Monday, January 14, 2019

Pastilan Dong!’s new album, Gadilaab, is an alt-rock soundtrip.

Pastilan Dong!’s new album, Gadilaab, is an alt-rock soundtrip.
by rick olivares

Pastilan Dong!’s third and new album, Gadilaab, is like a literal 1990s alt-rock mix tape.

Yes, Gadilaab comes in cherry red cassette tape -- with fabulous psychedelic cover art depicting the band – that should be labeled with a nod to the Guardians of the Galaxy… Awesome 90s Mix Vol. I.

I am told that “Gadilaab” is Bisaya for “on fire” or “burning.”

After a couple of listens, what I find on fire is my imagination as it is lit with Sonic Youth fuzz and Stoner Rock sludge. It reminds me of a time when I routinely rifled through the catalogues of Touch and Go, Merge, and SST Records back in the Alternative 90s in search of the next underground nugget to give my life meaning. 

The opening track, “Hiyang” is like a Foo Fighters song. ”Black and White” I swear sounds exactly like local shoegaze purveyors, Sonnet 58. The Silversun Pickups come alive with “Ambiguous.” 

The Queens of the Stone are represented in “Bill Spill”.

“Bisag Unsaon” has my pulse racing as I am reminded of French band Gojira (I have all their albums). 

While Pastilang Dong! wears their influences on their sleeve, it should be underscored that they are no tribute band. The band – vocalist and guitarist Kaloy Olavides, bassist Rio Vargas, and drummer Vin Zafra – play tight, crunching rock in English and Bisaya. And truthfully, I like the braveness of Gadilaab – music, cassette format, and all.

Pastilan Dong! makes no bones about their influences, and I certainly appreciate their willingness to challenge the conventional by singing some songs in Bisaya.

I have to admit that I love listening to Junior Kilat perform dub songs in Bisaya. Ditto with underground punk band Istukas Over Disneyland that sings all their songs in their native Kampampangan. 

Having said that, I feel that Olavides’ vocals are the enigma here. On one hand, there’s the shoegaze approach where the vocals are treated like an instrument as at times it is drowned out by the crunch. However, the monotone in which he sings is like the late Ian Curtis – it drones on whether by design or a limited vocal range. Maybe that’s part of the fondue. 

For the second year running, we have this late late release that was smack in the middle of December. In 2017, it was Sugar Hiccup’s Closure released two days before the end of that year. Gadilaab’s soft launch was sometime before Christmas and this coming January 26, the album will be given the proper send-off it deserves at Mow’s. 

Fire in the hole.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Playing Kiss' Alive!

Kiss was the first band that I ever liked. I was a huge fan of Kiss from about 1977 to 1982 with a complete set of records from their self-titled debut to Dynasty.

Getting the old Kiss records is such a cool thing. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow, memories & reaching out across the miles

By Rick Olivares
I was watching this video where this dude was talking about buying second hand records and wondering about the previous owner – if he felt the same way he was feeling listening to the music; if his appreciation for vinyl was the same way he felt ad infinitum. 

While I have been listening, and collecting records since I was seven years old, I almost always bought brand new records. I only started to acquire second-hand records after I lost most of my collection to a fire that gutted my home. However, I never thought about them as pre-owned or even the previous owner.

That is until I purchased a second-hand copy of Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow at NEC. 

I didn’t really listen to Jefferson Airplane/Starship I was in sixth grade when their Freedom at Point Zero was released along with its lead single, “Jane.” I got their Spitfire album because it was on sale. But the album that I was transfixed on was Surrealistic Pillow. 

It had something to do with the cover and its pink color and well… I will be honest here… I thought that for a young lad soon to hit adolescence… that Grace Slick was one of the prettiest dames I ever saw. I eventually saved enough to buy the record but I didn’t get into the music – which sounded like a psychedelic Mamas and the Papas -- until I was well into my adult life. This was the time when punk was breaking through and New Wave was coming up. “Jane” sounded so different from tracks from Surrealistic Pillow such as “Somebody to Love” or “White Rabbit.”

