deserts zhang xuan's debut album "my life is" was such a marvelous marriage of indie pop with alt-rock. it has become one of my fave recordings in recent years. in some ways, it is even better than cheer chen's latest "immortal".
however, her sophomore was a bit hesitant and a step backward and it lost the freshness of "my life is".
now, zhang has found a 3 piece-band, algae, to back her up in her third album. from the playlist, she sounds edgier and rockier....
after many futile attempts, finally, 2v1g will be entering taiwan!
many distributors have expressed interest on 2v1g last year, but none could clear the mechanical rights for the song (since they are all cover versions written by taiwanese composers) and none worked hard enough to bring 2v1g to taiwan....
one year later, finally, one suitor shows enough interest to woo us.... and the marriage is almost certain....
you may ask - what's the big deal since many malaysian artistes also appear in taiwan. the big deal is we are merely a small indie label and we have no connections in taiwan. we are able to go there purely based on the strength of our music!
mr. cha seng tiang - famous baritone and vocal teacher
i remember what evelyn, the boss of NBT told me after 2v1g's maiden performance in NBT: "your two girls are good but they can still improve given the right tutor... why don't you send them for classical training?".
that got me thinking. yes, i want my 2 voices to scale higher heights. i got in touch with evelyn's good friend - mr. cha seng tiang, famous baritone and vocal teacher - and was about to bring regine and winnie to see him. that was last november 2008. in december 2008, regine annouced her retirement from showbiz and the whole plan was halted.
now with sheena in the team, i reconnected with mr. cha again. i brought our 2 voices to meet him last friday. mr. cha is a very humble but highly articulate man. his is so good that he could tell the strengths and weaknesses of my 2 voices just by hearing them sing a few notes. i was mighty impressed! mr. cha doesn't normally teach pop singers but he made an exception this time.
mr.cha thinks with my 2 singers' strong foundation, all they need is 3 months' of training to strengthen their foundation and overcome their weaknesses.
yes, this will compete for the best cantopop album of 2009!
many don't like william so for his image and his bluntness with words. had william not screwed up his own career with the infamous drug case, he would be somebody today. certainly this album is so much better than eason chan's latest "H3M" album or kay tse's "yelling", which are hot-selling albums at the moment.
william so returns with the same formula that made me so endearing in the past - big sweeping melody that has a "slightly-dated" 90s sound (read many TVB theme songs that william sung in the past!). it has none of the annoying K-song elements in the music; just pure sweet melodies and solid vocals. no pretensions; straight-forward delivery of some really really good tunes.
you can't expect less when you have first-class composers like khalil fong, dick lee (hey, even dick lee made a comeback!) and anthony lun, the later two were favorite partners of sandy lam in her heyday... all those 80s/90s stalwarts of music. for once, producer mak lui didn't screw up with his usual thrashy K-treatment (karaoke friendly treatment).
this "slightly-dated 90s" sound that i mentioned above is actually done on purpose to bring back good memories of william so's heyday. let's not mince my words - cantopop in the 80s & 9os were so much better than cantopop today!
i love this album. even if you don't like william so, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
true to my prediction last year, all tower records branches (1-utama, lot 10, plaza damas) in malaysia are closing down....
of the 3 remaining record chain stores in malaysia, namely rock corner, victoria music and cd rama, i would think rock corner is the most aggressive and creative, with many ideas to rescue this dwindling market.
rock corner is definitely eyeing on the audiophiole market. they are the only one who distributes s2s (a japanese audiophile label who has an office in s'pore) cds in malaysia. whether they get it directly from s'pore s2s or they parallel import them, i am not sure. but as far as i know, the relationship between the retail operator and the label is always a controversial and messy one.
rock corner also produces their own compilations, with the approval and blessings from major labels. this is definitely a very creative idea as they can push aggressively this kind of compilation albums in their stores.
comparatively, victoria music is very conservative. they still rely on their regular loyal customers. as far as i know, victoria is also not doing anything on audiophile market.
cd rama, on the other hand, is still focusing on china-made audiophile cds. they have a definite advantage as their customers are predominantly chinese-educated listeners.
this local music industry is facing many challenges now. those who survive these trying times would emerge stronger at the end.
