Sechskies shines anew with Another Light

First, a disclaimer, because some who might stumble upon this post might find the title misleading: This is not an album review. Well, maybe sort of, but not exactly an objective one because I totally love Sechskies. There, I have finally announced it haha.

Second, a digression. It has been more than a year since I have followed this first-generation Korean boy group. Sechskies had made me cry with their emotional reunion through the MBC variety show Infinity Challenge, but they have been making me smile–heck, make that laugh until I cry–with their variety skills. They have been working hard since regrouping, holding concerts (Yellow Note), releasing new songs (“Three Words,” “Sad Song,” and “Be Well”) and remastered versions of their hit songs, and appearing in music and variety shows.

Despite being active for a relatively short period (Sechskies debuted in April 1997 and disbanded in May 2000), they had managed to release four albums that spawned a number of hit songs. I actually find it quite difficult to choose a favorite Sechskies song (from the first four albums). The songs they have after their reunion are well-produced (as expected of Tablo and Future Bounce 🙂 ) and well-received, earning them year-end awards (for “Three Words”) and top spot in music shows (for “Be Well”). But a fifth full album with all new songs after 18 years, how would it sound? How would it be received?

Another Light is indeed something special and something to smile about

With Another Light, its double title tracks “Something Special” and “Smile”, and seven equally title track-worthy songs, I dare say that Sechskies has further solidified its place in the current Kpop scene. They are already legendary, but with this album, their music evokes not only nostalgia but fresh vitality. From one track to another, we get to listen to each member’s distinct vocal tone as the group challenges different genre.

I have always been impressed with Eun Jiwon’s versatility as an entertainer, but this album is a showcase for his singing skills. Kang Sunghoon is Kang Sunghoon: ever reliable as a main vocalist, nailing all his parts effortlessly. Of course his voice has matured, but its characteristic sweetness remains. Jang Suwon has improved tremendously; his and Kim Jaeduck’s hard work to keep performing as a duo after their disbandment is now serving the group well. A revelation (to me) in many ways is Lee Jaijin. I am no music major so I don’t know any technical words to describe his voice. Evidently Jaijin has great range (Watch: his aegyo song in Weekly Idol). But I just love how he can deliver power/softness with his voice in this album. All the members convey emotions well when they sing–it’s one of the reasons I have been drawn to them as a group.

Now, the songs. As I’ve posted in Twitter, there is no such thing as album filler in Another Light. Each track could stand as a title track. I like how the album starts with “Something Special” and ends with “It’s Been a While,” which is among my personal favorites along with “Backhug” and “Drinking Problem.” The upbeat tracks may sound a lot more “quiet” than the dance tracks the group has been known for, but they are as energy-filled. But really, one can jump around to one’s heart’s content to “Vertigo” or dance to “Something Special” or “Feeling.” Feeling lovesick or sorrowful? There are tracks for those times too. Better yet, just listen from Track 1 to 9 and be moved physically and emotionally.

I cannot possibly say this enough: Another Light is awesome, like really really :). Now if only YG promotes it more like by having Sechskies in variety shows, wouldn’t it be more awesome? 😛



Take a feels trip with The CompanY’s Nostalgia

This 2016, I am turning 40, to which I attribute my frequent bouts of nostalgia. Seeing a boxful of old cards and letters, watching old films or a new film based on an old one (Star Wars The Force Awakens, yeah!), hearing old songs on the radio, they just bring, you know… So. Much. Feels.

Among the songs that never fail to make me nostalgic are those of The CompanY, their “Everlasting Love” particularly so. I was a high school freshman when it came out and I remember my classmate Claire giving me a copy of its lyrics. I remember listening to The CompanY’s album on my cassette player.

Isn’t the album design neat? 🙂

Listening to The CompanY’s 25th album, aptly titled Nostalgia, is a feels trip. The opening track “Times of Your Life” takes me back to second year high school and makes me remember my Values Ed teacher and class adviser Ma’am Tina Romano. Most of the songs are actually older than I am, but I am familiar with them because of Sunday radio shows, the kind my parents listen to haha! My favorites are the mouthful “Waters of March” and the very emotional Jose Mari Chan classic “Here and Now.” Confession: I really thought that the song whose first line goes “A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the load” was originally a commercial jingle for a local shopping center. Thanks to The CompanY, now I know it’s based on the Brazilian song “Aguas de Marco” composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The CompanY is turning 31, and they are still bringing on the vocals and touching people with their music. I’m just happy that I finally got to see them perform live and even meet and greet them after their show at the Shang last January 24.

