Browsing articles tagged with " Drum Beats"
Dec 12, 2013
Rock D Fresh

From Chaos To Order

Alternative-punk supergroup Implants—made up of vocalist Ken Conte (The Tank), guitarists Rob Ramos (Strung Out) and Jim Blowers (Pulley), bassist Chris Del Rio and drummer Chris Dalley of Ten Foot Pole—released their debut record, From Chaos To Order, earlier this year. The punk veterans decided to come together to create music that would take them back to their roots, paying homage to the bands that influenced them as kids.

Each track on From Chaos To Order is poppy, fast and full of energy. As soon as the LP opens with “Life Passes,” the audience immediately knows what they are getting, with its in-your-face drum beats and simple chords. While the album is mostly a punk record, there are some slight undertones of metal throughout the disc. “Unveiling” has tighter guitars that definitely take direction from ’80s metal. “Mutualism” is another example of this, featuring a melodic guitar solo toward the end of the track.

The record’s finale, “El Ron,” takes on the subject of religion, specifically Scientology, with the title referring to its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. This is the most structurally diverse track on the disc, opening with a few seconds of a ringing organ (which makes sense once it is clear what the song’s subject matter is) and closes with a vintage broadcast of a newscaster recounting how one of the Scientologists he interviewed called Hubbard their “savior” and his “commodore.”

Though at times it gets a little difficult to distinguish one song from another, From Chaos To Order is a fun record, and Implants seem to have accomplished what they wanted to, which was to play the music that they cherished. This is sure to be a release welcomed by fans of their respective bands as well as others who share their love for old-school pop punk.

In A Word: Enjoyable

Dec 11, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Neighbors Complain About Junior High Drum Practice

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During Tuesday’s school board meeting, a handful of residents who live close to La Cumbre Junior High School voiced frustration with “incessant” drum beats coming from regular band practices on campus. They claimed the disturbance has been especially bad this year ​— ​students are currently prepping for this weekend’s holiday parade on Milpas Street — because the elective class occurs throughout the school day rather than in the early morning as in years past. They requested that the class not be offered next semester. A few parents and students disagreed, explaining that musical instruction is an integral part of academic success. Principal Jo Ann Caines added that students are forced to practice outside because the band room is too small to accommodate all 100 students, and the auditorium is under construction until August. After the parade, Caines said she plans to restrict some of the drumming that goes on outside.

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Dec 10, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Music for the holidays: Thinking inside the box set

What box set does the music fanatic on your list want to see under the tree on Christmas morning? Here are some reviews to help you decide.


The Beatles, On Air — Live at the BBC, Vol. 2 (Universal)

The Beatles: The BBC Archives 1962-70, by Kevin Howlett (HarperCollins)

Beatles fans, rejoice: More live rarities from the Fab Four are on the way to stores. Nearly 20 years after the first volume of long-lost BBC recordings sold millions of copies, a second volume is here, and with it a coffee-table book with rare photos and heretofore unseen historical documents chronicling the band’s interaction with the BBC. Like the first volume, On Air — Live at the BBC, Vol. 2 is chock full of live covers of other acts’ hit recordings, including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. The sound quality ranges from crystal clear to exceedingly rough. Not all of the 275 performances The Beatles did were preserved by the broadcaster. Some had to be tracked down from fans’ home recordings, but the raw exuberance of Paul McCartney screaming a hyper rocked-out version of the ballad Beautiful Dreamer is a historical nugget in its own right. There are tons of on-air banter between all four mop tops and their radio hosts, showing John Lennon’s wry wit and irreverence at an early stage in the band’s career. Outtakes of the band playing I Feel Fine are included, showing how the deliberate feedback introduction wreaked havoc with the BBC’s finely calibrated equipment, causing a technician to ask for multiple takes. The BBC Archives Book by Kevin Howlett, one of the leading experts on the Beatles, traces their meteoric early rise with rare photos and even rarer documents from the BBC, including the group’s original audition form — and an evaluator’s report afterward: “John Lennon: Yes. Paul McCartney. No.� And on the off-chance you have any money at all remaining after these two, the first volume of BBC recordings has been re-mastered and re-released as well.

The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat, 45th Anniversary edition (Polydor/Universal)

Who knew that the release of the 45th anniversary super deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat would come shortly after the death of the band’s figurehead, Lou Reed. This concoction of live tracks, studio cuts and rare outtakes is probably the best eulogy that could be written for the rock genius. And as record sales spike for Reed’s solo material, fans and the curious should do themselves a favour and check out this box set. Fans of The Velvet Underground will savour previously unreleased versions of their classic tracks such as Beginning to See the Light and live versions of I’m Waiting for The Man where you can almost feel the sweat dripping down your neck while at New York’s The Gymnasium in 1967. What is striking but not surprising about the collection is the vast variety of the tracks, which epitomizes The Velvet Underground. The title track is chugging rock ’n’ roll with distorted guitars and Reed’s nonchalant tones jumping between low and drawling and playfully high. The Gift surges in with spoken word, and Stephanie Says is so gentle and melodic it could be a lullaby, delicate drum beats laced with harmonizing vocals.

