Beginner’s guide to Singapore local music

Many friends I met have mentioned that they wish to get into local music or film, but don’t know how to. Where should a newbie start? I feel that it will be a good idea to introduce some local bands with reference to foreign acts:

1. Pop/Rock
Love bands like The Killers, Franz Ferdinand or Coldplay? Singapore’s very own Electrico and The Great Spy Experiment will leave you in no doubt that we can match the hippiest bands in the world! Shirlyn Tan has also been making waves as a singer-songwriter.

2. Alternative
Radiohead gave their music away for free, but you need to buy The Observatory and B-quartet cds. In my opinion the most innovative bands in Singapore!

3. Punk
Nofx and Mxpx fly the flag worldwide, but The Suns, Plain Sunset and Force Vomit are our local punk-rock heroes.

4. Metal
Are you a headbanger like me who worships Slayer and Dimmu Borgir? Kneel before the blackened altar of Rudra, Impiety and Meza Virs!

5. Alternative Metal

Tool and Deftones rose from the nu-metal period, and here Lunarin push the boundaries of grunge art-rock.

6. Progressive

Dream Theater fans love a bit of everything, so they should check out the highly talented Zero Sequence!

7. Post-rock/experimental
Sigur-ros and Mogwai may be kings, but on our shores I Am David Sparkle and Documentary In Amber provide the cutting edge.

8. Local music websites
There’re tons of ‘underground’ websites about local music and film, but whether a newcomer can find them, is another thing. – This is THE site for local music. Get info about bands, gigs. Almost the whole local music community here!

Aging Youth – Read interesting interviews, reviews about local bands.

Channel V Amp is a regional portal where many bands post their songs and profiles. Songs here stream faster than from Myspace!

9. Gigs/Shows
There are local gigs happening almost every weekend nowadays. Check out the Soft forum under ‘Gigs and Concerts’. Timbre Bar/Cafe at Armenian Street features local musicians daily.

The Esplanade has free outdoor shows every weekend. Also, the annual Baybeats, the most happening local indie festival, happens around August at The Esplanade!

10. Magazines
Junk is an indie magazine from KL, and is dedicated to SEA music, including many Singapore bands! Junk comes monthly with a free CD and can be found in major bookstores and newstands.

11. Radio
On radio, 98.7fm has a local music program ‘Home’ on Saturdays, 7-8pm. Unpopular Radio and Rampage on the Airwaves have been faithfully podcasting sounds from our shores.

12. Stores
Some of the bands mentioned have their cds stocked in major stores like HMV and Grammaphone. Otherwise, Earshot Cafe at The Arts House and Roxy Music (#02-15 Excelsior Shopping Centre) stock all the local cds you need. Straits Records and Inokki (#03-30 Far East Plaza) also have good selections. Alternatively, email the bands you like and order cds from them!

Note: The above is not a definitive guide to the scene. This is just a general overview of the local music scene, for people to get started with. Most of the bands above belong to the rock spectrum, which I’m more familiar with. Heck, the genres above may be inaccurate too. There are many many other bands, websites and genres in Singapore. Feel free to go discover!

Look out for the 2nd part of this series, Beginner’s Guide to Singapore Local Film.

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