We're not going to try tackling the zeitgeist of Singaporean music in 2016 just yet — we still have four more months, and we've heard whispers of more releases coming our way.
But what we've gotten so far have moved us, amazed us, surprised us, and most importantly, gotten us re-evaluating how we've looked at certain acts. Many of them are growing, and the best thing we can do is to hop on for the ride.
We gathered the opinions of all the main Bandwagon staff to give you our top picks of the year so far. Happy National Day! Long may creativity and excitement reign.
Clarence Chan / Director
Yllis | Island-01
Singapore music has been making great strides this year. I just heard today that Gareth Fernandez’s latest single is #2 on 987FM. The Sam Willows, Nathan, Gentle Bones and more are packing out arenas with a paid audience. On this National Day, it's nice to remember that Singapore music has come some way!
My shout-out's to Yllis for ISLAND-01. He really deserves credit for creating such a fresh sound on this four track EP. He calls it experimental electronic pop, and this is one masterful chemical concoction. I really like how he’s blended Asian music motifs very comfortably with Western electronic hooks. It makes for an inspiring listen and I feel proud to have music creators like him on our shores! Hope he goes far with this.
Daniel Peters / Managing Editor
The Observatory | August is the cruellest
I could heap praises upon The Observatory all day, but this new album is so fascinating in its aggression alone (a refined version of what they did in Oscilla), and there's a lot to pick and dissect here. What it matters most to me is how relevant — and even comforting — it is in our current social and political climate. Never has a Singaporean album struck me in the guts as potently as this.
It's also a clusterf*ck of a heavy rock album, so even if you're not down with the lyrical content, the band's muscular instrumentation and tense instrumental passages are worth the price of a download alone.
Special shout-out to Forests for Sun Eat Moon Grave Party (the most fun emo album of the year so far, hands down), Yllis for ISLAND-01 (the world is moving on and Yllis isn't just catching up, he's gunning for the advance party), and C.S.O. for Demo 2016 (Natasha explains it best below).
Hidzir Junaini / Editor
Forests | Sun Eat Moon Grave Party
The local album due to come out in the second-half of 2016 will have a hell of a task in unseating Forests’ emo-math debut, because this LP is just incredible. ‘Tamago’ has become an adored anthem and no album here or overseas packs as much fun per minute as these boys.
Natasha Hassan / Design Lead
C.S.O. | Demo 2016
This four-song demo is probably one of the best things I’ve listened to this year. Takes me back to when I first discovered Rites of Spring and Descendents. Lead singer’s vocals sounded like Ian MacKaye in his Minor Threat years. It’s been a while since I listened to any solid hardcore band. Thank you, C.S.O. for reminding me why I fell in love with this genre in the first place. Please put out more stuff, thanks.
Honourable mentions: The Observatory's August is the cruellest, Forests' Sun Eat Moon Grave Party, Sphaeras' Sun Seeker EP
Ambry Nurhayati / Video Lead
Disco Hue | Arcade
Personally, for me, I like it because it has a little bit of pop, rock and different types of sounds altogether. I like to move and dance (although I'm not very good at it), and Arcade has rhythms I could bust a move to.
Esther Goh / Events Manager
The Caulfield Cult | CULT
I picked this album because I really loved the instrumentation of each song and how it stays consistent throughout the entire album. Even if it may sound a little too rough and heavy, the length of the album makes it just nice, like a short roller coaster ride that's enough to give you the adrenaline for more. I really appreciate the amount of thought and hard work that went behind the idea of each song.
Lee Wei Meng / Tech Product Lead
Cosmic Child | self-titled
The tunes on the album are a refreshing take on the Singapore music I grew up with in the late '90s and early ‘00s. As we celebrate our 51st National Day, it never hurts to revisit your roots and indulge in some nostalgia — and also remember that one day we’ll grow up soon and nothing will matter in the end.