You’ve probably read the news by now. The latest Eraserheads cheese to reach your feeds. That “Minsan” wasn’t really abut ‘them’. That ‘them’ were never really ‘friends’. And people are losing their minds, on Facebook and Twitter. Never had the time nor the interest to read most of the reactions Continue reading “Minsan sa may Kalayaan”
Ely Buendia finally revealed the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”, to the dismay of fanatical fans, budding conspiracy theorists, and wannabe UP professors. And if you are one of those who used to believe that the myth wasn’t just a myth, that there’s really something behind what’s written on the wall Continue reading “The Real True Meaning of Eraserheads’ “Spoliarium””
We all know how it started. The band peddled their garage sale demo to every known record company. And they got rejected by the record labels because they weren’t pop enough. The songs weren’t pop enough. And they weren’t pogi enough. It’s almost saying that their music Continue reading “Schizo Records Reissues Eraserheads’ Pop U! on its 30th Anniversary!”
Back in 1997, Eraserheads released an EP, a taste test for their then upcoming fifth studio album. They called it Bananatype. And put a monkey on its cover. At the time, local bands/artists don’t usually release EPs or maxi-singles. Which explains why Ely Buendia had to explain what is an EP Continue reading “The Real True Meaning of ‘Gaheto’ in Eraserheads’ “Harana” “
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. Continue reading “Breeder’s Digest: San Cisco, Neil Young, Oh, Flamingo!”
I already wrote a long-ish one about ‘Kaliwete’ — yes, that song, and no, it’s not what some people thought it was about. Now, it’s time we get into the other songs from Eraserheads’ first and only fifth album. I don’t really feel like writing a long intro so I won’t be dissing IVoS or Ben&Ben fans this time. By the way, I think I liked Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions’ Bavarian Fruit Bread Continue reading “Explaining Eraserheads’ ‘Andalusian Dog’, ‘Ha Ha Ha’, & other songs off Sticker Happy”
A Non-review Review of Mervin Malonzo’s Sawa Ka Na Ba?
Kung sakali mang hindi n’yo pa nababasa ito, ay ‘wag nang magatubili. Basahin n’yo na ang “Sawa Ka Na Ba?” ni Mervin Malonzo na matutunghayan sa website ng Haliya Publishing. Kung tinatamad ka o sawa ka na ring mag-type sa Google para mag-search, maari lamang na i-click ang text na ito. ‘Yan, maaari mo nang basahin Continue reading “Kumuha ka ng Superproxy”
Kurt Cobain, widely known for playing guitars left-handed (like Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney), was actually right-handed and wrote with his right hand.
I’m not really into songs’ lyrics. Not that much. At least not as much as those who make himay-himay the lyrics of their favorite songs. Or like those IV of Spades fans on YouTube. By the way, I’ve already made up my mind. I like the Ben&Ben fans more — those who post their heartbreaking sob stories in the comment section. Continue reading “The Real True Meaning of Eraserheads’ “Kaliwete””
Maybe Billy Corgan was right. The world is a vampire — sent to drain. Not that humanity being evil or unfair, as per the phrase’s definition on Urban Dictionary, but keeping abreast with the latest news and what’s happening around you, that could really drain you. Like for example back home, we haven’t really flattened the curve yet. Continue reading “Eraserheads, Marimar and Christmas albums”
Tribute Albums Galore
Ultraelectromagneticjam | Various Artists | 2005
