Tag Archives: the xx

Best of 2012: Raime – Quarter Turns Over a Living Line

While I waited for The xx’s Coexist to match the minimalist thrills of their debut album, and as I pondered why I still lifted my skinny fists to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend despite its (glorious) predictableness, I discovered an album that struck a darker and colder atmosphere than the former, with all the devastating inclinations of the latter: Raime’s anticipated debut LP Quarter Turns Over a Living Line is a tense, terrifying excursion of brutal ardour, casting a post-industrial gloom over much of anything I’ve been listening to this year. – Dan. mp3: Raime – Your Cast Will Tire

Quarter Turns Over a Living Line is out now on Blackest Ever Black.


#336 I’m New Here

I did not become someone different that I did not want to be, but I’m new here“.

With Bill Callahan‘s deadpan delivery, these words don’t elicit much empathy. Instead, they operate in a normalised, everyday context, an idealised Smog world celebrating the commonplace, where being new is but one point in an ongoing, repeated cycle of living and reliving, just as it is.


Under Gil Scott-Heron‘s interpretation five years later, those same words take on very different meanings. Stripped of their comforts, they sound slightly upsetting. Who didn’t you want to be? What had you become? What are you doing here? For Scott-Heron, turning around isn’t about returning, but becoming something, someone new. There is redemption, and hope of true transformation, just like his own.


I was skeptical about Jamie xx‘s remix, but my intuition couldn’t be more wrong. Was a remix of a cover necessary? Clearly not, yet it shows itself to be the most surprising. The audacity of sharing that ‘newness’ with Scott-Heron and rearranging his lines seems to actually render that transformation complete, going as far as making redemption the sweetest thing, just as we like it. – Dan.

mp3: Smog – I’m New Here

mp3: Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here

mp3: Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – I’m New Here

Smog’s A River Ain’t Too Much To Love (2005) was released on Drag City. Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here (2010) and Jamie xx’s remix album We’re New Here (2011) are out now on XL.

Our Favorite Gigs of 2010

What a blast 2010 has been, especially with the sheer number of concerts we’ve had this year. Here’s some of our favorite moments.

7 Feb: XX @ Esplanade Concert Hall
Though the XX was opening for Florence and the Machine, their short set at the start of the gig was my highlight of the night. I still remember standing quite near the front, having every bass and beat shake my body to the core, and feeling the goosebumps induced by relishing and experiencing firsthand the band’s understated cool. – Dan.

mp3: The XX – Crystalised

16 Mar: Dinosaur Jr. @ Esplanade Theatre
My colleague captured it best when she described this gig, part of the Mosaic Music Festival 2010 program, as an unplanned reunion party where you catch up with all your old buddies from school … and everyone is wearing the same stupid outfits from back then! Nostalgia aside, the grizzled veterans of the reunited Dinosaur Jr. played a loose and appropriately loud set that featured their signature brand of melodic discordance. – Keith.

mp3: Dinosaur Jr – Been There All The Time

11 Apr: B Quartet @ Esplanade Recital Studio
These Singaporeans boys are musicians who deliver a hundred percent in a recorded album, and go the distance when they play live. I remember being enthralled by Bani Haykal flitting in and out, between worlds as he sang his beautiful poetry or played the Xaphoon. The rest of the band thundered along like it was following lightning, and for those of us who were in the audience, we were swept up in the storm of one of Singapore’s finest bands, and secretly wanting to be as good as them. – Brian.

mp3: B Quartet – A Dull Taste On My Tongue

27 Jul: Broken Social Scene @ Esplanade Concert Hall
Three to four guitars on stage, horn players come out, synthesizers going out of their mind, and is that a horn section coming out? How do they do it? How does a band have so many members and instruments on the same stage and yet, sound like they were each in the center of the universe? It remains a mystery, and is a beautiful reminder that music has no rules, no time to go unheard and it’s a hella fun to be playing with your friends. – Brian.

mp3: Broken Social Scene – Forced to Love

7 Aug: Belle & Sebastian @ Esplanade Concert Hall
I’d loved to have caught Belle & Sebastian about more than ten years ago during their Sinister tour, but I’d settle for this anytime, especially when they played that song which made me fall in love over and over with that album. Yes, “Judy and the Dream of Horses” came late into the set, but that’s where it belongs, that captivating surprise near the end that keeps you longing for more. – Dan.

