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Kami nAPO Muna

Sunday, December 10, 2006 by eriktuz

Heto Na Ang Barkada
Dexter Sy
2006-08-25 11:18:56

Kami nAPO Muna
Various Artists
Universal Records

I never was into Apo Hiking Society. What really turned me off from the group was their (rather obscure) version of �Harana�, popularized by Parokya ni Edgar. The Parokya ni Edgar version was timeless � sung in drinking binges everywhere and still probably used to romance a fancied lady. The Apo Hiking Society version? A little less than desirable. Not edgy enough.

But then again, Danny, Buboy, and Jim are still forefathers of OPM, and they deserve all our praise just for that.

And sure enough, a tribute album just recently came out and the droves stormed the shelves for a copy. Gold in 5 days � now that really says something. I never thought anyone still bought original CDs anymore, but apparently, a lot still do � for this particular compilation album, at least.

Not to be left out, I went out and got a copy myself, just to see what the commotion was about. Of course, I already had a rough idea of what to expect, with Kamikazee�s cover of �Doo Bi Doo� being among the most recent toppers in the NU107 Stairway to Seven countdown.

I have almost no doubt at all that this is yet another money-making scheme, just another bead in an impending string of �tribute� albums. Less than a year ago, another such album came out "UltraElectroMagneticJam", a tribute to the Eraserheads. Being a nut for the E-heads, I really should have gone out to get my copy of that album, but after hearing several cuts that I felt were insults to the kings of 90�s OPM, I decided to waive off the chance � a decision I won�t soon regret.

Like in �UltraElectroMagneticJam�, there are some names who participated in �Kami nAPO Muna� whom I wish didn�t bother at all (Spongecola, hello!). But then again, there are names in this one that weren�t in �UltraElectro� that I wish were. A lot of names, actually. The Itchyworms, Boldstar, Drip, The Dawn � names that are sure to do justice to the classics.

So instead of going over all the tracks and dissing half of them, I�ve decided I�ll just talk about my favorite cuts in this compilation. As for the rest, let me just say this clearly and simply � they suck.

Parokya ni Edgar - Pumapatak Ang Ulan

As the title suggests, this one�s for the bored and rained in at home. Jack Johnson�s �Banana Pancakes� comes to mind. Nothing like Chito Miranda�s lazy voice to lull you to sleep when there�s absolutely nothing better to do. Or if sleep�s not your thing, just bob your head to kill time.

Orange and Lemons - Yakap Sa Dilim

Over and over, I�ve professed my hate for this band. I used to like them before they turned their back on musical integrity. And, no, my opinion about them has not changed� yet. But somehow, this band has excellent taste when it comes to classics. When they sang �Huwag Kang Matakot� for �Ultraelectro�, they didn�t make the song sound like they wrote it, but they made it sound as if the song was predestined to be performed by them. Same goes for �Yakap Sa Dilim� in this album. Well� I guess even bad trees bear good fruit from time to time.

Kamikazee - Doo Bi Doo

Sometimes, I think overplay is The Man�s way of killing good rock and roll. I loved this song before they started playing it every hour on the radio. Nonetheless, Kamikazee did a good job on contributing the antithesis to the general �chill� ambience of the album. They turned a harmonic trio classic into a punk rock hit. Excellente!

Itchyworms - Awit Ng Barkada

No doubt when the producers came up with the idea of an APO tribute, this band was first on the must-get list. To quote a friend, some of these guys� originals sound like APO covers, so there was simply no two thoughts that they would pull off an actual APO classic flawlessly. Well, almost. Jazz Nicolas� prominent power tone adds a nice touch.

Imago - Ewan

If any song in this album managed to truly recreate an APO original, it would be this one. With jazzy keyboard and saxophone notes somewhere in the back and a touch of P.O.T.-style funk, Aia de Leon and the rest of Imago, with the help of Dan Gil on the sax, turned one of my favorite APO tracks into one of my favorite Imago tracks.

Sugarfree - Batang-Bata Ka Pa

Sugarfree, plain and simply, rocks. You can take any element from any classic OPM band to ever have existed and you�re likely to find it in Sugarfree�s music. This song, as performed by Sugarfree, gives you that feeling of driving lazily through rice fields in the countryside � a feeling that I oh-so-love.