That no one thought about making an Apo Hiking tribute until this came out probably tells the difference between love and respect. Or maybe it’s just that the Eraserheads are insanely more popular and there’s more demand. Tribute albums are usually reserved for die-hards but not this. Alternate versions of Ehead’s lesser hits are fun (Sugarfree, OnL, Imago). There are covers better than the original (e.g., The Man Who Sold the World) but not in this album. Barbie and Kitchie? Cute. Especially Kitchie’s half-giggle on that line about shaving. Cueshe’s “Hard to Believe” at x1.25 speed? Not bad. Sponge Cola’s “Pare Ko”? Just a little bit better than my neighbor singing it on videoke. And it’s fucking 6:02 long! Can’t really play this loud beyond 10 PM. Or expect stones raining on your roof (Magpatulog naman kayo)! There are a few unexpected but interesting left turns too (MYMP, South Border, Isha). I wonder if Isha changing Ely’s “beeper” to “cellphone” is already outdated—I’m still calling them “cellphones” and not “smartphones”. Didn’t really expect Ciudad or Narda to be in this album. But where the fuck are Kamikazee? Hilera? Itchyworms? Maybe, 6cyclemind aren’t really worthy to do “Alapaap”. And they even made it worse by making it sound like a 6cyclemind song. A-
The Reunion: An Eraserheads Tribute Album | Various Artists | 2012
Aiza couldn’t ruin “With A Smile”, more so with Mike Villegas on her side. But Callalily definitely could. “Minsan” is probably the toughest Eheads song to cover and they should have given it to Vin Dancel. But only so that he wouldn’t have to re-do “Overdrive” because Barbie Almalbis’ cute version was more than enough. We all know Brownman Revival built a career out of their reggae-corrected version of “Maling Akala”. But it also sounds too close to the original. The better alternative then is Itchyworms’ country-fied version, which makes you wonder again why they were not included before. You probably never heard of Iwa Motors and Jennylyn Sucaldito but Tanya Markova’s “Hey Jay” is one of highlights here. Johnoy Danao and Razorback/Gloc9? Just OK. Though you have to wonder why ’90s dinosaurs like Razorback even bothered. We’ve finally got Hilera with “Kaliwete”, but they kind of overloaded it with rockabilly. They would’ve probably done better with a folk-rock “Poorman’s Grave”. Still, no Kamikazee. “Insomya” would’ve been a good fit for them. “Alkohol”, too. A naughty kupaw version of “Bogchi Hukbo” would probably work. And they could definitely do “Magasin” justice better than Chicosci (boobs mo’y gawa ni Belo). Again, 6cyclemind doing “Alapaap”? Fucking shameless. B-
Pop Machine | Various Artists | 2019
Munimuni certainly did a better job than Callalily. But they covered the wrong song. Think they should’ve tried “Kailan” instead. Ciudad’s “Aling Nena” is just too clean, too precise, too close to the original (except for the hilarious spoken parts i.e., “ee-sang ae-raaw”), therefore totally defeating the purpose. There are nine cuts already (as of this writing) and most of which, recyclable. (Ask: why should I listen to this instead of the original?) Except for 1) The Borrachos’ raspy gin-fueled bluesy cover of “Poorman’s Grave”. Borracho as in drunk. (In Bicol, we call them burat. No, not that “burat”—put it back in—the other one.) And 2) Reese Lansangan’s transcendent version of “Huwag Kang Matakot”. Ely Buendia said he wrote the song for Eon. Reese Lansangan re-imagines it as a mother’s lullaby for her child. Vision, material, execution—all aligned to perfection. **
Awesome header art by Felix Taaka.
Ewan ko pero sobrang ganda neto…
Di rin panapon ‘to.
You can never quarantine the past
Not intending this to be a quasi best of list. Just ten albums I liked/loved more than the others. All which came out between 2010 and last year. Maybe this is more of a personal chart, what music songs records I’ve been listening to for the last ten years. And this doesn’t even include those which were made in the ’90s and the 2Ks. Continue reading “My 10 Favorite Records of the 2010’s”
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. Continue reading “Better Off / Guijo St. (Makes You Wonder) – Apartel (2016) “
Carbon Stereoxide, Eraserheads’ last studio album, came out almost two years since their previous record—less than a year before Ely Buendia unceremoniously announced his “graduation”. For a band that put out new materials year in, year out, from 1993 to 1999, that twenty-two month gap and the resulting album was more or less telling, indicative of things to come.
