Stereodeal launches their first album “Singularity”!


Last Saturday marked a major milestone in Stereodeal‘s history as they launched their first album Singularity. The album has been almost 6 years in the making, which included several lineup changes and founder Adrian Arcega almost quitting altogether. But the band persevered and the result is definitely something worthy of being added to your music library.

@stereodeal #Singularity album launch is about to start! Aw yess! Contrats guys! 😀 <3

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on


The launch happened at Route 196, a cozy (is that a flattering adjective for a bar?) and rocking little bar along Katipunan. Stereodeal received great support with The Purplechickens, Oktaves, and Peso Movement paving the way. I confess that I didn’t get to watch them play as I was busy manning the merchandise booth.

@stereodeal #Singularity merchandise table! #swag #album #shirt <3

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on

Look at all the pretty albums and shirts! Adrian did such a fantastic job with the album cover – which became the shirt design too – that I can say, without any bias, that I’d wear the shirt even without knowing the band. Haha. Adrian Arcega (vocals, lead guitar), Dax Gonzaga (bass), Dax Balmeo (rhythm guitar, synthesizers), and Marie de Guzman (drums) make such beautiful music together. I love them.

– Sori Marie, hindi ka pala nakasama dun sa pic. 🙁 #Stereodeal A photo posted by Japo Anareta (@japoanareta) on

Marie isn’t pictured but don’t fret. She just avoided the “Japo Curse”. Legend has it that whenever Japo takes Stereodeal’s official band photo, the drummer in the photo quits 😛 Side story: Marie was sessioning for Stereodeal after previous drummer Chris Cantada had to quit for health reasons. Adrian, Dax, and Dax proposed to Marie on bended knee with the question “Will you be our permanent drummer?”. Marie says this was the first time any guy kneeled for her 😛

Stereodeal played all the songs off their album, starting with the sensual Hush and their first single Relentless, capping it off with a one-two punch courtesy of the epic stylings of Hypertime and the fierce kick-in-the-gut that is Grundy. In between were The Spin, August, New Jersey, and 01000011 (also known as Binary). Judging by the jumping and the cheering, I’m pretty sure those who came to the launch had an excellent time 🙂

If you weren’t able to attend the Singularity launch and get your CD there, don’t fret! Stereodeal’s playing at Saguijo on January 28 and they’ll be bringing copies of Singularity and shirts. You can also buy the CD and shirt online via their official website. For digital purchases, you can get them via Bandcamp and Amazon (iTunes and Spotify streaming are in the works).

MyMusicStore vs OPM2Go: which one is worth your time?

This year saw the beta opening of two new digital music stores in the Philippines: MyMusic Store (run by the big labels) and opm2go (co-owned by Ogie Alcasid). Well, three if you count iTunes FINALLY opening up its catalog to the Philippines. Will MyMusic Store and opm2go finally change the way Filipinos treat digital music? Problems with their predecessors include high prices and lack of payment options. I decided to try both stores to see for myself.

First up, the heavy hitter: MyMusic Store

MyMusic Store is a collaboration between the major labels so the store prominently features their signed artists. They have both local and foreign acts. You can browse and search by artist, album, song, and genre. There are no dedicated “OPM” or “Indie” sorting tabs in the main menu.

  • Interface: Tolerable but not user-friendly.
  • Searching: Searching their database felt like forever.
  • Catalog: Huge catalog of major label artists but hardly any independent artists.
  • Prices: Foreign artists are usually P35 per song. Local artists range from P15 to P25 per song. Spongecola, a local artist with a major label, was P25 per song. I’m not sure who sets the prices for indie bands. Up Dharma Down and Techy Romantics are both indie bands but UDD tracks were P15 each while Techy Romantics were P25 per track.
  • Audio quality: Low quality mp3s. The Rascal Flatts song I bought (don’t judge me) was encoded at only 160 kbps. The UDD songs were 256 kbps. RIP-OFF!!! If I knew beforehand that the audio files were like this, I NEVER would have bought them. Another capital sin? Some of the songs had missing ID3 tags and album art.
  • Payment methods: MyMusic Store e-PINS (from Load Central retailers), Paypal, credit card (processed via Paypal), and MyMusic Store gift cards. I like that their credit card payment option results in one-is-to-one conversion (Php 100 credit card charge gets you PhP 100 store credit). No option to pay via mobile phone.
  • Downloading: You have 48 hours from the time of purchase to download your songs and save them to your computer.