Note, that I also somewhat felt the same about the Velvet Underground and it would be decades later when I completely made an about face and thought that the Velvets and Jefferson Airplane (Surrealistic Pillow for the matter) were awesome. 

Anyways, I got me a new second-hand copy. For the past couple of years, I wanted to get a very good copy but they have been hard to come by. And the price for this copy was dirt cheap. So, got it I did.

It was a first for me because I never pick up second hand records with any writings on them. This one had the name of its previous owner on the label of Side One as well as on the back cover – one... Merrill B. Kalkwarf.

Then I decided to do something I have never done before… look up its previous owner. Why? I have no idea? Maybe to talk to someone who loved this record as much as I do.

And this is what I saw in the Belmond Independent, a Colorado newspaper:

Merrill B. Kalkwarf, 64, died May 15, 2008 in Mexico City due to complications of Parkinson's disease. His remains were cremated and a service was held May 21 at the church in Mexico City where he and his wife were married.

Merrill Bruce, son of Ernest and Florence (Tanner) Kalkwarf, was born March 10, 1944 in Belmond. He graduated from Belmond High School in 1962 and went to Wartburg College for one year. He earned a BA in mathematics from the University of Iowa. He was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War and served two years at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. He lived in Chicago, San Francisco and Houston before moving to Mexico where he resided for more than 30 years.

His first wife, Carolina, died of cancer. Merrill married Anjelica Cortez Vasquez on April 29, 1995. Within a short time, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Parkinson's disease. Anjelica was his main caregiver until his death, an angel in his life. Family and friends will remember Merrill's intellect and quick wry wit. Preceding him in death were his parents and first wife. Survivors include his wife; siblings Janis (Larry) Hase of Arvada, CO, Paul (Bonnie) Kalkwarf of Golden, CO, Miriam Kalkwarf of Larkspur, CO, Adrienne (Jim) Pasquariello of Belmond, and Neil (Anna) Kalkwarf of Conifer, CO; seven nephews; three nieces; four great-nephews; seven great-nieces and two great-great nieces.

May 23, 2008 
©Belmond Independent 2008 

After reading the obituary, I went, “Oh.”

Like what am I going to say?

If Mr. Kalkwarf spent one year in college before going to the Army, he would have been – what 19 years old? He would have about 23 or 24 years old when he picked up Surrealistic Pillow. At that time, the war had already escalated in Vietnam. The obituary is vague as to whether he served in Vietnam or was just assigned Stateside. Nevertheless, it was a different time – the anti-Vietnam War movement was starting. What was he feeling with regards to the time as well as the music of Surrealistic Pillow (that was is considered one of the greats of this era as well as the one that opened the floodgates for Bay Area bands). 

If Mr. Kalkwarf were alive, I would have asked him three things – one, how did he feel about the music of this album at the time that he purchased it; two, why did he let go if this record; and three, would he like it back? Yes, I would gladly send it back. Nothing like being reconnected to something that you grew up listening to.

And I thought to myself – would I let go of my records too? I did let my record collection go when compact discs became the rage (they gathered dust in my home) and began to discover girls. But I did go back and you cannot believe the emotions I felt in doing so. It was not only rediscovering an old life, but it rekindled my love for music and helps me move forward. I never stopped liking music. I collected compact discs right up to the time I returned to vinyl. 

Since I got this second-hand copy of Surrealistic Pillow, I think not only of the songs and Grace Slick but also of Mr. Kalkwarf (how can I not when his name is on the record label and the back of the jacket). Come May 11, 2019, it will be the 11thdeath anniversary of Mr. Kalkwarf.

I started trying to look up his family. Just to share this. About this connection some 7,632 miles away. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Playing Santana and Dakila

Santana's debut album that inspired a Fil-American band named Dakila also from the Bay Area to record an album.
What was Santana's music to me? A family friend of ours who recently passed away (Sonny Gonzalez) who I thought was one of the coolest folks ever had all these records from Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Cream, The Yardbirds, the Doors, Sergio Mendes etc. When we'd visit them at their Merville home, he'd play all these records and allow me to handle them. That was so cool as a kid. When I play Santana I always remember Tito Sonny. I also think of watching local bands like the Fritctions.
The cover of Santana's debut album also called out to me from the wall of the old Electro King record store at the now gone Fiesta Carnival. That is now where Book Sale in Shopwise is. I thought, what an album cover! Then Santana released Abraxas. Oh, boy.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Pinoy vinyl record sellers: 2019 will be bigger and better

Pinoy vinyl record sellers: 2019 will be bigger and better
by rick olivares

Just a few days into 2019, the year already promises to be an exciting one for music lovers. Aside from the always-huge Record Store Day that will be held on April 13 with the local version to be held in a venue that has yet to be named. 

