May 31, 2012

NEW TRACK: People's Future - "Ganito Ganyan"

“Ganito Ganyan” ranks among PF’s best work to date. It's hard to know where these guys draw their creative fire from, especially with such dope track that combines tactile, goofball storytelling with a resounding confidence. Check this banger below.

May 29, 2012

NEW TRACK: Miki Hahn - "End of May"

Production designer/actress/singer/all-around talent Miki Hahn teams up with Los of The Out of Body Special on a future urban smash that captures our collective yearning to extend summer vacation. The track is called “End of May,” a minimalist R&B hooker which Hahn describes in her own blog as the song “for all the people who stayed behind their office desks this whole summer and for all the people who just need a darn break.” Download the track here for free.

May 28, 2012

NEW TRACK: Cynthia Alexander - "Comfort In Your Strangeness" (new version)

It’s been 15 years since Cynthia Alexander released “Comfort In Your Strangeness,” the alterno-pop classic that not only pushed the envelope of imagist poetry in pop music, but altered the local songwriting landscape in ways that still resonate today. Of course there’s more to the greatness of Cynthia Alexander’s major hit than that. It was one of the few singles in the ‘90s that embrace the talent of women in rock—that they too are capable of making stirring classics that goes golden and gets all sorts of critical plaudits.

In honor of Cynthia’s well-celebrated single, she recently uploaded a new version of “Comfort In Your Strangeness” in her RockNation account. There are subtle variations in the arrangement and some embellishments in this update, but there are hardly any changes in the melody. It still sounds timeless and effortlessly beautiful as before. Stream the new version below.

May 27, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: The Reunion: An Eraserheads Tribute Album (2012)

“The fatal mistake most tribute albums make is failing to understand the difference between paying tribute and shitting on a band's good name for profit,” pop culture enthusiast Adam Tod Brown writes on his 12 Most God Awful Tribute Albums Ever Recorded feature. It takes a random humorist from an obscure blog to sum up what we actually feel for several tribute albums released over the years—most of which capitalize on nostalgia, on our collective fondness to relieve the good old days. Nostalgic consumerism, it’s what it’s called. It’s easy to make money off something that reminds us of things that we once held near and dear, because some people revel in the artifacts of the past; and record labels see it as an opportunity to repackage, resell, and rehash the dusting catalogue off their former contract artists.

From Sony BMG to Star?
It wasn’t even a decade since the release of Ultraelectromagneticjam, a mildly successful reworking of The Eraserheads’ classics bannered by the band’s former label Sony-BMG Music Philippines. To be fair, the record appears to be a sticky-sweet retrospective on the anthems that became an integral part of our adolescent life, trying to portray the Eheads’ image and music as a cultural event unlike anything the country had ever seen. Despite its clean intentions, there’s nothing really special about it or groundbreaking as we prefer the songs in its old form; but hearing Imago add psychedelic, lite-goth punch to “Spolarium” still makes for a hair-raising experience. And then there’s Orange and Lemons canoodling over perfect pop jangles in “Huwag Kang Matakot”—a version that is just as good as the original.

7 years after, Star Records gathered bands and musicians that ironically have peaked in the mid ‘00s (third-wave, golden age of Pinoy rock) to take part in yet another Eheads covers project that also doubles as a soundtrack to an upcoming Star Cinema teen flick starring Enchong Dee, Enrique Gil and other ABS-CBN talents. Aptly titled The Reunion: An Eraserheads Tribute Album, this redressed compilation feels like an instant cash-in that repeats the formula spun in Ultraelectromagneticjam, with the extremely popular songs getting a makeover by way of clammy-necked tapestry and predictability. It sure is a smart business move to keep up with sentimentalists’ longing for 90s music, but most of the reworked versions just don’t live up to our expectations.

The Good, The Decent, and the Bad
I don’t really see the need to put up another Eheads covers project as it might just achieve some degree of notoriety to its listeners. I mean, if you’re paying homage to a classic, make sure to recognize the glory of the original version by simply retaining its charm and pop hooks so as not to offend the artist’s sensibilities or add a gravitating touch to it and make it your own. Also, there’s no secret recipe to making a successful cover, but the attempt to flub and make a profit out of it makes for a lethal combination, and that’s not something to be proud of.

