Tuesday, June 27, 2017

IDOLZONE-Idolzone (1996)


Wait—make that four personal music wishes fulfilled in a row! I have had my 'eye' on this IDOLZONE boyband for quite some time, looking forward to adding both of their albums to my music collection. Was quite surprised when I ended up acquiring their self-titled debut first; for some reason, I I had focused more on getting their second one, "Highlights". Well, there are plenty of 'highlights' to be enjoyed right here, and this time, I decided to change things up and begin with all of the English tracks.. Four of them altogether, with three of the four coming in the form of more of that Filipino warming ballad goodness that I adore so much: "I Love You The First Time I Saw You" (I suppose this rather long title is accurate?), "It Will Be Alright" (the vocal harmony is beautiful here, as is the woodwind instrumental midway through) and "Till I Met You" (a thoughtful song penned here where they confess they never knew what love was until that special moment). As for the fourth, it may as well have been the IZOLZONE anthem! This thriller of a full-on dance jam is nothing but pure groovy fun and seems it was purposely intended to get you up and moving, if the super catchy beat and their simple lyrics of ' we're gonna take you to the Idolzone ' are any clear indication. As for the Tagalog language tracks, there's another fine trio of nicely-performed ballads that soothe the heart: "Bakit Ba Ikaw" (now here's a song title that I believe I've seen on several other OPM albums; at the very least, the song structure seems familiar), "Unang Yakap" (one of those warming, lofty ballads with the orchestral accompaniment giving the music a moving, epic glow) and "Kailan Kaya" (one where the guys showcase their smooth collective voices; two versions of it recorded here for good measure). Besides their groovy dance anthem, the only two other times when the beats are on the upswng is when they present "In Love Sa'yo Babe" (the beat is great and I like the style of their deliver; definitely wish this one was in English!) and the final cut, "Gising Na", which has a bouncy, stage show, theatrical glitz to it that my ears and I personally found quite infectious:

1. Till I Met You
2. Bakit Ba Ikaw
3. Kailan Kaya
4. I Love You The First Time I Saw You
5. Idolzone
6. Unang Yakap
7. It Will Be Alright
8. Kailan Kaya (Duet Version)
9. In Love Sa'yo Babe
10. Gising Na

BOYS WILL BE BOYS-Boys Will Be Boys (1992)


And now make that three personal music wishes fulfilled in a row! This is a little treat for myself—and for my Filipino fans out there as well, I'd imagine—that I first saw in a Filipino music catalog while browsing around for other boybands from the 90's whom my ears and I hadn't encountered yet. Somehow, BOYS WILL BE BOYS sounds like a boyband group name that I would've encountered eventually. Today is actually the second time I've listened to their self-titled debut all the way through; the first time was via a Filipino music channel on Youtube. So there was some familiarity already present once I started replaying these nine songs . Once again. I went for all of the Tagalog language tracks first. And also once again, I soooooooooo wished my understanding of this Asian tongue was much better, because every one of the songs is a delightful listen in its own way! One of these days..... Wishful thinking began with the upbeat opener, "Kahit Kunwari Lang", where the boys' collective beautiful voices and smooth backing harmony had initially impressed me. I get that nostalgic, magical radio feel of the 80's again with the follow up, "Nais Ko Mang Limutin" (something so uplifting about the sunny chorus on this one), plus with "Lampas Langit". A dramatic shift in musical arrangement featured on "Patay Mali" (hmm.....I know that 'Mali' is a West African country; now I know that it is also a Tagalog word!), which takes a very sensual, jazzy swing approach and comes off as having a very dreamy, theatrical presentation to it. Looked up the literal translation of the title: 'dead wrong'. The music is good, but the title possibly indicates something not so good? "Sige Ng Sige" makes for a great house-groovy dance track; a fitting arrangement choice for a song whose title translates to 'Go Ahead'. In addition to the opener, I also favored "Mahalaga Ka Sa Akin". There's a very 90's house jump to the beat, and I get the most kicks out of the beautiful chorus, which becomes a permanent fix on me before long! Partway through the song, I was like, 'OK, so now I REALLY need to improve upon my Tagalog!'. As for the English tracks: I would definitely add both the warming ballad, "Open Your Heart" (quite the mature effort by these boys; so gentlemanly they sound here), and the even more warming "How Do I Tell You?" (again, that magical 80's radio sound fills me up here) to an easy-listening compilation; in fact, this pair makes listening to this album worth the time for English speakers. I would be a bit fooled, however, by the title to the concluding cut, "Ooh Wow". Only the title itself is sung in English, but the singing of the title does make for the best part of the chorus when the boys go 'ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, wow' in sync with the bouncy beat:

