From ageless kundiman to sexy synth-pop to brat punk



ORANGE & LEMONS, La Bulaqueña

You probably won’t get any older school than the echoes of kundiman. On their fourth studio album titled “La Bulaqueña”, the newly reformed Orange & Lemons mixes and matches the sounds of an earlier generation with the strains of contemporary OPM. But make no mistake, there’s no obvious stress in the effort. Rather, it’s an effortless undertaking beautifully balancing lush instrumentation with the louder thump of Pinoy indie even as the lyrics recreate visions of love and life set in the idealized rural past of our great grandfathers. This will strike a serious chord or two with anyone who still looks back at a more glorious era of a great nation. 

PAPER SATELLITES, Manila Meltdown

The band Paper Satellites bill themselves as an “indie pop/rock band from East Manila that likes to dance.” “Manila Meltdown” is their first full-length after a cluster of singles and while their avid fans may find their debut album to be just a mere compilation of the band’s songs, old and new, it’s also a summation of the things Paper Satellites can deliver as musicians. They do jangle rock well (i.e. “Seafoam”, the pretty “Have Fun Tonight”), groovy Afro-Caribbean rhythms (“Towns”) and the insanely goose-pimple popping “Scene.” Like that other description of their musical chops, Paper Satellites is a “feast for the senses.”

POLYMERASE, Unostentatious

They’re just some dudes trying to jam and create stoner music and from the get-go, Polymerase circles around sludge/psychedelic/stoner block. Despite titled “Unostentatious,” their EP is a flashy display of their firm hold on the sludge/stoner playbook: funky wah-wah riffage in “The Traveler,” soft-loud-louder in “A Night of the Succubus” and a magnificent cross of psycho-meets-metalhead perception in the 5-minute opus, “Green Is the Color of Evil.”  Polymerase do paint with ostentatious yet unsettling colors.

WARPAINT, Radiate Like This

American all-women outfit Warpaint is one of those bands that surprises with every new album. They debuted 12 years ago slinging the music and mindset of singles without a care in the world. Their latest album radiates with renewed interest in “day jobs, family, tour and a new recording.” This time also, the old come-what-may attitude has been replaced with the acceptance that life happens. Altar,” for instance, isn’t a solemn affair but a chance for the band to explore new sounds ramping up to massed choral voices. “Trouble” hints at a samba-like undertow though its dreamy tones get undermined by dark thoughts. While the overarching arc is quiet music for rainy afternoons, Warpaint’s words have a way of upsetting the contemplative mood, just like that.

GIRLPOOL, Forgiveness

The synth-pop duo Girlpool returns with tales of failed romances and lurid sex in the afterglow of their really cooler-than-you music. Let’s get something out of the way first. Girlpool makes music that hugs the senses as it slithers from vocoder-tinted vocals to fiery punk rockers to straight country romps.  On their latest album, Girlpool adds a sensual dimension to lure the converted to their honeyed aural trap. In “Nothing Gives Me Pleasure,” vocalist Harmony Tividad croons, “Do you even want me if I even have to ask?/Break it to me gently with your fingers up my ass.” Elsewhere, this pops out from her salacious mouth: “I wanna be your sin boy, baby/Company that you’ve waited to meet.” The music already sells and the sex sells it even more.

PUP, The Unraveling Of Puptheband

Canadian punk band Pup previously hailed fire and brimstone at authority figures just like every other rowdy group that reveled in the power of three chords. This time, Pup got inside their inner punks and found out that they can be as self-absorbed and snobbish as any angry youth in the Western World. They turned their ire on themselves first, then on to their parents, their non-punk loving buddies and even passing acquaintances. Still, the band creates some pretty gorgeous music starting with the tunefully rocking “Matilda” and the flaming rage of “Totally Fine.” Brat punk, anyone?

The albums reviewed here can be listened to at most digital music platforms, especially bandcamp.



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