Boldstar - Kumot at Unan

A short anecdote related to this band and song: I was reading the CD inlay and read to my pleasant surprise that award-winning music video director Marie Jamora played the drums and sang for this band. �Holy shit� was the first thing that came to mind. Boldstar, of course, remains to be among the best indie acts in the country today, and they reinforced that title with this beautifully-executed cover.

Barbie Almalbis - When I Met You

This was half the reason why I got a copy of this album. Not that I�m a big fan of Barbie. Her work with Barbie�s Cradle was exemplary, but her solo efforts have been lackluster thus far. But given the baritone quality of the APO original, it intrigued me to wonder how Barbie could pull it off with her cutesy voice, and she did manage to make it sound like her own work. But that�s exactly the problem � it sounded like her own work. You should have stuck with your cradle, Barbie!

Sandwich - Bakit Ang Babae

This band can do no wrong. Absolutely no wrong! I will say no more.

Drip - Kabilugan Ng Buwan

The perfect chill song, if there ever was one � at least on this side of the globe. To be perfectly honest, this song did not come out the way I had expected it to when I heard Drip was going to be performing it. Instead of an all-out electronic, sonic assault, the song came out as a jazzy rendition with very little trace of electronica. But it�s all good. Listen to this one when having a romantic candlelit dinner.

Sound - Di Na Natuto

Putting this song right next to Drip wasn�t a bad idea at all. At least you have two songs in a row meant for romantic candlelight. I�ve never heard of this band before, but I might check them out soon thanks to this track.

Moonstar88 - Panalangin

I didn�t know this band still existed. And more importantly, I didn�t expect they�d start sounding like crappy MYMP. Well, maybe I did expect that just a little.

The Dawn - Bawa't Bata

It was interesting to find this band in the track list, considering of course that being 20 years old now, they could almost be considered APO�s contemporaries. Well, absolutely nothing wrong with paying homage to contemporaries. If I didn�t know which album this song was from, I wouldn�t have believed it wasn�t a Dawn original. If you�re a fan of The Dawn�s music, this track should be a shoe-in for your favorites list.

You can easily conclude from all the raves that I loved this compilation album. But then again, it has its downfalls. It�s not exactly a memorable album, but it�s great listening for those nights when you�re tired of all the noise and just want to unwind, preferably with a loved one.

Definitely not one for the chaos-seekers. Hey, you�ve had your day. A little break could do you well.

Tulad ng Dati

by eriktuz

Rock of Ages
Paolo Cruz
2006-07-24 06:24:21

Tulad ng Dati

Directed by Mike Sandejas
Starring: Jett Pangan, Francis "Brew" Reyes, Buddy Zabala, Teddy Diaz, JB Leonor, Caloy Balcells, etc.

The best thing I can say about Tulad Ng Dati is this: it entertained me, despite the fact that it was (objectively speaking) not a very good film. Believe me when I say that this is a huge compliment. Why? Because it puts direk Mike Sandejas' movie at the same level as the best arena rakenrol: it might be a tad over-dramatic, egocentric, and convinced of its own technical superiority, but it has just the right amount of charm, screen presence, and geniune passion to make me feel rocked, in spite of its flaws.

"I was very particular about the logical continuity."
director Mike Sandejas, to
ABS-CBN Interactive

Tulad ng Dati is basically a Pinoy rock biopic -- ostensibly about pioneering New Wave act The Dawn, but really more about its singer, Jett Pangan. This ought to make it unique enough within the local indie film scene. But it's still working inside the confines of a well-established genre, so the movie dutifully goes through the motions of laying out all the standard rise-and-fall narrative tropes: the humble beginnings in a cramped practice space, the inter-personal drama among band members, the conflicts with home lives, and so forth.

But to Sandejas' credit, he wraps all this necessary exposition around a clever story-telling device. The present-day 40-ish family-man Pangan is hit on the head during a robbery, and wakes up with selective amnesia -- he has no memory of anything that happened after the band's heyday in 1988, and so possesses the brash, egocentric mentality of his 20-something self. Of course, this is a blessing and a curse. He finds himself experiencing renewed vigor, despairing at his bandmates' resigned contentment with their status as a semi-retired nostalgia act with a cult following of die-hard old-timers. But it also causes him to neglect his uber-patient career-woman wife Beth, and their surly, withdrawn teen daughter.

This sets up a few potentially interesting situations. Since Pangan is now effectively half his mental age, he takes on all the surface trappings of his youth: from a backpack stuffed with beer and junk food, to black eyeliner, and flailing stage motions. He's free of the self-consciousness that previously limited his "older" self. These visuals are meant to be a little pathetic, but Jett's performance is so enthusiastic, you can't help but feel amused with him, as he reenacts his golden days.

