single of the week

Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods

 

album picks

Album Review: The Madden Brothers - Greetings From California
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Album Review: Rahul Advani - Night Stories
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Album Review: Gerard Way - Hesitant Alien
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more album picks

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SBA 2014
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One of the most respected names in modern pop culture, Mariah Carey, finally made her way back to Kuala Lumpur for her second concert – The Elusive Chanteuse Show (her first was back in February 2004). I am pretty sure I am not alone in having an OMG-I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-I-JUST-SAW-MARIAH-IN-THE-FLESH moment. 

Looking pretty and fresh, Carey appeared on stage during Wednesday’s concert at Stadium Merdeka in a black buttoned-up jacket outfit to a strong crowd of 12,000 fans in plastic raincoats. Suddenly, being drenched under the relentless pouring rain wasn’t such a big deal after all. The pop-diva smiled and waved to the crowd as she opened the show with Fantasy, followed by Touch My Body.

There were a couple of random/spontaneous interludes including one where she was making up lyrics “It’s raining, it’s pouring, what are you going to do when lightning strikes? Just hold on tight, Kuala Lumpur” before encouraging us to shake, shake, Shake It Off. I was slightly let down that Through The Rain wasn’t included in her set list. It would have fitted nicely in corresponding with the weather.

Fans who attended her Charmbracelet World Tour a decade ago may remember that Carey only stuck to her bright pink spaghetti-strapped top and tight-fitting blue jeans throughout the concert as a result of the strict dress code regulations. Thankfully, history did not repeat itself. This time, she had several costume changes including a glamorous black gown with a plunging neckline and snakeskin-print trench coat.

One of the more notable outfits was when Carey sashayed unto the stage again in a one shoulder long Grecian pink dress to perform one of my favourite Mariah Carey covers, I’ll Be There, (by The Jackson 5) with backup singer and long-time friend, Trey Lorenz. Their duet was first featured in Mariah's 1992 MTV Unplugged album. 

The most memorable moment of the night for this writer came when she sang her gospel-inspired song Fly Like A Bird while seated on top of a large piano. Mama Carey not only took us to church, she carey-ed us up and beyond to the heavens. That's right,the best-selling female artiste proved that she still has it despite hitting some sour notes recently in Japan.

Frankly speaking, Carey’s is no longer up to par compared to her prime years. But albeit having to sing one octave lower (particularly on her classic songs such as My All, Hero and aforementioned cover, I’ll Be There), the 44-year-old singer hardly faltered whenever she did her signature whistle register throughout the night.

Another personal favourite moment was when she belted out her much-loved ballad Hero and was accompanied by a black and white video footage paying tribute to all the inspiring heroes who have made their mark on the world. From Gandhi, to Princess Diana, Oprah, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa, this performance was one of the most poignant parts of the evening.    

Yeah, there may have been a few glitches here and there. The long wait, thunder and lightning, fire (the stage had a little mishap), technical issues, and the exasperating bad weather… All that being said, it was a real privilege to witness the legendary Mariah Carey singing live and gracing us with her incredible voice.  

Carey ended The Elusive Chanteuse Show with her signature mega hit We Belong Together and returned for an encore for crowd favourite Always Be My Baby and Butterfly (Reprise). Carey’s musical style may have changed over the years but to echo one of her fans, “she was, she is, and she always will be…”

Mariah Carey’s The Elusive Chanteuse Show: Tour Live in Malaysia 2014 Set List:

1. Fantasy
2. Touch My Body
3. Shake It Off
4. Emotions
5. Cry
6. Fly Like a Bird
7. My All
8. Heartbreaker
9. #Beautiful (with Trey Lorenz)
10. I'm That Chick
11. Honey
12. I'll Be There (The Jackson 5 cover) (with Trey Lorenz)
13. Thirsty
14. Meteorite
15. Hero
16. Supernatural
17. We Belong Together

Encore:
Always Be My Baby
Butterfly Reprise

Favourite vocal performance: Fly Like A Bird, I’ll Be There

Favourite Visual Footage: Hero

Shout outs during the show: L.A. Reid (I’m That Chick), Monroe & Moroccan Cannon (Supernatural)

****

The concert was organised by IME Productions and supported by Malaysia Major Events, an agency under the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

Photo credits: IME Productions

Placed by Alternative Press at #3 amongst the 12-tiered echelons of bands deemed the future of metalcore, Bring Me The Horizon has made remarkable progress from their deathcore roots but still, the Sheffield quintet continues to push their boundaries.

