Our top picks this week - featuring laid-back garage rock grooves from Osees, nimble bilingual rap from Deliciious, and a synth-laden journey into the darkness with prospexx!
“If I Had My Way”
Osees (FKA Oh Sees, Thee Oh Seas, and many more) is the latest rendition of John Dwyer’s ever evolving, genre-hopping garage rock band. This name change signifies the next chapter in an impressive excursion into DIY musical experimentation and punk ethos over 22 (soon to be 23) albums in the past 20 years.
After two jam-focused psychedelic prog rock albums and a 12” vinyl foray into improvised ambient music written and recorded exclusively on synths that was released earlier this year, Osees previewed their first single Dreary Nonsense ahead of their upcoming album Protean Threat. A 90 second banger with a driving rhythm section, fuzzy harmonising guitars, and searing synths, it seemed that the band had found their way back into the blistering garage rock of earlier albums like Carrion Crawler/ The Dream or Floating Coffin.
However, on their latest single If I Had My Way, Osees comes through with a laid back, psychedelic track that would feel right at home on their more recent jam focused albums such as Smote Reverser or Face Stabber. Its tight, groovy rhythm section is emboldened by the presence of its two drummers and further adorned by feathery fuzz guitar leads, maintaining an oddly tranquil tempo and dynamic as the song goes along.
In a seeming exploration of companionship, frontman John Dwyer sings of meandering observations (I’m a little bit dry, I’m a little bit wet/ I’m a little concerned with that compost on your breath.”) before breaking out into a series of existential queries for the listener, questioning the desire for solitude or company (“…Are you all alone? Are you testing it out? Are you flying solo? Aren’t you tired? All alone’s the best! All by yourself/ You don’t even need the rest/ Oh love/ But of course you do/ Otherwise why the fight?”).
Listen to "If I Had My Way" here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
Being his fourth single released this year, it seems Deliciious has no intentions of slowing down in yet another foray into bilingual hip-hop with Problems (问题). Despite initial reservations from the rap scene the and the misunderstood perceptions of him being a joke rapper, Deliciious has proved to be one of Singapore’s most endearing rappers with the heart and soul that he pours into his work usually shining through its unpolished exterior.
An ode to overcoming the multitude of problems that come with relationships, work or just living, Deliciious raps with impressive dexterity, weaving in and out of Mandarin and English over a cheeky trap-influenced beat. Despite dipping his toes into zany lyricism. (“世界上 favour make you famous turn to Amos!”), and parts of his verses getting into spiritual lyrical miracle territory (“Bad boujie you the bully/ You the noobie wanna buy the Gucci/ All these phoney wanted me buy the movie/ All you Bad and boujie turn to Louie/ Let me through the city when nobody really ever give a single damn”), Deliciious raps with the conviction to sell it. The song’s main hook in Mandarin (“没有问题, 没有问题”, translated as “Got no problems, got no problems”) is catchy and oddly empowering, with Deliciious choosing not to see the issues in his life as problems, but instead part and parcel of life.
P.S. Is it just me or does the not-so-subtle, raunchy single art look like a drawing of Sam Rui?
- - by Isaac Yackem
"Into The Night"
prospexx is a synthpop/darkwave project by Hafiz Bastard of SIAL, with its 4 track Demo recorded from home over the May/June lockdown in Singapore. A self-described “Dark Punk band from Singapore”, it might not seem obvious on a casual listen with constant synth-bass thumps and gated reverb snares harkening back to 80s neon lights and disco balls. However, a closer listen opens up Demo 2020 into the dark retro-futuristic dystopia that it claims we are living in right now. The Demo tackles the global pandemic, modern cynicism, and fascism (on a surprising sythwave cover of Secret Police by Danish punk band No Hope For The Kids).
Standout closing track Into The Night has the perfect blend of cynical post-punk lyricism and musical sensibilities juxtaposed with undeniably dance-inducing 80s grooves. The mood is set immediately with steady, driving low end synths set to a nihilistic drawl (“Desire, ready to die/ No more, no more future”) before settling into a groovy krautrock motif that just grabs your attention. This sets the stage for the excellent refrain that eventually builds over it when the vocals kick in (“You will die, while I’m still looking for them/ When the sun sets, I will be on my way/ Into the night”).
Taking the reigns from vocalist Vanessa, who has done a tremendous job on the rest of the Demo, Hafiz delivers an outstanding vocal performance that evokes the likes of Ian Curtis in my mind. Into The Night is also a surprisingly dynamic track, with prospexx tastefully adding or stripping away layers of synths, including vocal ad-libs, and changing up the drums with banging fills making for an extremely fulfilling listen despite its simple song structure.
The track ends with the word “Desire” sung repeatedly, with the final one rung out in a reverby echo as if to ask the listener what it is that they desire, and for me that would definitely be more fresh music coming from prospexx.
- - by Isaac Yackem