CD reviews: Anak ng Diyos Band, Afrojack

Posted at 08/10/2014 6:43 PM

Anak ng Diyos (A.N.D.) Band
"Pangalan Mo Ay Musika"

Contrary to popular belief, Pinoy Christian music isn’t all about tired and dreary riffs to accompany heaven ward hosannas or pained confessions of venial sins. The third release from contemporary Christian band Anak Ng Diyos is one more proof that songs of praise and remorse can be uplifting in the context of Original Pinoy Music.

Entitled “Pangalan Mo Ay Musika,” the eight radio-friendly songs on the EP are done in His name and in tribute to the band’s musical legacy. It covers a lot of grounds starting with the sprightly reggae of opening track “Bawa’t Tribo” to the cool jazz fusion of “All True” to the rock and roll of “Magpatawad.”

Appropriately, a trio of blues-driven Pinoy rockers round out the album. The final track “I Believe” even features some neat testifying delivered in rap.

Anak Ng Diyos band features reformed members of ‘70s bar band Bad Habits, a moonlighting bone doctor and new blood in the Angeles-Olongapo music circuit. It’s part of a continuing ministry to bring God’s name to rural communities. For inquiries, send message to A.N.D. bassist Ronnie Felix Baniqued on Facebook.

*****

Austin Mahone
"The Secret"

It’s been a charmed life for newcomer Austin Mahone snapping a recording contract based on YouTube uploads of his pleasant covers of iTunes hits. It doesn’t hurt that the 18-year old is now being packaged as the new Justin Bieber, complete with a back story of having been raised by a single mom.

On his six-song debut EP "The Secret," Mahone slots himself in at least two fronts: one, fronting a Backstreet Boys covers band and two, as lead vocalist for One Republic. He puts up a rough façade in a tussle with rapper Pitbull in “MMM Yeah” and does Ne-Yo on the last track “All I Ever Need” for chump change of pace.

Three bonus tracks, with one acoustic performance, complete the album and even in them, the Backstreet Boys sway casts a long shadow. His clean-cut all-American teen look adds to a definitive throwback to ‘90s boy bands.

It’s an auspicious start and one hopes there’s more to Austin Mahone’s secret for him to skip one-hit wonder land or the real hazard of sophomore slump.

*****

Afrojack
"Forget The World"

Dutch producer Nick van de Wall aka DJ Afrojack changed the face of dance music with his EDM raver "Take Over Control" in 2010. Melodic hooks and harmonies dominated his new music over the typical relentless beats, giving way to the current trend towards tuneful dance tracks enhanced by diva vocals.

His latest album entitled "Forget The World" pushes the envelope further featuring collaborations with male pop and rock vocalists, and remixes. There actually isn’t much difference if females fronted the music because the vocals generally follow the tune’s harmonic flow.

Best of the bunch include “Freedom” feat. Jack McManus”, “The Spark” with Spree Wilson and “Illuminate” feat. Wrabel. They’ve got that triumphant EDM groove that elicits instant hands-in-the-air reaction even from armchair listeners.

“Dynamite” feat. Snoop Dogg drops in energy when the ageless rapper slips in his spicy yet rambling spiel. With Sting on the mic, “Catch Tomorrow” fares better even if it tackles an ageing man’s emotional reverie on time passing him by. Perhaps a female voice on some of the tracks could have rubbed off a bit of vulnerability to the digitally-generated music.

Two remixes featuring Afrojack vs Thirty Seconds To Mars and Brit band Keane appear to be token reshuffling of anthemic rock on EDM terms.

*****

Various Artists
"Pure…Woman"

One more time with lots of feelings: A 4-CD celebration of songs by some of the best female voices of the rock era. There’s no overall theme that ties all of 68 songs together although one can make a case for the liberated urban ladies to be its general focus for emotional connection and as target market.

It’s got Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” as well as Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. Its arc touches Nina Simone’s classic “To Love Somebody” to Alicia Keys’ edgy “Girl On Fire” to the impossibly neutered “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “My Heart Will Go On.” On pure merit, it’s a lavish set throughout.