There are heavyweight stars with new albums. The Cure’s first album since 2008 will drop. Shoegazers My Bloody Valentine will release a new album. Avril Lavigne is said to have a new effort with songs written about a personal crisis she went through. There is going to be new product from Lana Del Rey, the Raconteurs, and Weezer to name but a few international artists.

And all these will be available on vinyl. 

On local shores, the re-mastered Ultraelectromagneticpop album by the Eraserheads will go on sale and on vinyl for the first time too! Up Dharma Down’s fourth album is also due for release (also on vinyl). 

According to musician Diego Mapa, there are more local artists who will be releasing their music on vinyl this year, but the line-up has yet to be announced. 

We spoke to a few local independent record stores about how vinyl fared in 2018 and how it is shaping up for 2019. The verdict is one of bright optimism. 

Enzo Valdez and Lea David, Northwest Estate Collectibles
We had a very good year last 2018 kahit marami na mga sellers ng vinyl. Malaking advantage yung every month, we had thousands of new records to sell at very affordable prices. Since yung bulk ng mga plaka namin mga 1980s pababa, yung mga in-demand na records ay mga Beatles particularly yung Abbey Road and Revolver, The Carpenters Greatest Hits and Close to You, any Abba record, America’s Greatest Hits, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Carole King’s Tapestry, and Pink Floyd. Any Pink Floyd record is popular. Queen mas popular ngayon because of yung Bohemian Rhaphsody na pelikula. 

Malaking bagay din yung mga raffle ng mga special records such as yung signed America’s Greatest Hits or mga hard-to-find first pressings ng mga John Coltrane or Miles Davis. Or mga collection ng mga rare punk rock seven-inch records. Meron mga bumibili nun. 

Marami rin mga bagong customers and we hope na patuloy kami mag-reach out sa mga younger buyers na hindi lang bagong mga artists yung hinahanap pati na rin mga classics.

Bong Fulgoso, Plaka Express
Last year, 2018, was our biggest year. With our new online store and a more active marketing plan for 2019, we expect a 50% improvement in sales. My observation is there are a lot of new faces and younger customers from 2017. The most in demand records are classic rock albums from Queen, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin to name a few while older artists such as the Carpenters, Abba, and the Bee Gees remain strong. Interestingly, the buyers are millennials and they prefer the re-issues rather than the first pressings. For example, we have a first pressing of James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, the will get the new pressings.

I think the market and demand for vinyl will continue to grow this year as awareness of the medium is exponentially rising through the help of social media. People are appreciating the value of having physical copies of their music.

Roland Savellano, Lahn’s Vinyl Shop
Maganda benta ko ng plaka last year. The best so far. Every year, gumaganda ang benta kahit marami nang independent sellers. Ang mabenta sa aking mga Beatles, New Wave records, and mga 12-inch remixes.

Sa tingin ko, mas gaganda pa ang selling this 2019 kasi yearly napapansin ko na pabata ng pabata yung mga buyers.  Ang youngest buyer ko is 15 years old and studying in Stella Maris. Ang most recent purchase ay Frank Sinatra. 

Arbie Bulaong, Treskul Records
Sales were steady in 2018. The in-demand records are the hard to find New Wave records like the Care, Friends Again, and New Order to name a few. Punk records remain popular as do soul music titles. Pop classics are always in demand. 

I also noticed that in the shop, we had a lot of new customers; mostly in their late 20s and 30s.

My forecast for 2019 is we will do better because we sold a lot of entry level titles last year. And with new record plants opening overseas, that will mean more product and easier and less expensive access to records.

