Album Review: Laging Lasing by The Borrachos

This post has been several months in the making. It has been quite difficult for me to write again, and an OPM album review at that, after taking a break. I hope this is not yet too late. First, I want to say thank you to (mommy) Pola Garcia and to Ronn of The Borrrachos for trusting me with a copy of their album and letting me share my thoughts about it. I have so much respect for artists, for those who have the courage to express themselves and create music. By coming up with this album, you are already giving something out there that is definitely worth appreciating.

Now to the subject proper- The Borrachos is composed of Raffie Miranda, Ronn Sana and Paul Puti-an, all of which are also members of ska/reggae group Coffee Break Island (CBI). According to Ronn, The Borrachos was formed for those songs that didn’t sound like CBI and had a flavour of their own. When I heard this story, I thought, these guys are prolific! Kayo na ang nanganak pa ng isa pang banda. Ang galing! Their first album, Laging Lasing, is packaged wonderfully and consistently with their band’s name as the CD’s sleeve is placed inside a brown paper bag, in the same way a bottle of liquor is usually wrapped in, where else, a brown paper bag. I just realised, in Bicol (where I am staying at the moment) buratsero means “lasinggero”. Aha! That was random.

2015/01/img_0422.jpgAnyway, the album contains four (4) tracks in Filipino, and five (5) tracks in English. I love the over-all mood that the album evokes when you listen to it, the lyrics are very apt to the melodies. I enjoyed the guitar solos and the various instruments used for every song, which truly highlighted The Borrachos’ musicality. The album’s first (and last) song, Laging Lasing, is a heartbreaker. Kapag pinakinggan mo yung kantang ‘to, saktong desperado eh– may controlled angst yung vocals ni Paul dito. I love the guitar solo here! Version 2 used a piano, instead of a guitar, and it’s more melodic. Song number 2 is Palamig Painit– a Western-sounding track that will bring you to a pub with swinging doors, cowboy hats and pointed boots. It’s a pretty cool track. Patungo sa Kawalan is one of my favourites. It’s a folksy, blues-y song that has socially relevant lyrics plus a harmonica accompaniment on some parts which I absolutely loved. This Song Won’t Last Long is about taking chances but, then again, ends tragically because it “won’t last long”. It has a very easy melody, and I enjoyed the bridge on this one. A very mellow and slow song, Lonely for Awhile, is such an apt title to its melody, and is a little bit pop-sounding to me.

Of course, dahil Laging Lasing nga daw, the album is filled with more love songs that will cause you to, well, drink more. Broken Down Merry-Go Round is another really sad song and the melody indeed makes you feel that you are lost in circles. I found this song sounding a bit similar to Lonely for Awhile but this time, accompanied with a harmonica. I am amazed at how these songs truly evoke the emotions that the songwriter wanted you to feel. Another favourite is Crazy – the chords are so beautiful and influenced by country music. I think, however, that they could do away with the harmonica on this one. Moonchild has an unusual intro which you can find in any Antonio Banderas movie soundtrack. Hahahaha! This song is very distinct and has a high recall. It reminds me of one song by Train, which I can’t seem to remember the title. Uuuugh! The guitar solo on this song is pretty solid. Lastly, Parang Himala‘s percussions is the one that stood out for me. I love the verses, and saktong sundot lang yung harmonica dito. 

Overall, I enjoyed listening to Laging Lasing even though these songs will not normally be in my everyday playlist. For a simple music consumer like me, getting to listen to an OPM album like this is a big deal. A huge thank you and congratulations to The Borrachos for coming up with a well-thought CD.

You can follow The Borrachos on Facebook for updates on their gigs where you can grab a copy of this album. You can also message them there if you want to buy their CD.

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Sheng Belmonte sizzles with her new album Single

I’ll be honest. At first, I didn’t know who Sheng Belmonte was nor any of her songs. But after a few searches on Google, I learned that she was the voice featured in Gloc-9’s hit “Walang Natira”. I also learned that she’s been quite the fighter, persevering in reaching her dreams of becoming a recording artist and an actress, with stints as a showband vocalist, stand-up comedienne and a participant in Pinoy Dream Academy Season 2. With that alone, she has earned a few points in my respect meter =)
Listening to her CD entitled “Single” without any expectations nor biases was quite fun. The album has 7 tracks, and they all have a minus-one counterpart to make it a 14-track album. With no idea what to expect, I started with a “clean slate” on my mind and here are some of my thoughts on her songs.

