Breeder’s Digest: Fever Dolls, Teenage Fanclub, Sufjan Stevens

New artists you discovered recently?

This relatively new-ish band called Fever Dolls, which, if I remember correctly, is said to be an indie band that combines Saturday Night Fever and the punk rock theatrics of the New York Dolls. I won’t say I became an instant fan of theirs, but I like some of their songs, especially “Mrs. Carver” and “From Dusk to Dawn.” Their music videos are ow-kay, but sometimes I prefer listening to the music alone while looking at the cover art, not getting distracted or affected by the visuals—like, just listening to a song, taking it as it is and trying to understand what it’s trying to say.

I’m also currently re-discovering Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque (1991) and Suftjan Stevens’ Illinois (2005), alternately known as Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the Illinoise. Re-discovering because I already knew and listened to these albums before. But I was not able to get into them because I probably listened to them only once or twice, or in the case of Illinois, maybe I didn’t even listen to it from end to end. And the truth is, maybe I haven’t even yet. Either I don’t have the time or I already fell asleep even before the third song ends. Like when I played it the other night. And the fact that Illinois is just a densely layered albums that requires repeated repeated listening, makes this task even more challenging. It’s 73 minutes long for goodness’ sake. But I think it’s a great album. It’s so great I haven’t even finish discovering how great it is yet.

Bandwagonesque, on the other hand, feels a lot shorter than its 42 minutes running time. Well, it’s 30 minutes shorter than Chicago and that’s why. I already listened to it more than a few times and it’s easy for me to say that this is one of my favorite power-pop album ever, alongside Pinkerton, Regretfully Yours, Headtrip In Every Key, and Fountain of Wayne’s self-titled debut. Their melodies remind me of the Beach Boys, and their guitars are grungier than Fountains of Wayne’s.

My favorite tracks are “The Concept“, a.k.a. The Oh Yeah Song (She wears denim wherever she goes/Says she’s gonna get some records by the status quo/Oh yeah, oh yeah), and “Alcoholiday,” which never fails to remind me of this meme. That’s mainly because of the lines: Went to bed but I’m not ready/Baby, I’ve been fucked already. But it’s a sad song actually, and seems like it’s about being in a relationship or a situation where things aren’t working out anymore.

I also tried listening to Charli XCX’s Charli, but I couldn’t get past the first track, couldn’t get past the album cover. Maybe dance-pop isn’t just for me. Maybe some nights I’m in a dance-y mood, I’ll put it on again. Maybe next time, I’ll play the singles first.

And then, there’s The Esthers, a band that I probably would not come across if not for Jolens. I won’t say I really like their songs (I’d go with “September” if I have to pick a favorite) but I absolutely love what they stand for or what they represent. For me, them doing their stuff, totally D.I.Y., un-produced, unfiltered, and the way they answered those questions from Twitter, is probably the most unpretentious most honest thing I’ve ever seen. And it made me cringe a little bit at those Q&A portion in those Alternatrip videos where bands try to speak with some accent, like, man, we don’t understand what you’re saying. Or if you can’t express it better, maybe you just have to say it in Tagalog, man? Like, y’know?

Any old stuff you listened to recently?

Last night, I listened to Songs of Leonard Cohen (1970) and Nick Drake’s Pink Moon (1972). Again. It’s been a while since I put on Neil Young’s Comes A Time (1978). I like this album; it’s more country folk than folk rock. And it’s my fifth favorite Neil Young album after On the Beach, After the Gold Rush, Zuma, and Rust Never Sleeps. It also has “Four Strong Winds,” a song about long cold Canadian winters and a relationship that won’t heat up anymore.

A while back, I also discovered Vashti Bunyan’s classic debut, Just Another Diamond Day (1970). It’s soft evening music, folksy, gentle, like if you’re English and you’re living in a farm, and life’s a breeze, you’re just milking cows. I don’t know but maybe “Lily Pond” is the song where the anonymous nursery rhyme songwriters stole the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” tune from. I also tried to get into Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home (1965) and instead, I ended up putting Highway 61 Revisited (1965) back into my playlist. Highway 61, to me, just sounds better than Kirten Dunst’s Bring It On. Maybe it’s the backing band that spells the difference. Dylan’s singing voice sounds better to me in a full band setup. Also, are just, pure gold “Desolation Row” and “Like A Rolling Stone.”

Songs or albums you last listened to?

See above for the albums. For songs, well, last night, I also played this Silkworm playlist and it was what was playing when I went to bed. It has songs from their albums Blueblood, Lifestyle and Italian Platinum. “Eff” was the first song. I forgot what song was next because I already drifted off.

Why these songs/albums?

For some strange reason, I felt sad after eating spaghetti. And Illinois wasn’t doing it for me. So, I put on Leonard Cohen, then added Pink Moon, added some Kewpie sesame dressing then shuffled the whole thing. No, I ate and had few laughs with friends from work, but then I felt sad after I went back to my room. Maybe because I’m used to just being with myself. And the spaghetti gave some sort of a contrast to the usual feeling of being alone and away from home. Not that those Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake songs lightens up the mood. In fact, they’re probably even darker, heavier. Maybe that’s why they worked.

As for Silkworm, well, they’re this Pavement-adjacent band who were active from the ’90s to early ’00s. Their albums aren’t as solid as Pavement’s but they have more than a few good songs in them. And they have some good lyrics too, which I like. Here’s some of them: Did you ever have a friend/Who did much better than you had planned?/Returning to work, back out on the doze/At a factory job making garden hose (from “The Old Guy”); The affair was good, but it wasn’t worth the money/Don’t you cry, I had a lot now (from “That’s Entertainment”); Soul, soul, who stole the soul? A blushing kid/But you’re never too old/I once loved a girl, met her at a dance/Presented her proudly with the Flowers of romance (from “Eff”).

Breeder’s Digest

My friend’s got a boyfriend and she hates that dick, she tells me everyday. He wants more dinero just to stay at home, and he thinks the coronavirus isn’t real. That it’s brought about by 5G. That it’s something that was created in China and that it’s up for a superpower like the US to oppose them. That Trump is playing the bad guy who would turn out to be ‘the good guy’ in the end like he’s some bad-ass character usually played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movies. Except he’s white. Well, Nick Fury used to be white. Then her boyfriend shared this video where thousands of people protesting in Berlin declaring the ‘end of the pandemic.’ I googled for news thinking Germany has been declared COVID-free already (not yet, but they’re getting there). Turns out it’s a rally by those who don’t believe in COVID-19, neo-nazis, right-wingers, anti-vaxxers, etc. And I was like, what the fuckin’ fuck?


