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Punch Liwanag

Serious side

AUDIO JUNKIE: Banda Ni Kleggy returns with new album “Medyo Serious/Semi-Formal (Ang Album Na May Dalawang Title)” that will likely surprise fans who are used to the group’s “fun” music. As the title puts it, here are frontman Kleggy Abaya, guitarists Rye Sarmiento, guitarist Berns Cuevas, bassist Bobby Campos and new drummer Raffy Bonifacio at their most sober yet. “Naging observant lang kami sa paligid namin” explains Rye. Oh. Well, “Kurakot” is a rocking, guitar-driven number tackling corruption. And the band shows its wistful side on “Radyo.” As for “1-2-3,” some spoken word poetry against minor-key faux classical music was in order. You want sentimental? Check out the metaphors on “Mandirigma.” They also try mixing synths and indigenous musical instruments on “Pare-Pareho” coming up with a tuneful, world music tinged number featuring Bayang Barrios singing in …

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Tight and rhythmic

AUDIO JUNKIE: Toe is a four-piece instrumental rock band that hails from Tokyo, Japan. The members are guitarists Mino Takaaki and Yamazaki Hirokazu, bassist Yamane Satoshi and drummer Kashikura Takashi. Known for their intricate instrumental work, they have a solid following all over Asia. Toe music is post-rock or math-rock specializing in melodic, guitar-driven groove music. Their latest album is “Hear You” from last year. A melodic pattern intersects with sparse, jazzy scalar improvisations on the album opener “Premonition,” which segues into “A Desert Of Human.” It’s standard Toe: They start off with a tense-sounding theme, build on it, then the drums come in and before you know it, your head is trying to keep up with all that is going on. Toe’s music also usually starts with clean-tone guitar interplay between Takaaki and …

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Got betrayed? Have some lemonade

At this point in her career,  Beyoncé Knowles -Carter can do pretty much whatever she wants especially with the kind of music she produces. Her new album “Lemonade” is prime example of that. After her last album alienated some (but not her true believers) with the pop star going Frank Ocean on her listeners, Beyoncé goes back to basics of sorts here. Not “Single Ladies”- basic, but more organic. Beyoncé’s latest has a more pronounced groove and the songs are tight again. The theme is solid, and her singing, well, she’s at her best. “Lemonade” is about betrayal. It starts slow and low-key on “Pray You Can Hear Me” but by the second track, “Hold Up” (where she sampled Andy Williams’ strings from “Can’t Get Used To Loving You” and borrowed from NYC …

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Doling out hope in a cracked world

AUDIO JUNKIE: Grammy-award winning rock band Switchfoot continues to progress with their brand of soulful alt-rock as heard on their 10th album “Where The Light Shines Through.” Singer-guitarist Jon Foreman, bassist Tim Foreman, drummer Chad Butler, keyboardist-guitarist Jerome Fontamillas and lead guitarist Drew Shirley have been sure and steady for the past decade since their breakthrough 2003 album “The Beautiful Letdown.” They have been releasing an album every two or three years, and touring non-stop in between. As expected, the regimen has made them a tight unit. Kicking off with “Holy Water,” the band exhibits excellent dynamics, with stripped down electric pianos building into full-on wall of sound guitars. While they could still be mainly classified as an alt-rock band, Switchfoot is more liberal with styles nowadays. “Float” (whose music video was filmed …

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AUDIO JUNKIE: The ‘Ramble’ Man

Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard may not be as big a name as, say, Jason Mraz, but he seems as talented at least going by his latest album “Didn’t He Ramble.” Mixing blues, folk and soul, Hansard, best known for his work on the 2007 movie “Once” (where he won an Oscar for the movie theme tune “Falling Slowly”), sounds comfortable switching from one style to the next. Opening with the ambient, redemption-themed “Grace Beneath The Pines,” Hansard seems keen on keeping things simple for “Didn’t He Ramble.” It goes on with the folk-blues tinged “Wedding Ring,” then the country-esque “Winning Streak.” Hansard also dishes out some Irish folk storytelling on “McCormack’s Wall,” before channeling Bruce Springsteen on the subdued but pretty-sounding workingman’s ditty “Paying My Way.” More of that singer-songwriter stuff comes by way …

