This past Friday night in Urbana, local self-proclaimed emo-punk act Jarring debuted their first full-length album, and along for the ride was a slew of great opening acts from the Champaign-Urbana area and beyond. Opening for Jarring came Terribly Happy, Spandrels, and Puzzlequest in that order. Each brought their own sound and spirit to the show.

Peoria based group, Terribly Happy,  opened with a distinct atmosphere for the show. Led by energetic and angsty vocals, the audience followed the dynamic band into the night. The air was filled with excellent guitar riffs and inspired rhythms. Terribly Happy are an unmistakably creative group and a force to be reckoned with, so watch out for them in the future of the Peoria-Bloomington-Champaign DIY scene. Their most recent album Wanchu! is available online.

Indy-Urbana based act Spandrels was the second performance of the night. They brought along noisy strings and searing vocals reminiscent of I Had the Blues but I Shook them Loose era Bombay Bicycle Club. Their sound didn’t change much from song to song, but there’s something to be said for consistency and injecting a contrast of sound to the show as a whole. Their upcoming album is close to completion, so stay tuned for demos releasing in the very near future.

 

The last opening act to perform was Puzzlequest. Based out of Urbana, they will have been together for a year this Halloween. Warm vocals and a cool laid back air highlighted their set. They brought a rebellious vibe which fits snugly within the theme of the night. Puzzle Quest’s show was the ideal segway into the night’s main event…

 

Jarring was the highly publicized star of the night, as this show marked the release of their album S/TTheir songs had a rowdy and exciting chord progression that looked to be the crowd favorite. The group’s evolution from an indie rock sound to their current emo punk vibe was made apparent in their multifaceted sound. The band had a synergistic charm that only a group with substantial chemistry could achieve. Jarring wrapped up the night with a smattering of covers that included the likes of the Killers and Modern Baseball, much to the delight of the swelling crowd. Their live performance was vibrant and the album is surely worth a listen for all new music lovers. Pizza FM and Spotify both play host to a compilation of their songs.

Overall, the show was a triumph in which several deserving acts gained glory and exposure. The night rattled on without a single dull moment, a sure sign of good things to come for this year’s music scene in Champaign-Urbana.

So first things first: Singapore does not have good American pizza. There’s this stuff called VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) which is pretty much Italian style flatbreads and a handful of Pizza Huts. But be it thin-crust or deep-dish, a high quality version of the American staple is absent in this part of the world. This does not mean that the food here does not kick ass, but this topic could make up another post completely.

20120723-singapore-cover (I can currently name 8 of these 9 dishes)

For now, we will begin with introductions: I am Dan Ammer and I work in pizza fm. I do not have a show this semester because I am 20 hours away from Champaign-Urbana by plane and I am writing this to report to you the similarities and differences of life for a commercial free radio DJ in a similar but distant place. I can only hope that the current president of Pizza FM takes it upon herself to continue this series when we switch roles, but I will refrain from naming names.

germany_2631880b (It was Germany, wasn’t it?)

Upon arriving in the city of Singapore in the country of Singapore, it was brought to my attention that the local music scene was currently going through what is referred to as “the Cover Music Movement.” Now I’m not sure if this series of three words would hit you the way it hit me, but imagine for a moment that you are to stepping into a big city comparable to New York City or Chicago in size and demeanor with a hope of exploring the sea of new music that becomes available to you in a new location (and a lingering hope of perhaps writing about it some day), and then being told the currently local music scene is dominated by young people doing top 40 covers… Maybe you aren’t me, but maybe this would disappoint you greatly.

Cover songs (Why indeed?)

I was worried.

As far as the rest of the art community goes, I was reminded of the infamy of the government and that it had not supported the development of the arts. That art museums and art schools were not promoted or encouraged before the last 5 years came around and that it was underdeveloped. So I figured I would have to search.

So that’s what I did

While the art community of Singapore is still indeed developing (with bigger art museum installments, more space dedicated to Singaporean artists, and liberal arts colleges opening in the city-state), there has always been an underground culture for certain types of music to gain momentum. From what I have gathered, the underground went through a death metal phase in the 90s and an emo punk phase in the early 2000s (mirroring the rise of bands such as Greenday and Fall Out Boy, it seems). These sorts of counter-cultures were staunchly rejected by the society at large and, aside from a few crumbling forums, they seem to be nearly forgotten. In late years, however, there seems to be a push towards original Singaporean culture such as the street markets in Bugis, the famous Hawker Centers scattered around towns, and, thankfully, a new and flourishing music scene.

Cashew Chemists Croons at the Singapore Art Week, Singapore Art Museum34 (Cashew Chemists at the Singapore Art Museum)

I have had the pleasure of catching some of these acts and many of them are featured in a playlist below:

From their name to their sound, Cashew Chemists sounds like home. The blues-rock outfit sounds like they could have been playing Chicago bars since they were in highschool and are planning to release their debut LP soon.

[.gif] plays around with electronics to bring together a sound that is completely their own, it also translates well live thanks to their musicianship and energy.

One of the biggest local names here is Charlie Lim, with good reason. He’s got a professional grade voice and a strong variety of tunes. I can only imagine the man is going places and I’ll be awaiting his release early this summer.

And perhaps my favorite act, Seyra. The six-piece group from Malaysia boasted interesting instrumentation, wonderfully soaring walls of sound, and a blend of folk, post-rock, and pop, I can only hope that they pay a visit one day to America.

As for the rest of the playlist, these are songs that I have either heard live or have simply been stuck in my head since coming to Singapore… Except for Taylor Swift. She is in there (front and center) because I am not sure if I have gone a single day abroad (in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Maldives) without hearing a piece of that song and believe you me, this is hardly an exaggeration. Good for her I suppose, she’s certainly made it big.

For your listening pleasure I have compiled a track from each artist into an 8tracks playlist here (Yes, the pizza in the thumbnail is indeed served at Pizza Hut for Chinese New Year).

Well, I suppose that’s all I’ve got for you for now. Feel free to ask me any of your burning questions and I’ll do my best to incorporate it into my next post.

Happy Listening,

DJ Dan Ammer

Tennis

Every week we report our top played albums to College Music Journal. This is our top 10 for the past week:

1. Tennis – Small Sound EP

2. Big Tree – My, How You’ve Grown EP

3. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe

4. No Bunny – Secret Songs: Reflections from the Ear Mirror

5. The Last – Danger

6. Brother Kite – Model Rocket

7. Grizzly Bear – Shields: Expanded

8. Growlers – Gilded Pleasures

9. Title Fight – Spring Songs

10. Elison Jackson – Do Not Fear To Kill A Dead Man