Thursday, October 25, 2007

Banda Fantastica 2 - Various Pinoy Bands in Singapore

This is a review of a compilation album released by Pinoy bands in Singapore. This CD was given to those who attended the concert last Oct. 20, 2007 at Le Baroque Chijmes, Singapore. By the way, I’m not a professional musician. I do play guitar and love listening to music. But all I am now is a hobbyist. Having said that, I hope the bands whose songs I gave low ratings would take these comments constructively. Truly, I am amazed how these people can still make time from their busy schedules to make music. That is beyond a shadow of doubt an admirable display of the spirit of musicianship.

Here it goes!

1. “Tomorrow's Past” by Soundpedia
The song started quite well. It showed a lot of promise but went downhill starting on the first chorus. There are timing issues and there seem to be a sense of urgency in the voice that I can't understand why. Listening makes me feel very uneasy, which was compounded by the fact that the vox was sometimes off-key. I also felt a sonic clutter was going on with all the different things the bass, drums and guitars seems to be doing at the same time while there's singing going on. The backup vocals sounded off-key at times and doesn't synch well with the main vocals. The only thing that made it bearable was the lead guitar, which made me think that this could've been a better instrumental song.
Rating : 2 of 5

2. “Enemy Within” by Transient Attack
Energetic song with vocals similar to Soundgarden and guitar riffs sounding like Stone Temple Pilots, at least for me. It brought to mind images of moshpits filled with banging bodies, stagediving and such. The song was engaging and kept my interest the whole time. The recording was ok, all instruments are heard without one overpowering another. There were some instances, though, when I felt the timing was off. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but it was noticeable. Nevertheless, I would say it's one of my favorite tracks in the album.
Rating : 4 of 5

3. “Song For You” by Cajooters
A fast tune that immediately reminded me of the song "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors. The recorded isn't as professional-sounding as some of the other tracks. The band played their song competently. It appeared they practiced well enough to sound tight, which is a good thing because some bands do have some considerable timing issues. However, the melody is quite redundant and gets tedious after a while because it doesn't have much to offer after the initial interest in generated at the beginning. It's one of the average tracks for me.
Rating: 3 of 5

4. “On A Coaster Ride” by Launchbox
One of the songs I like in the CD. Dig the rollercoaster sound effects at the end of the song! Timing and pitch here are perfect, this song thankfully has none of those obstacles. The vocals are particularly pleasant to the ears. The band is impressively tight and played the song very well, almost as if professional musicians did it. The song evokes a good feeling about it. It makes me want to hear it over and over again. It’s one thing I look for in a song, the way it connects with the listener. For me, this song connected. This is a song that would generally make me want to hear more and discover more about a band. Nice effort by Launchbox on this song.
Rating: 5 of 5

5. “Seize The Day” by Aftermath
I kinda liked the song. It sounded to me like a Neocolours song. It’s mellow and the melody is nice. However, there something missing or excessive about the song but I can’t point out what it is. Could it be that the groove of the bass guitar doesn’t mesh with the other instruments? I also notice some pitchy moments, specially the backup vocals. This is one song, however, that came through for me despite it’s flaws. Probably a better recording and more tight rendition would kick it up many notches higher than a “3”.
Rating: 3 of 5

6. "Funk'd Up" by Guitarded
A promising instrumental track that began quite well. I actually liked the first half of the piece. However, in the middle part until the end, the lead guitar sounded like it overdid the lead part. There was too much notes crammed in the aural space instead of feeling the flow of the catchy and foot-stomp-inducing beat of the song.
Rating: 3 of 5

7. “Angel of the Sea” by Pop Machine
First of all, intro music reminded me of The Cure’s similarly flanger-drenched intro in “A Forest” and bit like Seona Dancing’s “More to Lose”. Also, when the first lyrics sounded, it conjured a mental image of Robert Smith. Another thing, the “Angel” part of the chorus sounded like U2’s “Angel of Harlem”. Ok I had to get those out first. Now once you get past those New Wave references, you can see a tight band with a nice-sounding song with a good melody. It sounded very 80’s, I don’t know if they did it intentionally. It’s not a bad thing though. Some people, me included, dig this genre. Definitely one of the tracks that I like.
Rating: 4 of 5