It wasn’t really like they ran out of gas. Or fresh ideas. But harness them and produce something surprising and cohesive was something they weren’t able to do this time. It wasn’t like they’ve reach the end of the road either. They’re just not sure which way to go. The resulting album is decidedly difficult, dark, anticlimactic. At times, Carbon Stereoxide is more like a pilot episode for three upcoming acts: Ely Buendia’s The Mongols/Pupil, Marcus Adoro’s Surfernando/Markus Highway and Raymund Marasigan’s Squid9.
Maybe, Raymund and Buddy tried to keep things together. And wrote the hit Ely wouldn’t want to write anymore (“How Far Will U Go”). Buendia wanted guitar-rock and probably, less drum machine, less electronic bleeps. More specifically, Ely wanted “Teeth’s early Smashing Pumpkins guitars” (the best iteration of which, could be found on The Mongols’ Buddha’s Pest). Still, little new things sprung up here and there. Marcus Adoro’s Pink Floyd plug “Wala” and “Pula”, at least, offers something different. So do Squid9 guest-appearances every two or three songs.
Marcus finally had proper songs on this album; not just token noise-rock blargh (“Southsuperhighway”), fillers (“Punk Zappa”), or a weak album opener (“Bato”). Marasigan, who also wanted the ‘Heads to make electronic-rock album, like Kid A, guests as pre-Ink Jet Squid9. And he did what the band wouldn’t do full-time, did it on the side, the fillers (“Bloodtest”, “Ok Comprende”). They were slight detours, maybe stellar as parts, but detract from the whole. Of course, there’s Buendia’s “Outside” to make up for the whole album’s apparent lack of hooks.
Coming from Eraserheads, the album’s title as well as its cover art, seem like a momentary lapse of judgment—the stereo in stereoxide, almost cliche by the Eheads standard. (Remember the color coded stems on Natin99? Or the nude chick on the piano on Sticker Happy? Did anyone bother to deliberate the choice of title and album art?) But to say the same about the songs would be a stretch for sure. Carbon Stereoxide isn’t a bad record. But it’s also lacking in that whatever elevated their previous works.
By the time they made Carbon Stereoxide, the Eraserheads—Ely, Marcus, Buddy, Raymund—were twice the musicians that they were back when they were just starting out, back when they recorded their debut. But they’re also less than the band they used to be. And in Carbon Stereoxide, one can finally see the cracks, the seams, the spaces between them.
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 Continue reading “Eraserheads Albums Ranked (Well, Sort of)”
Themesongs isn’t really as great, much less original, as all those millennial kids who raved about it before would have you believe. Musically, it’s mostly just second-hand twee. But the songs are playful, quirky, they’d make you wanna jump, dance or chase around your hun and give him/her your tweest embrace when you catch him/her. And the lyrics, the Tagalog lyrics, well, that’s what elevates this from all other local indie-pop peeps, and somehow justifies them using a name from a song by the Eraserheads.
I mean, Ciudad didn’t call themselves Torpedo or Butterscotch, Itchyworms didn’t call themselves Scorpio Rising, Orange & Lemons didn’t go by Milk & Money, and Ebe Dancel, even though a big Eheads fan, named his band so because he’s Diabetic. Oh, well, whatever. Only Owel Alvero, Selena Salang, et al had the gall. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is, attaching Eraserheads to their band name was a risky move. I know some people didn’t like it.
If I remember correctly, there were some dismissive comments on their music video for “Sa Madaling Salita” on YouPorn. Still, I think having “Shirley” in their name quite worked for them, Owel Alvero and rest of the gang. “Sa Madaling Salita” is also quite good. The music video, not much, though at least it’s not as off-putting as Up Dharma Down’s “Turn It Well.” Also, bonus points for the band for putting the words “dumadanak ng dugo” in a love song.
Where was I? Yes, the lyrics. Ah, Patintero. Have you ever wonder before why the girls, when they started hitting puberty, they would stop playing games like Patintero (or anything that requires touching and running) or if they’d still do, their very strict lola or old maid tita would scold them and damn them to hell? Hmm… exactly. Kung ika’y aking mahuli, di ko kagad masasabi / kung ano ang una kong gagawin sa’yo. Well, he definitely knows what he’s going to do next, but it’s this kind of playfulness in the lyrics that makes the songs in Themesongs work.