A woman suffered from a locked jaw. A woman suffered from a locked jaw while performing. A woman suffered from a locked jaw while performing blow job. Yes, that’s probably the only thing I heard of the movie The Sweetest Thing, with Cameron Diaz and Selma Blair. It was Selma Blair’s character I suppose? I’m not sure. Then, they had to sing—together—Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” to solve that locked jaw problem. I heard it was a chick flick, and based on what I heard, girls loved to talk about that particular scene. I heard girls talking about Gone Girl as well. Not because it’s a David Fincher movie (Seven, Fight Club) but because Ben Affleck’s schlong has like a one-second appearance in one scene.


The line “Di makapaghintay, nagpakamatay,” from Eraserheads’ “Ha Ha Ha”, is actually about Mike Hughes killing himself in an attempt to prove that the Earth is flat.


Let me tell you about my other friend now. This friend of mine, he said he has this friend, who once schooled him about the evils of socialism one time he (my friend) shared something about capitalism. And his friend told him that he should read more. He said he didn’t bother to ask his friend to elaborate further on the said ‘evils’ but my friend presumed he’d mention anything from what happened to USSR or some poor countries in South America or how millions died in China and Cambodia. And I was like DUDE! Pol Pot was a genocidal dude who dressed as a communist only because his neighbors in Vietnam were communists. This friend also sent him a YouTube video on how Capitalism works and why it’s OK and stuff like that. And its a video from a channel steeped on right-wing propaganda. I said maybe he should’ve sent him an article or something. He said he already thought that but decided against it. His friend, being a devout church-goer, there’s no way he could trojan horse something into his heavily guarded beliefs. Especially if they’re guarded by Jesus.


I’ve written about this movie before. It’s called King of Comedy. No, not the Martin Scorsese/Robert de Niro one but the Stephen Chow/Stephen Chow one. This is hands down one of the funniest movie scenes ever.


Awkward. That awkward moment when your friend slipped and you tried to catch her and you accidentally grabbed her boob. And how amazing was that split-second realization processed from the nerve endings to the brain that suddenly she tried to balance herself while you pulled your hand as quick as you possibly can like you touched a live wire or something that you kind of regret it afterwards. And you couldn’t say ‘sorry’ because that would mean you’re admitting to the crime. And she reacted like nothing happened though she couldn’t look you in the eye. So you both tried to brush it off but maybe—just maybe—think about it afterwards.

Rico Blanco Songbook

I checked again the Rico Blanco Songbook and I’m still as disinterested as I was before. Songs by Mayonnaise, Ebe Dancel, and December Avenue, I thought were OK. But the rest were kind of for die-hard Bruce Willis fans only.

“Liwanag Sa Dilim” gives me one more reason to think, that, this band is one-hit wonder. Sorry, I mean This Band. Earl Generao’s MV for his version of “Yugto” is exactly what I wanted to do whenever I’m alone and listening to this particular Rico Blanco song—I dance like a madman. And I don’t know how to dance. It’s epic, the music video. Epic. Fail. “A Love to Share,” sung by Janine Teňoso, is still as Coldplay-ish now as it was before. But in the absence of any Coldplay songs dominating whatever playlist we have now, it’s OK. But Blanco’s messianic aspirations in the lyrics is still somewhat cringe.

Mayonnaise’s music video for “Lipat Bahay” I liked more than the rest, for its story about the plight of a medical worker, especially during this pandemic. The boring routine, the dismal wage, the inexistent hazard pay, the platitudes they get on social media vs. the actual treatment they receive, and that thought to just leave it all behind, and look for better job opportunities abroad. Thus, giving a different, yet more relevant meaning to lipat-bahay and the line “Hindi ko yata kayang iwanan ka.” I mean, music videos like that one from December Avenue, they’re touching. But better pay is what they really need!

Too bad Callalily failed to ruin a good song this time (“241”). Fortunately, its music video did. I thought it was trying so hard to be relevant. Its depiction of minors engaged in sexual activities and prostitution is so heavy-handed, it’s almost the exact opposite of the “Lipat Bahay” MV in terms of subtlety. Sure, prostitution is bad. Child prostitution, even worse. But it doesn’t match the song, the music, the lyrics (Wishing on a silver cloud crawling across the moonbeams/A summer night in heaven between the stars and waves). Maybe the director focused on the line, “I wanted to turn you on” a little too much. And if you watch the video, there’s a scene that’s exactly the literal interpretation of that.

If you haven’t notice, the Songbook doesn’t include any song from Rivermaya’s first four albums, aside from “Hinahanap-hanap Kita,” off Atomic Bomb. The songs included are either from Rivermaya’s releases under Viva, or songs released by Rico Blanco as a solo artist. “Hinahanap-hanap kita” was included maybe because Viva already had the permit to use it (from Sony-BMG) back when Regine Velasquez covered the song years ago.

The version of the song included in the album was good enough for me to get curious and look for Raphiel Shannon’s other songs on YouTube. But I don’t have much time. And maybe it’s not really her, it’s the song. That it’s really that hard to ruin this song. It’s that great. And the lyrics, man. Fuck! Sa school, sa flag ceremony, hanggang uwian araw-araw. You can’t get any more nostalgic than that. And that final line! At kahit pa magka-anak kayo’t magkatuluyan balang araw. I don’t know, man. This is another one of those—to paraphrase Junot Diaz—the time required for love to fade to HALF of its value is a very very long time. Maybe a lifetime. Maybe.

Movies: Shadow in the Clouds, The God of Cookery, Resident Evil

Near the end of the movie, my knuckles hurt while watching Chloe Grace Moretz punch the gremlin’s ugly toothy mouth. Not only that, I had to pick my jaw from the floor by the time the credits roll. Nevermind my heart, wherever it landed after it jumped out of my chest while Moretz was crawling underneath that B-17 bomber like she was Spider-Gwen or Tom Cruise. That is, Shadow in the Clouds (2020) is a well-made, relentless, fun, action horror movie. Sure, the plot surrounding the secret package was kind of stupid, but it’s the fun kind of stupid. Not like Snakes On A Plane “really stupid” stupid, if you know what I mean. And even though it wasn’t a “full-on” creature movie as I’ve expected, I wasn’t disappointed. Even if first half of the movie deals with “boys being boys” and “men saying women can’t do this or that.” Y’know, I’m not really the type who gets offended by movies like this or Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman. In fact, I find the first half of the movie to be very good, very tight. Specially when the gremlin first appeared and she was stuck in the turret and it was claustrophobic as fuck.

I’m not really a fan of cooking shows. Or cooking in general. One time I watched a local cooking show, I thought the judges’ reactions were mostly cringe. After that, I had this general impression that judges in these shows had the cringest things to say. It’s like they were describing sex or something. Or they were competing for the Bad Sex Award. I mean, how do you exactly say delicious in more than five words. Exactly, you can’t. But a movie about cooking and cooking shows? Well, that’s a different story. Especially, if the movie we’re talking about is The God of Cookery (1996). Sure, some might say Stephen Chow’s rise-fall-redemption arc has been overused to death in his movies. But it isn’t really the predictability of the arc that matters, it’s how the said arc is presented, how it is told. And with Chow, it usually involves hilarious gags, over the top action and sometimes, a physically unattractive woman. In Shaolin Soccer, Shao Wei’s Mui had to deal with exaggeratedly huge shoulder pads and acne. In this movie, Karen Mok (So Close) is almost unrecognizable with her false teeth and facial scars. How did they make cooking more exciting? Mixed it with kung fu, some Buddhist wisdom, and well, plenty of heart.

