So Autonomous is defined as a person's capacity for self-determination in the context of moral choices. In moral and political philosophy, autonomy is often used as the basis for determining moral responsibility for one's actions. But wait, this is a music review right? The Autonomous Region enters the Forbidden City and gives the local residents an earful. That being said, how does this relate to an alt punk rock CD? Everything about the word autonomous applies here and I think the lyrics surrounding their powerful music make a statement, one that can be heard by anyone within earshot, this means you Forbidden City. All dictionary definitions and political intonations aside, this is very cool music.
The centerpiece for this band is Caroline Cabading, a mysterious singer that reminded me of The Motels lead singer Martha Davis at times. She delivers their lyrics with an edge whether it needs an "in your face fist waving oomph" ("Don't Tread On Me") or a tender touch that is sexy and inviting ("I Can't Help"). Her voice can be beautiful and smooth or hard and angry like on the opening track "Don't Tread On Me." She screams "Don't tread on me, Here I'm not your f***king maid, and then "Here my skin I do not fade." This says in no uncertain terms "You are going to hear or "here" me whether you want to or not. There is attitude galore here and justified anger but also a resolution in their angry lyrical prose. This is where the word autonomous applies in a big way. Just listen to "Shine", it tells the story and their rhetoric is clearly defined through their musical messages.
With the variety of communications they are transmitting they pepper it all with music that offers just as much change and energy. I heard metal and punk on the Jefferson Airplane classic "White Rabbit". This is the up to date version, a jump from the late sixties to present day society and all its complexities. It's not hard to hear all of that angst in the track if you listen with open ears…the heart and mind will follow in due time. I know Grace Slick would be proud of this rendition. "Took My Breath Away" has a reggae jazz feel to it and "I-Hotel" is just a flat out rocker with a big guitar sound.
Cabading sounds like she would be comfortable singing jazz songs in a nightclub or screaming out song after song at The Headbanger's Ball. With the harder edged songs I detected a bit of a strain and some off key notes although I am sure they are intended to be that way, it sure sounds like it fits. And really, you can't deliver a socially conscious message like they have by whispering sweet nothings, so in the end it totally works.
All of this is made possible by the solid backing provided by Chet Canlas (guitar), Tyrone Davis (drums), and Phil Ergina (bass). Ron Quesada was added as a second guitar after the release of this CD. Forbidden City is all about cultural diversity and an open mind, screw the political correctness crap and speak the truth, and while were at it everyone can have some fun and rock out. If this is what you seek then The Autonomous Region has your answer.