Grateful Dead, Sunshine Daydream (Rhino)

How many reviews of archival Grateful Dead releases begin with some variation of this sentence: If you only own one Grateful Dead concert, make sure it’s this one? OK, so let’s get it out of the way early: If you only own one Grateful Dead concert, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for it to be Aug. 27, 1972, a benefit show released as the box set Sunshine Daydream. Amid the roughly 100 archival Grateful Dead releases so far, what makes Sunshine Daydream stand out? First, it’s not just the concert, which plays out over three discs and features the Dead in their prime. There’s also the movie, filmed on a shoestring budget to capture the hastily organized benefit show to help support the Springfield Creamery, owned by Ken Kesey’s brother, in Eugene, Ore. Long available in previous edits as a grainy bootleg, the film is beautifully restored here on DVD. The deluxe edition, available only through the Grateful Dead’s website, comes with a well put-together 30-minute documentary featuring interviews with many who helped put the show together including Merry Prankster, concert MC Ken Babbs and counter culture icon Wavy Gravy.

The Beach Boys, Made in California (Capitol)

With its bright yellow cover and yearbook-style format, the outside of The Beach Boys’ six-CD set Made in California already evokes a sunny California vibe. The music takes you all the way there, with a 50-year, career-spanning collection that includes home demos (complete with the band-member brothers arguing) and new arrangements of beloved hits. Accompanied by more than 30 pages of glossy vintage photos and interviews with the original sextet (Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and David Marks), Made in California is the ultimate collectible for any Beach Boys fan. Lounge into the lush harmonies on a cappella versions of Can’t Wait Too Long, Slip on Through and This Whole World. Dig the old radio spots from the 1960s and rare live studio recordings of Wendy and When I Grow Up (To Be a Man). Boogie in your bikini to more than a dozen live tracks, many from ’60s and ’70s performances. All the classics are here — California Girls, Surfin’ U.S.A., Barbara Ann, I Get Around — plus newer hits like Kokomo, and some 130 songs in between, comprehensively illustrating the California band’s longtime and lasting impact on pop music.

The Ramones, The Sire Years 1976-1981 (Rhino)

Break out your leather biker jacket and put on your best punk-rock snarl for this six-disc set from the genre’s American pioneers. All the songs that made you want to grow your hair long and play power chords are here: Blitzkrieg Bop, Sheena is a Punk Rocker, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment and I Wanna Be Sedated. The Sire Years comprises the Ramones’ first six albums: 1976’s The Ramones, 1977’s Leave Home and Rocket to Russia, 1978’s Road to Ruin, 1980s End of the Century and 1981’s Pleasant Dreams. Each album has its standout tracks — the ones you loved back in high school or whenever you discovered these shaggy-haired New Yorkers. The albums are presented with the original song order, cover art and arrangements, making the collection familiar, if beloved, territory. It’s nostalgic and comprehensive, but probably redundant for most Ramones fans.

Various artists, Released!: The Human Rights Concerts 1986-1998 (Shout Factory)

The Amnesty International box poses an interesting question: Is it best to see or just hear the music? The Released! compilation of highlights from benefit concerts, tours and videos between 1979 and 2012 decides on the former. The six-DVD set celebrates how music boosted the human rights organization, mixes in the message and is well designed to help people navigate between performances. That does, however, make the two-CD musical set seem slight in comparison, because people interested in portability of music can see many things that they are missing. It relies too heavily on a 1986 Giants Stadium show that hasn’t aged very well. Memo to Bryan Adams: It may seem like a good idea to have the audience sing the first verse of your latest hit in concert, but think of how that will sound on disc 25 years later. Annoying, that’s how. Fortunately, there are genuine treats. Peter Gabriel’s reimagined In Your Eyes with Youssou N’Dour from Paris in 1998 is transcendent, as is Tracy Chapman’s stately Fast Car and Bruce Springsteen’s solo No Surrender. The real star is Bob Marley, with three of the 30 songs covers of his compositions.

Duane Allman Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (Rounder)

Dig in and dig it, Duane Allman completists (you know who you are). The seven-CD set Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective doesn’t include every note Allman ever played, but it probably comes close enough. Skydog sums up the prolific guitar wizard’s tragically brief, sprawling career in comprehensive fashion, making it a testament to the depth and breadth of his incomparable talent. The set was co-produced by Allman’s daughter, Galadrielle, born shortly before her father died in a 1971 motorcycle crash. Along with his best-loved music as a member of the Allman Brothers Band and Derek the Dominos, there are samples of his session work with Hall of Famers Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, and with obscure artists such as Johnny Jenkins, Eric Quincy Tate and many, many more. On some cuts Allman solos for only a bar or two, but on longer breaks he sounds like no one else, channelling the blues, soul, jazz, country and rock. Of the 129 tracks, 33 are either previously unreleased or unissued on CD, starting with three nifty 1965 recordings by the Escorts, Allman’s group when he was 18. What he accomplished in the next six and a half years remains remarkable, as this set shows.