Al Rivera, Bear’s Den Records
For Bear’s Den, sales were 30% better than the previous year. I think that is because of two things – one, more people are getting into vinyl, and two, because I got a stall at the Spindle Community at the Creekside Mall in Makati. 

The titles that remain popular are the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra… “the essentials” kumbaga. This is based on my observation at the Legazpi Street Sunday Market where there is a more pop-oriented market.

But online, and for collectors, I noticed they look for more specific records. They dig deeper, ika nga.

At the Sunday market, we always get new customers and different age groups since many of them pass through. When people there see the records, they’re surprised so sometimes, they are inclined to buy because they think it’s cool for them to have one (even if they don’t own a record player) or they know someone who collects so they give it as a gift. 

For 2019, I think vinyl sales and interest will be better. Especially now that vinyl is moving into the mainstream because of the Eraserheads reissue. Aside from it being an Offshore Music project, it is also with Sony, a major company.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Electronic act Tarsius dropping new album

Electronic act Tarsius dropping new album
by rick olivares

Electronic act Tarsius (Diego Mapa and Jay Gapasin) are in the thick of recording their second album which should drop this year. 

Following 2012’s full length debut, Primate, and 2017’s extended play record, Igado, Tarsius is the only local act to have all their releases thus far on vinyl. Both releases have sold out. 

Mapa, who also performs with Pedicab and the Diegos (with Diego Castillo), says having their music out on wax started merely as a “DJ tool” since he himself also spins records. The cool factor though is when Tarsius’ music is also included in podcasts by foreign DJs.

British DJs Dark Sky and Laurence Guy have used Tarsius’ music in their weekly podcasts. 

“As someone who regularly DJs now, I now understand how the music on vinyl really works as a tool for DJs,” said Mapa who also dismisses the duo’s use of wax as a hipster thing. 

“I am quite proud when someone is playing an all-vinyl set and then they slip in something that you made,” beamed Mapa. “It is rewarding to say the least. Furthermore, people know me and Jay as artists. You know when they say, ‘Wow! You have that on vinyl?’ It is a proud moment for us.”

“Seeing other DJs or acts gives us perspective,” bared Mapa. “With our other bands, I try to steer away from what we’ve done. And make sure we don’t do it with Tarsius.”

Mapa isn’t the only one who is busy with all his side projects. Gapasin performs with Lourd De Veyra’s doom metal band, Kapitan Kulam, and the Radioactive Sago Project. 

The duo are currently in the studio recording new tracks. “The new record will feature more live drums,” revealed Mapa of the sessions. According to the duo, the sounds they make should – as much as possible – be translatable during live performances. 

Electronic music has enjoyed a resurgence in the Philippines with indie acts like Pamcy Fernandez, Knights of Rizal, Levanstock, Shape/Shift, and Squid 9 to name a few performing in Manila’s multitude of gig spots and releasing new material in the past year. Tarsius is one of the country’s more high profile electronic bands.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Records that I am super happy to have bought this 2018

Records that I am super happy to have bought this 2018
by rick olivares

I bought quite a few records this 2018; okay, a lot. However, towards the end of the year, my purchases slackened because I got almost all the records I wanted.

As a refresher, I started buying records when I was Grade 5, saving up on my allowance to buy music that I liked. By the time I was done with my schooling, I amassed about 2,000 records. Not all of that I bought, of course. I received a lot of promo copies from my father who was president of the Philippine Association of the Record Industry. My rich best friend also gave me a bunch of records as well. 

By the 90s, I switched to compact discs and bought very few records. 

Then in 2015, when a fire gutted my childhood home, I lost almost all my records with some others were lost during Ondoy. I only returned to vinyl full time in December of 2016 (I did buy a few intermittently through the years). 

When I returned to vinyl, I didn’t get all that I lost. I had accumulated a lot of CDs since the 90s and I only got back on vinyl the records I truly liked as a kid then began purchasing new output from new artists.

So, this year, I got a lot but here are a few records that I totally liked and here they are in no particular order.

