Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best

rivermaya-main_main

Rivermaya never got rejected by record labels because their songs weren’t “pop enough.” They never experienced selling tickets only so they could play in Club Dredd. If there’s anything naysayers had to say about Rivermaya, it’s that they were manufactured (they were the brainchild of Chito Roño and Liza Nakpil), they never toiled the underground and thus lacks street cred when compared to Club Dredd and Mayric’s alums like Alamid, Yano, Teeth & Eraserheads. In that sense, they were more like the Introvoyz. Only they’re better than Introvoyz at everything—charisma, songwriting, creativity, etc.

Rivermaya is also known for their perpetually shifting line-up. First, Perf de Castro was gone, then Bamboo. Then, the band made what I consider two of the best rock albums from our shore. Then, Nathan Azarcon left and three new members came in. During the ’90s, Rivermaya was the de facto number two band behind the Eraserheads. After Eheads’ “graduation time” in 2002, Rivermaya were finally the numero uno. But Rico Blanco & Co.’s reign was rather short as “Noypi” announced the return of Bamboo, which features two former bandmates Nathan and Bamboo. Needless to say, by the mid-aughts, Bamboo was just more popular than Rivermaya 2.0. (more…)

Debris (Sandwich, 2016)

Sandwich_DebrisDebris, Sandwich’s eighth LP, despite having “Kagulo” and “Outlaw,” is a little less than their previous outing—the one which they recorded live, in studio. “Kagulo”, easily Sandwich’s most recognizable hit since “Betamax,” could have been up there with the band’s best album openers—alongside “Sugod”, “Procastinator”, and “Cheese Factor Set to 9”—if only it isn’t the third cut in the album. Instead, we have “Border Crossing” opening Debris, which isn’t just as good. I miss the charred, slow burning eponymous track that opens their last record.

The chorus of “Border Crossing” is a bummer, good thing there’s “Amphibious” to make up for it. Then, we have “Kagulo”, but it is followed by another bummer, the uncharacteristically sentimental “Buhangin.” What is it with Sandwich and beaches? Remember their awful song about getting “Sunburn”? Yes, Raymund Marasigan had another stab at a song a bout going to the beach and it still isn’t good. At least it’s not Marasigan’s worst song ever. That award goes to the song about Manny Pacquiao, which he gave (good move!) to Protein Shake, otherwise known as 6cyclemind’s brother band, who’re much less talented and just as offensive.

“Kagulo”, which roughly translate to “riotous” is exactly what the title says, Bianca King or no Bianca King in the music video. And speaking of music video, the one Sandwich made for “Outlaw” is a must-see. Set in a George Miller post-apocalyptic world, the band is seen playing instruments that look like something straight out of a Lirio Salvador exhibit. It’s a perfect companion to Pupil’s Manila as gates of hell in “Out of Control” and it would have been perfect, if not for that huge CGI creature from the Clash of the Titans remake.

Though not necessarily an improvement, the songs in Debris sounds bigger, fuller, cleaner. Fat Salt & Flame sounds a bit muddy by comparison, but that’s probably inherent to recording the songs live.

After two coherent sounding LPs, Debris finds Sandwich leaning back to old habits, the mix and match modus of their first two albums and S-Marks the Spot (arguably their weakest album). That is, the last four cuts sounds like they’re from another album. The last two cuts “Bato-Bato Pik” and “Sunriser,” stick out of the mix while “Napapanahon” and “Balintawak,” though not totally out of step with most of the tracks, might sound more at home in Contra Tiempo.

Also, with that title, I expected it to be more like this…

and to have less of this…

Maselang Bahaghari: The 20 E-ssential Eraserheads Songs, Vol.1

poster_associate-768x768-1-e1532151610440.jpg

I’ll let you in on a secret. The Eraserheads, the now defunct greatest local band in the land, is in the process of re-recording the songs from their ultra-celebrated but supposedly tinny-sounding first album Ultraelectromagneticpop!. Maybe I should drop “supposedly” in my last sentence, because that’s the very reason Ely Buendia wanted to re-do their twenty-five year old debut. That is, the songs on Ultra were really good, the production wasn’t.

