Was watching another MYX documentary the other day about bands and gangs, and drugs, orgies and stuff. Okay. Just bands, local bands and the music scene from early 2000s onwards, featuring interviews with the members of Sandwich, Parokya, Kamikazee, Pupil, Slapshock, Hale, Cueshe, Callalily Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest: MYXposed, Ely Buendia, Diane Ventura”
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 Continue reading “Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best”
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.
And the album itself? It’s hard to underrate an album that houses those aforementioned hits, but compared with Trip and other debut albums at the time (Teeth, Album Na Walang Pamagat, Ultraelectromagneticpop), RiverMaya is more like a dozen different things coming at you than a knockout punch. Outside of Bamboo’s voice and irresistible charisma, the band’s signature sound is that they don’t have one. RiverMaya is split between a band album and a really good bar band (i.e., “Gravity” is well-played but says next to nothing when compared with “Shake Yer Head”), split between blues, new wave, probably grunge, among other things.
But the band gelled really well, played really well. And the production’s really good (better than Rico Blanco’s uneven work on Trip). Which gave the songs a pinch of flow, even when the genres they take inspiration from don’t seem to mix well (i.e., imagine mixing New Wave and Razorback in one album). And that also makes it easier to let the album grow on you even if the riffs are just OK (“Revolution”) and the boogie somewhat generic (“Halik Sa Araw”), even if the lyrics, outside of the radio hits, are kind of cliche (“Revolution”, “Ground”, “Gravity”) if not downright cheesy (Daanin mo na lang sa konting rock n’ roll! Eww). Which is to say, the passable tracks are passable, because they’re interspersed with the hits—after “Revolution” comes “Bring Me Down”, after “Ground”, “20 Million” and so on.
As The Music Plays, more than anything else, was about how “ecstatic” the band was, that its principal songwriter’s friend, the rockstar vocalist had finally came back, after deserting them, some five years ago. It was good—that debut/comeback album—but not without its flaws. The lesser songs, I could barely remember now.
This rushed follow-up is a bit more ambitious, at times, more interesting; but fumbles on the attempt to produce a single that matches their previous hits. Much of their earthly charm (e.g., Hudas, Masaya) were gone, overtaken by swagger and the fast ballooning self-importance that seeps through its three-word title. As if between the lines, the liner notes read—Bono was here.
“Hallelujah” had (almost) everybody hail hallelujah to the GOAT—I thought the guitars could have been louder, fatter, thicker, or dirtier. “F.U.” was probably directed at their detractors, haters, who in turn found more reason to dis them after it was released as second single. (Who would’ve thought they were so environment-friendly, that they’re kind enough to recycle the melody from the first single). Luckily, there were still leftovers of the band magic they had on their first: “04”, “I-You”, “Peace Man” and “Truth”, the real winners here. The more interesting parts, like “Diner at 6”, are just that—interesting. “Much Has Been Said”, is soulful but also a bit boring, which also informs us where Bamboo would be headed, once he ditch his band-mates again.
They caught and drowned the front man of the world’s worst rock and roll band. He was out of luck because nobody gave a fuck. The jury gathered all around the aqueduct, drinking and laughing and lighting up, reminiscing just how bad he sucked, singing “Throw him in the river, throw him in the river – throw the bastard in the river”.
And way up in the sky is the leader of the greatest band of all time. Blasted from a plane headed back home from the U-S-A. The people gathered all around the radio to hear the transmission from the devil’s soul. (They’re) locked and stung and sick and cold of toasting their bald hero, toasting their bald hero. A toast to their bald hero!
The underground is overcrowded. The underground is overcrowded. The underground is overcrowded. The underground is overcrowded.
(~Slightly modified lyrics from the Archers of Loaf’s Greatest of All Time.)