Sunday, February 16, 2020

Agaw Agimat releases new single “Maghihintay”

Agaw Agimat releases new single “Maghihintay”
By Rick Olivares

Agaw Agimat released a new single, “Maghihintay” and its corresponding music video to last Saturday night, February 15 at 70s Bistro.

“Maghihintay, written by Agaw Agimat’s vocalist Wendy Villanueva, is a heartfelt paean to her mother who recently passed away as well as her beliefs about reincarnation and the cycle of life. The new single follows “Antok” that tells of the challenges that face people who work in the BPO industry – where Villanueva and Agaw Agimat drummer Renmin Nadela also work and came out in December of 2019.

The video for “Maghihintay” was shot in a farming area of Tagaytay called Amadeo and directed by Kadiboy Belarmino (who is also the lead vocalist of another Cavite-based band, Fherrond).

The show was also conceived to be a belated Valentine’s Day show and the first 20 couples were given a free cassette of “Maghihintay” that was manufactured by independent label, Mutilated Noise Records.

“We only had 20 copies of the cassette made,” bared Nadela. “We wanted it to be in a limited number and for the die-hard fans of the band. But we will see if we can add more to sell.”

One fan who lives out in Pililia, Quezon was unable to go. So, he had a friend purchase two tickets to the show to qualify as “a couple” in order to get the cassette.

According to the person who purchased two tickets on his behalf just to get the tape, the fan has every single release of Agaw Agimat and he wanted to maintain a complete collection of everything that is put out. “That really surprised me,” admitted Nadela. “We’ve also been getting a lot of inquiries about another run so we will have to look into this.”

The fourth generation line-up of Agaw Agimat – Renmin Nadela on drums Wendy Villanueva on vocals, John Lugtu (also of the Chongkeys) on guitar, Rene Serna also on guitar (and who also performs with Radha of Kulay and Arnel Pineda), and Adeng Maron (of metal band Orb of Blood) on bass – headlined an impressive show that featured Cavite-based bands Dally (that was very good impression with their groove-infused post-rock sound), the Deftones-inspired Save the Fall, Fherrond, Erectus, and the Chongkeys.

“I think it is an exciting time for Agaw Agimat,” said Nadela before the show. “We feel we have a solid line-up of talented and seasoned musicians. It just flows when we perform or even write music. We’re all excited about creating new music and I think it is safe to say that we will have a new album out before the year ends.”

It has been 16 years since Agaw Agimat released an album. The last was 2004’s Mantra. They previously also released three other albums, R-15 in 1995, Patak in 1997, and the widely-acclaimed Guerilla Ballroom in 2000.

“We were pleasantly surprised that ‘Antok’ received a lot of airplay in Manila and provincial radio stations,” added Nadela. “We’re hoping that ‘Maghihintay’ will also resonate well with music fans as well as music programmers.”

With Renmin Nadela and Wendy Villanueva of Agaw Agimat (and the Republicats).

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Look at the OPM vinyl market in the Philippines today.

A Look at the OPM vinyl market in the Philippines today.
By Rick Olivares

The recent re-release of the Eraserheads’ Ultraelectromagneticpop on vinyl is sold out. No surprise there. Except that it commands a huge price in the re-sale market. 

In a two months’ we’ve seen it reach almost Juan dela Cruz Band proportions. 

What that means in the old Juan dela Cruz Band records sell anywhere from P8,000-30,000 per title! At one time on Ebay, all the records were on sale for almost a half a million pesos! 

It is insane. It sounds too incredible yet it is true. Now whether anyone bought it is anyone’s guess.

As for Ultraelectromagneticpop, what we’ve seen it sell for ranges from P7,000-10,000 and now up to a whopping P20,000 (equivalent on Discogs)!

There were over 40,000 copies of that pressed in compact disc and cassette and it is rare that you will see it for sale. The one time I did see it – and it wasn’t in near mint condition – it sold for P13,000! 

In fact, I have seen the Eraserheads’ last album, Carbonstereoxide, sell for P3,500.

The Ultraelectromagneticpop vinyl release saw only 2,500 copies pressed. So there is that desirability for the title. It’s just that the re-sale price is outrageous! 

Since the return to prominence and popularity of vinyl, we have seen Original Pilipino Music releases from the 1960-1980s shoot up in price. Those old records of the Dawn, Apo Hiking Society, Identity Crisis, Gapo Volumes 1 and 2, Anakbayan, Mike Hanopol, Sampaguita, Wally Gonzales, Jose Mari Chan, Gary Valenciano, and others have really gone up in value.