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Reliving Beatlemania

The Beatles returns in the Ron Howard-directed rock documentary “Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years,” which chronicles the early years of the Fab Four’s career, focusing on the time when they were performing live seemingly non-stop. The film starts with a clear 1963 concert footage of the band performing at ABC Cinema in Manchester. It is said to be the first colored footage of a Beatles show. Among songs they performed at the gig were rousing versions of “She Loves You” and “Twist And Shout.” From there, the documentary follows the band from their residency at the famed Cavern Club in Liverpool, to their final concert at Candlestick Park stadium in San Francisco. Howard and his team did good seeking out the best available footage, keenly overseeing its cleanup and digitization. …

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Touch of hale transfigures Sarah’s song

Alt-rock guitarist Roll Martinez of Hale has crossed over to mainstream pop by writing the Sarah Geronimo song “The Great Unknown.” In an exclusive interview with Bulletin Entertainment, Martinez said it was made possible by their common friend Liz Uy, who hooked them up. He said “The Great Unknown” is “pretty much about life and how it’s both beautiful and uncertain.” In a recent interview with Billboard.ph., Geronimo described the song as “nakakaiyak.” Asked if he specifically wrote “The Great Unknown” for Geronimo, Martinez answered “Yes and no.” “No because I don’t write objectively. I don’t really have any foresight when it comes to writing songs besides being honest with myself and making it the best it could be. But yes because I was looking forward to working with Sarah.” The guitarist, who wrote Hale’s biggest …

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AUDIO JUNKIE: King gets Royal treatment

The King of Rock and Roll gets a makeover of sorts in the newly released “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.” It may sound like a laborious undertaking but the result is worth the effort. The Royal Philharmonic does superb work here. Hearing the rising string section lead into the rousing chorus of “Burning Love” or how it adorns the syrupy ballad “Love Me Tender,” right away we knew the collection is going to be a good one. This is also one of those instances when the adage “less is more” applies. The Royal Philharmonic didn’t go to town with the arrangements. They blended seamlessly into the songs and it worked like magic as it made listeners focus on what made Elvis an icon: His singular voice. …

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A serving of soul

Jazz vocalist Gregory Porter is good at many things. Originally into sports, Porter was a varsity football player in high school. Following a shoulder injury, he bid football goodbye to become a chef at a Brooklyn, New York restaurant. He didn’t stop there. He got into acting soon after, landing a role in “It Ain’t Nothing But The Blues” on Broadway. But what the 44-year-old does best is singing. Porter was a Grammy nominee in the Best Jazz Vocal category for his 2010 debut album “Water.” He was nominated the same category in 2012 before finally getting the plum for his third release “Liquid Spirit.” Hearing him for the first time on his latest album titled “Take Me To The Alley,” we can’t help but think he’s the best thing we've discovered so far …

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AUDIO JUNKIE: Ballads, dance and a bit of tenderness

Jai Waetford is the third runner-up on “X-Factor Australia” 2013 who has since made inroads in showbiz, both as recording artist and actor. His latest album, “Heart Miles,” sees him wading into familiar sounding pop not unlike that of Justin Bieber’s. Waetford’s voice even recalls that of the Canadian popstar’s (think of Bieber’s “Love Yourself” and you’ll have an idea how Waetford sounds like vocally). Then again, Waetford is no copycat. He can croon in a distinctly R&B-inflected style that is quite likable. Hot tracks in the album include the ballad “Waves” and “Words.” He picks up the pace on the Calvin Harris-influenced club track “The Nights We Won’t Remember.” On the title track, he samples Trinidadian-German Eurodance artist Haddaway’s “What Is Love.” The mid-paced Eurodance beats of “Living Not Dreaming” sounds to …

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