Why Oh, Flamingo! should change their name to Oh Flamingo
What new artists you discovered this year?
Off the top my head, Khruangbin, Japanese Breakfast, Stella Donnelly, Marren Morris and Men I Trust. Last year it was Mitski, Lucy Dacus, beabadoobee… Khruangbin, Men I Trust and Japanese Breakfast I discovered via YouTube. Maren Morris and Stella Donnelly, I saw them on some website and I probably wouldn’t give them a listen if not for their respective album covers.
I mean, you know, if I’m browsing some site or blog and I have a hundred albums to choose from, I’m more likely to check out an album with a cover art that’s like Beware of the Dog than something that’s abstract or arty or something, like Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma. I’m also more likely to check artist with real-sounding names like Donnelly’s or Maren Morris than artists with weird names like Charli XCX, Chvrches, or Alvvays. And a lot of artists these days have even weirder names than those I mentioned. Of course, I have Charli XCX’s Charli saved somewhere because the album art is so rad!
No male artist/male-fronted groups on your list?
I forgot San Cisco. I liked their Flaws EP. And their drummer is so awfully hot in that “Skin” music video. I also started listening to Harry Styles, his new album, fantastic. Ok, just kidding. I’d say that there isn’t really a male-fronted band from around 2011 that I’m a fan of (edit: except Parquet Courts).
My favorite bands were mostly from the 90s and the 00s. And there are still a lot of albums from those two decades that I haven’t listened to thoroughly. Albums by Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, The White Stripes, Interpol, Belle and Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, Archers of Loaf, Sonic Youth… I still go back to these bands every once in a while. I’m kind of like trapped in this perpetual state of discovering and re-discovering music from albums like Tigermilk, The Boy with the Arab Strap, Vee Vee, The Eternal, Goo, that Flaming Lips album or that White Stripes album or Interpol’s first album.
Also thought that most new music from around 2013 onwards were boring. Like, I liked She’s Only Sixteen’s self-titled EP when it came out in 2012 but their songs after that EP were all kind of meh. I didn’t like their first full length album. I like their sound in that EP. One more example are the Arctic Monkeys. I liked the songs on Arctic Monkeys’ first album, a lot, but I couldn’t get myself to like their songs on later albums like AM. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a case of “I just wasn’t made for these times.” That kind of thing.
Do you still listen to old stuff?
Good you thing you brought that up. If by old stuff you mean anything older than 90s stuff, then yes, I do. I liked Neil Young’s Zuma. I think I liked it better than Rust Never Sleeps though I’d totally understand those who’d prefer Rust. Beatles, Led Zep? I’m kind of over that Beatles phase. Listened to Rubbersoul, Revolver, Sgt. Peppers at some point though if there’s an album of theirs I’d go back to, that would be Abbey Road. Led Zep, I kind of given up already trying to like any one album of theirs. Maybe IV was the best. The other old stuff I played recently were Nick Drake’s Pink Moon and Songs of Leonard Cohen.
Album(s) you last listened to?
Sticker Happy, Cake’s Fashion Nugget and Brighten the Corners. I made a driving playlist two weeks ago and its basically those three albums plus a few tracks from Andrew E.
Why those albums?
I just recently decided that Sticker Happy is the best Eraserheads album ever. Yes, it’s not perfect. I’d usually skip “Downtown”, “Everything They Say” and “Sticker Happy”. Yes, those are Raymund Marasigan’s songs. But in terms of songs, sound (i.e., production), lyrics, style, Sticker Happy is just more fun and exciting than either Circus or Cutterpillow. Compared with Sticker Happy, most of the songs on Cutterpillow sound thin.
With Cake, well, some people say that Cake is one of the few true “alternative rock” bands out there. Well, their music is a mixture of funk, hip-hop, country, guitars and trumpets. Their songs aren’t also distracting when you’re driving even if some of their songs are actually about driving (The Distance, Stickshifts and Safety Belts). It’s just feel good music but not really your regular feel-good music.
