music to the ears

If I were to keep comparing myself to others, with others, I will never be happy or find peace within. Yet this is how our society is like, forcing us to rank overselves with our peers, draw parallels and comparisons even amongst friends and family, and I get sucked into this cess pool, driving myself deeper into misery. We can’t help it, in a place where information is so easily and widely available, whether or not we actually want any access to it or not. So sometimes, ignorance really is bliss but then again curiosity gets the better of us, which then kills the cat, and us, along with it.

Nobody likes an unhappy person, because negativity perpetuates itself and it loves company. I am trying to become happier, to delight in the things that can bring a smile to my face, to let go of comparisons, not to ignore them, but to acknowledge that they are an inevitable part of life and that everyone is blessed in different ways. When I finally am able to come to terms with that, perhaps I can indeed become lighter, in all senses of the word. I can never make enough money, become too successful, be smart enough, and so on and so forth. The crux is contentment. Which will be my point of contentment?

Music had made a quiet exit in my life. I used to be plugged in to music on my daily commute regardless of how long or short the journey, and through whatever means I get introduced to songs new and old. But somehow somewhere, I stopped. I don’t know what’s the latest tune making the rounds on the airwaves and I don’t even listen to radio anymore. Just check out how old school my music player is.

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An iPod Video, maybe a 4th generation? I can’t remember but it has its history and is easily more than 5 years of age. Its battery life is surely waning and I don’t know when it will decide to fail (again) and die. I don’t have a back-up of the stuff in it because most of them weren’t mine to begin with. As I charged it and turned it on today on my way to the office, the familiar tunes were indeed music to the ears. How I have missed having it, not the recent K-pop that had arrested my attention for a while, but the lilting and haunting sounds of the UK bands that I so missed.

Gloria Jean’s, Singapore

Another of my sinful indulgences. Currently, I still have not gotten sick of the banana walnut bread/cake at Gloria Jean’s.  20130516-105527.jpg

Sometime back, when I wanted to go to the branch next to International Plaza, it was closed for renovation. But it’s now opened again, though I can’t really tell what was being renovated because the place still looks pretty much the same from the last I recalled of it.

And the other day, I decided to power up my old iPod, and amazingly it’s still working! Of course its battery life is rather crap and unstable now though with just playback of a playlist without much scrolling around, it fares much better than my iPhone.

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One of my favourite bands (not that I have that many to begin with) and a song I really liked. I haven’t been listening to much music, much less new music, so the songs I have and know are limited to older tunes. As I listened to this, I also start to think about how long it has been since my days of hanging out at pubs with live gigs. That was an enjoyable past, with fond memories to reminisce now and then.

Alive!

I was wondering last week if I should join the pre-order for the album. I wandered into HMV one Saturday morning after class to check out Tablo’s album for Ilsa, since I was anyhow waiting for the time pass before the appointment at the hairdresser’s.

It wasn’t only until the last day of the pre-order that I went to HMV again, this time since I was killing time before meeting a friend, to join the pre-order. It was actually quite pointless because the album would then be launched/available the next day. On the collection day, I saw that they still had stocks for the album anyhow so the pre-order was actually unnecessary.

So this was what I got…

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I like the concept that they had for this Alive album. I must admit that I’m not big on buying CDs because as much as I would like to support original music and copyrights, I really do not enjoy having to keep tonnes of CDs and their sleeves at home where space is a perennial problem. Of course sometimes it is worth buying the album for the sleeve if I am a fan but other than that, I much prefer things to be in soft copies. The only reason for having these CDs would then be a back-up say when my digital files fail me, which have happened one too often and then I would have to build the library all over again.

This is Big Bang’s 5th mini album, and it features 6 songs, along with an intro track called “Alive” that lasts all of just 50 seconds. I love the intro track and I love most of the songs in this mini album that I wished it was longer. I don’t get the concept of mini albums mostly because I think I am paying the full price for an album but only getting about half of the songs that a typical full album would contain. But ok, I decided to get it anyway, my very first Big Bang CD! The CD comes encased in a metal frame that made it really heavy, and there were 6 designs that you could choose from. I guess the 6th would be one without any of the members on it, or maybe with all of them on it, I don’t know.

I have heard Blue a few times online when YG released the MV before the official album launch, and heard snippets of the other tracks, and finally Bad Boy which also had an MV released. Honestly, I am not really feeling Bad Boy; it isn’t bad but it isn’t amazing either. Blue was much better, even though I have not checked out the translations of the lyrics, I liked the melody and the feel that the song gave me, a little bit like Love Song, but as what some have described, exuding a more matured feel. The other tracks were good too, based on my first listen of the CD, and Daesung’s solo Wings, is also commendable; after all he has the best vocals within the group so it isn’t hard to imagine.

