The Spinners

Archive for the ‘Alternative Rock’ Category

The Spinners Spotlight: ♪ Five Years (Sugar Hiccup, 1995) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, The Spinners Spotlight on December 15, 2010 at 5:49 am

Download “Five Years”

To think that this was released as a single in 1995, eventually winning the Best Alternative Song in the KATHA and Awit Awards the following year, means the strings back then were a lot more loose and a lot less wimpish. ‘Cause really, when was the last time you heard a three-minute song on the radio full of humming?

Our Spinners were there to witness the unlikely shakeup. Let’s read their journals:

Hypnotic and chilling, “Five Years” never fails to scare me. The most imaginative song I’ve ever heard. – Andrea Nicola (4)

The only problem Sugar Hiccup have with this song is that it’s so good any other song they wrote and will write after this will not be as memorable. – Antoinette Jadaone (4)

To say that, to this day, there is no song as powerful as Sugar Hiccup’s “Five Years,” or that there is no one whose vocal prowess could come close to that of Melody del Mundo’s, is perhaps not an exaggeration. – Ayer Arguelles (5)

. . . a haunting hum of a melody that builds into a primal scream of raw emotion. Sometimes a song is not just a song—it’s a revelation. – Ayn Marie Dimaya (5)

I don’t know what to make out of this three-minute record that consists of a never-ending girl moan and a sudden hair-raising shriek. I will probably listen to this song and pretend to enjoy it only if there is a gun pointed at my head. Otherwise, it is a deadly task. – Christian Cruz (2)

Words fail all the bad-poetry-day Goth-damaged bands that elude me and sometimes piss me off but Sugar Hiccup win me over out of how they’re totally and utterly sonic and how Melody De Mundo’s caterwauling shrieks are somehow both meaningless artifice and poetic gesture without being totally either. Dodo Dayao (4)

It gives an impression of a seemingly delusional romance that is hauntingly—and unfortunately—short-lived. – Eula Gonzales (3.5)

“Five Years” encompasses feelings for the listener that can be shouted and signified in singular words: Banshee, Longing, Destroy, Wail, Despair, Climax, Death, Epic. – Gian Mayuga (5)

The longest atmospheric song with only six words as lyrics. How epic can a humming voice be? – Julius Maraya (4)

A haunting song befitting of massive introspection especially during the first two minutes. I think the likes of Bjork and Annie Lennox would appreciate this. – Juno Barbra Streisand (4)

Kids who probably first heard this song when it hit the airwaves in the mid-90s are probably aware that the vocalist here is going for a solid minute and a half just humming, until the song slowly reaches its crescendo, somewhere around the two-minute mark when she says (perhaps the only intelligible words here): “But he will never be back.” Insert commencement of intense wailing here, loss and anger weaved into the fluctuating notes until the end. It definitely tops my “Don’t Listen to This When Alone” playlist. – Kate Pedroso (5)

It reminds me of a cry of desperation and death. Perfect. – KZ Otarra (5)

After all these years, it still amazes me how a song with a single line can encapsulate how dragging five years could be and how the wait disappoints at the end. “He will never be there.” This is how futility sounds like. Beautiful but awfully futile. – Megan Diño (4)

. . . gut-wrenching sculpture of strawberry sadness. – Oliver Ortega (5)

Melody del Mundo is like a shaman wailing to the gods of rhythm, concord, and syncopation. Her siren call traps listeners in a fugue state, unable to shake the ethereal harmonies that bubble up, making “Five Years” not so much a funerary dirge but a mellifluous hymn to the beauty and power of the human voice. – Rex Baylon (5)

. . . crosses that line between dream and nightmare, and gives you both. – Richard Bolisay (4)

No lyrics needed. I can stand five more years listening to this song. Haunting. – RM Topacio-Aplaon (5)

“Five Years” echoes a haunted dream. Like a low buzz that starts rolling, it escalates to an otherworldly screech, an explosion that is the only thing you remember when you wake up. It’s a fine example why the 90s band explosion is one of the greatest eras in Pinoy music. “Five Years” reminds me of a long-gone era that continues to live on in nostalgia. – Romina Mislang (4)

A humming that escalates to screaming against starry guitars, “Five Years” is the emotional breakdown we hide from our lovers. It’s as if Melody del Mundo’s voice is slowly being pulled and stretched like a rubber band, to the point of shooting or breaking, across time, across the wait. Wong Kar Wai’s films often ponder over how time and distance pull lovers apart. This is how they sound like. – Thor Balanon (4)

