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Alamat Grows Stronger With New Single ‘kasmala’

July 22, 2021

The boys of Alamat have shifted to high gear. With the success of their debut single "kbye" now neatly tucked under their proverbial belts, members Taneo, Jao, Mo, Tomas, Valfer, R-Ji, Gami and Alas are ready to level up with the release of their new single titled "kasmala.""kasmala" is a disjointed word play on the Tagalog word "malakas" which means strong.This eight-member Pinoy pop group have kept busy and have been working hard since their debut early this year. Besides breaking the million-stream mark on YouTube with their "kbye" music video, Alamat has achieved a notable career milestone impressive for such a young act.They have the distinction of being the fastest OPM act to break into Billboard's Next Big Thing charts with their impressive Top 2 debut. Currently, they are the highest chart position for a new Pinoy act. Aside from that, Alamat has also impressed music tastemakers with their modern R&B-tinged dance pop sound mixed with a style that is distinctly rooted in Filipino aesthetics.For their brand-new single "kasmala," Alamat has raised the stakes sonically. To keep up with the times, their new song is produced by a Swiss music production team called The Kennel. Viva Records tapped the Stockholm-based music team described as "one of the most successful independent music publishers, having written and produced music more than a hundred No. 1 chart hits." And of course, in typical Alamat fashion of highlighting proudly Pinoy, writing the lyrics for "kasmala" is ace songwriter Thyro Alfaro. Essentially, the new single is a collaborative mix between the Swedish music production outfit and Filipino musicians and songwriters.

A Viva Records exec describes it as "Top caliber music production used by K-pop acts meets the best Pinoy lyricist of his generation. And throw in a talented, disciplined, stylish and good-looking act like Alamat, it's a dynamite mix!"Thematically, "kasmala" champions the indomitable Pinoy spirit.According to Ninuno Media's creative director Jason Paul Laxamana, the new song bears a strong message. He said that Filipinos have always been strong in the face of diversity. That the song "kasmala" is a reminder for "fellow Filipinos that we, too, have always been subject to hate, dehumanization and prejudice throughout history." Adding that, in spite of, "We shall not be broken down. We shall persist and continue to thrive. We shall endure. For we are strong. We are 'kasmala.'"Weeks before the release of their new single, Alamat's social media pages have been lit with art-y and stylish photos that took its inspiration from the #StopAsianHate campaign, hence, Laxamana's comment.The same teasers, plus the anticipation of the release of their new "kasmala" track and accompanying music video generated so much buzz for Alamat that they broke into Billboard's Next Big Thing charts days before the new track dropped.For their part, the boys of Alamat are laser focused on making this outing bigger and better than their first. And in the context of what they've achieved already in such a short time, that's really saying something.Alamat garnered considerable attention for championing a Pinoy feel to their aesthetic. The group made it a point to highlight a modern theme that not only highlights several Philippine languages (Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Waray-Waray, Hiligaynon, and Bisaya) on their songs, and modern fashion and style aesthetics that is distinctly Pinoy.The track "kasmala" was released July 15 on all music streaming platforms. Likewise, the accompanying music video directed by Jason Paul Laxamana debuted on YouTube the same day."kasmala" by Alamat is released by Viva Records.

Vinyls Pa More!

July 22, 2021
Good news for vinyl record collectors and OPM fans. After a slew of amazing albums reissued from its storied catalog, Vicor Music's classic vinyl series has released a new set of titles fans and audiophiles alike will love.New vinyl reproductions of classics such as Pinoy rock's Mike Hanopol, Resty Fabunan's "Maria Cafra," Yoyoy Villame's comedy album and Gary Valenciano's early hits were recently released and are now available on independent record stores and audio specialty shops across the metro.

Mike Hanopol's "Awiting Pilipino" is the successful solo debut from the Pinoy rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. This vinyl record includes Hanopol's rock hit "Laki Sa Layaw," a song that established Hanopol as a solo artist after his stint with the seminal rock group Juan Dela Cruz Band.Meanwhile, the "Maria Cafra" self-titled record was the vehicle for Resty Fabunan's rock musings. This album includes the rock hit "Kumusta Mga Kaibigan" and is a veritable rock classic all throughout.Gary Valenciano began his streak of hit songs with the Vicor-produced "Gary Valenciano Next" album. This collection includes two of his biggest hits: the Danny Javier-written "'Di Na Natuto" and "Reaching Out." The latter is a theme song from the 1983 Viva Films "Hotshots" that also launched Gary V's acting career.No doubt that Yoyoy Villame was a comedic genius and the proof is in this lengthy 14-track "Best of Yoyoy Villame" record that has "manong Yoyoy's" finest moments immortalized on vinyl - "Granada," "Si Felimon," "Butsekik" and "Mag Exercise Tayo" to name a few.Previous releases that include the once hard-to-find "Segreto" album by the late Ric Segreto, "VST & Company I," Rico J. Puno's "The Way We Were," Rey Valera, Martin Nievera, Freddie Aguilar's "Anak" and Sharon Cuneta's "Mr DJ" albums have since become a big hit in the vinyl-collecting community."Segreto" in particular sold out its stocks twice. Vicor has since followed up with titles such as "Batucada Sa Calesa" by Bong Penera, Basil Valdez's "Ngayon At Kailanman," "Kuh" by Kuh Ledesma, "Himig Natin" by Juan Dela Cruz Band and Asin. All titles are manufactured overseas on 180-gram vinyl.More are forthcoming such as the second Ric Segreto album "Man Of The Hour" that will the re-issue of the late singer's whole discography. Titles by Side A, Sampaguita, Cinderella, Hotdog and other artists are all slated to be made available soon.Collectors usually fork over exorbitant amounts for rare OPM albums. But the Vicor classic vinyl reissue series will make once hard to find, quality sound recordings of all-time favorite OPM artists easier to own. Priced at P1,900 per title, these records are perfect for audiophiles and for the budding vinyl collectors looking out for quality classic albums.Contact Vicor on Facebook to know where to buy these vinyl records.

American Artist ASTN Makes A ‘Serious’ Comeback

July 22, 2021
It's no secret that Filipinos love music and are always in the pursuit to find something new to discover. Today, the spotlight falls on Florida-native ASTN. Philippines is one of the top locations of his streams in South East Asia.The 22-year-old has wooed his listeners with his sultry, indie-R&B pop style of music. His debut EP "Tell All Your Friends" amassed a loyal and engaged fanbase which has now blossomed into 500 thousand monthly listeners in Spotify and has received over 19 million streams to date on his "Flower" single alone.

ASTN has explored various genres of music in the hopes of finding one that resonates with him the most. Part of this process was to take a small hiatus to allow himself to grow and mature in his music, gain perspective and work on his craft. Now, he is ready to show the world what he can do and take the next step by releasing his latest EP "It's Not That Serious".The five-track EP is a refined body of work, highlighting ASTN's silky vocals, intimate lyrics, and cultivated sound.Listeners can expect to experience first-hand ASTN's journey in growth and figuring things out in life. He wants to portray that hardships happen for a reason and that in the end, it will always work out.Created in a year and a half, ASTN embraces beautifully who he is in "It's Not That Serious" and showcases his acceptance of life for what it is - that feelings change and people grow but life moves on.Accompanied with wavy guitar strings and sultry vocals, the focus track of the EP is titled "LA Don't Look Good On U," a hymn about the lifestyle he has associated upon moving to the city. Currently the MV has garnered over 341K views on YouTube.With over 24.2K followers on Instagram and 96.9K followers on TikTok, ASTN reminds his followers through his own brand of pop music that life is journey and that people's only job is to enjoy it."LA Don't Look Good On U," is now up on his YouTube channel while the whole EP "It's Not That Serious" is now streaming on Spotify.

The Latest From The World Of Music

July 22, 2021
Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett reuniteTony Bennett and Lady Gaga will team up at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga" will open on Aug. 3, Bennett's 95th birthday, with the second performance on Aug. 5. Promoters say the concerts will be Bennett's last New York performances of his career.Lady Gaga and Bennett collaborated on the song "The Lady Is a Tramp" for Bennett's 2011 "Duets II" album and their collaborative album "Cheek to Cheek" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Album charts and earned them the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy.* * *'Without Me' singer Halsey announces birth of first childHalsey has something new to sing about: motherhood.

The pop star announced on Instagram on Monday (Tuesday in the Philippines) that she has given birth to her first child. The 26-year-old posted black-and-white photos of her holding her baby next to her boyfriend, screenwriter Alev Aydin.The singer wrote that their baby was born July 14 and is named Ender Ridley Aydin."Gratitude. For the most ‚rare' and euphoric birth. Powered by love," Halsey wrote on her post.Halsey has released three platinum albums and is known for hits like "Without Me," "Bad at Love" and "Closer" with the Chainsmokers.* * *Bob Dylan returns to stage - albeit onlineNEW YORK: Bob Dylan returned to a concert stage - at least online through the live-streaming platform Veeps.

Titled "Shadow Kingdom," it was more like a stylized black-and-white film, with the singer fronting a four-piece band in a juke joint. It included wardrobe changes and differences in the placement of the band.The performances feature more folk, blues and country instead of rock 'n' roll. Dylan concentrated on material from early in his career, including infrequently performed numbers like "Queen Jane Approximately" or "Wicked Messenger." His luminous version of "Forever Young" was the best-known of the 13-song performance.