8. "Island Jam" by Blues Junkie
Another instrumental track, this one reminded me of a typical Santana tune. It has a sound that gives a distinctive latin flavor. The drums solo in the middle part was noteworthy. Only remark is that the bass guitar solo sounded very weak. But it eventually built up when the other instruments came joining in. One of the tracks I like.
Rating: 4 of 5

9. "Best Love" by After Six
The recording is a bit weak. Actually, I couldn’t remember anything about it after the song ended. No hook. No catchy melody. No dynamics. I did remember the continuously droning drum machine-esque drum sound. And that sometimes the vocals becomes off-tune at different parts of the song.
Rating: 2 of 5

10. "Traces of Yesterday" by Winter Riot
I was really bothered by the time changes in the song. Usually I don’t have problems with multiple time changes in songs. But this one, I felt that the transitions weren’t that smooth and consistent as I would expect. Also, the melody for the chorus gets a bit repetitive at the end. Nonetheless, you have to give credit to the band for thinking unconventionally and making a complicated structure for their song.
Rating: 2 of 5

11. "Vanish" by Kernel Panic
A heavy, headbanging song that started well. But when the chorus started, the vocals started getting out of tune. The guitar solo was fantastic with a blistering run at the start. That was the highlight of the song for me. I wished the solo could have been a bit longer and louder about a notch or two. Another thing I noticed is that the rhythm section isn't consistent, sometimes the drums becomes slower and it feels like the the guitar is trying to keep up with it. This could be a reason why the songs couldn't get in a good flow. Recording seems adequate but could be better. The song is ok for me and could have been better if the band would just address these things.
Rating: 3 of 5

12. "Ikaw Lang" by Saint Trend
A slow number which is the only Tagalog track in the cd, it is a rock love song with a nice melody. Recording is exceptional and at par with some of the other well-recorded songs in the compilation. Another thing that gave the song it's wicked punch despite the syrupy lyrics was the remarkable guitar fills. The guitar player gave the right amount of guitar orchestration to liven up the sound despite its simplistic two-chord stanza progression as the end of the song approaches. Overall, a nicely-written song to listen to while driving on a lonely road at sunset. Another of my favorites.
Rating: 5 of 5

13. "Stay With Me" by Yellow Tea Lady
A pop love song with very nice melody. The intro got my attention with its clear, acoustic guitar riffs. But the vocals was even more engaging. This song hit a nerve somewhere within me. It felt like the singer was singing to me directly. The backing vocals provide additional body to the song in the right portions. Ok, there are some instances that I felt timing came a bit off and the vox a tad pitchy sometimes, but it still doesn't take away the song's magic. This song is one of those songs that I listen to multiple times without me getting tired of it.
Rating: 4 of 5

14. "Our Father" by Mr. Brosnan?
This song is a well-rounded rock offering with impeccable timing, well-placed fills and clear vocals. Recording was superbly done and actually sounded like it was mixed professionally. The guitar solo was impressive, the guitar player chose his phrasing really well. The band is extremely tight and constantly "in the pocket", so they say. The ending came a bit weak though, it felt like the song could have ended better with a bang. Despite that minor glitch, though, here's two thumbs up for Mr. Brosnan for coming up with a strong song. One of the cd's best tracks, it's my most favorite actually.
Rating : 5 of 5


Mostly my comments became focused on timing and pitch. The thing is, one cannot focus on the song if these roadblocks are immediately encountered. I'm confident though that the bands would take these remarks constructively and will put out a better effort the next time.

Overall this is a commendable effort by our Pinoy musicians in Singapore who all have day jobs but still kept the musical fire inside them alive. Rock on! \m/ \m/

Here are links for those who want to download the songs: