CD reviews: Rico Blanco returns, Cathy Go debuts

Posted at 09/16/2012 2:32 PM | Updated as of 09/16/2012 2:55 PM

Rico Blanco
“Galaktik Fiestamatik”

Rico Blanco isn’t shy about his ambitions. He debuted in 2008 with his sights set on a universe of sounds, which wooed an audience to his diverse offerings.

Now, on his sophomore release, Blanco scales down his aspirations to galactic proportions. The nine songs on his latest album revolve around new wave essentials and their potential for re-discovery in this day and age. What drives the songs are the pounding rhythms of Ati-Atihan to lend a rootsy festive kick to otherwise transplanted pop revivals.

“Amats,” the lead track off “Galaktik Fiestamatik,” initially divided fans over the “new” direction Rico Blanco seemed to be headed. Its in-your-face attempt at a stalker anthem rocked to an industrial thrash even as on the accompanying music video, the criminally inclined figure looked like an overage refugee from a milk ad for growing kids.

After the shock of the first cut, the album unobtrusively slips into the ‘80’s electro-pop of “Burado,” the nostalgia-filled folk pop of “Lipat-Bahay” and the Depeche Mode synth-pop of “When The Wheels Turn.” The musical departure from his solo debut reaches its peak in the pulsating techno of “Sayaw” then on to the mannered orchestral pop of “Hours and Days” and “Chismis”, which grafts Trio’s “Dada” to hammering garage rock.

In interviews, Blanco says he composed all the songs in the attic of his current residence located in an upscale neighborhood. The richness of the sounds he extracts from new wave can only mean that Blanco has a profligate muse or an ultra vivid imagination.

He promises a phantasmagoric live show to push “Galaktik Fiestamatik” to even greater heights. We await with bated breath.

*****

Cathy Go
“Find My Way To You”

Twenty-year old Cathy Go is a four-year veteran of the live entertainment circuit. She honed her craft in cover bands, as most aspiring musicians usually go, but there’s hardly a hint of her “struggling copycat” days in her debut, “Find My Way To You.”

It’s an album of all-original compositions, for one. No covers at all. So finicky listeners will be drawn to her fresh-sounding music, which for all intent and purposes, declares OPM ain’t dead or hardly in its death bed!

The best tracks herald better days ahead for this young talent. Opener, “Ngayong Gabi”, is one mighty grab for the spotlight, fueled by a stomping backbeat with Go belting out her best Lolit Carbon meets Cookie Chua imitation. “Ayaw Na Kung Ayaw” follows, a mid-tempo rocker that’s on radio hit parade everywhere while “This Circle” exorcises Go’s inner Avril Lavigne. “Cupid”, a sideways thank-you note to love’s famous meddler, and “Atin Lang Ito” are bittersweet ballads worthy of repeat play.

Eminent guitar honcho Mike Villegas (Rizal Underground) produced the album for his indie label Mayumi. Bayang Barrios is co-producer so there’s no mistaking both the musical and lyrical quality of Cathy Go’s rocking journey. Her music will surely find its place in the right company.

*****

Maroon 5
“Overexposed”

When Brit band Maroon 5 plays live in Manila this coming Tuesday, most concert-goers will have the fondest memory of “Moves Like Jagger” playing in their inner ear. It’s the biggest song in the band’s decade-old career with both song and video, featuring a cameo by Cristina Aguilera, propelling Maroon 5 to the top of the pops.

Probably lost in the shuffle are the better songs from the band’s debut like “This Love,” “She Will Be Loved” and “Harder To breathe” that earned them plaudits as that year’s best UK pop group. In sound and execution, those old tracks could have come now from another aspiring band altogether.

“Moves Like Jagger” from the last album is such a massive hit that the songs on the new album circle around its neo-disco and soul styling in a bid for the next killer hit. The skanking “One More Night” starts the album on a cool groove and it’s the next track “Payphone,” with guest spot by Wiz Khalifa,” that initially goes for the Big Move. The upbeat “The Man Who Never Lied”, the penultimate “Doin Dirt” and the ballad “Sad” have their fair share of hooks, sing-along lyrics and a little bit of soul but they fall short on the success yardstick set by a dam-busting hit.

Nevertheless, in exploring other ways to milk “Moves Like Jagger” for another turn at the top, “Overexposed” unwraps Maroon 5’s creative prowess. Each of the 11 tracks has its own distinct feature that should break new grounds for a band that would otherwise be beholden to the beat of an overpowering hit.