Yeng Contantino's “All About Love,” which came out in November, is the best love album of 2014
2014 was the year when entertainment in any form should have taken a back seat. What with picking up the pieces in the aftermath of Yolanda supertyphoon, the rise of Napoles as an adjective for corruption and the glut of incompetence in all places, high and low.
But looking back at the past year and without sounding indifferent, I found respite from the cycle of tragedies and misfortunes all around by listening more frequently to the following albums.
1. BRAT PACK - Brattitude
They’re the first Asian band to land among the top ten in the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, USA. Their debut album taps into the band’s roots in piano-driven jazz, sautéed it with the blues then flavored it with hot soul. The little girls, the ageing fogeys and their ladies will understand.
2. MR. BONES and THE BONEYARD CIRCUS - The Great Fall Onto Madness
Equal parts Pink Floyd, Korn and the Beatles, these Pinoy steampunk pioneers uses dynamics and atmosphere in ways other bands can’t even imagine. Who knew that going over the edge can be as dramatic, thrilling and magnificent as this Gothic fall onto madness? Our review in March called it a definite contender for top album honors. Here’s vindication.
3. GENERATION - Generation
In 2008, four 30-something guys banded together not only to share their common love for the classic rock sound but also to bond on true-blooded OPM pedigree. On their first album, the band sounds as if on a balance between paying tribute and expressing themselves. Actually, Generation ambles merrily along the precipice looking ahead to the best days of their lives and their own music.
4. BARBIE ALMALBIS - My New Heart
Bless her Christian soul, but there’s nothing wrong with Barbie Almalbis’ old heart. She’s taking full stock of her music making abilities and the potential of her power trio set-up. The group blends so well that each song is powered by the combined force of three distinct personalities. You should do well to find your way to Barbie’s new heart.
5. IMAGO - Kapit
After an amicable split with erstwhile front person Aia de Leon, a revamped Imago recruits pop-rocker Mayumi and expands to a five-piece workhorse. With two guitars turbo-charging its musical muscle, Imago’s new album rocks harder than expected. Having evolved to five on the floor, Imago, conscious or not, trumps complacency and moves forward.
6. JOHNOY DANAO - Samu’t-Sari
On his first album for a mainstream label, indie singer-songwriter Johnoy Danao tackles love in its varied shades and in acoustic mode at that. He’s one contented guitar man breezily paying tribute to the objects of his grand passion. It’s an easy listening album that’s perfect for sentimental moments or road trips: A balm from the dreariness of everyday living.
7. THROW - Stand
Brave heart! That’s what punk band Throw presents to its fans and listeners in each of its underground releases since 2002.Their fourth long form communiqué Stand is neither old nor new school. Resolutely underground, it’s out-of-school punk rock that’s dutifully wild, visceral and elemental. It’s also the most passionate music you’ll hear any time of any year.
8. PESO MOVEMENT - The Gentle Sound of Chaos
The four-piece Peso Movement is a gathering of players from The Dawn, Pupil. Moyg, and 7-foot-Jr. Its assembly of known and unknown quantities channels the sound of chaotic hard rock with splashes of honeyed hooks driven by a steady backbeat. Above all else, Peso Movement’s debut proves there’s plenty of originality yet from the young guns of Pinoy rock.
9. YENG CONSTANTINO - All About Love
Coming out months before her marriage, Yeng’s “All About Love,” which came out in November, conveys the story of a love strewn with roses and snagged by a few thorns. The accompanying music doesn’t miss a beat to make the telling just as evocative. Cheers to the best love album of 2014.
10. JECK PILPIL & PEACEPIPE - In-Hale Positivity, Ex-Hale Negativity
Take a twist of Bob Marley, wash it down with memories of the late Papadom Gamboa, then do the tribal stomp with “Kapayapaan.” The scene that unfolds in your mind’s eye is a kaleidoscope of hippy make-love-not-war ethos. Its title may be a mouthful but Peacepipe’s newest CD is one of the most imaginative and highly accessible Pinoy reggae albums in a long while.
Special Mention: GLOC-9 - Biyahe Ng Pangarap
No new album this year from the gifted Aristotle Pollisco otherwise known as Gloc-9. In its place, he recreates in a live concert the songs that best represent the arc of his career and contains them in his latest trip “Biyahe Ng Pangarap,” a CD/DVD double release. It’s an unusual but exciting package of sound and concert film that should provide a template for future best-of retrospectives.