lest we forget, it’s every effeminate mod’s fantasy to play in a guitar group such as The Horrors — I believe Vince Noir of The Mighty Boosh can attest to that, skinny legs policy notwithstanding. In their jaundiced gloom and unhealthy obsession with the ghosts of post-punk past, there’s no other outfit in this year’s Laneway lineup that quite share similar sensibilities with The Horrors. Not that it fucking mattered. Summoning energy and strange currencies from the darkest recesses, the band proceeded to whip a raucous storm that matches the cagey, crepuscular tone of their records. “Scarlet Fields” picks up on lead singer Faris Badwan’s bummed-out romanticism that always makes for compelling listening. Onstage, the song’s torrents of synth-plus-guitar contortion are rendered with dreamy gusto, a sense of conviction that their path to glory is indeed one paved with dark silhouettes. Collapse into dream, collapse into dream. – Keith.

mp3: The Horrors – Scarlet Fields

The Horrors is part of the roster of recording artistes on XL Recordings.

And it’s a wrap! We’ve had lots of fun putting this together, and can’t wait to see you at Laneway 2013! Thanks again to Heineken and Allan from Iris Worldwide in Singapore.

Laneway Singapore 2012 – Feist

Photo courtesy of Chugg Entertainment

While those familiar with Feist’s live show antics and visual spectacles from The Reminder tour may have been hoping for a sampling of it at Laneway 2012, her more minimal performance was still nothing short of amazing. On tow for her debut performance in Singapore was a tight six-member band providing just the right amount of bedding for Feist’s enamoring voice to lie in.

With half of the setlist being from new release Metals, the crowd received a good mix of old and new tunes, with old tunes going as far back as “Mushaboom”, a gem rearranged into a wonderfully minor-ish and more brooding rendition. “How Come You Never Go There”, a track from Metals, very quickly reminded listeners that her sound was still similar, albeit simpler. Cheekily suggesting it was crazy to do “So Sorry”, a “delicate flower of a song”, in such a festival setting, she went for it anyway and delivered perfectly. The set continued to undulate with “Comfort Me” and “Graveyard”, woven nicely into set-closers, “ I Feel It All” and “Sealion”, creating a sonic journey of emotions that left you smiling at the end.

In all, an appetite-whetting tidbit of a show that leaves one with bated breath for the much needed return of Feist to Singapore. – Adrian.

mp3: Feist – Mushaboom

Adrian Yuen is a Producer / Composer based in Singapore who enjoys superlatives.

Laneway Singapore 2012 – Toro Y Moi

Photo courtesy of Chugg Entertainment

I was wondering if Toro Y Moi was going to fit in with the rest of the festival line-up, seeing how festivals tend to be guitar driven affairs. However, I was really itching to check out how Chaz Bundick and band were going to pull off their live show and introduce their much hyped “Chillwave” sound to Singaporean music-goers, or even to let my own ears believe it was more than just hype.

Well, I’m positively thrilled to report that all my preconceived notions were unfounded. Toro Y Moi held their own, and then some, confidence brimming with every distinct groove and just the right touch of euphoria on those warm synthesiser swells. ‘Chillwave’ was just a word that writers use to embellish Bundick’s tasteful songwriting, but you could feel it in the air that night, the warmth as psychedelic tones and lights washed over you, as you basked in its glow, swaying to the haze of alcohol and moving bodies.

Toro Y Moi gets my vote for a new breed of producers that offers warm soul and groove with the treble rolled just slightly back, and I’m definitely looking out for his next record dropping in the first half of this year. – Brian.

mp3: Toro Y Moi – Go With You

Toro Y Moi‘s music can be bought at his blog. His latest album, Old Joel, is scheduled for an April 2012 release.

Thanks again to Heineken and Allan from Iris Worldwide in Singapore for letting us enjoy Laneway 2012, and not needing to queue for beers!

Laneway Singapore 2012 – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Photo courtesy of Chugg Entertainment

The other band I had eagerly awaited was The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, one of my favourite indiepop revivalists who I guessed would go on to draw quite a following, but never quite expected to become big enough to perform internationally, let alone Singapore. But it seems that our gig-starved days of yore are coming to an end, while the C86 sound has resurrected and found itself a wider and younger generation of fans.

Still, the Brooklyn band were very much the babies of the day’s lineup, perhaps in character with the naive innocence much associated with the genre. Their opening was nervous and shaky, and on top of that plagued with such distracting glitches that they had to stop for the technical problem to be sorted after the second song (“Say No To Love”), which they gallantly played to the end anyway. When the set eventually restarted, that unbearable crackling static was finally exorcised, but seemingly along with it all semblance of intended distortion, leaving behind Peggy Wang’s keyboards and an all-too-pristine and jangly guitar section. Stripped bare, the band sounded thin and uncharacteristically clean, even if still winsome and eager to please.

Thankfully, things ended on a high as the band fought hard to regain their confidence, urged on by an encouraging crowd. It helped too that they saved their best for the latter half of the set, playing their older and more familiar fare like “Come Saturday” and particularly “Everything with You”, which was attacked harder and more incisively than any other song on the setlist. The stars were finally crashing through, but if only that high could have come a bit earlier and lasted that little while longer. – Dan.

mp3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything with You

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart puts out most of its records on Slumberland.

Laneway Singapore 2012 – Twin Shadow

Photo courtesy of Chugg Entertainment

While it’s only been my second time at any real festival, I’ve come to a conclusion that there are two phases in any all-day festival – day and night. While there’s sunlight, there’s a warm, positive vibe in the atmosphere; everybody relaxes, and you start getting to know new people. Come the night, the artificial lights spin out of control, and the culmination of all that pent up fun unleashes itself in a full blown frenzy.

Then we have Twin Shadow, taking the stage just as the sun was setting, bleeding out the horizon, and finishing it off as a glorious welcome to the night. It was rather special to be treated to their 80’s influenced synth pop while the entire festival ground chased light and ushered in the last leg of Twin Shadow’s Laneway tour.

Perhaps it was because of such inevitability that George Lewis Jr gave a most urgent and intense performance that night. Despite the machinations of future sounding synths and rhythm parts, his lead guitar lines were beautifully organic and lush on lead moments like “Forget”, or shimmering through sparkly syncopations as on “Shooting Holes”.

Like his namesake, two shadows seemed cast that magical evening, born from sunlight and moonbeams. It was special and I loved it – a perfect moment for any transition between phases. – Brian.

mp3: Twin Shadow – Shooting Holes

Twin Shadow released his latest album Forget in 2010 under 4AD and can be bought at the 4AD store or online on iTunes.

Thanks to Heineken and Allan from Iris Worldwide in Singapore for letting us enjoy Laneway 2012, and not needing to queue for beers!