1. Kahit Kunwari Lang
2. Nais Ko Mang Limutin
3. Open Your Heart
4. Sige Ng Sige
5. Lampas Langit
6. How Do I Tell You?
7. Patay Mali
8. Mahalaga Ka Sa Akin
9. Ooh Wow

Monday, June 26, 2017

JEREMIAH-Heart And Soul (1998)


Make that two personal music wishes fulfilled today! "Heart And Soul" was the elusive third album by the Filipino boyband missing from my collection; my long-awaited anticipation for it resulted in me leap-frogging over everything else I had slated in my listening lineup. As I've been doing with so many albums along the OPM circuit as of late, I once again decided to split things up and play all of the Tagalog tracks first, if just to reacquaint myself with these guys and their voices and give myself a little 'preview' of what would be in store on the English side. Turns out the four Tagalog tracks served as a perfect way for me to warm up to music, as they're all easy-listening slow jams that I'm sure charmed a lot of hearts and souls indeed. I especially liked the peaceful piano ballad, "Hindi Ako Katulad Niya", which reignited previous notions about resuming my learning of the Tagalog tongue. Such nice songs, but having no idea what they mean results in only half the adventure being enjoyed. One day, I'll have to change that. Meanwhile, the easy-listening slow jam formula works to perfection elsewhere, highlighted by "If Only I Could", another elegant piano ballad that speaks about wishing one could turn back the clock to make things right, as they should've been all along. This song is ideal for those lonely, rainy nights next to the living room window (at least that's the image that popped up in my head as the music coated my senses). The soft piano is clearly the instrument of choice that carries a lot of these songs, in fact; it makes sweet listens out of "Baby It Hurts" and "I'm Sorry", the latter which surprised me because the theme is not about reconciling with another girl, but rather, a plea to Our Creator for forgiveness for all of the wrong-doing in the songwriter's lifetime (ah, a bit of religious CCM mixed in with the pop and soul, as it were). The beats are on the upswing only a few times, but each time is a satisfying affair. "Dancing To The Music": this one's all about the funky dance groove and the splash of hip-hop thrown in by the guest MC rapper. "I Don't Wanna" delights with its funky jazz kick and an even better rap flow than that featured on the aforementioned track, plus its simple breaking-up-with-the-girl theme. The song that I admired the most, however, is "Can We Put A Stop?", where I once again get treated to a song with an important message for the world: putting an end to death, hunger, war, strife and all the evil things that we as a people do. 'Only peace and love'&mash;the words from this song that should be embraced here, if nothing else. And as always, an appropriate way to close out boyband album is by having the guys show off their marvelous vocal harmony; the acapella presentation of "Tell Me Girl" does precisely that:

1. 'Di Ko Kaya
2. O Bakit
3. If Only I Could
4. Dancing To The Music
5. Baby It Hurts
6. Can We Put A Stop?
7. Nanghihinayang
8. Hindi Ako Katulad Niya
9. I Don't Wanna
10. I'm Sorry
11. Tell Me Girl (Acapella)

VOLT-Modern Times (1993)


Not so modern is the synthpop and electronic music I've been treating my ears to the past couple of days, and that includes this personal music wish of mine that I finally fulfilled for myself! The Belgian pop project that went by the name of VOLT released just this one album—a collection of some of the quirkiest, most senseless songs that you'll ever hear in the whole synthpop genre. Ahh, and it was all music to my ears! Once I heard the group's lead singer (with his deep, monotonic vocals, he totally gets me thinking about HUMAN LEAGUE's Philip Oakey and Dave Gahan, the long-time frontman of DEPECHE MODE) started singing about getting a 'thirty days money back guarantee' on the opening title track, I knew I was in store for a bizarre music adventure. "Cars Can Be Cruel" has a new-wavish charm about it; plus it speaks some of the most down-to-earth truths on this album when it talks about cruel cars always running out of fuel and needing tools to be fixed, and what he says about there being an automatic difference taking over common sense. "Superman" evolves into a cool listen after it grows on the ears; this is where I make the closest comparison of him to both Philip Oakey and David Gahan. Then super-catchy are the choruses to the full-on Euro-house jam, "Sample Me" (' they're gonna sample me, s-s-sample me ' gets stuck in your head in no time flat!), and "Vicious Fish" (weird title, isn't it; I like the semi-calypso beat above the bass line here). The Euro-house element can be enjoyed elsewhere: "Green On Red" (a quirky analogy made to traffic lights on this one), "Count To 8" (my absolute favorite—the chords, the beat and the music, particularly the soft piano accenting it all; still trying to figure out what he means by the future being made when they count to eight) and the concluding cut, "Rincez-Moi" (minimal vocals + groovy beat + moody ambiance = something new to add to my 'Ambient Chill-Out Mix'; the 'voltage' sound effect in the intro is a nice touch, given this group's name). A lot of us may be hooked on the music of today, but "Modern Times" reveals (there's a double meaning to that, actually) that there are still quite a few of us who are stuck on the sounds of yesterday:

1. Modern Times
2. Cars Can Be Cruel
3. Superman
4. Nick Lauda's Girl
5. Train To Interzone
6. Count To 8
7. Sample Me
8. Vicious Fish
9. Green On Red
10. Hammer & Nail
11. Believe
12. Rincez-Moi

Saturday, June 24, 2017

BIG BROTHER-The Big Brother (1991)


No, this is not the reality TV series I'm about to rave about; rather 'The Big Brother' is just the stage name of a Giancarlo Pasquini whom I've newly gotten acquainted with. My second night of Italo-disco.....and it was a real adrenaline rush! Energetic dance rhythms, catchy hooks and stunning vocals—makes every song from one through nine an entertaining affair! "Don't Go Breaking My Heart": it''s a familiar title from somewhere in the popular music catalog. Forget who sung the original, but the words are entirely different from what I recall, leading me to believe that this 'Big Brother' version is a different song altogether. That's a-okay, because it's still terrific music to jam to! "Big Time": the title suits it; big time beats on this energized thriller! "Oh Oh Oh Girls Are Dancing" is where he shows off a bit of his wild and crazy side with the 'yowwwwwwwwww!' screeched in the intro and all throughout. "Knock On Wood": aha, another familiar title from the popular music catalog. A cover of the Annita Ward disco classic? Well not exactly; the arrangement (particularly the horns and the chords) are virtually the same, but again, the words have been altered. Besides that, it sounds a little odd hearing a guy leading the way (his Italian accent whenever he sings the title lyrics take some getting used to, in fact), but somehow, the song becomes super catchy before long. "L.A. Time": I like the glitzy, synthesized accompaniment to the groovy bass line of rhythm. It has this very 80's action TV show theme song kick to it that draws me in here. "Rock And Roll" is one that will indeed 'rock' the senses; you can't help but to be hooked whenever he makes like a metal rocker and screams 'I feel rock and roll'. I could hear him chanting 'red red fire!' long after listening to the eighth track; just hearing that alone gets me pumped! And you'll get to hear all of these great high-energy jams a second time when you tune in to the 11+ minute megamix medley. But following that treat is this album's lone slow song that is a treat all in itself: "Tears On My Eyes". You get the sense that it will turn into one of those soft rock radio-perfect tunes with the extended instrumental opening.....and it does eventually evolve into exactly that:

1. Wild Reputation
2. Don't Go Breaking My Heart
3. Big Time
4. Oh Oh Oh Girls Are Dancing
5. Knock On Wood
6. L.A. Time
7. Rock And Roll
8. Red Fire
9. The Big Brother Megamix Medley
10. Tears On My Eyes

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mr. Zivago-Tell By Your Eyes (2002)