Woody Guthrie, Woody Guthrie: Radical American Patriot (Rounder)

Given Woody Guthrie’s restless nature, it’s amazing he sat still long enough to record five hours of songs and conversation with folklorist Alan Lomax. Those 1940 sessions by the Library of Congress are included on the six-CD set Woody Guthrie: Radical American Patriot. In some of his earliest recordings, Guthrie discusses his youth, the Dust Bowl, bankers, outlaws and life as a frontier troubadour. His snicker is a delight, while his retelling of family misfortunes during the Depression is wrenching. And when he lists famous Hollywood stars from Oklahoma with provincial pride, he sounds like someone’s slightly daft uncle. Guthrie’s commentary provides fresh context to the music that made him America’s greatest folksinger, and many of his best songs are here, performed informally. Also included are his tunes commissioned to support the U.S. government, including 10 for an anti-venereal disease campaign. This set isn’t the best introduction to Guthrie, and much of it won’t merit repeated listening. But it broadens our understanding of Guthrie, showing how — as the title suggests — the hard-travelling populist militant loved his country.

Sly and the Family Stone, Higher (Epic/Legacy)

After a thorough listen to the Higher box set, you’ll quickly realize Sly and the Family Stone made a lot of funky music, but not all of it is worth a second listen. For every heartwarming Everyday People, there is Luv ’n Haight, replete with corny horn work and a lacklustre approach to funk. For each I Want to Take You Higher and its soul-lifting spirit, there is I Just Learned How to Swim, which is Sly Stewart’s funk-tinged surf song that is fun. Maybe once. That’s what you have in this reasonably comprehensive, four-CD collection that includes 17 previously (perhaps thankfully) unreleased tracks — a band bristling with talent and experimentation, which occasionally struck gold and sometimes not. Songs like What’s That Got to Do With Me, about a love gone wrong, is epic in scope, with sweeping horn-driven crescendo interspersed with bits of dramatic pause and odd vocal insertions. If you like odd, this collection with be full of gems for you. Most Family Stone fans, however, will likely be content with a single disc of greatest hits by the funk super group, forgoing the filler.

Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac: 1969 to 1972 (Reprise)

The first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Fleetwood Mac is their seminal album Rumours. But the band’s pre-Rumours days are rich with bluesy offerings that are well worth revisiting on the new box set Fleetwood Mac: 1969 to 1972. The highlight of the four-album, vinyl collection is the first re-mastered edition of Then Play On, Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 debut album on Reprise Records. This is a raw, young blues-fuelled Fleetwood Mac and the sense of urgency to their music is on full display. The opening, bongo-backed track Coming Your Way bristles with pace and the all-out house rocker Fighting for Madge showcases guitarist Peter Green as a force to rival Eric Clapton of that era. Future Games is another winning platter, though it presents a softer Fleetwood Mac. By 1971 we find them putting together the less edgy sound that would prove to be the backbone to their radio mainstay hits to come. Fleetwood Mac: 1969 to 1972 aptly presents the formative years of one of the most successful bands in history.

Eric Clapton Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings (Polydor/Universal)

When Eric Clapton returned to the studio in 1974 after a long break from recording and performing because of heroin addiction, he embarked on a rebirth as an artist with three major albums that showcased his vocal skills alongside his well-known talents as a guitar god.

Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings, repackages and remasters those two studio albums, 461 Ocean Boulevard and There’s One in Every Crowd, and the live album, E.C. Was Here! in a five-CD, one Blu-ray set along with studio outtakes and unreleased versions of songs he recorded in that critical year. The songs he recorded in this period are heavy into blues, gospel and reggae, but the live album revisits some of his killer rock guitar skills from his days with Cream and Blind Faith. Some gems in the set are actually when he’s the most muted, such as his Dobro performance on Give Me Strength or the simple acoustic version of Please Be With Me. For fans of Clapton’s solo work, the set provides a detailed look at the turning point in his career and the music that brought him back to the stage.

Van Morrison, Moondance Deluxe Edition (Rhino)

Van Morrison’s seminal 1970 album of the same name, now re-mastered as a one-, two- or four-CD and Blu-ray audio package from Warner Bros., sounds as crisp and swing-danceable as it did when it hit the airwaves 43 years ago. If you fancy yourself a music fan and don’t own the album yet, you have no excuse. If you’re a fan of Van the Man, the deluxe edition will probably blow your mind. Only true audiophiles with a way to listen to music that doesn’t involve ear buds will appreciate the re-mastering, but there are 50 unreleased session recordings here, including a piano-heavy version of the title track and six takes of Brand New Day. It’s a trip to hear Morrison try out different tempos and vocal styles for Into the Mystic. Also included, a previously unreleased song that didn’t make the final album called I Shall Sing. Overall it’s a rare look inside the making of an album that Rolling Stone ranked as No. 65 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Tears for Fears, The Hurting 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Mercury/Universal)

