Archive for the ‘Album Review’ Category

REVIEW:‭ ‬The Killers‭ ‬-‭ ‬“Battle Born‭”‬ (2012‭)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

By Francis Cabal

2008‭ ‬saw the release of The Killers‭’‬ “Day and Age‭”‬.‭ ‬The following world tour‭ ‬was well-received and lasted until early‭ ‬2010,‭ ‬when the band decided to take a break from touring.‭ ‬The members focused‭ ‬on other projects,‭ ‬and the future of the band was left uncertain.‭ ‬The hiatus didn‭’‬t last long,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬and in‭ ‬2011‭ ‬they got back together to play a series of shows.

The Killers started work on their fourth album‭ ‬“Battle Born‭”‬,‭ ‬enlisting the help of critically acclaimed producers Steve Lillywhite,‭ ‬Daniel Lanois,‭ ‬Brendan O‭’‬ Brien,‭ ‬Stuart Price,‭ ‬and Damian Taylor.‭ ‬It‭’‬s not exactly a return to form for the band,‭ ‬instead,‭ ‬it‭’‬s a further exploration of the band‭’‬s affinity for‭ ‬80‭‘‬s music,‭ ‬albeit‭ ‬80‭‘‬s radio pop music rather than the classic‭ ‬“New Wave‭”‬ influence they wore proudly on their sleeves.‭

The production is top-notch,‭ ‬especially on the tracks that Steve Lillywhite worked on.‭ ‬Lillywhite‭ ‬worked with countless of bands in the‭ ‬70‭‘‬s and‭ ‬80‭‘‬s,‭ ‬including The Psychedelic Furs,‭ ‬U2,‭ ‬Simple Minds,‭ ‬XTC and Talking Heads.‭ ‬His grasp of producing classic pop songs give‭ ‬tracks like‭ ‬“Flesh And Bone‭”‬,‭ ‬“Heart Of The Girl‭”‬,‭ ‬and the single‭ ‬“Runaways‭”‬,‭ ‬a sort of timeless appeal.‭

“Runaways‭”‬,‭ ‬the first single from‭ ‬“Battle Born‭”‬ is also the finest track‭ ‬in the album.‭ ‬It is also the perfect example of what the band was going for with their sound‭; ‬catchy songs with soaring choruses and beautiful melodies accentuated by Brandon Flowers‭’‬ assured vocals.‭ ‬On the downside,‭ ‬the band seems to be coloring by numbers and it shows.‭ ‬It‭’‬s like the band‭ ‬is following a template and the quality production can‭’‬t‭ ‬save the songs from sounding too similar.‭ ‬Being consistent is one thing,‭ ‬but overall,‭ ‬this album just lacks depth.‭ ‬Add to that The Killers‭’‬ weak spot for lyrics‭ (‬does‭ ‬“Somebody told me/that you have a boyfriend/who looks like a girlfriend‭”‬ ring a bell‭?)‬,‭ ‬and you‭’‬re guaranteed for a fun but ultimately mediocre record.‭

“Battle Born‭”‬ is not a bad album by any means.‭ ‬But it‭’‬s not a work of art either,‭ ‬which is an anomaly because,‭ ‬vocally and musically,‭ ‬the band is at the top of their game.‭ ‬Considering the producers attached to the project,‭ ‬this record could‭’‬ve been something more.‭ ‬I had high hopes for this album,‭ ‬and all the negatives aside,‭ ‬it‭’‬s just a simple case of the work not being up to par with all the talent on display.‭


REVIEW: Earthmover – “First Sighting”

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Post-rock is a term that’s been used and abused by every band out there with a delay pedal. It’s time for something different. Let us eschew genre names for a moment and review a band for its merits, and not for its genre.  Earthmover is a three-piece band made up of Daniel Garcia, Gerald Guerrero, and Dru Ubaldo, and they play instrumental rock music. They play music more similar to bands like Pelican, Red Sparrowes, and Mogwai rather than Explosions in The Sky, or Toe.


