May 24, 2009

Rescue a Hero - This is not an album

There are the guys who would do anything to make sure they get some cash for their albums (see “Metallica vs. Napster”). And then there are the guys who give away their albums for free. I don't really mind paying for albums – everyone's gotta make a living. Then again, I have to appreciate the gallant effort to disprove the social theory that “there's no such thing as a free lunch”. And when the opportunity knocks to get something in exchange for nothing, why the hell not?

People questioned Rivermaya's motives when they did it back in 2000, so much that some pundits thought they'd lost their heads. Nine Inch Nails did it to get back at their record label (so it wasn't entirely an act of honor). Then Radiohead did it (not a big deal since they're definitely already rolling in the G's at this point), and they got some pretty tough backlash from that idiot Gene Simmons, who really shouldn't be complaining about not making money out of albums since his band's likely to burn it all up literally in a barrage of useless pyrotechnics and smashed guitars anyway. And, seriously, who cares if KISS comes out with a new album or not? They can put out ten more albums and people will still be singing along exclusively to “I wanna rock and roll all night” at their shows. Well, anyway, the point of this tirade is, you try to do something admirable and some lovable individuals are gonna burn you for it. But at least, the effort doesn't go unappreciated.

Take for example this young band from Cebu City called “Rescue a Hero”. They're not as big as Faspitch or the Ambassadors, but they're well on their way considering the number of gig fliers with their name on it. Did it all start with their decision to give away their album for free? We're gonna have to do a survey to verify that, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the free album thing was a factor.

The giveaway collection is called “This Is Not An Album” and contains songs with instrumentation reminiscent of the prepubescent music we used to get off on back when we were in high school (grade school for the rest of us). You remember those hardcore Lifehouse-type mellow-heavy-mellow combinations, don't you? As a bonus, given the circumstances of today's scene, it's not surprising to hear it twisted just slightly to include an emo-ish vocal styling. In other words, they're pretty much a Cebuano “Secondhand Serenade”.

I'm not a fan of the band when they're live, but this album is pretty good as far as recording quality is concerned – no irritating buzzes, no overpowering tracks, and crystal clear vocals. As a matter of fact, I never expected the vocals to be this pitch-perfect based on the live performances. Aside from that though, there's really nothing particularly outstanding about this album, it's just a solid collection of safe tunes that may appeal to a certain cult following but might take a while before it breaks through to the elitist scene.

Oh, have I mentioned this album is absolutely free? Lest we forget though, “free” and “priceless” are on opposite extremes, though we can't rule out the possibility of the two words meeting somewhere in the middle. If tearjerking mellow-rock is your kind of thing, this one's for you.

Download the "collection" here. Now.

Note: Their song "To My Dearest" is also featured on the 2nd transmissions.

* photos from their official site. but im sure they dont mind us stealing it. ;)

...and now from our vaults (part 1)

Ismut’s Doble Kara
by Hari Skwatir • March 23rd, 2007
(from archives)

Unbeknownst to almost everybody on the scene, our jazz/blues/metal/whatever musical heroes Smooth Friction just released not one, but, a couple unheard albums for this year. Infact, the two albums are so obscure that no radio airplays, no release party, and no PR shit is heard of from the public. The only way you can hear the songs on the new album is by going to their gigs, which to further dissapoint you, not that many these days.

The first release to be (not so) publicly available is something called “Panyero“. It is somewhat a hodgepodge of jazz, blues, stoner rock and whatnots. Some of the songs here are also found on that Popsicle EP they gave away for free(i lost my copy dammit!) last year. Or was it two years ago? Panyero also includes classic live tracks from their previous two albums, 2nd Coming(2003) and Oh Yeah(2001).

The second offering, entitled “Kinasing-kasing Nga Halad“(which gives the title an insane twist. Think: Frank Zappa’s Weasels Rip My Flesh), is more of an Inidoro(Mikmik’s other personal project) rather than a Smooth Friction(or Ismut Priksyon as it was cleverly spelled on the album cover) release. Most of the songs in here are a wee bit off-ish the hook-ish and may sound a bit “unconventional” to the pre-2nd ComingSmooth listeners. Old, albeit heavy, songs such as Kolkog and 3X a Half Day, are also thrown in the album to exhaust the overall album theme. Although I have to say, songs like Sayaw Sa Mga Mahuyang Nga Tikbalang and Ang Paglupad Sa Manananggal could psyche out or amuse(or both at the same time) their average solid-ug-lawas listeners. (Speaking of which, sorry to disappoint all of you Ismut fans but you won’t be hearing a Solid ug Lawas part II on this album.)

Certainly, these guys deserve an airplay than any other local acts in the scene combined.

Which brings us all to these nagging questions. With the two latest unheard and highly under-promoted albums that they’re currently trying to pull off(or put on), a) are these guys trying to prove something? Or it could be the opposite. (These guys have nothing else to prove, i guess) We also knew that most members are quite busy nowadays(business, job posts, etc) and it goes without saying that most of them are on a lie-low mode, but b) are they trying to make a statement by not making any? c) Is no show now becoming a show? d) is a doble kara(starting with their moniker) band their newfound image?? e) why do they have so many myspace accounts?? f) when will they cease to amaze true-blue fans?

