Singapore music reviews: Baby Combat, bittymacbeth, Valiantes, Coming Up Roses, Farrago, Lockshire, Daren Yuen, Young Pineapple and Alex Asha'ari

Singapore music reviews: Baby Combat, bittymacbeth, Valiantes, Coming Up Roses, Farrago, Lockshire, Daren Yuen, Young Pineapple and Alex Asha'ari

Every Friday, many local musicians release new music that flies under the radar. To bring you the best new local music releases this weekend, we've compiled a playlist featuring some of the newest songs out from artists such as Baby Combat, bittymacbeth, Valiantes, Coming Up Roses, Farrago, Lockshire, Daren Yuen, Young Pineapple and Alex Asha'ari.

Baby Combat – ‘Edna’s Got A Pistol’

“Edna’s got a pistol / And she’s gonna use it on herself”, because it’s been “such hell” – those are the song’s first words, cooed by Rachel Tan of the Lost Weekend. She lends an invaluable assist in this harrowing tale that collapses the post-punk of Young Marble Giants with the jaunty fatalism of The Smiths. That’s why this song is as sprightly as it is fundamentally devastating. So far, Noel Yeo has eased into his Baby Combat guise with an indie-celebrating flair that's filial to the canons he celebrates. But on this tune, he signs off on the most sophisticated iteration of his endeavours. It’s hushed, gorgeous and tragic, and even packs a horn section, which never obliterates its rarefied, ominous mood with ill-placed exuberance. As ever, Yeo affirms that he’s no mere nostalgia merchant. ‘Edna’s Got A Pistol’ is as timely today as it can ever be.

Coming Up Roses – ‘Waters’

The title track from Coming Up Roses’ latest mini-album is exactly what it should be – grungy alt-rock peppered with elements of shoegaze. This banger of a song rings true to the band’s roots ands makes good on its promise to balance childlike innocence and idealism with the revelations of adulthood.

With crashing cymbals and lyrics such as, “Rocky waters and troubled tears they flow into my head / My lungs cave in and I crumble under the weight of all she said”, this song compares the different phases of everyone’s lives to the unpredictable sea; there will be periods of turmoil as there will be periods of tranquility.

bittymacbeth – ‘beautiful, in my skin’

In this day and age, not having any presence in social media might seem like a handicap even though popular wisdom dictates that excessive exposure is detrimental to one's peace of mind. Even Selena Gomez agrees, having recently spoken up about it: "It does scare me when you see how exposed these young boys and young girls are". Which is why, when powerful anthems – shouts out Lizzo – such as bittymacbeth’s latest entry, ‘beautiful, in my skin’ pops up, it's ever so important to spread it far and wide as quickly as possible.

She starts off lamenting the issues surrounding generic beauty standards and her struggles with them, over a gorgeous, swelling soundscape before she metaphorically breaks the ceiling. That power is accompanied by sounds of shattering glass in the song, signifying the strength of her resolve to believe when she sings: “I just want to feel beautiful in my skin”. The song gets progressively punchier and she raises her voice along with it. She stands with all those who feel the same way and assures them, as she assures herself, that they are beautiful.

Yung Pineapple – ‘Kill Switch’

Yung Pineapple channels Bohan Phoenix on his latest one.

East meets West on trapped-out, unmistakably banger-ready production that most definitely wasn’t made to provide a meditative experience. There’s talk of dragging haters and non-believers in a hearse, crushing them on his fingertips, keeping it real at a 100 and drip, that ambrosial force that sustains all of rapdom. This song is a celebration of selfhood, a victory lap where you can look at your enemies and say, “I’m the best / I’m the best / I’m the ace”. It’s a celebration of self-love that unfolds amidst blockbuster bass and quicksilver flows, with a declarative power that can only be taken your doubters' death sentence.

Make no mistake: This is one of the hardest new school rap cuts to come out of Singapore.

Farrago – ‘That Capri Sunset’

Everyone remembers Capri Sun, right? A sweet, fruity concoction in a handy foil pack from the childhoods of many. That is precisely what “That Capri Sunset’ is. Sounding like it came straight out of the era of The Beatles and Elvis Presley, this song is a concentrated dose of feel-good nostalgia packed into a 4-minute song.

In terms of the instrumentals, the percussions and clean-tone guitars channel the classic ‘60s Motown/surf sound, further exhibiting the Beatles/Presley-era influences Farrago clearly drew from. Lyrically, the song explores the age-old theme of young love. With lyrics such as, “Hey you, you caught my eye / How do I let you see I’m not just another guy”, this song is a classic, light-hearted love song everyone can enjoy.

Valiantes – ‘Now and Always’

Valiantes, a relative newcomer onto the scene, is fast-becoming a standout in the singer-songwriter realm in Singapore. His soft, luscious approach to songs is something that is so captivating. He slowly introduces bouts of shakers, ad libs, loops of his own vocals in the background, and harmonicas at just the right moments in the song, changing the textures to suit the lyrics; uptempo for the desperation and downtempo for the soft lulls he wants to create. This song sounds intricately put together and well thought out. He understands his voice well and knows what emotion he can evoke by adding the right elements to complement it. ‘Now and Always’ is fantastic and it certainly is exciting to see what he’ll put out next.

Lockshire – ‘Different’

Lockshire’s ‘Different’ is an eclectic blend of everything that makes a good electronic song – a solid beat that escalates into a satisfying, heart-pounding drop. This song is basically forged in typical Lockshire fashion; the music is a consistent flow that rarely gets interrupted. Even when it does, it does not sound too jarring to listeners, nor does it disrupt the sonic pleasures brought about by the song.

Lyrics like “I would connect / But you're never home / So where you at / When I call you on the phone” exhibits the unfortunate but common reality of couples growing distant from each other despite efforts to make it work. Essentially, Different’ delves into how an unfulfilling relationship can change a person, with maximal, heart-on-sleeve splendour.

Alex Asha’ari – ‘Warm Winters’

‘Warm Winters’ is a song that delivers on its promise – an R&B track that warms however cold a heart it is that listens to it. The song gently eases the ear into its comforting depths with simple keyboard arrangements before an emphatic measure of drums and bass envelope the mix as Alex’s lush vocals serenade the listener.

“She makes my winters warm”, sings Alex, describing the tranquil, ideal qualities of romance. That makes this song the perfect track to play while chilling with one’s significant other on a rainy evening. ‘Warm Winters’ essentially highlights the importance of having the presence of loved ones by your side when things are not going right; when the winter winds blow and warmth seems far away.

Daren Yuen – ‘blue skies are coming’

What if all you have of her are memories and dreams? What if she can only exist to you as an apparition from the past, as a fixture you can't unsee in the annals of time?

In ‘blue skies will come’, those memories aren’t life-elevating aids to be stored in the emotional tool chest – Daren Yuen sounds utterly haunted by thoughts of the beloved-that-was. "I dreamt of her", he intones, sounding unmoored and dazed. Bass and percussion carry the sonics, which are sprinkled with a beautiful measure of keys, amplifying the desolation that engulfs Yuen. There’s a sense of high drama here that the song does well to evoke from the simplest of narratives. Losing someone is never easy. But it’s even more painful when they linger in ways that shackle you to the past. In the end, like Yuen, you’re stuck in a waking dream that never ends.