These three new releases by Singapore acts in the National Day period show the breadth and range of music made by independent home- grown talents.
The Only Way Is Up is the fourth album release by punk trio Iman's League, one of the scene's most underrated bands.
The new tunes are fast, furious and chock-full of earworm-inducing hooks, filling the gap left behind by the disbanding of local pop- punk elders Plainsunset.
Honed by years of doing live shows not just in Singapore but also in countries such as Japan and South Korea, the band radiate unbridled enthusiasm with their songs.
Guitarist-singer Nuriman Mohd Nor and bassist-singer Ishyam Lal Abdul Jalal's harmonised vocals drive the tunes, as twangy and serpentine riffs grapple with power chords in most of the nine tracks.
The band also stretch their musical muscle with Rescue Me, which eschews the overdriven electric guitars and drums for acoustic guitars, all without losing their vigour. Unplugged does not mean unexciting.
THE ONLY WAY IS UP
Shao Jean & Leyeux
Awaken is a collaborative EP by Shao Jean, a Los Angeles-based Singaporean songwriter, arranger, producer and musician, and American singer-songwriter Leyeux, and it exudes pastoral charm.
The tranquil vibes belie each of the six richly textured songs. Deftly plucked acoustic guitars coalesce around dreamy strings and intricate percussive beats as Leyeux's warm and honeyed voice soars above it all.
Songs such as Things Unseen have sinuous melodies that embed themselves in the mind after the first listen.
M1LDL1FE, the improbably spelled new name for the band formerly known as Take Two, trade in the restless guitar rock of their debut EP for ethereal, electronic soundscapes.
What remains is their knack for writing highly tuneful melodies. The catchy, soaring numbers in the new five-track EP are the type to induce mass singalongs at live shows - the choruses, especially, are momentous.
While Tan Peng Sing's colourful guitar work stands out, what separates the band from the standard indie-pop fare is their excellent rhythm section. Bassist David Siow and drummer Jeryl Yeow have a solid, seemingly symbiotic, connection, breaking out into flashy, funky beats when a song calls for it, such as in Distraction, and smartly holding back to let the other elements shine when they need to, such as in How You Forget.
What they need now is a knack for coming up with a better band name.