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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Cabin Sessions: Comme Si by E. Sy Kennenga (in French, Tagalog, English and Creole!)

We have this thing we call “cabin sessions”, which are actually jam sessions inside our pretty wooden cabin here at CWC. Now I’d like to share this one here because we just had a blast jamming to this! Just a little backgrounder, Kat and I learned that our friend Cedric (whom we thought was French) was actually from Martinique, one of those beautiful Caribbean isles I would love to visit someday. Upon learning about this, we asked him if he could share us some Caribbean music and he introduced us to E. Sy Kennenga. We loved Comme Si by E.Sy Kennenga so much that we decided to do a cover, and even translate it to Tagalog, English and Creole! Here’s me, Kat, Cedric and Bass having one of the coolest cabin sessions so far –

It’s pretty amazing how music really help form great friendships, despite language barriers. Kat and I don’t speak French, Cedric and Bass (and Steeven- not in the video) speak little English, but we just had a great time jamming, talking (aka charades and Google translate. LOL!) and hanging out while they were here at CWC. This was truly a connection beyond borders – from the Philippines, to France, to Martinique yeeew! Update – We actually emailed E. Sy Kennenga about this and we got a reply from his brother/manager. How cool is that?!-

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Malasimbo Music Festival 2014

I’ve been hearing about how amazing the Malasimbo experience is for the past couple of years so I decided, well, I’ll make it happen this year. So Piso for Malasimbo was set up (Just kidding! But I did save up for this), tickets were purchased once released, and accommodations were booked in advance to maximise our money’s worth. They say spend on experiences and not on things, and yes, this was all worth it. I must say, this weekend has been incredible. It was the perfect opportunity to relax, reflect, and soak in all the good vibes the place and the event has to offer. The music, the concert grounds, the people, the vibe, Puerto Galera- everything is just beautiful.

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Festival grounds at dusk

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You can find art installations scattered all over

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Poi and hoops workshop

RFID tag (serves as gate pass and wallet - just load and swipe for food and drinks. Sobrang high-tech!)

RFID tag (serves as gate pass and wallet – just load and swipe for food and drinks. Sobrang high-tech!)

It was amazing how everything was set up. The acoustics were fantastic even though it’s an open-air venue. During the event, one could choose from just chilling/lying down on the grass, dancing in front of the stage when you feel like it, wandering around the festival grounds appreciating the art installations or the Mangyan’s native wares, or getting your pick of what to eat or drink. You’ll find food stalls and tables and benches just behind the stage. The ‘dabo ‘dobo (rice topped with chicken adobo and served on coconut shells), kesong puti on pandesal, and that legit bibingka were so goooood!

Omar brought some soul Sat night

Omar brought some soul Sat night

Jose Gonzalez and his sweet guitar skills captivated the audience Sunday

Jose Gonzalez and his sweet guitar skills captivated the audience Sunday

IMG_7113 To be honest, I didn’t take a lot of pictures or videos during the performances because I just wanted to be in the moment and soak it all in. All that new music is refreshing and I was just too happy to be present, swaying to the beat and getting lost in island rhythm. I particularly loved Kooii, Jordan Rakei, Jose Gonzalez, Similar Objects, Lowleaf and Robert Glasper Experiment’s cover of Get Lucky (Daft Punk). Mishka Adams got a lot of love from the crowd and was so gracious during the streaker fiasco in the middle of her set. We were right at the top of the amphitheatre and this naked guy just appeared on our left and started walking down towards the stage. He got some cheers alright. You never really know what to expect from this festival. Haha! During the day, we would either chill on the beach or do some activities like snorkelling or parasailing.

One highlight of the festival, I think, is the surprise performance by Baco, Oriental Mindoro’s dance troupe Sunday night. They performed a version of pandanggo sa ilaw to showcase Baco’s Festival of Lights. It was a nice way to show a bit of Filipino culture to all the foreign visitors at the festival. It was so beautiful! A Proud to be Pinoy moment!!

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The topic of pricing always came up during this weekend. My Aussie friends definitely found this festival way cheaper than what they have back home considering the quality of the artists, the beauty of the venue and Puerto Galera as a whole. But as I was explaining to them, the way the festival is priced isn’t really for the general Filipino audience. For us, this is something that has to be planned beforehand if you want to experience a relaxing weekend getaway. It’s all good, and definitely a perfect way to start summer. I am looking forward to attending again next year with my sister, my ultimate concert buddy 🙂 Kudos to the organizers of Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival! Now I know why everyone who has ever gone to Malasimbo can’t stop raving about it and just come back year after year.

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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!!