And just like Dylan, we actually thought that these answers are up up in the air.

(Click album image above to stream their new songs.)

Related Links:
Smooth Friction @ Soundclick
Smooth Friction @ MySpace

...and now from our vaults (part 2)

MP3s: Smooth Friction - The Underrated Hits
by Hari Skwatir • November 16th, 2007
(from archives)

Analize Oh Yeah! 2nd Coming Panyero Kinasingkasing Na Halad

Exploring Smooth Friction’s musical catalogue, in chronological order, is like a psychiatrist watching the transformation of a garden variety recidivist into a howling psycho killer - one can’t help but get amazed at how brilliant the metamorphosis is taking in action. Every genre-bending record they put out is a testament to their peerless craftsmanship unhinged of any musical pigeonholing. Be it their playful brand of orgasmic jazz-rock-blues fusion(2001’s Oh Yeah! and 2003’s 2nd Coming) to the death metal concept album(2007’s Kinasing-kasing nga Halad) delivered in a subtle deadpan manner, Smooth Friction, the supercombo quartet that every Cebu scenester highly reveres, is definitely on an artistic league of their own.

But prior to brushing with local radio fame and honing their musical instruments, the ubergroup dabbled into too many musical endeavors, mostly Mik-mik’s one-man side projects. Among these projects, sadly, only a couple resurfaced with materials. One is with the neo-classical proggy trips of Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! and the other with the visually-lewd pseudo-death metal antics of Inidoro.

However, among the group’s works I totally admire is their otherworldly electronica-inspired release entitled”Analize” which is even outstanding by it’s production merits alone. Recorded simultaneously with their first full length(Oh Yeah!), Mikmik assembled Smooth Friction and invited some friends(Budoy’s Jr. Kilat, Ribcage, etc.) to participate on an orgasmic E-popping rave album.So ladies and the gentlemen, after that long boring rant, may I present to you the underrated hits(or the misses) of Smooth Friction:

  • Inidoro - Kolkog (also appear’s on 2007’s Kinasingkasing Na Halad) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - I Want You (2001’s Analize) [download]

  • Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! - Banger Dome Lullabye (self-titled) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Take Me For A Ride (2001’s Oh Yeah!) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Summertime (2003’s 2nd Coming) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Panyero (2007’s Panyero) [download]

  • Smooth Friction - Ang Paglupad sa Manananggal (2007’s Kinasingkasing Na Halad) [download]

Also checkout Smooth Friction’s Soundclick site.

May 23, 2009

Mungkanghan -S/T (review)

Mungkanghan's album starts off on a promising note – a funky instrumental bassline topped off with woodwind and tribal percussions, a fresh, eclectic blend of everything hip and, at the same time, down-to-earth. But as the album progressed, the music began sounding repetitive and rehashed. Eventually, I came to the realization that what this band has created is praiseworthy ethnic music but, like nearly all ethnic albums I've heard in recent times, simply doesn't bring anything new to a game where everything's pretty much already old and worn out.

What really did this album in is the offkey vocals. I've never seen these guys live, unfortunately, and as far as I know, studio recording can make even the tiniest mistake as audible as, let's say, an ugly car crash. But, as much as I hate to be this frank, the vocals made the album, which was already sounding a little off-sync to begin with, almost unbearable to listen to.

This is a relatively young band and I'm sure there's a lot of improvement in their future. For one thing, I've heard even the most tonedeaf singers eventually progress into being able to hold a note perfectly. But for the meantime, this album just doesn't cut it for me. Being ethnic music isn't an excuse for breaking the basic nuances of good music.

Mungkanghan on Myspace

Bombo Pluto Ova - S/T(review)

When I first saw Bombo Pluto Ova perform at last year’s Fete dela Musique, I was quick to dismiss them as another punk band trying to be artsy by doing something that (apparently) no one else has done before. But, let’s face it, noise rock is nothing new. Bands that sound inept, whether intentionally or otherwise, are a dime a dozen - from the Dead Kennedys to the newer experimental bands like the SABAW collective. More importantly, noise rock is one of those things that anyone can do but very few can do right – and, at the time, Bombo wasn’t one of them.

Maybe it was the crappy sound system or maybe I was just too inebriated back then to appreciate the set – but I have to admit, this album really changed my mind about the band. It sounds so much better on record. The four tracks (or “chapters” as the band prefers to call them) each has its own distinct ambience and no vocals at all to mess up the mood. After a few listens, I finally formed an opinion – this record is good enough. So to all you noise-loving bloodsuckers out there, make this the album to own in 2009!

-> bombo pluto ova on myspace

(first printed on a commercial rug called bite magazine)

May 22, 2009

The Spirals - A Decade Later (review)

"A Decade Later" is a surprising gem coming from the erstwhile unheard-of Spirals. With the slew of poorly written, even more poorly-recorded songs coming forth from the speakers of our FM radios nowadays (yes, you can probably guess who you are, so I won't mention names), I hardly expected anything from "yet another local band". But somehow, this band managed to pierce through my calloused tastes and tickled my fancies enough to get one thumb up.

