I probably should’ve not gone to work today. I wasn’t planning to, two weeks ago. I was supposed to go back home for one day holiday, then return Friday and go back again. But the circumstances changed, at work that is. And so here I am, with my brain and body seemingly not cooperating with me. Despite being ‘active’ during the morning meeting, brain seems to have stopped functioning after that — haven’t received the memo, it seems to tell me. Well, anyway, here’s some draft I wrote maybe two months ago.
Fuego! (1996), Grin Department. This is, without any reservation, the greatest ’90s album of all time. Very underrated stuff. Yeah, better than anything by the Eraserheads or Rivermaya or Radiohead. Better than Cutterpillow or Donna Cruz’s Habang May Buhay. Except this isn’t really the most consistent album you’d ever find — one-third of the tracks are fillers, skipworthy. Anyway, Grin Department aren’t really avatars of consistency, but funny stories, yes. Green jokes and double entendres as well. There’s “Sion,” about a guy who repairs Cinderella’s, er, Sion’s shoes (Kikinis at kikinis nang kiki-ni-s ‘yon / Lagyan mo ng biton / Titibay nang titi ba ‘yon / Lagyan mo ng takong). In my pirated version of this album, “8 Pa” is one of the bonus tracks (because pirated CD always have bonus tracks). “8 Pa” is probably one of the most accurate portrayal of urban poverty in a song (Lunes hanggang sabado, puro na lang trabaho at pagsapit ng Linggo, kailangan may negosyo). Yes, it’s more accurate than anything by Dong Abay, believe me. And yes, it’s about a working class guy who sells meat and his long fat longaniza on weekends just to make ends meet.
A Postcard from (2002) / Swerte (2002) / Burador (2003) / Salaguinto’t Salagubang (2003), Narda. I could’ve put Narda’s double-disc compilation Salamin Sibuyas Tetrapak (2018) here but that compilation doesn’t really exist. It would’ve been nice though if the band put some effort to pick their best songs and make a sort of greatest hits and put them up on Bandcamp or somewhere. Something like Teeth’s Dogs Can Fly. Anyway, so instead of picking just one of their albums, I included all of their first four EPs. Because, well, isn’t it nice to hear “Meron Ba?” and “Tanga” in one sitting? Or “Biyernes” (off Formika) and “Kusina” in the same playlist? “Tanga” and “Tayo Na”? Then “Molotov”? I’ll tell you what. It is the nicest thing in the world. It’s like lying on your stomach while enjoying a very dry Thai massage after a really long day.
The Forgotten Arm (2005), Aimee Mann. If you don’t know me by now, you will never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never. If you don’t know who Aimee Mann is, I’ll tell you who she is. She was the lady in The Big Lebowski who got one of her toes cut off because… Well, I forgot already. She played a very very minor character in that Coen Brothers movie. And there was this scene where Juliane Moore flies naked into a wall and painted some sort of post-modernist masterpiece. Yeah, she’s really naked in that scene. And it has nothing to do with Aimee Mann’s character. Anyway, Aimee Mann’s songs was heavily featured on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), which you probably need to see if you want to see frogs raining down from the sky. But this album, this album doesn’t need its own movie. The songs themselves tell a story, about a Vietnam war vet heroin-addicted pugilist and his “kind of white trash” girlfriend. How does the story end? I don’t know. But the melodies are great. Maybe my favorite Aimee Mann album. Like this better than Bachelorette No. 2 or the Magnolia OST.
Vive La Difference (1997), Eggstone. Found this CD when I was in Glorietta some time in the mid-2000s. It was in Tower Records and it was the first time I found out that you could actually “preview” or “pre-listen” these CDs — something you can’t do in most record stores. That you can request the saleslady to open the sealed CD and you could actually listen to these records if you like. So that’s what I did. Before that, I thought you just pick CD with an album cover you like and hope the songs don’t suck. See, I bought this CD by Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah (because the reviews were great) and later I realized that I don’t really like all of the songs. Anyway, I was initially confused whether Eggstone and Eggboy were the same band. After listening to a few songs, I remember that Mikey Amistoso onced mentioned Eggstone and Club 8 in Ciudad’s blog, said they influenced some of the songs on Is that Ciudad? Yes, son, it’s me. Anyway, this is one of, if not the best, indie pop/rock albums. From Sweden. Ever.
Hello! How Are You, Mico the Happy Bear? (2000), Ciudad. So, I emailed Mikey Amistoso, sent him a very long fan email telling them how I love to see them and I badly wanted to have a copy of their first two albums. He still had a few copies of Is that Ciudad? but Hello! How are you I’m fine thank you is already out of print. So he just burned and gave me a CD-R copy. I mean, fuck, this guy just gave a CD-R copy of the greatest indie-rock album of 2000s — no, just 2000, the year, not the decade, not 2000s — and I was the happiest fan in the world. “Bombsite” is what Pavement would sound if Spiral Stairs could carry a tune and Bob Nastanovich could sing backup vocals. But that’s not the only killer song on this album. Maybe you haven’t heard this song before, it’s called “Strawberry Jam” and it goes “Would you be my strawberry jam? I’m like a bread now, I’m ready when I’m all toasted.” Ain’t that like poetry? If not, then I don’t know what is.
Dogs Can Fly (Teeth’s Finest) (2003), Teeth. No greatest hits compilation is greater than this. You know why? Because Teeth only had four albums — three LPs and one EP (Bum Squad) — and this perfectly sums up their catalog. All the highlights are here. From the anti-alcoholism anthem (Laklak), to the anti-bum boyfriend anthem (Bum Squad), to their homage to H.G. Wells (Time Machine), to their attempt at writing a song about astronomy with the hopes that NASA would pick their song instead of that crappy song from Reese Lansangan (Shooting Star), down to the ultimate anti-slacker love song (Darating), this collection is just perfect, just like that True Faith song which not one of you probably remember. More perfect than the greatest Eraseheads albums on vinyl. Okay, there’s only one Eheads album on vinyl.