AUDIOJUNKIE : Reinvigorated by the old, expanded by the new

Published September 11, 2020, 2:01 PM

by Punch Liwanag

The wheel of progress never stops turning and this holds true for music as well. Even so, there’s a special attraction to songs from the past.

This week we present a combination of two classic Filipino hits re-imagined. We also spotlight two new artists just starting to carve their place in the music industry.

December Avenue, one of the leading Pinoy Pop bands of the Philippine Music scene of today, has joined in the “Rico Blanco Songbook” project wherein the greatest hits of the former Rivermaya frontman is re-imagined.

December Avenue brought their talents to bear and covered the massively popular “Umaaraw, Umuulan.”

At a glance, there is not much difference between their version and Rivermaya’s vaunted original. Perhaps the band’s version sonically is more intricate (with the keys and all) and its pulse more pronounced.

Far from being unimaginative though, it simultaneously succeeds in paying homage to the original while letting December Avenue inject their own unique personality and style into this now timeless song.

Besides, how much more can one improve upon an already well-loved classic?

Further than just being a simple cover, this new iteration of “Umaaraw, Umuulan” comes into being in such uncertain times, where so many Filipinos have either faced difficulty or continue to face their share of hardships.

Here, the message of the song reminds us that although life may get hard, we must persevere for adversity will eventually pass. Until then, let this reinterpreted masterpiece bring a little sunlight into your life.

We move on to a new contender in the scene of Philippine Music.

Though FERODINA may be a new name band, its young members definitely aren’t rookies. Former “Music Hero” champions and band members Brian Feliciano, Joaquin Rodrigo and Fender Dimalanta with new member Steven Naguit form the band that takes its name from the first syllable of the member’s surnames.

Their first track, “Muling Nakita Ka,” is not so much an explosive entrance as it is a suave saunter into the music scene. The entire song can be characterized as “mellow,” with minimalistic vocals framed superbly by an arrangement that is peppered here and there by some tasty bits that say these young guns are aces and are just holding back.

Yet it’s also dreamlike, fitting as the message of the song is one of longing and melancholy of pining after a former romance in one’s dreams.

The track concludes with a saxophone solo that served to kick up the suave aesthetic the song crafts for itself. From this first single, FERODINA shows that they are worth watching out for in the future.

And with that, we conclude with the local and move on to the artists that deserve some attention in the international scene.

Earlier this year, the Thai romantic-comedy television series “2gether: The Series” about the growing relationship between two male students became a veritable international hit. Its popularity was massive enough to birth a sequel special, “(Still) 2gether: The Series.” Furthermore, one of the lead actors, Vachirawit Chiva-aree or “Bright” as he’s better known, recorded a cover of the Eraserheads classic “With a Smile” to be used as the theme song of the Philippine release of the show. Who can complain about a new interpretation of a Filipino classic?

Indeed, the cover may not seek to break new ground but it achieves what it sets out to do, that being to have a song that’s soothing and pleasant to hear. Bright’s no great shakes but does enough to fit the feel of the song. His serene and serenading approach is just the right amount to send his growing Pinoy fanbase something to swoon about. It’s uncomplicated from beginning to end and that’s all it really needs to be.

Emerging and yet already highly acclaimed, JP Saxe returns with a heartfelt new track in “A Little Bit Yours.” Not even a year ago, his song “If the World Was Ending”, a strikingly sincere piano ballad sung in a duet with artist Julia Michaels became an indisputable hit with over 100 million views on YouTube and over 300 million streams on Spotify so far. Certainly, an impressive achievement for a rising artist; one that he is keen to follow with his newly released song.

“A Little Bit Yours” is reminiscent of the style heard in his previous hit, just a mellow piano backing, some vocal layering but the focus is undoubtedly on his warm and rich baritone.

The track starts off simple, with Saxe’s understated yet melodious delivery of his heart-rending lyrics enveloped solely by piano. It’s a slow and gradual build, but when it does reach its crescendo, Saxe’s resonant falsetto cuts a distinctly against the stark instrumentation. Saxe belts out the final chorus and the end comes abruptly, a final embellishment to underline the emotional vulnerability that JP Saxe imbues his new single.

These are just some of the remarkable goings-on in the world of music locally and abroad. Make sure to keep an eye out because there are infinitely more talented artists and amazing tracks to come in the future.