In the three decades since Tears for Fears’ artfully styled and earnestly composed Mad World was released to radio, the single holds as much relevance today as it did in March 1983. So, too, does the entire album The Hurting, the pop-friendly but synth-inspired record that band co-founders Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith spent many months perfecting as they dabbled in the studio and experimented with different musical styles. Indeed, coming back to this album after the passage of time underscores the layers of wordplay and sense of accomplishment the pair had in their youth and affirms their place among that generation’s songwriters. Listening to the CD, now — through a lens of growing from a teenager to adult — songs like Memories Fade, with its focus on growing older and knowing when to let go, have a particular resonance. So, too, does the single Pale Shelter, with the original seven-inch version included, that flows with an inspired intensity and longing. The band has assembled an impressive collection of remixes, live sessions and of course B-sides, which packs the four-disc (three CDS and a DVD) set to the brim with bonus material, details about the songs and the band’s 1984 show at the Hammersmith Odeon.

Dec 9, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Album Review: Årabrot- Årabrot

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 1:57 am

Updated: 6:46 pm, Mon Dec 9, 2013.

Album Review: Årabrot- Årabrot

Norwegian noise rock band, Årabrot, combine their usual noisy flavor with sludge metal and some outlandish vocal work to produce a perdition perfect album. 

Given that there is spectacular noise rock scene at the moment where bands like Iceage and Melt-Banana are cultivating unique sounds ranging from brooding ballads to sporadic symphonies, Årabrot comes with a sound that is as ugly as the opener of that new Death Grips LP i recently reviewed.

The sludge metal elements found on this album are heavy. The guitar riffs are bassy and drag like molasses whilst the vocals are visceral at times but the frontman, Nibby Needle, can seamlessly segway to moans that sound like an Arabian hymn. 

Speaking of Arabian influences, the track “Throwing Rocks at the Devil” has a guitar motif that is reminiscent of some middle eastern persuasion which just contributes to the mix bag of influences this album presents at such a loud and abrasive volume. This is succeeding the shots of guitar sounds accompanied by some thundering kick drums. After the intro, we’re introduced to the dramatic vocals that spaz out over the spectrum– probably the apex of this album. 

However, this album does come with a set of potholes. At times the songs get a bit cartoony and laughable such as “The Horns Of The Devil Grows” that sounds like a B-Side from a Dethklok LP. Which would be totally fine if the band didn’t go to such lengths to be undesirable… I’d leave the torture and melancholy to Iceage as these guys come up short in that department when compared to the Danish Post-Punk prodigies.

When the album isn’t suffering from psuedo-sadness, they fall victim to the poor production. A number of these tracks have vocals being swallowed by heavy drum beats or overpowering bass lines rendering the songs sounding as distorted and squeezed as Gucci Mane’s “Swing My Door”

There are some highlights such as “Ha-Satan Defol” and “The Bitter Tears of Könt” but for every great song, there is either an underwhelming or overwhelming (in a bad way) song neutralizing it thus leaving my enjoyment of this album a bit limited. 




Monday, December 9, 2013 1:57 am.

Updated: 6:46 pm.

| Tags:


Noise Rock,

Sludge Metal,







Dec 8, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Indian heartland votes give BJP boon over Congress

The Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has waged a fierce campaign fronted by its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who has charmed businesses but worried critics that his rise could worsen sectarian tensions between India’s majority Hindus and its 138 million Muslims.

Preliminary results released Sunday showed BJP trouncing Congress in the Indian capital, northwest Rajasthan and landlocked Madhya Pradesh. The race for central Chhattisgarh was neck-and-neck.

As the votes were being counted, dozens of BJP supporters held an impromptu street fest outside the party’s Delhi headquarters, dancing to drum beats and setting off firecrackers, while the area outside Congress headquarters was deserted.

Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala called the results disappointing but conceded “we have lost” in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Modi offered congratulations by Twitter to Madhya Pradesh’s incumbent chief minister “for BJP’s wonderful performance,” and to the party in Rajasthan for “the historic victory.”

The elections were seen as an important gauge of voter sentiment in this secular democracy of 1.2 billion, where there are no reliable opinion countrywide polls and at least one-fifth of the 800 million-strong electorate will be youths casting their first general election votes next year.

TV news channels gave breathless coverage to Sunday’s vote count, offering a taste of the nationwide contest to come. Ballots from a fifth state that voted, Mizoram in the northeast, will be counted Monday.

Overall, Congress — led by a dynasty descended from India’s first prime minister that for decades has dominated national politics — was seen to lose ground due to sustained national focus on widespread and systematic graft, with several members from the party, as well as the BJP, embroiled in corruption scandals. Meanwhile, bribery has remained an everyday feature in routine tasks, from getting a marriage license to securing a child’s place in school.