Big Show 2012 just concluded in Seoul last night after a 3-night concert, and I was really disappointed I couldn’t make it for any of them, partly because I asked my friends about it too late, and also because I have work commitments coming up soon. I hope I will be able to catch at least one of their shows on their upcoming world tour, anywhere.

Someone Like You

It’s easy to understand how Adele’s Someone Like You got so popular. I cannot remember when was the first time I heard it but I was officially introduced to it, or rather, got to know who sang it and what its name was, one night while I was at Wala Wala with the UnXpected band singing on stage.

The melody is friendly and sounds simple enough, yet those piano chords seem to have a haunting quality that perhaps coupled with the lyrics, make for a radio hit. Incidentally, Adele’s 21 is highly-raved and won many awards including the Grammys this year which was just last month. There are various other songs in it that are great too, and depending on your preference, Someone Like You may not necessarily be your favourite. I listened to the album once on a flight and recalled there were some songs that I liked, one of which was Set Fire to the Rain.

Anyhow, as I listened to Someone Like You, I grew to like it more but as with most songs, they can become an overkill if you start to hear them everywhere. I’m not a radio person but those times I have sat in someone else’s cars and a lot of times I’d hear this song, sometimes when I am out shopping or dining in some places, I’d hear it too. And this is not restricted to Singapore… I remembered I was in the shuttle that I booked to go from San Francisco Airport to the apartment that we’d rented for the week, and I heard the song too. However, as the broadcast frequency decreased, I think my like of the song will start on the uptrend again.

This song came a few years late. I was wondering, if a few years ago, if I’d heard this song, how I might have felt. Perhaps hearing it each time may just bring tears to my eyes and induce a stab of pain in the heart, with lyrics that so aptly describe how I would feel then. But that was then, and then this is now. Years on wounds have healed and we have all moved on. When I listen to this song, I don’t have any particular feeling of association with it. It just comes across as a nice song that is sang by a really wonderful voice.

pop, the K way

Maybe reading ilsa’s recent posts made me want to write about some of the stuff that I’ve been listening to lately too. But I won’t claim to be someone who loves music enough to know about it. I enjoy music, many genres of it, but I don’t have a particular favourite. You can say that it’s like I’m the sort to drift with the flow, lacking in personal likes and tastes or whatever, but I just think I listen to what appeals to me, so it can materialise in any language or form.

I don’t listen to radio and have never really been active in discovering music. Usually music happens in my life by chance, when I hear a song being played somewhere or when I pick it up from shows that I watch.

Popular culture affects me easily and music being part of it, gets to me just as easily. So I don’t know when it was that the K-pop tunes started popping into my life but I kind of like the tunes and of course who can (ok not me anyway) resist all that pretty images and videos that come along with it? They may be manufactured but that’s that industry and I’m the end user who doesn’t care too much about the process anyhow.

To give them credit, there are actually song-writers who are not just a so-called pretty face and there are some good and some not so good. Everyone has their brand of poison and what works for me may not for some others. I won’t need to have someone else share my like for k-pop because it could all well be a fad for me and maybe a lot of you will scoff at me or at k-pop or whatever it is. It’s just a personal like, and nobody is deriding you for the kind of things you like, so… let’s all live in peace shall we?

I got this in Tokyo last month, and I must say the tunes are quite infectious. I don’t know what they mean or if they make any sense at all but to me music is about the tune. The lyrics seldom matter as much to me.

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AMPed

When I first got my iPhone, I deleted the application AMPed. I cannot remember why I did that, maybe because I felt that I wanted to rid my phone of apps that I don’t use although that is a weak reason since even with a paltry 16GB of space, I haven’t even used up half of the space (I think) after almost 2 years and more than 2,000 pictures later. I don’t store a lot of songs in the phone because I have a separate iPod which is fast becoming a white elephant; I still need to figure out how I am going to get a proper back-up of the more than 30GB of music in the iPod if I were to try to import them to a new one, if I ever decide to get a new one that is. Any suggestions anyone?

So anyway, it was only after a long time that I somehow ventured into AMPed and discovered (see, another telling sign that I am an absolute laggard where such things are concerned) a rather large database of songs available for download! Of course the songs are downloaded into the app itself where with the iPhone signed on with a SingTel line, I automatically get an account that comes with the benefits of free song downloads (or did I sign up for an account before, I couldn’t recall), so you need to go into the app to listen to the songs. I don’t know if these songs could be somehow ‘ripped’ out of the app, but even without any network the app can still be accessed and ditto your downloaded songs, so that’s not a big issue to me.