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse - Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Banshees frightened me. Well, anything of the macabre. My young Catholic self was frightened by these things. I discovered the Banshees at the time when my childhood faves Kiss was said to really mean Knights in Satan’s Service while people backmasked Led Zeppelin. The Goth look of Siouxsie mystified and appealed to me that when I moved to the US, I would attend Goth festivals. 

A Kiss In the Dreamhouse was my first ever Banshees record and I have fond memories of it. The album chilled and haunted me. But I was held in its thrall. Honestly, I cannot remember what happened to my record of this. I do not know if it was burned during the fire or if my mom threw it out. I did buy the CD when I was working in Hong Kong. 

This year, I managed to get back the vinyl and reacquainted myself with the album that vexed me in my youth. And today as it first did, I find myself lost in the album. 

And as a side note, the album contains the song, “Slowdive.” Yes, you guessed it right. Shoegazer band Slowdive got their name from the Banshees song. And I so love Slowdive which is in my Top 10 fave bands of all time so this Banshees album has even greater meaning for me.

Dakila, the Filipino-American band came out in the wake of Santana’s breakout Woodstock performance in the early 1970s. Like their heroes, Santana, they too hailed from the Bay Area. I never got their record as a kid. They remained in and out of my consciousness until I returned to vinyl and finally managed to get two copies of their record as well as seven-inch singles. And I truly love listening to the record. You may say there were copycats, but I remain a fan and am proud of them.

Tale of Two – Identity Crisis
I saw this band quite a few times during their 1980s heyday – at Ultra and at the Araneta Coliseum. I never got their record. I only had the cassette. It sure was great that we had a New Wave band like Identity Crisis back then along with the Dawn. 

I loved the songs “Sumigaw Umawit Ka” and “Imagining October” and wore out my cassette that eventually stopped playing. Meeting three of their members and interviewing them for a story was a thrill. And so was finally getting a copy of this record.

All the Moonstompers – Rancid
I discovered Rancid through the pages of rock and roll magazine Spin back when I was working in Hong Kong. During my lunch breaks, especially on Wednesdays, I would go to the record stores in the neighborhood – HMV along Haiphong Road and the one at the basement of the Silvercord Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui – to check out the new stocks. 

I saw the latest issue of Spin that had Rancid on the cover. I purchased that magazine -- that I still have to this day I must say – and read it over lunch. I went back to the shop by work day’s end and bought the compact disc. Then I bought the vinyl soon after. 

That began a long love affair with the band that like Slowdive is on my Top 10 fave bands of all time. I love that they can switch to punk to hardcore punk to the ska-inflected punk that the Clash popularized. I have all their albums on both vinyl and cd. All except this compilation of their ska recordings. 

I tried getting All the Moonstompers for years, but had no such luck. Until this year. And I so love this record. I have maintained that my fave Rancid albums are And Out Come the Wolves and Life Won’t Wait. All the Moonstompers may be a compilation, but that doesn’t change anything. I love it to pieces.

Incubus Succubus – Xmal Deutschland
I remember hearing “Incubus Succubus” over Capital Radio and I was reminded of the time that I heard Siouxsie and the Banshees for the first time. I didn’t care if I didn’t understand a word as the band sang in their native German, I loved it just the same. I wasn’t able to get the record of this song right away.

I did get their debut album, Fetisch, that cost me money as a young kid. Man, I saved a lot of money for that. And I was disappointed that Fetisch didn’t contain “Incubus Succubus”. I managed to get the record while on a trip to Hong Kong. 

Getting back all those XMal Deutschland records were a priority after losing them to the fire. It wasn’t easy picking them up, but this year, I managed to complete them with “Incubus Succubus” that last to arrive. 

 Quiet Nights – Diana Krall
A beautiful album. I have always been a fan of the talented Ms. Krall and got her first few albums on CD. Then one vinyl, I picked up The Look of Love. Quiet Nights was my second Krall album on vinyl and what a keeper it is. 

How much do I love this record? Well, it stands right next to my Gershwin Songbook, the Stan Getz/ Joao Gilberto album, Miles’ Kind of Blue, and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.