Congress has also taken a beating over stalled economic reforms and the soaring costs of living, exacerbated by the slowdown in economic growth from averages above 8 percent for five years up to 2011 to below 5 percent today.

“Congress is getting in the neck on two sides — one for not being liberal enough, not giving enough incentives to corporates,” said political analyst Kamal Mitra Chenoy of Jaharwalal Nehru University in Delhi. “On the other side, the poor and lower middle-class are saying, ‘what about us, what are we going to get?’”

In the race for the 70-member Delhi Assembly, Congress’ Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was denied a fourth consecutive term as Delhi’s top elected official. Dikshit, 76, has presided over the city as it burgeoned into a megapolis of nearly 17 million people, many of them impoverished migrants in search of jobs.

A new political party called Aam Aadmi Party — or Common Man’s Party — played spoiler in the race, campaigning in Delhi’s poorest neighborhoods and pushing Congress into third place. Preliminary results suggested BJP would win 31 seats and the debutant party 27, with Congress collecting only nine.

Hundreds of AAP members danced wildly in the street outside the party’s Delhi office while holding up brooms — the new party’s symbol, alluding to its top platform promise to sweep corruption out of the ruling class. The party’s leader, former tax official Arvind Kejriwal, has said it hopes next to campaign nationally.

“It is very much fabulous. For the first time we are contesting elections, seven months of hard work,” said party member Balaji, a 26-year-old software engineer from the southern tech city of Bangalore who goes by one name. “We can give this country, this state, a very good opposition.”

It appeared to be a stunning fall for Congress, which took 43 seats in the last Delhi elections, and experts partly blamed anger over the deadly gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus last December and a corruption scandal involving the 2010 Commonweath Games.

“We accept our defeat and we will analyze what went wrong,” Dikshit told reporters after resigning as chief minister. “We respect what the people of Delhi have decided and thank them for supporting us for last 15 years.”

Both the AAP and BJP capitalized on Congress’ battered reputation. For several years after Congress won the national government in 2004, technocrat Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was praised for leading India to breakneck growth and economic reforms that enticed foreign investment.

But as the economy slowed and scandals surfaced, Congress found itself wrangling with regional coalition partners and unable to push through further reforms. In Rajasthan, for example, years of political infighting prevented a new law on free medicines and ambulance services from coming into force until this year — leaving little time to make an impact that could have helped Congress in the state’s vote.

Congress lost control of Rajasthan to BJP, with preliminary results giving Congress only 21 seats to BJP’s 159. The preliminary results also suggested BJP would easily retain Madhya Pradesh, with 157 seats to Congress’ 65.

Meanwhile, India’s benchmark Sensex rose by 1.4 percent in the two days after the recent elections as markets cheered early signs of a strong showing by BJP.

The BJP’s Modi, a three-time leader in Gujarat, is credited with turning his western state into an industrial haven. But he has been a polarizing figure as well, with critics questioning whether he can be a truly secular leader over India’s cacophony of cultures defined by caste, clan, tribe or religion, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.

For years, Modi has dodged allegations that he and his Hindu fundamentalist party colleagues looked the other way as marauding Hindu mobs killed and burned their way through Muslim neighborhoods in Gujarat in 2002, leaving more than 1,100 people dead in one of India’s worst outbursts of communal violence.

No evidence directly links Modi to the violence. The Supreme Court criticized his government, however, for failing to prosecute Hindu rioters who justified the rampage as revenge for a train fire that killed 60 Hindus. An independent 2006 probe determined the fire was an accident, but a 2008 state commission said it was planned by Muslims.

Dec 7, 2013
Rock D Fresh

A humbling life lesson

SUGAR RUSH: Korean Kpop group AOA showing off their slick dance moves. — Photos courtesy of Sundown Festival.

FUN: D=OUT bassist Reika (left) and guitarist Ibuki jamming together on stage.

HIGH ENERGY: Lead vocalist of D=OUT Kouki bringing high energy to the Festival.

GIDDUP: Fans doing what they do best – rooting for the performers.

YEARNING — an intense or overpowering longing, desire, need or craving — as described by the Collins English Dictionary — Complete and Unabridged.

This was how I felt, writing this after attending a music festival in Singapore. Funny I should feel this way as I did not suffer the same post-travel yearning following a previous trip there three years ago.

Perhaps, it was because my trip to the city state was not the same as the one before. This time around, it was a working trip the first time — to cover a music festival billed as Sundown Festival.

Covering one of Asia’s music extravaganzas was scary enough but the thought that three more nations — the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia — had been added to the cast just upped the ante that bit more.

On the day of the Festival, I arrived at the F1 Pit at Marina Promenade which had been specially designed for the event, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how scenic the stage looked with the Singapore Flyer (Lion City’s version of the London Eye) and the island state’s horizon as backdrop.