I knew my electronic music explorations would lead me back to the world of Italo-disco eventually. Besides that, I've just been wanting to catch up on some Italo-disco listening altogether. I spent a good hour today getting acquainted with a fine singer who calls himself Mr. Zivago. Nice to meet you, Mr. Zivago, because you've just given me even more good tunes to bring me and my ears joy! The opening title track gets praises from me first; love the chilled ambiance, soft keyboards and the low-key, dancey bass line, plus the sing-along chorus consisting of him and his backing vocalists. It totally deserves the all-instrumental version found at the very end of this album. His first and only album, in fact, which was originally released back in 1992). So that explains the very 80's-sounding synthesized arrangements to these songs and why I got so hooked to them. "Say Yes" I immediately like because of the thumping beat and melody from the keyboards, plus the earnest words that are his plea for matrimony and eternal togetherness. "Alive"—one of those sunny, upbeat tunes that just makes you feel.....alive. At least that's that Zivago says when he sings ' when I'm with you, I feel alive '. * "You're The Only", the album's first and only slow song, is so touching and shows Zivago at his finest with the stunning, soaring vocal performance all throughout. ' You're the angel sent to me; the dream I've been dreaming ' are just some of the thoughtful words he has to offer here. Got a spark out of "Promises Bridge", too: electronic glitz put to dancey beat (I get that 'La Macarena' vibe here) is enough to attract me, but the touching words of ' if I could, I'd do anything for you ' totally put the icing on the cake here. Thought "Gloria" would be another great cover of the song I originally thought was a Laura Branigan original until realizing it was sung by Italian singer Umberto Tozzi; I actually started my listening of this album with "Gloria" first out of excited, irresistible anticipation. Not so this time, but still a warming song nonetheless. Mr. Zivago—it's been a pleasure, and I'm sure other listeners will be happy to get acquainted with you just as I have:

1. Tell By Your Eyes
2. Say Yes
3. Alive
4. Show The Love
5. Welcome To The Edge
6. Just For You To Be There
7. Sadness Is Like Snow
8. I Will
9. You're The Only
10. Gloria
11. Promises Bridge
12. Yesterday
13. Little Russian (Vocal Version)
14. Love In Moscow (Vocal Version)
15. Tell By Your Eyes (Instrumental)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Calvin Harris-Ready For The Weekend (2009)


I had such a blast with my first Calvin Harris electro-disco ride a couple days ago that it was inevitable that I'd be enjoying another in short time! That's precisely what I did on this early Sunday afternoon, taking nearly an hour of my time to indulge in the Scottish producer's second effort, which contained everything that I loved about the first! Except this time, he invites a few guest artists to sing alongside him on select tracks, On the title track, where there's a sunny perk to the dancey piano beat, a soulicious female diva is delivering the words of ' I'm gonna find shoes and I'm ready for the weekend ' in the bombastic chorus. In contrast to that, there's the angelic, lofty voice of another female singer delivering the chorus on "Flashback". Then it's a complete change-up in the lineup altogether when a couple of MC's are asked to lay down the seamless rap flow on both "Dance Wiv Me" (that 'wiv' is not a typo; it appears exactly as that on the back cover artwork and is presumably Calvin's stylistic way of saying 'with') and "Worst Day". Ironically, that latter one—"Worst Day"—turns out to be one of the best jams on this album! So much going on with the arrangement here—from the light guitar to the rapid drum n' bass/electronic dance rhythm to the semi-robotic voicing of 'this must be the worst day of my life', which precedes Calvin's humorous confessions about all of the mistakes he made with romancing and sleeping with the woman in the very beginning of the song. I like it whenever the jams get disco-groovy with the funky synthesized glitz igniting my audio senses; that's where "Stars Come Out", "Relax" and "Yeah Yeah Yeah La La La" (there's that comedic quirkiness side of him again; it gives his songs character and makes them fun to tune in to) all come into play. There's a couple that will surely appeal to the instrumental/ambient music fans:: "Burns Night", then the concluding piece, "5iliconeator" (not a typo here either; I presume the '5' is Calvin's stylistic use of the letter 'S'), which has a rather eerie, unsettling vibe about it that I personally find appealing. My ultimate #1 favorite, however, is one that isn't technically disco-groovy, but rather something closer to the realm of full-on trance: "You Used To Hold Me". Something in both the tonality of the chords and Calvin's vocals delivering the title lyrics sticks to me; either that, or it's simply another case of the sad love song—as quirky as it may be—that always charms me:

1. The Rain
2. Ready For The Weekend
3. Stars Come Out
4. You Used To Hold Me
5. Blue
6. I'm Not Alone
7. Flashback
8. Worst Day (Feat. Izza Kizza)
9. Relax
10. Limits
11. Burns Night
12. Yeah Yeah Yeah La La La
13. Dance Wiv Me (Feat. Dizzee Rascal)
14. 5iliconeator

Friday, June 16, 2017

Calvin Harris-I Created Disco (2007)


If it's true that this man 'created disco', then my ears and I will be staying connected to him for the foreseeable future! Calvin Harris is a name that I've positively come across on numerous occasions in my music-listening yesterdays (I seem to think he's tagged to a lot of trance remixes in the popular mainstream), though I had no memory of ever exploring any of his proper solo studio albums. Changed that today when I selected his debut to accompany me as I continue trekking through the realm of electronic music. Turns out this was a great idea as well, fresh on the heels of Daniel Wang's fabulous "Idealism" that I just listened to. "Merrymaking At My Place": the opening cut made me a merry man the instant the groovy bass line and his catchy, semi-rap style delivering the lyrics grabbed my attention, followed by the differing tonalities of the 'oh' and the way Calvin's voice drowns out at delivery of 'place' in the chorus and how he whimsically sings about everything going on inside his house. It reminded me of the tunes I heard from an old DAFT PUNK album I'd gotten addicted to a couple of years ago ("Homework", I believe it was), plus the fact that I'm a sucker for the quirky, the bizarre and unusual when it comes to music altogether. Had already declared it a favorite before I got to the rest of the tracks, which are all equally quirky and comical in some way, save for the few instrumental-only cuts and brief snippets ("Traffic Cops", "Certified" and "Love Souvenir"). One track that incites a bit of humor is "The Girls", where he freely talks about all of the different types of girls he likes (every color, hair style, size, and height is represented in the lyrics at some point). The best part is that all of it it put to a catchy dance beat that totally brings back fond memories of the 80's! Speaking of that beloved decade of mine, the follow up, "Acceptable In The 80's", also has that pop rhythm from thirty years ago going on with the music on here, with the humorous part coming with Calvin's senseless words of hot he's got the hots for any girls who were born during my elementary school years. "Colours" continues his colorful and comical words of expression ('make sure you got some colors in there,' he says, while being indifferent to everything else that the women dress themselves up with). I noticed something cool about the chords and arrangement: it sounds like one of the scores from the old Sega Genesis game, "Sonic The Hedgehog 2" (from the "Metropolis Zone" level, to be exact). Can't help but to notice these similarities to video games from my childhood with these electronic albums. Which brings me to "Neon Rocks" and the 8-bit video game-inspired sound effects that serve as the main electronic rhythm on that track. "Vegas" is another fun track where he shows off that quirky semi-rap style, bragging about his car and how he's got all the girls and boys riding along with him. It's especially funny whenever he says ' that's right ' and 'well alright' after backup vocals sing 'when I go to Vegas'. Techno and trance lovers will surely get a charge out of "This Is The Industry"; minimal vocals (only the robotic recitation of the title lyrics) and a very glitzy electronic arrangement are all you get here! Then closing out the disco party ends up being the most soothing listen on this album:"Electro Man". Not the 'electrifying' exposition you would expect here, given the shimmering production of the previous tracks; rather, it's a chilled, downtempo number where his voice becomes soft and mellow as his tender words give the music a romantic glow.

1. Merrymaking At My Place
2. Colours
3. This Is The Industry
4. The Girls
5. Acceptable In The 80's
6. Neon Rocks
7. Traffic Cops
8. Vegas
9. I Created Disco
10. Disco
11. Vault Character
12. Certified
13. Love Souvenir
14. Electro Man