CD reviews: Generation, Fat Boy Slim, Chicago

Posted at 08/03/2014 7:19 PM | Updated as of 08/03/2014 7:20 PM

Generation
"Generation"

In 2008, four thirty-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. Lead guitarist Kowboy Santos is the son of Pinoy rock legend Sampaguita, rhythm guitarist Ige Gallardo’s mom is Celeste Legaspi and bassist Joe and keyboardist Mike grew up in the musical household of Jose Mari Chan.

Their self-titled debut makes Generation’s music more of a blue-blooded rascal sound. The 12 songs on the album retain the royal standards of hooks, melodies and harmonies of classic rock filtered through the sentimentality of OPM.

First single “Love Is Killing Me” is about a failing relationship buoyed by robust power-pop chops (The Beatles, Cheap Trick). Opening track borrows a few riffs from The Searchers but ultimately stands on its own two feet to capture the band’s unique claim to future greatness. They even figure out a way to emulate sections of The Beatles’ "Abbey Road" in the final two songs of the album, “She” and “Just Let Go.”

It would be easy to say that in messing with their ‘60s and ‘70s influences, the foursome wants to put out something all their own. On their debut, the band actually walks the delicate balance between paying tribute to their heroes/heroines and expressing themselves. Generation ambles merrily along the precipice looking ahead to the best days of their lives and their own music.

*****

Fat Boy Slim
"BEM Brasil"

Released in time for the recent World Cup, Fat Boy Slim’s latest album celebrates the Brazilian lifestyle. "BEM Brasil" translates to “Very Brazil” and its two discs constitute a two-hour sonic overview of a day in the life of the country and its people.

Disc 1 subtitled “Para Noite” (Night Time) features remixes of club bangers featuring DJ Fresh, Rio Shock, Agora and DJ Fat Boy Slim himself. The fun and sweat of uninhibited night culture are sound-tracked by pummeling disco, bouncing bass lines as well as fervent house and soul.

Disc 2 aka “Para Dia” (Day Time) goes for chill house in the company of Gilberto Gil, DJ Digweed, Riva Starr, Carl Cox, and Claude Vonstroke. The immortal ode to Rio de Janeiro’s sun, sand and babes gets transported into the 21st century in a mix-up of shimmering techno and tribal drums.

The energy never flags down in this guide to the 24-hour bustle of modern Brazil.

*****

Chicago
"Chicago XXXVI"

Album 36 in the 40-year plus recording career of ‘70s major act Chicago should count for a few things in the alternative-addled ‘00s. Keeping on through thick and thin is one enduring virtue. Adapting to shifts in the musical landscape could also count except that on their latest release, Chicago goes back, for the most part, to the horns-driven jazz-rock of their small beginnings.

The young generation of music listeners will certainly associate the name Chicago with middle-of-the-road ballads, rootsy soft rock if you will, in the same league as The Carpenters. Older types, ex-hippies for one, should connect better with number 36th because the original members Peter Cetera, Robert Lamm, James Pankow, et. al. still actively pursue the riffs and rhythms that have made “25 or 6 to 4” or even “Saturday in the Park” such pleasurable listens.

Be prepared though that the renewed fire in the group’s music is fueled by un-hip sentiments. “America,” “Naked in the Garden of Allah” and “Another Trippy Day” hail from a different place as your fondest memories of the Chicago that once mattered. On the other hand, you can join your significant other and children enjoy the MOR benefits of “Love Lives On” and “Nice Girl.”
At least they don’t suck big time for a veteran band.

*****

Hunter Hayes
"Storyline"

2014 Grammy awardee and country singer Hunter Hayes, 22 years old, releases his sophomore album on the heels of a less than two-year old debut. While it sold millions, Hayes’ first album was critically assessed to be an outsider’s view of real country music. It arguably lacked the rebel yell of down home country.

 Hayes latest “Storyline” still does not have an obvious left-of-center moment. What if does have is a commitment to old-fashioned country sentiments. The title track is a pledge of true love come what may. “Still Fallin'” sums up in one line the lasting value of a lover’s first kiss. “Think You Know Somebody” is a break-up song sans the cranky aftermath.

Hayes music remains all good, laden with hooks a grandma would love. It can get same sounding even before the final fade-out but that’s contemporary country pop for you: Happy in its good time vibes till the cows come home.