Love Is Here to Stay – Diana Krall and Tony Bennett
An album that celebrates Gershwin! How about that! And the timeless Tony Bennett who I never get tired of listening to. 

Growing up, my dad would play music by the Rat Pack. And we watched them on television. It took the music of Prefab Sprout to make me really backtrack and listen once more to not only the Rat Pack but also Bennett. And perhaps more importantly, Gershwin. 

From Gershwin, I got into Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. And that led me to Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Count Basie, and many others. 

And that leads me to this album. 

Probot - Probot
I remember when the adverts came out promoting Probot in January of 2004. It was Dave Grohl’s death metal project. These were the years when I was into all the sub-genres of metal – Nu metal, alternative metal, rap metal, industrial metal, and prog metal. Like the Banshees of my youth, death metal scared the shit out of me. I had cds of Arch Enemy, but that was it. 

Then came Probot. I got this because of Dave Grohl. And it became my entry point into death and extreme metal as I checked out Venom, Celtic Frost, Nile, and At the Gates. I am not saying that I am a massive death and extreme metal fan. I think the term is “selective” as I pick and choose because the genre really isn’t for me. 

I still have the cd and getting the original vinyl pressing is pricey. So, the re-issue isn’t so bad. Then as now, I play this record lots.

Keb Darge & Paul Weller present Lost & Found: Rare RNB & Soul
My entry point into Northern Soul was the Style Council, but I only seriously got into Northern Soul around the time of the acid jazz craze of the late 1990s and early years of the new millennium. I don’t have many Northern Soul records. Just a few. So, getting this record -- of selections that are difficult to find -- by Darge and Weller is just a fun find. And yes, this is on heavy rotation on my turntable.

Room for Squares – John Mayer
When this came out, I liked the record immediately and got it. But when I went back home, I left it (thinking I’d return). Turns out my roomie appropriated it for himself (with my eventual reluctant permission as he doesn’t know how to properly take care of records). Getting an original first press was cool because this is an awesome record from start to finish.

And it means a whole lot more because my nephew has John Mayer’s guitar teacher (Tomo Fujita) at Berklee School of Music in Massachusetts. 

Count Kutu and the Balmers – Count Kutu and the Balmers
When I learned that a Filipino mento/calypso band had a 10-inch record released in the US, I knew I had to get this. For one, I don’t know too many mento/calypso bands in the country. And they had their self-titled debut released in 2012 by North Carolina label Jump Up! Records.

There weren’t too many copies of this that were pressed. And I am just happy to get this.

Legarda/The Saddest Landscape split 7-inch single
Only 50 copies of this split single featuring Philippine post-rock band Legarda and Boston emo rockers The Saddest Landscape were pressed. Of those 50 copies, eight people in the Philippines own copies – four for the band members, three from the local promotion outfit that organized the show, and me. And I got the last copy. 

You won’t even find this on sale at Discogs (at least for now).

Rarity aside, I love the songs here -- "Lazarus" by Legarda and "The Sixth Golden Ticket" by The Saddest Landscape.

Love at Absolute Zero
Love at Absolute Zero and The Happiest Days of Our Lives – My Favorite
During the Alternative Music 90s, I began to get more adventurous musically. I discovered little known bands such as Morella’s Forest, Holiday Flyer, Julie Plug, the Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, the Aislers Set, Holiday, Belle and Sebastian (which eventually became popular), and Havalina Rail Co. to name a few. Then I discovered My Favorite by picking out the cd on the indie rack. 

Buying from the indie rack is a hit and miss proposition. Not everything you will like. But you could discover some real gems. New York retro New Wave band My Favorite was one of them. I got their cd, Love at Absolute Zero, and became an instant fan. It helped that their bassist was a Fil-American by the name of Gilbert Abad. 

I corresponded with the band and became friends with the lead singer Michael Grace who in my opinion is an underrated songwriter (an indie version of Morrissey who also writes pained songs that are awesome). Then moving to New York, I not only got to watch the band, but also get their autographs. I also bought their new album then (The Happiest Days of Our Lives) straight from them during a gig.
It was only this year that I was able to get their vinyl records along with a new seven-inch single of new tunes. The re-release of Love at Absolute Zero has some different tracks that they added from an EP while excluding some original tracks. I am fine with this but have targeted to get the original press of the album.

