“Blank Pages” Album tells Farewell Fair Weather’s journey in OPM

After more than two years of waiting, Farewell Fair Weather (FFW) band finally launched its full-length album “Blank Pages” at the Social House, Circuit Mall, Makati City last April 20, 2018. FFW, one of the Philippines leading OPM bands first launched it EP in May 2012, that featured their first popular single “Rough Skies” at Fat Brother, BGC.

The Friday SRO crowd at the Social House never had it better. FFW always sounded better with Strings and Brass, backed up by three lovely back-up singers that enriched their sound. The album features fourteen (14) original compositions by the band and runs a full 75 minutes from beginning to end. At the moment, Blank Pages (with about 53,000 followers at Spotify as of April, 2018) top bills the rest of their popular songs like “Rough Skies”, “Beyond” and “Sakali”, with an average of about 13k monthly listeners at Spotify.

Not bad for a bunch of college kids from UST who merely wanted an “electronic musical” outlet from their regular classical guitars and piano routines at the UST Conservatory of Music. Mic Manalo, the lead singer and vocalist wrote all the songs, except for one, “30 Second Vacation” which she wrote in collaboration with Isagani’s younger siblings, Josemaria and Alvaro. Mic was a classical guitarist and a Music Education graduate. Isagani Palabyab the keyboardist is a B.S. in Music Technology, minor in composition graduate. He arranged most of the music in collaboration with the other members of the group. Kim Jin Hue, a classical guitar virtuoso who has won in classical guitar competitions around Asia, is the group’s lead guitarist. He graduated with honors at the UST Conservatory of Music. Nathan Muriel, the bassist, is an Industrial Engineering graduate also from UST but has become one of the best in his musical trade. Mark Villena, the only one from the University of the Philippines, is the group’s drummer, and comes from a musically pedigreed Villena family. The sixth person in the group is Leng Guerrero, another Music Technologist, as their Sound Engineer, who ensures that they sound as good as their music material.

Blank Pages, as a song caps the band’s roller-coaster story: their journey from a group of struggling young college students who just wanted a break from their classical music routine, to what they are now, a more matured young artists and musicians. At the start, they just wanted their music to be heard as they did the bar circuit (Route 196, 70s Bistro, Saguijo, 12 Monkeys, etc.) from 2012 through 2014. They won Jack Daniel’s “Chosen One” search in 2015 almost by accident because they were a late entry. The selection came a bit of a surprise to them and many others as they bested other veteran and more popular bands. But the “Chosen One” became a lucky break and nearly a heart-breaker as well for the group. The band underwent a series of “transformation and challenges” during their stint as Jack Daniel’s “Chosen One”. They lost their original drummer who chose to continue with his own jazz band but gained a new one in the person of Mark Villena. They learned a lot of lessons businesswise and became more independent in the process. The six-member band has never been closer to each other as they are now. Their tightness and unity as a group have become their strong assets to overcome bigger and more daunting challenges as they continue to grow and mature. Under a new business manager, the band has renewed its enthusiasm and went on to complete their album. Thankfully amidst their challenges, their music did not suffer and in fact became better and better. In the album, Blank Pages, Rough Skies, Beyond and Sakali are getting a lot of listeners as we write. They topped JAM 88.30’s online featured OPM search for top hits a couple of times (Rough Skies and Beyond).

Blank Pages is a well-produced album, now available in CD and will soon be at Spotify. Digitally mastered at Metro Manila’s leading digital studio’s, not to mention, FFW’s own recording studio at “Coupe De Maitre”, it features FFW’s clean and unique sound. It is unique because one cannot pinpoint their music’s genre. Officially, one may say that they are a mixed jazz-fusion band. While they have lively and nearly rock-sounding selections, interwoven in their songs’ instrumentals, their music are meant to be listened to, not necessarily danced-with. Thanks to the latest music technology, new apps and devices, they were able to put together an album that this writer thinks as music to keep and collect. What is even more remarkable is that the band members, like many Filipino musicians, have their own day-jobs to keep in order to survive. They have to physical struggle to manage their time between their life as musicians and their day-jobs. Well FFW is on-its way to reach the cross-roads of their profession. Farewell Fair Weather is a young group that is still evolving. Blank Pages album is a good start, a great way to debut into the recording industry. Definitely, FFW is a group to listen to and watch out for.

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