Monday, December 10, 2007

Under Southern Lights: Above Everything Else

It’s been more than three weeks since I bought the album and I haven’t stopped singing its songs since. With genuine concern, I thought that I should probably stop irritating everyone around me and just let my raves out in writing. So here I go.

The fourth and latest album from Cebu-based rock band Urbandub, and the only one with more than one word as a title, Under Southern Lights boasts of how solid the band has become. In a recent magazine article, vocalist Gabby Alipe, described the new album as “not as pop as Influence and not as heavy and moody as Embrace.” True enough, listeners will find that although the lyrics are heartrending and painful, the thick melodies and chugging beats will leave you with a surprisingly optimistic and good vibe. So who’s calling them emo?

Bringing back their hard, heavy riffs and signature rhythmic shifts, Urbandub
invades the scene with their music clearly defined and mastered. Even as they experiment with synths and electro beats (Inside the Mind of a Killer) the band, musically sounds more cohesive than ever, with each member demonstrating as Jack Black would put it: “face-melting” skill.

For this album, drummer Janjan Mendoza deserves a Drummer of the Year nomination at the very least. His rapid rolls can summon enough energy to raise people from the dead. And I don’t mean devil stuff. The crash and bangs that seem to come out of nowhere jump right into the song as if the gaps were cut and measured for it.

As for guitarist John Dinopol and bassist Lalay Lim, “galing” is a fucking understatement. As usual. Listening to them just makes you want to shake your head and curse. And don’t even get me started on their live performances. Then there’s Gabby. I don’t know if it’s the sincerity in his voice or the harsh bluntness of the lyrics, but hearing his words will not only make you sympathize with the guy but make you feel like slapping the bitch that hurt him as well. Oh but in a (ahem) happy, friendly sort of way. Hehe.

Written in a more straight-forward manner, the band tells it as it is. The play of words and touch of Alipe’s poetry is still there but songs like “Inside the Mind of a Killer” and “Evidence” share what could have been actual thoughts and conversations during a really tough and recent period in his life. No matter how personal these experiences were though, fans and listeners will find themselves as I mentioned, sympathizing and relating to Gabby’s sentiments. And, instead of slashing their wrists should be bobbing their heads and raising their fists in Saguijo.

The story the album tells is quite clear, and although the presence of the light and bouncy “Life is Easy” seems to be a misfit, it doesn’t deviate from what this album says about the band: that they kick ass.

Launched with an equally kick ass (yes I’m running out of appropriate adjectives) music video directed by Pancho Esguerra, their LSS-inducing single “Guillotine” is out now and playing at the top of the charts. Knowing the taste of the mainstream this may be an all-too-optimistic statement, but that is exactly where this album belongs.

*images courtesy of


Anonymous said...

Not entirely UNBIASED I would say... They are definitely NOT BAD , and I'd consider an introduction to them (my own especially) am incredibly positive thing

Pao ;)

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