It’s the beginning of October, and we’ve summed up all the fresh local tracks we jammed to last September. From popular artists of the past, to upcoming rappers, we’ve got it all this week!
Black (EP) – Brendan De Cruz
macabre sound of his lyricism with the aid of wonderful strings and backing vocals. The eponymous track welcomes you into the sombre world of the album with haunting cellos by Mariamlisa Zainal. The way Brendan sings it is emotionally artful too, as the last line “Won’t you” reverberates into the empty. The same atmosphere rings in For Your Eyes as well.
His Malay song Jatuh picks the mood up a bit although it belies another sad, simple track about leaving things behind. Jatuh is a good song but lacks the sophistication found in the other tracks found in Black. The EP closes with cheeky irony entitled The Blues? as Brendan sings goodbyes to the things that hold him back and overall ends this small collection of melodies just right.
The problem lies that, it being an EP, Black is still a long way from whole, and although at parts Brendan’s lyrics are honest and hard-hitting, it still borders on the safe and inoffensive. Other than that, Black is a great album to play in those short midnight drives filled with solitude – with a goal of ending it cheery.
Buy the album on his Facebook page!
Ku Berharap – Liyana Fizi
Enter the serene world of the acoustic maestro, Liyana Fizi– where her latest release immerses one’s entire being into a natural forest clearing on top of hill under the warm sunshine. Ku Berharap is an honest song about turning over a new leaf, as Liyana lets us have a glimpse of her journey in finding her newfound faith. The raw and emotionally charged delivery about spirituality is a track that many would relate to and love well.
In terms lyricism, Ku Berharap, minimal and bare when it comes to songs about devotion. As her vocals smoothly overlaps the ukulele plucking that swells around her poetry, her singing remains consistent and poignant through the track. However, it instrumentally sounds a repetitive; lacks variety where splashes of any percussive color or strings that could compliment her voice and create more depth to the song. But maybe, the simplicity of Liyana Fizi’s singing and lyricism is enough to warm your heart.
Malicious Judicious – Golden Mammoth
GENRE: PSYCHEDELIC ROCK
Golden Mammoth is back with a dark-funk track, that’s truly an introspective delight. It feels somewhat noir, as if it belongs in a spy movie in the 80s; where the opening salvo begins with a signature bass progression that is backed by a simple funk beat. The unassuming tone of the intro out of its trance, and a tidal wave of synth overcomes the listener as the first verse comes in. As Syabil sings the lyrics, “Conceive before the treat, It’s a different kind of blessing, Until you let it breed”, the song crescendos a couple of times before the assemblage of a blues guitar solo riddled with drums and the subtle beats of the tabla fills your ears with an otherworldly symphony.
Other than it’s stylish combination of funk and surf, the lyricism turns the track into a hypnotic trance- imagine dancing to this track live under neon lights, with other people looking to get lost in the sound. Malicious Judicious’ music video (and Alicia Amin’s moves) is also a testimony to how dance-able the track is. It’s consistent tempo and use of funk makes it an easy bop to groove out to, and you can appreciate the surprising intimacy that you can find in the allure of the vocalist’s singing.
Golden Mammoth delivers a solid track that is definitely an experience to behold. Buy their album, Metaphoric Quadraphonic on their Bandcamp!
Got You – Sasha Ningkan
Haunting vocals paired with ghostly ambience, “Got You” is a self produced track by the Sarawakian singer songwriter Sasha Ningkan. She bares her love openly in her lyrics, as she sings about the loyalty and splendor of having someone by her side.The rain is sampled into the intro coupled with synth, setting a somber and moody atmosphere- and is then complimented by heavy bass and effects. The down-tempo of the song and vocals does justice as an chill out anthem; but the progression of the song doesn’t evolve, nor does it invoke any other emotions.
A little bit of progressive and grandiose percussion much like in SZA‘s “Supermodel” would’ve definitely given “Got You” the kick it needs, to really make an impact on the listener. It lacks a little bit of something unique to make the track memorable, otherwise it’s just a tender song that sets a good foundation for further experimentation. Even so, the electro-ambient track is a decent song that is perfect for a somber, rainy day with someone special by your side.
Never Fall In Love (feat. ARU) – EIGHTY.8
Eighty.8s‘s “Never Fall In Love” is an interesting addition to this week’s TOTW! Although they usually play Alt-pop rock, they’ve created a conceptual mix of reggae and ska this time around. The first part of the track starts with standard reggae, as the vocalist begins to bemoan the pain of having to experience breakups and disappointments when in pursuit for intimacy. It pick s up around the time the classic rock guitar riffs transition into a full out ska section. However the sound reverts back to reggae up to end, with little to no changes- it is a good effort for something different, but it seems like the song just followed a safe template.