Of those released in the last decade, the Ang Nawawala soundtrack (with about 300 pressed) are hard to find and it is rare to see it in the back seller’s market. 

If there is any title among those recent re-releases that could possibly – and I must stress possibly --- fetch a high price in the future is Slapshock’s Twelve Point One. Technically, it isn’t a re-release as there is no compact disc or cassette version of this de facto “greatest hits” release that is a double-side picture disc! It does seem to have sold out as I do not see it anymore. 

Other new releases include The Dawn’s Greatest Hits but we aren’t really sure if the original analog masters were used or a compact disc as the local record companies have done so. 

The re-press versions of Apo Hiking Society or even the Boyfriends’ greatest hits retail for P1,500. Yet, some folks re-sell them for several hundred pesos or even up to a thousand pesos plus more. 

The problem is with the old record bars of yore a thing of the past (save for those in the indie market), most do not know where to buy them and simply look online where these re-presses are sold for a higher price.

When Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts was released during the last Christmas season, re-sellers automatically added P300 to their price (limited edition or not). 

The terms “independent” and “underground” are loosely used, but it seems that the latter relates to punk and metal releases while the former is anything not of the aforementioned genres. But for our purposes, we will simply use the term independent. Or indie, as it sounds way more cool.

There is an average of 10 releases on vinyl every years by indie artists. They come out in an assortment of seven-inch singles or extended plays singles or 12-inch Eps or full length albums. They sell anywhere from P350 (for seven-inchers) to as much as P1,500 for the 12-inch full length. Pricing is definitely key.

Of the indie releases in the last 15 years or so, I’d say for the punk and hardcore community, the releases of Abrasive Relations that will curry a lot of value. Post-rock band Legarda has a split single release with Boston’s The Saddest Landscape two years ago. What makes this very hard to find is only 50 copies were pressed! 

However, I don’t imagine this will sell huge in the re-sale market is it is only those in their immediate community who know of the release or will even care to have one. 

If you go back to the 1980s, Ocean Zoo’s EP, Animal Party, is rather difficult to find and commands a high price when it is on the market. When that came out in 1980, it sold for P5.00. It didn’t do too well except for those who were into the scene back then. Right now, it is a Holy Grail for local rock music fans. 

Supposedly, the Eraserheads’ second album, Circus, will also be out on vinyl this year. And we hear that Parokya ni Edgar will also have a record out this year. Whether it is their debut Khangkhungkherrnitz that originally came out in 1996 or a greatest hits release remains to be seen. Whether this is a limited edition or not also remains to be seen. And whether this will command a high re-sale price is anyone’s guess.

I am also told that it isn’t only OPM releases that sell like crazy. Certain records released during the New Wave era also sell for insane prices. Seona Dancing’s release “More to Lose” or those releases by the Care – “Whatever Possessed You” and “Flaming Sword” are in demand that those with copies of this from countries in North America or Europe have jacked up their prices for the Philippine market (apparently, they aren’t as in demand over there). 

During the Record Store Day celebration two years ago, we saw Seona Dancing’s “More to Lose” priced at P14,000! Incredible.

Was it like this when I was buying vinyl in the 1980s? Not really. The only records that I know that were priced steep were the original UK presses of Beatles records. 

Personally, I am happy that vinyl is back. On the other hand, the hunt for records I want brings me back to those days. The one exception are these re-sale prices. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Acclaimed American band, Power Trip, hits Manila with a mega-watt performance

Acclaimed American band, Power Trip, hits Manila with a mega-watt performance
By Rick Olivares

One of the most acclaimed American bands of the last decade hit Manila last Sunday.

Texas crossover thrash metal band Power Trip put on a mega-watt performance in a production by promoter Sleeping Boy Collective last February 9 at the 123 Block.

The crowd of 300 people – including several Danish tourists -- who packed the venue came away tired, sweaty, and bewildered. In fact, some had to sit down in the middle of their raucous set to rest or go for a water break. It was that intense.

And the Dallas, Texas-based band is known just for that – their crossover hardcore punk and thrash metal to go with their livewire shows. They released two critically-acclaimed albums in the past decade – 2013’s Manifest Decimation and 2017’s Nightmare Logic. In between those two albums, the band also put out a couple of extended play albums. 

Along with American acts such as Deafheaven and Vampire Weekend, Power Trip is one of the more lauded and popular bands of the last decade. Such is their draw that top rock acts have oft invited the Texas Thrashers on their tours opening them up to new audiences.