mp3: Belle and Sebastian – Judy And The Dream Of Horses (Live at BBC)

17 Sep: Typewriter @ Home
What heart, soul and infectious energy Singaporean band Typewriter exuded throughout this pulsating set. Their debut album Indian Head Massage had been a long time in the waiting, so this launch had an emotionally charged and liberating dynamic that probably won’t be reproduced again, with the band soaking in every glorious moment. – Dan.

mp3: Typewriter – That Deepest Blue (Haramain Mix)

29 Sep: Sun Kil Moon @ Chamber at the Arts House
Attending Mark Kozelek’s intimate solo performance at the old parliament building in Singapore was akin to being caught in a convulsion of the music’s strange serene beauty. Mark played most of the new songs from the recent Admiral Fell Promises album, as well as reworking a few of the more memorable of the older Sun Kil Moon tunes (“Glenn Tipton” and “Heron Blue” were particularly lovely) – but the standout for me, and no doubt for other longtime Red House Painters fan, is the roiling rendition of “Void”. – Keith.

mp3: Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio

8 Oct Keeping It Peel @ POW
This was one of my favourite gigs because it’s slightly personal. Y’see, I play bass in Shelves, who closed the night at this John Peel memorial gig. It was also our debut. I remember the encouragement of our friends and peers, and the energy that went into rehearsal, performing in a makeshift band pit, playing hard, loud, and sometimes too fast. I remember my fellow band members, the jittery excitement, the nervous beers before (and after), and overall, I remember why I still do what I do. – Brian.

mp3: Shelves – One Live Baby
(Heh, we realized later that this was actually in 2009, but who’s keeping score aye?)

11 Nov: The Flaming Lips @ Marina Bay Sands
It was like part two of a dream come true to finally attend a Lips gig (part one being fulfilled at the Mercury Rev one some years back), and what a show this turned out to be. It wasn’t as if we didn’t expect confetti cannons or Wayne-in-giant-balloon sightings, but actually being there and sharing in the euphoria of the moment was quite an unbelievable experience. Nothing that night was too weird to be celebrated, except perhaps the most baffling omission of anything at all from The Soft Bulletin. – Dan.

mp3: The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize

11 Dec: The Observatory @ National Museum of Singapore
There are perhaps few better choices in the world other than The Observatory to compose an original score and provide the live musical accompaniment to a recent screening of A Page of Madness, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s haunting 1928 silent film. The controlled and yet improvisational nature of The Observatory’s 1½ hour-long performance created a disturbing ambience for the fractured narrative set in an insane asylum, the subtle instrumentation and electronics navigating the contours of an enigmatic film masterpiece whose visual poetry was well ahead of its time. – Keith.

mp3: The Observatory – Invisible Room

#240 the xx – shelter

we weren’t planning to go at first, but at the last minute, b and i got ourselves passes to see the xx and florence and the machine at the esplanade (many thanks v and a!). bursting with enthusiasm, florence delivered a spectacular show of epic proportions, with impressively high energy levels sustained to the very last song. in very stark contrast, opening band the xx operated with the barest of setups, presenting every note and breath to the audience’s scrutiny. barring some rather disastrous sound engineering for the first few songs, the atmosphere they created was indeed crystal in the air, with songs that threatened to break into a party always reined in just in time in deferment to their consistently brittle state. but there were also times when chill also meant more tension and build-up, like “shelter” which the band seized by the throat and cruelly refused to let go, leaving it throbbing with such haunting and terrifying beauty. – dan.

mp3: the xx – shelter

#212 the xx – vcr

the xx

how exactly do you pin down what counts as “fresh”? for music, i guess it usually means a new sound that’s original rather than purely derivative, something that basically sounds different, in a good way of course. listening to the xx, “fresh” takes on another shade of meaning. the first track that introduces me to romy madley croft’s voice is “vcr”, which sounds freshly opened, like something hidden from view finally seeing the light of day. i particularly like how the music gives the space for her duet with oliver to breathe, and it’s refreshing how each instrument, from the delicate xylophones to the vocals, makes itself comfortable in its own corner and leaves plenty of room for the others. and it’s fresh for me as a listener as well. whenever the song gets broken down to the simple line: but you, you just know, you just do, every break is punctuated ever so gracefully, like a moment that hangs mid-air in quiet assurance. – dan.

mp3: the xx – vcr

xx is now out on young turks.