5 More Malaysian Bands You Need To Listen To

I’ve always liked rock music, but college days were when I really got into more ‘hardcore’ music, so to speak. I loved gigs, rock concerts and the feelings of euphoria one gets from being in the moshpit and letting loose. I dressed to express, and it often got me weird looks from ‘respectable’ members of society. When I played songs in my room, my mom called it ‘devil music’, lol.

Circa 2012

Course, these days, I don’t look like that anymore. One grows up and learns to mask things – that’s just how society works. But love for the music has always remained, and I think it speaks to my inner young self – to never lose that part of the identity that has shaped me as an individual, no matter how many fake smiles I have to plaster on in the corporate world.

I was listening to some old songs from the late 2000s and early 2010s, when I was really into the local metalcore scene. Some of these bands have already disbanded, while others are still going strong (with a change of style, perhaps) – so I’ve only listed the old songs that I like.

Enjoy!

Massacre Conspiracy – Karma 

MC was the first local metalcore band I listened to that eventually introduced me to other bands. I heard them on a promo clip for Rock The World (an annual rock concert with local talents) and was fascinated by the short snippet they played, so I looked them up (the wonders of Youtube!) and instantly got addicted. They’ve maintained their style through the years, with a new music video in 2018 called An Empty Promise.

Tres Empre – Captivating 

I legit thought they were a foreign band because of the Saosin vibes. They’ve largely been quiet since the end of 2017, so hopefully there will be some new music soon.

Arsonist – False Hope 

The band is defunct, but their music can still be found on Youtube and an occasional Facebook post. Perhaps a status update sums it up best: “Sekarang pkcik xlarat dahhh.. hahaha!” (Uncle can’t do it anymore) referring to how age has caught up to them. I kind of feel the same way – my last mosh was three years ago and I felt like shit afterwards with the joint pains and stuff… the heart is willing, but the flesh is weak. 😀

Sekumpulan Orang Gila – Satu Melayu / Sumpah Pendekar

They’re still active, with a new album released in 2018.

Ballad for Layla – The Awakening 

Disbanded in 2015.

Naratu – Kau Bangsat 

One of the oldest hardcore bands in Malaysia that has been on the scene for over 20 years. What distinguishes them is probably that they sing exclusively in Bahasa, which was uncommon back then in this genre.

The Padangs – Waste No Time

They still seem to be playing at gigs and stuff, and have a merchandise line that they promote on FB but no new material (or at least not that I’m aware of).

Have a fun trip down memory lane, and rock on. Now, time for me to return to the daily grind. Sigh.

In The End – RIP Chester Bennington

Woke up this morning and as usual, scrolled through my Facebook feed over breakfast.

My heart skipped a beat when I read the news. Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of my long-time favourite band Linkin Park, was found hanged in his home in Beverley Hills from an apparent suicide. He was only 41.

image via cnn.com

I don’t usually feel anything when I read news of celebrity deaths. I mean, sure, it’s sad that someone died, but isn’t that how life is?

This, though.

LP was a big part of my teenage years (some would call them the ‘formative’ years). I remember my first LP song, Papercut, which I heard on a TV segment (back when MTV was still a thing) and fell haplessly in love with. It was unlike any music I had listened to before – raw feelings personified into melody. It spoke to the part of me that was lost and angry, as many of us would have felt as teens: misunderstood, feeling abandoned, unable to fit in, seeking acceptance and purpose. I was a huge fan of their early music. I saved what pocket money I got from school to buy a Walkman and my first Hybrid Theory casette, which I listened to constantly. I also had their Re-Animation and Meteora albums.

It wasn’t until much later, when I was old enough to actually research on his life, that I realised that all that angry/depressing music came from a very dark place. Chester was sexually abused as a child, physically bullied in school, and turned to drugs after his parents divorced. Even after gaining fame, he continued to struggle with alcohol and drugs, maybe even more so because of how the entertainment industry is.

Chester’s death has affected many among my generation, who grew up with LP’s music. My timeline was flooded with RIPs, and posts shared on how Chester and his unique voice has touched their lives.
Perhaps even saved some.

His death has also brought up discussion on mental health and how society reacts to it. There have been really ugly comments on how he is a ‘coward’ for leaving behind is wife and six children. Keyboard warriors, sitting behind the safety of a computer, calling a man who was depressed enough to take his own life a coward. Whatever his reasons may have been, one should not speak ill of the dead. It is disgusting to see the lack of empathy among some members of society. It just reinforces why some people with depression don’t want to speak up at all for fear of being judged.

But, as Chester puts it, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. He is, hopefully, in a better place now, beyond mockery, ridicule and unkind insults.

RIP, Chester Bennington. And thank you.

 

 

 

Old Malaysian Indie Bands You Need to Know

Hey guys! It’s the end of the month I’m all done with deadlines.. so it’s time to blog (while I’m feeling like it. It’s hard to find time + mood these days) !

N and I were talking about indie music just recently; I shared a couple of songs with him and he was impressed with the quality – especially the bands from the 90s to mid 2000s; the height of our local indie scene. And you know what they say – sharing is caring – so here are my top picks !

PS: Many of the bands I’ve listed have been disbanded, but I think that some of them were real gems, which is why I’ve chosen to include them. 

ROSEVELT 

Google Rosevelt today and you probably won’t find much on the Internet because sadly, they disbanded sometime around 2013. 😦 It’s a shame, because this talented band once opened for Incubus when they came to KL. Their unique sound features slower tunes with heavy riffs, like Moments, to the power-charged Politics and Madicine. While their songs were mostly in English, they also played a Malay OST for local film Langgar, called Bawaku Pergi. You can still check out their old songs on their (now inactive) Youtube channel.

