Apartel is Ely Buendia and the gang in full soul/funk/R&B mode. If I remember correctly, Ely once said that he can’t do R&B. Maybe, RnB or contemporary R&B (i.e., South Border, Freestyle, Beyonce, Rihanna) was what he meant because here he is doing exactly that, producing good, if not be for everyone, funky music. And while I’m hoping he and Pupil gets back to making more guitar music soon (their last, Zilch, was kind of a letdown), looks like I’ll have make do with Apartel until that happens.
“Better Off” starts off with bass/horn intro not so dissimilar to the one in Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love”, off the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. (Never heard of the movie? Never heard of Star-Lord, the legendary outlaw? Come on, man.) In short, the song is one great railroad funky, with lots of funky basslines, funky beats, and lots of falsettos – though probably not as much as those at the end of “With A Smile”. On the other hand, as someone said before, “Guijo St. (Makes You Wonder)” is something Michael Jackson would have written after listening to “With A Smile” on repeat. That’s fairly accurate, I guess.
Originally, I wasn’t going to include “Guijo St. (Makes You Wonder)” in the list – sticking to some arbitrary rules I made up, like 20 tracks, one song per artist rule. But then I remember listening to both songs on repeat. And I realized that I could still listen to these two, back-to-back, like a 7-inch double A-side, on my digital turntable, on repeat, without even tiring. Yes, they’re THAT good. And if you’d want to ask if Ely Buendia and Apartel has ever put out a song as good as those of his former band Eraserheads, it would be THESE two songs. Not that I’m trying to compare the two bands, but Eraserheads never had a song as funky as “Pateros”, which made eating balut sexy again and gave the word bagsakan whole new shades of meaning.