Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shake Yer Heads

So the Ultraelectromagneticjam concert is tonight, and I'm going to miss it, because I'll be stuck at home, working on overdue freelance stuff and last-minute scriptwriting for the MTV Summit. Sigh. At least I got the E-heads tribute album itself, yesterday -- it's currently selling like hotcakes in record stores all over the city, apparently. (Sudden thought: wouldn't it be cool to be head of sales of some hotcake company? Whenever anyone asks you how business is, you can always shrug and say, "Well, you know... they're selling, like the hotcakes they are." Okay, maybe it wouldn't be cool).

Overall, the Ultraelectromagneticjam CD is worth getting, but have your Eraserheads albums nearby when you listen to it, because you're going to want to re-immerse yourself in the originals right after. The collection gets off to a weak start: 6cyclemind doing "Alapaap" is far from a disaster -- 6cyclefans will be happy that their idols are performing such strong material -- but since their basic sound doesn't appeal to me much and they don't take the song in any interesting new directions, their cover just kind of sits there, in a limbo between excellence and offensiveness. (Other examples here of bands failing to overcome their inherent limitations -- and by "inherent limitations," I really mean "my prejudices" -- are Orange and Lemons' version of "Huwag Kang Matakot," Cueshe's "Hard to Believe," and Sponge Cola's "Pare Ko").

And then oh my God there's track 2, "Magasin": honestly, I have nothing against Paolo Santos personally -- that interview/field trip to Quiapo we did with him for PULP way back was fun; he's a nice guy, and not untalented -- but he fucking murders this song, singing it in a style more suited for the throwaway novelty hit of your jeepney-riding nightmares. It may be the worst artist-song pairing on the whole album.

The first really good track is Imago's version of "Spoliarium" -- vocalist Aia de Leon is in fine form here, as are the rest of the band; it's a good example of how to make a song your own while not obscuring the source material. It's followed by a somewhat disappointing "Overdrive" by Barbie Almalbis, who sings like she's a three year-old girl. With big eyes. And pigtails. Purists may twitch upon hearing South Border's "With a Smile" and MYMP's "Huwag Mo Nang Itanong," but the fact is that both are quite well done: capitalizing on the strengths of each act, and showing us new aspects of two of the more beloved E-heads songs.

Other reasons to buy the album: Sugarfree's "Tikman," Isha's "Torpedo," Kitchie Nadal's "Ligaya" (gotta love that post-chorus chuckle, and the uncharacteristically dirty-fuzzy guitar sound), Rico J. Puno's "Ang Huling El Bimbo" (showing the whippersnappers how it's done), and Radioactive Sago Project's riotous version of "Alcohol," which I may actually prefer to the original.

PS. Excellent album cover design and illustration by Cynthia and Arnold, btw. :)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Electronica and Pizza

After 2+ weeks of stay-at-home, zonked-out uselessness brought on by a bout of intestinal flu, it feels good to be going out again, slight lingering dizziness be damned! That said, I almost didn't go to the launch of excellent electronica act Drip's "Sweet Cheeks" video last Saturday night, tired as I was from elbowing people in the gut and stepping on small wailing children while balancing armfuls of bargain books (I dropped by the National Bookstore Warehouse Sale earlier that day). Boredom and a sense of one's life slipping away unlived won out, however, and Kidlat and I met up at Green Papaya one hour later than the alleged start of the event, but just in time, as it turned out.

Drip performed an all-too-short set of songs: lead singer Beng's smooth, seductive croon was lovely and beguiling as always, Ian and Malek worked their beats-loops-and-keyboards magic, and Caliph8 on turntables was a very welcome not-so-recent addition. I was struck by how much I liked the way they've reworked numbers like "To You" and "Song Number 9" -- the songs are funkier now, more beat-heavy, catchier and more danceable. To be honest, I prefer the new versions to the ones on Far Side of the World; maybe someday something like a collection of remixes will be available. As Beng pointed out afterwards, they felt that some changes were necessary if the material was to remain interesting to them. Am quite happy about the direction they seem to be going, musically -- Drip has always been an act worth watching, but there were times when their songs seemed to invite a nodding and somewhat detached admiration rather than real, big-grinned engagement. As for the "Sweet Cheeks" video -- a work of hand-drawn animation -- it was a funny, quirky slice of life on an alien world, complete with killer plants and flying saucers.