Although Raymund Marasigan said he would rather record new materials, or in the case of “Sabado”, old but unreleased songs, it seems that they’re actually doing Ultra. Which isn’t a bad thing really considering that the band’s label had already folded and the masters were probably already lost. Also, Orange & Lemons are doing the same with Love in the Land of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream. Yes, in case you haven’t heard Orange & Lemons are back together, but without Mccoy Fundales. Which is why Clem Castro sings and… (more…)

Follow the Leader (Ciudad, 2012)

followThe trajectory Ciudad took from Happy Bear to Follow the Leader, isn’t quite slanted and enchanted turning into bright corners until terror twilight comes in. See, Pavement references Ella Fitzgerald, not Helmet; Ciudad, on the other hand, echoes Korn, the fathers-in-denial of the bastard sub-genre called Nu Metal. Maybe they’re more like The Dead Milkmen, who ditches the punk-rock girl after they found the secret of life. But you get the drift—they started as ramshackle crew of awkward geeks and became more and more mellowed out with each release. But the problem isn’t really mellowing out—their previous effort, the somewhat Bandwagonesque-esque Bring Your Friends, is mellower, but still better. As far as Spiral Stairs knows, Stephen Malkmus never stopped being fun even when the lyrics start to reveal their meaning (i.e., The Hook, Jenny & The Ess-Dog). I guess it’s them losing touch with their younger crazier selves, their nonsense lyrics, the geeky ball-busting, fuzz face-melting, Corina Turina-shouting. It’s the crude appeal of their earlier stuff, the band dynamics, the warmth—all of which are miserably missing here.

‘Dredd’ Is A Punk-Rock Middle Finger To Ponderous Comic Book Movies

dredd.png

It’s a fucked-up world. And Mega-City One is a fucked-up place full of fucked-up criminals. And the Hall of Justice is the last bastion of order and maybe—peace. Or so they thought. This is the world where Judges exist, where Judge Dredd exists, where Judges roam the street and play judge, jury, and executioner.

Armed with the Lawgiver, a deadly toy gun with voice-activated ammunition system, Judges are futuristic comic-book Dirty Harrys brought to life. They’re also clad in bulky armor and helmet that conceals the face except for the mouth and chin—in Dredd’s case, Karl Urban’s capably expressive and Oscar-winning chin—except for the probationary rookie (Olivia Thirlby), the mutant-psychic who left her helmet on her first day on duty. She also deems the helmet would get in the way of her telepathic powers, to which Dredd’s dead-pan reply is: Think a bullet in the head might interfere with them more.

(more…)

Raves: Tampopo, The Big Sick

the-big-sick-kumail-nanjiani-zoe-kazan-620x360

The Big Sick (2017). I may not be the funniest of stand up comedians. But if my girlfriend is Zoe Kazan and she’s so in love with me, I’m definitely more than willing to give up everything just to be with her. And I mean everything—including my own family. Wait. That would only be the case if I’m Pakistani or Indian and my family is still very much into pre-arranged marriage.

I once work with an Indian guy who now lives in the US. And he told me that everytime they visit his mother, she still tells him that she could have arranged the most beautiful wife for him, that she knew a number of women who could have been his perfect match. And he’s like married for what–like nearly twenty years? I wonder how this thing about “in-laws” works with them. You know, that relationship between a man’s mother and his wife. But I digress.

(more…)

Atomic Bomb (Rivermaya, 1997)

Rivermaya.atomicbomb

Took me a long time to fully appreciate Rivermaya’s third album. Yes, the title’s cliche and the album’s more obtuse than a solid bang, but that’s not it. Only lately did I realize what’s keeping me from really enjoying this album. It’s the track sequence.

Of course, it’s just probably me but I’m thinking about those who owned this album in cassette back then and the great deal of patience required (or maybe just plain wide-eyed curiosity) to listen to this album from end to end. Because, between “Elesi” and “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” and between the latter and “Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo”, feels like lots of B-sides and fillers.

The culprit? Two-minute plus jazz interlude “Inst. 1: Spike the Mayo” and the overlong (6:46) three-part “Hangman (I Shot the Walrus)”, an obvious Beatles call-out featuring Bamboo and Rico Blanco as Phil Collins and Paul McCartney respectively. Wait, Phil Collins? Those two tracks, together with “Sunny Days”, another instrumental and “Saturday (Bakit Ako?)” slow down Side A considerably. They take away the excitement, break the momentum.

Tweaking Atomic Bomb‘s track sequence (something one cannot do with cassette tapes or without a personal computer back in 1997), placing “Wild Angel Candy”, “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” right after “Sunny Days”, putting “Hangman” near the end, and taking out the entirety of “Inst 1: Spike the Mayo”, solved my problem. With this new sequence, almost every song shines, even the B-sides (the goofy “Tea for Two”, the sultry “Ballroom Dancing”, The Kink-ish (Kink-y?) “Sunny Days”).