Loud thumping music, courtesy of a DJ, helped to prep festival-goers before the concert as did the side acts and cultural performances, featuring the barong (an Indonesian story-telling dance form), muay thai as well as a performance by the Tinikling B-boys, mixing traditional Philippine pre-Spanish bamboo pole tap dancing with a modern twist of breakdance.

As I still had some time in hand before the concert, I decided to test my taste-buds at the ‘food street’ set up for the Festival — courtesy of Singapore food portal

It was interesting to note the food stalls featured cuisine from all the nations participating in the concert — Korea, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Some of the more widely known foods were also featured such as Taiwanese bubble milk tea and sausages, and Indonesian curry and soto, but what caught my eye was a stall selling Taiwanese bear-paw buns.

These cute-looking munchables were not only shaped like bear paws but looked like yummy burgers as well. Although the fillings were usually fried chicken, spiced up with a variety of sauces, one special thing this store did was giving the bear paws a tropical makeover by introducing a gelato filling instead — something unconventional for a hot day.

At last, just as the sun was setting, the concert began. With the friendly and entertaining emcees from KissFM engaging the crowd, the first act begun with the Filipino rock band Rocksteddy.

With steady (pun unintended) drum beats and guitar riffs, the once Christian-rockers-turned-alternative-rock group hyped up the crowd with songs like Superhero, Love Is Your Bullet and the slightly mellower Drown.

They then gave way to Thai self-described PopPunk group No More Tear which resembles a Thai version of Paramore with the feisty front-woman’s flame-tinged hair. For me, this group was quite the understated group and definitely took me by surprise when I did listen to them. Even though I don’t understand a word of Thai, the emotion portrayed through the songs — Don’t Have Tears and Effort — resonated through, and I was pleasantly surprised when FukFang displayed her chops through a rocked-up version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.

Adonia Shao, girl wonder from China, displayed her new electronic-dance inspired tracks, and Nidji brought a mix of rock and electronic music to the Festival which refreshed the lineup and kept the crowd going throughout the night.

Cantonese actor and singer Bosco Wong regaled the crowd, proving himself to be quite a fan favourite among Singaporeans.

Rico Blanco amazed with his powerful vocals and incredible stage get-up, briefly transforming the stage into something out of a technicolour Amazon jungle.

Halfway through, festival-goers were granted a brief respite from upbeat rock by Yoga Lin who performed some acoustic songs before bringing the hype back up again.

Kpop group AOA brought a sugary sweetness to the show, mixing it up with a band performance with their new song Moya before transforming into their dance unit and sending screaming fans into a rocking frenzy with slick dance moves to the tempo of songs “Elvis” and “Love Is Only You” before showing off their sophisticated and mature side with Confused.

Of all the concert’s visual impacts, nothing could beat visual-kei groups — SCREW and D=OUT — from Japan with their amazing stage costumes and makeup. I found it interesting that despite both being visual-kei bands, it was almost as if SCREW were the ‘shadows’ to D=OUT’s light as the former’s music was slightly darker and edgier while the latter had some catchy and upbeat tunes.

Regardless, the one thing prevalent throughout the entire Festival was the universality of music that united people, regardless of race or musical preference. This was evident on the part of the fans who fully supported all the bands even if many had no inkling of the groups and their bias towards others.

I found that beautiful to watch, and was touched because I was reminded of ibu pertiwiku Sarawak and how, despite being hugely multi-racial and culturally diverse, we still manage to make it through day after day without any major conflict.

Thank you, Singapore for the humbling and unexpected life lesson and fret not I shall return.

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Dec 6, 2013
Rock D Fresh

‘Narco Cultura’ Explores The Violent Music Inspired By Brutal Drug Cartels …


While this year’s The Act of Killing candidly took us inside the mind of a man that committed acts of horror decades ago, the documentary Narco Cultura, directed by war photojournalist Shaul Schwartz, observes a contemporary world of horror through the perspectives of two outsiders. In both films, these acts of horror are refracted through popular entertainment that valorizes murder and its perpetrators. But unlike The Act of Killing, whose vanity film-within-a-film won’t be coming to a theater near you, the CDs of the music examined in Narco Cultura are available at your nearest Wal-Mart.

The two outsiders of Narco Cultura are Edgar Quintero and Richi Soto, a narcocorrido singer in Los Angeles and a crime scene investigator in the embattled Mexican city of Ciuidad Juarez respectively. Though they live on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, they are both trying to infiltrate the bloody world of drug cartels in their own ways. What makes the contrast especially chilling is that both are family men with humble lives.

For the singer Quintero, Mexico and the narco lifestyle is a glamorous fantasy. The band he fronts, BuKnas de Culiacán, performs onstage with prop weapons celebrating the heinous crimes perpetuated by members of drug cartels. In some instances shown on camera, he is commissioned by some of these individuals to write specific songs about them, with lyrical details honed down to their preferred nicknames and weapon caliber. A family man living in a small bungalow somewhere in Los Angeles, it is not hard to see what draws Quintero to the narco lifestyle. A visit by him to a graveyard in Sinaloa towards the end of the film shows that even in death their power and wealth are flaunted; their mausoleums resembling mini-McMansions are large enough to allow them to be buried alongside their favorite trucks.