Afterwards, we went down the street to our new favorite Italian place (I think it's called Fruili -- I'm not sure). For those of you who are at least a little familiar with Maginhawa Street, it's at a slight angle across that Persian place Ababu, right where Teddi's used to be. Fruili, if that indeed is what it's called, serves really good pizza, and anyone who knows me knows that that is not a statement I make lightly. I recommed the Venezia (sprinkled with ground sirloin) and Margherita (oozing with garlic and cheese).

The days immediately before and immediately after my bout with flu were marked by memorable gigs: last Thursday night, November 24, I caught the second set by Isha (a.k.a. Peach) at Mag:Net Katipunan, which was immensely enjoyable -- too bad I missed her first set, and Ace Cada's solo set (friends assured me that 1. both were great, and that 2. I am a perennially tardy idiot). I bought a copy of her Katakataka EP downstairs right after.

And, last November 5, some friends and I finally managed to catch a gig by The Bitter Pill at Ninja Kiss 12 ("Moshi Moshpit Ano Ne?") at Saguijo, and we were utterly blown away by their short sharp songs, their undeniable energy, and the sheer infectious joy with which they played. I missed the incredible Bitter Pill/ Pedicab/ Brass Munkeys lineup last Revolver night due to my illness, but I am definitely looking forward to seeing [Mikey + Diego + Diego + mohawked drummer + cute bassist] play again, and soon.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The NU Rock Awards 2005

Some things you should know about the NU 107 Rock Awards this year:

1) I was not invited back to judge. Yes, despite my impeccable taste, the Judgment Bunny Waxy Seal of Judgment will not be put to use, like it was last year. DAMMIT!

2) Orange & Lemons are nominated in multiple categories. They did win last year, much to my dismay. Of course, my very vocal disappointment at the O&L victory over Cambio might be the reason for (1), but I still can't believe nobody's caught on to how annoying O&L music is. Hoy, NU, itigil na ang kalokohang 'yan.

3) Ex-magazine staff members nominated for an award this year: 2 Namely, Jason Caballa, who replaced me as music editor of PULP, and who, with his band Pedicab, is nominated in the Album of the Year and Rising Sun categories; and Bernie Sim, staff writer/illustrator/fashion diva of MTV Ink, nominated for Best Album Packaging.

4) -----. Ay! Secret pala! Due to some legal ek ek, I am obliged to tell you folks that nothing and nobody have anything to do with Nu107, their logo, or anything at all. NOTHING, I TELL YOU!

So there. And now, the nominees.

The Official List Of Nominees

Brownman Revival
Junior Kilat

Hale are this year's Orange and Lemons. Which means that they will probably win, and I won't like it.

Bamboo Mañalac of Bamboo
Reg Rubio of Greyhoundz
Aia De Leon Of Imago
Mcoy Fundales of Orange and Lemons
Jett Pangan Of the Dawn
Ria Bautista of Paramita

Tough call. I think Ria Bautista and Aia de Leon are amazing vocalists, and that Jett Pangan deserves an award just for still being around, but in terms of impact on the industry and sheer popularity, I think this'll probably go to O&L again, or maybe Bamboo.

Ira Cruz of Bamboo
Audie Avenido of Greyhoundz
Francis Reyes of the Dawn
Jethro Mendoz of Valley of Chrome
Giann Sotto of Nerveline
Cynthia Alexander

Cynthia Alexander fucking deserves this for her amazing work on Comet's Tail. And if she doesn't win, she will totally put a curse on you or something.

Nathan Azarcon of Bamboo
Buwi Meneses of Parokya ni Edgar
Niño Avenido of Greyhoundz
Mon Legazpi of the Dawn
Dondi Ledesma for his work in Joey Pepe Smith’s album Idiosyncrasies

Dondi Ledesma is the sentimental favorite here for his work on Pepe Smith's "comeback" album, but let's face it: it wasn't a very good album at all.

Vic Mercado of Bamboo
TJ Brillantes of Greyhoundz
Zach Lucero of Imago
Ria Bautista of Paramita
Mike Dizon of Pedicab
Jeross Dolino of Sheila and the Insects

Lotsa good ones this year. Zach Lucero's always a solid drummer (and also a recent birthday boy, having turned 30 on the 20th), and Mike Dizon is outstanding as part of Pedicab. But then again, are we truly going to deny Sheila and the Insects a long-awaited award, especially with the waves they created this year? Or ignore the amazing fact that Ria drums and sings at the same time? Take that, Meg White!