so after many hurdles and delays, finally we kicked off our 2nd album's production!
it has been a year since we last had our kick-off meeting and it is so exciting to be able to do another album of 2v1g! it is going to be another memorable chapter in our lives!
the committee, with our new "V", sheena lim, met today to discuss several things, chief of all is the songs selection for the 2nd album.
we have shortlisted 15 songs and the girls are going to have a practice with my producer by the end of the month to finalize the songs. we also would like roger to consider doing one solo as a bonus track.
the economic climate is very bad now but with less competition, we are sure 2v1g will shine!
all we can say is that all the songs we chose have very strong characters. compared to last album, which is ballad-centric, this time we have more mid-tempo songs and more power ballads.
overall, the melody is very strong and it has got plenty of variety.
we wish to launch it by end of july.... god willing.
let me assure you - you are not going to read such authoritative and negative report elsewhere, especially when the whole world is praising cheer chen right now after the release of her latest album.
we are not like many who started following cheer's career only in the last 2-3 years, a time during which she really gained mainstream acceptance. we knew her back in 1998, way back with her debut album "let me think a while". so we are in the position to criticize more than anyone else, and mind you, we don't care if we get flamed by cheer's fans.
the fact remains that this is a disappointing concert. right from the first song, it was clear that cheer suffered from exhaustion of having too many tours (or was she not in the best of form?). the first few tracks are all rock oriented (which i had seen her performed with conviction in the "a piece of summer" concert in 2007) but cheer hardly got the energy to carry the songs. she sounded way too lethargic and her pitching was off throughout the night. true, everything - the set, the props, the videos, the pyrotechnics and even her dressing - were all very stylish and impressive but where the soul of the music and the soul in her voice? she wanted to portray herself as a rock chick but where's the angst? it was really style over substance to us.
cheer fared better in the second half when she switched to ballads and acoustic tracks, at least she didn't need that much energy to carry those songs well. but still, it wasn't the same cheer chen that we admire and adore over the last 11 years. the freshness, the purity were glaringly missing.
what's clear to us is that she has become a casualty of commercialism. success has tainted her purity. even the latest album "immortal" is guilty of plagiarism and lack of creativity. cheer seems to have reached a bottleneck.
cheer chen is already a legend in the chinese music industry. if she wants to remain one, she should either take a long sabbatical to rebuild her creativity or quit altogether.
seriously, there's nothing to cheer about. or maybe, we expect too much from her.
i need to do a little survey to find out if local music lovers are mere armchair music critics or real concert goers.
please give me some feedback on the following questionaire:
1) how many live concerts/gigs do you watch in a year?
2) if we bring in foreign acts like zhang xuan, sodagreen, tommy emmanuelle, tuck and patti, corrinne may, olivia ong, shelby lynne, jacintha, emi fujita, aiza sequerra etc etc, would you buy tickets to watch them?
3) if not, what kind of artistes would attract you to pay money to watch?
4) what are your current favourite venue(s) for concerts/gigs?
5) what kind of price range for the tickets that you are comfortable with?
6) do you prefer the venue to be in kl or pj?
please, give me some indications! the more the better!
hold your breath. i have been talking to various parties about starting a performing arts centre. think no black tie but 4 times the size.
we would either rent a place and build the venue, or take control of en existing venue and handle the program direction (contents).
my idea is simple. there is an acute shortage of medium-scale live performance venues in kl. KLPAC is perpectually full; actors studio has been closed down (and soon to be reenacted again in Lot 10); NBT is way too small; DFP is too high cost; Istana Budaya is too big....
i want to bring 2nd and 3rd-tier international artistes to malaysia. they can be jazz, indie and pop. they can be western or chinese. think tommy emmanuel, zhang xuan, joanna wang, jacintha, aiza seguerra, emi fujita etc etc.
what's music making without live performances? building a live performance stage is my ultimate dream and this dream is very close to realization....
progressing in parallel is my chinese indie album project. my talented singer-songwriter (let's call her CJ for the moment) has begun work on the album. it is going to shock the chinese music industry, that much i can say.
tomorrow, a group of us will be heading to tiny dot for cheer chen's 2nd live concert in singapore... it is gonna be a blast. in her last concert in 2007, cheer gave 6 encores!