REVIEW: Malay – “Your Year”

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

We are big fans of Pochoy Labog’s previous band “Dicta License” in these parts. That’s why “Your Year” by his new outfit Malay was really one of our most anticipated local releases this year. Sadly, it falls short of being a perfect album. While not without its merits, it suffers from a few things they can improve on. And being objective purveyors of taste, we will make sure to list down both the good and the bad.


REVIEW: Dr. StrangeLuv – “Sissypuss”

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

We’re calling it now: Dr. StrangeLuv is the best Filipino band that you’ve never heard of.  The band is comprised of brothers Keon (Grandi0s0) and Ivan (El Scum) Brosas, talented multi-instrumentalists who were part of another great (but now-defunct) local band called The Stigmatics. Dr. StrangeLuv is an outlet for the brothers’ love for fractured, lo-fi pop music and their debut album “Sissypuss” is a perfect document of their brand of music, a weird mixture of psychedelic pop, folk music, country, electronica, punk, and even hip-hop.

The album opens with “Be the Boss”, a perfectly crafted number that shows you what they’re about right from the get-go: distorted drums, synthesizer lines, lots of guitars, and dual vocals with punk-rock-style delivery. It is quickly followed by “Sarcasm, Spasm”, a slow country ballad reminiscent of Pavement’s “Range Life”, and “Hola Hijo De Puta”, a boom-box-worthy hip-hop song. These three songs can’t be more different to one another, but somehow it all perfectly fits together.

It’s hard to pick standout tracks from an album as perfect as this, but with “Aight ‘Ma”, “Give It Back”, and “I’m Still Breathing”, these three songs we see the band at their most restrained. They demonstrate that the perfect melody can make a good song great. These were the three songs that stuck with us after hearing the album for the first time.

In a country where almost every band is a rip-off someone else, it is refreshing to hear something different and original. This is a perfect example of people paying tribute to the music that they love without resorting to overt copying. Grandi0s0 and El Scum are just being themselves: playful, irreverent, and creative. This is what elevates a record from being “just another album” to being a work of art. They worked hard for this and it shows, from the arrangements to their use of samples. For a sample-heavy album, it doesn’t feel like they just did it to make the songs longer. They feel like parts of the songs themselves, a quote from a movie turns into an extension of the lyrics and random noises and parts from other songs feel like additional instruments.

“Sissypuss” is an unforgettable album and it is a brilliant debut that makes us excited about what they plan on doing next. Keep an eye out for Dr. StrangeLuv because they’re not going anywhere and the world is all the better for it.

Recommended If You Like: good music, originality, off-kilter pop music, lo-fi, brilliance

Rating: [rating=5]

*Sissypuss is out now on Terno Recordings and is available at their shows. If Dr. StrangeLuv is playing in a venue near you, please make it a point to watch them live because they rarely play shows, which is a shame because they are awesome live as well.*


Dr. StrangeLuv – “Gimme Some Mo’” (Live in Saguijo)

‘Dualist’ by Taken By Cars – an album review

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Taken By Cars made a lot of buzz during the start of the year when their brand of dance rock got a well-deserved mention in a Time Magazine article. Along with four other bands from Asia, Taken By Cars were named as one of the best musical acts to watch out for in 2011. It definitely put the spotlight on the band right before the release of their much-anticipated second album Dualist.

Their first album Endings of a New Kind drew acclaim from a lot of quarters so a lot of musical aficionados awaited their second studio effort. Staying true to their already established musical approach, Dualist shows the band’s dedication to their preferred sound while continuing to develop towards the direction that they want to follow.With influences like Deerhunter among others, it really is clear that the band means business despite all the things they have had to go through during the interim between albums. For more on that, join the over 14k fans the band has on their Taken By Cars Facebook page.

The great thing about the band is that they do offer something new but they don’t take you out of your comfort zone so much that you get lost in the esotericism of it all. A perfect example of this novel yet accessible (enough) sound is the first track on Dualist – ‘This Is Our City’. The band was generous enough to offer this one up on Splintr for a limited time and it’s an awesome way for people to know more about the general mood of the second album – the band admits that it reflects the ups and downs that they had to go through to have this record finished. The first track has a lot of get up and go in it and is a perfect opener for an album like Dualist. It’s certainly a taste of the things to come.

