Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the sound of the South

And proud to be, I must say.

I love Urbandub. This is one of my favourite Filipino bands that is currently streaming on the Philippine tv and radio. They became popular at around 2006, when Original Pilipino Music (OPM) became the mainstream sound. Which is great, really, because these artists finally have the ability to release their creations and be appreciated by the masses. Back then, in the late and early 2000s, foreign artists were making waves on the radio. Music videos that were shown on MTV had a few of those which were OPM. Looking back, I think it was quite tragic, to think that we don't appreciate the artists who speak the same language and who understand us better than these artists who live in another land and have a different culture.

But enough of that. I’m here to discuss about one of my favourite bands, and even though I’m away from that country, they’re still making waves not just on the national radio but touring around Asia for their concerts as well. Last I heard, they went to Singapore to promote their new album.

Anyway. Just what does this band have that’s got me talking like an idiot? Heads up, I’m not really a music expert to know these stuff. So expect me to not mention the guitar riffs and drum beats because I know nothing about those. I would add some facts as well, which would be mostly taken from their Wiki page, my ever-reliable source (pfft). Although I have to say, their music is always changing, and it’s very addicting. At least for me, that is. But I know I’m not the only one. But why would people actually like their music and last this long? Well, because it’s different. And the writing is awesome, for Gabby Alipe is able to convey the feelings that a normal being feels, not just emotionally and physically, but he talks about a person’s internal dilemma as well.

So as of now, they have five albums under their name, and I'll give a bit of description on each (because I have nothing to do even though I do).

Released under Lighter Records in 2001, Birth was the start of this fresh band. Seeing as they're independent, the sound quality isn't exactly what your top-notch player would like to play. But I guess it's safe to say that this is where and how everything started. This album was how it was supposed to be, a 'reggae' band, thus the name of the band, but because of the line-up changes and their contrasting tastes in music, they weren't able to be what they were supposed to be (and this is according to Gabby Alipe himself, the vocalist and composer). Looking back, this album compared to others was fresh and heavy.

Three singles were released in their debut album, but didn't exactly hit it off strong yet in the music charts. In 2003 this struggling band released another album called Influence. The album took a 180-degree turn from the first. Still under the same independent record label company, but with a better sound quality and more experimental melodies. Tracks such as Soul Searching and A New Tattoo were taken notice by some people, the former garnering an award as the 'Best song of the year of 2003' in the NU 107 Rock Awards. Despite not knowing them yet, they were able to win an award as the 'Best Album of the Year' in 2004 from the same awards show. While I was enjoying some other Filipino artists during these days, little did I know that this band who will greatly influence me has already started making noise in the undergound scene.

I was a working and responsible citizen in 2006 when I did a favor for my brother who asked me to buy the Embrace album that was released in 2005 by EMI Music Philippines. Being the kind sister that I was (and still am), I bought it for him without an having an inkling of what this band was. I didn't mind listening to the heavy riffs and rock music, I was used to it. I grew up hearing different genres of music, so hearing them the first time didn't give me that 'I-hate-listening-to-rock-music-because-they're-loud' look. Instead, I listened to the lyrics, like I usually do when I listen to an artist, and when the last track hit its final note, I was in awe. I wasn't that excited at first, but when I started inserting them in the player every now and then, I didn't realized that they've already made an impact on me. By this time, they were already making waves in the mainstream radio and television. A few were starting to take notice of these Cebuanos whose sound is better than the other band who hail from the south who was already making it to the music charts at that time probably due to popularity and *ehem* face value. It's not really all about the looks in order to make it big in the music industry. What counts is their album's shelf-life, or their appeal not just to the masses, but to the music buffs, geeks and mostly their fans as well. Give it a few years down the road, and where are they now? *pause* Alrighty, it seems I've digressed a bit and got distracted for a second.

By the release of their fourth album in 2007, Under Southern Lights instantly became a hit with their first single 'Guillotine'. This time, they were heading the charts with each released single. This album took another turn from their last, which raised a few eyebrows (including myself), but it was nothing huge that would make me change my mind and forget this band that has greatly influenced me by that time. Listening to it the first time would make a person wonder what happened to their music, but after clicking a few repeats, one by one, I began to appreciate them all over again.