The song has its quirks, though its rather derivative and lacks originality. Lyrics-wise, they could’ve varied to prevent it from being too repetitive. The ska section had the potential for the vocalist to try out optimizing the bravura of the moment by singing differently, but playing it safe meant it lacked any meaning in the end. However, credit is due to the vocalist’s singing and the execution of the track.
Signal Light (ft. Mia Palencia) – The Last One Awake
Upbeat, chirpy and magical is one of the few ways to describe “Signal Light”. The Sabahan musician The Last One Awake teams up with Mia Palencia to create a beautifully composed song about young love, all the while showing strong technical skill in terms of production. TLOA’s folksy voice is complimented by Mia’s powerful range, creating a harmonious balance between the singers. The whistling makes the tune catchy, like OneRepublic’s “Good Life” and its lyrics takes you on a musical journey with treat of a song. It’ll make your feet tap and clap your hands along through the track.
TLOA delivers yet another folk pop anthem with Signal Light, with its bubbly choruses and narrative verses that tells a story that unfolds to the listener. Our personal favorites are “Cast your light, into the night, and someday soon, she’ll find her way too”. They’re sweet and though they may be a little generic, we give TLOA and Mia Palencia kudos for pulling them off. There is also a fun and beautifully made MV that you can watch to make listening to this song a cooler experience!
Back 2 U- Takeout Boyfriend
What caught our ears immediately was Takeout Boyfriend’s deep and effortless voice. It’s his second song after “Come Around”, and Back 2 U is a little more nuanced and and a lot more raw than his previous work. It begins slowly, and takes its listeners on a dreamy and heavy journey through meeting someone from a life time ago, and how perilous it would to be involve himself- yet he does just that. It’s self indulgent, but his singing is guttural about his vulnerability for a past love.
It’s a chill song, but the sound gets stagnant after it’s first chorus. It doesn’t do much to surprise, though its low midtempo, occasional Skype dings and memorable, quotable lyrics makes it a bop that gives it replay value.
Zamaera, in all of her explosive power, a is great example of a rising Malaysian rapper. There is only a handful of Malaysian music about women empowerment; Wanita is bound to be a classic. Her definition of wanita is pure honesty; she doesn’t cut corners nor does do so without putting down others (men). It’s a step towards finding her own sound, as her previous single “Helly Kelly” met critical reception for it lacking authenticity or originality. The lo-fi serves to compliment her striking and skillful verses that resound as she set her point and gives you an education.
She features Jeremiah Buda, who sings “Kalau ku ada lebihlah bererti, kalau kau tiada ku hanya lelaki”, brings relevance to how women serve as a important figures behind the upbringing of men. Her cleverly-written raps fire down stereotypes and expectations that independent women go through in their everyday lives- the introspect that women too are capable of chivalry through modesty, the hard work that always go unnoticed and the resilience of having to obey a patriarchal society. It’s a touching song that is masterfully put together and has hard-hitting bars for days
The music scene is filled with artists who has been around since the early 2000s trying to remain relevant. Some of them flutter into the background to write songs for other artists, some start families and do their own thing. On the other hand, Bunkface takes a brave stroke at adapting their sound to the market, taking up a poppier sound than their older records. Gone are the punk rock days of Silly Lilly and Situasi. If you’re an old fan of this band, you’d most probably be disappointed, lamenting at the choice that people to make to keep selling their music, but then feeling guilty about yourself because these musicians are people too and need to make money to put food on the table. It’s a complicated situation.
But Bunkface has now gone fully 4K and high-resolution in their music videos, with drone shots and panoramic sceneries, and shed their edgier side for a song about returning to the right path and ‘rediscovering themselves’. All of that is captured through the cliche of Malay pop songwriting that sounded way more in the first edition of Kembali two years ego, but is now made even more bland through the template pop-EDM beats of the current generation. And to think that this isn’t even a NEW song, but an old song remade. Poorly.
We get it. There’s a need to be radio-friendly. And we wish the best for every Bunkface member who has been with us since our teenage years. But we can’t say anything else that’s truly positive about this track.
The music video is very shiny though. Is that a Jeep commercial?
To keep up with all the songs we’ve reviewed this year, follow our playlist on Spotify!