Another standout from the album is ‘Unidentified’ – a song that explores dealing with persistent individuals who are really glorified nuisances. Despite the potentially frustrating topic, the song has a catchy hook that does make it a lot more pleasant than the actual topic.

The band slows down a few beats with the very chill “Thrones: Indifference” that features heavily textured guitars and electronica.  It’s still undeniably Taken by Cars but it’s from the opposite side of the octane spectrum – there’s less get up and go in this song and more room for emotional depth and spacey effects.

The following song “Thrones: Equals” pushes the boundaries a bit further with a quirkier treatment of the vocals and the general progression of track. The lyrics do hint at a glint of frustration and apprehension and the song does the whole idea of building drama and anticipation fairly well.

‘Autopilot’ also does well in conjuring the the snowballing of tension as it crescendos after a series of very catchy verses. It all explodes in a rich blanket of sonic madness in the end in a seamless stream of musical chaos that dies in a glorious and almost sobering feedback.

Taken By Cars definitely deserves all the accolades they deserve. The band raised the bar yet again with Dualist and it’s not unlikely that their fans would be eagerly awaiting the follow-up to this already successful release.

3 Headed Dog EP – Download the EP on Splintr!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

When rock and roll luminaries like Wolf Gemora and David Aguirre come together to make music, fans of their past work will definitely take notice and see what the two legends are up are up to. With Danny Gonzalez formerly of Lokomotiv to man bass duties, it’s clear that these three men mean serious business. 3 Headed Dog has been very generous to allow a free download of their self-titled EP.


The 3 Headed Dog Facebook page is very transparent with what type of songs they gravitate towards. With influences like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, AC/DC among others, listeners can easily surmose the type of music that the band is likely to produce – very competent, honest-to-goodness hard-nosed rock that would certainly appeal to anyone who knows their chops when it comes to the genre. Given the track record of the people behind this triumvirate, it’s no surprise that the band’s EP is more than satisfying despite only containing three songs.

The track “30 Years” starts of dirge-like before taking off to more ethereal sounding components of the song. The central theme of deception hangs heavily on the persona of the song – and vocalist/guitarist Dave Aguirre is more than able to channel this very complicated feeling through his singing style. It’s actually a treat to hear Aguirre sing on tracks now since he was chiefly a guitarist on his past bands. The story unfolds beautifully through the lyrics and the arrangement that eventually crescendos in the  angst-filled screaming that would typically associated with emotions of frustration and betrayal.

“Maynilad” starts of a lot slower than the first track and not unlike a diesel engine, it takes its time to warm up and get into a groove. Anyone who has listened to classic rock would find this track to be very comforting – it’s a brand new track and there is a good amount of innovation that went into the conception of the song; but at the same time, the general feel of the composition feels very familiar. It’s almost like a homecoming to a sound that you’ve always known – only that that you’re hearing it for the very first time.

The very aggressive “What Do You Want” is a very straight forward song fueled by frustration and despair. There’s a lot of energy that goes into the track and due to this, it does feel like it’s a lot longer than the actual 84 seconds that the song lasts. Despite the ‘shortness’ of the song in the temporal sense, the band definitely made it feel like a full-length song in terms of structure.

3 Headed Dog may be formed by legends who are better known for their great works with other bands but this band certainly has material that can be put side by side with the best compositions of their musical careers.

Again, the 3 Headed Dog EP is available for download on Splintr!

Inday Bote – The Arson EP

Monday, May 30th, 2011

For a band that was born after set of auditions within the UP Music Circle, Inday Bote sure has gone a long way. With two EPs and a good number of gigs in Manila and surrounding cities tucked in their well-decorated belt, the band has certainly paid their dues and passed the acid test of being a musical unit through the past four years. The current lineup features  Nina Cabangis on vocals, Sot Sotelo and Lloyd Cunanan on guitars, Enzo Zulueta on bass and Daryl “Sneaky G” Alvarez on the drum set.

This year, the band released their second recording – The Arson EP. The compilation is meant to be an introduction to just how the band approaches songwriting.