Brighten the Corners is, well, of course, it’s Brighten the Corners. It’s also perfect for driving. Steady rhythm, only a few fast songs (Embassy Row), and lyrics you wouldn’t care what they’re about (Amateur sea-salt gatherers colonized / They’re good enough for Conrad Hilton, not good enough for my eyes). By the way, Conrad Hilton is Paris Hilton’s great great grandfather.
Did the Andrew E. songs sound out of place?
Not really. They flow with the mood. They’re a little bit different but they have great basslines.
Which songs from Andrew E.?
Alabang Girls, Banyo Queen, and High Blood. “Alabang Girls” has this riff that’s based on Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” And “Banyo Queen” is basically “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King. And “High Blood” is based on some 80s song which I couldn’t recall the title right now.
Any new local bands you listened to recently?
I watched Oh, Flamingo!’s music video for “Inconsistencies” the other day. It was about this guy who’s working in a post office. I fast forwarded the video around the instrumental part so I didn’t know what happened in the end. I also read the comments while listening to the song. One guy/girl said that the song reminds him/her of an Eraserheads song he/she just couldn’t put a finger on. Another replied that it sounds like Julie Tearjerky. Then another mentioned another Eheads songs. And I thought the song doesn’t sound anything like Eraserheads at all. Does it?
What do you think of this band?
First, I think that they should simplify their name to just Oh Flamingo. Get rid of the comma and the exclamation point. For one, it makes the job easier for Google and other search engines for that matter. Two, it would also require less effort (intonation, diction, feelings) from fans when they’re talking about the band or reading articles or blogs (like this one).
It would also save them from sounding like an idiot or an overly excited fanboy/fangirl every time they’d say the band’s name in public: Uy! Oh, Flamingo! na ang tutugtog! Dali! See, those three exclamation points made it sound like you already had half an orgasm! And you haven’t even seen them play their set yet. What more once they start to play.
One common thread I’ve noticed while reading fans’ comments is this: “how come this band isn’t the biggest or most popular band in the land yet?” While there are also fans who wish that the band stay semi-obscure (like Ourselves the Elves), more fans are on the “this band is so underrated” side, the “they should be bigger or more popular” side.
Hipsters like their favorite bands to be semi-obscure, not for the masses. Some fans loved the Love In the Land-era Orange & Lemons. Some of them thought Orange & Lemons sold out with Strike Whilst the Iron Is Soft, especially when they released “Pinoy Ako”. Some fans preferred that the band stayed with Terno Recordings, an indie label. Signing with a major label and ditching Toti Dalmacion’s hipster label (which according to Clem Castro, shelved their first album), I thought was good for the band. It’s just that the band members themselves weren’t able to handle the internal friction and pressure (of being semi “rich and famous”) quite well.
As to why Oh Flamingo (see what I did there?) isn’t semi-rich and famous yet, here’s my two cents: It has something to do with the songs. Musically, the group is one of tightest I’ve seen among this recent crop of local bands. Skilled, technical. But then, so are the guys from Sud, or the boys of IVoS, or boys and girls of Ben&Ben. I mean, everyone’s musically skilled nowadays. No one’s gonna survive YouTube when you’re sloppy or you sing out of tune. Everyone can play this and that (but not everyone can write great songs).
So, why aren’t their songs as popular as “Mundo” or “Hey, Barbara” or “Kung ‘Di Rin Lang Ikaw” or “Kathang Isip”? That question answers itself. I don’t think Oh, Flamingo! has a song that’s as good/awesome/heartfelt/hearbreaking as those mentioned. Their songs are quirky enough, interesting enough (Two Feet, Inconsistencies) but aren’t just memorable enough nor masa enough for them to be big hits. They don’t stick to you like glue. I mean, they sound like Eraserheads to you? You’ve got to get your ears checked by an ENT. But not now, because there’s still a pandemic going on. Because the doctors are also running for their lives just like everyone else.
I’m not saying their music is bad, awful or mediocre. I think fans like to compare them to their more popular peers like IVoS. Musically, I think they’re closer to the likes of tide/edit. It’s more music than songs; more on atmosphere than feelings. I don’t think the songs on their first EP would appeal to a wider audience or people outside their core fanbase (Note: I still haven’t listened to their latest EP). They need to have more hooks, more relatable content, more catchy choruses to do that.