Atomic Bomb boasts a number of terrific singles. “Hinahanap-hanap Kita”, with its funky riffs and super-awesome basslines, is easily one of Rivermaya’s finest hits. There’s also the post-rock-ish “Mabuhay”, the guitar-propelled “Elesi” and folk number “Luha”. The album sounds eclectic if distracted at times, with traces of psychedelia, The Beatles, and Pet Sounds. And you won’t be disappointed if it’s only the four to five minute pop-rockers (“Wild Angel Candy”, “Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo”) you are after. If only the songs were sequenced better.

A-Bomb? More like Ab-Bomb. Or A-minus Bomb. As it is, Side A feels stunted, the whole album, drawn-out. I don’t have much use for either “Fever” or “Saturday (Bakit Ako?)” And even with the sequence changed, “Hangman” (obviously, “A Day In the Life” minus the wistful John Lennon part), is still a chore to listen to.

Deadpool 2’s X-Force Assemble Is Better Than Avenger’s Infinity War

920x920

There are no Infinity McGuffins in Deadpool 2, no superheroes fighting for the fate of the universe. What it does have is an unkillable motor-mouthed anti-hero, who clearly doesn’t want to get upstaged by other characters inside and outside his own movie. And that makes Deadpool 2, arguably, better than Infinity War. Or does it? Let’s see.

Avengers: Infinity War was years in the making: multiple movies built around the Infinity Stones, Avengers team up and break up, and some Thanos mid-credits teasers. After months of watching trailers, trailer breakdowns and speculations about plot, character deaths and what-not, Avengers: Infinity War is finally over. *sigh* And it left you with more questions than answers, left you overjoyed and exhausted at the same time but most importantly, more hyped than ever.

Avengers: Infinity War, then, is like premature ejaculation. After months of anticipation, it came too quickly just when it’s starting to feel good. And you can’t do anything about it other than wait. Until the the next movie comes.

(more…)

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

dunkirk-christopher-nolan-trailer-images-68

Praise Nolan for making Dunkirk a one of a kind experience – an unconventional war movie with three separate narratives in addition to its main narrative (the exodus of 300,000 soldiers cornered by enemies in Dunkirk), a supposedly anti-Hollywood war drama that isn’t really anti-Hollywood considering its not so modest budget.

Nolan plays with mirrors, contrasts; that old officer wanting to send his armies home and the other older guy wanting to take them in his boat; Cillian Murphy’s traumatized soldier who doesn’t wanna go back to hell and the eager young boy George who hasn’t been to war and hasn’t seen it all; Tom Hardy’s heroic pilot vs. the cowardly soldier who just wanted to poop. And also, Tom Hardy’s pilot who successfully completed his mission but got caught by the enemy and his buddy who couldn’t finish the mission and got rescued by the friendlies.

Technically, this is better than his Batman movies. It’s a great piece of filmmaking that, I hope was also equally thrilling. An epic filmmaking for a not so epic way of telling a story based on actual events. Nolan wanted to keep it small, personal, but also big and epic at the same time. How did he do that? He spliced the narrative, tinkered with the timeline.

It’s a film that thrills the eyes, the ears, sometimes the brain, sometimes the heart. But not something that thrills the eyes, the ears, and the brain at the same time, and better leave your heart at the door because there’s little use for it. The three way climax makes for very little emotional build up; Nolan wants you to calculate it, time it, instead of feel it. And since I’m not good at math, my biggest emotional response was “Shucks! That guy from One Direction didn’t make it!”

dunkirk-imax-screencaps-8

Thor’s New Hammer, Iron Man’s Gundam Suit and Other Great Things In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

1743fef1a1b59d59-600x400

Avengers: Infinity War is far from perfect. But then it could have been worse, like The Matrix: Revolutions or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Good thing it’s more like Back to the Future II. Someone said it should have been a three-part movie. Well, dude’s got a point. Because the storytelling felt rushed. Me, I only wished it was longer. Story-wise, Infinity War is coherent, consistent, but also packed to the gills. It’s too compact. Like, it could have used a few more quieter moment to allow the movie (and us) to breathe and give everything on screen and off screen some time to sink in. It could also use a bit more build up, a few more “hanging moments” to let the punches hit the guts and make the surprising turns really “wow!” But, we can’t have it all, I guess. So let’s just break down the things I like the most about the movie and the things I thought were kinda “meh”. And I’m not gonna complain about all of the deaths being temporary. That’s like complaining that Neo came back to life at the end of The Matrix.