How to watch a two-hour long movie when you kind of doubt it’s worth it? And you don’t want to skip chapters because you might miss some of the plot. Well, here’s what I did (and turns out, there isn’t much to be missed). I watched Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) at x1.60 speed and here’s what I found: Sienna Guillory’s acting as Jill Valentine was so wooden I kept wondering if her character was really CGI. I mean, her character looks like CGI. Just look at her hair. And who the hell goes to battle in a tube? Well, Jill Valentine, obviously. The action scenes were so incoherently cut and edited that I sometimes had to play the movie at slower speed just to make sense of them. Guess what, they still hardly make sense even at x0.5 speed. Anyway, for the later half of the movie, I got distracted by Milla Jovovich’s pants, which got ripped off on one leg from her thigh down to her knee. How did she keep the lower half from falling? With all those jumping and kicking and running? Maybe it’s some kind of mid-aughts fashion statement (just like Jill’s weapons-grade tube). They even put it on the movie posters (link).

breeders digest

Was listening to “drivers license” this morning and I thought “isn’t there supposed to be an apostrophe in there?” Shouldn’t it be driver’s license? Or driver license? Back when I was in the UK, they call it driving licence, but with “C” instead of “S.” When I was in Denmark, they call it kørekort and I don’t really know how to pronounce that. Continue reading “breeders digest”

Top 10 Porn for Christmas Day

I missed the chance to make this post on Christmas Day so I am taking back that chance now. Because, what’s the difference anyway? Christmas, New Year? When you realized that the “new year” only gives you a false sense of discontinuity, as if the time is a timer that resets every three-hundred sixty… um, a certain number of days, maybe we should stop Continue reading “Top 10 Porn for Christmas Day”

Tenet (2020)

If the turnstiles were real and people could really go backwards in time, wearing oxygen masks driving cars in reverse (as if finally finding the perfect solution for the traffic infested metro), I’d go back to the time when I watched Tenet only so I could watch it backwards. No, not so that I would understand every bit of it, but so that I could unwatched it. And recover the 2.5 hours that I lost while sitting through Christopher Nolan’s latest.

Okay, that’s not really how time travel or “inversion” works in the movie i.e., you can unlock gates by locking them, but somehow you can’t unwatch a movie. The memory of the movie stays with you even if you go back to an earlier time. So, I guess all the people who didn’t cream their pants on the latest Nolan—well, we’re all doomed. The damage is done and there’s no way to undo it.

Truth is, I liked Christopher Nolan’s idea of time travel, or his version of it in the movie, called “inversion”. But I would probably liked it more if this was a short story—like The Minority Report—not a movie—or if Tenet was more like Minority Report (the movie). And no, it’s not because I found it hard to follow. Of course, I’m not saying I get 100% of the movie while watching it. Sure, there were questions in the back of my head, but I was able to follow the story fine.

Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some would find it to be the most confusing blockbuster ever. Solving puzzles while watching movies isn’t for everyone. And I know some people couldn’t even sit through Inception, a movie that for me, compared to Tenet, was a lot easier to follow. What I’m really trying to say is, I didn’t like the movie not because I didn’t get it (die-hard fanboys favorite ultra lame defense no.1: you don’t get it) or that because it was super-confusing. I didn’t like Tenet because it was like munching on two full popcorn bags of PLOT when you already ran out of drinks.

There’s just so much PLOT. Couple that with constantly loud score not by Hans Zimmer (thus, a lot of inaudible dialogues), plenty of exposition, a few memorable “cool” setpieces and a hokey, partly uneventful final act, and what you have is basically a pizza with two-inch thick crust but with very little toppings. I mean, the movie’s overflowing with PLOT (thus, the need for loads of expository dialogue to forward and explain it), but with very little in terms of believable character motivation, drama, and suspense.

I mean, fuck, if I don’t really care that much about the characters, why would I care about the outcome? You can’t be just following the plot for sake of it, right? Well, a lot of people actually liked the movie. So, maybe for them following the PLOT was enough and in itself was entertaining enough.

By the way, I liked Tenet slightly more than Dunkirk, a movie whose plot can be summed up as: they rescued the soldiers—the end. You could say that Dunkirk was super-lacking in what Tenet has overabundance of. By the way, that war movie was lacking in characters too. At least Tenet has John David Washington playing The Protagonist (no kidding, his character is called The Protagonist really), a sad and sexy Elizabeth Debecki, Robert Pattinson (who’s obviously having more fun than his co-stars) and a generic Russian villain.

The Real True Meaning of ‘Gaheto’ in Eraserheads’ “Harana” 

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Back in 1997, Eraserheads released an EP, a taste test for their then upcoming fifth studio album. They called it Bananatype. And put a monkey on its cover. At the time, local bands/artists don’t usually release EPs or maxi-singles. Which explains why Ely Buendia had to explain what is an EP and why, during their TV appearances. Not all of their fans were familiar with the format. Continue reading “The Real True Meaning of ‘Gaheto’ in Eraserheads’ “Harana” “

Movies: Porno, Supercop, The Whistlers, Zorro

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Just Another Movie Post

Last movie you’ve seen?

Live Free or Die Hard. The one with Justin Long and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. MEW, who’s gorgeous as ever, played John McClane’s (Bruce Willis, ICYDK) daughter. I went to my parents’ last week and I decided to dust off some old DVDs, movies which I haven’t seen before. We saw Die Hard and Die Hard 2 first. The next day, I decided to skip Die Hard 3 and went with Live Free (or Die Hard 4) Continue reading “Movies: Porno, Supercop, The Whistlers, Zorro”

Reviews: Radioactive Sago Project

The Radioactive Sago Project (2000)
This bop-rock posse mixes horns and riffs, low brow and literary, drunken conversations and frenzy orgy, all in a smoky bar where a drunk-ass poet intone his spiels in one dark corner. From pigs to pork barrel, somebody probably thought we were never ready for “Gusto Ko Ng Baboy.” Truth is, we were never ready for this whole album, where Andrew E.’s “Humanap Ka Ng Panget” gets a blow-job makeover (Palagi s’yang nakahalik sa aking *bleeeep*). The early aughts was weird. You have Sandwich, Sago and those “kupaw” bands while the popular radio plays Aiza Seguerra. A- 

Urban Gulaman (2004)
Reimagined old Manila as if it was all neon, funk and jazz. Squatterjazz instead Squatterpunk. Lourd de Veyra jettisoned the non-Tagalog numbers for ones written spoken in the vernacular. Whether it’s de Veyra having written his best spiels yet or the band being in the perfect groove or both, this set is wittier, sharper, funnier at the same time more immediate, more accessible than the first (“Hello”, “Kape”, “Masarap”). There’s no question “Bad Motherfucker” is a bad motherfucker, but maybe you need at least a liter of gin pomelo in your blood to dig “Gin Pomelo.” And as Malkmus once said, words—they’re diamond-sharp today (“Magbanat ng buto at gawing bulalo”, “Burak sa kape, gamot sa ubo, sa utak ng gago”, the whole of “Alaala Ni Batman”). Also, sage advice: Wag Kang Maingay May Naglalaba.

