WITH outstanding rappers Loonie and Ron Henley plus superb soul siren Kat Agarrado on board eight-man Stick Figgas is a Pinoy hip-hop supergroup.
Add the fact that its backing band plays full-tilt, jazz-inflected pop and rock makes the 16-legged collective a well-oiled music machine as well.
Take note: The music of Stick Figgas goes beyond the usual swipes from more memorable songs. Hip-hop’s insistent street beat is the bedrock sound and on its latest release, the live band lays down remarkable tropes on top and around it. There are late-night piano runs on 4:19, melodic progressive rock in Bara-Bara, and rock-and-roll underneath a shout-out to the joys of illicit sex in Ubasan. Some unforgettable moments in Pinoy rock and jazz tradition slither and bite serious ass in Hiram.
As expected, it’s the lyrics that swing serious whacks to the head: “Wala kang datung/ Wala kang dating/ Kaya mapipilitan kang kumapit sa patalim…” pitches Mukha ng Pera. Hiram poses the eternal riddle: “May langit nga ba?/ Paano kung wala?/ Nasasayang lang ang buhay mo katitingala.”
The truth behind different shades of fakery gets sliced and diced in Sinungaling. Realistick will take you to strange yet somehow familiar places in its words and music. Hail, hail, the first important album of 2018!
Memories & Monuments
TO paraphrase R.E.M.: Post-rock albums are fables of (destruction and) reconstruction. The very best post-rockers capture progressive rock’s flash and thunder in a bottle. The less ambitious ones, well… they’ll leave you bored and cold to the subgenre.
Four-man outfit Odd hails from Dumaguete, a college town in Negros Oriental. Given their bucolic surroundings, it’s a huge surprise to find the group perking up ears of music aficionados in the country and other parts of the world. It has been cited to be among the most promising bands today in various blogs and publications. And, with good reason: Their three-song EP rummages through landmarks of post-rock’s influential icons such as And So I Watch You From Afar, former Manila visitors Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky to forge towering soundscapes. Goaded by an elastic rock backbeat, Odd’s wordless compositions ebb and flow with the shifting tides and tonalities of the lead guitar, like The Shadows on acid, if you will.
It’s time for more sonic (re)constructions from Odd’s bag of magnificent riffs. (Its debut EP is available on Bandcamp under “wellthisisodd”.)
MODERN pop idols seldom reinvent themselves. Predictability may smother ingenuity, but it’s the easiest link to wider adulation; so those considered as “pop phenomena” settle for whatever made them famous in the first place. Prior to her latest album’s release, Katy Perry told reporters it’s going to be her “purposeful pop” recording. A cursory scan at song titles like Hey Hey Hey, Deja Vu, Miss You More or Bon Appetit hardly inspire confidence. Offhand, they don’t reflect a shift to an outward focus beyond the self-centered pop star.
The title track opens the album invoking a need for connection. On the next track Hey Hey Hey, she boasts: “You think I am cracking, but you can’t break me.”
By the time Swish, Swish comes around—a duet with Nicki Minaj and her supposed dig at Taylor Swift—Perry disses, “Your game is tired/ You should retire.”
Perry continues her “me, myself, I” musings right through the sex confessional of Tsunami and the bouncy toast to her indestructible originality in Pendulum. She bends backward a bit to defend her braggadocio in the album-closer, Act My Age. Tuneful upbeat tunes mark the soundtrack to Perry’s supposedly future-leaning pop in Bon Appetit, Bigger Than Me and Power, some endearing ballads and one truly emotive wailer for a failed love affair (Deja Vu). The best ones actually remind of Madonna at her peak, from La Isla Bonita to Papa Don’t Preach, propped up by club beats and glossy hooks. (Katy Perry takes“Witness” live in Manila at the MOA Arena on April 2.)
TWENTY-FIVE years ago, former Pixies bassist Kim Deal silenced all naysayers by releasing—as a fourth of The Breeders—the seminal Last Splash, an album that’s critically acclaimed as one of the wellsprings of alternative rock. The Breeders would change personnel over the next two decades and continue to make fresh music last heard in 2008. A decade later, the original members got back together for a new album that, on surface, looks ready to zip-up those who now claim alternative rock is a spent force, if not a dying one.
A deeper listen and the all-new All Nerve reveals its homage to the band’s best years. It’s simply difficult to shake off the lasting impact of Cannonball. That classic song’s energy radiates in the run-for-your-life rush of Nervous Mary and shoots out sparks in Archangel’s Thunderbird. It hums coiled underneath the shoegaze-y Howl at the Summit, the hyperrealist images pouring out of Dawn Making An Effort and David Bowie’s space odyssey in Spacewoman.
Traces of the Pixies still hound Kim Deal and company and the challenge to break completely from the past is the fire that runs through All Nerve.