Written By Ted Reyes
Chapter 2: Page 1 EP: The Poptimes Magazine Review
NEW YORK– I have high respects for bands that make a killing out of covering other artists' music. Only the best musicians can ever be in that special place. After all, who would want to be compared every single time to the original artist that made the song a hit? Well, cover bands do and they deserve respect for that.
However, my respect turns to unconditional love the moment a cover band begins to create their own music. Armed with years of well-honed musicianship, these bands make some of the most interesting stuff out there. They do not hide under the pretentiousness of being an artist without musical skills, dishing out one–chord–out-of-tune dirges they qualify as music and have the guts to accept as art. When cover bands make original music, they let it all hang out and they never get scared of getting judged. Hey, they make a living out of judgements. Cover a Toto song and see how you get judged.
This is the case with Jersey-based band Chapter 2.
The band is an amazing cover band. They are so good at what they do that they will play a revered venue on October 9: Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.
But this is not the focus of this article. The focus is the band's new EP called Page 1. The EP contains five original songs and self-produced by Chapter 2 themselves.
This is the part where my respect should transform into love. Let's see.
The EP begins with a Filipino song called "Sakin na Lang" written by Carlo Tampac and Sheldon Magbanua. The song kicks of with a harmonized lead guitar in the minor key. The vocals by male lead singer Dennis Sy comes in with a nice rhythm to it instantly creating a hook. The band is in great groove here and the song is responsible for that. And as expected with seasoned cover bands they recorded the song with musical precision making the song a winner. It is the perfect EP opener.
The next track is something called "Real Me" written by Dennis Sy. This for me is the best track in the record. The melody and chords where it rests are so well crafted that the song tugs the soul with some sort of ache that is hard to explain. The vocalists here augment that feeling and turned the whole song into a memorable experience. If I were in a cover band, I would cover this.
The next song, another Filipino song "Sa Iyo" did not quite work as well as the proceeding two. Though there are good moments in the song, it did not quite tip balance. For one thing, the sound of a distorted electric guitar straight to a mixer or DAW interface without a hint of air and space is not particularly sweet sounding. Likewise, the length of the song at six minutes and four seconds is a bit too long for an EP.
"Another Tear," is a better effort than "Sa Iyo" but still did not achieve the heights of the first two songs. It's a nice song but it is somewhat hampered by some production issues, namely: the heavy hand on the reverb button, the uneven use of the vocal fader and compressor making the vocals sound inconsistent in level.
The last track "I've Been Searching" is an acoustic-vocal only song that nowadays is a must-do in every record. It is a catchy-intimate song that again could have used better production. There is vocal distortion in some parts that are not as pleasing as tape saturation. Perhaps the track was over compressed until it got cold, harsh, and, well, distorted.
Though there are some misses in the EP, the great thing about Chapter 2 is that most are just production misses. Production issues can be resolved easily with perhaps getting a better producer or spending more time in the studio to make things right.
Listening to it in full, it is easy to conclude that the first two tracks were well produced, but how the last three came up a little short in production is something I don't really know, more so understand.
Songwriting wise, the band has got no problems. As evidenced by the first two tracks in this EP (Sakin Na Lang and "Real Me) the songwriters in the group have real chops and that is a great thing to have. Performance wise, well, I wouldn't be the one to question the musical talents of a band that is set to take on Carnegie Hall, would I? But as far as this Page 1 EP goes, the band played like they have always played: great.
With this, Chapter 2 closes a page with their Page 1 EP. However, the good thing about this is that there will be a Page 2 and so on. And knowing how dedicated this band is to their art, it is certain that the coming pages and chapters in their discography will be stellar.
And thus it is confirmed, misses or hits, that my respect for Chapter 2 has made the inevitable turn to unconditional love.
Chapter 2 are:
Vocalists: Cutuy Herrero, Grace Hernandez, Jan Paraiso, Dennis Sy
Musical director/guitarist: Noel Tampac
Drummer: Wenchie Olitan
Guitarist/Bassist: Carlo Tampac
Guitarist.Bass: Sheldon Magbanua
Keyboards: Ken Villafranca
Visit their site http://www.chapter2band.com