Tanginamo Andaming Nagugutom Sa Mundo Fashionista Ka Pa Rin (2007)
Not exactly as wasak as Sago covering songs by other nominees that year in the NU rock awards but damn close. (Or was it Myx? MTV? Can’t remember.) And maybe, just as cluttered. This is the sound of a band who “carte blanche” after two albums—ram in every damn ideas that they could. Sage piece of advice: Alak, Sugal, Kape, Babae, Kabaong. B+ 

Ang Itlog At Ang Demonyo (2014)
A somewhat sober return to the forms they already bastardized and butchered before, and more. Actually, less. Either you thought they couldn’t top that last album and you’re proven right. Or, that this is just a little more focused than the last one. “Miting Ng Mga Atay” is probably their catchiest sing-song in a while. As usual, music good for uneasy listening—that comes with great album art—that comes in the worst of digipak packaging from Terno Recordings. B

Reviews: Loop, Kai Honasan

Kai Honasan – In Your Face & Other Songs About Other Faces (2014)
You know the type—soft-strummed cutesy girly pop that either makes you roll your eyes or makes you feel sleepy—songs that somehow, typified the ukulele. Not when Kai Honasan is the one wielding it. Not when she can smack you with it right in the face. Not when the producers, Eheads vets Buddy Zabala and Sancho Sanchez, recognize that the songs need more than four strings—drums, keyboards, maybe a little kazoo. You may admire the songs about the annoying guys she knew or dated but you’d surely like her song about the one who always gets her tongue-tied (I could write a hundred words for every second in this melody / Make a bunch of metaphors saying how it should be you and me) and the one where she gave her all—a la Mariah Carey. And that song about the desaparecido/rebel and his muse that sounds like a lilting serenade on a firefly-lit night? There’s no more perfect way to cap this (mini)album. A- 

Loop – Flirting with the Universe (2014)
Don’t be tricked into dismissing them for that nondescript album cover or be deceived by the non-Google-friendly name, the familiar one-word titles (“Runaway”, “Lost”, “Lite”). Vanilla or just another female-fronted band they’re anything but. The words may be mere when you read them but not when Kim Trinidad sings, feels them. As the old adage goes, you can’t tell a book digital album by its cover. This is a dreamy pop-rock record layered with cake, jam, cream – perfect to go with that overpriced coffee one of the songs took its title from (“Peppermint Mocha”). I’m usually not a fan of great singers (all my favorite singers couldn’t sing) but after watching Loop live online, I wanted to write a song that starts with “Dear Kim.” No, not Sembreak—Eminem. A-

God Exists 360 Degrees

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Sad and shocking news. While I don’t consider myself a big fan of theirs, my closest friends are. Friends who I haven’t seen for years. Brothers who I’m sure would pass the Dead Body Theory of Friendship. Though in theory, the test wouldn’t be the hiding of the body but what comes before the hiding part.

Continue reading “God Exists 360 Degrees”

Reviews: Ourselves the Elves, Oh, Flamingo!

Ourselves the Elves – It’ll Be Alright (2013)
What elevates this from the rest of female-fronted bands of local indieland, I don’t know exactly. Maybe it’s the lack of synths. Or the lo-fi prod perhaps? Maybe it’s the untamed cymbals occasionally clashing with the guitars. Or maybe it’s the intimate air that makes me feel I’m in the same room with them – and they’re giving me the finest 12 minutes of twee-folk I can find – online. Or maybe it’s Akira Medina and Alyana Cabral’s call and response on “Shelter”. And maybe because their music reminds me a bit of Camera Obscura, only it’s more stripped-down and folksy. A-

Ourselves the Elves – Geography Lessons (2015)
Not only a little less “less produced” than their first EP. Perhaps it’s even overproduced, taking their debut as reference that they kind of lose some of those earthly charms. No more “recorded live and in the same room” feels, but no less inviting. Because the crystal clear production also added a magical dimension into the songs (“Longing For”, “Uncertainly”). Magical as in elven, but think Kidlat Tahimik, not Tolkien. Also, why is it that sad songs resonate more than the relatively less sad ones? A-

Oh, Flamingo! – Oh, Flamingo! (2015)
They have some really nifty guitar-indie pop, with some odd, maybe not African-inspired beats (maybe) that you’d wish they have something more interesting to say. Or at least, interesting way(s) to say them. Maybe their latest, “Parara”, “Naubos Na” were attempts in trying to do that. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking because, here’s a band narrowing the gender gap among other things (i.e., they got a cute girl drummer). So I just turn up the volume for those tasty guitar parts. Though I wish some real feelings poked through more often, like in the song they’ve curiously hidden, after the “final track.” B+

Oh, Flamingo! – Volumes (2020)
Probably underrated their first EP the first time around. And it wasn’t until I revisited it for reference, that I realized what I missed—that it’s probably the closest one can get to a certain brand of [guitar] indie rock in this day and age. My initial disappointment though with how plainly they state things sometimes, still holds true. And carries on to this second EP. They’re less obvious this time. I’ll give them that. Though I don’t think it’s the type that makes one bother to look up for hidden meanings, none of which, the band haven’t already willfully revealed. And ideally, it isn’t enough to wear your influence on your sleeve and sing about the same things they already sang about before (e.g., love, sunsets)—and better—no matter how much psychedelic wizardry you mix them with. Like in their first EP, the best cut comes last. Though with the image of their sweaty guitarist stuck in my head, it makes me regret to have read about the song’s backstory. Wish I could unread it. Hint: It’s not about a sweater like the Weezer song; he’s the sweater. Kind of not clever really, if you think about it. B+

Songs for Driving

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Photo by UHGO on Pexels.com

Three typhoons in two weeks is no laughing matter. Five, if we include the tropical storms. And despite being constantly on Facebook for the latest weather bulletins and updates I found myself wondering the other day: “How come the last Typhoon was called Ulysses when the ones before them were Quinta and Rolly? What happened to S and T?” Continue reading “Songs for Driving”

Cutterpillow going 25; Circus redux/reordered

cutterpillow

So the #ultrasecret sessions actually did happen. With each member of the band recording their tracks separately in their own studios. Maybe the “Ligaya” guitar track uploaded by Marcus Adoro on YouTube was really from these sessions, not from the rehearsals during the ‘reunion tour’ as I’ve previously mentioned. 

