As the clock ticks down to the release of her sophomore record (Nocturnal; due Oct 29th on Verve), the next milestone in what has been an absolutely phenomenal year for Ms Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, the pint-sized Subang Jaya native must be feeling that life simply can’t get much better than this. And who can blame her? Just a few years ago the Universiti Teknologi MARA graduate was still playing to tiny audiences for free at humble acoustic venues in the margins of her home city. Yet, earlier this month she did no less than perform for four sold-out nights at Kuala Lumpur’s Istana Budaya, the Malaysian equivalent of London’s Royal Albert Hall. Were you to plot this on a time-based graph, the resulting curve would probably appear asymptotic.
Yuna’s decision to uproot herself to the United States, effectively the introductory chapter to her spellbinding rags-to-riches tale, has been a journey of wonders thus far. Having released her excellent debut album stateside under the Fader label (whose representatives flew all the way to Malaysia to convince her to sign for them), the Malaysian lass appeared on the radar of world-renown producer David Foster and was subsequently signed to his Verve Music Group – the same label that plays host to the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, and Carla Bruni. Her star shone brighter still when she was contracted to perform both a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” for Oliver…
My Metallica experience went something like this: I downloaded St. Anger on a whim in my first year of university, listened to them for the first time, and was blown away by how awesome it was (before I continue any further let me assure you that I know much better now). I then went on to borrow the band’s entire discography from a post-graduate friend – who still listened to them on his trusty old Discman – and proceeded to devour the entire thing over the next couple of months. All this happened when their soon-to-be ninth studio album was still in its infancy and Mission: Metallica represented the zenith of artist-fan online interaction. It was, as I now believe, a particularly good time to become a new Metallica fan, as the development of Death Magnetic - famously billed as Jaymz and co.’s attempt at constructing a second half to Master of Puppets - also brought with it a strong degree of hype that had been virtually absent throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.
When Death Magnetic eventually came out I jammed it so much and so hard – godawful mastering and all – I wouldn’t be surprised if this mild ringing in my left ear is a direct result of listening to that album a few times too many. Fast forward a few more months to November 2009, and the World Magnetic Tour was already on my chilly Ottawa doorstep. I recall turning up…
Let me make one thing absolutely clear: the average Malaysian music lover hasn’t been feted like this in a long, long time, and we probably have the unlikeliest of heroes to thank for it. The recent launch of “Visit Malaysia Year 2014″ by the deeply unpopular ruling coalition, in addition to the designation of 2013 as its preparatory year, single-handedly took the country from its longtime status of international concert pariah to one of South East Asia’s premiere destinations virtually overnight. September alone will feature The Killers, Yuna, Robin Thicke, and Lamb of God (!), while October brings with it the prospect of Mew, Explosions in the Sky, Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon, and also Crossfade. It’s quite a bit to stomach – and I haven’t even started talking about that mouth-watering Urbanscapes weekend in November yet. Elsewhere, the month of August has been no slouch either, as evidenced by the upcoming one-two punch of the Linkin Park and Metallica shows and, of course, the subject of this blogpost – the recently-concluded Good Vibes Festival.
For a country to whom the concept of music festivals is still a relative novelty, the Good Vibes weekend promised to be a blast from the get-go. Organized by Future Sound Asia, the festival publicly stated its aim of bringing the best of international music to the country, and immediately made good upon its promise by announcing The Smashing Pumpkins as its headlining act a few days later.…
It seems slightly blasphemous to have to type it out like this – and believe you me I’m still wincing slightly at this point – but the album that truly taught me how to love the Deftones’ music was Koi No Yokan. But while I now understand that it is far from their best work (that honour probably belongs to Diamond Eyes – cheers Greer), I think I needed the benefit of the superb range of melodies and slower dynamics showcased on their seventh studio record in order to ease myself into a band that had seemed, upon first glance, a bit too sonically uneven for me. Such a sentiment may not endear me to the most stalwart of purists, but honestly, I can think of no better purpose for an album whose title means “premonition of love”.
