CD reviews: She's Only Sixteen EP, Stonefree indie
She's Only Sixteen
"She's Only Sixteen" EP
Comprised of Ateneo High School graduates, the Pinoy alt-rock group, She’s Only Sixteen, is composed of lead vocalist/guitarist Roberto Seña, son of theater thespians Isay Alvarez and Robert Seña, lead guitarist Andrew Panopio, bassist Anjo Silvoza, and drummer King Puentespina.
The band is the first signing of Orion Entertainment, the artist management arm of Universal Records. Under this arrangement, Orion handles not only the recording career of the artist but also related businesses such as show bookings, live performances and film/TV appearances.
Other record labels have entered into management agreement with their artists but Orion Entertainment is the first to take a new act into its fold. Another first with the band is its appropriation of the new paradigm in local indie rock.
The members claim, “She’s Only Sixteen is a mix of rock, pop, dance, folk, ear-grabbing hooks, bad jokes, alcohol, cigarettes, pop, debauchery, kalandian, deep commentary on love and life, and a load of class.” Their musical influences include The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Phoenix, MGMT and Radiohead.”
Their eponymous EP actually bears the strong influence of The Strokes and one can hear on record a mix of rock, pop, ear-grabbing hooks and superficial insights on love and college life (They’re 19 and 20 year-olds, for Pete’s sake!).
The rest may be wishful thinking but they may eventually come true if the attraction to their new sound crosses over to a mainstream audience.
Going Big Time shouldn’t be a hurdle because right at the first track entitled “Amygdala,” the four-man group effortlessly cross-breeds the grooves and beats of classic Strokes songs like “Last Night” and “Hard To Explain.” “Dying To Meet You” is a more dynamic follow-through, daring the listener to forget nit-picking and just dance. “Mr. Schemer,” however, is a schizoid number shifting among various genres in its three-minute slide.
The EP is obviously a summing up of what makes She’s Only Sixteen tick. A full album after the experience of playing the new materials live will validate the ongoing buzz that the band is among the most promising acts in the Class of 2012.
The five-man band got its Big Break when a major record label picked them up during the heyday of local alternative bands. The biggest payoff from that experience was that the distribution and promotional muscle of the major label allowed wider exposure for the band and their music.
Right now operating as an indie band, Stonefree has released its fourth album faced ironically with the challenge of taking their music to a wider audience. Radio promo has become a burdensome proposition for suddenly struggling musicians relying on occasional gigs to push their music beyond the college crowd.
Stonefree built its reputation for powerful live performances and on the basis of their recently released album, "Providence," that power remains intact. This time, the surge translates into anthemic songs, okay grungy rockers that are hugely affecting.
“A Perfect Place” is the apotheosis of all that yearning when the music and vocals spiral heaven-ward as one. The tracks before it act as preliminary boosters and those after prepare the listener to a comfortable come-down.
"Providence" gains depth with each playing and despite its English titles and lyrics, it still sounds like one of the best Pinoy rock albums of the past year. Go out and grab yourself a copy!