Continue reading “Cutterpillow going 25; Circus redux/reordered”

Music: The Bernadettes, EndofContracts, Bembol Rockers, etc.

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Let’s talk about bands you probably heard of before but never heard from again.

Bembol Rockers. Chances are, you probably knew more about Bembol Rocco’s children than the band whose name was inspired by Bembol Roco’s children’s father, who’s no other than—take a guess—Bembol Roco himself. And you probably knew more about Bembol Roco himself and his escapades in Manila in the Claws of Neon and how he lost Ligaya (before the Eraserheads found her again) than these rowdy quartet who specializes in rockabilly and swing. One more thing this band specializes in: How to disappear completely. Unlike Bembol the actor whom you can still see on TV from time to time, Bembol the band hasn’t left much trace, scent, internet footprint or whatever that could be traced back to them. Found no articles written about them. They made one album apparently. Or maybe two. One is The Fabolous Bembol Rockers (according to Discogs.com) and two, this “Live” album found on pinoyalbums(dot)com which has the same tracklisting as the former.

The Bernadettes. I should probably stop writing this now because the band just released a brand new track last September. Like the Bembol Rockers, The Bernadettes were a hot commodity many moons ago. Never really heard anything by them until today, when I (re)discovered their song “Let’s Make Babies” on Lilystars Records’ Bandcamp page while looking for We Are Imaginary’s debut EP One Dreamy Indeterminate Hum. “Let’s Make Babies” is a great indie-pop song. Catchy chorus, great hooks. It’s like Nirvana’s “Molly’s Lips” meets Weezer and Oasis in a non-alcoholic bar and decided to have a threesome. Except all of them are males and therefore making babies is very much not possible at all. And the album cover featuring an elephant mounting a rhino? Not very wholesome, these guys. And I was really really disappointed when I found out that Bernadette Sembrano, Bernadette Allyson, and Bernadette Whatshername were not really the members of the band.

Your Imaginary Friends. Well, first off, they’re not real. Believe me. I used to have one when I was a kid. And my mom used to… Oh! You mean the band! Sorry, I thought… Okay, the band… Yeah, Ahmad Tanji & co. gave us “Nikita“, this EP and went into hiding, never to be heard from ever again. A lot of bands in Clem Castro’s Lilystars Records are like that, actually. The Camerawalls had only one album. The Gentle Isolation, The Viral Atmosphere, The Harsh Quarantines—all of them had only one album to their name. They’re still around actually, Your Imaginary Friends. Except they’re not your imaginary friends anymore. They turned out to be real. And they turned out to be not your friends. No, they changed their name to We Are Imaginary—I know, a little less catchy and imaginative if you’d ask me. At least they’re not imaginary anymore. Oh, wait, they still are.

The Butchercons. According to Stephen Malkmus, punk bands should release just one album and then break up. Maybe because there’s no merit in releasing same album over and over again. Maybe that’s The Butchercons’ credo too. One album and they’re done. Their album Coalesce may not be one of the best albums from the last decade but it’s a solid rock album. The guitars in this album totally owns, man! And these kids can really scream! Put this record on when you’re running low on energy. Or you can go to the nearest Family Mart and grab that energy bar. But if you have allergies, like me, then The Butchercons is your safest option. Of course, there’s also Cobra, Red Bull and coffee.

End of Contracts. You probably saw Edouard Canlas once on TV parading his bodega full of sneakers, but you probably never heard of End of Contracts, his musical alter-ego. End of Contracts’ lone CD Radioedito and Narda’s Discotillion came out around the same time. Thinking about it now, I actually regretted buying that Turin Brakes CD one time I was in Glorietta. Or Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah’s debut album. I should have bought Radioedito instead (and Moonstar88’s Todo Combo). I should have gambled on this one. It may not have been worth it but at least I wouldn’t be wondering now how the songs on this album sounds. I never really heard any song from this album, except for “Alamona”, which is actually a great song. Either it sounds like a long lost OPM gem from the 70s or a retro-hit in the vein of Itchyworms’ “Beer”, only it’s underplayed, underrated, and not a little bit vulgar.

Breeder’s Digest No. X

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Cats killing dogs, cocks killing cops

Tarantadong Kalbo posted a cartoon featuring a head of a rooster this morning. For a moment there, I thought it’s one of those revelations — that he’s also a Pavement fan, that it was a Watery, Domestic reference. Until I read the caption. The caption reads “Elmer <3,” a nod to Gerry Alanguilan’s graphic novel of the same name. (Just kidding about that Pavement bit, but TK made a Bly Manor reference just the other day, so…)

Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest No. X”

Breeder’s Digest: San Cisco, Neil Young, Oh, Flamingo!

Why Oh, Flamingo! should change their name to Oh Flamingo

What new artists you discovered this year?
Off the top my head, Khruangbin, Japanese Breakfast, Stella Donnelly, Marren Morris and Men I Trust. Last year it was Mitski, Lucy Dacus, beabadoobee… Khruangbin, Men I Trust and Japanese Breakfast I discovered via YouTube. Maren Morris and Stella Donnelly, I saw them on some website and I probably wouldn’t give them a listen if not for their respective album covers. Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest: San Cisco, Neil Young, Oh, Flamingo!”

Woman by the Window (1998)

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I remember sitting in a sordid theater in the north by northwest somewhere in Isabela to be inexact watching a double feature, one featuring Rosanna Roces and one with the hot newcomer Klaudia Koronel, the title of which, I’m not going to reveal here. The first one is a Chito Rono film, a sexy noir that mixes Tsai Ming Lai, Scorpio Nights and Hitchcockian thriller.

The second one is a campy affair that only reminds me how huge people are when they are in the nude and on the big screen. In one scene, Klaudia Koronal went skinny dipping. Everything’s so big—and they’re even bigger on the big screen—she looked like a giant Amazonian—and the water, so pristine that you could see the waves and the swirling vortices glides by her nude figure.

Going back to Babae sa Bintana (Woman by the Window), according to Letterboxd, the synopsis of which goes like this: Abandoned by his wife, Mitch (Richard Gomez) finds respite from his depression by spying on beautiful new neighbor Jack (Rosanna Roces); next thing you know, the pair becomes intimately acquainted. But trouble lies ahead: It seems that Jack’s lover (John Estrada) has ties to Manila’s underworld, and Mitch soon finds himself in grave danger. That’s like 50-plus words, by the way. So, if you want to write longer… you know what to do.