Power Trip – vocalist Riley Gale, guitarists Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart, drummer Chris Ulsh, and bassist Chris Wetzel – are in the midst of a six-nation Asian Tour and Manila was their second stop. 

“It’s cool to know that we have fans in this part of the world,” said Wetzel before their show where local hardcore acts Veils, Armas Ready, and Choke Cocoi opened for them. “We see a lot of people here and we’re just excited to play our music to an audience that is buzzing.”

When the American quintet hit the stage, Gale wore an Agnostic Front shirt. Ibanez sported a white Corrosion of Conformity top, while Whetzel proudly wore a Van Halen tour shirt. Behind them was their logo that is rooted in extreme metal but is at once readable; a subtle reference to its crossover influences. Corrosion of Conformity is a heavy metal band while Agnostic front is a hardcore act from New York. Van Halen is a hard rock act from California.

Riley makes no bones about how the American East Coast hardcore scene of the 1980s where bands such as Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, and Cro-Mags to name but a few influenced him. “I was weaned on that stuff,” he cheerfully admitted. 

The powerful performance saw the band roll out their songs – from the crowd favorite “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” to “Soul Sacrifice” to their new song, “Hornet’s Nest” -- with the jacked up crowd chiming in between relentless moshing. 

“It’s always good when you have people tripping out on your songs and moshing to it,” summed up Whetzel. “And Manila was just awesome. We’re happy we played here and we certainly hope we can come back again.”

After their Asian tour – that followed a grueling American tour that kicked off last November of 2019  -- Power Trip will begin work on their third full-length album.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Scorpions in Manila is a chance to see the band that will hopefully be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Scorpions in Manila is a chance to see the band that will hopefully be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
By Rick Olivares

It isn’t everyday where you get to watch a band with a chance to make it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in these shores. 

This coming March 7, Filipinos will get a chance to watch one of rock music’s most enduring acts in the Scorpions when they perform at the Mall of Asia Arena as part of their Crazy World Tour.

The band, along with the Rolling Stones and the Who have been around for 50-plus years and are still rocking hard. With the latter two inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it is possible the Scorpions, will surely follow. After all, they do have the track record to make a serious claim. 

Klaus Meine, the Scorpions’ vocalist, made no bones about his band’s hopes to make it into the music’s hallowed halls during an interview with American trade magazine, Billboard.

"It was good to see that finally they (the hall) picked up some classic rock bands, hard rock acts," Meine said. "Deep Purple's in there. Bon Jovi just made it. Judas Priest is nominated. It's good. Of course we would love to be part of the Hall of Fame family at some point. It's a huge honor for every musician out there, and for us, being a European band, that would really mean the world to us."

Ironically, the band is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame permanent exhibit, but not as an official inductee.

The Scorpions are certainly one of the longest-running, performing, and recording acts in modern music. The band was formed in 1965 in Hanover, Germany by guitarist Rudolf Schenker. Along with Meine, they are the only two remaining members of the band when their debut album, Lonesome Crow, was released in 1972. The band has sold almost 100 million records worldwide from 18 studio albums, six live recordings, and 28 compilation albums. 

Their 19th studio album will be released this 2020 with the band having worked on new material.

While nomination and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has yet to come, the band has already made the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame for being one of the pioneers of a twin-guitar attack in the genre. Rudolf’s younger brother, Michael Schenker who made a name for himself as a lead guitarist, shared twin guitar duties with Matthias Jabs who joined the band in 1978 and still remains with the Scorpions. 

Michael, who made a bigger name for himself with English band UFO and his own Michael Schenker Group, was with the Scorpions during their early years and was a part of Lonesome Crow. He returned in 1978 to be a part of the massively popular Lovedrive album that sold over a million copies. That album featured the power ballads “Always Somewhere” and “Holiday” as the Scorpions perfected the hard rock ballad. 

They have influenced a lot of other acts from Yngwie Malmsteen, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Metallica, testament, Skid Row, Cinderella, Helloween, and Hanoi Rocks to name a few.

Their songs and albums have been named to various Best of Lists by music authorities.

Crazy World Tour: Scorpions Live in Manila is brought to us by Insignia Presents, the concert and events company that brought international acts such as Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Grammy winner, Ella Mai in 2019. Their upcoming shows in 2020 include LANY headlining Plus63 Music and Arts Festival, Stereolab, and Rex Orange County.

