Sunday, January 22, 2006

Happy Happy Joy Joy.

(Click the pic for a larger version)

:/// In accordance with the minimum required amount of anal retentiveness that must be exhibited by authoritative figures on a monthly basis, DBKL has decided to give local independant music venue No Black Tie lots of problems. As a result of these problems, the February installment of Moonshine (and a 2 day gig that I was planning to pull off that weekend) have been cancelled. Unclogged was the first to go.

All I can say is that I'm disappointed.

The February edition of Moonshine goes out to all the people staying in KL for Chinese New Year. Tough luck to the rest of ya! =). Another band populated line-up, its gonna be another night of acoustic mayhem. Yes, mayhem.

Azmyl Yunor
This grinning wild-haired journeyman has been busy as a gig organizer (He's one of the organisers for Troubadours) and an academic of late, juggling both duties on top of his singer-songwriter folker mode. Having played everywhere from street corners to main stages, alone or with various bands for the past 8 years or so, he released the self-funded Tenets EP in 2005 to rave reviews and is currently working on a full-length CD.

His witty onstage banter and gung-ho let's do it! attitude complements the down home music he makes and colors the weary characters that populate his songs. With the energy of a punk rock band, the raw and edge of a seasoned busker, and the happy-go-lucky attitude of the smoking guitarman next door, he'll definitely put a smile on your face.

He's assembled an evolving gang of musical banditos called The Sigarettes to back him up, so look out for some sepia-toned folk rock glee! More on Azmyl here.

False Opus
Formed in mid 2000 and made up of Ewan, Kudux, Sadat, Syaril, and Waa, they were part of the whole Damansara/Colors gigging era which eventually led to them being featured on the Another Boring Sunday compilation. They've made appearances at shows such Rock The World 4, Latte@8, the KL Menjerit launch and the Butterfingers Malayneum tour, and they've recently released their debut EP which features the single "Insomnia Girl". The single has received extensive airplay on WOWfm in the past few years.

I first saw them play toned down sets at the now defunct Acoustic Jam series, and their pop rock sound was a somewhat refreshing change from the usual angst-ridden style of music that was popularised back then. More on False Opus here.

I first saw these guys on local indie music TV program Homegrown. Intrigued, I visited their Myspace site one day and looped the one song they put up. They sounded really good. Raw, well arranged, fronted by a very solid Seattle influenced voice (that would be frontman Ojie) and backed by a band members Dicky (guitar), Roy (bass) and Hazreq (drums). They've been gigging for quite abit around the Klang Valley, appearing in everything from college gigs to indie shows and the occasional rock fest. Semi hard guitar riffs and catchy melodies make up the core elements of this band's music, which centers mostly around Ojie's songwriting. Watch out for this one. More on Stonebay here.

The Sofa Sessions
The Sofa Sessions are an independent musical collective made up of Ariff Akhir (lead vocals and guitar), Shahril Eashak (electric bass) and Shahriz A E (drums, percussions and additional vocals). Influenced by the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Rolling Stones and the Dave Matthews Band, they've performed for the 2005 Sunrise Jazz & Rhythm Fest, various Music Canteen/Pan Global Insurance tour road shows, the KLue Starbucks Music Series and many other independently organised live shows and private functions. Ariff himself is an avid performer in the local singer-songwriter circuit (I remember playing a really dodgy gig with him and Az Samad once). The band's currently recording a self-produced full-length CD which is expected to be released in the first half of 2006. More about the Sofa Sessions here.

Ariff Akhir
Ariff won't be performing alongside his chilled out comrades this time around and will be braving the stage as a solo act. A perfectly natural thing for him I'm sure since he's done the whole singer-songwriter thing for eons now. Expect the same chilled out vibe he brings on stage with The Sofa Sessions (he is after all, the main composer of the band) and strap on for a ride down laidback, happy-go-lucky lane.

Rizal Hefni
Rizal Hefni is a somewhat of a newcomer to the songwriter scene here but has been playing for ages back in his hometown. Hailing from Singapore, this twenty something has got his roots firmly in alternative and rock but often likes to pick up the acoustic for more unplugged intimate settings. First apearing on the scene usually playing solo at several open mic's last year, this is his first time performing on Moonshine and he's bringing his gang of misfits to add some spice.

Monday, January 16, 2006

1 down, 11 to go.

Forgive the late write-up, I've been bogged down with work like you wouldn't believe. In addition to that my internet connection is as reliable as a governmental clerk with ADD these days.

The show on the 5th of January was jam packed. I was nervous before the show as always, worried that people might not show up and having nightmares that all the fully bookes seats were nothing more than an elaborate prank. Thankfully, all was put to rest once people started filling in the front bar. The buzz of anticipation right before the show was so thick you could almost taste it in the air. A bit dramatic I know but a fitting description of what a performer gets to tap into right before a show. Call it nerves, call it excitement, call it whatever.