I think the app is a great idea and wonderful replacement for the iPod where I am concerned, because there are so many songs available, new or old, and it is also a channel through which I can discover new music/songs. I don’t listen to the radio, so often how I am introduced to new songs is really random; through friends, movies, dramas, random youtubing of MVs, etc. This is another great place to do so, and just a few days ago I discovered this singer called Skylar Grey. She has been around for a long time with a first album out in 2006 but I sampled one of her new songs on AMPed, Invisible (that will be part of her new album to be released in 2012), and really loved it! Went to look up some info on her and found out that she was the voice in P.Diddy’s “Coming Home”, and she was also part of the team that collaborated on all three versions of “Love the Way You Lie”. Now, no wonder she sounded familiar in Invisible, and no wonder I enjoyed the song so much, although maybe the lyrics played a part in getting me hooked onto it currently.

I think I’m becoming more and more reliant on the phone. What used to be a tool for calling and texting has evolved over the years into so much more. When I don’t have data coverage overseas I begin to feel very handicapped that I can’t check my email and feeds from the various social networking platforms, since I’m not big on games and most of the other apps that I use requires data too. It is quite a common sight to see people being so absorbed with whatever they have on the screens of their smartphones when we are out, whether we’re commuting, waiting for friends or even while with friends, or sometimes even when walking. I’m not so sure if it’s a good thing because it puts a lot of distance between people even if our world is growing smaller each day, but that’s one of the price that we pay for the advent of technology. It is a great idea to have it as a distraction to while time away, or when we need information on-the-go, but when it starts to encroach on interpersonal relationships, then maybe it isn’t such a great idea anymore.

talent. and appreciating it.

Last night was mid-week, the time of the week when I would usually join the rest of the society at large to welcome the impending weekend. Last Wednesday, I munched on black pepper cashew nuts that were however not as nice as I remembered them to be, while happily sipping on potent lychee martinis and recounting the week’s events to the poor listener on whom I’d unleashed verbal diarrhea on. Some other times, I might have chosen a different genre of happy hours by enjoying a fattening evening with pals over beers and deep-fried food while great music filled the air courtesy of the live band. Some days however, I might have decided on a quieter evening and either made a beeline for home to dine with the family, or seek out some relaxation in a yoga class.

I did none of the above. Instead, I met a friend for dinner at Kusabi at Marina Square, where I’d posted a review on the other blog, and then we’d adjourned to the Esplanade where the Mosaic Music Festival was on. My friend’s friend and his band were playing at the concourse and she had wanted to show her support, so we made our way there after dinner and caught the last 15 minutes of Randolf Arriola’s first set. I guessed towards the end, he might have done some of his interpretations of classics, as per what I was reading off the official Mosaic website, as I found various strands of tunes familiar, but just couldn’t put my finger on exactly what they were or where I might have heard them before. The microphone was a tad soft and from where I was seated to the side of the HTC Living Room, I wasn’t able to catch what he said. No matter, it was an enjoyable set, and after that we moved to the front of the stage as we waited for Tze n Looking Glass to start.

Tze n Looking Glass are a quartet of a pianist, a violinist, a saxophonist and… what do you call someone who plays the er-hu? In the short 45-minute space, they presented 4 pieces of original compositions (if I recall correctly) which I pretty much enjoyed. It was an interesting fusion of sounds from musical instruments belonging to different cultures and times, but I thought that the blend of the piano and er-hu were great. Didn’t really like when all 4 came into play because it seemed too cacophonous at some point and the saxophone seemed to overwhelm all other sounds. Tze is the pianist, who is also my friend’s friend, and apparently he is a self-taught pianist, who is also one talented and brilliant composer. When I heard that I was rather impressed because the piano is one of those instruments that I have always wanted to pick up but due to a myriad of circumstances and reasons including of course laziness and procrastination, to date I am still nowhere near being a beginner in piano lessons. I digress, but the last piece they played that was called Goddess of Rain had a very sad-sounding piano arrangement (according to me) that made me fall in love all over again with the piano. I love music, although I know not one instrument, and aside from having music in my life on a daily basis listening to (mostly pop) songs on my iPod, I can’t say I know music at all. I suppose I can profess a love based purely on appreciation, and the skills and talent that go behind creating these wonderful melodies that add a soundtrack to our lives.