It’s not right to judge the record by the sum of its parts. So in the spirit of fairness, we’ll be reviewing it track-by-track to guide you on what to listen and not to.

1. Mayonnaise – “Ligaya”
It’s a so-so Battle-of-the-bands cover that retains the pulsating, pop-rock steer of the original. There’s no doubt that Monty Macalino and company have nothing but good intentions in trying to preserve the anthemic rush of “Ligaya” and they shouldn’t be faulted for that. However, they lacked the mojo and charismatic appeal of Eheads to get past the vibe of the song. C+

2. The Itchyworms – “Maling Akala”
Fun, fun version coupled with a power pop sing-along that plays upon the simplistic appeal of the song. The entertaining, upbeat spirit of the Eheads original is still very much intact, but here it’s infused with a jangly, summer-pop feel that leaves a smile in your face. B

3. Aiza Seguerra Feat. Mike Villegas – “With A Smile”
Stripped off its embellishments, what’s left is a lovely, acoustic guitar melody paired with Aiza Seguerra’s soft, disarming vocals that match the intimacy of the original note for note. It’s also an emotionally resonating performance that embraces the weary optimism of the Eheads ballad, without having to resort in cheap gimmickries and stuff. B

4. Calla Lily – “Minsan”
Bland. Safe. Boring. Three words you’d expect in a Calla Lily song. D

5. Hilera – “Kaliwete”
Whiny punk badassery? More of a novelty goof that’s lame in all levels. I’m a huge fan of Hilera, but this sped up, three-chord menace just gets the ball rolling downhill and it should be stopped or else…. C-

6. Johnoy Danao – “Pare Ko”
Johnoy gives new life to a college rock classic, toning down the vulgarities of the song for a bluesy, barkada joint that calls for a collective sing-along, minus the alcohol and the occasional swearing. B+

7. Ney and Yeng – “Kailan”
This sounds like a singing contest sing-off and one that’s done in bad taste. And what’s with the key changes? Last time I’ve checked, it’s not a live TV duel. C-

8. Vin Dancel – “Overdrive”
The problem with this version is that it took away the fun and cray factor of the song for a straight-up, alt rock bore. And coming from an inventive, talented musician like Vin Dancel, this is just disappointing. It’s an anorexic take, a bit uninspired too. C

9. Chicosci – “Magasin”
Surprisingly ok. Sans the post-hardcore vocals, you can actually hear and recognize the awesomeness of the original version in every stride. Chicosci proves that they don’t always have to be so damn serious to take a song to another level. Sometimes, sloppiness helps. B-

10. Tanya Markova – “Hey Jay”
Gone are the lo-fi pop fiestas that bitch and moan as if it was something else. It’s replaced by Tanya Markova’s chipmunk dragster that’s as fun and silly as it could get. It’s a catchy tune but it lacks the drawn-out, jammy feel of the original. C+

11. 6 Cycle Mind – “Alapaap”
Surprise, surprise. It’s not all that often that a cover song is delivered with such passion and sparkle that you can’t help but enjoy it. The newly improved 6 Cycle Mind recruits Eunice of Grace Note for a quirky, fun pop number that reminds us of a time when Kris Gorra-Dancel used to front The Eraserheads. This sounds like a lost Pixies’ Surfer Rosa track lapped with Philharmonic strings, something that glows like sunshine in a purple haze. B+

12. Razorback With Gloc 9 – “Superproxy”
Kevin Roy fangs it with a bluesy, hard-rocking groove that roars out of anguish and sex. Gloc 9 spits cutthroat rhymes that hold its own. They have chemistry, but none of that tight brotherhood (as seen with Ely and Francis) that elevates this song to a Hall of Famer classic. B-

13. Jay Durias – “Ang Huling El Bimbo”
“Ang Huling El Bimbo” is “Mad World” and “Eleanor Rigby” rolled into one. It’s an epic, world-conquering rock classic that nobody should dare touch, unless you’re in it for a career suicide. Jay Durias was so brave enough to rearrange it into an ethereal R&B fodder that practically doesn’t sound bad at all. The magic dies down, the tragic and desperately premature ending now succumbs to a meaningless weeping. There’s something offhand in it that betrays the impact of the original version. C+

14. Marc Abaya – “Fine Time”
One of the underrated gems in Cutterpillow is given a sapped down treatment. Marc Abaya brings an extra ounce of drama to this underrated Eheads track and makes it his own. All concept, not much fun though. B-

May 24, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Patience Dear Juggernaut - "Joan"

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita redressed in two minutes of sad bastard pop. Check out the black-and-white video for Patience Dear Juggernaut’s new single “Joan” featuring an emotionally distraught Wincy Ong singing behind an interspersed background of passing city lights, lonely sunsets, empty streets, stormy nights and other poignancy-inducing imageries. Watch the video below.