Unfortunately, the flipside to all this is that he's wholly unwilling to take on the responsibilities -- as husband and father -- that he matured into, during the "forgotten years". He's not the same person Beth married, he tells her selfishly -- that guy was a loser. It turns out to be largely a moot point, anyway -- his relationship with Beth always had its rough spots, and he seemed to be an absentee Dad, to begin with. But these issues are never fully explored, since the movie is less concerned with Jett the person, as it is with Jett the band member.

In that regard, the amnesia gimmick works, to an extent, providing the supporting cast with a reasonable excuse to go through the Dawn's history in a somewhat natural way, as Jett learns about the end of the much-revered Storm concerts, the tragic death of founding guitarist Teddy Diaz, and the band's messy mid-90s hiatus. It also gives the viewer a firm understanding about why exactly Jett wants things to go back "tulad ng dati". This is crucial, because Pangan becomes a total asshole, in the process. Through his amnesia, the fictionalized vocalist is able to act out his real-life past megalomania, providing him with a neat character arc, leading up to his inevitable present-day efforts to make amends, and become a proverbial Better Person.

It's funny, because the screenplay itself appears to suffer from a kind of selective amnesia, leaving out crucial bits of context, for the sake of telling a clearer story, and keeping the focus on Jett's identity crisis.

For starters, the film justifies Pangan's dissatisfaction with his current situation, by happily overlooking his modestly successful theater career, and hosting stint at MYX Music Channel. But that's a somewhat understandable conceit.

What's more disquieting is the blithe ignorance of the way Pinoy rock -- its production and consumption -- has changed and grown, alongside the ups and downs of the Dawn's career. The film only hints at the remainder of latter-day Dawn bassist Buddy Zabala's musical history as part of the seminal Eraserheads (not to mention Cambio, Twisted Halo, and Sun Valley Crew!) More crucially, Sandejas doesn't acknowledge the Dawn's influence on younger groups like The Pin-Up Girls or Sheila & The Insects, nor the popularity of the current batch of New Wave derived bands (The Killers, Interpol, atbp.) The film's conflict begins and ends with Pangan's desire to restore the Dawn to their former glory, context and history be damned.

To that end, Sandejas gives us a straw-man in the form of a funk/rap-metal band named Ratbunitata(!), a deliberately over-the-top pastiche of Slapshock/Greyhoundz/Quezo-style kupaw bands, to serve as the ostensible "villains" of the film. They are meant to represent the worst, most image-conscious, self-destructive elements of the modern-day rock scene. They casually fire their singer, indulge in copious drug use, and travel around with a bevy of vapid, scantily-clad groupies. Their portrayal is so ridiculously exaggerated, there's no way it could be read as a legit critique. In fairness, the actors who play the band members have real fun with it, hamming it up with macho glee, and taking over every scene they appear in. But I would much rather see a more nuanced, well-thought-out depiction of the changes and adaptations of Pinoy rock since 1988. Instead, we get a totally unnecessary finale that serves as a bloated resolution of the moribund panks-vs.-chongs feud that nobody under the age of 30 has ever seriously cared about.

It's a wasted opportunity, really -- Sandejas could have used the amnesia device to interrogate the slippery interplay between memory and identity, celebrity and artistic creation. Instead, it's used mostly as an excuse for a variety of disjointed set pieces. Some are genuinely funny and touching, like Jett attempting to drive to the site of the former Roxy's disco, only to find a deserted lot. Others are just cheap gags (Jett tries to place a cassette tape into an iPod), man-out-of-time clich�s (Jett gawks at the large, bustling Market Market mall), and cheesy, borderline Magpakailanman moments (Jett "discovers" than an old flame has married a white guy, whom she presumably met while studying abroad).

