There Goes The Neighbourhood: 11 Local Acts of Eargasm

Say hello to this year’s batch of local potential! Some are brand new to the scene, some have won talent contests, some have paid their dues and are taking off exponentially right now, and some are still underground but just too weirdly cool to ignore. Whatever their sound, look or smell may be, these are the artists that we think will keep 2011 loud!

Text: Adli Syahril + Ben Liew


If you think music has gone stale in this country, then you only need to look for this crazy collective of freaks and weirdos. Led by the impulsive (and often repulsive) Kuning Pening, Think! Tadpole Think! have a revolving lineup of musicians including a member known as Ewok (?). Interestingly, they sound and look different at almost every gig they play. Sometimes TTT are a trio (with saxophonist Amir, DJ Xes Xes Loveseat and Kuning on vocals), other times they’re a full-fledged noise-jazz band with nifty sound-manipulating gadgets. Even more appealing was their recent foray as an experimental hip hop group under the moniker Tiga Setiga. With all this eclecticism, some audiences might question their motives. Is this performance art or unrehearsed crap? Are they really freaks/geniuses or just attention-grabbing, overdeveloped kids? Well, Kuning himself seems to draw a lot of influence from legendary no waver James Chance (of James Chance and The Contortions). But then again, they did hijack Urbanscapes last year with an impromptu performance right smack at the main entrance of the mammoth event. “Music is error” seems to be their motto. And we guess we’ll never know if they’re fo’ real. Does it matter, though?


Okay, so they opened for MGMT in front of an audience of bemused hipsters. But rock quintet Kyoto Protocol have much more to offer than just hype. Raw like yesterday’s underwear, these wild turkeys play straight-up, no-nonsense rock n roll. 1st single ‘Pussycat’ reminds us of fun-loving hair metal bands, minus the silly irony. There are hints of The Clash and Queens of the Stone Age in KP’s songs while frontman Fuad Alhabshi sounds like a real biker-gang leader (whiskey for breakfast and whores for dinner). Ripped with healthy doses of blues and hard rock, the closest scene relatives to these guys would probably be The Rollin’ Sixers. KP have also been running a good race. After attaining 1st runner-up titles at 2009’s Yamaha Asian Beat and Malaysia’s Global Battle Of The Bands, KP went on to slay the big stage with slots at Rock The World, Urbanscapes, Baybeats in Singapore and H-artistry. Expect an album real soon!


Who doesn’t love Sarawak? Indie folks here have always viewed our Eastern brothers and sistas in a good light ever since Nice Stupid Playground gave OAG a run for their money (although both were on the same label) back in the 90s. And if you’re into post-punk dance rock you’d be glad to know that Love/Comes will be releasing a split EP with one of last year’s JUICE-chosen breakout bands Part Time Lovers. With a neck for irresistible melodies, Love/Comes’ debut EP Letters And Postcards is a strong sampler of a band with a unique sound. Layers of twinkling guitars with plenty of reverb and delay give them that big wall-of-noise sound that can sometimes lead into shoegazing territory. Yet it’s the direct rockiness of tracks like ‘Ellis Road’ and ‘Reservoir Boys’ that stir them back to their God-given, pop-sensible ways.


Sometimes you just gotta take a step backwards to find yourself. And maybe that was what ex-They Will Kill Us All vocalist Feezul was thinking about when he formed 300@9. Quite a contrast to TWKUA, 300@9 have some pretty lo-fi moments coupled with odd dream pop sequences. The band are still fresh off the cob, having played their very 1st gig at Kchiiing! Lost Tapes at Laundry last month. Sounding like a pre-‘Loser’ Beck at times, the quartet can rock it hardcore as well. And when they do, they’re closer to Weezer than epic post-rock. With just a few demos recorded and available for streaming on their Facebook page, 300@9 still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, these bedroom recordings have huge potential because they stray away from the straight-up, chord-structured formulas.


During his school days, Myo was known as the prom night-crasher with his band Oh Chentaku. But 2008 saw the yearlong hiatus of the local electro punk outfit when Myo decided to leave the country to pursue his studies in Switzerland. Though thousands of miles away from his band, Myo stayed true to his passion and didn’t stop writing new material. Having been active in the underground scene for the past 6 years, Myo endeavoured to bring his music to the international stage and has since performed in front of massive audiences in London, Zurich, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Dublin and Barcelona, among other countries. To date, he’s done more than 150 shows over the last 3 years including opening sets for MXPX, Caliban, Driven Fear, and Estrella and Seven Collar T-Shirt’s UK tour. The singer-songwriter is a man with a mission; he wants to be heard. Throw him a guitar and a mic, and he will entertain you. And from what we heard, he might just throw us a new single with his band later this month called ‘Taking On Jupiter’. Orbital, dude!