May 21, 2012

NEW TRACK: Brandon Cueto - "Yes Yes Yes"

Sculpting new music out of clunky, post-triphop beats and glitchy drops, Brandon Cueto returns with a party starter for the introverted. His new screwball experiment “Yes Yes Yes” takes cue from his early dubstep/two-step sound, tweaking his third world take with a sparser feel. Stream the track below.

NEW TRACK: Outerhope - "Hear The Days Go"

Fresh from a successful stint at this year’s New York Pop Fest, Outerhope is back with a new track called “Hear The Days Go.” Trading dreamy, lo-fi pop for a synth-churning charmer straight from a China Crisis/Prefab Sprout scuffle, the Benedicto siblings are up to the challenge of surprising long-time fans and listeners with their new sound. Listen to the track below and expect their No End In Sight EP to be released tomorrow. Yeah, you heard it right—they’re releasing it tomorrow, folks!

May 16, 2012

NEW TRACK: Mayo - "Visions of Missiles"

Mayo returns with a new track called “Visions of Missiles.” It’s a screeching son of a riff-rock stoner with an apocalyptic theme. Watch the video below.

May 12, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Turbo Goth - "Short Circuit Mirage"

A couple of days ago, Turbo Goth launched the video for their buzzy, post-industrial stomper “Short Circuit Mirage.” The black-and-white clip features interspersing shots of Paolo Peralta rocking his hair and guitar on an all-out  performance with Sarah Gaugler singing and strutting in mannequin poses. Figure it all out for yourself and watch the Idris Vicuna-directed video below.

NEW TRACK: The Ringmaster - "Lady Of All Rung Evenings"

Filed under best new music! The Ringmaster’s “Lady of All Rung Evenings” epitomizes the quiet intimacy that Francis Lorenzo displayed on Sleepwalk Circus’ debut album, Great Secret Show. But instead of swathing in distortions and shoegaze-inflected swoons to capture the existential feelings of longing and frustration, Francis keeps things mellowed down and a little feminine, basking in heart-stabbing, downtempo pop that goes to as far as conquering all hell and mud in pursuit of love. This time, he’s restless not with himself, but with his art, his woman, and the need to express himself. Watch the video below.

TR’s new album, A Delusion of Reference will be out soon. Add him here on Facebook to get some updates.

May 11, 2012

NEW TRACK: Goodbye Yesterday Hello Today - "Morning Noise"

Soaked in digital noise and raging industrial come-ons, Goodbye Yesterday Hello Today’s “Morning Noise” cultivates a sound that’s all over the place and fidgety, bent on shapeless instrumentation that must have been inspired by  How To Destroy Angels and Turbo Goth. Despite the amorphous nature of the song, these guys know how to convert their weird, hooting noise into a confident banger, a hard thing to do if you'll ask me. Stream the track below.

May 9, 2012

PINNED: The Nameless Heroes

Fresh from a stellar performance at the first-ever Manila Music Festival, The Nameless Heroes talks about staging a comeback this year after a long hiatus that resulted from a derailed record deal with MTV Pilipinas. The garage-punk foursome also gave  quite a stirring opinion on the state of the local rock music scene and the longstanding comparisons with British bands such as Kaiser Chiefs and The Arctic Monkeys.

What was it like playing for a festival crowd? You brought the house down with your set at this year’s Manila Music Fest!
As always, there were jitters… This was not our usual weekend gig in a bar around the metro, not our usual crowd. We’re talking about an open field with people coming from anywhere. It somehow got us hyped and anxious at the same time.

As for our set we didn’t have time for stage rehearsals or sound checks. Sarah Meier called us out, we got up the stage plugged our gear then boom! Before anyone noticed it, we’re halfway through it. We were having a hard time hearing each other and we really thought we sounded crappy and all, well the first part at least. We’re just glad that we were able to pull it off, getting some people in the groove while in the process and eventually finish the set.