Film-Jett's saving grace also turns out to be Tulad ng Dati's. After Jett has been predictably led astray by Ratbunitata's bad influence, he finds himself at a new low, half-dead and messed up on hallucinogens. At this point, he comes face-to-face with the spectral form of Teddy Diaz, wonderfully portrayed by Ping Medina. Diaz may be in the guardian angel role here, but he's hardly merciful, giving his errant pal a reality check in a manner that's harsh (if not quite judgmental). His air of detached mystique perfectly fits the uncertainty surrounding Diaz's killing. He appears as Jett's friend, first and foremost, but he's also our rock demigod. Medina flawlessly navigates both these roles, resplendent in time-appropriate rocker outfit and deathly white pallor, imbuing his fictionalized version of Diaz with both the otherworldly majesty and fundamental humanity of one of Neil Gaiman's Endless characters. There's a brief moment in which Diaz' ghost is seen eating from a bag of Chippy that Pangan had left at his gravestone in an earlier scene. It's small instances like this which deliver on the hefty promise of Tulad ng Dati, at once navigating the spaces between personal history, rakenrol myth, and cosmic drama.

For better or worse, the film's most haunting moment comes right before the credits roll -- a few brief seconds of grainy archive footage pf Diaz, live in concert, using a violin bow to to fire off virtuoso-style licks on his guitar, with casual ease. The image is at once awe-inspiring and tragic, communicating a real sense of the talent that was lost by his death.

There's no doubt that Tulad ng Dati has its heart in the right place, nobly attempting to straddle a middle ground between rock hagiography and post-Memento/Eternal Sunshine head-trip. I still don't count myself among the ranks of bona fide Dawn fans, but I now have a greater appreciation of what made them so dear to so many of my immediate elders. For that, direk Mike, I say "Salamat".

:: Official Trailer

Superman Returns (movie)

by eriktuz

Look, up in the sky (while I pick your pocket)!
Fardo Baggins
2006-07-05 14:33:12

Superman Returns

After almost two decades of absence, Superman makes his return to the silver screen in Warner Bros.' Superman Returns.

Bryan Singer (X-Men 1 & 2 director), no stranger to comic book heroes, and franchises- gives this DC Comics' Flagship character a new 21st century feel- backed by a new cast, technology- and a super budget (a cool $200 mil.).

Supposedly taking place after the first two Superman movies, Superman (Brandon Routh) surreptitiously returns to Earth after doing five years worth of heavy-duty soul searching (astronomers seem to have discovered the remains of his home planet), our hero soon finds out that things aren�t how he left it;

Lex Luthor is out of jail and is doing what archetypal villains do best (with Kevin Spacey opting for the hokey Gene Hackman version instead of the dripping with venom and cunning version of Smallville and Justice League). Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is in a serious relationship, and still has some unresolved emotional issues with the man faster than a speeding bullet. Now a recipient of the Pulitzer and apparently mother to a five year-old son born out of wedlock -it�s clear that mild-mannered reporter by day Clark Kent didn�t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes.

With the disappointment of turning up zero results on his homeward bound sojourn, and the current turn of events in his life- coupled with the responsibilities of being Earth's protector, our hero is battered with enough problems that will make any Kryptonian powered by a yellow sun shake in their shiny, red boots.


Needless to say, this movie had to live up to a lot of expectation. Around +60 year�s worth of it. Bryan Singer seems to be keeping true with the same formulae of the earlier Superman movies (to the point of using the same opening credit fonts and the classic rousing theme by John Ottman and John Williams) and not concerned at all with filming a re-make. Obviously, a remake would be a risky move on everybody's part. But that�s what makes great movies (this movie is so safe, you can take your grandmother to watch it. In fact, you should). Superman Returns looks and feels like a re-packaged deal and peddled as a sequel. With slicker and smoother effects (thanks in part to Rythm and Hues), complete with the most minimal costume modification and updated storylines that apply to today's generation.

But is it a great movie? Did it add anything new to the Superman myth and lore like previous incarnations and transcendations of comic books (Kingdom Come) and T.V. (Justice League, Smallville)?

No, not really. The film-makers were worrying about a franchise and following trends instead of setting them, paralleling a lot from the original Christopher Reeves movies. They were incredible movies and really made you believe a man could fly and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end every time you hear the theme as he rips open his shirt and reveals the S. The cartoons and T.V. shows were as innovative as well. This film lacks that vital trait.

Superman is synonymous with the word icon. And ironically, such things should be handled with the utmost care- lest it lose its status. Part of the difficulty lies within the handling of the iconic character itself. Arguably comic books' biggest deus ex machina, is pretty hard to relate to, no matter what you throw at him, Superman always saves the day. Paradoxically, that�s what�s so great- and crappy about the man of steel. Not even two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey could make Superman fly as high and as fast as he could as other adaptations have.