There is a good dose of variety on the release. No one would be able to criticize Inday Bote for sticking to one worn out approach to music – they certainly try to cover the bases.

The track ‘Four Less Bullets’ starts off with a very upbeat and jumpy tempo but it eventually retires to a soaring chorus – at least far as the guitars are concerned. It’s a very uplifting track that can be quite catchy even if you were just listening to it for the first time.

“Windburn’ goes all out the gates with the high octane pace that the band seems to be very able to pull off. Despite this penchant for a very rousing start, Inday Bote can also pull it back into a gorgeous and understated segment before exploding again in the chorus.

‘When The Night Falls’ – recorded twice for this release with an acoustic version to boot – has a very distinct punk and hard rock feel to it making the song one of the catchier tracks in this small collection of ditties. The acoustic version is a very different animal from the original – the feel and general tone feels diametrically opposite of the faster version.

Inday Bote is currently writing material for a full length album and given the potential this band is showing with their first two EPs, it seems like the next release will be worth waiting for.

Turbo Goth surges forward with “Destroy Us All”

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Turbo Goth has emerged as one of the most unique bands in the country today – not just because of their sound but also because of the fact that there are only two people on the roster (Sarah Gaugler and Paulo Peralta). The band challenges common perceptions on what a band should be and how many members there should be in one. Quite frankly, the sound that the duo of Sarah and Paulo produces is as good as any four-piece band out there – it seems like having Sarah in the vocals and Paulo manning the guitar/synthesizer and drum machine makes for a good combination. (more…)

Hellogoodbye – ‘Would It Kill You?’

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

The appeal of indie music for a good number of those who listen to the ‘genre’ is the great deal of honesty and the crafty musicianship that goes behind each song. Each track is a reflection of the freewheeling spirit that defines being indie. They may not be allied with a major label, but Hellogoodbye is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the field of social media. With almost half a million fans from all over the world, these guys from California have certainly made a good name for themselves.

Their new album Would It Kill You? is being pushed locally by Lilystars Records – a label that has the great goal of making indie (as well as other lesser known genres) more accessible to Filipinos. (more…)

‘Enemies of Saturn’ enters the ring

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Enemies of Saturn creates music that is part throw-back but still very fresh for the current scene. The band captures the spirit of rock music that is both hard-hitting enough to get your heart pumping yet sensual enough to make you want to move to the beat and feel the music even if you’re hearing a track for the first time. Their songs just have an innate ability to permeate through space and time without being too esoteric – in fact, it’s the exact opposite; the songs from their first album feel quite visceral in terms of appeal.

If you’ve been listening to NU107 years before they closed shop, you would have probably heard ‘Bigayan’ – the band’s biggest hit on mainstream radio. It’s a very catchy collaboration of funky beats and crunchy riffs that just has dance floor filler written all over it. There’s no way that you’re going to listen to this track sitting down. Coupled with the very suggestive lyrics, it’s definitely a recipe for a very good night – or at least a great story for the morning after.

The song ‘Mushroom Stomp’ also delivers the same punch and the underground seems to agree – it is easily among the band’s better received tracks in the local circuit. It’s very obvious as to why this is a crowd pleaser – just like the opening track, ‘Mushroom Stomp’ will definitely get butts off seats in a gig venue.

The band takes a break and goes on a more delicate route with ‘Descent’. There’s something very ethereal with the musical and vocal treatments in the song and this makes the experience of listening to it such a soothing experience. The song is a triumph in combining the feeling of yearning, obsession and even a little bit of desperation fit in a very gorgeous package.

“Charger” takes on a very bass-driven melody that embraces a more funky approach to songwriting. It’s certainly explores the music that great bands like P.O.T. and Kapatid have explored but not fully fleshed out during their existence as awesome creative entities. There’s definitely a market for music like this and it’s great that Enemies of Saturn is here to produce great tunes and indirectly educate people by expanding their musical horizons.

Enemies of Saturn is a very tight unit that packs a punch that’s somehow married with copious amount of musical libido and testosterone powered hard rock. It’s a very scary combination… for people who hate good music. Give these guys a spin, you won’t regret it.