Then, there’s the title track where the lovers wait for their would be theme song. Because, you know, it isn’t always like the movies, where the perfect love song plays in the background the moment the girl says “Oo.” That’s cute. But do girls still say “Oo” nowadays? I don’t know. Maybe they use some other phrases, slang or colloquial terms. Or maybe just plain lazy phrases like “wala lang” or “iyong”?
The best song here, “Tsuper Duper”, is probably the closest they have for a crossover hit. Y’know, like crossover from Nu107 to Love Radio, that kind of thing. (I know there’s a longer title but “Tsuper Duper” has better recall like ABBA’s “Super Trooper” and the best longest song title award is already taken.) And it’s probably the most Ely Buendia-ish and Stephen Malkmus-y song Owel Alvero has ever written. The moment they shouted “Solo na!” just before the guitar solo echoes Pavement’s “And they’re coming to the chorus now,” which, of course, Malkmus sings just before the song’s chorus.
There’s something in Themesongs—I don’t know—a kind of knowing or self-awareness that’s missing in their other albums. And you know what, second-hand twee or not, I’d give this one a blowjob just for this song title alone: “Kagabi Nanaginip Si Morrissey Na May Nagmamahal Sa Kanya.” It’s hardly album of the year material but it’s definitely worth a spin.
1. Do you have any fan merchandise that is unusual?
Hmm, not sure if it could be considered as a band merch or something, but… I got a souvenir from the Mocha Girls, and this was back when they were still APOLITICAL, and in some of their shows, they would throw panties at the audience. You know, you have to jump and catch them or fight with the others. Continue reading “Barbie, Thom Yorke, Mocha Girls, Unit 406, etc.”
I was plugged in to my phone when the news came crashing outside my window: on its 25th anniversary, the remastered version of Ultraelectromagneticpop would be available on Spotify and other digital platforms. And I listened to it on Spotify the same day it came out. What tiny tidbit I missed at the time, is the news that it will be available not just for digital streaming, but also in other format—physical format to be exact. Continue reading “Ultraelectromagneticpop on Vinyl – The Good The Bad & The Ugly”
Sticker Happy (1997) – Eraserheads
Drinkin’, Lechin’, & Lyin’ (1989), Cold Hands (1990), White Out (2000) – Boss Hog
Night Time, My Time (2013) – Sky Ferreira
Materiales Fuertes (2015) – Trinidad
By The Way (2002), Mother’s Milk (1989) – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Zilch (2015) – Pupil
Sparkle Hard (2018) – Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Songs About Fucking (1987) – Big Black
Surfer Rosa (1988) – Pixies
Taste Test (2003) – The Pin-up Girls
Hale (2005) – Hale
First, the images above. They’re from the inlay cards of Fruitcake album. Probably, cassette. Not my own, just found ’em on the inter-webs. Now, I heard there is a Fruitcake movie in the works. And it’s about a now grown-up Frannie Wei trying to go back to Fruitcake Heights. But before she could enter that magical place, she has to collect Continue reading “Balikbayan Box: The 20 E-ssential Eraserheads Songs, Vol.2-Part 2”
I spoke too soon. I took this raw recording clip from YouTube as proof of an on-going recording session and joined the #ultrasecret bandwagon. Last week, Ely Buendia surprised us with (initially) semi-cryptic posts on Instagram, then an announcement: they’re releasing a remastered version of Ultraelectromagneticpop for its 25th Anniversary. Continue reading “Balikbayan Box: The 20 E-ssential Eraserheads Songs, Vol.2-Part 1”
Before comedy bars became the favorite hangout of your wannabe-cool titas, who were never really into bands, frats or gangs (and therefore, were never really cool in the first place), the bar/band shenanigans were exclusively aimed for drunk and stoned college kids who were into bands, strippers, and booze. They’re the ones who’ll later turn into yuppies and sing-drunk to Radiohead’s “Creep” with Tagalog lyrics in company parties and karaoke bars.
