Spoon’s last album, They Want My Soul from three years ago, saw the band somewhat double down on the catchiness factor – it’s something they’ve always done, but it seemed to be more prominent in that case. Their new album, on the other hand, could seem like a U-turn, but not really. Hot Thoughts can still be catchy, but it sounds like the understated sort of catchy. Blame it on a slight hip-hop influence (the cool kind), but more importantly, Britt Daniel and his troupe introduce a bunch of electronic layers, making the sounds feel like a slight meander rather than a more urgent affair. It’s not really a reaction but an evolution: once the record is done, and all the initial shock has worn off, you realize that the “messy” sound clicks together. Why they’d go for something this subtle at this point in their career is beyond me, though. [NB] | 3/5
On Saturday morning I made some tweets, inspired by yet another tweet I saw. “Remember when all pop was throwaway and ‘indie’ was better than anything else?” I pondered. “Now, there’s such a thing as ‘indie pop’, and even the ‘bad’ pop is now getting cool kid cred. So, you know, it’s all fluid. But we want to be icy cool. Icy cool to the point of frozen.”
David Cook’s concert at the Ion Orchard in Singapore was the second gig we wrote about on the blog (the first was Keane in Manila) and to help I tangled myself up some of my friends who are fans of David himself. I met them in my past life, all online, although I’d meet some of them in person while watching Allison Iraheta. Anyway, this is Imogen – that’s a pen name – behind the camera.
You know how we Filipinos love to make foreign artists try local delicacies here? Allison loved adobo, while many others were (not?) so lucky and got to try balut. They also did that in Singapore: here’s David Cook trying a durian pancake.
Mika is another one of my friends from the David Cook fandom, and an important part of earthings! lore. When I found myself waiting for Dia Frampton to arrive at the Hard Rock Café for her first gig in Manila, she pointed out that I should have a Sharpie with me, at all times, for situations like this. She then offered to buy me one.
And that’s the Sharpie – or, as I call it, the Ceremonial Dia Frampton Sharpie – with Dia signing my copy of her debut album Red. I’ve since had a lot of other famous people use this Sharpie. Fast forward a couple of years, and Reese Lansangan would learn about that marker she’s using to sign my copy of Arigato, Internet! – and she’s a wee bit giddy about it.
We went to the Jack TV MAD Fest solely for Kimbra. We were so early we got to stand right behind the barrier. We weren’t so early, though. We met Dale at the queue before the VIP entrance. She was waiting an hour and a half before we arrived, and got so lucky because she managed to have a three-second conversation with Kimbra. If we were there, I would’ve had my CDs signed. Dale, for some reason, didn’t have her CDs with her.
The first time we got a press pass to something was when the band formerly known as Up Dharma Down performed for the launch of the OurSingapore initiative (including a new song, “All The Good Things”) at 12 Monkeys. They remain the only artist I have ever interviewed on the blog. As for that fourth “bouncy” record, we still wait.
Reese Lansangan is the person that kicked open the door – if not for her (or us covering her) we wouldn’t be a little more confident covering local musicians. Shalla was the first to write about her, back in 2013, but I was the first to meet her, when we covered her solo art exhibit launch the following year. Shalla finally met Reese when the former took part in the latter’s collage-making workshop – and I was there to, I don’t know, say hi. Oh, and we found out about what would become Arigato, Internet! on that date. (Side note: somewhere on Reese’s phone, I think, there’s a selfie of the three of us. I wonder where that is…)
Fast forward five months later and Shalla and I were getting an advance listen to Arigato, Internet! – again, one of the rare times we got to do so. We both wore maroon on that day, by coincidence.
While our Seoul trip was primarily a vacation, I took the chance to finally dive, face first, into K-pop. I took this photo at Gangnam, as we traced our way to the headquarters of the major record labels. On our tail, coincidentally, were these two girls. I guess they were dismayed to not find SM’s headquarters, but were relieved to find JYP’s.
We covered one night of the Gourmand Market at Bonifacio High Street, where TheSunManager, Fools and Foes and Two Nickel Dime performed. I never got to write about it – this was the time I was moving towards less review-y gig reviews – so my photos of the acts stayed on my archive. Now, one of my favorites: a photo of Fools and Foes’ Isabelle Romualdez, with her back to the camera, in between songs.
When I hit the shutter, I was waiting (a bit awkwardly) to have a chance to speak to Oh, Flamingo! bassist Billie dela Paz at the Bandwagon Music Market last October. I’ve just seen them live and was bent on getting their EP (two copies!) for the care package we were sending to Zaty, our friend in Malaysia. Would’ve been nice to have it signed too, but a series of unfortunate events meant it was not going to be.
Eyedress was the last act at the Bandwagon Music Market, but I never got to watch him as Shalla was running on 30 hours of no sleep and really was getting tired. I did, however, have a photo of Eyedress, mucking around at the Power Mac Center booth. Not the best of photos, but I had to do something.
Honestly, there really isn’t a lot of story to tell, unless I decide to act like a really big thing and insist that the mundane things earthings! has done over its five years of existence is worth telling. But isn’t it fun to be able to post a photo album of scenes captured from those five years – at least scenes that don’t involve me writing paragraphs in front of a laptop from my so-called desk, or sometimes at various hotels across the region – and say something about the “story” of earthings! across its five years of existence? Yes, right? So, well, here it is – a slightly random compendium of photos, of the people we met, the people we became friends with, and in between, some photos that didn’t quite make it to these pages. This is, after all, a personal blog masquerading as a music blog. You get the idea. [NB]
“My Girl You Blush” by Moi Caprice | Here’s another one from the Danish, because lately I’m gravitating back to P6 Beat, perhaps in an attempt to be, err, alternative again. This one’s old, though. Twelve years old, in fact: this was released from the 2005 album You Can’t Say No Forever. But I think what attracts me to most Danish alternative is how, err, fuzzy is all sounds. I didn’t want to say “twee” but there’s a synonym I can’t protest against. Moi Caprice – they were founded in 1993, so they’re definitely veterans – may have the crunch, but this song, at least, has that dreamy element. Perhaps not as dreamy as, say, Shy Shy Shy, but you get the idea. This bounces along, but keeps half of you in dreamland. It’s discombobulating, perhaps, but the good kind. [NB]
“Two Doors Down” by Mystery Jets | Jeany mentioned them yesterday, so perfect time to write about them again. Yes, we talked a lot about British indie in the early days. This was before earthings! was born. It’s a funny sequence of events. I first heard Jeany while listening to a podcast of Danny Wallace’s first seven-week stint on 6 Music. She was talking about what she can see outside of her apartment’s window in Times Square. A few months later, we started to chat – and it’s not because I sought her out after the podcast. It just happened. We haven’t ever met offline but she’s one of my closest friends. Our early conversations were soundtracked by the resurgence of British indie in the latter part of the noughties: we were left adrift by XFM, began listening to the first version of NME Radio (which had this Mystery Jets song on high rotation, which is why I loved it) and then both decided we preferred the BBC better; me to 6 Music, she to Radio 1, with the inevitable crossover. So, there’s that. An origin story. And I still love this song, even if I haven’t listened to it in years – this happens when you decide a so-called music blog is worth doing. [NB]