Superman is Superman- and there's only one Superman. So, for the kids and the kids at heart, hardcore fans and just plain fans, this movie is definitely for you. For those interested in a refreshing spin on a classic character- just catch it on DVD.

Movie Rating: 3.2 out of 4 bananas.

Arnold Arre - Andong Agimat(comix)

by eriktuz

Andong Will Kick Constantine's Ass
Agee Linan
2006-06-21 19:02:42

Andong Agimat
Clem Arnold Arre

(no spoiler content so you'll enjoy the book)

Last Friday, I had to drop by the bookstore to look for a reference material my wife was going to use at school, having no luck since the book was out of stock at the two NBS branches I inquired at.

Fortunately, the book hunt was not really a failure, for i stumbled upon a magical world crafted by a childhood friend: Mr. Clem Arnold Arre - graphic artist extraordinaire.

Ang Mundo Ni Andong Agimat is quite a read. It's action-packed, well-drawn, and well-written - it's hip with typical street lingo mixed up with several references to Filipino folklore and myth (which Clem seems to be mastering with his different books).

The characters are vivid and distinct. The red and black cover was definitely an eyecatcher (quite similar to the Sin City series *ehem ehem* - har har har sorry to point out to the Millerisms) for it sort of jumped at you from the bookshelves.

I'm not sure but andong sort of lives a parallel to John Constantine - maverick supernatural detective of sorts - but Andong is still distinct with his Robin Padillian bravado.

I love the book and I hope that it'll inspire other kids (and kids at heart like me) to deviate from their routines and live a life of magic and adventure.

(An interview with Mr.Arre will follow - if the gods will allow it har har har.)

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped

by eriktuz

Young 'Til You Die
Dexter Sy
2006-06-16 04:36:38

Rather Ripped
Sonic Youth
Geffen Records

What defines Sonic Youth’s one-in-a-million sound? It’s close to impossible to explain their unending appeal to Generation X, really. Although it would be sheer blasphemy to claim that Sonic Youth followed a “pattern” or “formula” of any sort, let me risk it and try my best to describe their sound. Often starting with a slow, simple progression and lethargic shoegaze-like vocals, the assault builds up into an effect-laden chorus packed with all sorts of weird noises and finally ends with an appropriate bang. A chaotic, detuned, but, summed up in a single word, beautiful bang.

When I first listened to their masterpiece “Murray Street”, which was, in the tradition of such bands as Pink Floyd and more recently (and with much less desirable results) Green Day, a rock opera, I knew my listening ear would never be the same again. The one thing that always defined Sonic Youth’s music was minimalist instrumentation that, at any random point, was bound to swell up into a larger-than-life aural experience. The contrast in sound, from soft and smooth to loud and rude, was transcendent. Listen to the record in a dark room with your eyes closed. Your whole world could transform in a matter of minutes, only to return to normal after the last note dies out.

If art and music ever came together in perfect harmony, it would have been on that fateful day in 1981 when Sonic Youth first came into the scene in New York City. Not since Jimi Hendrix had we last heard such disregard for the traditional aesthetics of music.

Just recently, the quartet, once again resigned to the comforts of the underground, came out with a new record which they call “Rather Ripped” under Geffen Records. The first thing I had to wonder – has old age taken its toll like it has with so many other bands that have lasted this long (*cough* Bono *cough*) or did they, like wine, age wonderfully?

I’ll try to stay as objective as possible – for the meantime, at least. Observation number one: this album is a dozen times more inhibited than any other Sonic Youth record. It almost seems like they’re holding back for some reason. No noteworthy weird noises, not even stray keyboard notes. They’ve taken the road less traveled for art rock bands and that is taking the friendlier pop approach to their music.

Bassist Kim Gordon performs a solid singing role in this album, another factor that contributes to aforementioned pop touch. I’m definitely not complaining. Something about the natural female voice (as we’ve heard from such rock ‘n’ roll femme fatales as Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Postal Service and Julia Lannerheim of the Acid House Kings) just makes it impossible not to fall in love, whether it’s dreamy or downright angry as in Gordon’s case.

And to compensate for the lack of that original Sonic Youth touch, the band manages to pull off a better technical performance, accentuated best perhaps by the song “Do You Believe In Rapture”. Every single note of the song’s guitar part is played in harmonics…evocatively! That chorus arpeggio literally rings a bell.