So, Mitch was feeling depressed, kind of. And to drag him out of it, his friends tried to entertain him by having Efren Reyes, Jr. dress in drag and sing and dance for him. It didn’t work. Of course, it wouldn’t. Efren Reyes, Jr. is well-known as a ruthless baddie in action movies, he kills innocent people and if he needs to, he rapes anyone related to the hero (the hero’s sister, his girlfriend, wife, dentist, make-up artist, even the hero’s PA). Even if it isn’t in the script. All for the sake of being in character. If he was in Game of Thrones, I’m sure he’d be the one to kill Sean Bean’s character. And to have him in drag and sing and dance like an idiot, definitely a stroke of genius from director Chito Rono.

As I was saying, it didn’t work; tall dark and handsome Mitch was still depressed. And so they hired a prostitute, played by Janice Jurado, who then proceeded to seduce Mitch and shoved his Richard Gomez face into her mighty Twin Peaks. It still didn’t work. Goma wasn’t turned on, not even a bit. Despite his face being pressed and squeezed between two huge mountains like Bernardo Carpio.

Depressed and disappointed, Goma called for an emergency meeting with the producers, the screenwriters and direk. “Direk, wala na bang mas OK na ka-eksena d’yan? ‘Yung pwedeng pang-FAMAS.” Goma explained that there’s no way he’s going to get turned on by a fearsome thug in drag (Reyes) or an aging sexy star from the 80’s (Jurado). Nor were they going to get him out of depression.

Enter Rossana Roces. Fresh from the box office success of a string of movies she had recently starred in, the titles of which I’m too lazy to Google now (implying I haven’t seen them – not gonna lie, I really haven’t seen them, in the movies or on VCD). To cut the story short, Osang was in, and Goma had his hardest hard-on ever. It was like the Incredible Hulk’s coming out/“I’m always angry” scene from that movie The Avengers (not the 1998 movie with Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes, the 2012 one from Marvel).

In a not so subtle reference to Rear Window, Mitch (Gomez) spied on Jill—or was it Jack, whatever—and Jill caught him. Thus, they ended up in bed, together, because the screenplay said they should be. And what follows is montage of Jack and Jill’s affair and it was the most realistic relationship ever played on screen: it was all sex, all day, all night, and no talking. Or maybe I’m just remembering it wrong. Sorry, it has been two full decades already.

So they had sex all night long. They did it in bed, between the sheets, without the sheets, on the floor, on the kitchen floor. They did it naked, half naked, with the camera man watching and a handful of prod assistants standing around trying to focus on doing their job while at the same time can’t stop looking at two naked stars doing their best to act in a simulated sex scene that would make us believe they’re really doing it when in fact they’re actually not.

They even did it even when it’s raining and the water was pouring out from the holes on the roof because the carpenters won’t fix it because Chito Rono told them not to. It was raining so hard and they were fucking so hard that there’s even a small palanggana beside them to catch the falling rainwater even though it wasn’t really rainwater—it’s water from the fire truck rented by the producers.

After the sex comes violence. And this is where John Estrada forgets that Goma has been a Palibhasa Lalake mainstay (together with Joey Marquez) long before John was in show business. John probably said sorry to Goma before he gave him the nastiest bits of violence Goma ever tasted in his whole showbiz career but John had no other choice, he had to stay in character.

All these events, eventually, would inspire Goma, later in his life, to become our very own Vincent Van Gogh. He may not have survived by the movie’s end, but he went on with his life, became a town mayor and painted his obra maestra. And in case you’ve been wondering who was the inspiration for those gigantic paintings, NO, it wasn’t Lucy Torres. It was Rosanna Roces all along. Always has been.

Songs for the Pandemic

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

You have your Sad Bastard Music playlist, your All-Nighter Playlist, your Daily Bus Ride playlist, your After-Five Overtime playlist, your Aerobics Playlist, your Daily Traffic Anxiety playlist, and so and so. Oftentimes, these playlists are more or less the same, interchangeable, except for the first one. Unless, of course, all your playlists are actually Sad Bastard Music with different names. Continue reading “Songs for the Pandemic”

Reviews: Introvoys

Back to the Roots (1991) “Calling All Nations” is like a late ’80s pre-internet “Pump Up Kicks” with a cliche positive vibes instead of a quiet kid with a gun. You know, the ’80s was so obsessed with ‘world peace.’ There’s ‘world peace,’ then there’s overt objectification in “Maynila.” The chorus goes “Sa Maynila ka makakahanap ng magagandang babae,” as if beautiful girls were cars, tall buildings, and every thing that screams Manila and not provincial. The whole thing isn’t worth your bandwidth, save for “However Which Way” which is good. C

Breaking New Grounds (1993) For the record, this broke no new grounds. Though this one at least makes a little more sense than them going back to the roots. It was their first outing so, back from where? “Stay” is catchy, like a synth pop Bon Jovi and “Are You Happy” is a passable hair metal ballad that isn’t hairy enough, ballsy or cocky enough. “Will I Ever Survive” is the first true winner here, this album’s “However Which Way,” a pop-metal ballad a la White Lion tho not as epic and memorable as Rockstar’s “Parting Time.” “Di Na Ko Aasa Pa” was also kinda big. C+

Line to Heaven (1994) “Kailanman,” “Line to Heaven,” and whatever’s the big deal with Geneva Cruz and Paco Arespacochaga. Well, there’s clearly no “Kailanman.” Just ask KC Montero. Like the previous albums, this is ripe with cliche, kind of (and I’m probably being generous here) generic sounding songs and a couple of passable radio singles. There’s probably more objectionable content in the lyrics (i.e., Maynila) in all these three albums but fortunately, you won’t care to listen any harder because the music, uh, kinda sucks, way waaay more often than not. C

10 Albums That Didn’t Change My Life

MTV Unplugged in New York. Thor, Norse god of thunder, once said that Asgard was just like Earth — only they didn’t have cable TV. Maybe we lived in Asgard then, ’cause we didn’t have cable as well. We only had either GMA (they used to air taped week-old shows) or the ABS provincial station, depending on the orientation of the antenna mounted Continue reading “10 Albums That Didn’t Change My Life”

Death Sentence (2007)

Fatherly love and sibling rivalry

death-sentence-movie-posterStory-wise, Death Sentence (2007) is just your typical vigilante action movie. The son is murdered by gangsters at a gas station and the father goes after his son’s killers. If you’re expecting any new twist or new ingredients added to this basic story, then this might disappoint. But this isn’t just another vigilante action movie; James Wan’s detour from the horror genre is a potent action-drama. There’s an airtight thrilling chase in a populated business area and parking garage and the movie’s third act boasts a number of impressive, stylishly crafted action set pieces — even if the last sequence borrows heavily from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

Before the heartbreaking hospital scene at the end of the first act (which had me bawling like child, by the way) is a modestly effective set-up usually uncommon for a film of this sort: a portrait of a happy family—husband, wife, two boys—that’s not without its own little imperfections (there’s a brewing sibling rivalry, the firstborn was the father’s favorite). You somehow expect in advance that their happiness and all this are not going to last. And since you have these likable characters, the bond between them, you also fear for them because you know what’s coming — because that’s how it works in this kind of movies. Someone’s gonna die and someone’s going to avenge their death.