Tickets for Crazy World Tour: Scorpions Live in Manila will be available for sale online starting Friday, January 31, 2020 at 11am at or at any SM Tickets outlets nationwide. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

San Pablo band Barred on Twilight Zone, artist Gerry Alanguilan & their debut LP

San Pablo band Barred on Twilight Zone, artist Gerry Alanguilan & their debut LP
By Rick Olivares

San Pablo City hardcore band Barred opened the local music scene’s vinyl record account for 2020 with the release of Bloodstained Existence (through Still Ill Records) this past week.

Bloodstained Existence follows Barred’s appearance in the Pilipinas Hardcore EP along with acts like Veils, Badmouth, and xxFortessxx that was released also by Still Ill in 2018.

The band is San Pablo City, Laguna’s latest export (the local hardcore punk music scene is alive and moshing). The city has produced among others, the famed and late comic book illustrator, Gerry Alanguilan, of whom the members of Barred professed to be fans of. “We are a fan of his work especially Timawa (that was released by local publishing company, Alamat back in the 1990s). “We also know him as an inker for many Marvel Comics titles as well as a friend and former colleague of Filipino-American comic book artist Whilce Portacio,” said Barred vocalist Regin Tenorio.

Alanguilan illustrated the cover to San Pablo City band, Mellow del Prado’s debut album.

“We’re very happy and proud of the outcome ng Pilipinas Hardcore,” observed a pleased Tolentino. “It feels good to hear and see people singing along to our song, “Resistance”, that was included in the EP.”

Bloodstained Existence, four years in the making, continues thematically as Barred rails against society’s ills.  The band – drummer Friedrich Esguerra, bassist Janry Garcia, guitarists Carl Cedric Garcia and Peter Cervancia, and Tenorio – recorded their initial demo in May of 2016 and completed the rest of the repertoire that would eventually comprise Bloodstained Existence a few months later. “We needed time for mixing and vocal tracking and (before we knew it), it was mid-2019.” 

The band also cited work and family time for getting in the way.

The album nevertheless… is finally out. And Tenorio found a way to weave into the music some of his childhood fascinations including his love for the famed television fantasy/science fiction/supernatural series, The Twilight Zone, that was created by the late American producer and playwright, Rod Serling.

“We got the intro of ‘Trapped’ (the lead-off song from the album) from the 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone titled, ‘No Time Like the Past’, he elucidated. In that particular episode, a scientist uses a time machine to return to the past to try and change key moments in world history that led to what the world is today. Unfortunately, he fails and understands that he can only live for tomorrow. 

“Bloodstained Existence is a message and an eye opener for everyone,” added Tenorio. “We want everyone to feel what life is like on the other side. There are terrors seen and unseen and there’s injustice, sorrow, famine, disease, death, abuse, pain, and suffering.”

Although Barred’s barbed and pointed social commentary continues for the entire album, the band does leave room for hope, “It’s never too late. We need to fight as one (against the social injustices). It’s a force that guides.”

The album cover (is also different from the test press version) is inspired by 19th century French painters, Gustave Dore, Eugene Delacroix, and Theodore Gericault and the contrapposto style utilized by Baroque and Mannerist artists, and depicts the war in Heaven. The powerful imagery was also used by many of the band’s mid-1990s metalcore influences such as Arkangel, Congress, Liar, Sentence, Integrity, and All Out War.

For those interested in purchasing a copy of Barred’s Bloodstained Existence and Pilipinas Hardcore, you may reach out to Still Ill Records on Facebook or through their bandcamp page.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

My Tool compact disc collection plus Fear Inoculum

My collection of Tool albums on compact disc. Their mind-blowing and highly creative album art and packaging designs work well on cd format as opposed to vinyl. I do have a few of their albums on vinyl though.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Playing Hooverphonic's A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular

When I got Belgian electronic rock and triphop band Hooverphonic's A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular, it was in 1996. From the Alternative Rock 90s this was the time I was getting into acid jazz and Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and indie pop bands Saint Etienne, Blackbox Recorder and Mandalay that gave off this Hooverphonic vibe and right before I jumped into Nu Metal.

I picked up this record at Kim's Audio and Video on a whim (as an import and pressed in Belgium!). I was blown away and began to follow them. Later caught them during their Jackie Kane tour. Awesome band.

Neo-soul artist (((O))) releases the beautiful Sundrop (((1)))

Neo-soul artist (((O))) releases the beautiful Sundrop (((1)))
By Rick Olivares

One of the more intriguing releases is neo-soul artist (((O)))’s Sundrop (((1))) that came out on digital platforms last November 2019 and released on vinyl this early January.

