CD reviews: New from Throw, Lana Roi, Jason Mraz

By Jackie Dosmanos

Posted at Aug 24 2014 01:43 PM | Updated as of Aug 24 2014 09:43 PM

Lana Roi
"Inner Base"


Lana Roi initially caught the public eye as a beauty pageant title holder. The half-German, half-Filipina beauty then joined the girl group Eurasia where as lead vocalist, she showcased her singing talent.

 

Her debut album "Inner Base" now presents Lana Roi, the songwriter, on top of her beauteous presence onstage and admirable voice. The first single “It’s Time” is a peek at her ability to shift gracefully from a slow tempo to an upbeat pace.

Two EDM tracks successively open the album giving way to Lana’s diva vocals. Midway through the record, she effortlessly sings a love ballad then wraps her breathy voice around “Minamina” buoyed by an intriguing rap highlight.

R&B, dubstep, pop ballads and dance rhythms aplenty are wound up tightly in Lana’s new soundworld. The interplay of beauty, brains and sexiness makes Lana Roi’s “Inner Base” a well-rounded, eclectic release.

*****

Throw
"Stand"

Brave heart! That’s what punk band Throw presents to its fans and listeners in each of its four underground releases since 2002. Political correctness is that other aspect that issues from the din and chaos of a typical performance by the four-man band led by prolific writer and occasional techie Al Dimalanta.

Dimalanta is an original punk scenester so he might as well be the Pinoy punk godfather having produced incendiary music during the martial law years as lead guitarist/vocalist for seminal band Dead Ends. Two decades on, his mastery of the three-chord assault has been refined to laser-sharp finesse and his new brothers in arms in Throw provide the muscular backbeat to get his message across through and through.

And his communiqué remains the same. “Baboy,” “No F**king Apologies,” “We Are The Revolution,” “Ginagago.” Take your pick.

"Stand" is neither old nor new school. It’s out-of-school punk rock that’s dutifully wild, visceral and elemental. It’s also the most passionate music you’ll hear this time of the year.

*****

Sia
"1000 Forms of Fear"

Sia write songs for other artists who turn them into chart-topping hits. Her credits include Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” and David Guetta’s “Titanium” where she’s also the featured diva wailing away the stadium-shaking chorus.

On her latest album, Sia employs much the same formula as the chart-busters of her elite songwriting clients. The tunes on "1000 Forms of Fear" constitute a mixtape of urban R&B that’s the bread and butter of Rihanna and Beyonce’s biggest hits.

“Elastic Heart” burns brightest among several tracks, including “Straight For The Knife” and “Fire Meets Gasoline,” that deserve heavy play on any music fan’s preferred player.

“Hostage” is one anomaly, joyfully wearing on its sleeves the influence of No Doubt down to Gwen Stefani’s patois slang speak. It however shares with the rest of the album Sia’s penchant for depressing lyrics about embattled women and psychologically inept lovers.

The album title speaks for her and in “Chandelier,” the verse “Sun comes up, I’m a mess / Here comes the shame, here comes the shame” discloses some primal dread. On her own, Sia would rather play out the dark side in triumphant-sounding music.

*****

Jason Mraz
"Yes!"

The ghost of ‘70s singer-songwriter John Denver lives in the musical mansion of Jason Mraz. Denver’s pleasant disposition looms large in Mraz’s simple pop songs and in words that come as they are. What you hear is what you get. There’s no pretense at being something bigger than what drifts from the speakers or wafts from the headphones.

The likeability of Mraz, the man and his music to a mass audience is a no brainer. One can make a case that since album numero uno, Mraz hasn’t made an attempt at a grander statement other than his overwhelming love for human beings. Music-wise, Jason’s biggest splash was his ukulele song whose basic riffs Bruno Mars borrowed for a career-shifting mega-hit.

Mraz’s latest "Yes!" has another ukulele song, “You Can Rely On Me,” that’s as adorable as a teddy bear. He also offers a tune that’s essentially a thank you card for a friend and there’s “Out Of My Hands” where he strums his acoustic guitar 1/1/2 times faster than his average bpm.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual for Jason Mraz and yes, it’s cool to have a little sunshine in these rain-soaked days.