In good company (sorry, couldn’t resist haha!)

Because I have yet to find the person I would want to sing “Everlasting Love” to, I will sing it along with The CompanY whenever I hear it on the radio. (Also, I can sing along to the songs in Nostalgia as it includes minus one of the whole album. Awesome, right?)

The magic of Cynthia Alexander’s music

is that it can be timeless such that the words still speak to me even if I have not heard them for some time. It can transport one to another place and time, most likely to that moment of one’s discovery of her music. In my case, that would be in 2000 when I was a relatively newbie in the publishing industry. Her second album Rippingyarns had just been released, and it was what I asked my secret Santa for Christmas. I would play the cassette tape in my portable player (Watashi no Aiwa wa doko desu ka?) over and over until I have memorized her songs. I eventually got a copy of Insomnia & Other Lullabyes I think at the UP Shopping Center where I usually find albums of my favorite singers-songwriters.

Sadly, I did not catch any of her farewell shows. That’s why I was excited when I learned that she was coming home to play at the Jack Daniels Indie Music Awards. The schedule was a problem for me though as I had to proctor final examinations early the next day. Then the Teatrino show was announced but the balcony tickets were quickly sold out. The Conspiracy Cafe gig was my last chance to see her before she left again for the US.

But who would go with me? Gigs, particularly the special ones, end way past midnight. But it really was a special one, so I asked my very important person–Nanay–to come with me to Cynthia’s show.

Our Cynthia Alexander at Conspiracy Cafe tickets
Our Cynthia Alexander at Conspiracy Cafe tickets
Isn't my Nanay cool?
Isn’t my Nanay cool?

I actually shamelessly messaged Conspiracy Cafe’s Facebook page to ask for a reservation to which I got a positive reply (I just love Conspiracy!) but I understood when I saw a note on Cynthia Alexander Music Facebook page later on that the show would be on a first come first serve basis and that Conspiracy gates would open at 6 pm. Nanay and I got there around 7 pm and had yummy sisig and rice for dinner.

Conspiracy Cafe's sisig with egg
Conspiracy Cafe’s sisig with egg

What made the night more magical was Vin Dancel of Peryodiko. That “Dear Prudence” cover! (Cynthia would later sing “Blackbird.” Loved both.)

When it was Cynthia’s turn to perform, I had to stand on a chair because my view of the stage had been blocked.Good thing was that no Conspi staff asked me to get down. At some point, even Nanay stood on a chair. We all have missed Cynthia and her music that after her supposed last song “Comfort in Your Strangeness,” we did not want to leave yet.

Cynthia actually stood in front of me during the set break to talk with some friends but I got too shy to ask for a photo op. Her friend helped me get my CD signed though.

My signed copy of Walk Down the Road
My signed copy of Walk Down the Road

I am so grateful to be there and feel the magic of Cynthia Alexander’s music. I hope I get to be there when she holds a homecoming gig again.

My 2011 in numbers

As I welcome 2012, I flipped through my 2011 Angel-in-us planner to see what have kept me occupied last year. I must admit that I had better years than 2011, but it definitely had its awesome moments. In the spirit of my random lists and what-nots, I present my 2011 in numbers:

16–Units I taught in my first semester as a college instructor. I have taught high school and grade school before, so in 2011, I thought I’d try to teach in college. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to teach mathematics and chemistry. Like before, I had some trouble with teaching lab (Students accidentally breaking glassware caused me some stress), but teaching again made me realize just how much I enjoy it. I also thought I want some face time with my friends, so I came back to not one but two of my old workplaces. Talk about going in circles eh? In a good way of course 🙂

16–Gigs I attended. I think this number would have been higher if Sugarfree did not disband in the earlier part of the year. I learned about the disbandment through Tina, and I would have cried that moment if I were not in the middle of a supermarket. How I love Sugarfree and their music, and how I miss seeing them perform together! The final gig in Eastwood last March was totally emotional. Imagine standing for hours in the pouring rain, listening to sad love songs? T-T