Your single “Room 306” went on heavy rotation at MTV Pilipinas back in the day and some critics even called you the next big thing. So what prompted you to take a break for 4-5 years, I mean you got everything working to your advantage?
That was our heyday. We were ready for it, we tried to optimize what we had, but unfortunately MTV Philippines was shut down, marking the end of our supposed 5-year contract with them. We were young (we still are) and we also had to take care of our studies, our transition from high school to college. Throughout our so called break/hiatus we’ve also gone through some lineup changes. Original axe man Vino Dompor has migrated to the US while Beejay Esber (The Dropouts, Tether) who replaced him is currently busy with other commitments. Currently, we have Allan Mallanao from the now defunct punk/ska outfit Pepe and is the third man to take the post.

Your songs remind us of Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys and all these British bands from 2004-2007. Do you find the comparison a compliment or more of a detrimental factor to your growth as musicians? 
Well, everything has its pros and cons. Being compared to great acts would always be a compliment, the only downside to that is when people start branding you as such and they set these expectations, and when you don’t meet them they suddenly have nasty things to say about you and the things that you do. Comments, good or bad they will always be there. We find all these things around us and we try to draw inspiration from them and make the most out of it.  

Any details on a new single or an album?  
We have some unreleased tracks and we’re also trying to work on some new material, hopefully we could get a single out by this year’s second or third quarter and an album by the end of the year. (This also goes as a shout out to would-be-sponsors or would-be-management. Yihiiii!) No! We don’t want touse our folks money that’s why we’re trying to do this on our own.  

Any local artists you want to collaborate with in the future?   
 Anyone who’s down, anyone who wants to create good music…

Is Pinoy rock already dead? What is your opinion about the on-going debate between optimists and those who are disappointed with what is happening in the local rock scene now? 
No, it’s not dead; it’s more of like in a coma or a selective state… the conflict has been there and it will always be. Every individual is unique and therefore is entitled to his/her own tastes. The so called “scene” has only familiar faces, why you ask? Then we go back to that selective state as your answer, one could not help but ponder “is it the people inside that’s very unreceptive?” or “is it those people exerting too much effort trying to get in and spacing themselves out while doing so?” It almost seems like a paradox, wanted by no one but created by everyone. No one wants Pinoy Rock dead, not the pillars that our Rock and Roll forefathers built, but everyone is killing it… 

If there’s one local album you can listen to for the rest of the year, what is it?  
Eze and Osep would play any Sandwich album; Allan’s would be Greatest Hits by The Ex-Presidents Combo from 1996 while Juan prefers Bipolar from Up Dharma Down…    

What can we expect from The Nameless Heroes in the near future?  
More music!!! An EP and perhaps an album or two (if we get fortunate enough); music videos, magazine spreads, gigs, a billboard in EDSA LOL, concerts, the works… everything proper and appropriate for a band. A record deal.

The current NH lineup consists of Eze Alonzo (vocals/guitars), Allan Malanao (guitars), Osep delas Alas (bass) and Juan Pacheco (drums). Like The Nameless Heroes on Facebook. Follow them on twitter here

May 7, 2012

ALBUM DOWNLOAD: Modulogeek's Walking Around Aimlessly

Fragile ambient stuff for the faint-hearted. Modulogeek’s three-track EP Walking Around Aimlessly is a 12-minute recollection of self-contained melancholia built around moody guitars, grainy electronic textures, and ripple splats. It’s a quickie-weekend project made available for download, and you can actually cop it here for free.

May 6, 2012

NEW VIDEO: The Butchercons - "MRT"

Here’s the trippy, stop-motion clip for The Butchercons’ new single “MRT.” Robert Lyren directs the video, capturing a scruffy party bender by way of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.

May 4, 2012

WALKIE TALKIES + ZIA Cover "Somebody That I Used To Know"

Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” is that rare hit that surprisingly made an immediate connection with the global audience despite its leftfield sensibilities. It’s also one of the most widely covered singles released this year, with everybody from Glee to Walk Off The Earth jumping to its popularity.

Our favorite rendition though comes from Filipina folk-pop duo, Walkie Talkies. Staying close to the original, they've stripped it down to the essentials and added time-tested harmonies over an acoustic guitar. Covering an extremely well-known song is no easy task, but Walkie Talkies did it gracefully, bringing a calibre of sweetness and soul to a song already brimming with it.

Zia Quizon and Markki Stroem recently teamed up to do a jazzy/neo-soul version of Gotye’s acclaimed hit. This time, they brought along 4-Wheel Drive band for a sultry, laid-back jam that would easily fit any coffee shop music compilation this summer.

SPLIT SINGLE: Displaced Voices / Old Houses

Manila-based indie label, Number Line Records has released the new split single, Displaced Voices / Old Houses featuring upcoming EDM artists Third World Summer and Love In Athens. With themes ranging from sprawling urban life to summer nostalgia, the two-track bundle offers a refreshing take on electronic music while nesting on soundscapes that evoke escapism, longing, and liberty.

Third World Summer’s “Displaced Voices” as earlier reported, snatches compositional tricks from Balearic pop, mixing seaside music with hazy vocal loops, ambient sonics, and club-ready beats. It sounds like a cross between Caribou and Achillea, with a buoyant pulse that feels freshly submerged out of water. Love In Athens’ “Old Houses” brings the acidic, synth-heavy delight out of introverted dance music. It’s a murky piece of the cold kind, embracing the lushly atmospheric vibe of early 90s indie while signalling renewed interest in 80s synth-pop and homemade electronica.

Download the split bundle here.

May 3, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Encounters With A Yeti - Pilot (2012)

Encounters With A Yeti is a thrill to watch live. What they lack in stage theatrics and charisma, they make up for a stirring performance that bears vividly impressionistic experience to its audience. When news broke out that they’ll be releasing their debut album this year, I felt happy and excited for the band, but worried that they might not translate the abstract energy and whimsical quality of their live set on a recording.

I’m glad they took the risk. Pilot, their first record under Terno Recordings is anything but boundless and magical, an album constructed around a cinematic canvass that’s thoroughly unique even without words to paint them. At its best, Pilot throws some of the most beautiful post-rock moments I’ve heard in recent memory, sticking to lengthy instrumental compositions that wander into untapped realms and territories. With just a basic set-up—multiple guitars, drums, keyboards, and a bit of bass—they were able to create a singular sound that adjusts to emotional ambiguity. What might resonate as triumphant to some might be dark and overwhelming to others.

First track “Alloy Brings The Future Closer” is a delightful kicker to introduce the mood of the entire album. It surrounds itself with variations that rise and fall at all the right moments, with a notable crescendo swinging to majestic swirl in its last few laps. “Feathers of Knives” features the same chiming guitar lines that permeate their work, and like the songs of Explosions In The Sky, they let it flow in a carefully calculated pace before launching into a mid-section climax that zooms to a tipping point. “Tube Explodroid” follows the similar structure of the first two songs, incorporating bristlier tones in their soft, tender soundscapes. More than replicating the vibe of the record, this song actually pays homage to modern rock by way of heavy riffs, crashing cymbals and dynamic solos, all with the intent of keeping the listeners entertained and enthralled to their instrumental patches.

From there, Pilot tries to experiment a bit, bringing a spectacular display of instrumental jams in varied forms and shapes. “We Talk In Circles” employs a thorough mastery of dynamics. It interplays from ambient cut-offs to lulling pauses, almost resembling a merry-go round tune for the wicked. Just as you were about to condition yourself in this kind of setup, a small sonic explosion erupts—a guitar solo takes over the barren space and delivers a story of its own. It’s one of the highlights in the album, one that actually conjures authentic emotions in beautifully blissed-out moments. “Ride The Fiery Breeze” on the other hand, samples one of the famous lines in David Lynch’s mystery drama, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and eventually transitions into a chill-out froth. “All Your Children Want For Dinner Is You” ends the album with an indelible marker, drifting to new heights I never thought I’d imagined.

Encounters With A Yeti’s Pilot will not in its purpose, change your life or make way for some inner gravitas you’ve long wished to see or feel. But it’s the kind of record that delivers a vast thread of emotions that’s yet to be defined in words. And in case you haven’t seen them live, just play the record in as many times as you could. It brings the similar experience anyway—that seismic draw of a performance that just won’t let up.   A- 


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