I’m posting another draft. Just for traffic. Actually, I wanted to write longer, harder, fatter… review or whatever for each album but I ain’t done nothing yet. I’m slow. To tell honestly, the one I wrote about Sticker Happy, that was sitting on my Draft folder for years. I remember, my PC was still running on Windows XP when I started writing the first draft. (Now I’m tapping on a Mac—Ha! I wish.) Of course, I don’t want to just list down their albums in descending order like a post reply to some threads on Reddit though I’ve actually done something like that before.
On a second thought, I might actually just do that. Make a list. It’s not like I’m writing for some magazine or something. Just a list, no explanation, no blurbs, no whatever. Then let the people guess what I think about each album, fill in the blanks and fight among themselves. Hmm. Assuming people who stumble upon this blog actually read what’s in here. If I know, they’re only looking for Nathalie Hart’s… yeah, whatever.
Also, the last time I did something like this, with Rivermaya, it actually took me years. I mean, listening to all fourteen albums, weighing this over that, thinking of reasons why album A is better than album B, writing, editing, getting a facial, doing DIY armpit wax, and so on, and so on. Holy cow! My hair was already all gray by the time I posted it on this blog. Yeah, it was that long. And it was viewed by like, five or six people? CHEEEZUS. It wasn’t worth all the trouble, ayt? So, why bother?
But I still want to do it because, well, it’s fun. Pitchfork and Stereogum do it all the time. Pavement, Radiohead, Neil Young, Regine Velasquez, April Boys—you can find their albums ranked on those websites. And except for Jason Caballa, no one’s really did something like that for our local bands.
By the way, I also want to comment on something Jason Caballa said on Circus. He wrote: “Marasigan begins to flourish as a songwriter as well, contributing the catchy Wishing Wells.” Well, actually, “Wishing Wells” was already in Pop U. So it was already written years before they did Circus. So, it’s not quite right to say that Raymund became a better songwriter during their Circus sessions and cite an older song as an example. He could have mentioned “Sembreak” instead. Well, anyway, let’s get to the albums.
Cutterpillow. I like to think of this as the Eraserheads’ summer album, THE summer album. Yeah, I know, we only have wet and dry seasons but when I think about the biggest songs in this album (Overdrive, Torpedo, Ang Huling El Bimbo, Superproxy, Huwag Mo Nang Itanong) nothing but summery images comes to mind. Long road trips, field trips, summer outings, school breaks, waking up to the radio playing “Overdrive” on a Christmas break, and mostly, basically doing nothing, just listening to the radio and waiting for them to play the latest Eheads song.
Sticker Happy. The first three albums, those were the band’s “adolescent albums,” the songs in them, most teens at the time could easily relate to. The next ones are their “adult albums,” they’re more mature, more difficult, less accessible. Back then, I didn’t like Sticker Happy all that much. I didn’t get much of what’s in it both musically and lyrically (this coming from someone who’d figure out what “Hey Jay” really means more or less ten years after it came out). But now that I’m older, a lot of it makes sense to me now. And this is now my favorite Eheads album.
Circus. Unless you bring up the much debated, “which is the best: Circus or Cutterpillow?” you’re not talking about Circus yet. And since I already brought it up, let’s get it over with. Eraserheads’ “adult albums” may not share the same level of popularity as their first three, but they’re more coherent, at least thematically. The first three were actually more “loose” conceptually. Though Circus supposedly gets its title since according the band, their lives became like a circus after Ultraelectromagneticpop became a supermassive blackhole, it’s the least consistent of their first three albums. What it does have though is an enviable string of radio hits (Alapaap, Magasin, With A Smile, Sembreak, Minsan), songs that are definitely among the band’s finest. And an iconic album cover.
Natin99. I used to prefer this over Sticker Happy. Used to think that this is where Eheads finally perfected what they started in Sticker Happy (or maybe even as early as Superproxy): guitar rock + loops and samples. Sticker Happy has a better set of Ely Buendia songs (Ha Ha Ha, Hard to Believe, Para sa Masa, Andalusian Dog) while Natin99 has the most songs from both Raymund Marasigan and Buddy Zaballa (Tama Ka, Kahit Ano, Sumasayaw, Kilala). Well, Sticker Happy has better set of songs but it also has its share of throwaway cuts (Bogchi Hukbo, Everything They Say), of which Natin99 has none. Natin99 is more consistent though one might argue that Ely Buendia wasn’t just feeling it, when he wrote “Peace It Together” or “Pop Machine.”
Ultraelectromagneticpop! Picking the best and the least remarkable Eraserheads album is easy. Ranking what’s in between is the hard part. As much as I’d like to put Fruitcake higher on the list, it’s no match when compared with Ultra. Ultra, though thin in both sound and scope, is just perfect, almost, as a twelve track set unlike Fruitcake, which has songs wasted on storybook stuff, like character sketches (i.e., Lord of the Rhum) and others. Sure, Fruitcake has better production and is more interesting (it’s a concept album, remember?), but that’s still secondary to having better songs and being a consistently entertaining listen.
Fruitcake. Fruitcake is a wonderful album, a flawed wonderful album. There are songs that are actually fillers, some needless introductions to some of the many colorful characters in the book. But there are fillers that are actually good, fillers I fondly remember more than the lesser songs. I’m referring to Buddy’s short piano pieces. Those short instrumentals that remind me of sad Christmas mornings. Sad because the C in Chirstmas stands for Commercialism. Because Santa ain’t comin’ no more if your parents have no money to buy you Santa’s gifts or put food on the table.
Carbon Stereoxide. The band’s final album is like a pilot episode for three upcoming acts: Ely Buendia’s The Mongols, Marcus Adoro’s Surfernando and Raymund Marasigan’s Squid9. They did one album, but wanted to do three or four different things. Buendia wanted guitar-rock. Raymund wanted electronic-rock, like Kid A. What the band won’t do full-time, he did on the side, the fillers. And most of the fillers detracts from the whole. Buddy wanted to write the hits that Ely wouldn’t want to write anymore (How Far Will U Go), wanted to keep things together. He mostly succeeded, halfway. Marcus finally had proper songs on this album, not just noise, fillers. Not a bad album, but one can fully see the cracks, the seams, the spaces between them.