But I am happy to have these records.

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rancid's Let's Go 10-inch first press white vinyl

Massive Rancid fan! Got into them at the time And Out Come the Wolves was released and I was blown away. I got all their cds and re-issued vinyl. With regards to original press vinyl, I have the self-titled debut, Let's Go, And Out Come the Wolves, Life Won't Wait, and Trouble Maker. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

That Rico J. Puno US Tour poster from 1978

My dad and uncles brought Rico J. Puno to the United States in 1978 for a tour. It was the first tour of the US by a major Filipino artist.

My Uncle Benjie saved copies of the poster-- that's in great shape -- and he gave me a copy.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Best OPM Indie/Underground Albums of 2018

The Best OPM Indie/Underground Albums of 2018
by rick olivares

You have to love the love and appreciate the independent and underground music scene. Bands and artists continue to put out product on a variety of formats – streaming and downloads, vinyl, cassette, and compact disc. And it isn’t only here in the Philippines, but also abroad.

We have compiled 20 of what we believe to be are the best releases of 2018. They are listed in no particular order. 

Realistick – Stick Figgas (compact disc) With a full band (made up of stalwarts from different crews who perform diverse styles of music) and the added voice of Kat Agarrado, this feels like when the late Francis Magalona partnered with Hardware Syndrome to produce Freeman. The full band allows for a richer and fuller sound with an edge. And Kat adds a lot of soul to the songs. 

As such, Realistick is lightning in a bottle filled with memorable tunes, tight grooves, and sick rhymes. 

Terror Prone Nation – Material Support (cassette) 
Angry punk rock from this Fil-American band out of San Francisco. They make no bones about their politics and while I may not agree with all their views, I still say it is one helluva an album. 

It is punk rock but the slick production and deft musicianship makes it easier to listen to appreciate their music and message.

It is said during times of political upheaval, bands tend to write great songs (protest or otherwise). If you go for the latter, Material Support have made their case. 

Stomachine (streaming/downloads)
The self-titled debut of a band that makes no apologies for their love of Fil-American band, +/- (or Plus Minus as they are known by). They aren’t mere copycats as they put their own stamp with winsome harmonies and the occasional deft instrumental. A buoyant album. Now, if they only came out with this on proper compact disc or vinyl…

Why Must Everything Involve Politics – Betrayed (compact disc)
The first two albums of Betrayed had a marked hardcore influence. In fact, three decades later, there – I can still hear traces of the Damned, GHB, even Rancid --- but the band doesn’t forsake any melody for a mindless sonic assault. Although the band isn’t particularly overt with their song messages, they remain pointed and ask you to make your own conclusions. 

They may not be as fiery as before but boy do they still rage.

All My Friends – Tide/Edit (compact disc)
An album that sparkles in the rain. A spontaneous combustion of joy, flights of fancy, and raw emotion. Play this on a long drive with the wind in your face and hair. You’ll feel glad to be alive.

No Palabras – Reyerta (cassette)
A brutally short album. Forget lyrical poignancy. This type of extreme music (power violence) eschews that. "No Palabras" features eight angry songs that question and declare one’s independence of the world that suffocates them into indifference and silence.

The blistering pace aside, this Spanish-Filipino (two are Spaniards – the singer and the drummer – while the guitarist and bassist are Filipinos) band deliver a more powerful and focused album versus their self-titled debut. Savor this because we aren’t sure when they’ll get around to recording again (as I am told their Spanish contingent has returned to the Iberian Peninsula). 

Residuals – Tiger Pussy (compact disc)
The debut from this Cebu-based quarter has this urgent feel to it; sexual tension even. What makes Tiger Pussy standout in a sea of similar female-fronted agro bands is lead singer Jan Sunday’s vocal delivery. There is even an artistry. Even the music doesn’t punish you, but infects you to bop and pogo.

Disconnected – The Republicats (compact disc)
Sing-song punk rock ala the Interrupters and Rancid. The Republicats know how to have fun while not losing the angsty part of punk. A totally rollicking debut. 