The album ends on a hanging note with the dreary song “Or”, where Thurston Moore issues a subtle warning to interviewers everywhere as to the most cliché questions they could possibly ask. “How long's the tour? / What time you guys playing? / Where you going next? / What comes first / The music or the words?” This finale leaves enough room for haunting until the next Sonic Youth record comes around.

This is where the objectivity goes kaput. “Rather Ripped” is rather disappointing. But, of course, a “disappointing” record for a band like Sonic Youth is still ace by any ordinary standard. I am, after all, talking about one of the select artists (and, yes, in this case, “artists” is the most appropriate word) who managed to successfully change the face of rock ‘n’ roll, at least as far as the mainstream audience was concerned. Who’s to say? This new record might just be the start of a whole new revolution, and once again, an ironically older Sonic Youth could well be on the forefront.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

by eriktuz

An Encounter With The Eccentric
Dexter Sy
2006-06-07 09:59:02

The Eraser
Thom Yorke
Xl / Beggars Us Ada

Any music lover knows who Radiohead are. Anyone who was around in the early 90’s and had half a brain knows who Radiohead are. They were, in fact, to the 90’s what, oh say, The Smiths or The Cure were to the 80’s. They were England’s answer to America’s Nirvana. They were icons.

So maybe Britpop would still have existed without Radiohead. In fact, claiming that if they ever returned to London, they would break up in five seconds, it actually wouldn’t make sense to attach the “British” tag to the band. Nonetheless, the extent of Radiohead’s influence on the music world (from their early hard rock efforts to later electronica experiments) is incredible. Listen to mega-hit bands like Coldplay and the Gorillaz, and it wouldn’t be far off to conclude that these bands are making millions ripping off Radiohead.

Although most critics would claim otherwise, I stubbornly insist that Radiohead’s unique sound shouldn’t be credited to Thom Yorke, but rather to the weird dude with even weirder hair, Jonny Greenwood, who mans the guitars for the band (not to mention almost every weird instrument you hear on “OK Computer”). Why do I claim so? Just listen to “No Surprises”. The stray xylophone notes make the song. And guess who played that part? None other than Mr. Greenwood.

And that concludes my beating around the bush. Now on to the main point of this shenanigan. Although Greenwood may have engineered the Radiohead sound, vocalist and all-around icon Thom Yorke, as Mr. Erik Tuban would say, was always “the eclectic” one. I agree. I doubt Radiohead would have veered in every which direction if not for the leadership of Thom Yorke.

Lately, a tiny hype had been building around a solo album Thom Yorke was apparently working on. The project was called “The Eraser”. You can imagine intrigue almost dripping out of my ears.

About last week, I managed to get a bootleg of this project (please don’t arrest me). Excitedly, I “unpacked” the bootleg, so to speak, and queued it straight into my Winamp. The very first thing I hear – staccato piano chords, echoing over and over again, as if the bootleg I got were a bad copy. Enter the computerized beats and, finally, the voice of Britpop himself, Thom Yorke.

It wasn’t exactly Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. But knowing Mr. Yorke and his affectation for change, I knew it was, in fact, the same Thom Yorke we knew 5 or 10 years back. Think about that for a bit if it didn’t make sense.

This album takes on a trip-hop feel, with multi-layered sonic sweetness and contrastingly weird noises, obviously something we (or at least, I) have never heard from Radiohead. We all know Radiohead has been dabbling in electronica for years now, but the beats in this particular project are radically different. Everything from the title track “The Eraser” to the scratchy “Atoms For Peace” to the futuristic ending “Cymbal Rush” and its beeps is a fresh new experience. I’m not at all surprised. Trip-hop is all the rage nowadays. At least, for those with good taste.

For the die-hard Radiohead fan, I wouldn’t say this album is a sure treat. If you loved Radiohead’s sound and would never settle for anything less (or more), then you probably wouldn’t like what Yorke has done here. But just assuming we’ve never heard of anyone named Thom Yorke before except that he was the leader of an obscure band called “Radio”-something, this album is a definite turn-on. And, of course, for those constantly on the hunt for a brand new sonic experience, why the hell not?

