Heatbeaters from Jason Mraz and Monks’Hood
Say what you want about Jason Mraz’s so-called “banal romanticism,” but we have always enjoyed his disarming mix of witty wordplay, catchy melodies, pristine singing and waifish, “geek in the pink” appeal – as he has demonstrated in tunes like “I’m Yours,” “Clockwatching” and “Mr. Curiosity.”
With the release of Mraz’s latest album, “Love Is A Four-Letter Word,” it must have been heartbreaking for him to lose the No. 1 spot to the indefatigable Adele when his latest recording debuted at No. 2 on UK’s pop-album chart last week. Why? Because the songstress’ durable “21” set won the week’s race by a nose – it sold just 44 units more than “Love”!
The 34-year-old singer’s albums and singles have traditionally been slow-starters – but, they have eventually proven their “legs.” Take the ubiquitous “I’m Yours.” While it’s true that the five-time platinum hit tune merely peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, it lingered on the chart for 76 weeks, beating the previous record – 69 weeks – set by LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live?”
True, Mraz’s lyrics are sometimes trite (“When you’re sleeping next to me/ I scan you like a credit card/ Connecting freckles like I do the stars”)—but, when they’re inspired, they’re spot-on provocative—like these lines from “5/6”: “Don’t dress up your children like dolls from your past/ When they grow older, they’ll do the same/ The world’s a reflection of how children play.”
In “Living in the Moment,” the singer/songwriter reminds himself: “I will not waste my days/ Making up ways to worry about things that will not happen to me/ I’m letting go of the thoughts that don’t make me strong.” Then, he shares a fighter’s perspective in “Everything Is Sound”: “We all need the darkness to see the light.”
And, in “Who’s Thinking About You Now?,” unrequited love drives Jason to ask, “If you were building a wall, who would tear it down and pull you through?/ Who will be the one to miss you when you’ve gone missing?”
Mraz’s breezy, reggae-fied pop tunes and jazzed-up duets hold the key to his staying power and chart-topping pertinence – and his fourth studio album has a good number of them: There’s the hum-worthy “Freedom Song,” the inspiring “Everything Is Sound,” the heart-warming “93 Million Miles,” the dreamy “The World As I See It,” the hidden track, “I’m Coming Over,” and “Be Honest,” his luscious collaboration with The Bird & The Bee’s Inara George.
If you’re partial to Wolfgang and P.O.T.’s brand of hard-rockin’, the relatively new kids on the rock block made up of Jeyvi Castillo, Cramm Ponce, Aries Villariez and Paolo Sison, collectively known as Monks’Hood, should help you blow off some steam.
We were initially drawn to the group’s music when we got hold of its “DEMOlition 2012” sampler and heard lead vocalist Castillo question life’s perplexing contradictions in the track, “Anyare.”
Monks’Hood’s edgy sound is likewise on full throttle in the smashing “Hiwaga ng Mundo,” which infuses a dash of punk rock into its hard-metal swagger.
And, despite an off-kilter note in its chorus, “Bingi-Bingihan’s” alternating low notes of foreboding and anger-driven high registers give the tune its psychedelic appeal!