TURN ME AROUND
Y'know, sometimes when a song inspiration strikes, you've got to go with the flow. This morning around 10 plus, as I was playing and singing a couple of covers e.g. Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman and the Decemberists' Engine Driver (preparing for an imaginary gig), I had this tune running through my head.
So, I figured out the chords for the first line and rather immediately the song took shape as I threw in chords that seemed to fit together rather nicely and before you know it I had the verse and chorus. So I recorded the tune on Audacity and kept refining it along the way till I was completely satisfied.
That done, I began work on the lyrics. I was thinking about Big Star's the Ballad of El Goodo somewhat and dubbed the song, "Turn Me Around" a phrase used in the Big Star track. And so I began mulling the lyrical ideas and concepts in my head. What came to mind was all the celebrity infidelities regularly in the press nowadays and I was off! That was the theme of the song - the narrator simply suspected his wife/girlfriend of being unfaithful to him.
In the meantime, I'd also concocted a middle eight to keep things interesting. The trouble was that I kept confusing my original tune with Narisa's melody used on Valentine's Day. So I quickly recorded my middle eight on Audacity so I would not forget it (and not rip Narisa off).
All set, now to record a quick demo on Garageband. Once I selected a drum loop I layered my acoustic guitar over it. Then I double tracked vocals straight into my Macbook condenser mic and the basic outline was done. In order to embellish the song, I also included organ, bass and lead guitar to arrive at a fuller sound. Still all very rough mind you but it would give any listener a good indication of what the song was about.
Not bad for three hours work, if I say so myself. Listen to the result here and here. Please comment - there are a few surprises along the way. ;-)
Can anyone do what I did? Yes, I believe so. If you wanna know how, get in touch at info(at)powerofpop(dot)com and let's discuss further how I can help you with your songwriting, recording and/or production skills.
...and there's more...
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
PoP COLLEGE - ANYONE CAN WRITE A SONG
The Two Chord Wonder
I first heard Neil Young's Unknown Legend as the opening cut of his 1992 hit album, Harvest Moon and remain firmly besotted by this amazing song. What I only realized later when analysing the song was that it has essentially two chords! Despite this, the melody sweeps the listener away with the aid of heady harmonies, tremolo lead guitar riffs and very basic country-folk arrangements and rhythm. Which goes to show that songwriting is not merely technical - filled with clever and fancy chord structures - but with the instinctive grasp of emotion, mood and tone to tell a story - both musically and lyrically.
NB. I will be sharing my expertise and experience gained from more than 30 years of performance and songwriting at PoP College, which will be commencing soon. For more information, please drop me an email at info(at)powerofpop(dot)com
Thursday, March 11, 2010
STAND BY YOUR MAN
I'd actually written another song about Jack Neo recently and was seriously debating whether to record it for the S-Indie Video I was gonna do with Pat Chng this afternoon. But I decided against it after watching the press conference this morning where Neo's wife fainted from the sheer pressure.
Enough is enough...
So instead, I performed Beyond the Ashes instead and it worked out quite well.
Monday, March 08, 2010
AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL THE BANDS WHO DID NOT MAKE IT THROUGH THE BAYBEATS AUDITION ROUND ONE
Let me begin by stating that the following is my personal opinion and does not represent the opinions of The Esplanade Co Ltd nor that of my colleague judges - Daniel Sassoon, Amanda Ling, Jon Chan or Keith Tan.
First and foremost, congratulations on making the first round and performing under fairly difficult and stressful conditions. That is an achievement in itself and something to build on.
Secondly, as the second round will only feature 16 bands, 14 bands will by necessity be eliminated. Somebody has to go out and unfortunately, that somebody was your band.
Thirdly, the judges take into account many factors when determining the bands going through to Round 2. Sometimes, the potential shown by a band may outweigh its competence and its songwriting ability may be valued more than technical expertise.
So, decisions are seldom made purely on technique alone and often the judges look out for a creative spark that distinguishes a band. In addition, music genre sometimes comes into play. Baybeats Festival is traditionally known as an "indie (emo) rock" festival to such an extent that many of the bands applying tend to stick rather closely to that style, making them indistinguishable from each other.
In these circumstances, bands playing a different music genre from the cliched emo style will definitely gain an advantage. In fact, personally, I "switch off" when I hear the inevitable guitar lines and high-register vocal that make up the emo staples. Therefore, I naturally gravitate towards any band that attempts to play in a style that is not commonly heard in indie rock circles. Thus, I would sit up and pay attention, if a S-ROCK band started playing country-folk in the vein of Wilco or the Jayhawks, certainly.
And... here's my punchline. If you didn't make it through, be honest with your music and assess your performance objectively and make the necessary changes so that you can improve your music making processes. I'm always available to meet up at least once (foc) to seriously discuss your music and how you can move forward, if so minded.
As usual, the contact email is info(at)powerofpop(dot)com.
... I'll be waiting.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
John Lennon once said that he wanted records to be like newspapers - current and relevant to the events happening around him. I always been intrigued by that concept. Well, I took this to heart this morning when I was reading about the Jack Neo affair/scandal. The result - Do My Best - a new song that reflects some of my thoughts about this news item. Hope you like it and would appreciate your kind comments, if any.
