CD reviews: One-hit Jepsen, Wilabaliw's sane move

Posted at 11/12/2012 12:53 PM | Updated as of 11/12/2012 1:02 PM

Carly Rae Jepsen

"Kiss"

Does one hit song justify producing a full album, let alone one with 14 tracks? With “Call Me Maybe” as her calling card and Justin Beiber’s endorsement a pat on her back, Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen sure has cool credentials to launch a career in pop music.

Her initial success hinges on how her debut meets expectations hyped by the monster triumph of “Call Me Maybe.”

As it stands, Jepsen’s first effort “Kiss” settles for the dance-pop grooves of “Call Me Maybe” then jumpstarts it sideways pulling in bits of ‘80s new wave, breakbeat, a little old-school soul and vocoder-driven funk which every decent rapper has taken a shine at.

For the most part, she recalls Owl City with female vocals. The good ones update the Pet Shop Boys (“Turn Me Up”) and Kylie Minogue (“I Know You Have A Girlfriend”). A dash of OMD gets recycled in “This Kiss” while the wistful vocals over the dance beats of “More Than A Memory” reminds of Chistina Aguilera before her sexed-up makeover.

In sum, the big bang of “Call Me Maybe” simply fuels the rest of "Kiss"'s further adventures.

Melody Gardot

"The Absence"

Torch singer Melody Gardot sizzles on the cover of her latest album with just a net covering her obviously voluptuous body. It’s enough come-on to check out her music whose muse once thrived in the Cold War ‘50s and ‘60s.

In certain circles, Gardot warbles exotica, a catch-all term that includes lounge music, cocktail jazz and Brazilian samba. The self-styled retro singer however prefers her lounge pop sautéed with the yearning whispery ambience of post-war French pop.

Gardot sings generally of falling in love and its aftermath. She has told an interviewer, “I move slowly and I’m a bit of an old soul.”  So her moody jazzy songs unveil softly like a woman wordlessly undressing herself before a lover.  

It’s enough to forget that our heroine is negotiating a terrain alien to most of today’s music listener. And just as the casual fan is ready to box her to be a Norah Jones wannabe, she unpacks the wicked “If I Tell You I Love You” and the bluesy tempest of “Goodbye.” Suddenly, the beguiling sweetheart turns tables on an erring sucker.

These quiet surprises will make you want to come back for seconds.

Wilabaliw

"10 10 10"

Their very name says it all.  Wilabaliw, composed of young upstarts in the Pinoy rock scene isn’t keen on loud-quiet-loud dynamics or the artistic pursuits of the blues. They came of age after the punk and indie revolt so it makes sense that they make loudness their core competence.

Strange then that in live performances, the band puts its hard sound through the serrated grid of gritty soul and chopped-up funk. They make audiences dance around songs originally conceived as punk-metal implosions.

Lead vocalist Tayao is also such a charming presence onstage that the noise seems to face into the background once he takes control.

Despite its remarkable title, "101010" does not truly represent the true ‘kabaliwan” of Wilabaliw. They probably came to their senses when it came time to test their noisy anthems to a wider audience beyond stinking punks and skateboard hooligans who hound boarded-up gyms and basketball courts.

The band grows up. It’s senseless to quibble with that.