Official "The Eraser" Project Website

Twinkle Dudu - No Place Feels Like Home EP

by eriktuz

Perfecting Loneliness
Cabaret Einstein
2006-06-05 23:40:55

No Place Feels Like Home EP
Twinkle Dudu
Twinkle Records, SRA Records

Probably one of my early fondest memories of the then booming underground SRA scene, aside from writing fanzines, was watching devil-may-care acts literally smashing their sets on some decrepit hole-in-the-wall venues I wish I had never gone in the first place. But I did. Until hearing a relatively young band so brilliantly explosive I would imagine being transported into a real humoungous rock arena with huge sound production to booth rather than some dingy pub of a place. One of those youthful nothing-to-lose bands I would gladly put into that warp picture in my head is Twinkle Dudu(craft-wise, these lads were literally underground's big thing next to The Ambassadors at that time). And putting their disc after a night of an explosive jaw-hanging set had always brought me relatively closer back to home, pun intended.

The Dudu'sAfter first spin, you would immediately hear the ghost of maturity and sheer craftmanship seeping through the tracks as JB Bolaron channels his distant melodramas of loneliness and the tragic. Evidently, on the second track entitled Guilt Trip, he pours, "...and everything that makes you smile we forget". Yes, melodramatic. Schmaltzy, even. But not to the extent of being sappily-clichéd or emotionally-clutched. In fact, these songs veer away from anything "emo" as much as possible. JB's snotty yet gut-feel vocals only provides a cohesive layer to the remaining figures of the band. Chris Janulgue's twangy melodic riffs (whose resumé, by the way, includes formerly manning the guitars for the seminal local hardcore group, Mea Culpa and as well as doing session works for The Ambassadors), drummer GBox Deiparine's stacatto double pedal attack (currently playing sideworks for grind/metal outfit, Barang) and bassist Fritz Mesa's camouflagic slaps completed the whole "Dudu sound" which easily reminds you of a younger Slick Shoes or a more melodic Lifetime - but definitely more on a league of their own.

Their are actually a million nice things I would have a say about this record but I'd say I'd left the appreciative pigeonholing to the listeners. And too bad, they didn't include any Karen Carpenter cover ditties on the record since they were so fucking good at it. But hey, probably those things are better left for showbands and B-rate novelty acts, don't you think?

Their latest EP is a walking statement of a band who continues to carve a niche in a time of split-second achievements. Always there to remind us that you never needed major label attention or media fuzz to pave a path of sonic greatness. That all you ever needed, in the first place, were power chords and the passion to breed longevity. Or maybe a little bit of talent, and just that.

Official Twinkle Dudu Myspace Page

Itchyworms - Noontime Show

by eriktuz

Sali Na Sa Noontime Show!
Dexter Sy
2006-05-29 06:05:16

Noontime Show
Universal Records

There isn’t one singular entity we can blame for what happened at the ULTRA last February 4. It wasn’t the fans’ fault. It wasn’t Wowowee or Willie Revillame’s fault. It wasn’t the fault of security or of ABS-CBN. Charge it instead as the doing of society in general – a society that condones mass hypnosis through media and encourages a culture of poverty. Bob Ong wrote in his book Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino? that the one thing that’s keeping this nation from improving is our lack of self-respect. I couldn’t agree more.

Variety shows have been a part of Philippine popular television since forever. In the 80’s and 90’s, prominent icons like Kuya Germs and shows like That’s Entertainment and Eat Bulaga kept the bored tuned in every afternoon. Then the networks started exploiting this trend and capitalized on the formula of “sure win” games, where “everybody can win huge, huge prizes”.

Even before the tragedy at ULTRA, many could see the danger posed by the circumstances. With the seemingly unending poverty gripping the nation, it was evident that the power of the noontime show would soon become god-like, and like anything god-like, was bound to self-destruct at some point. That point came on February 4th of 2006.

It’s unbelievable how timely the latest Itchyworms album has become since then. Aptly titled Noontime Show and released late last year, the album now sounds like a stern warning, a prophesy you might say of things to come, a prophesy that was sadly unheard before it was too late.

A concept album (rare in this part of the globe), Noontime Show bashes the culture of variety shows targeted at the uneducated lower class of society. It brings to light the kind of braindead hysteria such shows stir up among the masses. Incredible songwriting with witty wordplay, almost virtuoso-like musicianship, and melodies that you can’t help but tap your foot and sing to – you hardly get all that in one package anymore.

Starting the album off with a television censorship advisory voice-over and then breaking into the ever-so-catchy Theme From Noon Time Show (complete with rhythmic handclaps and applause), the fellows from Ateneo set the mood for the entire album. They capture the slogans of variety shows perfectly with lines like “Pumila nang maaga, para makuhanan ng camera / pumorma ng magara-ha, malay mo ma-discover ka” and then taking it all back with the lamentation, “Hanggang dito nalang ba ang masa?” Could you be any more subtle?

