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Album Review: Pocket Guide To The Otherworld

The Manila Times
July 8, 2008
by Paul John Caña

For sure, there are local bands out there the hew more closely to the indie spirit than The Camerawalls. But none so far can claim to have achieved a solid debut effort that one can truly define as indie pop than the one just released by the band led by front man Clementine. Purists can scoff that there is much is to be desired in the spanking new release from independent label Lilystars Records, but if one schooled in the nuances of indie music were to lock himself up with only Pocket Guide To The Otherworld playing in the background for company, there is also much to be joyful about.

First single, “Markers Of Beautiful Memories” opens with a guitar line reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon,” but Clementine’s whimsical vocals immediately cuts through, singing words of sweet nostalgia: “Your face is a welcome interlude/Like a lift back into school/It’s all hearts and flowers/Love’s umpire called time.” Despite its slightly morbid title and lyrics, the equally bright and cheery “Clinically Dead For 16 Hours” also helps sets the pace of the album, which is one of optimism and advancement. Clementine, who was an original member of the now-dissolved Orange And Lemons, obviously isn’t wasting time shedding tears for his former bandmates; he is looking ahead and pushing the envelope as far as he could go. Heck, he even has the audacity to share credits with Jose Rizal, putting the words of the National Hero into music and adding rondalla strings into the arrangement, creating a work unmatched in its potential to stir listeners of all ages and social classes.

It may be too early to proclaim this release as the best of the year so far, but it is safe to say that this is an album that is worlds different from anything else you can find in the local music scene these days. And that’s saying something.

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