The moment I arrived at the Quartermasters’ eponymous album launch at Lepark saw a banjo and a resonator on stage, I knew we were in for a sonic treat. The latest member of Singapore’s music renaissance after a slew of great releases across genres from pop (The Sam Willows), indie (Charlie Lim) and instrumental jazz (TAJ), The Quartermasters continues to raise the bar and will be delight to pop and indie listeners not just in Singapore but across the globe.
Though the band was only formed in 2014, the musicians are all familiar faces in the Singapore music scene. Many would recognise Tim De Cotta as the bass player of TAJ, while guitarist Kelvin Ang has played the local music scene with his own band. Wise-cracking drummer Stefan Lim is also a 7-year Hollywood music industry veteran and entrepreneur. With members of the band coming from countries as diverse as Australia, Singapore and South Africa, the collective experience of the group shows – each track has clearly been delicately crafted, arranged and presented, and exhibit an emotive complexity that is brought to live by frontman singer-songwriter Charles Jedidiah.
Catch on Fire and The Harlot Train are my two favourite songs in the album, being a bit more upbeat. The rousing background vocals from the rest of the band are tremendously uplifting, while vocalists Amy Myers’ solo singing adds an elegance to The Harlot Train which really completes the entire track. The banjo is used to great effect in Invincible, adding a folksy texture that contrasts nicely with the sustained distorted tones in the background.
Drawing parallels between the Quartermasters and other bands is challenging, given the diverse influences on the instrumentation, ranging from post-rock, soul, grunge and folk music. Best to let you decide for yourself. I suggest that you find a Sunday morning, brew a cup of your morning joe and have a listen to the EP which is available on iTunes, Spotify and also for download on their website. You won’t regret it.
Every great song has a story, so just for our loyal Controlled Commodity fans I took the opportunity to ask the band on the backstory of my two favourite songs. Their response:
“Catch on Fire is actually based on a story of watching someone grow up and realising that they still lie like a kid caught with candy in his hands even as an adult. Charles decided to write a song about it in a tongue in cheek sort of fashion - wrote this song pretty much in the space of 10 minutes!
The Harlot Train is a song about prejudice and how sometimes our tunnel vision can lead us to see a completely warped picture of ourselves and others around us – you can interpret this song on so many levels.”