CD reviews: Absolute Play, Gary Granada, Sam Smith

Posted at 07/06/14 1:26 PM

Absolute Play
"Children of Chaos"


The debut CD of teen band Absolute Play is being released again in a USB card, a new format in marketing music that serves as an alternative to CDs and online downloads. The size of an ATM card, a USB card is lightweight and can be stored in the wallet. The USB card contains music, images, photos and additional information about the artist. It can be played like an ordinary USB by plugging it through the proper port of a typical computer.
Those are the cutting edge aspects of the new release.

The music of teen trio Absolute Play belongs more to the past, specifically the beginnings of Pinoy punk in the early ‘80s. The members the Absolute Play are children of Tommy Tanchangco who fronted one of the first local punk bands, Chaos, and then masterminded a record label named TRC whose compilation series Rescue Ladders and Human Barricades featured unsigned underground groups.

Much of the music on "Children of Chaos" borrows from the Ramones influenced-assault of Tommy’s Chaos and his TRC brethrens. His children then use it to shout out messages of youth empowerment, freedom from depression and hopes for a better future. Operating totally outside of punk’s primordial mindset, Tommy’s young ones aren’t afraid to sing ballads or inject new wave textures into their three chord offensive.
Absolute Play simply wants to say their piece in their own chaotic space and time and they blurt it very well.


Various Artists
"Gary Granada Songmaking Clinic Presents Himig Lipi"

Recorded in Davao, Cebu, Manila and Baguio, the album is a 14-piece collaboration among 21 musicians across the country, who include Bayang Barrios, Cooky Chua, Lolita Carbon, and a host of up-and-coming singer/songwriters.

In an interview, Gary Granada suggested that his new venture is also one of the sustainable ways of creating and “marketing” music outside the traditional modes.

Containing all-original compositions, Gary’s new venture is the product of good intentions so let’s just give extra mention to the better-sounding ones. “Pambihira” is a pop-rocker, “Kung Ang Kapalit’ channels lounge and soul idoms, “Perya” adapts lilting island rhythms, and “Ibaba Sa Lupa” pirouettes on a wobbly match-up of reggae and rap.

You can sing along to most of the songs and a few of them can’t resist poking on current social issues. After all, they started life in a clinic by a progressive-minded singer-songwriter.


Sam Smith
"In The Lonely Hour"

Before his debut recording, UK soul man Sam Smith already supernova’ed up the pop charts and on the cognoscenti’s lips based on his impressive collaboration with indie dance eccentrics Disclosure. Smith’s first album thus carries the burden and the baggage of satisfying elevated expectations from critics and fans alike.

Sam Smith probably understands the weight of his load. While the album title “In The Lonely Hour” tends to blunt some sense of pressure on himself, freshman solo artist Sam Smith manfully refuses to buckle down. In 14 original tracks, he shows off that he can make it on his own, beautifully.

The album begins with the dubstep lite brio of “Money on my Mind” before Smith regales the listener with his creative cops from soul titans Sam Cooke and Otis Redding to their contemporary blue-eyed soul apprentices Michael Bolton and Simply Red.

Smith keeps things simmering on the cool side of soul belting. As such, songs like “I’m Not The Only One” and “I’ve Told You Now” indelibly etch his reach-for-the-sky falsetto against the slow moving, poignant instrumentation. He roasts “La La La” into a playful interplay of blah baby coos and big beat driven EDM. Last track “Make It To Me” has the makings of a stag party staple.
Move over to the side Ne-Yo. Here comes the new kid from the other side of the pond.


Bachman-Turner Overdrive

The Canadian foursome crafted melodic, muscular hard rock that became FM radio fares in the mid-'70s. The riff is the thing and the hooks put one over the increasingly grandiose posturings of everybody else from Queen to Kansas and Boston.

Each of the 35 tracks on this compilation that included hits and non-hits has its own unique appeal. Although the regular listener will likely go for “Takin’ Care of Business” “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Lookin’ Out For #1” any old time, there’s still some surprises left.

Opening track “Gimme Your Money” rolls like a new wave Cars number, follow-up “Hold Back The Water” pays a sly tribute to the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and third track “Blue Collar” mashes up Santana and Steely Dan influences. More high-grade radioactive materials await the listener.

"BTO Gold" is a rich introduction to one of the mightiest groups to rock the Hot 100 Album Charts.