Jose Mari Chan's sons mine the past with forward-looking retro debut

Edwin P. Sallan

Posted at Sep 12 2019 12:20 PM

Joe & Mike Chan

MANILA -- Now ready to share the spotlight with their celebrated father this Christmas season, Joe & Mike Chan are ready to be more visible in the live circuit following the favorable reception they received from their self-titled debut album released last March.

Prior to striking on their own, the brothers were previously in the band Generation, together with Kowboy Santos, son of Pinoy Rock Queen Sampaguita, and Miguel Gallardo, son of OPM icon Celeste Legaspi. Generation specialized in '70s style classic rock as typified by their 2014 single, “Love Is Killing Me.”

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In keeping with the retro spirit of their previous band while covering more genres, the brothers opted to showcase the musical influences that they grew up with but distinguished them with slick production values that provide a more contemporary vibe.

So far, the album has been well-received by many music fans, including their father.

“We received a lot of positive feedback regarding from listeners. They said it was refreshing to hear songs that were retro/vintage in sound, yet still exciting. Our Dad also liked the album, we had a listening session with him one morning, and he had a lot of good things to say,” Joe shared in a recent interview with ABS-CBN News.

Boasting of high production values, the album featured several seasoned musicians including drummer Niño Regalado as well as guitarists Noel Mendez, Warren Norton and ex-Generation Kowboy Santos himself. The album was even mixed at Abbey Road Studios, the same place where The Beatles recorded almost all of their songs.

GROWING UP WITH MUSIC

Joe & Mike Chan

Growing up in what they consider a musical household, it’s not difficult to imagine the Chan brothers gravitating to music just like their old man. At a very young age, they also had access to the elder Chan’s music room that contained his impressive collection of vinyl records. It was there that were exposed to all kinds of music from big band to standards to Broadway show tunes and eventually pop and rock.

We took the album for several spins and found the brothers trying to incorporate all those influences into something that mostly veers towards classic rock as punctuated by the spirited guitar solos of Santos, Mendez and Norton but also occasionally strays into
adult contemporary territory.

“Eclectic” is the word used by one of the younger Chans to describe their debut release and that may be a fitting summation as highlights include the soaring rocker “Higher Degree,” the introspective powerpop ditty “Finding It Hard,” and the mid-tempo number “The Waning Moon,” which is actually based on a poem by Rafael Alonso.

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Reminiscent of the Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein,” “If I Knew You Were Coming” is an instrumental rocker that also recalls Generation due in large part to Santos’ hot licks.

Upping the nostalgia ante are the Beatlesque “With Me Tonight” complete with matching handclaps, and “Tell Her,” a Beach Boys style ballad that recalls Brian Wilson’s production trademark in similar tunes like “Surfer Girl” and “The Warmth of the Sun.”

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The piano-driven ballad “From Now On” is probably the closest that the brothers sounded like their old man. With a refrain that goes, “Come with me, lovely lady, let me show you a wonderful place that only two can perceive, you and I, you and I…,” the apples do not fall far from the tree as Mike Chan writes lyrics that could have been written and sung by his father.

SEARCHING FOR A SIGNATURE SOUND

Bossa nova is also another big influence in the album, as evident in tracks like “Fernandina,” another instrumental, and “Meant To Be,” which features the sexy saxophone solos of Raul Banzon and Roxy Modesto.

One track that has gained traction among fans is the bossa nova-influenced ballad, “Seven Lakes Drive.” As further enhanced by horns that recall the early jazz-rock sound of Chicago, “Seven Lakes Drive” harkens back to an innocent and happier time as the lyrics talk about a place that makes everything all right. “I used to think that places from your past were romanticized then I realized, some things do last, they last your whole life…”

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Asked if they have any particular favorites in the album, Joe said that it’s hard for them to be partial to any track because “each one took time and effort to craft.”

“They were selected for the album because we believed they were strong songs, among the recent songs we've written in recent years,” he pointed out.

In terms of songwriting, Joe & Mike Chan are more than capable of creating compelling melodies even as their lyrical approach still leave some room for growth. And while their initial offering shows that they still haven’t settled on a signature sound and are obviously still exploring many possibilities, the brothers certainly have the talent to chart their own destiny and not just loom in their illustrious father’s shadow.

Joe & Mike Chan

From the looks of it, this progression is likely to continue as Joe said their next album “will most likely be eclectic as well.”

“We already have new songs lined up for our next recording. There will be some slow ballads and some upbeat songs as well. We’re really going for a nice mix of genres,” he promised.

"Joe & Mike Chan," the album is released by Star Music and is now available on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital music stores.

The brothers said they will be joining their father, Jose Mari Chan, on several of his upcoming Christmas shows. Details of these and other upcoming gigs will be posted on their Facebook page.