DISAGREE 

You can’t mention ‘Malaysian indie’ without coming across Disagree. Founded by two high-school friends in 1995, they’re one of the pioneers of the indie rock scene in Malaysia. In 2001, the band joined Malaysia’s first indie rock music festival called Rock The World (of which they became a regular fixture), playing to a crowd of 10,000. Their popularity soared from there with the release of a debut album, gaining radio airplay and snagging multiple achievements at local music awards. They also worked with major brands like Malaysian telecommunications giant Celcom as well as Nokia. Although, it has been nearly 10 years since their last album (2009). Wonder what happened to these talented guys?

Favourite tracks: Suicide Note, Crumbs, Scarecrow Adams

PRANA

Founded by brothers Jeffrey and Jeremy Little, who are of English-Malay ancestry, Prana’s sound carried heavy rap-rock influences, channeling The Prodigy and Limp Bizkit with turn tables paired with sick riffs and drumbeats. In 2014, Jeffrey died on a haj pilgrimage after a battle with leukemia. A search on Youtube reveals that the remaining members are still playing gigs as recent as 2016, although they are no longer making new music.

MEET UNCLE HUSSAIN 

2007 saw the release of a local TV drama called Kami, which talks about a group of high school friends who are fans of indie music, and their adventures and struggles.  The series was a hit, and along with it, its soundtracks which featured indie bands like Meet Uncle Hussain experienced a boost in popularity. The band’s lead singer and one of its founding members, Lan, left in 2009 due to disagreements with other band members. As of January this year, the band’s Instagram account was still active but nothing else has been heard of since then.

POP SHUVIT 

Literally the Godfather of Malaysian indie music, Pop Shuvit is one of the rare English-bands that have gone on to play on a world stage, including in places like Japan, Thailand and Singapore. They opened for MyChemical Romance (another great band that disbanded 😦 ) and during the height of the X-Games (around 2006), they were literally everywhere with their brand of eclectic hip hop-rap and nu metal (The name Pop Shuvit is based off a skateboard trick). The band is also known for their adrenaline-packed and high energy shows. Today, its members like vocalist Moots have gone on to become radio announcers, but they are still actively doing shows.

BITTERSWEET 

With all the American influences, it’s fairly rare to find a Brit-rock inspired band like Bittersweet, which sounds like a mix of Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys. Founded in 2004, they are still going strong today with a new album in 2016 and an appearance at Rock The World 2016.

DAMN DIRTY APES

Dubbing themselves ‘space rock’, Damn Dirty Apes from Penang has been around since 2002, with an EP called ‘Valve State Dreams’. They have been called the Asian version of Mogwai. I like the soft/loud/soft progression in their songs – namely a soft melodic intro, and a hard, high energy middle that mellows out towards the end. Favourite songs include Rebel Scum (above) and Wisdom. To my knowledge, they are still playing shows especially at urban festivals in their home base of Penang.

Dragon Red

Rap-metal was popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, thanks to bands like Linkin Park, Korn and P.O.D. Malaysia’s very own Dragon Red was a forerunner in promoting the genre locally. In fact, I think their lead vocalist, Landslyde (who was previously from another popular local hip hop band called Poetic Ammo), has a voice similar to Sonny from P.O.D. The band is still active and recently celebrated their 15th year anniversary with a show.

The Times

Most of the bands on this list are English indie bands, but I decided to include The Times coz I really like their music and I think good music transcends language barriers. With a chill vibe that blends 60s mod/pop and indie rock, their songs are easygoing and catchy. Founded by brothers Natazar and Mono in 2004, the band was wildly popular in the Malay indie music scene, but went on a 6-year hiatus in 2010. Good news though – as of 2016, they are back (with a new lineup) and will apparently be releasing new music this year! 🙂

Nice Stupid Playground

Similar to The Times, Nice Stupid Playground has an easygoing, 60s mod mixed with a touch of indie pop/rock; although the band has been around longer, since 1992. Founded in Borneo, they were among the first to pioneer indie music in Malaysia, winning the illustrious (then) Anugerah Industri Muzik in 1997 for Best English Album. Their song ‘Bedroom Window’ was handpicked by a Hong Kong producer to be featured in a movie called The Chinese Box, starring Gong Li and Jeremy Irons. The band is still active today, although it has been awhile since they last released an album.

Butterfingers 

Formed in 1993, Butterfingers is probably one of the bands with the most albums on this list. Described as alternative/grunge/post-grunge, they channel sounds reminiscent of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden mixed with hints of Metallica or Wings. They disbanded in 2009 as some of its members went overseas, although one of its founding members, Loque, has gone on to form a new project called MonoloQue.

Estrella

Nevermind guys; even girls like me would have a crush on the beautiful and talented Liyana Fizi, former lead singer of band Estrella. She has since gone solo, but her time at the short-lived band (they only made one album) was enough to propel her on to the mainstream. That aside, Estrella makes for some smooth, easy going pop songs that are great to listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Bunkface 

Who can forget Malaysia’s Princes of Punk? Think Sum 41, Simple Plan, All American Rejects vibe, but in English/Malay. Bunkface was founded in 2006 and are considered a good example of an indie band who achieved mainstream success. Their high-energy, upbeat songs are a staple of youth subcultures and groups; a voice of ‘rebellion’ and expression. In 2015, they performed at Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival, and they’re still a huge crowd puller today.

 

There are a couple of other bands that warrant mentioning: Free Deserters, Love Me Butch, One Buck Short,Tenderfist, Seven Collar T-Shirt and Kyoto Protocol are some of my other favourites too.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the recommendations and happy listening! Feel free to suggest great indie music from your country in the comments, I’d love to give them a listen. 🙂