A long, long time ago, when the internet was a much slower place, rappers used to “battle” or retort with each other online (via forums, message boards and mIRC). Hence, the term Keystyle (keyboard style) was used to define this written exchange of lyrics and thoughts. Now, who would have thought that Facebook would continue the movement? The guys who founded notorious keystyling crew Keystyle Tanah Melayu (KTM) certainly didn’t have anything apart from fun on their minds. But soon their fun on Facebook turned into an obsession. And so Hassan joined forces with Aidy and Eikit to create a “keystyling” page after a brainstorming mamak session in October last year. A few months later, a more established local underground rap outfit, 5forty2, was introduced to KTM and together they shared their knowledge of keystyling skillz like multies and wordplay. KTM gained more cred when they drew the attention of underdog rappers following the release of their 1st track ‘Tekan Tubi’, a joint collaboration of KTM’s Aidy, Hassan, Aizad and Nawi with 5forty2’s DMent and Ali Terbang. From regular keystyle battles on Facebook discussion tabs to audio battles (with MP3s) to live freestyle battles once a month at Jin Hackman’s Raising The Bar, KTM have carved their name into the underground hip hop circuit.  The current brains behind KTM crew are Hassan, Aidy ‘Ad, Eikit, Lirzaf, Nawi, Adib and DMent. But that too might change with the crew’s growing popularity and membership drive. Facebook’s all dat!


Since Akademi Fantasia did not work out for this talented kiddo, Aizat Amdan spun his career wheel in a different direction after he got booted out on the 7th week of the show. Unlike most AF rejects, he returned to the limelight when his singles ‘Sahabat’ and ‘Hanya Kau Yang Mampu’ became instant hits following the release of his debut album Percubaan Pertama in 2008. Written and produced by him, the album was well-received by the masses. Aizat also worked with singer-songwriter Pete Teo on 2 English songs, ‘Just One Boy’ and ‘I Go’, for the late Yasmin Ahmad’s film Talentime. ‘Pergi’, the Malay version of ‘I Go’, and the movie’s theme song won Best Song at the 24th Anugerah Juara Lagu last year. Now he’s back with his sophomore album Urusan Aizat Amdan that’s spearheaded by his retro classy single ‘Years From Now’. Aizat is exactly what Malaysia’s mainstream music industry needs right now: a pop sensation with DIY singer-songwriter credibility. We hear Siti calling…


If you’re thinking of becoming a rap star, watch and learn from this up-and-coming artist. Born and raised in the concrete jungle of KL, Karmal produces his own songs at his crib and designs his own clothing line (Knowledge Unites Smart Humans aka KUSH) when he’s not busting the mic at clubs or events. A member of infamous hip hop crew XXII, he has worked with established artists such as Linda and Diana Rafar, DJ Fuzz, Altimet, Joe Flizzow, Vandal, Nadhira and Indonesian music producer Wizzow. After successfully gaining a reputation from his online mixtape This Is What I Do When I’m Bored, Karmal’s upcoming EP is scheduled for release within this month. Working closely with local hip hop community The MoveMint and fellow rising rapper Sona One from Kartel, Karmal is here to set a new benchmark for the scene. Word!


Need a dose of fresh music? Try Googling this band. Sphere have been around for about 3 years now with their own distinctive sound: a collection of contradicting styles derived from sweeping prog, vicious punk and experimental instrumentals. The band consists of former Estrella guitarist Yube, ex-The Eleanor Shotgun Affair drummer Aiman, bassist Show and guitarist-vocalist Alang (a scenester-cum-band slut who has impressive credentials-Man Under Zero Effort, Bittersweet and The Stoned Revivals, to name a few). Their self-titled demo was released last year with the song ‘Thunder’ presenting their trippy and refreshing musical style to all. With influences from bands like Toe, Holy F*ck and Don Caballero, Sphere shouldn’t be a stranger to the scene after making an impressive opening performance for Italian screamos La Quiete. You won’t find any yawning hipsters at their shows!


Not many riot grrl punk rock bands survive for long over here, but these girls have the talent and ballz to rock the scene right! If you like jazz, metal and punk, and like putting them all together, then check out Shh…Diam! Empowered by the anyone-can-play-music ethos of punk rock, frontwoman Farah made up her band’s name when she got an invitation to perform at a gig. Although she didn’t actually have a band at the time, Farah made haste to recruit her pals from school (Diyz on bass, favourite cousin Yon on guitar and ex-colleague Kurin on drums). After a while, Kurin left to get married and Jellene replaced her. The band have 2 tracks, ‘Julie, Don’t Listen To Them’ and ‘Kita’, and have performed at many events from small scale college gigs to local indie festivals. With thousands of fans on Facebook, they’re taking raw power (or grrl power) to the next level. Bound to be every feminist’s fave new local band, we just can’t wait to hear these grrls kick out the jams again!


Rumours about Bunkface frontman Sam leaving his band are not true, people. In fact, The Azenders and Bunkface performed together at the recent Twin Towers @live 2011. Back in 2010, Sam and his friends (Izal from One Buck Short, Kudut from Robot Asmara and Ajam from Dichi Michi) decided to form this project band. Although they came from different musical backgrounds, The Azenders managed to combine their love for synths, mid-tempo piano melodies and catchy rock vibes. These guys have already released 2 singles to date, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen’ and ‘Peribadi’, and recently beat Kyoto Protocol and Dead Mushroom at Hard Rock Café’s Battle Of The Bands. In case you didn’t know, The Azenders will be contending at the regional level of HRC’s Battle Of The Bands for a chance to perform at UK’s Hard Rock Calling 2011 alongside headliners like Bon Jovi, Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks. Break a leg, boys! J

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