There’s nothing like a pop music mystery. It intrigues, it induces wonder, it confuses. Mysteries, in these days of production line pap, faux-angry American noise bands and Rap moaners, is hard to find. Everything seems so formulaic, so predictable, and so staid. Although new bands are emerging, they seem…well, simple. Rex Macadangdang is many things. Simple is not one of them. Rex’s music is a quiet storm, a swirling, powerful quiet storm intent on sweeping you up and never letting you go. It almost seems like Rex doesn’t belong here, like we should be eternally grateful for his very existence. Of course we could go back to listening to the Beatles and Kinks records to here that sound, filled with gorgeous melodies again.
The harmonies and hooks are indelibly tied to early 60s pop, with a strong tip of the hat to the set of famous Liverpudlians. Rex Macadangdang’s sound, despite the obvious linkage to a bygone era, never sounds dated, maintaining a fresh, unique identity without ever becoming derivative or ironic.
Rex Macadangdang is an enigma, a maverick in today’s corporate music scene. Though he plays 60’s influenced pop, when you listen to his latest record “The Pasadena Sessions”, it all seems so much more. The melodies are like perfect dreams from which you will never wake up.
The first time you hear them, it’s like you’ve spent every day of your life listening to them. They seem to induce some sort of chemical reaction in the brain that spreads joy throughout your body. The way the melody peaks and troughs on “Beautiful and Amazing” the layered chorus of “Melody”, the orgasmic horn-filled opening of “Walking In The Rain”. It’s perfection.
Lyrically, Macadangdang is as good as they come. His songs are blessed with a Morrissey style classical allusion, yet he is able to sum up complex emotions with simple lines. The slight Mersey-Beat sound of “Gimme Love” carries Rex’s uplifting lyrics, bringing to mind bands like the Monkees. “Melody” begins in a swirl of guitar and saxophone, not quite psychedelic, but enough to provoke the imagery.
The song’s clutter drops to reveal a rich mid-tempo retro-pop song without calling on the production clichés of the day. Clearly Rex Macadangdang strives for perfection in his arrangements, but that constant strive for perfection leads to a stellar, enduring set of tight, muscular and thrilling pop music. The four tunes on the disc are concise, sharp, pop tunes, filled with memorable hooks and punchy 60’s inspired melodies.
Rex Macadangdang harmonizes well together with Annie Hardy and Marisa Frantz on the vocal parts, while the rhythm section with Brandon Davis on the drums is solid. Joni Fuller on Violin and Michelle Packman on Cello, together with Cameron Black on saxophone bring rich embellishments to the arrangements, and the songs themselves are breathtaking.
If ever an advert was needed for melodically structured, unpretentious pop songs being enough to forge a legendary sound, this is it. Also thanks to the production by Doug Grean, “The Pasadena Sessions” is a timeless recording, packed with pop numbers that reflect the glory days of classic British guitar music, without ever becoming a poor imitation.
Ultimately, the brilliance of “The Pasadena Sessions” lies in how its creator feels liberated, not constrained, by the songs’ classic palette. Where so many revivalist acts become restricted by their choice of music, Rex Macadangdang absolutely revels in it, free to explore the 60s fantasia inside his own head.
MORE ABOUT Rex Macadangdang: Born in Kansas City, Rex’s familial roots are in the Philippines, though he has been in L.A. most of his life. Besides music, Rex is a scholar, and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He has recently launched an online business based on his other passion, which involves making music videos for other artists. In his spare time, he keeps up with the latest movie releases, watches football and basketball, goes to Disneyland and hangs out at the beach when he has the chance. He loves spicy food, especially Mediterranean and Thai – the hotter the better! He meditates for at least thirty minutes a day, and cites a strong faith in God, which reflects effortlessly through the ethereal tones in his music and his lyrics, which are at times reverent and often reflective of a life continually filled with the wonder of it all.