As I write this, Chino Moreno and co. are now on a well-deserved break after an aggressive leg of touring that saw them visit ten destinations in both Oceania and Asia. I also think it’s extremely worth highlighting out that the Koi No Yokan Tour was actually the second tour in a row in which the Sacramento band actually came out to South East Asia to perform. Now, I’ve regularly made a fuss (especially here on the Sput) about how this region as a whole isn’t really been the best of places to be in if you’re the type of person that likes to catch live shows…
The Twin Towers @LIVE music festivals have been an integral part of the Formula One race weekend in Kuala Lumpur for the past few years. While the Sepang International Circuit at the edge of the city is undoubtedly where the bulk of the action tends to take place, the festivals have also played an important role as a much-welcomed conduit between the excitement generated by playing host to one of modern motorsports’ premier events and the city’s general populace. Last year’s edition of Twin Towers @LIVE saw former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, along with Kelis (of “Milkshake” fame), and K-Pop outfit SNSD paint the town purple, while the debut iteration of the festival back in 2011 featured American rock band Hoobastank as headliners, with support provided by local acts Yuna, The Azenders, and rapper Joe Flizzow.
The most unusual feature of Twin Towers @LIVE is immediately evident in its name: the music festival is held at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers, the interconnected double megaliths of concrete and steel which are arguably Malaysia’s most recognizable architectural feature:
The Petronas Twin Towers
Admission to Twin Towers @LIVE is free, but a small amount of “Fanzone” passes are distributed to the general public – typically in association with the purchase of Petronas Motorsports merchandise and promotional events. Admission to the Fanzone provides festival-goers a direct and more intimate view of the weekend’s proceedings.
In my early days on this site I made a niche for whored out myself by publishing a review of a Walt Disney soundtrack for every ten pieces that I wrote. That gag eventually got old and I moved on to more “serious” writing (most of those pieces were based around a single sex joke that had been taken and beaten to death anyway), but none of that should take away from the fact that those soundtracks were legitimately some of the raddest and most memorable pieces of music that many of us will ever hear in our lifetimes.
Youtube user Paint probably feels that exact same sentiment. “After Ever After”, a four minute piece which he published a few days ago on the video-sharing website, features him speculating on the post-movie fate of four Disney princesses while using musical motifs from the films to advance his light-hearted narrative. Everything about the performance – from the choreography to the vocal harmonies to the lyrics – appears to have been done by Paint himself and stitched together with the magical power of video editing. The result? A hugely entertaining skit that’s more than capable of rolling back the years and brightening your evening with a nostalgic grin or two. If I am to be perfectly honest, the lyrics are occasionally crude and may feel somewhat forced at times, but the real joy in “After Ever After” lies in trying to a.) guess which Disney…
Right off the bat I’ll announce that I didn’t get as much of a kick out of 2012, especially when I put it up for comparison next to 2011. Whereas I had trouble putting together a coherent and definite Top 30 last year, this year a decent amount of 3.5s sneaked into my Top 25 (#17-#24) and, heck, even a 3.0 somehow made it (at #25! Unbelievable travesty!). It’s also worth noting that the quality of the Top 10 was only significantly bolstered within the last three weeks or so, when I simply freaked out at how my playlist was starting to look and started massively consuming the stuff which was appearing on the Staff’s Best Of lists (I have the best writing colleagues in the world).
That being said, I don’t think the low mean score of the final Top 25 is necessarily a reflection of the lack of quality of the music that I listened to this year, but rather a direct consequence of the fact that in a finite amount of listening time granted to me (made even smaller by my full-time employment with an oil and gas company), I chose to actively pursue albums and genres which I had never focused on in the years prior. Heavier music took on a priority, for instance (those of you who know my musical inclinations will note that /m isn’t a term generally associated with yours truly), as did hip hop (/h?!??) and…