But while Quintero and his band tour both Mexico and the United States, literally daily murders occur on the streets of Ciudad Juarez in the most active flashpoint of the drug war that has torn Mexico apart. There, Richi Soto works as a “bullet collector” for Mexican authorities. He nominally investigates these murders but in reality he spends most of his time organizing evidence and filing it away in unmarked boxes. The judicial process is halted either by corruption or fear. Investigators at crime scenes are seen wearing balaclavas out of fear for their own safety. In the course of the film one of Soto’s colleagues resigns after a threat and another is murdered. It is estimated that over 97% of murders go uninvestigated.

Using both perspectives, the film shocks the viewer not only with the bloody aftermath from these cartel murders but also with the sight of concert attendees singing and dancing along to songs of beheadings and revenge killings. Even the investigator Richi Soto is seen at a gathering of family and friends dancing with his girlfriend to a folksier narcocorrido performed live, albeit stripped of the aggression of electronic drum beats. Narco Cultura at first seems to cast a judgmental eye on the Latin community that glamorizes the narco culture, but when one of the narcocorridos entertainment moguls proclaims, “I think we can be the next hip-hop,” it causes us to rethink the collective consumption of real-life horrors through pop culture.

Narco Cultura opens in theaters nationally today.

Dec 5, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Warpaint – “Biggy”


Warpaint already dropped “Love Is To Die,” the big and percussion-heavy first single from their upcoming self-titled album, and now they have a more subdued one to share. “Biggy” carries gentle cymbals and brushed drum beats; it’s an eerier track, and a good reminder that they’ve got Flood AND Nigel Godrich producing this thing. Listen below and look for the full album next month.

Warpaint is out 1/21 via Rough Trade.

Dec 4, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Smiths honored for preserving grist mill — and its future

Smiths honored for preserving grist mill — and its future

PERRYVILLE – Robert and Diane Smith have tended to the Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill for the past 25 years, keeping alive a Rhode Island tradition with their passion for the work and volunteers equally as enthralled with the workings of the mill. Recently the Smiths deeded the 310-year old mill to the South Kingstown Land Trust, and to show their appreciation for the donation members of the trust hosted a weekend gathering to honor the couple for their quarter century of care for the oldest continuously operated water-powered mill in the state.

As a steady wind blew wispy funnels of topsoil from a freshly-cut field on a fall day, a father and son unloaded a four-person drum at the land trust’s Weeden Farm barn at 17 Matunuck Road. Aborigine people believe the drum is “the heartbeat of Mother Earth.”

The drum is broadly considered to be the first musical instrument used by humans. The drum originally served as a warning or signal for indigenous people and its resonance could communicate an intruder from the sea or a wedding feast message.

Today, native people utilize the drum at powwows, games, sacred ceremonies and special gatherings such as “Honor the End of Whitecap Flint Corn Harvest Season,” held at the Barn in Matunuck.

Max Brown-Garcia of the Narragansett Nation, mixed corn pollen and tobacco in the southwest corner of the rebuilt barn that serves as headquarters for the land trust. Myantonomo Garcia, 7, listened as his dad said a prayer and together they sprinkled the mixture on the floor.

“We are here to honor the end of the harvest season and to offer prayers for the bounty of the corn which was a saving grace to my ancestors in the cold months,” said Brown-Garcia. “Corn pollen and tobacco are mixed to cleanse the area before I place my drum blessed by Medicine Man Lloyd Wilcox on the ground.”

This was Myantonomo’s public drumming debut and after the day’s lectures, songs, and jonnycake sampling he expressed how he felt embarrassed to have a room full of eyes focused on him.

“I can drum pretty good, I practice a lot,” he said. “At first I was shy. It got better. And I like how the drum makes a noise for people.”

To support Myantonomos, as well as honor the Smith’s dedication to the preservation and promotion of Rhode Island’s native strain of corn, Heidi Garcia, Brenda Pettiway Brown and Nancy Brown-Garcia donned their colorful shawls and in rhythm to the drum beats, gracefully danced among the seated crowd to a song called “Peewasu” – Honor of the Gathering.

“Teaching and playing with my son is one of my greatest honors,” said Brown-Garcia. “The drum group I belong to – Storm Boyz – is proud to have future members in training to carry on the tradition.”

Nancy Brown-Garcia, deputy historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian Nation, was the keynote speaker during the event.

“The Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island believed a crow carried a bean in one ear and kernel of corn in the other to my ancestors. We believe the crow brought this gift of sustenance from the Southwest of America – a place all men come from and all men will return in spirit to,” said Nancy Brown-Garcia to a packed barn. “The late Eastern Woodlands societies had a glorious variety of food sources. Oral history tells us that the coves in Narragansett Bay were governed by various members of the Narragansett Royal Family. Great banquets of land and sea bounty were presented to the people by the Royals to celebrate the Creator’s benevolence. Corn was a staple of my people’s winter sustenance but evidence shows the Pueblo People of the desert climate in the Southwest were much more dependent on a good corn harvest.”