The title alone is indicative enough how much veggie rolls this sextet has consumed. Of course, TVJ is one of their role models and Tough Hits is the blueprint they patterned this from. And since they’re three heads harder than the aforementioned trio, the goof numbers are sandwiched between original songs and the parodies come in full form.
Radiohead’s first hit became “Trip”, a tale about addiction to siopao made in Shaolin House, one less punky The Clash number became “The Crush”, and “Tatlong Araw” was supposedly borrowed from Yano’s “Mc Jo”. Sophomoric, here, is a compliment and if you want more proof, go to “Karaoke ni Edgar”, it’s killer-filler-fun (Sample lyrics: Okey ka sana, kaso lang, lalake ka).
And the originals are no less catchy and memorable (“Buloy”, “Maniwala Ka Sana”) since the other group they look up to is no other than the Eraserheads. If Stephen Malkmus and Spiral Stairs once made up a story about getting into a fight while auditioning for Beverly Hills, 90210, PNE made a song about trying it out for the Tuesday Edition of Kuya Germs’ That’s Entertainment.
Up to this day, I’m still apprehensive about playing “Lutong Bahay” really loud, that my neighbors, elderly folks, mothers, from Batangas and elsewhere, would find the play on cuss words (putang ina mo and puking ina mo) and innuendos offensive, disrespectful (Ako’s lalayas sa amin—upang makatikim—ng puta(heh) ng ina mo, cooking ng ina mo–oh). That Darius Semana’s mother, who hails from Lipa Batangas, is probably cool with and even proud of it, I find a bit comforting.
Still, a song about eating your girlfriend’s mother’s special pancake in the morning isn’t something your girlfriend and her mother would want to hear—in the car, in a party or in family gatherings—though they most probably wouldn’t mind if newer songs like “Peacock”, Flo Rida’s “Whistle” or “Versace on the Floor” are on your playlist. But that’s okay, you can always put your head-phones on, and LOL yourself into oblivion.
Not quite as dismal as the last collaboration album with Ely Buendia’s name on it. But not quite as good as Pupil’s (or Hilera’s) last album either. In case anyone’s forgotten already, The Oktaves is Ely Buendia’s kind-of-full-time-but-not-really other band, a supergroup who don’t seem to hang out together. Or maybe they do hang out, only not as much as the members of Sandwich and Pedicab.
The best cut on this otherwise solidly bland album, is the alternate take or mix of “Bungo Sa Bangin,” previously released on RockEd’s Rock Rizal. Continue reading “The Oktaves – The Oktaves (2013)”
Rivermaya never got rejected by record labels because their songs weren’t “pop enough.” They never experienced selling tickets only so they could play in Club Dredd. If there’s anything naysayers had to say about Rivermaya, it’s that they were manufactured (they were the brainchild of Chito Roño and Liza Nakpil), they never toiled the underground Continue reading “Rivermaya Albums Ranked From Worst To Best”
I’ll let you in on a secret. The Eraserheads, the now defunct greatest local band in the land, is in the process of re-recording the songs from their ultra-celebrated but supposedly tinny-sounding first album Ultraelectromagneticpop!. Maybe I should drop “supposedly” in my last sentence, because that’s the very reason Ely Buendia wanted to re-do their twenty-five year old debut. Continue reading “Maselang Bahaghari: The 20 E-ssential Eraserheads Songs, Vol.1”
Eraserheads’ Sticker Happy Turns 20
They called themselves Eraserheads. They took it from David Lynch’s surreal horror film, which was released in 1977, the same year Punk exploded. Eraserheads took off in 1993, two years after Nirvana and grunge broke into the mainstream. Apparently, Lynch’s film was still popular among late ’80s – early ’90s film school circles. Punk, on the other hand, was on the verge of another revival. The Eraserheads were never punk, though they flirted with punk and discord more than once (i.e., Insomya). What they surely had in abundance though, especially in their early days, was “punk attitude”. Twenty years after David Lynch’s film debut came Sticker Happy. And twenty years later, the girl in front of the upright piano still has her back on us, but that’s OK—the songs are still sticky, colorful. We, the fans, happy.
