Reviews that don’t go anywhere (part 2)

Part one is here.

Last time, I spoke too soon. It took me less than an hour to get in touch with the representatives of the three groups concerned, and the paperwork was sent on a Wednesday afternoon. For the first time, I understood why being a reviewer was leading me to be an advocate. (I could have said it was the other way around, but the experience seems to suggest otherwise.)

It really started with fuseboxx. In my review of Animated for the Philippine Online Chronicles, I briefly told the story of how I met Abby and the rest of the band. After the gig I attended last 19 May, I was convinced that they were amazing enough to share with other people, and even more so after I bought their new album more than a week before it was due to launch.

Credit must go to an old friend, Eric Barcelon, who helped me along my education in progressive rock. He lent me two of his albums, by Yes and King Crimson, and over a chicken-all-you-can evening at Max’s Shangri-La Plaza, we talked about the album and its influences. (I still have yet to drag him to a gig; his schedule does not permit it.)

So it was that I ended up writing the review, then making it a point to see their gigs when my schedule permitted. Then it was time to introduce them to people, including the owners of two of my favorite places in Makati. To make a long story short, it all led to Monday night. But it is not over. I have yet to tie together my recent discovery of fusion folk and local progressive with…

…my interest in stripped-down, singer-songwriter stuff.

Nope, I don’t mean the acoustic trend which record companies are desperately trying to keep alive. It really started many years ago when I was listening to the likes of Julia Fordham and early Sting, and then to the work of Sarah MacLachlan and Paula Cole. Maybe there were a few others here and there, but I think it was one night in early February of 2009 when a friend and I watched a very memorable gig with Cynthia Alexander that I suppose my interest was stoked in earnest.

More on that in part 3!


Before anything else…

I am proud to say that I have a story up at the GMA News online site. I will go back to this story in a little more detail when I get around to my part two, as promised.

Here is a link. And a preview:

” I discovered that there were people who enjoyed making music that spoke from the heart—in the sparse atmosphere of Folk U, the voices were heard more clearly. I also learned that it was possible to enjoy music in the usual watering holes without worrying about losing one’s hearing. But I also got to meet musicians, both seasoned veterans and newcomers, who loved what they were doing and wanted to share it with the rest of us.”

Okay, maybe that is the thesis of part two.

Reviews that don’t go anywhere (part 1)

Today I looked through my list of promised topics and realized it would take more than one post to talk about them. Then again, I could do better than that.

So in keeping with a practice I used to do, I will do the second and third topics first and then the first one last.

Last night, the Explorers of Uranus had a very successful Geek Fight! For a first-time team hosting this over a long holiday with people out of town and the weather still uncertain, we were able to draw enough teams to have a fun and competitive evening. Half the teams were newcomers from, among others, the comedy and NGO worlds (the former because one of our number is a comedic performer and the latter because the co-presenter was the Dakila collective).

In the run-up to this event, we were thinking of prizes to give out to the winners. The Committee Geek Fight has a sponsored prize, so conveniently enough the Dakila people had something to give–special advocacy CDs. And then in one of those “I spoke too soon” moments, I suggested that we give away Philippine independent music CDs. Let’s go through the three suggestions quickly:

1. fuseboxx – The most prominent local progressive rock act. (I can never get to utter their slogan with any credibility.) With a new album out since June 2011, and a single whose video is being aired on Channel V Philippines, the group is working slightly overtime to get the word out about the music they are passionate about. I have to say their enthusiasm is infectious.

2. Fando & Lis – Named after a controversial Mexican surrealist film, the duo consists of Khavn de la Cruz and his charming sister Ledh (yes, it is on the record). Khavn plays piano and sings, and his sister sings along on a new album, Found and Lost, bringing together songs new and old. (“Gusto,” one of the first songs on it, is taken from an older film soundtrack Khavn did, and he did the song with–surprise!–Jolina Magdangal.) It is a mellow, OPM-ish album. Whether it is a strength or a weakness is something we will not know.

3. Hannah+Gabi – Mikey Amistoso of Ciudad has a very interesting solo project, and it is a much mellower sound than what his band is known for. The EP, Haha Yes, features a charming song called “Lost Together” that instinctively grabs one by its beautiful refrain.