Another voice-over precedes the second song, Buwan, which I just love to bits (then again, there isn’t a song in this album I don’t love to bits). One of the more out-of-place songs in the album, this song actually belonged to one of the band’s previous EPs. Whether you can relate or not, the song’s lonely mood is enough to make you teary-eyed. Don’t laugh, please.

This is followed by Contestant Number One, which accurately explains what happened at ULTRA, more than any damn fact-finding report ever can. “Ang daming premyo na naghihintay sa iyo / hanggang mapugot na ang ulo mo… o diba ang saya saya?” The next song Akin Ka Nalang, which happened to be the first single off this album, is another of the out-of-place tracks. Shades of APO Hiking Society are evoked in the beautiful vocal harmonization – heck, even in the title. And I’m not talking about just this song, too. Traces of APO can be heard throughout the entire album.

Beer has to be the perfect song. Jazzy instrumentation, clever wordplay, and more. Listen to the chorus and cringe. If there’s any song that deserves to be the official drunken sing-along of the nation, it would be this one. Salapi, the second single off Noontime Show, is the kind of song that makes you bang your head recklessly, even if it’s to the heavenly voicing in the chorus. Listen carefully to Chino Singson’s guitarwork. You can almost hear the spirit of Kirk Hammett’s blues scales possessing his fretting fingers.

One Ball is a head-bobbing ditty with sports references, and the first English song you’ll hear in this album. You can’t help but smile when they break down into that comical salsa-disco bit towards the end of the song.

The worms showcase their capability to write songs that are both funny and sad at the same time in the next song, Love Team, parodying a tradition in Filipino showbiz of conjuring dream matches between two celebrity personalities. Question is, what happens when one of the involved parties actually falls in love? “Di mo lang alam na nababaliw na ako sa ‘yo… sana magkasingkulay ang drama at tunay na buhay ko.”

Wala Nang Pwedeng Magmahal Sa ‘Yo, otherwise known as The Stalker Song, is a creepy number portraying the issue of celebrity stalkers and how far they can go to meet and greet their idols. The phone conversation samples make the song’s mood sound even more desperate. (Interesting fact: Aia DeLeon of Imago plays the role of the victim Edna in the phone conversations, but you should know that if you’ve read the album jacket.)

Mister Love is a moving dialogue between a hopeless romantic named Boy and a disgruntled love adviser behind the alias of “Mister Love”, another showcase of the brilliant writing in this album. If I had ever claimed some dude/dudette was the best songwriter in the world before, I humbly take it all back. Jugs Jugueta and Jazz Nicolas are the new Lennon and McCartney of the Philippines.

The next track Everybody Thinks You’re Crazy dwells on the same theme as Queen’s I’m Going Slightly Mad. The distorted guitar riffs and shaky vocals scream out “neurosis”. Falling Star, on the other hand, is a slow and sad monologue by an actor who claims “I can act / I am always feeling glad / Being sad is just a fad / this is the best thing that I’ve ever had” but digresses, “I wish I had a movie / instead of a song / I don’t feel I belong.”

Soap O Pera, as the name suggests, pokes fun at another Pinoy television trend. Jangly and dub-influenced, evoking The Jerks, the track rants about the repetitive storylines and themes in soap operas. “Dati ay chicanong drama, ngayon naman ay chinovela, ang susunod bay Iraqi opera?”

The worms cap off the album with an apt grand finale, a parody production number in the tradition of Sunday noontime shows. Voice-over introductions, sexy girl groups and macho boy bands, medleys, showbands, movie promotions, novelty acts, talentless actors trying to sing – the whole package, sealed nicely with a Freddie Aguilar-style ballad with a cast chorus singing the ambiguous line, “Lahat na ito’y kasalanan namin” and a Broadway-esque regression to the NoonTimeShow theme. “Sali na, pati ang pamilya / Sa sappy-happy, magic-plastic, ihaw-ihaw, all-time noontime show”. Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant.

This is a little too late, I suppose, but Noontime Show is the album of 2005. To not recommend it to everyone would be to do it injustice. In fact, putting a price tag on it is doing it injustice. This is the kind of album that deserves to be heard by all – rich or poor, young or old, male, female, and everyone in between. Timeless and ageless. Just like those quirky noontime variety shows.

Photos courtesy of itchyworms.com Digital art by me!



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