Reinventing music for a new audience
"The Reunion: an Eraserheads Tribute Album"
The thrill of a remake is in re-invention—in putting a fresh spin to a classic pop or rock song. The cover version need not turn the original upside down but it helps if at the end of the performance, the artist can lay claim to have injected something new in his attempt to rework a popular tune.
That said, "The Reunion: an Eraserheads Tribute Album" is the latest attempt to recast the legacy of E-heads in the hands of new generation bands and performers. Two things immediately come to mind: it’s not to be confused with "Eraserheads: The Reunion Concert" DVD and it has to be heard in light of "UltraElectroMagneticJam: The Music of the Eraserheads," the first compilation of e-heads covers which came out in 2006.
First, here’s the skinny on "UltraElectroMagneticJam": Brownman Revival transforms the relatively obscure “Maling Akala” into a surprise reggae hit; Rico J. Puno does “Ang Huling El Bimbo” in his own inimitable way; and the late Francis M., with a lot of help from Ely Buendia, takes rap back from the margins to Main Street indie land. The rest ranges from Radioactive Sago’s boho jazz freak-out on “Alcohol” to Paolo Santos’ blah folkie take on “Magasin.”
Now, "The Reunion" CD has its fair share of gems in the 14-track tribute package. Itchyworms reprises “Maling Akala” into a country rocker. Rockabilly-loving boys Hilera borrows a few bits from “Titser Enemy No. 1” to add new wave flair to “Kaliwete.” Johnny Danao reformats “Pare Ko” into a lonesome street corner serenade, while the mighty Gloc 9 in cahoots with Razorback slaps ‘70s fuzz and smart-aleck in-the-now attitude to “Superproxy.”
But then there’s blah too like Aiza Seguerra’s depressing rendition of “With A Smile” and Mayonnaise opening the compiler with “Ligaya,” bleached in typical indie band ruckus.
In the end, you can’t really go wrong with an Eraserheads song. It’s just that the more popular ones are being remade every day in karaoke bars, amateur shows and even in the ongoing Tanduay national tour. Maybe it’s time to refurbish other pop treasures from the second wave of Pinoy Rock for today’s audiences. Just food for thought: Sarah Geronimo re-doing Yano? Up Dharma Down tackling Alamid?
"Wanderlust" (Tria Bascon)
In her debut album “Wanderlust,” Filipina chanteuse Tria Bascon takes a trip down memory lane and brings back to the present lounge jazz classics from a bygone era. She honed her performing craft in lounge bars of five-star hotels and luxury liners where she entertained her audience with a nightly fare of romantic tunes from the ‘40s to the ‘70s.
The collection starts with the rousing pop-jazz flourish of “With A Little Help from My Friends” only to be followed by an uncharacteristically insipid “Two For The Road.” A remake of Jerome Kern’s 1942 classic “I’m Old Fashioned” gets Broadway-worthy treatment, while the lone OPM track, “Magkikita Pa Rin Naman Tayo,” leads to a batch of stylish pop jazz numbers, “Anos Dourados,” “Arrivederci” and “La Belle Vie,” in which Bascon shows her command of both the native tongue and the temperament behind the music.
Bascon’s collaborators include Jose Mari Chan, Latin group Aquarela, Mel Villena and The CompanY.
On “Wanderlust,” Bascon presents the side of a classy entertainer with good taste and in good company. She will, in time, hold her own in the diminishing world of sophisticated vocalists.
"Oceania" (The Smashing Pumpkins)
Former grunge-era darling American band The Smashing Pumpkins are on some sort of a come-back bid. Chief Pumpkin Billy Corgan has recruited a new guitarist, bassist and drummer in producing his new album, “Oceania,” ostensibly intended to attract new fans to the fold.
The first half of Oceania should be a source of joy to old fans as tracks like “Quasar,” “Panopticon” and the “Celestials” strike with the pure melodic volume of “Siamese Dream.” New listeners will be drawn by the solid hooks and massive prog-guitar pyrotechnics sadly missing in today’s clutch of loud-for-loudness-sake hard rock.
The CD's second half, beginning with the electronic pop intro to “Pinwheels,” feels like coming from a separate vibe altogether. The guitars take a backseat even as team play appears to be the overall modus operandi; or, hell forbid, highlighting Corgan’s thin, hyperventilating vocals.
Still, “Chimera” and “Inkless” manage to redeem some of the pumped adrenaline. The Pumpkins will be coming to Manila on August 7 and it should be a pleasure to watch them play before our own horde of heavy music cognoscenti.