“I do not see any red or purple kerneled ears in your collection,” said Susan Sosnowski. “What is the reason for that?”

Sosnowski, who has represented state Senate District 37 in South Kingstown and New Shoreham since 1996, operates a 60-acre organic farm in West Kingston. Her farm’s crops include R.I. native flint corn. Sosnowski also read a Senate proclamation that thanked the Smith’s for their quarter century of exemplary stewardship at the grist mill.

“Narragansett women planted, harvested and turned the crop while the men hunted small and large game,” answered Nancy Brown-Garcia. “The red and purple kerneled ears were cultivated out as they were much tougher than our much sought after, and easier on the teeth, light colored cobs.”

White cap flint corn jonnycakes were prepared for all attendees to sample by Charlestown Historical Society members Pam Lyons and Cheryl Gowey. They were distributed by one of the Smith’s faithful grist mill volunteers – Kevin McCloskey.

“We have a great crew here,” Smith said. “All volunteer. Diane and I could not have preserved this mill without many helpers like Kevin McCloskey and Bill Wright.”

People on the local farmers’ market circuit know of the Smiths indefatigable ebullience toward all things created from Rhode Island white-cap flint corn. They watch with admiration as the sprightly octogenarians – with the help of Marge Bartlett – spring into action and in no time fill the air with the sweet smell of sizzling cornmeal guaranteed to attract a crowd.

Dec 3, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Video: North Walsham beatboxer returns to his old school for ‘inspirational’ talk

Former North Walsham High School student Tom Povey, also known as beatboxer Intensi-T, performing at his old school. With students, left to right, Amy Englestone 15, Millie Andrews 14, Will Taylor 14 and Megan Goodwin 14. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sophie Wyllie
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
5:19 PM

Practice makes perfect – that was the message from a Norfolk beatboxer who returned to give an inspirational talk to students from his old school today.


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Beatboxing facts

■ Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using the mouth, lips, tongue, or voice.

■ It may also involve singing or imitating the sound of a turntable, horns, strings, and other musical instruments.

■ According to the Guinness World Records, the current record for the largest human beatbox ensemble was set by Google employees. It involved 2,081 participants and was achieved by the Google staff together with UK beatboxers Shlomo and Testament. The record was set at the Convention Centre in Dublin on November 14 2011.

■ Beatboxing in hip-hop music originated in 1980s. Its early pioneers include Doug Fresh.

Tom Povey, 21, known as Intensi-T, spoke to year 10 pupils at North Walsham High School in the hall where he first tried beatboxing aged 15 in a school workshop.

He signed a major record deal with the Universal label in September this year after headlining the poetry tent at Latitude Festival this summer.

Other major popstars he has performed with include Ed Sheeran, Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud and Rizzle Kicks.

He said: “It is nostalgic coming back here. The hallway is still the same. It is important to inspire people, especially from my home town because young people have a lot of self doubt. When I was young I didn’t think I would be doing what I’m doing now. If you find something you enjoy and are good at work hard at it and be the best you can be at it.”

During the talk he performed his own versions of hits by rapper Eminem; rock band The White Stripes; and British rapper Dizzee Rascal.

He also combined his beatboxing while playing a harmonica.

Teenagers Millie Andrews, 14, Amy Englestone, 15, Megan Goodwin, 14, and Will Taylor, 14, had a masterclass from Tom.

The voice of headteacher Caroline Brooker was also sampled by the music artist.

“I love to hear success stories from all of our former pupils,” Mrs Brooker added.

Will, a budding beatboxer from North Walsham, said: “It makes you believe in what you want to do.”

Tom grew up in Earlham and North Walsham and after completing A-levels at Paston Sixth Form College in North Walsham, he studied a degree in music, business and production at the University of Westminster which he has just finished.

His first performance was at Sheringham Little Theatre in 2008 aged 15 with three other budding performers, including Britain’s Got Talent finalist Sam Kelly.

He was always enthusiastic about music and started guitar and drumming lessons aged 11.

After playing in school bands he focused on beatboxing – producing drum beats, rhythm and music sounds through the voice – after the creative school workshop.

He started busking and performing around Norfolk aged 16 and started rapping on top of his beatboxing last year.

He started performing at small festivals and has appeared at Latitude Festival for the past three years and Sundown Festival in Norwich this year and last year.

Highlights include performing with Ed Sheeran three times at the Waterfront in Norwich in 2010; performing with rap and grime act Rizzle Kicks in 2011; and appearing at T4 on the Beach at Weston-Super-Mare alongside Nicola Roberts in front of 50,000 in the same year.

He has written about 30 songs – based on real life experiences – and is in the process of recording his first single with Universal.

Tom hopes to appear at festivals across the country next summer.

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