Great:

1) No resurrection this time. How to make a dark Avengers movie? Kill Korg (Taika Waititi) before the movie starts. Y’know, that guy who made that goofy Thor and Hulk movie. Now seriously, that opening sequence is definitely one of the most effective, if not the best, in all Marvel movies. Setting the stakes and the tone early on. Thanos and his death metal band, the Black Order, mean business.

2) Goofy in Knowhere. Thanos knows well his favorite daughter hangs out with disco-loving, galaxy-saving group of oddballs and misfits. Why Thanos didn’t use the Power stone in fighting the Guardians? He probably didn’t want to kill his daughter’s friends. So he tried to be creative and used the Reality stone instead. To make bubbles.

(more…)

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is One Big Superhero Movie Climax

avenger-infinity-war-spidey-iron-man-mantis

Avengers: Infinity War opens with a distress call—actually a massacre, off-screen. And it’s only fitting that after Marvel’s most outrageously hilarious movie comes tragedy. I’m referring to Thor: Ragnarok, of course, which ended with Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Hulk and the rest of the Asgardians aboard The Mastermind’s fancy ship. They all survived Ragnarok—saw Asgard burn to the ground—only to have their refuge cut short by Thanos and his henchmen, the Black Order.

Yes, Avengers: Infinity War takes off right after that Ragnarok stinger. By the way, I remember someone complained that Ragnarok shouldn’t be a comedy, that everyone should have died in the end just like in the comics. My dear friend, you had Thanos’ mercy, your wish has been fulfilled. Are you happy now?

Of course, Infinity War is also, more or less, a direct sequel to Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—none of which required viewing prior (in case you missed them) except for the last one. Civil War‘s great divide was summed up by Tony Starks with “we’re not in speaking terms”; Spider-Man, who tried so hard to impress Tony only to reject his offer to become an Avenger in the end, now becomes an Avenger; and Killmonger, the most important character in Black Panther, you don’t really need to know to understand this movie.

(more…)

Stoked to Infinity? Deadpool 2’s Final Trailer Is Just So Rad

PHxh3q1lyGrIAB_1_l

Just watched the final trailer for Infinity War and I’m stoked to infinity.

Like this:   stoked ^ ∞

Oh, I mean Deadpool 2. Sorry. Also, wrong poster. My bad. Anyway, looking back I could say now how I actually felt about the official trailer. It was disappointing. This final trailer feels more like it. It’s perfect in every way that a trailer for a Deadpool sequel should be.

I mean, references to both the best and the worst Wolverine movies? Check. Reference to Thanos and Infinity War? Check. Reference to DCEU? Very fat fuckin’ check. Plus, plus, the plot seems to be a cross between the first two Terminator movies with a bit of Looper thrown in. Well, they might as well make fun of them if this would be the case. Cable as the villain? Is that a Terminator or an Avengers reference? The kid as the ultimate bad guy in the future? Yeah, that’s kind of Looper right there, right? But what if Cable isn’t really Cable, and the X-Force are actually fighting his clone?

That would be interesting.

cable-vs-stryfe-x-force-movies-1021327.jpg

(more…)

RiverMaya (Rivermaya, 1994)

Rivermaya.rivermaya

Aside from the hits (e.g., 214), Rivermaya, with this debut, gave what fans couldn’t get from the Eraserheads: a pop-rock band with considerable skills and rockstars look and feel. (Though that’s not something they couldn’t get with either After Image or Alamid.) This idea of THE perfect band and the band’s five-hit-string that parallels that of Eheads’ Ultra (214, Bring Me Down, Ulan, Awit Ng Kabataan, 20 Million), make RiverMaya a popular choice among fans when asked about the band’s best album.

They got a rockstar vocalist with an angel’s voice and range, a kick-ass bassist, a geeky songwriter on keyboards, and a drummer who’s last name recalls the same province where the Heads’ drummer hails from. And the deciding factor it seems—since the Eraserheads sucked live and Wency Cornejo’s rock antics only reminded you of Mel Tiangco—was the addition of a virtuoso guitarist, the incidental fifth member whose contributions, including iconic guitar solos in “214” and “Awit Ng Kabataan” were never incidental. That is, later and first defector Perf de Castro puts the “original” in the “original Rivermaya”—at least according to those fans who endlessly clamor for their reunion in the comment sections.

They looked perfect together, the perfect band, partly because they were (rumored to be) factory assembled, handpicked by Chito Rono and Liza Nakpil, and partly because they weren’t, meaning they were a real band, even though they hardly toiled the underground together like the ‘Heads, After Image and other Club Dredd alums. (more…)