“Five Years” is basically a two-minute crescendo followed by vocal chords being played like a violin, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. The song is hypnotic and proves that its musicians are capable and creative. Sadly, despite the obvious talent showcased in the song, “Five Years” fails to really captivate me. For me, Sugar Hiccup (at least in this song) are like a skilled fisherman who, in a moment of absentmindedness, forgot to put a hook on the line. – Tyler Draper (3)

Average rating:


♪ Torete (Moonstar 88, 2001) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 5:02 am

The slice of life Acel Bisa is singing—or is it the pie of love that you and me and everyone we know take turns eating?—blights as much as it inspires; inspires because there is hopefulness in the unconditional, inspires because there really is no end to unrequitedness but unrequitedness, and inspires because “Torete” captures that novelty of love that never happened, love that almost happened, and love that could never happen (again), folded in one sweet and aching ballad that crying videokes are too keen on having, and foolish hearts are too keen on singing, hearts that are avid for hurt, happiness, and letting go; but not always in that order.

*included in the upcoming “A Decade in POP: OPM in 50 Songs”

– Richard Bolisay

♪ Tambay (Siakol) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, RM Topacio-Aplaon, Track Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 5:01 am

‘Twas the reign of the G-chord songs. The time when our hardcore Metallica-fan kuyas and titos bullied us for listening to mediocre bands like Siakol.  Those days when we were called “juveniles jeopardizing the music scene,” or worse, “little music criminals.” Those mundane days of better-listen-to-hip-hop-than-to-this-band-or-else may be over, but the memories of secretly listening to them are still fresh.

Armed with cassettes and soon-to-be-comatose karaoke, my friends and I had the greatest weapon of our childhood arsenal. Although skipping some songs to get to our favorite song was a ball game of fast-forward and rewind, it was fine. We learned substitution and team plays. We wanted to hear “Tambay” first. We never took no as an answer.

We never had any idea of sorting out songs then. As long as they sounded a bit like Eraserheads or Rivermaya, they were music for us. The anthem of boredom and joblessness was the soundtrack to the long-lost simplicity of Saturdays and Sundays. We listened to what was on cassette and radio. We never cared if they were pop or mediocre or baduy. We played our guitars, as long as the song was on G-chord. We call it happiness. A two-day escape from a tiring school week.

They say that Siakol are the Cueshe of the 90’s. But Noel Palomo, to be fair, composed better songs. Let’s give that to him. From love songs to tunes of psychedelia, from descriptions of Tondo to longing and lovesickness, he embraced the times with a light and honest heart.

– RM Topacio-Aplaon

♪ The Day You Said Goodnight (Hale, 2005) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 4:40 am

Hale almost had it. A decent lineup of musicians, a good-looking frontman, a catchy tune as debut single, mutiltudes of fans on Yahoo groups, platinum sales, TV appearances, gigs . . . what could possibly go wrong? For one, they did not grow up. The band got stuck in its flowery songwriting and Champ lost his charm, which, to be honest, was Hale’s bread and butter. (The worst came eventually—an all-Filipino concept album in 2009.) Their timing was also perfect: 2005, a year of uncertainties, a year of discoveries, a year of dipping toes into the water and having the courage to change its flow. Indeed, Hale were a breath of fresh air. They seized the opportunity. They had promise. I was not alone in the reverie of wanting them to move into Coldplay territory despite the fact that they weren’t and, unfortunately, couldn’t. Some would say that Hale defined OPM alternative in the noughties, and “The Day You Said Goodnight” was the flag they raised to prove it, and they could be right. But it’s hard to pinpoint what made the song incredibly popular, considering the inanity of its opening words: Take me as you are. It may be the description of admiration—okay, the poetry—and the newfangled intimacy building up towards the bridge: a heatbreaking twist of fate to sentimental listeners; a forced punch-drunk ending to the kindly ones. Up to now, I still wince at Champ’s delivery of And I do reside in your la-heeet, singing the refrain with his eyes closed, tightly, sincerely, regretfully. Hale’s first album is pleasant enough to deserve repeats—in fact, I still listen to it—and “The Day You Said Goodnight” is not even a standout, lacking the juvenile fun of “Kahit Pa” and the levity of “Tollgate,” yet I concede to the fact that it has an unmistakable spell of courtship. It is a nice keepsake of the era, which probably explains why the song title (and the band itself) will always be written, sadly, in the past tense.