Despite the disbandment of three of my beloved bands (the other two are Bamboo and REM), I still had my Pinoy music fix all year round courtesy of Johnoy Danao’s Dapithapon, Noel Cabangon’s Panaginip, Pupil’s Limiters of the Infinity Pool, Ebe Dancel’s Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig, and RockEd’s Rock Rizal, whose tracks you can download from here. Oh, and guess who was with me at Ebe’s album launch and at the Rock Rizal gig? Nanay 🙂

14–Rapids in my first water rafting experience in the City of Golden Friendship, Cagayan De Oro. This trip was made possible through the generosity of a friend, which made it really special.Throw in some football action with crazy/awesome fans, mad ukay-ukay at Divisoria, eco-trail walk/run, and sumptuous dinner treat by Sir Hector and his family to the whitewater rafting adventure, and what did I get? Crazy/fun!

Conquering the rapids of Cagayan river

I really had a wonderful time at CDO so it was devastating when I learned how much damage Sendong had done to it as well as to Iligan and other nearby areas. I am grateful to those who are tirelessly working to help the survivors. We can all do something to help. Click here if you want to help Sendong survivors through the Philippine Red Cross.

10–Football games I saw live. If 2008 was a year of travel; 2009, music; and 2010, hospital stay, 2011 was a year of the beautiful game for me. Since seeing my first full game on TV in February, I have seen games at the University of Makati field, Rizal Memorial Stadium, and Pelaez Stadium in CDO. The most memorable one for me so far was against Sri Lanka for the World Cup qualifiers. Such an epic win for the Azkals!

Sakka ga daisuki desu.

My football craziness has gone beyond the national team. For example, I woke up at 5 AM to catch El Clasico. My wish list now includes Lionel Messi and Homare Sawa kits. Paging fairy godmother/father *wink*wink*

8–Pinoy films I watched in cinemas. I know this number is low, but I think it is an improvement for me from previous years. I particularly enjoyed Jerrold Tarog’s Senior Year and Jade Castro’s Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington. Why did it feel like Eugene Domingo was in all the Pinoy films I saw in 2011? She was in four of eight 🙂

I missed quite a number of highly recommended films due to time and financial constraints. I hope they would be available in original DVD so that I can still see them.

7–Running events I participated in. I ran mostly for causes I believed in, but there were a couple of events I joined because I wanted to run with a friend (Yakult run) or to run at night (Energizer Night Run).

Running is one of the things I want to do seriously for 2012. Two of my closest friends are training for their first full marathon. Can I do half in September? *thinks* *smiles*

4–Locations from where I saw Mayon Volcano. I find it strange though that in a place where Mayon is the main attraction, I was not able to find a good postcard of it for my cousin Angel. We both saw Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights so we thought we would send postcards to each other from wherever we are. I actually did this even before, but I sent the postcard to a different person each time haha!

Anyways, the volcano is indeed a beauty. It is visible from many areas in Legazpi City but my best view was from Lignon Hill Park early in the morning. Nanay and I also viewed it from the Cagsawa Ruins, Embarcadero de Legazpi, and Mayon Planetarium.

Hello Mayon, it’s me Tesha.

3–Davids I came to see in person. Those would be David Archuleta, David Beckham, and David Choi. More music and more football, yey!The saddest thing is my wallet’s condition 😦

1/2–Book I wrote. This one has caused me unnecessary grief and anxiety. I know that I should be proud of it and grateful for the opportunity, but I think I will be more grateful and prouder of my future works (talaga lang! haha!)

In between I have countless manuscript pages, test questions, caffeine and sugar intake, K-dramas, J-doramas, and real-life dramas. So what’s in store for 2012? More of the awesome stuff I hope.

Happy New Year!

Almost perfect weekends (Part 1)

I’m writing this on the third weekend of May. The previous weekends were full of awesomeness and a lot of my most favorite things such as music, comic books, and food. These were the events that made May weekends almost perfect:

Free Comic Book Day at Comic Odyssey Robinsons Galleria, May 7

Let me digress a bit. I stopped buying comic books for some time due to some financial considerations, but there are just comic book issues that I have to have. Action Comics #900 is one of those. I mean, how many comic book titles have reached this number right? So off I went to Planet X Trinoma to buy me a copy; they didn’t have one anymore. The staff was kind enough though to call Comic Odyssey to ask them to reserve me a copy. When I went to pick it up (which by the way felt like I was in a scene in The Big Bang Theory), I was invited to Free Comic Book Day the following Saturday.