Wala lang. 20th anniversary kasi ng paborito kong album na Sticker Happy. Oo, tama yung may nakahubad na babae sa cover. Wala na sigurong mas iconic pa dito. Kahit yung cover ng paborito kong Abbey Road (yung LP ha, at hindi yung EP na may “The” sa title)? Walang sinabi yun. Pero di tulad ng Pavement, Radiohead at Nirvana walang inilabas na re-issue o special edition ng Sticker Happy (ganun din naman yung mga naunang albums ng ‘Heads). Samakatuwid, walang Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinel Edition o Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe. Pero OK lang, pwede namang magpatugtog ng mga live recordings nila circa Sticker Happy mula sa baul ni Schizo (unfortunately, wala palang bootlegs sa mga panahong iyon).
Mahirap i-describe ang mga kanta ng Eraserheads. May mga kantang malungkot ang tema, pero masaya. Maganda ang melody pero maingay din kung minsan. Pangkaraniwan ang boses ni Ely, di tulad nina Bamboo o Axl Rose, pero kakaiba ang dating ng mga kanta nila. Hindi masyadong teknikal, pero magaling. Madaling sakyan pero hindi baduy. Pero ibang usapan na pagdating sa Sticker Happy. Mas mahirap i-describe. Lalo na yung sound nila. Heto lang masasabi ko: medyo bastos yung “Kaliwete”, wasak yung “Ha Ha Ha”, walang sense ang “Kananete”, at di pa rin ako sigurado kung 100% sincere si Ely sa “Para sa Masa”. Maganda yung “Milk and Money” at “Andalusian Dog”, parehong lumang kanta na binigyan nila ng panibagong areglo, pero ayoko nang himayin pa kung ano man ang sinasabi nila sa lyrics.
Sa kabila nito, may isang kanta sa Sticker Happy na simple lang, pero malalim. Hindi sya maingay, walang masyadong gaheto—distortion man o sampler—pero mabigat. Tungkol ito sa love, tungkol sa faith. Tungkol sa mga bagay na akala natin ay totoo, pero malalaman natin sa huli, na hindi pala. Mga bagay na pinaniwalaan natin nang bata pa tayo. Napag-usapan namin dati yung line na “someone up there is waiting with arms open wide and smiling”. Sabi ko, ang pagkakaintindi ko, tungkol ito sa mga trapo, na tunay na tao lang pag malapit na ang eleksyon. Sabi ng kaibigan ko hindi, tungkol ito kay Papa Jesus. Napaisip ako noon. Sabi ko, hmm, may point sya. ‘Yung linyang “suffering is what you get for living” naman, nito ko rin na-ii-relate sa mga nababasa ko tungkol sa spirituality, sa Buddhism, at sa Tuesdays with Morrie. Life is suffering, yun ang totoo at “wala ka nang magagawa kundi sundin ito.” Ganun din ang mga pagkahaba-habang pelikula ni Lav Diaz. Naalala ko tuloy nung minsang napanood ko yung Melancholia. Tapos kinabukasan umuwi ako sa amin. Habang nasa bus, narinig ko yung “Gusto Ko Lamang Sa Buhay” ng Itchyworms. Muntik na akong mapaluha. Sa unang pagkakataon matapos mapanood ang walong oras na pelikula ni Lav Diaz, nakaramdam ako ng tuwa. It’s hard to explain. Matigas ipaliwanag.
Ang mga larawan ay hiniram lamang sa Facebook page ng ERASERHEADS : The Greatest Filipino Band Ever (Believe it or else.) at nilikha ni ACIII. This blog entry is brought to you by the numbers 6 and 9 and by the letter Ng.
Got Buddha’s Pest few months ago—got it pre-loved, second-hand, from eBay. As advertised, it is in mint condition. The CD inserts, with production notes and lyrics, are still intact—means the previous owner really took good care of it. It’s quite amusing though, that the liner notes come with directions and precautions, warning about the dangers in playing it loud and listening closely. That at full volume, it is no different from the red pill that could lead you down the rabbit hole; that it’s as potent as any mind-altering substance that could trigger mental time travel or worse, disorient and fuck the brain.
