Friday, December 30, 2005 A.D.
The Bleargh 2005 Compilation CD
With 2005 already coming to a close, I decided to put down a list of songs that really stood out for me this year. I initially thought about doing an album listing, but I have significantly cut down on my CD purchases for the year (ergo less CDs). The following songs have mostly been culled from radio and some are from the few albums I did buy this year (I'll try my best to arrange them by release date). Here we are:

Where Do We Begin (Mishka Adams, God Bless the Child) - Although I believe that this song was technically released last year, Candid Records did release a 'Special Edition' that included an additional four songs and a VCD within 2005. This edition features five songs that Mishka wrote (with a little help from her friend, guitarist/arranger Sammy Asuncion), which are the least jazzy songs on the album (being partly a covers album of jazz standards). 'Where Do We Begin,' the first single, is an instant favorite of mine, a lilting pop song at heart with a lovely melody. The song also features an excellent guitar solo by Sammy Asuncion.

Ang Pagkalas (Juan dela Cruz Band, single) - Recorded purposely for last June's reunion gig, this song finds the revered Pinoy Rock trio in fine form. This driving blues rocker is every bit a JdC classic. Pepe Smith is no doubt responsible for the casually thrown-together but witty lyrics that he delivers with a persistent slur while Mike Hanopol adds timeless OPM flourish to the sing-along chorus with his recognizable raspy voice. Lastly, Wally Gonzalez ably handles the instrumentation with powerful rawk guitars, backed by a superb band (including bass virtuoso Dondi Ledesma), alternating between verses, charged choruses, a guitar solo, and a brilliant intro/outro figure that won't sound out of place on a Rush song. Unfortunately, this wasn't released to the general public.

Helena (My Chemical Romance, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge) - A song that helped make MCR one of the most successful breakthrough acts of this year (although the album was released in 2004). Despite not really being a fan of the genre, this song already caught my attention with its immediateness - machine gun verses versus a melodic chorus and a freak-out midsection. Singer Gerard Way wrote this song for his grandmother after she died. The song didn't exactly resonate with me until my own grandmother died, and I found it unfair that Gerard Way could write a song and I couldn't. I found it more unfair that this song made him rich and famous.

We are All on Drugs (Weezer, Make Believe) - How can you not love this song for the title alone? Although chiefly a tongue-in-cheek anti-drug song, this pop-rock gem inadvertently became something of an anthem for drug use because of the catchy chorus. MTV had to ask singer and chief songwriter Rivers Cuomo to change the lyrics... hence 'We are All on Love.' Funnily, this song is one of the weirder ones to have been done by Weezer since those on their second album, Pinkerton, which, being deemed too inaccessible, almost ended their career in 1997. I did love it though, and the fact that this song is a hit only underscores my belief that Pinkerton was wrongly appreciated.

The Ordertaker (Parokya ni Edgar, Halina sa Parokya) - They're back, and they have definitely redeemed themselves from that foul Rexona jingle with this one. Essentially a spoof of System of a Down's Toxicity and Chop Suey, the band find themselves in familiar territory by singing about food once again. They're not exceptionally gifted at playing their instruments or with songwriting, and you you can even call them formulaic, but nobody can deny their brilliance at reinventing themselves within the same formula. Admittedly though, it's a very good formula, one that appeals both to pop radio and to rock fans, but also one that lesser artists would have found very constricting.

Production Number (Itchyworms, Noontime Show) - I have to admit that I wouldn't have picked up this album if I didn't know these guys personally, but Noontime Show is proof that pop doesn't have to be necessarily evil. It's certainly an ambitious project, being a concept album that stands as a critique, ironically, to popular culture and mass media. Who are they kidding though? They evidently love pop and noontime shows. They also definitely watch them, as Production Number will attest - a 10-minute-something song that parodies the ridiculous TV fare that the network variety shows churn out. As an album closer, it's difficult to top one that makes a medley not only of the album's better songs (sung by mock actions stars and off-key artistas) but of songs written specifically to lampoon phenomena as diverse as boy bands, showbands, April Boy, Lito Camo, and Asianovela themes, among others.

The Suffering (Coheed and Cambria, Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness) - Although considered prog and emo, all of CoCa's hits are short, sunny rock songs that sound almost like pop-punk sung by an alterna-chick. It's easy to confuse them with another superb band, The Mars Volta, since both have very prog leanings and feature singers with Latino names, high-pitched voices and big afros. Unlike The Mars Volta, who tend to be more psychedelic and mysterious, CoCa come off as very likable chaps who revel in their geekness (their songs tell a continuing story involving two characters, aptly named Coheed and Cambria, who figure in a sci-fi epic being told in a span of four albums). The Suffering is a cleverly crafted song, which, despite the title, does not at all describe listening to Coldplay. The lyrics, though, are something I have yet to make sense of.

One Way Ticket (The Darkness, One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back) - UK's The Darkness, purveyors of 'rock-based music of exceptional quality,' have come back with a second album that takes off from their excellent 2003 album. The difference this time is that they have a much bigger budget, and they clearly spared no cent in recording this one. The rock n' roll hooks are back, polished with everything we hate to love about 80s cock rock. This first single alone features a pan flute intro, a sitar solo, a continuous cowbell track and all the nuances that made their first album a hit, particularly the urgent AC/DC riffing and Justin Hawkins's undeniable falsetto. It also features what can be the biggest chorus of the year with the smartest dumb lyrics on the planet.

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'rock-based music of exceptional quality'? WTF? Mwahaha! Where did you read that comment from?
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