The Spinners

Idiosyncrasies (Pepe Smith, 2005)

In Julius Maraya, OPM, Rock on January 13, 2010 at 5:07 am

I could have just typed ROCK ‘N ROLL here and voila, the review’s done. Because gaddammet, it’s THE Pepe Smith. But then again, I’ll try.

Idiosyncrasies is Pepe’s first solo effort. He enlists the help of two guitar gods, Jun Lopito and the late-great Dondi Ledesma. All the nine idiosyncratic songs (plus two instrumentals) that compose the record are written by Pepe, while Jun and Dondi share the rhythm and production chores. I say, album highlights would have to be the mood-setter/opener “Eto Na Ako” (the “Ang Himig Natin sequel), “Ihip ng Hangin”, and “Jueteng Shed”.

Pepe’s songwriting is something he will always get away with regardless of the language he uses. But I strongly believe that his Filipino songs will always have the authoritative blow to his listeners unlike his English compositions. I figure that Juan dela Cruz classics like “Beep Beep” and “Balong Malalim” are already deeply embedded in our consciousness that’s why I tend to think that way; or it’s just that, generally, some writers can express more vividly in one language than the other. I don’t know. Pick one and kill me if you want.

Music-wise, the album is not a total killer. The culprit: the fucking electronic drum parts. I mean, come on. THE Pepe Smith, who grew up with a drum kit and was born out of it, does not deserve to have robotic drums that are only heard in videoke. I’m guessing that Pepe was too weak to do the drums and he didn’t want Dondi or Jun to mess with it because he felt bad for not being able to do it himself, so instead he just tinkered with some MIDI samplers and voila! If these were really true, then the album title is indeed justified. Real drums are a significant loss here; however, the guitars, the sonic effects, and everything else fall into their proper places. I can only imagine how each song in the album can be more explosive during a live set—or it could have been a live album instead! Oh shit. Paging record companies. Just by thinking of it already wets myself.

I would play Idiosyncrasies if I want to listen to “Jueteng Shed”, “Eto Na Ako” and “Ihip ng Hangin” on a blasting sound system at home—just to annoy neighbors on their siesta. But I can’t let a mall-emo-kid listen to this if one day he or she wakes up and consciously digs into classic Pinoy rock ‘n roll. It’s just not it.

– Julius Maraya

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