And so the couple never saw their son again. He died on the night he revealed to his dad that he wanted to go to Canada and play Hockey for the rest of his life. Father and son were on their way home and just came from a Hockey game. And his mama never get to him before he died in the hospital. And while the song used in that scene — an emo-pop track from Pilot Speed called “Alright” — took me a bit out of the movie, I thought the scene was powerful enough to be ruined by it.

Death broke every one of them, the father, the mother, the younger brother. When the father learns that there’s a slim chance the killer would stay in jail (there were no other witnesses, no CCTV), he decided to drop the charge and take matters into his own hands.

There’s nothing really new about all this but the movie managed to convincingly portray the father’s descent into the level of the people who perpetrated his son’s murder. The movie shows how stupid his decisions are, how ill-equipped he is against a bunch of criminals and how the people he’s dealing with have really nothing to lose compared to him. It also shows that killing someone isn’t as easy as some movies would like to tell you; it takes its toll mentally, physically, psychologically.

What ultimately made the movie for me, is the part where the father tries to patch things up with his younger son, revealing that he expected him to be like his older brother. And that when the younger son turned out to be not like his firstborn, he was kind of disappointed. And so the younger son gets less attention.

While older movies like this (e.g., Death Wish) can be read as advocating vigilantism, if you look past the stylish and action-overdriven third act, this movie’s undercurrent is no other than the stupidity of it. And there’s one joke in the movie to clearly illustrate that. There is this one scene where, the protagonist, while in his office, talks about risk assessment (he works for an insurance company). For someone who has a lot to lose, it’s the one thing he totally forgets before going after his son’s killer.

Movies I’ve Seen This Year: Aliens, First Love, Starship Troopers, etc.

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Apocalypse Now (1979) is a Vietnam war movie partly inspired by Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. The story is set in Vietnam and Cambodia but it was shot entirely in the Philippines. I don’t remember there was a dog in Un Chien Andalou (1929), a movie that probably wasn’t even shot in Andalusia. In Lucio Fulci’s The Devil’s Honey (1986), a guy plays and uses his saxophone (sexophone?) to make love to his girlfriend. Sadistically. Sexual Chronicles of a French Family (2012) is exactly what the title says only more pornographic.

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Starship Troopers (1997) is well-made bad B-movie with great special effects and really bad acting (i.e., Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards) you’d think everything wasn’t on purpose. Even Roger Ebert, who noticed the satirical elements and compared the movie to Start Wars (If “Star Wars” is humanist, “Starship Troopers” is totalitarian), thought it wasn’t a satire through and through. He probably wanted to enjoy the movie so bad, wanted to see ‘heroes’ he could cheer and root for.

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Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982) is about dirt bike racer who was sent back to 1877. It’s dirt bike racer versus horse-riding outlaws. I would have probably enjoyed this more if the synth score wasn’t so loud. Power Rangers (2017) was slightly good enough to waste one late afternoon during the lock-down until the third act, which tried too hard to imitate the crappy fight scenes of the TV series. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) is good straight spy spoof set in Berlin Wall-divided Germany. Cool soundtrack. Even though my favorite electronic group U.N.K.L.E. wasn’t in it, my dear old uncle likes it too.

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Good Bye, Lenin! (2003) is damn near perfect movie. Thanks to The Man from UNCLE, I was reminded this movie exists. Probably one of the best movies I’ve seen recently. I tried watching Lav Diaz’s 8-hour epic Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (2016) but I stopped after the musician-revolutionary played by Ely Buendia, who I thought was the lead character, died in a skirmish. The Hole in the Ground (2019) is set in a place where there is, literally, a huge hole in the ground and I like it when movies don’t try to mislead you.

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Turn Me On, Dammit! (2011) is probably my favorite coming of age sex comedy. Also, I like exclamation marks in movie titles. I thought Borgman (2013) was about the marginalized organizing themselves and eating the rich but no online review seems to share the same reading as mine. You may like Borgman though, if you liked Parasite (2019). The Gentlemen (2019) is actually about a bunch of drug-dealers and killers. I liked it even though the title is somewhat misleading.

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Aliens (1986) is one of the greatest ever and it’s probably more “feminist” than the crappy Captain Marvel. Adam McKay’s The Other Guys (2010) is The Big Short of buddy cop action comedy. I liked it better than Hell or High Water (2016), another movie about financial institutions being the enemy. Reign of Fire (2002) is curious little flop starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey made at the time when CGI in movies wasn’t as common as today. And you can see how the filmmakers dealt with the problem of framing a fight between man and huge fire-breathing dragon.

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The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo is not a real book nor a real movie. But The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) is real and it’s pierced, tattooed, sexy, thrilling and cold. Wait, I can’t believe it. The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo is actually a real book. Takashi Miike’s First Love (2019) is a “wholesome” gangster movie—by Ichi the Killer standards that is. It’s probably my favorite Miike after 13 Assassins. Tulume Alyas Zorro (1983) mixes supernatural elements with the adventures of the famous masked bandit. Panday‘s arch-nemesis Lizardo (Max Alvarado) even had a cameo.

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Je n’écris généralement pas en français mais Panique Au Village (2009) est une excellente animation en stop-motion sur Cowboy, Horse et Indian. Merci Google Traduction. #Jowable is somewhat #watchable; I liked the nunsploitation part. The Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971) is an enjoyable old horror movie even though Satan and his claws were not in the movie. Alain Delon’s clumsy effeminate governor in Zorro (1975) is so fun to watch. Like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in those Pirates movies.

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My Ultranationalist Uncle (2018) is true-to-life story about every ultranationalist uncle (I know there are a lot out there) and his student activist niece. One of the best road movies I’ve seen. Wait for the punchline in the end-credits. Budots: The Craze takes you to where it all started, introduces a very different kind of dance scene and maybe, a face of the city you haven’t heard or read about before. The End is Bigger than Love (2014) is a sexy romance zombie apocalypse that has more sex than zombies.

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Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone (2007) made me want to watch the TV series but I’m torn between watching the original series and finishing the first three movies of the Rebuild of Evagelion tetralogy now that the final piece is on the way. The stilted, almost emotionless, transactional-like dialogues in The Killing of A Sacred Deer (2017) made the movie kind of hard to watch, like there’s always something off about it. And yet, when film came to its climax, I thought it was better to have been made that way — distanced, because it would have been more scary if it was more real.

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Atomic Blonde (2017) has some real great fights that are less repetitive than the last John Wick movie. And they’re admirable — the choreography, the execution, the cameraworks. But all this double dealing double agents, M16 vs KGB—this whole enterprise felt bruised, numb, recycled and tired — just like Charlize Theron’s Lorraine at the start of the movie, bathing in a tub full of ice. The lesbian sex was hot tho.