December 5 marks another hallmark for the band as they embark on what is very likely their biggest show ever - housed at London’s Wembley Arena. Young Guns, Issues and Sleepwave (Spencer Chamberlain) have since been announced as supports. Perhaps as a lead-up to the monumental date, BMTH has released their first post-Sempiternal banger, Drown.

Upon first listen, an immediate takeaway would be lead vocalist Oli Sykes’ glaring abstinence from his usual screams. Smoothly transitioning between silken croons (think Deathbeds) and raspier, melodic choruses, such a seeming departure has inevitably been a point of contention.

Who will fix me now? Dive in when I'm down? Save me from myself, don't let me drown.”

Having come clean about a previous Ketamine addiction, Sykes’ lyrics reveal the sense of helplessness the frontman must’ve undergone when battling his vice, making the song all the more meaningful.  Such rehabilitation is mirrored by Drown’s music video which sees BMTH in a mock television show setting – with an audience comprised of hospital-gown-bedecked patients whose eccentricities are not unlike those found in the likes of American Horror Story: Asylum.  

The Beatles friendliness aside, Bring Me are a freak show themselves, boasting mutant-like symptoms including invisibility and a raging case Chewbacca-ism that obviously requires attention of the exorcism kind. Sounds nuts? We thought so too. Leave your thoughts about Drown below while you’re at it!

Drown is officially out on 7th December and is now available for pre-order on iTunes.  

 

Photo credit: Metal Hammer

Sister Cristina Scuccia has chosen her first single to be an emotional cover of Like A Virgin by the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. Probably not an obvious pick for a debut single for the singing nun who recently won Italy's version of the TV talent show, The Voice, and signed a record deal with Universal Records shortly after her victory.

The original upbeat and energetic feel of the pop song was taken down to a more heartfelt and sentimental mood with mostly a sad piano backing up her amazing vocal abilities. This gospel-ballad version of Like A Virgin was the background music to a black-and-white music video of Sister Cristina in various iconic parts of Venice.

Some may critique the debatable lyrical topics in Like A Virgin, but the Italian singer was quick to diffuse them saying to Catholic newspaper Avvenire, "If you read the lyrics without being influenced by what has gone before, you discover that it is a song about the capacity to love to make people new again. To release them from their past. And this is how I wanted to interpret it. That's why we've transformed it from the pop-dance track it was into a romantic ballad a bit in the style of Amos Lee." 

She added on, "I'd love to see [Madonna's] face when she [hears the track] and when they tell her it's a nun singing."

We'd all like to see what the Queen of Pop thinks about this. Check out the video below!

 

Photo credit: Universal Records

Sprawling the cities and reaching a critical mess The Summer State shows us how Pop Rock should be carried out. The band storms on stage with triumphant and convoys with the famous head bang as seen at every Rock concert: throng of fans are lured into the music by their charismatic frontman Bryan, who manages to capture the hearts of his vehement female fans.

Formed in 2012, The Summer State has a wealth of experience from being the opening act for International Bands such as Mayday Parade, Yellowcard, A Rocket to the Moon and Alex Goot & Against The Current to performing in the Phillipines (Sonicboom Shockwave 2014) and Johor Bahru (JB Art Fest 2014).  

The band rosed to fame as they released their EP in 2013 with their former frontman Ryan Lopez. In addition, the EP managed to clinch the number one spot on the iTunes Rock Chart. My two personal picks are Love, That’s What They Call It These Day and I Do, I Don’t.

I simply love the honesty of this local band, often reminding me of Boys Like Girls. Drums and synths catapulted onto the sonic field by the talented Ritz, spellbinding groves backed by Edwin, propelling guitar tensions by Victoria & Shaykh and not forgetting the gravelly vocals by Bryan. A promising future for this local band indeed! I can’t wait for their upcoming EP! 

 

 

Photo Credits: The Summer State

The lady of No Doubt is out of her eight-year sabbatical. Finally!

Making her comeback as a solo artiste, Gwen Stefani releases Baby Don’t Lie, the EDM-influenced lead single of her third solo record that’s lined with reggae undertones.

Drawing parallels with scenes from The Wizard of Oz, the track’s music video nods towards to her ever-present retrolicious style with a burst of psychedelia.

The technicolour video sees her being carried away by a tornado of words from a world of monochrome glamour to a wild land where pink skies and outlandish black-and-white pyramids exist. But of course, it had to be where product placements bide their time as well (See: Killer kicks, Beats by Dre headphones and music app).

No dates have been set yet for the release of Gwen’s upcoming album, so we’ll just wait like a patient little black dog with this buddy of a song.

 

Photo credits: Ultimate Music/Gwen Stefani