A merry-go-round of the latest pop, rock and funk releases



KAPITAN KULAM, Blunt Instrument

The debut full-length from Lourd de Veyra’s new band deals out lots of heavy instrumentals mixing such extreme music staples as hardcore punk, distorted guitars and fast to slow to faster tempo to create alternating atmospheres of aggression and distress. The tracks with vocals spew out bits of lyrics like “May pinapatay” and “Bulag ang mata” that are almost indecipherable in the aftermath of the explosive din. Kapitan Kulam’s blunt instrument can still harm you in mysterious ways for days on end. Listen with caution.

HASHBROWN, On The Sidewalk

This album of dance-friendly, at times head-turning club music takes detours and U-turns around the influential funk associated with Prince and George Clinton. There’s no hint of street beat, hip-hop rhythm or siren wails in the mix but it does not detract from the boogie dynamics of the 21 tracks. The titles are as pedestrian as they come from “Be” (a self-empowerment anthem just the same), to “Operator” and “Doo Wah DIY.” Those said, it’s the raving music that, as the Pointer Singers once sang, will take you there!

VAPOUR TRAILS, Vapour Trails Vol1

Observant music fans will note that the album title alludes to a classic shoegaze song by British band Ride. Sorry to disappoint but “Vapour Trails” has nothing to do with shoegaze Instead, this collection pays tribute to the rave and electronic music scene of the ‘90s, the decade when shoegaze also broke through though. Its selection features breakbeat (Spectral Wraith’s “Emergency Broadcast System”), tranquil nature sounds in between hardcore club anthems (DethOmega’s “Shattered Blade”) and beatific soulful singing (Station Decay’s “Figures.”). Mind you, they are not intended to be wistful throwbacks. They’re actually soundtracks to the electronic collectives that are sprouting in bohemian haunts in the Metro.

MUNA, Muna

The advance word is that the all-girl trio Muna celebrates the pure beauty and bliss of queer love. Listen to their debut album and it should hardly be a hurdle in liking its 11 tracks, in their own unique ways.  “What I Want” is definitely a body and soul shaker; “Silk Chiffon” will fight it out to the top of the year’s best pop-rock single totem pole. “Kind of Girl” is the return of ‘80s anthemic ballads in the AI-driven, auto-tune loving 2020’s. Gay or not, every shade of humanity will have something to love in Muna’s handsome latest outing.

CHAT PILE, God’s Country                      

Bland band name and God on the album title do not prepare you for Chat Pile’s destroy-‘em-all racket. Then again, opening track “Slaughterhouse” should clue you in that the group has nothing to do with chats and the Almighty. The vocalist screams “Hammers and grease pounding and the sad eyes, Goddamn it/And the screaming..” while the rest of the band piles up industrial, metal, and noise around his rants. The rest of the fury-laden tirades follows riding on a specific agenda, from the pandemic to climate change to the never-changing face of rabid rampant capitalism. To mangle T. S. Eliot’s famous lines, Chat Pile may have crafted the sound of the world’s collapse, shuttling between bangs and whimpers.  

THE SADIES, Colder Streams

Every once in a while, a band comes along to produce a batch of songs redolent of the glorious  heritage of country-rock. On their sixth release, The Sadies wax triumphant with the melodic invention and passionate songwriting that reminds of the greatest moments of REM, The Eagles, and Poco. It’s not the rock that shines the most on “Colder Streams” but the instant attraction of country-fueled guitar strums and the hot hooks on almost every track. There’s a smudge of sadness in the lyrics and the singing though it does not diminish the magical energy of “Better Yet,” opener “Stop and Start” and “So Far So Few.” It’s a defining album today for fans still enthralled with the thrill and magnificence of classic rock.

You can check out digital music platforms, especially bandcamp, for the albums reviewed on this page.



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