Explaining ‘Andalusian Dog’, ‘Ha Ha Ha’ and other songs from Sticker Happy

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Orange & Melons (circa. 1929)

I already wrote a long-ish one about ‘Kaliwete’ — yes, that song, and no, it’s not what some people thought it was about. Now, it’s time we get into the other songs from Eraserheads’ first and only fifth album. I don’t really feel like writing a long intro so I won’t be dissing IVoS or Ben&Ben fans this time. By the way, I think I liked Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions’ Bavarian Fruit Bread Continue reading “Explaining ‘Andalusian Dog’, ‘Ha Ha Ha’ and other songs from Sticker Happy”

Rivermaya – Free (2000)

Rivermaya.freeYears before leaking albums online became a trend, a few before online file sharing became the norm, and seven years before Radiohead sold their then new record In Rainbows thru pay-as-you-want at £ 0.00 minimum, Rivermaya self-produced and gave away their fifth album, aptly titled Free, not just online, not just digitally, but also in CD format, given to loyal fans thru mail and at their gigs. Yes, Rivermaya fucking did it first.

Free was released in “The Year Piracy Broke” and mainstream interest in local rock music reached ground zero. Again. Thus, you’d most likely learn about Free on the internet, than catch “Faithless” or “Ambulansya” on the radio—unless by radio, you mean NU107. And just in case you haven’t heard the album yet, do yourself a favor and check “Faithless” and “Ambulansya” on YouTube. The former is driven by Mark Escueta’s pounding rhythm and punctuated by Rico Blanco’s raspy, Kurt Cobain-like scream in the chorus. The latter is a piano-laden dirge about being caught in a causality loop of road accident and traffic jam (“Hindi na tayo gagalaw, hindi na tayo aabante,” Blanco sings on top of a looped ambulance siren).

Outside all the hype (or whether you consider it gimmick, commercial suicide or publicity stunt), Free is an exceptional rock record. It’s really good and by really good, I mean better than any of the first three Rivermaya albums. Imagine taking the best of late ’80s and ’90s guitar-rock (i.e., Nirvana, Pixies, Silkworm), Radiohead’s Kid A, some Chuck Palaniuk and mix them with the solid songwriting of Rico Blanco and Nathan Azarcon. That is, Rivermaya never rocked harder than with “Faithless”, “Serious Offender” and “Again” and they’ve never been as “out there” weird than in “Ambulansya” and “Steady” (Steady/ parang slowly/ na medyo relax/ pero hindi// Parang/ lumang free throw/ ni Bogs Adornado/ noong uso pa ang Afro… Ang gadget/ sarap tapakan/ ang chorus ay tubig/ delay kalangitan… Steady/ ang barbero/ may labahang bago’t/ kamay na pasmado).

Free‘s odd combination of the abrasive/aggressive and weird electronic psychedelia might have been Rivermaya’s response to the burgeoning new metal scene of the late ’90s (i.e., Greyhounds, Slapshock). Only, instead of adding a DJ to the line-up, they went deeper and turn the distortion and weirdness knobs to eleven. The result is more post-hardcore than post-grunge, more rock than hybrid metal.

Or maybe, this is just the natural progression from their last album, which alongside Teeth’s I Was A Teenage Tree and Sandwich’s Grip Stand Throw, is one of the best local guitar-rock albums of from the late ‘90s. Either way, Free contains songs that perfectly captures the raw power of late ’80s early ’90s rock in a bottle and mixed them with some of Radiohead’s early aughts electronic flavors without emulating Pixies or Nirvana or sounding like a Kid A-wannabe.


Just want to share this cool ‘baliktad’ version of “Steady”, the closing track of the album. Kudos to the uploader and whoever did this!

Rivermaya – It’s Not Easy Being Green (1999)

greenThe Rivermaya-Bamboo breakup in ’98 was such a bummer, it was a heartbreaker, that the band’s fourth LP, It’s Not Easy Being Green, features some of Rivermaya’s most personal songs—some about breakup, some about moving on. The album title itself is a reference to a specific song lamenting the state of “being green”, of being ordinary, of disappearing into the background—that without the rockstar vocalist, they’re just these three regular guys.

There’s “Shattered Like” implicitly referencing Bamboo leaving the group, the country-folk “May Kasalanan”, about being left behind, “Bagong Taon”, where Blanco compares his love life to an assortment of fireworks (baby rocket, trumpilyo, lucis), and “Never Been Better”, a song about having moved on or feigning it. All four highlight the album in varying level of cathartic phlebotomy before “Homecoming” closes the album with a teary-eyed “Lover come home, lover come home.”

But Rivermaya (this time just Mark, Nathan and Rico), bemoans “being green” much less than they embrace it. And totally embrace being green they did. As if the band said “Fuck it! We’ll just do what we want to do”, Rivermaya delivered their darnedest best with this album. Never before did a Rivermaya album sound this focused, this consistent. The songs just flow, fly and soar from start to end. Less of that faux experimental shit that littered their previous album (i.e., Atomic Bomb).

While the sad songs hit the sad notes where they need to, stompers like “Grounded Ang Girlfriend Ko”, “Nerbyoso”, and “Sorry” totally rocks. The epic “Bagong Taon”, with guitar pyrotechnics that reminds me of Radiohead’s “Creep” and Bush’s “Swallowed”, is as great as any of the best tracks from Free, Atomic Bomb or Trip.

Then, there’s “Rodeo”, a song about “a song about true love”, with Blanco’s perfectly faux cowboy twang, country-folk beat and honky keys, it’s just perfect. Most likely inspired by Beck’s Odelay (with both Beck and Odelay mentioned in the lyrics), “Rodeo” is album’s ultimate equalizer, balancing the heartbreak and sad songs, with bawdy humor and glee (What sweeter thing could happen to a boy and a girl / we gotta do it like mechanical rabbits from hell, yeah).

Is this album better than Free? Well, actually I won’t mind putting either ahead of the other. Free is more left-of-the-dial, more like In Utero than Nevermind while It’s Not Easy Being Green is more varied, more expansive. It covers more area, it’s more complete, y’know, from A to Zinc. And to these impaired ears, it’s the quintessential Rivermaya record.

Breeder’s Digest: Japanese Breakfast, beabadoobee, Mellow Fellow

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Opening an attachment within an attachment within another attachment in Outlook is like going down multiple layers of dreams in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. You click the X button and suddenly you’re back in the real world. Or was it dream level 01? Well, depends if the top is still spinning. Anyway, I’m not saying Inception was really great Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest: Japanese Breakfast, beabadoobee, Mellow Fellow”

Midyear Music Rundown

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Was thinking of writing about the songs I’ve been listening to for the last six months. Music recommendation of some sorts. Only that if Kanye has Late Registration, we, here at breathing like karma, have a fresh new segment called Late Recommendations. This is the portion of the site where we recommend new songs which came out maybe a year ago Continue reading “Midyear Music Rundown”