The album starts with “Sabik”, a song with a dance pop tune that gives off a Destiny’s Child/TLC vibe. I liked its melody connoting girl power and female fierce-ness. The carrier single “Single” is quite unique with its Taglish lyrics coupled with reggae-ish and Latin tunes that remind me of Pu3ska. I am heavily influenced by my sister, @MsVirna, with her love for reggae so I really like this song’s beat and melody, but was not too fond of the lyrics though.
Her third track “Walang Kapalit” has very simple lyrics that Pinoys would love to sing along to –
Wala kang kapalit. Walang, walang, walang papalit.
Sa pag-ibig laging mainit. Parang kumot sa lamig
Na kay ginhawa, walang hahambing.

Wala kang kapalit. Walang, walang, walang papalit.
Wala kang kapalit. Walang ibang kasing bait.
“Muli” is her 4th track, and so far this has been my favorite in this album. It’s a classic love song, with the right tinge of sadness coupled with a good melody. Nice 🙂 Next is “Akala Mo”, a song that literally caught me off-guard. Akala ko it was about a hopeless romantic na nagmamakaawa sa boyfriend nya, but turns out to be defiant and confident in the end. Why not?! I loved this song’s guitar riffs! This is followed by “Sana”’s very sensual melody that might just be a hit for karaoke bars/ videoke joints. It reminds me of Tootsie Guevarra’s Kaba. Now you might have an idea how old I am. LOL!
Last on the list is “Ulan”, a very powerful song that featured Sheng’s vocal chops. I loved the melody, and I suddenly missed Roselle Nava while listening to this.
Sheng Belmonte showcased her confidence and sensuality in this album. And reading up on some of the write-ups about her, I am no longer surprised where she got that vibe. I love the fact that there are still original Filipino songs being produced and supported by recording companies such as Vicor Music, giving chances to solo artists like Sheng. There’s hope 🙂 Yay!!
Grab a copy of Single at all recording stores nationwide. Follow her on Twitter @ShengBelmonte and check out @vivavicor for more details.
PS: Special thanks to Punch Liwanag (@punchaudiojunki) for trusting me with this. Yay!!

Taking my cue from Nina: "All Good" [album review]

Yes, you got it right. I am “reviewing” an album! Yay! It’s in quotation marks because these are merely my thoughts on how I find albums and CDs that I come across from now on. Nothing strict or stuffy, just an ordinary music lover’s take on what’s playing on our radio stations (or streaming on sites) now.

I am very happy that the first CD to be featured here contains mostly original songs with a few well-chosen covers. The Philippines’ “Diamond Soul Siren”, Nina recently launched a brand new album entitled All Good under Viva Records, her first under the recording company. It gives me hope whenever OPM artists release an album with original lyrics and melodies. Do you agree?

I was ready with a pen and paper to give my thoughts on each track upon hearing it immediately. The first song – Maybe It’s Too Soon, reminds me so much of “Someday” (and I’m singing in my head “…someone’s gonna love me”). Thus, it has also reminded me of a funny bus ride a few years back. Hahaha!! The sound is classic Nina (I think you’ll get what I mean) and I love this particular line –

I love the way your eyes crinkle when you smile

The next track is the album’s carrier single, Sa Isang Tingin written by MJ Magno of XLR8. It’s a love song that’s very sing-able – and that’s what Pinoys love: to sing along while it’s playing on the radio even if you’re riding a bus, a jeep, or wherever. Track #3 is a perfect cover of Perfect. I love how it’s so relaxing and I really liked the piano and percussions on this one. And then it goes really melancholic with Kung Walang Ikaw, Walang Ako. The next track is this album’s title “All Good.” It has a mellow pop sound, but I think it can also pass as a Christian song. The guitar solo on the bridge is amazing!
The next songs are classic Nina ballads-
   Make It Up to You almost made me cry. Seriously. The next track is literally Sad, followed by a Tagalog ballad entitled Paano. 

When the Love is Gone featured some amazing piano tunes. Then her cover of Hurting Inside follows, which I think is sure to be a chart-topper. The last song is Pinili Kong Limutin Ka and the bonus track is Don’t Say Goodbye from the movie A Secret Affair. 
I think it’s high time to hear Nina sing originals again, with her signature sweet and soulful voice. I love that she wasn’t trying too hard to belt it out on this album, and her repertoire reminded me of why she’s the Diamond Soul Siren of the Philippines. 
All Good is available at all record stores nationwide. Also, check out these sites to get updates on Nina –
Twitter: @vivavicor