Twanging guitars, pretty pop melodies

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - September 20, 2006 - 12:00am
The new group Blades has an interesting story as to how they got their name. These guys originally called themselves Bubblegum. Not that they performed teeny-bopper oriented bubble gum tunes. They really do the hard rock stuff and being called Bubblegum was a misnomer. Besides, no band with that kind of music gets to be a perennial Battle of the Bands champ in Batangas where all the members come from.

What they needed was to project an edge. To get one these guys decided to change Bubblegum to another word that also begins with B but is of the sharper kind. This is Balisong. Very sharp and as every Pinoy knows, also very much the image of the hot-headed Batangueño. But then came Vincent Daffalong. This guy was one of the country’s very first rappers and he had a big hit with Nunal. He became the group’s mentor and decided they needed a change of name. He thought Balisong brought too much edge. "Masyadong galit. Masyadong mabagsik."

So Balisong was changed to something as sharp and deadly but also sleek, smooth and hopefully hip. The name as it stands now is Blades. It proved to be just right. It got them a record deal and the chance to move out of their Battle of the Bands’ image. The group recently released its self-titled first album.

by Blades hews close to the crossover pop-rock style most local bands adopt these days. This means fusing twanging guitars with pretty pop melodies and colloquial Tagalog lyrics. Of course, given its origins, Blades rocks harder than usual but the sentiments expressed in the songs are decidedly young and very Filipino. The first single out is Sori Na, a collaboration between the group and Daffalong.

Other cuts in the album are Ouch! Tambayan, OK Na Ako, Nadama, Pride, Tulad ng Dati, Nandito Naman Ako and Mabuti Pa. Sure to be of interest to a lot of listeners is the inclusion of Mr. DJ. One of Rey Valera’s early works, this song was the monster seller that introduced 13-year-old Sharon Cuneta to the hit charts. If you are one of those who think that it is impossible to rock Sharon or Valera, be prepared to change your mind after you hear the Blades version of the OPM classic.

Blades is made up of Jonking Balboa on lead guitar, Richard Sumulong on bass, Jonathan de Joya on drums and Joey Casanova on rhythm guitar.
Who is JFigure?
Another newcomer with an interesting name is JFigure. The name was taken from Jeannie Figueroa and it was this multi-talented artist, who wrote, arranged and performed all the songs included in the album Completely Yours. Would you believe she also did the cover artwork?

The album is made up of all originals arranged in an easy, light pop style. These are This Song, Kaleidoscope, Pictures of You, Moving on Alone, Dreams, These Days, Home and You. Jeannie’s compositions are the simple musings from a young woman and they remind me of the personal diarist style usually associated with the likes of Laura Nyro and Janis Ian.

Quite nice and sure to go big with dreamy high school girls. What I see as her strongest point though is her voice, which uniquely channels both Karen Carpenter and Dolores Riordan. With this style she makes even a seven-minute cut like her Home, interesting.

Now, this is the first time we heard anything about Jeannie and all of the tracks in Completely Yours were recorded in Australia for a label named No Borders Unlimited. I have a strong hunch though that she is Filipino and is another addition to the growing number of well-known Pinoys in the field of pop music.
Hale’s Twilight
Big news from fans of Hale. Twilight, much-awaited follow-up to the group’s triple platinum selling debut album entitled Hale, will be available in stores on Sept. 30. Fans are invited to the album launch at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia. Hale will perform cuts from Twilight after which they will pose for pictures and sign autographs. The first single is entitled Waltz. Will this be another The Day You Said Goodnight? We will know soon enough.

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