I knew about Free Comic Book Day, but I had never been to one. But from following some local and foreign comic book creators, I learned that it would be big this year because it’s the tenth year of FCBD. How big? Comic Odyssey gave away 30,000+ comic books! At first I thought they were just kidding, but they did give away that many. First 600 got a bagful of comic books, and got to choose 3 among the many titles of comic books produced especially for FCBD. I got 2 copies of Kung Fu Panda/Richie Rich, and a copy of Young Justice/Batman The Brave and the Bold for my homies.

I got two copies of this, one for me and one for my friend L.

Also, I finally bought the Eisner award-winning All-star Superman Volumes 1 and 2, and two other back issues. Two hours spent in line at Comic Odyssey was worth it. I would have stayed to meet and greet some of the great local comic book people, but I had another date. Thanks and until the next comic book sale, Comic Odyssey!

Lee DeWyze Live! at Venice Piazza, May 7

Photo (C) The Piazza at Venice, McKinley

Lee DeWyze was the other date 🙂 First, I must confess that I rooted for Crystal Bowersox during Season 9 finale of American Idol. But it didn’t mean that I don’t like Lee. I do like him, and now that I have seen him perform live and listened to his album Live It Up, I must say that I like him more. Solid guitar playing, heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics, Lee has everything that wins me over in a musician. I wished he played Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” that night, but I was happy enough with U2’s “Beautiful Day.” Awesome. And that’s just his first song haha! I’m definitely going again when he comes back.

Special thanks goes to Laya, Mommy Pia and Daddy Joel, Bel, and Gugoy 🙂 I wouldn’t have seen Lee DeWyze if it wasn’t for you.

Binondo Food Trip, May 8

May 8 was Mother’s Day, and I spent it with one of the most beautiful moms I know, my kumare Mhean, and her three children Aga, Andrei, and Anjo on a food trip in Binondo. There were just too many good places to pig out at in Binondo, so I asked co-workers and Google’s help, and we ended in Wai Ying in Benavidez St.

We ordered a quarter of roasted peking duck, chicken feet, siomai, fried rice, and the bomb: curry fried dumpling. Sorry, no picture of the curry fried dumpling. As you can see, we were an impatient lot. We wiped our plates clean in an hour or so. But really, if you are into curry as I am, you really should try Wai Ying’s.

A quarter roasted peking duck, Php275
An order has four pieces. (We were obviously impatient to eat them haha!)

After having brunch at Wai Ying, we went to Divisoria to do some shopping. We had to cut the shopping short for Starbucks’ Happy Hour. Who can resist frappuccinos at half the price? Obviously not I and a number of folks from Binondo.

Pupil’s Limiters of the Infinity Pool Mall Tour, SM Marilao, May 8

Pupil played tracks from their album Limiters of the Infinity Pool

May 8 was rainy; Pupil’s mall show started two hours late. But I think I will never mind waiting for Ely, Yan, Dok, and Wendell. Also, I wished my fangirling buddies Tina and Elvira were with me. The mall show was enjoyable, and I would have loved to stay. But there were manuscripts waiting to be edited at home. Sigh.

And the first almost perfect weekend of May dissolved just like that.

Top of the world with Shonen Knife

Top of the bayside ledge at the San Miguel by the Bay in SM Mall of Asia was more like it, but I am not complaining. In fact, I am still a bit giddy over watching the all-female J-rock group Shonen Knife from Osaka, Japan.

From L to R: Ritsuko on bass and vocals, Naoko on guitar and vocals, Etsuko on drums

Shonen Knife brings back for me memories of early MTV Asia (wala pa nung Myx hehe~) where their MV for “Banana Chips” got considerable airplay. The band turned out to have more songs about food like “BBQ Party” and “Sushi Bar” which endeared them to me all the more. I sang my heart out to one of the songs’ two-word chorus: “Pig out!”, and of course to their version of The Carpenters’ “Top of the World.”

