SINGAPORE - This month, fresh tunes by home-grown acts include singer-songwriter Narelle's new single, Nathan Hartono's collaboration with electronic music wunderkind Myrne, and singer Masia One's reggae offering that takes a stand against sexual violence.
Singer-musician Theron Lim also releases a debut album eight years in the making; metal band Cockpit bounce back after their bass player suffered a stroke; and hip-hop act Unknown Radicals pay tribute to the dormant nightlife scene in their new EP.
Check out the releases on music streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.
Just Shut Up
In her latest single, singer-songwriter Narelle confronts pressures, both external and self-imposed.
The song is taken from her upcoming EP, Part 3, which is set to be released later this year. The colours of the EP'scover artwork is an indication of the buoyant mood of the new tunes.
Her two previous releases in 2019 were in the hues of purple and blue, which she says "reflect the depths of the heavy night".
The orange in the new EP "represents the sun rising in the morning of a new day," adds the singer, who is a also a member of pop quartet The Sam Willows.
"Just Shut Up is that morning song that I would just play on my headphones to hype myself up for the day."
The new single from Nathan Hartono is a 1980s-inspired collaboration with home-grown electronic music artist Myrne.
Hartono says: "I'm Fine stems from me wanting to give a more succinct answer to the question, 'How are you?'. In my head, every time someone asks me this question, I want this song to play for them instead.
"Because I think it's such a loaded question, that requires so much context and understanding, it just cannot be answered in a short social exchange. And I think we got this question a lot in 2020. So, we just say 'I'm fine', when there's always so much more to that story."
The singer-songwriter also did the animation for the song's lyric video himself. The tune is taken from an upcoming EP due out later this year.
3. Indie rock/alternative rock
The Boy Who Felt Forever Blue
Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Theron Lim was only 13 when he started working on the songs that would end up on his debut album, The Boy Who Felt Forever Blue.
The now 21-year-old, whose parents are founders of music school Academy Of Rock, did all the production, recording and mixing himself.
The album is an amalgam of various genres - from pyschedelic and orchestral pop to folk and rock - and includes sprawling, multi-part tunes that stretch over 20 minutes.
The songs are said to be inspired by Japanese manga series Wandering Son (2002 to 2013), which centres around gender identity issues.
Not All That Glitters Is Gold
Masia One featuring General Ling and Jahwise Productions
The new single from singer/rapper Masia One puts the spotlight on gender-based violence.
A collaboration with Australian producer Jahwise Productions, it also features beatboxer and songwriter General Ling, a survivor of sexual assault.
Adding the latter's vocals is "a statement that (these) survivors will have their voices heard", says Masia One.
The song is part of a campaign launched by the singer that aims to spark conversations about sexual abuse and encourage more survivors to tell their stories.
5. Hard rock/heavy metal
I Think You're On Mute
Titled after a familiar phrase used during Zoom calls, I Think You're On Mute is the second EP from metal band Cockpit.
The sextet - known for injecting humour into their lyrics and live sets - have gone through line-up changes since their debut EP, Four Horsemen Riding In The Sky (Behind Got Sun), was released in 2015.
Member Sludge, whose real name is Ian Tang, suffered a stroke in 2018. Bass player Lyndsey Long, aka Pandora's Box Of Paradox, joined the group soon after.
Tang, who remains part of the band, says: "These songs were written some time ago and methodically produced in our home studio. Fortunately, I laid down most of my tracks before my stroke, so these songs are extra precious to me and a testament to the musician I was."
Frontman Johnny Danger, whose real name is Shaun Tan, adds: "The circuit breaker gave us a lot of impetus and inspiration to get a release going and we filmed music videos to accompany the tracks."
Welcome To The Party
Welcome To The Party is a four-track EP from hip-hop crew Unknown Radicals.
"We all know that Covid put a stop to the nightlife in Singapore and we hope that we bring back some of those nights through memory," the group writes in an Instagram post announcing the release.
Two of the songs feature other acts - Malaysian rapper Quai on Trainwreckd, and rapper Mickeyleano from hip-hop group Mediocre Haircut Crew on Faded.
Difficult Conversations is the debut album from Absence!, a trio comprising singer-guitarist Aida, guitarist Ryan and drummer Luke.
It includes tracks released in recent years such as Reverie, Hollow and ANWY.
Leave Me Alone
Singer-songwriter Amanda Ong's latest single is a reflection of inner struggle but it also delves into how she remains hopeful for a better tomorrow.
"Songwriting is by far the most productive way to deal with the lower points in my life," she says.
In April, she is set to release an alternate version of the song sung in Malay, titled Biar Ku Bersendiri. It was produced for last year's edition of Gala Laga, an annual music festival organised by Wisma Geylang Serai to showcase young talent.
Singer-producer Josh Makazo's new single tells of how he overcame a difficult break-up with support from his family and friends.
"When things felt like they were falling apart, I truly had to rely on the people around me to pull me through," says the 18-year-old
The former ChildAid performer wants his music to help heal others too.
"The idea of being able to experience life for what it is and to translate all of the happiness, anger, frustration and sadness into music really excites me and keeps me going - not only for myself, but for those around me and those who have loved me right from the beginning."
When Love Is Nigh
Singer-songwriter Jonan's melancholic jazz ballad was written during the pandemic.
Described as an ode to unrequited love and those separated by Covid-19, the tune also features pianist Jason Limanjaya and bassist Matthew Reavley.