Author Topic: Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best  (Read 4500 times)

Offline bog chihukbo

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Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best
« on: October 12, 2018, 09:55:54 AM »
Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best

Rivermaya never got rejected by record labels because their songs weren’t “pop enough.” They never experienced selling tickets only so they could play in Club Dredd. If there’s anything naysayers had to say about Rivermaya, it’s that they were manufactured (they were the brainchild of Chito Roño and Liza Nakpil), they never toiled the underground and thus lacks street cred when compared to Club Dredd and Mayric’s alums like Alamid, Yano, Teeth & Eraserheads. In that sense, they were more like the Introvoyz. Only they’re better than Introvoyz at everything—charisma, songwriting, creativity, etc.

Rivermaya is also known for their perpetually shifting line-up. First, Perf de Castro was gone, then Bamboo. Then, the band made what I consider two of the best rock albums from our shore. Then, Nathan Azarcon left and three new members came in. During the ’90s, Rivermaya was the de facto number two band behind the Eraserheads. After Eheads’ “graduation time” in 2002, Rivermaya were finally the numero uno. But Rico Blanco & Co.’s reign was rather short as “Noypi” announced the return of Bamboo, which features two former bandmates Nathan and Bamboo. Needless to say, by the mid-aughts, Bamboo was just more popular than Rivermaya 2.0.

Like the Eraserheads, Rivermaya never made a bad album—that is, until Rico Blanco left the group. Unlike the Eheads, they are still around. Though I wish that they just move on like the former Eheads did. And so without further ado, and with the exception of Remixed and You’ll Be Safe Here (Asian Edition) which are compilation albums, here’s every album Rivermaya released from 1994 to 2017, ranked from worst to best.


Closest Thing To Heaven (2009) Was hoping this would be better, that this would be more cohesive, rather than a work of a band still trying to figure out their sound. Rivermaya, with CTTH, ticks off that cohesive checkbox, with Japs Sergio and Mike Elgar leading the band to a more aggressive sound. Better? If only they haven’t forgot to bring in the songs this time around. At best, the songs sound like proto-Peso Movement (Sergio’s riff-tastic then-future band) dressed in Rivermaya clothing. At worst, one song perfectly sums it up: “Ambotsa”—as in “ambot sa imo”. Which is to say, Closest Thing To Heaven, is possibly the closest thing to Rivermaya catalog-hell. (Sergio/Escueta/Elgar/Fernandez)


Sa Kabila Ng Lahat (2017) Title says it all. They may be “Banda Ng Bayan” no more, but still, they soldiered on. And made this album. No matter what. In spite of it all. One time bassist/singer Norby David may or may not be the whole reason Panatang Makabanda has its share of goodies. With him gone and with Rivermaya’s former/original bassist back in the fold, we should expect something more. Or not. The resulting songs either sounds like Bamboo without Bamboo (i.e., Hijo) or B-level Rivermaya sans Rico Blanco. (Azarcon/Escueta/Elgar/Peralta)


Buhay (2008) The word “maskara” had a bad reputation of signalling an upcoming downward spiral. Eraserheads went down that road a year after releasing “Maskara”, the first single off Carbon Stereoxide, their last LP. Rivermaya was more or less on the same route already after Rico Blanco left, but Bagong Liwanag was such a beacon, that I somehow expected them to go on despite the “rockstar excesses” that followed. Like Carbon Stereoxide, Buhay is kind of disjointed, split in different directions. Only unlike the ‘Heads, these Maya sound like they’re actually having fun. “Maskara”, the unlikely second single, represents the overall scattered feel of the album. That said, Buhay is decent collection, if a LOT less focused than the last EP. The band seem to have interesting sound ideas they couldn’t just mix into a cohesive whole, or string them into few memorable singles that made Rivermaya’s early albums such huge sellers. A few tracks worth of notice: A-side “Sugal Ng Kapalaran”, and B-sides “Nice To”, “Closer”, “All For You”, and “Kemikal Reaction”, with the latter echoing the same sentiments that fueled “Sayang”, Japs Sergio’s heartfelt plea to the fans. (Sergio/Escueta/Elgar/Fernandez)


Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo (2006) In no way is this lesser than Panatang Makabanda or less consistent than Trip. It’s not. The only reason this is lower on the list is that this is mainly a covers album. And I’d rather recommend the band’s originals than their version of 10 of Another Kind. Dean’s December, Silos, Ethnic Faces, Violent Playground—if you haven’t read about or heard of them, why bother?

The only track here that isn’t a cover is still being played on ABS-CBN’s late night news. Music-wise, it’s by-the-numbers Rivermaya, and understandably so—it’s one of Rico Blanco’s last songs before he left the group. Still one has to give props to Blanco for this line alone: Hindi alamat hindi konsepto ang bayanihang minana mo. The rest of the album is a recreated time capsule, almost exact carbon copies of the originals down to the old magnetic tape hiccups. It plays like a mixtape recorded on your uncle’s two-deck cassette stereo, but with hi-fi quality.

