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? 😛

 

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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.

Hiragana reading practice: Ulfuls’ Waraereba

Just my kind of thing: practice reading through music. Joi-sensei gave us lyrics of the Ulfuls’ Waraereba. I’m putting the lyrics here especially for Jakkii-san and Wain-san 🙂

 

とにかくわらえればさいごにわらえれば

なさけないかえりみちHAHAHAとわらえれば

こどものころからおなじおなじゆめばかりをみて

だけどいまになっておとなになってたちどまったりして

すべてがうまくいくはずそうしんじているのに

なぜかあせってぐらついてじたばたするけど

とにかくわらえればそらでもわらえれば

きょういちにちのおわりにHAHAHAとわらえれば

とにかくわらえればさいごにわらえれば

なさけないかえりみちHAHAHAとわらえれば

おまえをすきになってなにもかもがかわったよ

たあいのないえがおでおれをゆうきずける

ぶつかってばかりじゃだめでひいてばかりでもだめで

かなしけりゃなけばいいまたわらえるように

あきらめないにげたくない

じぶんをみうしないたくない

あせをかきはじをかきころがりつずける

むりしてもむちゃしても

かえられないおもいがある

そばにいてこのおれをみまもってくれるかい

だれもがみないつもみたされないおもいを

むねのおくにだいたままあるきつずけてゆく

とにかくわらればさいごにわらえれば

こたえのないまいにちにHAHAHAとわらえれば

とにかくわらえればさいごにわらえれば

なさけないかえりみちHAHAHAとわらえれば

とにかくわらえればとにかくわらえれば

とにかくわらえればとにかくわらえれば

Ulfuls is a rock band from Osaka. Joi-sensei said the band name came from a misreading of the word “soulful” printed on a very old jacket , but the wikipedia article said that it came from an album cover. I like the jacket anecdote more. Regardless, what matters is that I like their song, and I am going to check their other songs here and here.