A Lecture From Direk Joel Lamangan

July 21, 2021
Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.An extremely bold and timely movie written by Troy Espiritu and directed by film master Joel Lamangan is set to stream worldwide beginning July 23. Titled "Lockdown," it stars young and determined actor Paolo Gumabao in a story that is both compelling and disconcerting, as it brings to light what many Filipinos are forced to endure in reality in order to survive this crippling pandemic.Lockdown sees Paolo as Danny, an Overseas Filipino Worker retrenched from his job and repatriated at the height the global health crisis. The family bread winner, he comes home to find his ailing father worse than ever and in dire need of costly hospital treatments to save his life. With no jobs available amid the lockdown, a friend of Danny's takes him to the underground world of cybersex, where in sheer desperation, he is stripped of his clothes every "working day" to perform the most unthinkable pornographic acts in front of a "director," a computer camera and strangers on the internet to make money for his dad and family.

Just from the trailers shown at Lockdown's virtual media conference last week, there is no denying that Joel Lamangan's latest obra is powerful in every way. It is powerfully moving with its raw depiction of an unyielding love between father and son in such scenes where Danny - in their dark, hot and cramped shanty house - devotedly sees to his dad's every need. Unable to do anything for himself, it is Danny who patiently feeds him, cleans him up and carries him like a baby to a makeshift bathroom every time he needs to urinate or defecate.It is also powerfully shocking by the time Danny is forced to join so many others like him and perform for paying perverts across the screen. Stark naked, they're made to grind their bodies, masturbate, have oral sex and so on, until their disgusting recruiter decides they have given their "audience" their money's worth.And in the same way Direk Joel presents poverty in the movie as if you can smell the stench of slums, neither does he takes any short cuts in showing what exactly takes place in cybersex dens. It is all there for the movie's audience to see.In an exchange with The T-Zone at the media conference, producer Jojo Barron - who completely deferred to Direk Joel's vision, expertise and artistry in bringing the story of "Lockdown" to life - the movie has clear-cut takeaways.First, that love for family, especially in the Philippine culture, takes precedence over everything; secondly, that the pandemic has gravely affected the poor and continues to threaten not just their health but their sheer existence; and third, that the evil of cybersex is more rampant than ever amid the health crisis, victimizing an ever growing number of young and destitute Filipinos, who, along with their families, can barely survive these ever uncertain and endangered times.Given the producer's summation of "Lockdown's" key messages, The T-Zone acknowledged a sound and compelling understanding why this story - this reality - has to be told as it happens.

The T-Zone's subsequent question, however - whose answer only Direk Joel can provide, is whether Lockdown's story needs to be shown in the manner he chose. Given the three-pronged message Mr. Barron listed, is the nudity and the very explicit sexual acts captured in the trailers alone critical to the movie?Direk Joel's ensuing and enlightening lecture should put any further doubt if "Lockdown," in any way, might encourage voyeurism."It would be voyeurism if it increased a man's libido," replied the multi-awarded director, who has passionately tackled socially relevant films throughout his career. Direk Joel, it can be recalled, was imprisoned and tortured in the Martial Law era for being a youth activist.Eager as ever to mirror reality as truthfully as he can in his movies, he continued, "[Voyeurism] is not the purpose of the movie [but]... to show a fact that happened at a particular time."Cybersex ang kanilang trabaho. Alangan namang wala akong ipakita eh iyon ang pinaka-esensya ng trabaho na pinilit nilang kapitan dahil sa hirap. Ang purpose nito ay magpakita ng katotohanan sa isang partikular na panahon."Ito'y pagre-reflect ng isang katotohanan na ang taong gipit na gipit sa buhay, kahit na anong uri ng pagkakakitaan ay gagawin, makatulong lang sa mga mahal na magulang, kahit ang kabayaran ay ang kanyang dignidad bilang tao o kanyang buhay man."Direk Joel further shared that he needed no convincing in taking on the project because over a year into the pandemic, he has neither seen a script nor a movie that honestly shows what is happening to so many Filipinos during the Coronavirus - sad, disturbing and shocking as it is.To round up the lecture, The T-Zone finally asked the prominent director- who will always raise the victims of society's ills in his work - if there is any person in authority or anyone in government he hopes will see "Lockdown," he simply replied, "Everyone who wants to know what's true. Everyone who exploits poor people in times of need. Lockdown is intended for anyone who wants to see reality happening around them."Produced by the For the Love of Art Film, completing the cast with Paolo Gumabao are Alan Paule, Max Eigenmann, Ruby Ruiz, Jess Evardone, Paul Jake Paule, Angellie Sanoy and Jim Pebanco. The uncut version of Lockdown streams worldwide on July 23 via KTX.ph, Upstream.ph, RAD (iamrad.app) and WeTV.