And while it’s imperative to check their other—especially earlier—albums first, highlights such as the Rico Blanco-Kitchie Nadal duet in “Ilog”, the Wuds’ punk-rock classic (oxymoron?) “Inosente Lang ang Nagtataka”, the faithful renditions of “Never the Bright Lights” and Identity Crisis’ two minor hits, and the one that ends with “ang tatay mong kalbo”, are not to be missed. (Blanco/Sergio/Escueta/Elgar)


Panatang Makabanda (2013) The opening track and first single “Pilipinas…”, is as potent as any of Maya’s previous surging anthems, like “Liwanag Sa Dilim” or perhaps, Bamboo’s “Noypi”, if only the times aren’t seemingly cyclical, and more cynical now than before. “Tayo Lang Dalawa”, like “Malayang Magmahal”, is a actually better on the radio (or Spotify) than on TV, where it’s easier to imagine Marian Rivera’s still single and free. Where you don’t get to see her in the song’s music video, which by featuring the famous and best looking couple in the TV industry and recreating some of the most iconic scenes from famous movies, takes away some of the song’s magic and relatability. The album’s solid, with less skip-worthy tracks than Buhay. And with songs like “Can’t Hide Anymore” and “The Better One”, recalling the loose fun deeper cuts of the older Rivermaya albums, I’d put this ahead of Buhay by a pube or few, but not ahead of the EP Bagong Liwanag, which is still the band’s best album overall, post-Rico Blanco. (David/Escueta/Elgar/Peralta)


Bagong Liwanag (2007) This has to be the most perfect album Rivermaya have ever put out. That is, if one only considers x number of good to great songs over y, the total songs in the album. If that’s the case, this five out of five. There are only five cuts and all of them are good/great (ten actually, if you count all the minus-one versions, which you won’t have any use for, unless you once dreamed of filling in Rico Blanco’s shoes).

More than just a transition album between the previous and the post-Rico Blanco era, Bagong Liwanag is like Tuloy Ang Ligaya II, a bright new start, a brand new day. It’s an EP full of A-sides, which is rare—with the band fully recognizing what they lost (“Sayang”, “Olats”) yet still quite optimistic and excited about their rock n’ roll dreams (“Sumigaw”, “Banda Ng Bayan”), like they could actually do it forever. It’s a flawless record which I initially ranked higher than their less consistent albums (i.e., Trip, BTSAW). And features two of the band’s greatest singles (“Sayang”, “Banda Ng Bayan”). (Sergio/Escueta/Elgar)


Between the Stars and Waves (2003) This has two of the loveliest Rivermaya ballads/love songs ever written by–not Rico Blanco. I’m referring to Japs Sergio’s “Table for Two” and Mike Elgar’s “She” (She’s so fine it’s just amazing/ I can’t help but just keep staring). Fans and critics likened the album’s sound to Coldplay’s, which became an inside joke among former label-mates Itchyworms (they would refer to Rico or Rivermaya as Coldplay during radio guestings and interviews), which I would say is unfair to both Sergio and Elgar, who filled up more than two-thirds of the album and whose contributions hardly sounds like Coldplay. That said, they were also responsible for a number forgettable songs and fillers.

That’s OK. In the age of compact discs and MP3’s, skipping song(s) is easy unlike with tapes where one has to master the art of “fast-forwarding”. Let’s just pretend this album ends with “She”, then skip back to the first track and shower in the lush soundscapes of “Sunday Driving” (The sun blinks between the trees), get your heart trampled with “241” (I want to be near you but somebody owns you now), and fall in love all over again with “Balisong” (Never in my life have I ever been more sure/ So come on up to me and close the door/ Nobody’s made me feel this way be—fo-oh-oore/ You’re everything I wanted and moooooooooooore). (Blanco/Legazpi/Sergio/Escueta/Elgar)


Trip (1996) Verse. Chorus. Verse. Chorus. Good Solo. Bad Solo. Chorus. Coda. For most of Trip’s 56 minutes, Rivermaya followed this formula to a tee. And with most songs clocking at more than four minutes and with the drummer seemingly stuck at a fixed BPM most of the time, there are parts where Trip drags, becomes repetitive and somewhat predictable.

But Rico Blanco and Co. delivers hooks after hooks after hooks, catchy choruses after catchy choruses. Trip may have been formulaic, but the formula—slow quiet verse, followed by the punchy catchy chorus—works for the most part. And there’s a number of tracks to head-trip on: the upbeat opener “Princess of Disguise”, to the crazy creepy “Hilo” (Sa panaginip lang ako nakakatulog) the magical “Monopoly”, the poignant song about death (“Flowers”), and the epic folk finale “Panahon Na Naman”, which was also included the centennial compilation 1896: Ang Pagsilang. Then, you also have “Himala”, the album’s biggest hit, and “Kisapmata”, the first radio single.

Well, there are also stinkers: “Sunog”, which is the “heaviest” song in the album is both half-assed and overlong and “Is It Sunny Where You Are?” is quite possibly the most irritating Maya song of all, with its fake crowd noise, fake sounding guitar, on top of a really mediocre song. (Bamboo/Blanco/Azarcon/Escueta)

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Offline red lights

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Re: Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2018, 10:35:56 AM »

Agree sa Its Not Easy being Green as their best album! Galing ng pagkakasunod sunod ng track
Kahit na nasasaktan, Hindi pa rin mahindian