Verdict: Convenient payment scheme but with the prices they’re charging and the generally low quality files, you’re better off buying the physical CD unless there’s only one track you must have.

The challenger: opm2go

The name says it all: all Original Pilipino Music, all the time. There are no foreign artists in the store. You can browse and search by artist, album, song, and genre. Bonus points: there’s a separate “Indie” section that’s highlighted in the main menu.

  • Interface: Generally the same as MyMusic but somehow found it easier to navigate.
  • Searching: Faster response than MyMusic, though that might be because they have a smaller catalog.
  • Catalog: Not a lot of major label artists. The ones I’ve seen so far are from Universal (Ogie, Regine Velasquez, Gary Valenciano, etc.) and Vicor. On the upside, lots and lots of indies!
  • Prices: Songs range from P10 to P15. Indie songs are usually P10 each, while the ones from major labels are P15. Something I noticed: Techy Romantics tracks were P25 each at MyMusic Store while only P10 each at opm2go. What gives? Does MyMusic get a bigger share of the pie compared to opm2go?
  • Audio quality: Inconsistent. The Rock Rizal album and Chelo Aestrid songs I got were 320 kbps and 256 kbps, while the Techy Romantics songs were 160 kbps. Why is this? Who’s responsible for providing the files for download? And I was all set to rejoice at the high quality audio files. ID3 tags were also in place, with lyrics too!
  • Payment methods: GoCard PINs (available in convenience stores, Astroplus, Odyssey, and National Bookstore branches), Smart Pasabayad (P61 for P60 worth of store credit, deducted from your Smart or TNT mobile load), or credit card (processed by Google Checkout, $2.99 [~Php 125] for Php 100 store credit). I wanted to pay via credit card but the processing fee was too steep so chose Smart Pasabayad instead. Payment was quick and convenient. I only wish you could set the denomination.
  • Downloading: You can download your purchases up to 4 times, provided it’s to the same computer each time.

Verdict: Was about to fall absolutely in love because of the reasonable prices and great catalog of Filipino independent artists but the inconsistent file quality threw me. Wish they had a wider selection for the major label artists but that’s unlikely to ever happen.

So, where should you go?

If you’re after the mainstream artists (both foreign and local), go to MyMusic Store because they have the more extensive catalog. Unfortunately, you’ll be paying through the nose for the songs and getting poor quality files. The whole setup feels like either 1) the online store is a lame attempt at selling digitally and was doomed to fail from the start, or 2) they’re cheating customers who prefer to buy single tracks or digital in general, since a foreign CD is usually Php 450, equivalent to only 12 digital songs. The 48 hour download window is also ridiculous. The only good thing I can say about MyMusic Store is that they make it very easy for you to part with your money. I’m just going to finish off the rest of my P500 gift card then never go back.

If you’re after local independent artists, then opm2go is it. Good selection, good price, easy to navigate, decent payment options. However, there are still some things that need to be addressed: the consistency in audio quality (for mp3s, it should be 320 kbps or nothing), more reasonable credit card charges, and the four download maximum. The four download maximum is only slightly less ridiculous than the 48 hour download window of MyMusic. I expect unlimited access to my purchased songs. Another thing I’m wishing for is that the songs be made available in other audio formats. One of the things I love about Bandcamp is that you can get your music in a variety of formats: 320 kbps, FLAC, AAC, and the like. Sure, most people don’t know the difference but it’s still important to the few people who are particular. Fix these problems and opm2go just might become my new best friend.