Parokya ni Edgar
Radioactive Sago Project

I vote for Giniling Festival! And Bagetsafonik! And Best Before! No? Okay, fine: Radioactive Sago Project.

Orange and Lemons
Brownman Revival

Orange and Lemons, Hale, and Cueshe nominated in the same category. Punyeta.

Kiko Machine
Valley of Chrome
Up Dharma Down
Daydream Cycle

Full disclosure: I've known bassist Paul Yap since he was in short pants and sported an "apple" haircut. That said, I think Up Dharma Down totally deserve the award.

"Hallelujah" by Bamboo
"Chicksilog" by Kamikazee
"The Day You Say Goodnight"[sic] by Hale
"Akap" by Imago
"Hanggang Kailan" by Orange and Lemons
"Ang Ating Araw" by Dictalicense
"Mang Jose" by Parokya ni Edgar
"Ako si M-16" by Junior Kilat
"Nice Place" by Juan Pablo Dream
"Tulad Ng Dati" by The Dawn
"Humanda Ka" by Sandwich
"Hari Nang Sablay" by Sugarfree

I never thought I'd see a song that goes, "I'm going to a nice place! A very very nice place!" nominated for Song of the Year, and yet here we are. Is there any good reason none of Kitchie Nadal's phenomenal crossover hits were nominated?

Bamboo Mañalac of Bamboo
Champ Liupio of Hale
Yael Yuzon of Spongecola
Diego Mapa of Pedicab
Raymund Marasigan of Sandwich
Pochoy Labog of Dictalicense

Bamboo is the best male! YAY! Oh, you mean best male musician.

Kitchie Nadal
Aia De Leon Of Imago
Lougee Basabas of Mojofly
Ria Bautista of Paramita
Myrene Academia of Sandwich /Imago
Wawi Navaroza of the Late Isabel

Kitchie Nadal, for her work with Twister Fries.

Apoy by Greyhoundz
Light, Peace, and Love by Bamboo
Strike whilst the Iron Is Hot by Orange and Lemons
Take Two by Imago
Tugish Takish by Pedicab
Harapin by the Dawn
Party PIpol Ur on Dub TV by Junior Kilat

I haven't listened to any of these albums in full and/or with full attention, so I will withhold comment.

Orange and Lemons
Parokya ni Edgar
Kitchie Nadal

Kitchie Nadal, I think.

"The Day You Said Goodnight" of Hale (Directed by Sigfrid Barros Sanchez)
"Same Ground" Of Kitchie Nadal (Directed by Avid Liongoren)
"You’ll Be Safe Here" of Rivermaya (Directed By Pedring Lopez)
"Hallelujah" of Bamboo (Directed by Topel Lee)
"Akap" Of Imago (Directed by Marie Jamora)

I would like to call everyone's attention to the interesting use of prepositions here: "Song" of The Artist. Interesting. That said, I've a weird liking for Marie Jamora's video for "Akap."

Claude Rodrigo for Strike Whilst the Iron is Hot of Orange and Lemons
Ge Madriaga for Rhomboids of Monsterbot
Bernie Sim for Tala of Paramita
Orven Enoveso for Flowerfish of Sheila and the Insects
Ink Surge for Tugish Takish of Pedicab
Gina Pestano for Party Pipol Ur On Dub TV of Junior Kilat

I always enjoyed judging this category at awards shows. And it is also the category in which at least one magazine alumnus gets nominated in every year. I haven't seen half of the albums nominated for this category, but I did like the Tugish Takish design a lot, and Bernie Sim has never failed to deliver something interesting and weird.

Bamboo and Angee Rozul for Bamboo
Cynthia Alexander and Angee Rozul for Cynthia Alexander
Noel De Brackinghe for Greyhoundz
Kerryl Demetrio and Junior Kilat for Junior Kilat
Robert Javier for Orange and Lemons

Cynthia Alexander and Angee Rozul, because Comet's Tail was amazing. And while I never thought I'd say this, I think Hale's album producer also deserves an award. I mean, have you heard them live? Anyone who can make THAT sound good on a CD deserves a medal.