Fastforward to 2009. Signing up with their new record label MCA Music, The Apparition was released. As if the former album wasn't 'Urbandub'-ish enough, this was considered their most experimental album yet. Their first single 'Gravity' has that trademark, so it wasn't much of a shock, but the others took a 360-turn from all their past albums. But I won't say anything more about the change. I've just started listening to this album yesterday, and actually, at this moment, I'm listening to the album again, specifically 'A Call to Arms', which is now one of my favorites. I could listen to this song again and again, for it still has that distinctive Urbandub music. I don't know why, but the lyrics reminds me of Influence, with Soul Searching coming to mind. The tune reminds me of the first two tracks in Under Southern Lights. But back to the album. Don't ask me how I got this, despite me being on the other side of the world, with no access to a cd at the local Music store. I used different means, but once I step on the lands of my forefathers this summer (my most awaited homecoming), this band would earn another $8 (or PHP 350. Just a guess. I have no idea how much OPM cds are nowadays.) for their album. Another satisfied and excited fan, another reason for them to be inspired and work even harder.

And to show you how much I love Gabby Alipe, John Dinopol, Lalay Lim and JanJan Mendoza, I'll post my copies with their signatures except for the fourth album that doesn't have one yet (and yes, I am a fangirl. You should have figured that out by now.):

Three days ago the band celebrated their 10 years of influence in Cebu, their hometown. With 10 years and five albums under their belt, is it that much of a change? Well, yes and no, because what this band does with their music is experiment and at the same time continue progressing, making each and every album different from one another, but have that same attribute that makes it an Urbandub song. To have a clue on who the heck they are, you can visit their Facebook fan page. But since you can't play any music on that site, you can visit their official Myspace page, and after listening to some tracks and begin to like them, you can then add them to your Facebook page and buy their original albums. 

Left to right: John Dinopol, Gabby Alipe, Lalay Lim, and JanJan Mendoza

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Detective Conan: episode 3

I said to myself that after doing the second episode, I would move on to the first case Mouri solves without Conan's help. But after seeing this episode again, I realized that this is also important, for this is an introduction to what I said earlier that I would discuss later on. So as much as I would like to move on to the next one, I have to do this first.

Detective Conan episode 3: And Idol's Locked Room Murder Case

Monday, March 1, 2010

Homecoming Part I

A few months more and once again I will be back to my hometown, the Philippines. This is exactly why I named this blog "Homecoming" for I long to go back to the place where I was born, and where the roots of my heritage came from. Where my forefathers shed their blood, sweat, and tears to be free from the hands of the Conquistadors. To once again explore places that I have never set foot on, reminisce the past and cherish every single day God has given me. 

I may not have all the time in the world when I get there, for I would be touring the city and visiting some sites, refreshing my history once again. But of course, the most important agenda for me is to spend time with my family, the relatives who have seen me grow up for a number of years, and friends whom I shared my life and soul with.

No one could argue when I say that there is no place like home. Although I have already considered Canada my home, nothing could still take me away from the place that I spent most of my entire life. And what's more, coming from a third world country to a much better and developed place, comparisons are inevitable, flaws and disappointments are felt most of the time. But I think what's different about me is how I view my hometown, now that I'm in an unfamiliar country where not everyone speaks my language, where I need to speak another foreign language despite learning it at school back then. It is true, the Philippines is lucky to have English as their second official language, for they have an advantage when they travel to english-speaking countries such as here in North America.

To live in a country that is rich is multiculturalism can be a blessingespecially for the person who has just set foot in a strange territory. It would be an advantage too, in the long run, for that person would be able to appreciate the culture he has once he sees himself unique from everyone else. If from before, he took his ethnicity and nationalistic identity for granted, coming to a new country would be a change from the norm, adapting with the new lifestyle, but unconsciously preserving his heritage, proud of who he is.

I'm sure some feel the same way as I do, but for those who haven't yet, I say to you: it is a very satisfying feeling to know that you are different from others which makes you honored to come from such a country and history.

And this is why homecoming means a lot to me.