Singles Only is when we review singles that keep ringing in our heads like a thousand bells from across Malaysia- whether we like them or not. This week we’re reviewing a Pasca Sini single, in anticipation to review their EP. And Altimet’s Mambang blew our heads to shreds so we’re excited to talk about that. Not to mention, Froya’s latest single is a great listen. To find out who else makes this the list this week, keep on reading. Also, follow our Spotify to get more updates on new songs and some cool curated playlists.
(Also these are just our opinions, feel free to share yours! What do you think we should review next?)
Eight Fifteen – Islands
Nondescript in most parts, surprisingly spacey in others – Islands new demo leaves a lot for wanting. That being said, Eight Fifteen has a consistent rawness to it. There is no attempt at melodic saccharine. They’re not trying to be pretty in this song. It’s My Bloody Valentine with a deep-seated emotional plea- shoegazing at it’s most carnal.
Sunny Side Up – Froya
Froya keeps breaking conventions of pop and Sunny Side Up is no exception. She continues her darker undertones with this bop, with factory-like beats that is reminiscent of Post-era Bjork. I’ve grown to love the experimental direction that Froya takes in her sound. It seems as if as she releases more and more singles her vocals become one with the industrial and experimental – which is furthest from a complain. We’re all just keen on expecting something like a full-fledged album from the songstress-turned-artist.
Dunia Hitam – The Young Malayan
SOG Productions have a knack in finding artists, especially lyricists, with soul in their craft – whether it’s the post metalcore band Sekumpulan Orang Gila or through the softer, calming sounds of The Young Malayan. Dunia Hitam has a pahlawan feel, an optimism worthy of glorious battlefields. We did mention they are softer but only in comparison to Sekumpulan Orang Gila – the vocalist of The Young Malayan still sings this song with admirable gusto. There’s also a lot of attention paid to even the slightest forms of production, namely the seruling sounds that bridged the different verses of the music. At this point, it’s starting to become apparent that is the crux of SOG’s soundscape and identity (e.g. the caklempong in Terbanglah by SOG) – and we want more of it.
Ego – Margasatwa
In a Malay indie rock movement filled with psychedelic rockers, Margasatwa brings the technicolor musicality to retro ballads. Kimal breaks the boundaries of Malay lyricism for Nusantara indie, with this prosody that embodies such wonderful lines. One of our favourites is this entire verse, Siang engkau hilang/Terseret hingga larut malam/Kau salahkan takdir yang tidak menurutmu. It’s not just the lyrics, but also the song arrangement that makes Ego a great track, from the plucky reverbs on the guitar strings that underpin the song to the guitar solo that won’t sound astray from many rock kapak classics. Rock kapak for picnics and quiet moments of self-reflection or nostalgia.
Sampai Ke Hari Tua – Aizat Amdan
As a songwriter and acoustic performer, Aizat Amdan has promised us so many things. Grand ballads that sit at home on AJL stages like Jangan Menangis, to cutesy idyllic songs like Susun Silang Kata. This time Aizat takes it down a notch and adds it more than a spoonful of sugar to this coffee-shop track about loving someone til the ripe old age of wrinkles and receding hairlines. Sampai Ke Hari Tua is instantly charming, and echoes Aizat’s beginnings, i.e. his earlier discography. Definitely going to be a part of so many weddings this year.
Untuk Mereka Yang Tidak Berpeluwang – Pasca Sini
This single from their latest EP, (Everything) Looks Cooler In Japanese is basic pop punk. You have the verse-chorus-verse, the bridge for the vocalist to shine. But basic does not mean generic when it comes to Pasca Sini. The band takes the raw form of pop punk, but pushes the genre a notch higher with wonderful lyricism (already hinted at with that brilliant song title). There is no over-produced cliche in the subject matter. The similarity of Pasca Sini with other pop punk bands stops at the arrangement. Aqmal Hakim composes the lyrics to this song with charm, with memorable lines like Diskografi waktu, berbentuk bunyi that makes do that “Not Bad” meme face of Barack Obama (I sometimes quote outdated memes). This sort of attention to candid, stripped-off-of-saccharine approach is what makes Pasca Sini another interesting band to look forward to in this age of emo revival filled with people inspired by Neckdeep, Remo Drive and Joyce Manor. Like those bands however, despite the borrowed arrangements and the sense of self-deprecating humour from the late 90s to the early 2000s, Pasca Sini’s stamp in the scene is unique. (SIDE NOTE: Speaking of humour, I’m pretty sure the dates on the music video April 20, 1969 (4/20/69) was supposed to be funny but I’m choosing to ignore it because I need to possess a more refined sense of humour as an adult, I guess) [Review for their EP, (Everything) Looks Cooler in Japanese is coming out soon!]