While the days of my enthusiasm for post-punk music died out with Franz Ferdinand (whatever happened to them?), I can still appreciate staccato rhythms and hauntingly repetitive guitar notes. In the postpunk world, everything is so derivative that the only way for a band to stand out is to go a little over the top and actually reset the counter back to "original", just like Franz Ferdinand and a few others have done. Unfortunately, "A Decade Later" falls short of that level of rock 'n' roll greatness. But of course, how much can one expect of a relatively new (or so I presume) band? For a (and again, I presume) first EP, it's an excellent effort to deviate from the current mainstream of local music - and music in general!

What I like most about the album - it's not a particularly professional-sounding album, but the effort put into it is obvious. It takes commitment to actually come out and pull off a well-recorded album in these days when penny-pinching for studio time is a trend. About the songwriting? Reminiscent of Interpol - dark and ambiguous. The arrangement is even darker - with damp, lonely guitar notes resonating from all aural corners.

All in all, I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, leaving just enough room for growth. As soon as this band finds its own signature sound, they could well be on their way to becoming the next big thing.

-> Teh Spirals on Teh Myspace
(first printed on the most awesomest music webzine of yesteryear,

May 20, 2009

the second transmission : "boy pops girl"

thanks for the long wait my dear geeks and friends. and so you probably notice that we're now back with this shit, keeping you dear, internet people, with the latest sonic juice right about your favorite southside musicmongers. we know you miss us alot (if not boo-fucking-hoo) so we're making it up by way of putting ang cooking up almost an hour of good quality music incase you get bored from facebooking and/or maybe from torrenting too much katrina halili-related porn.

the bands featured on this mix are specifically chosen on a sole reason: because we like em (and we would expect you would too). as for the tunes, as much as we would like to talk and beat around them with personal notes and whatnot, we'll just leave it up to you dear listeners for the taking lest we be branded of ill favoritism(and we're actually lazy bunches who hate music pigeonholing). if you like the band, visit their respective links below to get to know more about them, befriend them, tell them how cool they are and buy their merch for chrissakes!

on a technical note, the list in which the band appears on the cover remains as is with the song order. fillers and extra shit are added in between song. half of the songs which we have included, are posted with permission from the respective bands who own the music, which to our favor gave us the thumbs up. the other half, well, to put it bluntly, are taken and reposted from somewhere(read: myspace) to here. and as per rule of thumb, in case you decided you're too cool for this blog and would like your shit to be removed immediately, shoot us a restraining cease and desist order note at

...and now.

Southkast Radio - The 2nd Transmission (part i)

Southkast Radio - The 2nd Transmission (part ii)

1.) intro/filler 2.) tiger pussy - when you were young, you called everyone a bitch 3.) the spirals - betamax format 4.) undercover grasshoppers - sidetrack 5.) rescue a hero - to my dearest 6.) rhodamorgenstern - worthy 7.) otis green - there is no need for paracetamol 8.) mathet - maternal 9.) foc fashion - not sure 10.) face first down - nine fifty nine 11.) jewels of delilah - rosary burns 12.) a call for blood - rose for prisa 13.) bombo pluto ova - death rides nothing 14.) xiomara & the robot balloons - before the 30th* 15.) shadowbox serenade - kanta sa kadulog

* sent by louell/spirals who by the way, is starting a personal blog incidentally called "30 : still clumsy, still shy". if we get sued for this shit, then he's to blame.

+ image copyright © Edgar Degas. Spartan Girls Provoking Boys. c.1860-62. National Gallery, London

May 18, 2009

the zine that never was...

((click shit to enlarge))

in the interest of posterity and mushy watered-down nostalgia(and/or while waiting for us to come up with a new relevant post), here's something for-the-kids we cooked up last year in the form of fanzine. supposedly, it would have been released once a month on a letter-sized bond paper printed back-to-back but just like any of our too-soon endeavors, them died too soon out of natural death. "misericordia" it was called. but it never was for it never did see the annals of interweb flickering for 15-minutes of infamy.

we're (almost) back...

after about a year or what seems like an eternal jiffy of chronic loafing on the intarwebz and getting piss high/drunk on social soirees in the most unimaginable and undesirable position, we, as pundits of sonic dissonance and purveyors of everything beautifully fucked-up would like to herald our position as this year's newly and highly appointed king of redundant and dated comebacks(move over, gabby concepcion). or to put it in a less fashionable pedantic rambling, we are back kids! back on the rat race track to deliver local independent underground, [insert big radical words here], and almost unheardof music from this south side of third world pollution.

but wait, there's more! (oh spare me brother, i haven't rambled like this for a long fucking time...) aside from giving you a sample of whats to come on the local music biz, our transmitters will also be kept highly susceptible to signals delivered from the dark realms of decadence and dissent in the congruent forms of outsider art, poetry, agitprops, situations or whatever shit our fucked-up flanks are willing to cook up. there will be no compromise on our high almighty endeavor, our radicalist didactic front will not be perturbed.

forewurrd komerads!!