Now I will say more as to why I recommended them in another post.

The long weekend: a preview

So what will I write about after the weekend?

1. The new exhibit at one of my favorite out-of-the-way sites, VinylonVinyl Urban.

2. Why independent musicians deserve more support–and why I have decided to write about them.

3. Peter Gabriel, odd meters, and… well, that is a surprise.

Incidentally, this is my fiftieth post on this site. I have stopped blogging regularly, but it is about time I get back on track. So have a great weekend, dear readers.

Weekend worrier

As with the last one, it’s a series of short things to share about last weekend. Longer posts can wait.

1. I have finally broken the seal on Found and Lost, but not quite. The workaround was slitting the envelope across the top. I have heard the album twice already, and a review has been filed at midnight today.  However, I can safely say that my sister loves it and is very grateful. I knew she would like it!

2. On a slightly more serious note, I was glad to have met two of the persons described in the new Kaya Natin! Champions book at a blogger’s event. Representative Bolet Banal of Quezon City’s Third District, covering Cubao, Kamuning and the eastern part of the City, was there to share what he was up to in Congress. (Incidentally, Quezon City will, if the bill clears the Senate, become six legislative/council districts, finally ending the anomaly of the largest legislative district in the nation.) Former Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, shared her experience of turning the town around from being classified as a sixth-class municipality to being a first-class one–largely due to getting people involved and making things transparent.

The book is available from Fully Booked and the Ateneo de Manila University Press for PHP 295.

(Incidentally, I learned about what exactly a Citizen’s Charter is–it’s a written commitment on a local authority’s part to disclose policies and procedures to make things transparent, and also a way of guaranteeing that problems are resolved in the shortest time possible.)

Former Mayor Lorenzo and Represenative Banal with Harvey Keh, convenor and founder of Kaya Natin! and the book's editors Kai Pastores and Shylynne Castillo.

Of course, I could say more, but all I can say is, watch this space for more on the book. Thanks to the Kaya Natin! group for a great time and the interesting conversations I had both before, during, and after.

3. Saturday was a quiet evening and a chance to stay home for once after a long week. But if there is one thing I discovered, it is that I have changed somewhat–I am less of a homebody than I was years ago.

4. Finally, I would like to put in a plug for next Monday’s very special Geek Fight! organized by the Explorers of Uranus team. For the first time in the history of Geek Fight, we will have a current events round, drafted by yours truly. Having briefly took part in what someone I know calls the less rowdy side of the “pub quiz” scene, we would like to know whether geeks really know what’s going on in the real world. Who knows?

The event is at 8 PM at B-Side, the Collective, at 7274 Malugay Street, Makati.

5. By the way, why the title? Well, the story I spoke about last time is unfinished, and it was only this morning, after watching the inspiring events in Libya, that I got a clearer picture of what to say about something I wanted to do.


Seven things I learned this week.

In my first new update in generations, I think it is about time I start with something less ambitious. How about a list?

1. Yes, wax seals are still around. The independently-released Found and Lost by the de la Cruz siblings (playing as Fando and Lis) has a wax seal on the envelope-like CD sleeve. For 300 PHP, the most elegant touch to an album cover I have seen all year.

You're welcome Ledh!

2. The challenge for electronic keyboard players in rock bands is how to make their sound expressive with the use of technology. I say if we stuck to pipe organs… (Hat tip to Eric and Abby of Fuseboxx for this insight.)

3. Speaking of Fuseboxx, I learned that last Wednesday was their tenth birthday, being the anniversary of their first gig ten years ago at the Watering Hole.

4. A four-course dinner at an art gallery on a quiet Tuesday evening is truly something to be experienced. (This was after an artist’s talk before which the topic of conversation was…never mind.)

5. SPIT fans would want to know that Quantum Cafe is the new regular performing spot for the local improv troupe! Lower cover charges, yes? (By the way, if you are not vegetarian like some of the owners, try their Vigan–not vegan– longganisa pizza. I love it.)

6. Hannah+Gabi first performed at a New Slang event in June 2010. I first saw Mikey perform at a pre-Folk U event around that time.

7. It is no use teaching old dogs new tricks. Better put them to sleep instead. Metaphorically.