For those who aren’t yet familiar with the band, Uppercase is a Toronto-based local band formed in September 2009 composed of frontman Mark De Leon, lead guitarist Joey Giagonia, keyboardist Jason Alba, bassist Allan Lagat, and drummer Kyle Andre Saliva.
Their first full-length album “Time Space Warp” highlights the band’s true essence of relatable lyrics and melodies revolving around themes of heartbreak, hope, and innate nationalism. More than being international-local hybrid; the band is a representation of everyday overseas Filipinos clamoring for a modest degree of success whilst grounded with an unwavering loyalty to their identity. Albeit a more commercial sounding band compared to its contemporaries, their simplistic approach to their music encapsulates the band’s earnest intent on creating empowerment, yet applicable tunes to Filipinos all around the globe.
The album is off to a booming start with the anthem known as “Balikbayan”. It heavily accentuates the identity of Uppercase as a band loyal to their roots amidst a different setting. “… ang nais ko’y muli kang makasama”. It does set the tone for the album; despite each track having a different influence that drives it, “Balikbayan” indicates somewhat of an emotional time warp of going back to where their journey all started, in their motherland.
The band experiments with groovy jazz patterns that would send the listener to a cosmic high with R&B influences in the songs “In You” and “Dalawa”. These two tracks highlight the band’s diversity to go beyond the simpler chord patterns of their more somber tracks.
The stand out single would be Track #5, T.S.W. (abbreviation of the album’s title). A throwback to the early 2000’s college rock of Mayonnaise and Spongecola, T.S.W. hooks the listener with well timed drumming cadences that only add to the allure of its’ sing-along nature. T.S.W. is the epitome of the band’s strength, an outpour of emotions relating to a search for a glimmer of hope in the midst of a shambled relationship.
On the latter tracks, it is the “kilig” factor that comes into play in “Ere” and “Bato”, wherein the listeners are time warped to their better days of being young and in love. Much like premier rock band The Eraserheads, Uppercase would emphasize the climax and fallout of infatuation, and the pain that comes along with rejection. Uppercase effortlessly manages to make two eras converge: the upbeat 90’s acoustic pop and the melancholic undertones of the heavy 2000’s post-grunge rock. Both sound selections compliment the youthful nature of the tracks; it is Mark De Leon’s songwriting that make “Time Space Warp” more than just a suitable road trip catalogue, but an experiential accompaniment that further amplifies the listener’s emotional wavelengths.
The album “Time Space Warp” is one that is heavily driven on emotion, an unfiltered internal struggle of mind and heart waiting to be expressed in a song. A large chunk of the album can be attributed to the band’s struggles to make it big in a terrain far from home. The themes, motifs, and messages the band intends to convey do not need much deciphering; one of the earlier tracks entitled “Laro”, strikes a chord in the psyche’s of hopeless Pinoy romantics that have been played by the “paasa”, unattainable jezebel.
Uppercase goes back to basics, reminding contemporaries and listeners alike that pomp and pizazz is secondary to the connection a band strikes with its audience.