Full Flood – Apartel (streaming, 12-inch vinyl)
No sophomore slump for this soul funk band. Full Flood finds Apartel discovering their inner groove; adding a disco beat for an album that reminds one of the best of the Manila Sound of the 1970s albeit with a modern touch. A masterpiece from start to finish.

Tim Awa (cassette, compact disc)
In the male-dominated post-rock scene, Tim Awa – aka by the exotically named Zehpra Theodosha Lagos – released a sparkling EP. The difference is Tim Äwä’s ethereal and siren-like vocals add a feathery and haunting touch to the stirring music. Think of Clare Torry on Pink Floyd’s classic, “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Except it isn’t the wailing sort but more ethereal; a toned-down Elisabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins if you will. 

Timelapse – Sandwich (7-inch vinyl)
These alt-rockers have come a long way from their Beastie Boy and Foo Fighters roots. “Timelapse,” released during the band’s 20thanniversary show, finds the band performing what is surely another classic (about a long distance love affair and the yearning that comes with it) wrapped in a post-rock/shoegaze vibe. 

Then in the B-Side, the band shows they’ve not lost their sense of humor with the song, “Parang Wala Nangyari.” 

In one single, the band echoes the past (“Parang Wala Nangyari”) and teases the future (Timelapse”). Brilliant. Plus, it is on lime green vinyl!

Lazarus – Legarda (split vinyl 7-inch single with Boston Band The Saddest Landscape)
When I first heard “Lazarus” from post-rock band Legarda, I thought of the Patti Smith Group which I am a huge fan since I first heard a kid. And I love the spoken word song “Lazarus” that builds to a mighty crescendo. This version was recorded live at Mow’s when Legarda opened for Boston-based band, The Saddest Landscape who spare nothing on the emotional front. 

The result is a split single of epic proportions. And what adds to its myth is only 50 copies were pressed! Making it a sought after record.

Pilipinas Hardcore (7-inch vinyl)
A heavyweight EP of four of the best underground hardcore bands right now. And it’s the first time on vinyl for Barred, Badmouth, and XFortressX (as Veils has previously appeared in their own EP). You know the expression, “walang tapon”? This is it. And if this is your entry into Filipino hardcore then what a way to get exposed. An EP to pound you into submission. 

And just how well was this received? According to Veils’ vocalist and underground record label Still Ill impresario Dangie Regala, there will be a Pilipinas Hardcore 2 coming our way next year! 

Phantasms – The Strange Creatures (compact disc, 12-inch vinyl)
A sterling debut of sumptuous dream pop. They sometimes stray from the formula, but overall a very good and ethereal offering. 

Viletin – The Ringmaster (compact disc)
A shimmering second solo outing from the Sleepwalk Circus’ main man that is also a feast for the eyes with the lovely art work in the booklet that comes with the album. You must put everything aside to take in the dense layers of deep prose and intricate and lush music. What sets the Ringmaster’s brand of dream pop apart from its peers is if others take you to different sonic landscapes and flights of fancy, with Lorenzo, it’s like providing music to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Neil Gaiman, and Peter S. Beagle to name but a few.

Day-Blind Stars – Narcloudia (compact disc)
After their spellbinding debut EP, Sky Spectre, the three-piece female dream pop band, Narcloudia returns – I hate to use the term “mature” but it is – with a full-length album, Day-Blind Stars that is infused with a mélange of punk energy and the exoticism of the Cocteau Twins and Lush that builds on the band’s earlier Siouxsie and the Banshees influence. 

Reach for the stars with Narcloudia.

Hanopology – Mike Hanopol (compact disc)
Mike Hanopol is best known for his solo work as is his music with the Juan Dela Cruz Band and Hagibis. While his old songs – classics, please – may sound dated, even to the point of being sappy and overly simple – his newer works, still wrought with classic rock in mind, show a depth to the man. 

Like There Is No Tomorrow – Dok Sergio
One of the surprise releases of the year. Dok Sergio – who used to be with Pupil and is now with Prank Sinatra – has crafted a brilliant solo effort where he plays almost all the instruments. The result is an indie gem!