Pedicab and Duster too

Watching Shonen Knife for free was a treat. Triple treat actually because Pedicab and Duster performed as well. “Simulan mo na ang dapat mong ginawa nung umpisa/Gawin mo na ang dahilan na pinanganak ka” from Pedicab’s “Simulan” are my and my nephew Ace’s favorite lines. Finally, I got to have my picture taken with Diego, Jason, and RA and his guitars.

With RA Rivera and his Shonen Knife-signed Hello Kitty and Badtz guitars

Thanks, Chaos-san, Oasis-san, Nightwing-san, and Hiro-san for a great time, and to Japan Foundation Manila for bringing Shonen Knife to Manila for Nihongo Fiesta 2010. You guys rock! \m/

1. Elvira, Tina, Elke, me, and Sugarfree

I was in 6 of 7 events that Elvira wrote about in her yearend blog entry “2009: The Year of the Fangirl in Me” while I was in 10 of 12 in Tina’s “Define ’09: Fangirling Exploits.” Who else was in those 6 of 7 events in Elvira’s list and in at least 8 of 12 in Tina’s list? (Yes, I am trying to get the intersection of Elvira’s, Tina’s, and my lists, and I would very much like to draw a Venn diagram at this point, but I would not risk losing loyal readers (if any, haha~) over my enthusiasm (read: geekiness) for some things mathematical.)

SUGARFREE. Ebe, Jal, and Kaka figure so much in my fangirl life this year that I cannot choose just one gig or event or moment. I have already written about my Dekada experience, which reconnected me to this band and their music. Then there was the Puregold gig on September 19th with Elvira, which was also when I started to channel my inner Schopenhauer (what?! XD). Boldly I introduced myself to Ebe, Jal, and Kaka, had my copy of Myx Mag that featured them on the cover signed, and asked for photo op. Thanks Elvs! I could not be that bold without you haha~ 

Kaka Quisumbing signing Elvira's Sugarfree stuff

As if the night could not be memorable enough, I got a band shirt from Ebe. Yey!

I watched Sugarfree perform again for my birthday last October at Peryodiko’s “Agawan Base” video launch party at Cubao X, but I got too shy to even say hi to Ebe when he was standing two feet away from me. (Yes, a fan girl could get shy, which is one of the reasons fangirling is an endeavor that should not be undertaken alone. Plus someone needs to take a picture of the fan girl and the fangirling object unless the object would be willing to put his or her arms around the fan so that they could fit the frame while the fan press the button. I reiterate that fangirling buddies are a must for me. The more, the merrier.)

Thanks Hiro-san for this nice pic of Ebe Dancel and myself

One of the things that makes a fan girl happy is having her favorite bands play in her hometown. Homemall in our case: SM Marilao.

Sugarfree rocks SM Marilao

We were so happy already to have Sugarfree at SM Marilao, so how did Elvira, Tina, and I feel when the band dedicated “Tulog Na” to us?

From Tina's Fb photo album on Sugarfree in SM Marilao

The week after that SM Marilao gig was Elvira’s birthday, so that it also served as her early birthday treat. Could it be any better? It does not stop getting better with Sugarfree. At Myx Mo 2009, they did not only play our song, but Ebe greeted Elvira in front of that huge crowd! We hoped but did not expect them to remember but they did and we were amazed and grateful at how sweet and wonderful they are. (And we really really need a copy of that performance as remembrance so if anybody who knows somebody who knows somebody from Myx Philippines comes across this post, please get us a copy?)

Aside from Elvira and Tina, Elke also figured in my Sugarfree-ing this year. She who went shoe shopping with me and gamely sat on the floor of SM Megatrade Hall to counter my panic attack over the unmentionable and lost precious zzzs to come with me to Admit One Popcorn night is one great gal pal. Thanks, Elke dear!

Jal Taguibao and my great gal pal Elke

In a few hours, I am going to say goodbye to 2009 and welcome 2010. I concur with Elvira: 2009 has been a great year for the (music) fan girls in us. But as an individual, I also look back and remember the lessons of 2009 while I look forward to the hopes and dreams that the new year brings. I am not big on resolutions, but as I have learned from one of my mentors years ago, I will keep the music playing and my soul singing. I am going to enjoy life.