Do My Best can be heard here.
... and there's more ...
Saturday, March 06, 2010
I WANNA BE ADORED
This is one of my favourite Groovy reviews - from an Aussie fanzine. Click on the image above to see what I mean.
I am selling copies of Groovy for $13.00 (while stocks last). More details at info(at)powerofpop(dot)com.
For those of you who are attending any of the Noise showcases at the Concourse on Saturday or Sunday, you can buy the CD from me at only $10.00. Come up and purchase a copy from me. I will take a photo of both of us and post it on this blog.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
1998 was a bad year. The effects of the Asian financial crisis were keenly felt that year as Singapore went through a hard recession. Overnight, many people were retrenched and had their salaries reduced. This fact hit the entertainment scene hard and most of all, the Singapore music scene suffered greatly.
Of course, I decided it was time to self-release the debut album from Popland. Well, when I say Popland I really mean the Crowd. The Crowd had already released a demo cassette - the Modest EP (1995) and a full-length album - Pop (1997), to fairly indifferent response in Singapore.
When launching and promoting Pop, we'd managed to rope in Ray Aziz (Swirling Madness, Opposition Party) to play drums for us and it worked wonders! New songs were being arranged and performed (like Never Liked the Beatles and There She Stands) and ideas of a new album were being floated around.
But the clicher was that in 1998, I started working on the Power of Pop reviews site in earnest and managed to get in touch with various like-minded individuals in the USA. One of which, was Bruce Brodeen, owner of Not Lame, a power pop distributor out of Colorado. Bruce basically encouraged me to release a new album and distribute it in the USA. Only problem was the name - The Crowd - which was the same as another US surf-punk band and so, Popland was born.
The album was christened Groovy (in honour of the Pixies' Debaser - one of my favourite songs. Y'know, "girl is so groovy"). Anyway, we also got a mention in the Straits Times for all our endeavours. Click on the image below to read.
I am selling copies of Groovy for $13.00 (while stocks last). More details at info(at)powerofpop(dot)com.
For those of you who are attending any of the Noise showcases at the Concourse today, Saturday or Sunday, you can buy the CD from me at only $10.00. Come up and purchase a copy from me. I will take a photo of both of us and post it on this blog.
Alright, S-ROCK fans and completists, I have copies of the debut Popland CD, Groovy for sale. The album was recorded by Tim Nolan, Ray Aziz and myself and contains many of the tracks I still perform live (and more).
Released in 1998 by KAMCO Records, the album was described by noted music writer Gary "Pig" Gold in 1999 as "a more than delightful mixture of both out-and-out hop-rockin' treasures ("There She Stands" is no less than Spector-by-way-of-Searchers, complete with SoCal64-styled vocals) and gentle, acoustic-guitar-propelled wonders ("Here," "Past Tense" and especially the Townshend-esque "Beautiful" are the kind of powerfully understated works only Phil Angotti and Scott McCarl seem to excel at these days)." Read the entire review here.
Get a slice of S-ROCK history whilst stocks last! I'm selling the CD for S$13.00 which includes postage. NB. This only covers sales in Singapore.
Send me an email at info (at) powerofpop (dot) com and tell me you wanna GET GROOVY!!!
Thanks to Angela Chng.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Can I be candid about your music? If I am and you hear something you don't like, will you hate me? Will you even listen?
One thing I learnt from the Baybeat Auditions last Saturday was that there are (too) many bands recording and releasing EPs when they are clearly not ready to do so. Sure, you've got a couple of songs (many 5 or 6) and have saved money (or rich enough) to do so but just because you can should you?
In my opinion, if you only have 5 to 6 songs - then you are not ready. By the time I was preparing for my first album in 1993, I was 32 and had been writing songs for more than 15 years. I had definitely more than 5 or 6 songs to choose from - maybe more than a thousand! From that number, I selected 13 songs (well, 14 plus Gum) and the resulting album - Democracy - was voted BigO's Local Album for that year.
Even if those 5 or 6 songs pass muster, you still need to get it right in the recording studio and if you've never recorded before, it can be a challenging (not to mention expensive) matter. And after that? You need to market and promote the EP and hopefully, you have the right expertise and contacts to give your EP, the maximum exposure. Unless you have someone in your band who is savvy with such issues or a manager who knows what he/she is doing, it can be an uphill and thankless task.
In terms of recording and production, I have been fortunate to have self-produced 4 full-length albums and 2 EPs and as for marketing, I'm proud to say that I've managed to promote 2 Popland albums overseas, even getting a US release for the last Popland CD, Action!
Now, wouldn't it be nice if you could get professional advice on whether your songs are ready for recording and furthermore to be guided on the recording and marketing process? Haha, I guess if you've read this far, you know where I'm going with this. This is where I come in to fill in the gaps for you and your band.
If all of the above describes where you are with your music and your band, then get in touch at info (at) powerofpop (dot) com and let's see how I can help you.
... still there's more ...