*included in the upcoming “A Decade in POP: OPM in 50 Songs”

– Richard Bolisay

♪ Panaginip Lang (Paramita, 2005) ♪

In Alternative Rock, KZ Otarra, OPM, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 8:58 am

Hearing “Panaginip Lang” makes me want to dance immediately. It reminds me of one of those tribal-mating songs with a melancholy voice to match. But the mood instantly changes when you realize what it sings about: freedom from past love and moving on (ngunit bago ka lumisan / palayain ako). The lyrics are typical yet romantic, but the beat of the whole song makes it original and brings the entire mood together.

Ano ang iyong madarama / Kung malaman mong ito’y panaginip lang

Although I don’t have any idea what happened to Paramita after the release of their second album, I think “Panaginip Lang” is still worthy to be shared. Not to put too fine a point on it: it is timeless. Listening to it ten years from now would still bring the same feeling and it would not sound luma.

– KZ Otarra

♪ Sayaw sa Bubog (The Jerks, 1994) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, RM Topacio-Aplaon, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 8:48 am

I always find myself dancing to Chikoy Pura’s songs, oftentimes under the mistaken belief that I live in a free country with a legitimate democracy.

I have to dance and be awaken by scandalous verses, phrases I first thought were lies. These words wreck the creases of my brain, painfully pounding my hammer bone, knowing they are not lousy metaphors merely intended to catch my attention. These words form a picket line, aligned and straightforward, dictating a clash against pop culture melodrama. This is the melodrama of freedom: freedom from hunger and illiteracy.

Belief leads to blunder, especially with a song that sounds like banter. But we are hunters, seeker of truth and justice. The Jerks can be comic yet revealing, tactless and progressive, vulgar yet artistic. “Sayaw sa Bubog” lets you follow the flow of its rhyming scheme, leaving you with a self-explanatory question that the song answers by itself.  It wants you to break the “free-dumb” philosophy of freedom and empower you to shout: “kasinungalingan, isang kahangalan!” shaking with an inconvenient fact, “walang libreng kalayaan, ito’y pinagbabayaran.” And over and over again, it ends up with questions that break the walls of fallacy.

The metaphor of Chikoy’s anger is an encouragement for us to believe in change, to be open, and to be fragile.  But it doesn’t stop there. Chikoy desires one further move, a step no longer out of tune, to a rhythm that steps on broken glasses and compels us to do something.

– RM Topacio-Aplaon

♪ Sa Wakas (Eraserheads, 1994) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, Rex Baylon, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:34 am

I am a neophyte to all things Eraserheads. As a kid during the 90s hanging out with my older cousins in the Philippines, who were themselves self-confessed audiophiles, I used to listen to their cassette tapes and educated myself on bands like the Cocteau Twins, The Cranberries, and other popular alternative rock groups then. When they tried to teach me about local music, I feigned interest but my uncultivated music palette made it next to impossible for my untrained ears to connect with songs that had non-English lyrics in them. Luckily, things had changed and that petulant little boy eventually grew up and his tastes broadened.

Dipping your toes into any artist’s oeuvre can be a daunting task, and the Eraserheads were no exception. I was aware of their esteemed reputation being the “The Beatles of the Philippines,” but other than that I was completely ignorant of their sound. After getting a few song recommendations from friends, I began to make my way through their discography and enjoyed what I heard, but nothing really grabbed me. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth song that I listened to—“Sa Wakas,” the fifteenth track in Circus—that they had my undivided attention.

To my astonishment the song is more Bob Dylan than The Beatles. Not having a full grasp of Tagalog, I was initially drawn to the melody and rhythm of the song. The discordant melody works in favor of Ely Buendia’s lyrics and vocal delivery. The inventive use of instruments like synthesizers, cowbells, and hand drums lends the song a very organic garage rock sound. Although initially I did not know what Ely Buendia was singing about, I did get hints from his earnest vocal delivery. The anguish, the frustration, and the triumph were all revealed in his voice; and like any true singer, Buendia is a man allergic to affectation. There are many songs that I have yet to listen to before I can offer anything substantial to say about the Eraserheads, but when I look back at my younger self I regret not having paid attention to my cousins who were sharing their passion for Pinoy rock with me. As a boy you hunt for the familiar, things that validate what you already know to be true, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but if you only look at the same picture everyday, listen to the same song day in and day out, and eat the same dish every meal, you risk living a snow globe existence.

