Hot Pandesal

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Philippine rock band Tungaw released their debut album, Hot Pandesal (Hot Bread), in 1995. Much of Tungaw's music features Jamaican ska rhythms, as heard in "Skalala," "Levi's," "Pam," "Mataya-taya" (Betting, Betting), "Lyabe" (no translation), "Tibak" (no translation), and "Babalik" (Will Come Back).

"Wasted" features a fast, punkish beat, while "Katerina," "Bulalakaw" (Falling Star), and "Babalik" (Will Come Back) appear to be influenced by popular Philippine band Eraserheads and have a light, flexible rhythm. Tungaw's rhythm guitars are dominated by a jingle-jangle acoustic sound, and the lead guitar is electric and cleanly played. Jingle-jangle guitars highlight "Bulalakaw," and the melody has some substance. The singing on parts of the song is purposely exaggerated, as when the singer reaches for a high, whistle-like sound, and while the effect is interesting, it also tends to make the song seem amateurish. Raucous guitars propel the momentum of "Wasted," which has a punkish backbeat. The singing here isn't exaggerated, but it sounds amateurish and somewhat off-key just the same. The lead guitar solos on "Wasted" are strong, and the drums keep the momentum pumping.

While this is an adequate album, one gets the feeling the band can do better. The album is marred by an overall amateurish feel, exemplified by the poor singing on "Pam," "Katerina," and "Babalik." The melodies could be stronger, too, to give the songs more lasting power. "Tungaw" has good instincts, but some development is still needed.

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