This week's specials c/o Joe Strummer, Maude, A Shadow's Promise, Smashing Pumpkins, Tim Awa.
Her five-song self-titled EP on Bandcamp is suffused with the tonal peaks and valleys of guitar-driven post-rock. Devoid of words, its instrumental music designed to convey emotions, which with song titles like LBRT, Tad-Am and Tu Is, the individual listener has to figure out for himself. Or, in accordance with the wishes of the composer, the interpretation can be tied to the image onscreen in its filmic adaptation.
In the simplest terms, LBRT has touches of shoegaze, Tad-Am moves from sludge to pop-rock. Enin starts with light tones, then dives to a powerful 3-minute ending. Your take is as good as mine.
Tim Awa's album is available on cassette via Genjitsu Stargazing Society. Visit its Bandcamp page for more eclectic sounds.
Joe Strummer 001
SIXTEEN YEARS after his untimely demise, the cofounder and lead vocalist of The Clash gets a definitive 32-track compilation of remastered rarities and previously unreleased materials, providing a snapshot of Strummer's musical trajectory: from seminal UK punk, to reggae, funk, world music and every strain in between.
On this two-CD essential, his connection with the new generation of music fans is anchored on Keys To Your Heart and London's Burning. Still, even diehard fans will swoon to the wistful Afro-Cuban Be-Bop, Yalla Yalla's futuristic dub-electro pop, the thumping '60s ska in Ride Your Donkey and an acoustic duet with the phenomenal Johnny Cash on Marley's Redemption Song.
Most of these songs happened almost two decades ago. In listening to them now, they glimmer like heavenly stars, as fresh as yesterday, or a decade from now, or even in the year 2277. Rock on, you mighty diamond...
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
Shiny And Oh So Bright, Volume 1
NO PAST. No Future. No Sun is the subtext of the latest album by the recently reunited 'Pumpkins,' composed of the original line-up who produced some of the classic alt-rock hits of the '90s. It suggests both a contrast to the dazzle of the main subtitle and a subtle look back at the times that spawned the Billy Corgan-fronted band.
Not quite grunge, not quite hair metal-the earliest incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins scaled some serious heights with 'Siamese Dream,' then returned to their strongest and defining rocking form with 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.'
The new album doesn't get anywhere near the swagger of 'Cherub Rock' or the bombast of 'Today.' In their place is the stylistic variation that made 'Mellon Collie...' their most important recording. On 'Shiny and Oh So Bright,' Silvery Sometimes (Ghost) is their best attempt at unabashed pop rock. Opener Knights of Malta and the subsequent new-wave tinted Travels might lead fans to believe the Pumpkins have gone soft, but by the time Solara arrives-with it, The Cars on overdrive-Billy and crew pump up the volume, or rather, the soft-thunder-soft swing, of amped up grunge. Similar fireballs are issued Marchin' On and the punk-alluding Seek and You Shall Destroy.
The newness from a veteran band may jar at first, but give it a 'back-from-the-dead' hindsight and you'll fall in love again with The Smashing Pumpkins before the deluge of 10-CD retrospectives and comeback tours.
A SHADOW'S PROMISE
POST-HARDCORE is the default operating mode of this five-piece from Iloilo City. But instead of harsh screamo, it's the accomplished singing of the male and female leads that rises above the mathy/prog-rock tempest.
As such, A Shadow's Promise's new album is a cavalcade of textures: from the bittersweet yet meticulous voices to the blistering take on power metal, which bring the band's strengths to the fore. All their influences are on show on this triumphant debut: Bring Me The Horizon, Urbandub and Trivium.
Melodic, upbeat and aggressive, tracks like Building Walls Burning Bridges and Left At Home succinctly navigate the hard core of the album. Opener A Liar's Promise induces heart-on-your-sleeve romanticism coated in emocore caramel, while Nobody's Hero tends toward the mawkish chamber of emo's resuscitated heart. That's all right, because by the second part of the song, A Shadow's Promise reshapes it into a metallic-guided missile.
A lot of bottled-up emotions pour out in 'Wuthering Symphony.' Be guided accordingly. Slam dance with tears in your eyes.
LET'S get something out of the way first: The album title does not live up to the gems collected in the sophomore release from Pinoy indie trio Maude, another eclectic band from the Terno Recordings stable.
Well, there may be a symbolic reference to the dawn of a new sound, although by the fourth track, Maude displays instead an alchemist's power in transforming ordinary things into gold. In the present case, they conjure the primal essences of pop, rock and lounge and crossing them over with a bang-a series of severe pop bangs, in fact-that can keep you high as a kite for hours after the final track has been played.
Try Potion on for size. If its mesh of jangly guitars, shimmering melodies and spot-on rhythmic flow does not move you, there's something wrong with you. Please also see a doctor pronto if you remain unmoved by the cascade of rock-and-roll hooks in Fools, or the sublime sense behind Baso in tricking up the E-heads by way of True Faith.
Maude songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Luis Azcona sings heartfelt reflections and observations on youth and its follies-probably the usual stuff in pop music-but he brings a poignancy and on a few times, a literary wordplay that's difficult to ignore. Consider his ode to great beauty:'You're so beautiful, it hurts... All I can do is take the pain/ And I keep coming back for the pain...'
On second thought, 'Aurora' is just the right title for this record. Think of it as a herald of bright, wonderful things that Maude fully captures in their words and music.