Rocking out with “Rock of Ages” by Atlantis Productions

So. The reason for the conspicuous lack of posts for the past 10 days is because I’ve been on my days off and didn’t have the energy to write. Haha. Ironically, I rarely get to rest on my days off because of the so much stuff I have to do. Haha. Case in point:

  • June 14 – arrive in Manila, pick up shirts from printer, ingress for Toycon 2012
  • June 15 – ingress of Toycon 2012, man the Geekerie booth in Toycon until 5:30pm, pack up, rush to Makati for “Rock of Ages” with the Aids and friends
  • June 16 – Toycon Day 2, man the booth from 9am to 9pm, drop dead from exhaustion
  • June 17 – Toycon Day 3, wear two costumes between 10am to 7pm, gratefully remove high-heeled boots after 9 hours of wearing them, pack up the booth, finally arrive home at 11:30 pm.
  • June 18 – recover from Toycon, accept my Mom’s coupon for a free Swedish aromatherapy massage, pass out from sheer bliss after 20 minutes.

But back up a bit. I said “Rock of Ages”. Yes, my friends and I watched the opening night performance of “Rock of Ages” by Atlantis Productions in the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza in Makati. It stars Nyoy Volante, Vina Morales, Jett Pangan, Jamie Wilson, Aiza Seguerra, and MiG Ayesa and IT IS GLORIOUS.

Yes, I liked it enough to buy the souvenir shirt. It’s my first souvenir shirt from a musical ever!

I have seriously never had so much fun watching a musical before (though “Avenue Q” by Atlantis is a close second). With classic rock songs from the 80’s as its soundtrack, it’s almost impossible not to sing along.

  • MiG Ayesa is perfect as Stacee Jaxx, which shouldn’t be a surprise since he played Stacee during the US tour and on Broadway. His part in the “Don’t Stop Believing” finale is both awe-inspiring and hilarious. And yes, he looks really good in his costumes 😀 *fans self*
  • I loved Jett Pangan as Lonny! It’s a great departure from the dramatic roles he usually does (I last saw him in “Next to Normal”).
  • Aiza Seguerra is queen *bows down* She’s great as Regina and equally great as one of the strippers in the Venus Club. I must admit that it was slightly weird to see her like that since I grew up watching her on TV as a cutie pie child star. Haha.
  • Nyoy Volante is still cute. Heehee. His rock star scream is not quite there yet but hopefully he’ll sound better as more shows pass.
  • Vina Morales’ dance moves are impressive 😀
  • During Jamie Wilson and Jett Pangan’s duet of “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, I suddenly remembered Patrick Reichenbach and Robby Sunico of Clubb Dredd 😛

Something I noticed though. While the individual singers are all very good, they don’t blend very well as an ensemble. I mean, of course the ensemble singing is good, but it’s not great. Their voices don’t seem to reinforce each other.

One bonus of watching on opening night:

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! *dance of fangirl joy*

Yes, I got a photo with the Lea Salonga. GYAAAAHHHHH *spins around in joy* I also got to share elevator space with her!!! If you don’t know who she is, go Google her and find out why I love her so much. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her in three musicals: “Miss Saigon” (in the CCP), “Baby”, and “They’re Playing Our Song”. Looking forward to watching her in “God of Carnage” this July. I was too tongue-tied to wish her luck with “Allegiance: 🙁

“Rock of Ages” runs from June 15 to July 8, 2012 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in the RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

“Last December” by Gabriel Lynch

[bandcamp track=788995010 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

I know nothing about this guy except that he’s an independent musician on an Asian tour that includes the Philippines. He played at Conspiracy, 70’s Bistro, and The Bar at 1951 in Malate. After hearing this song, I can say that he’s a brilliant independent musician.

Despite what I post, it’s not always happy in paradise. At present, I’m stuck between a master’s degree that I don’t have the drive to finish but have to somehow because I don’t have the money to pay the funding agency’s fine for not finishing (all the money DOST ever gave me + 12% interest) and a job that I genuinely love but want more out of. There are the good days and then there are the bad ones. Lately, it seems like the bad days are overwhelming the good ones. Then I remember that I have friends and loved ones who love me and care for me and will be there for me despite the distance.

