CD reviews: Fresh music from Callalily, Metric, Battles

Jackie Dosmanos

Posted at Nov 30 2015 07:47 AM

"Greetings from Callalily"

If you enjoy much of the music that emerged during the OPM band explosion in the previous decade, you may very well take to Callalily’s music. Led by the irrepressible Kean Cipriano (a real find in the ongoing season of "Your Face Sounds Familiar"), the quartet possesses a keen understanding of the metrics of Pinoy love songs.

Callalily is also confidently grounded in the current scene. The songs off their latest album Greetings from Callalily are littered with promises of forever and references to Chuck Taylor, love on the radio and other items of currency among the young.

There are hints of Coldplay in “Iintindihin Ko” and of Ogie Alcasid’s sumptuous balladry in “Nasaan Ka Na?” The band is on its own creative binge in the happy go lucky crooner “Beautiful” and the country-rock lope of “Now I’m Dancing.”

It’s in the EDM-tainted “I’m Coming Home” where Callalily moves out of the loveable wimp mode. It’s a straightforward dance tune and tied to lyrics that tell of release from aloneness, you’ll easily connect it with an OFW’s homecoming for the holidays. The beat is also infectious enough to get feet tapping in time.

In contrast, “SMB” puts them in a kind of urban kundiman space. It’s an aching and emotive reminder that these four boys know love songs like the back of their hands.


"Pagans In Vegas"

Canadian foursome Metric hit the big leagues in 2010 with the critical success of their fourth album “Fantasies” and the Top 20 breakthrough of its carrier single “Help, I’m Alive.” The album foisted a forlorn view of romance fleshed out by dance-friendly new wave and hummable ballads.

Five years later, Metric isn’t about to drop the ball on the music and a viewpoint that earned them worldwide recognition. Their latest album "Pagans in Vegas" still beats with the same hammer that figured in vocalist Emily Haines’ edgy singing in the hit track, “Help, I’m Alive.”

That edge has now been whittled down to a guarded sense of taking whatever you can get away with, as Ms. Haines admonishes in opener “Lie Lie Lie.” In succeeding tracks, she confirms a new found ethos by suggesting that given a sinister world out there, she wants it all and will grab all that’s due her.

To accompany Emily’s ruminations, the band starts the album with an echoing guitar and bass drill before going for a pop-rocking finish. “Fortunes” glides along an OMD flight plan while “For Kicks” serves up the 1001th borrowing from a “Blue Monday” riff. In “Celebrate,” ‘80s synth-pop gets a facelift with a stadium-sized EDM swirl.

With “Pagans in Vegas,” Metric has not only reclaimed the nervous energy of their younger selves but also warped time in the process.

Metric will rock the pagans when they perform live at SM Aura on December 5.


"La Di Da Di"

Battles make music that has been variously described as “math rock,” “experimental” and “outsider music.” They’re the toast of critics and beloved by clubbers with two left feet.

In an older time and place, their releases would share the same bin as Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer. That’s right, Battles create extended musical suites as opposed 3-minute pop songs, with leader Tyondai Braxton as well as a host of collaborators giving voice to the band’s instrumental proficiency.

Now down to a trio after Tyondai left to pursue a solo career, Battles’ players take full control maneuvering their individual skills in the service of a collective whole. In the process, they’ve re-invented the idea of a jam session with the electronics pushing the envelope towards intelligently crafted rock.

It’s not as forbidding or off-putting as it sounds. So okay, "La Di Da Di" begins with the buzz of factory machinery, which is later on festooned with sleigh bells and the sound of a farting spaceship. “Dot Net” and “Sumer Simmer” establish their roots in jazzist Herbie Hancock’s dalliances with ‘80s synth pop and Battles do even better taking the music to a frenetic rocking conclusion. On the other hand, in "Luu Le,” a nursery rhyme pops in and out of the main motif.

Warrior souls unite! Battles will be at 12 Monkeys, Century City Mall, Makati City on December 7.


Death After Birth/Surrogate Prey
"Burning Water"

Indie is not the only underground music operating outside of mainstream OPM. Heavy metal of the deadly and sludgy type is a fixture in certain parts of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

This twofer from ‘90s Pinoy metal lords Death After Birth and rising upstarts Surrogate Prey is a brief on the gongs-on in that endangered scene. It evokes all the requisite hyperventilating growls, detuned guitars and graphic images to send you on a flashback to a grey November by the graveyard.

DAB grafts Juan de la Cruz bluesy solos to its death metal while Surrogate Prey keep on thrashing with big riffs swiped from Judas Priest and Motorhead. It’s not all pedal to the metal so the pace shifts from extended sections of doomy metal to blurts of shoegaze and back.

Available on bandcamp and distributed by Singapore-based Berdugo Records.