I was given the pleasure of sessioning for Aminah that night, and taking into consideration the fact that we only practised her set after the soundcheck I have to say I had heaps of fun on stage. Songwriters like Aminah baffle me to be honest. Her songs are so simple yet I can't seem to get 'em outta my mind somtime. I was like "Damn this song has only THREE chords???". Backed up by a smaller set up (me on guitar and Salim on percussion) compared to the last time she played at Moonshine (she was backed by a 5 piece band), her set was stripped down, laidback, and easy-going, a nice start to the show. My fav tune to play was "Caravan Trails", the last song on her set list.

I played next, and to tell you the truth, I just wanted to play for the first Moonshine of the year =). My set was relatively slow that night, something I did on purpose in an effort to break away from my usual stuff.

After the break the duo of the night, Plush Velvet took the stage. Light and easy like the pop duo breeze that they are, Jeremy's jazz influenced guitar lines and Izzy's sweet sombre vocals pulled the crowd back into place. I'm glad to see them gigging more and I can see that they're getting more comfortable with themselves on stage.

Az, fresh off the Boston boat, steered the show into a land of finger-picking heaven and animated stage moves. You've been praticing you're dance moves dude. I think the theme for Az this year is 'mobile'. He's fun to watch really. Sneaky too. He'll disarm you with his trademark goofiness, smiles, and odd sounds, then outta nowhere he'll hit you with some complex melodic progression. I looked back at the crowd and alot of them were too stunned to say anything. A very popular reaction if you're watching Az for the first time.

Shelley was the last act to go up that night. On keys and backed by a full band, once again I was impressed by her songwriting and arranging ability. Going to Boston has definitely influenced the way she leads a band as parts now are tighter and fit better, a vital point of focus for any band. She's real lucky la that girl =). To have a full band (Alda on bass, Az on guitar and Stephanie on drums) with her for quite some means that they all know her tunes like the back of her hand.

All in all a good show, lots of faces I didn't recognise (a very good thing), good music and full seats.

To view all official Moonshine pics (taken by the very talented Harun Wahab), click here.

Thanx to Eugene for doing a write-up at

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New You.

A new year. Is it me or did 2005 just skyrocket past? I hope it was as interesting for you as it was for me.

The January installment of Moonshine will be happening on the 5th (this Thursday), less than a month than the last one we had. We've got some 'oberseas' talents lined up for next week just for you, the faithful listener. Ok so I'm lying. Its more like they're back on holiday. Check it out.

Aminah - If you missed her at the last Moonshine, shame on you. Confident and in possesion of one of the yummiest voices around, this will be her last gig on local soil before returning to Ireland. Lucky buggers. Make sure you remember to buy her album too which is, in my opinion one of the best locally produced ones around. Don't miss her! Scroll down to see my previous ramblings concerning this lovely lass. More about Aminah here.

Reza Salleh - Yeah so I've slotted myself for the first Moonshine of the year. So there.

Shelley Leong - If you've been tuned into the local indie music scene at all the past 2 years, you may have heard of her. A seasoned example of the new crop of local solo acts to emerge in the past 4 years, she's a singer-songwriter, musician, ex-ICOM student, gig organiser, current Berklee College of Music student, transport manager for the performer below, band leader and accountant. Amongst her musical achievements include being nominated for Malaysia’s premier music awards, the AIM (Music Recording Industry) awards under the Best New English Artiste category and getting onto Malaysia's English Top 10 ( with her music video for "Forgiveness". I met her for the first time at the old No Black Tie for Songwriters' Round where she made up a song about potatoes, sex, and Pete Teo during the open mic. Nice. She's back on holiday from Boston and she won't be back for long so catch her while you can. More about Shelley here.

Az Samad - Guitar maestro and the ultimate joker, his style is, I have to say, something only a select few can appreciate. And that's just his humour. His music on the other hand, is an instrumental showcase of fretboard burning talent, bound together by image-inducing melodies and arrangements. Studying with influential acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Eric Roche coupled with his classical guitar background laid the foundation for his unique sound, a blend of jazz, latin, pop and new age. I first saw him play at the old Paul's Place and I almost felt like quitting the guitar. Almost la =). Az is also back on holiday from Boston, where he spends his time attending gigs us normal Malaysians have no access to and hanging out with creative muso types at the Berklee College of Music. Like Shelley, he's only back for awhile. Book your table now. More about Az here.

Plush Velvet - Amongst the newest wave of singer-songwriters' to hit the local indie scene is young Izzy Mohamed. Blessed with the ability to write radio friendly tunes, the vocal capacity to deliver them in a most sweet and disarming manner, and a recently released EP entitled "This Very Moment", she recently teamed up with local guitarist Jeremy Lim to form the pop jazz duo Plush Velvet. Both guitar wielding young guns equally versed in the sacred artform of harmonising (an artform I find extremely elusive), they'll be representing all that's fresh and new, a hopeful theme for the new year =)

If you're coming try and book a table for the night. Details on the flyer.