Anugerah of the Year – Oh Chentaku
I remember the first time I saw Oh Chentaku live. I was transported to another time, when guitar solos had adjectives like ‘face-melting’ and ‘gut-busting’. When Guns ‘N’ Roses or Aerosmith were the epitome of cool. OCK has kept this spiritual fire alive with Seriputeh and Myo’s timeless vocals with their previous songs, and continues the legacy-bearing in Anugerah of the Year. But this is not old mold, the soft electronic ambience that goes on around 2:40 and the scratches in the beginning of the song adds a layer of enticing production to the track that I find super-alluring. This head-banger goes beyond the realm of hard riffs; Anugerah of the Year is for those wannabes in a world of post-truth (All they ever do is lie lie lie). Those people who seek attention for the little things you might as well just give them an award. Another solid OCK single.
Little Miss Sunshine – Jaggfuzzbeats
Call me nostalgic, sings lead vocalist, Azrul. Last year we already gave Jaggfuzzbeats’ Rest Now album of the year, so we’re just simply nostalgic to be able to talk about one of our favourite songs from the album again after it’s released as a single. After Aizat Amdan’s song, Little Miss Sunshine is another song you can probably on that playlist you’re planning to send to your crush. Unlike Sampai Ke Hari Tua, Little Miss Sunshine is not a diabetes-inducing love song, it’s a folk-ish song that triples on sentimentality because it’s tinged with the humanness of insecurity (She never saw darkness in me). After a long listen to the album where you have danceable melodies and brilliant anthems, Little Miss Sunshine is just Azrul and his guitar, and nothing more is needed to make it a great song.
Make It On Me – NYK (ft. Airliftz)
Make It On Me oozes chill vibes but falls slightly short of what we were to expect from a track featuring both upcoming R&B artist, NYK and rising star Airliftz. What is true is that the mixing and production on Make It On Me gives out seamless, great beats and will definitely be a cool addition to the dance floor. It’s a sexy song, and NYK is a good singer, but there really is nothing much to shout home about. There were more substantial moments in his previous single FWB. Airliftz flow saves this song a bit but his bars don’t really stand out in any significant way. But maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. Some songs are made for hedonistic trips to Kyo (which gets a special mention in the song) instead of heavy moments of contemplation. Essentially, the true heroes of this track are producers Andrei Amartinesei & Putte Peterson for adding that international sound in the production; making bop-worthy rhythms for those nights when you’re trying to pick up someone you find attractive in the club.
Mambang – Altimet
Mashaallah. This track right here. If words were fire, this was an entire furnace of poetic flames. I can’t even begin to list down my favourite lyrics, (although if I have to choose it’d probably be Ilham kering/Writer’s block/Pena kau kena sekat/Dulu lawas/Now your shit like tak cukup serat and that part where Altimet disses his own discography is pretty amazing. And yes, I’m on the camp that actually believes Altimet is not talking about Malique in this song as people seem to propagate. But that’s not important. What’s important is that if Altimet is heading towards retirement, we know he has not peaked in the past and that songs like Mambang just keeps proving that no writer’s block is gonna make Altimet fall off his throne.
Deaf Ears – Hameer Zawawi
We reviewed Hameer Zawawi’s EP last year, Plug Out the Machines, and loved it so much. Hameer Zawawi’s storytelling tendencies flows through the orchestra folk sound he creates. Every song has a sense of suspense, melancholia and sometimes even both. His ability to incorporate that Middle Eastern sound accentuated through the cello magic of Florian Antier. Like we’ve mentioned before, “Deaf Ears” has to be Hameer’s most complex song to-date; in terms of composition and his ever-expanding vocal range that brings this track to life. Releasing it as a single is a great move on Hameer’s part in our opinion, as it showcases the best of his abilities – from the composition to the execution. When this song escalates after the 4th minute mark, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
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