Sundrop (((1))) is an album that you have to be listening to attentively. This isn’t like elevator muzak or lounge music. It’s like noodling late night on a keyboard or a guitar while infusing it with traces or water drops of hiphop, jazz, electronica, African polyrhythms, and soul. I am reminded of the music of Nitin Sawhney with the lovely voice of Nicky Wells, Massive Attack, and Tricky except (((O)))’s music lies in the sparse production where life breathes in the gentle inflections in the spaces between.

It’s like a tonic for the craziness of the metropolis. One that takes everything down several notches while you mind wanders. And to achieve that, you have to be in tune with your senses and everything around you or else you miss out on the beauty of Sundrop (((1))).

The album features 12 tracks that are music for the soul. And the cool thing is, this is a 12 part-series wherein (((O))) intends to release one for the next 11 years (this one included).

(((O))) is an elusive artist. I am told that she hails from Cebu but grew up in Texas, stayed for some time in India but now calls Palawan home. That sounds like a mouthful, but it does explain the myriad of influences. That is as diverse and exotic as the music she creates. And I do love the mystery of all of it. 

Sundrop (((1))) from (((O))) (her nom de guerre is not meant to be pronounceable) is now available on vinyl through Offshore Music (inquire through their Facebook page and their other social media). 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Populardays shifts gears to a more shoegaze sound with new album on the horizon.

Populardays shifts gears to a more shoegaze sound with new album on the horizon.
By Rick Olivares

Six years after the release of their debut album, Somewhere In Time, and what seemed like a never-ending change of personnel, indie band populardays have added two key players that have resulted in a change of musical direction.

From the indie pop sound that characterized Somewhere in Time, populardays with holdovers in vocalist and guitarist Erick Lucas, drummer Jann Paul Tatad have been joined by the duo of Mike Ducusin on guitars and vocals and Veronica Macato on bass and vocals.

If Ducusin and Macato’s name sound familiar that is because they perform also as the indie pop duo, Veronica and I.

With the two in harness, populardays has shifted to a more shoegaze sound; something the band feels was a natural progression.

“People come and go,” succinctly put Lucas. “As for the new line-up – it’s great. Mike brings in a New Wave touch while Veronica draws from her 90s vibe. Musically, we’re still evolving. In our early release, we had a few songs that had that shoegaze and dream pop feel. This time, we wanted to go all the way.” 

The new band and the different sound was also an easy transition for Ducusin, “I grew up listening to punk and New Wave which are the roots of the indie sound. My passion for the music also influenced Veronica (Mike’s real life partner).”

The new-fangled quartet just released a new single titled, “Lost in Space” that takes you up to the stratosphere. Macato’s gossamer vocals already add another dimension to populardays’ sound.

They’ve also connected with Philippine shoegaze royalty when they opened for trailblazers Sonnet 58 during their vinyl record launch late last 2019. Now, they’ve dropped a new single and video.

“Fans can expect more new stuff from us,” promised Lucas. 

“I think the scene is growing,” pointed out Ducusin during the Sonnet 58 show at 70s Bistro last year. “Every band brings something to the table. We are happy to a part of it.”

The popularity of shoegaze and dream pop is at an all-time high all over the world. Domestically, there are regular productions that feature bands and listening parties. Shoegaze post-rock outfit, Sound Architects will be releasing their second album, Regenesis, this coming February 1 at Mow’s.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Playing Big Mountain's Sweet Sensual Love

After Bob Marley and the Wailers, Big Mountain is my favorite reggae band. Discovered their music a long time ago with the song, "Lick It Up." 

I love their meld of English and Spanish into reggae. It creates something different. I kinda love it when I hear other languages infused in music that I like. For example, in metal, you have bands like Ill NiƱo and Puya singing also in Spanish. It's just awesome. So I feel the same way about Big Mountain whose music is more about the brighter side of life.

I have about seven of their albums and this 12-inch single of "Sweet Sensual Love". 

I will be playing this record when I DJ in this upcoming Record Store Day. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bloodstained Existence by Barred

The test press (left) and the regular edition (right) of San Pablo City hardcore band Barred's debut album, Bloodstained Existence from Still Ill Records.

Solid album.

Barred also appeared in the extended play album, Pilipinas Hardcore. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Playing Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes' Live at The Greek

The price of these Eraserheads records is just too much.

Since the return to popularity of vinyl, prices of these old records or even the scarcer newer ones have seen prices go up. I understand it is a free market and tis is the law of supply and demand, but this is just too much. I feel bad for those who were unable to score a copy when this first came out.