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I had the chance to stumble upon the Philippines indie scene recently and came away very impressed. The only cd I have right now is the Mutual Admiration Society compilation by definition records. Three tracks stand out the most: It Will Never Last(Forever) by Soft Pillow Kisses, Wide Awake by Apple Orchard and In the Meantime by Colour Contest(They are all from the first three tracks in the compilation).

It Will Never Last (Forever) starts off with a slow build up of low electric synth and quiet guitars strumming in the background. What pleasantly surprises me the most was when Apple Miranda’s lushy vocals start to blend in; it reminded me of Nina Persson of The Cardigans! Yes it has that shimmering melancholic edge with an inspired 60s feel, brimming with melodic and warm vocal tones. “ I wonder why I couldnt hold you tight. Blissful and yet I m feeling like I m going to cry. Forever seems just like another dream. Lie there by these feelings from within”. Yes the lyrics is sad but the song/her voice is so very sweet and all the more makes it more delicate; the chorus is breezy too with male and female vocals singing in harmonious unison. Strange enough, the song sounds “indie” but yet also definitely radio friendly for any pop fans.

I am most impressed with Wide Awake by the Apple Orchard. Dare I say that Ryan Marquez’s voice sounds like Bobby Wratten? (Is that why the Apple Orchard (the Band) is named after the the Field Mice’s debut gig?) Yes, Ryan’s non-timid stylished voice is all that cooing and sexy. OK, the track kicks off with a slow-tempo drum machine beat. The beat keeps repeating on a loop; and its built on soft rhythmic guitars. The song is short and simple but Ryan’s non-chalant boyish (hmm... I wonder how he looks like in real life) vocals gives the song a cool “edgy” feel to it. Towards the end of it, the bass guitar (Dale Marquez) strums in during the last minute and the song ends appropriately. Short and sweet but the beat still lingers in my head. Personally, Wide Awake is that kind of song that I want to listen to when I am driving home alone at night, its dark outside and the weather’s stormy: “And theres a light on the road, keeps you safe when you are all alone”; and with Ryan’s seductive voice swooning in the background, is the perfect companionship for those alone moments or in any case for anyone who has a liking for pretty, infectious pop. Note: Ryan will be releasing an Ep with a different band, Carnival Park in Shelflife later this year.

The fourth track: In the Meantime by Colour Contest has a nice bossa-nova 60s feel. A plethora of percussion instruments: the Tambourines, the horns, together with a nice background of quiet guitar chords, soft keyboards, vibraphones and “feathery” drum beats - all creates a very loungy feel. It has that kind of feel good and relaxing pop tunes that makes you sit up and listen, moving your head sideways and tapping your feet to the gentle rhythm. After listening to their 2nd songon the compilation (Me & your Melanie), I gather Colour Contest produces a delightful collection of sunshine, soft, and easy listening pop; and the sunny vocals of Richard Olaguera complements with the perfectly arranged songs too. It has been quoted before that Laura Watling of the Autocollants listed them as one of her favourite bands (including Soft Pillow Kisses).

The rest of the songs in The Mutual Admiration Society cd are pretty good. The Fantasy Lights has rhythmic lead guitars with mid paced drum beats; but the vocals are pretty raw. In contrast, Skies of Ember creates a nice quiet etheral feel in the background with guitars as the main element; and the vocals sounding a bit like Mat Flint of Revolver.

I definitely would recommend the Mutual Admiration Society compilation to all indie fans; especially the songs by Soft Pillow Kisses and The Apple Orchard are good enough reasons to buy this cd.

Simon Loh
Now You're Just Being Ridiculous (Zine-Singapore)
July 2002