Happily, I broke out of that shell years ago and now I can’t wait to delve deeper into the Eraserheads oeuvre.

– Rex Baylon

♪ Ambulansya (Rivermaya, 2000) ♪

In Alternative Rock, Ayer Arguelles, Dodo Dayao, OPM, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:30 am

Arguably one of Rivermaya’s best compositions, “Ambulansya” joins a handful of Filipino songs which, to this listener, have thus far succeeded to dramatize or enact the experiences “captured” in their lyrics. For it is one thing to put an experience into a song and it is certainly another to have that experience come to (another) life through music. In the case of the latter, the song essentially becomes music and not merely an uninteresting combination of sounds and words. It becomes an experience in itself.

“Ambulansya” begins very slowly. With just the synths and piano alternating rather forebodingly in the background, the song sounds as though it does what it says in the opening lines: hindi na tayo gagalaw / hindi na tayo aabante. It does not seem to proceed at all. Vital to this tempo is Rico Blanco’s vocals delivered deliberately strained like it is coming from a place so deep it could hardly surface. Yet the song goes on until it reaches the line ayan naririnig ko na sa hangin / sirenang sasagip sa atin and we hear the continuous wailing of an ambulance’s siren creating an ominous vibe.

This slowness breaks into singing of what seems to be frantic utterances. It reaches a significant turn in the lyrics’ final stanzas, in which the narrative of the tragic road mishap is implied (hesusmaryosep / sa gitna ng kalsada / eighteen-wheeler ang nakabalandra / tapak ng preno / tapakan mo). The second and third voices in this part effectively evoke what might have been the drama of high and mixed emotions present among those who have been unfortunately involved in car crashes. Then it’s back to slowness again as the song comes full circle by repeating the line hindi na tayo gagalaw in closing, only this time hinting at a darker note.

– Ayer Arguelles

A young man lies in the wreckage of his car, his probably-dead or most-likely dying girlfriend in his arms. The suspenseful ticktock piano. The frankly beautiful but traumatic melody. The blood. The gore.  The sound of Chuck Palahniuk fronting Radiohead.

– Dodo Dayao

♪ Wala Nang Hihilingin (Sugarfree, 2009) ♪

In Alternative Rock, Julius Maraya, OPM, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:27 am

Ebe Dancel simply loves Pinoy romanticism. “Wala Nang Hihilingin” is somewhat a follow-up to “Tulog Na,” with the cheesy meter shooting all the way through the roof. The careless mush notwithstanding, Ebe is still able to maintain that infectious lovey-dovey feeling without the slightest feeling of guilt. He can effortlessly make kundiman a modern staple for this day and age.

– Julius Maraya

Luha (Kapatid, 2006)

In Alternative Rock, Dodo Dayao, OPM on December 7, 2010 at 5:13 am

“Banil” does work because it’s the Karl Roy of the old, loosening up: cheeky, slinky, snaky. And sly, as in like a fox and the Family Stone both. The number crackles with the hedonistic glee that made hot shit out of his funk retro shtick, back in the day. The crunchmetal that dampened it, though, is back on offer everywhere else on the record, and with no funk retro for miles—so, uh oh. Revisiting one’s musical past, that’s valid. Belaboring the parts that didn’t fly, not quite. But that’s my side of the story and easy to chalk up to different strokes if Slapshock hadn’t been here done that moved on and grown this thing up. Hell, so has P.O.T., before they self-destructed into one-hit cultdom.

Deploy crunchmetal proper and there’s nothing the matter with it, in principle, in fairness. And Kapatid are not a crew that wants for chops. Rocklike, funklike, jazzlike chops—their arsenal’s thick. These cats can play, dig? Thing is, they wear their virtuosity out by making them go on unimaginative tangents—expertise pursuing technical prowess at the expense of heartfelt passion, melodies that wander off and lose their way never to come back, riffs that smack of tasteful but never really get tasty. The music dominates by sheer virtue of mass and volume but it never asserts itself as an emotive conduit.

Until the repertoire detours. Towards fuzak evoking milder, better Bamboo (“Telegrama”), towards reggaeish that busts a move to groove (“Grace” and especially “Psycho Love”) and towards demented club dub (“Pagbabalik Ng Kwago”). Things happen, in diminished measures. “Banil,” though, is the sole, solid peek into the band’s ultimate could’ve been would’ve been. The two and a half limes pay tribute to it. The other two and a half denied are for all my great expectations dashed.

– Dodo Dayao