Describe a picture perfect day to me
Tell me all about the beauty in the things you’d see
Recount your favourite moments from the past
Leave nothing out and save the sweetest bits until last
And try to remember all the detail
And find new meaning in a joke even though the punchline failed

Well the future’s so demanding
And it’s hard enough today
Every month feels like December while we wait and try to find another way

So while we reminisce about the times that it all when wrong
We’ll keep on looking for a sign
We’ll pause while you recollect your thoughts
While you find the place that your story got cut short
And I will sit in silence while you do
Then I’ll describe a picture perfect day to you

But we’re strong now more than ever and there’s nothing they can say
And we’ll make it like December, just you wait
We’re going to find another way

Yes, there’s nightlife in El Nido


I got to stay in El Nido town last night with friends from work. Yaaaay! After meeting up with even more friends from work and eating and drinking, we decided to head to a bar for some live music.

Contrary to the usual Manila schedule, El Nido is pretty much dead on Sundays. We ended up in Balay Tubay, a laid-back place that plays reggae and rock music. As there weren’t many customers, some customers took advantage of the live band to sing some rockeoke. That would be Jancent belting out a cover of “Wherever You Will Go” 😛

We woke up at 5:30am to catch the 6am boat back to the resort. We caught Midtown Bakery serving their first customers of the day and scored some freshly baked pandesal. Yum!

A kickass night with Death Cab for Cutie

I like Death Cab for Cutie. I really do. Ben Gibbard’s songs pack a wallop and lead to exclamations of “T*ngina THIS!!!” from listeners. That said, 1) I was only introduced to them five years ago, 2) their discography is not imprinted on my brain, and 3) while I love them, they are not my absolute favorite band of all time (but they are in the Top 5). However, I do appreciate great music and a great show and WOW Death Cab’s Manila concert gave those in spades.

Some random stuff first: the NBC Tent was the perfect venue for them in terms of capacity. There were only two sections – VIP and Gold – so even if you bought the less expensive Gold ticket, you still had a pretty good view of the stage. Also, while Death Cab is an amazing band, (unfortunately) I don’t think they would have been able to fill a larger venue (e.g. Araneta). Because of the small venue and the (relatively) fewer people, the concert felt like a larger club gig sans the alcohol.

Aids' birthday gift from me. He cried during the concert.

I don’t know how else to describe the concert except to say that it was an awesome show that was Worth Every Centavo of my hard-earned money and the pain in my feet. Goodness. The last time I danced and yelled this much during a concert was the Eraserheads reunion three years ago.

Ben Gibbard himself. Hey, he cut his hair!

Continue reading “A kickass night with Death Cab for Cutie”

Mr. A-Z in Manila!

I’m not really one to gush about music but I am making an exception this time because Mr. Jason Mraz is my favorite musician EVER. Yes, EVER. (John Mayer ranks second.) Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan yet when he first came to Manila and performed in the NBC Tent so I missed that chance. Since then, his songs have become staples of my computer, mobile phone, and iPod. His songs are stamped with his trademark mix of witty but heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies. And it’s not just his music that makes him so special. He’s known to be pro-environment and pro-LGBT equality. In short, I’m a huge fan.

Now, I’ve been waiting to see him live for years. Yep, years. I’ve seen videos on YouTube so I know that he’s an amazing live performer – even better than his studio recordings. And now, he’s finally coming back to Manila. Two things that I absolutely love about this concert: 1) it’s going to be in the Araneta Coliseum so it’s going to be indoors (unlike Mayer’s concert, which was held in the pouring rain) and 2) ticket prices are reasonable. The most expensive tickets are priced at P3,710 compared to Mayer’s P12,000 (for MOA’s open parking lot!) and Maroon 5’s P7,000 (for SMX). But when things seem too good to be true, then they usually are. The concert’s on October 30 but I’m already slated to take my monthly days off on Oct 19-25 for a trip to Hong Kong. It’s highly improbable that my boss will let me go home a second time “just” for this, especially since I need to take my November days off starting Nov 4 for my cousin’s wedding. So there. I’ll be missing Mr. A-Z a second time due to unfortunate timing.

Hold me. I’m about to cry.

No really. I’m sniffling.