Buddha’s Pest is Jesus “Dizzy” Ventura’s (a.k.a. Ely Buendia) first proper release, post-Eraserheads; The Mongols, his first formal band since “graduation”. Like the five-track EP Fraction of A Second, which was sold in their gigs in CD-R format, Buddha’s Pest is also self-produced by the band, released via their own Criminal Records, but under a major label imprint for wider distribution. Much like Teeth’s unintended swan song I Was A Teenage Tree, Buddha’s Pest is criminally underrated.
Quite interesting that The Mongols open the album with repeated sampled noises (which echoes, whether intentional or not, the electronic beats and loops from the Heads’ last outing), before kicking the flood gates open with “The Keeper”. What follows is a string of tunes that not only recalls the early ’90s—particularly shoegaze and grunge—but also reminds of Ely Buendia’s witticisms and penchant for melody—with the latter having gone a bit suspect on Carbon Stereoxide.
The Mongols mine old gold, both tuneful and mouthful: whether it’s the fragmented lyricism of “Bulakbol”, Buendia’s internal monologues in “Bakit Nga Ba?”, or his parade of comic-book characters in both the Billy Corgan-esque “Wig Out” (a troglodyte, a silent sentry, the Minotaur) and the impossibly sublime “Irish Spring” (the dragon-slayer, his lady fair, and the little monster). The words aren’t just sounds that flows with the tunes. There are stories in there, floating in a whirl of fuzz and distortion. Needless to say, this is easily Buendia’s best set of songs since Sticker Happy.
“We grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever.”
– Lariat (Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, 2014)
Everyone wants to be a 90’s kid these days. Everyone wants to relive those times when “Pare Ko” hits the top of the charts; when “Alapaap”, “Banal Na Aso” and “Laklak” almost got banned; when Rivermaya premiered their music video for “Elesi”; and when the boys of Parokya Ni Edgar debuted on national TV, wearing skirts and dusters. Continue reading “Have you ever wished you were a 90’s kid? FYI, the 2000’s was awesome too!”
Simply put, this is the local equivalent of Nevermind. Instead of a nude baby in the pool, we got these four flaming lads gracing the cover, chill as fuck and wearing chucks, with two of them holding what appear like rolled-up joints. Like Nirvana, the Eraserheads toiled the underground, signed to a major label, hit big and made a whole lot of impact in the music scene.
Musically though, chuck-sporting lads is just a very different album from little baby blue. Nevermind is a hurtling punk-rock album, while Ultra is an unabashed pop record, though one that is hardly representative of pop music of the early ‘90s, local or otherwise. The former helped popularize rock music with loud distorted guitars. On Ultra, however, one gets the nagging feeling—which the band themselves pointed out and griped about—that the guitars could have been louder.
Guitar mixing and other recording/production issues aside, the tunes flow from start to finish. Whether they take their cue from Manila Sound (“Easy Ka Lang”, the glorious “Ligaya”), Motown (“Shake Yer Head”), try and fail to make 100% reggae (“Maling Akala”), graft both Nat King Cole and Paul McCartney into a sped-up reggae folk number (“Toyang”) or do punkish take on a straight pop song (“Shirley”), the results were no less than perfect. And when delivered with such verve, one tends to overlook that production-wise, it’s got nothing on the aforementioned album that bears the name Butch Vig. Purists and fans alike described its sound as “tinny”. But whether this “tinny” sound diminishes the bands outstanding song-craft, creative sheen and the songs’ ultra-magnetic appeal, is surely up for debates. Me, I say tinny sound my ass! Ultra is a lo-fi pop masterpiece, its lack of polish being incidental notwithstanding.
The word Beatles-esque has been attached to Eraserheads’ music since the time they knocked Jose Mari Chan off the top of the charts. But there’s nothing anglophilic about the timeless post-basted, group support therapy (a.k.a binge drinking) session of “Pare Ko”, or in the cutesy, t-shirt parading, thesis-making love song “Ligaya”. “Tindahan Ni Aleng Nena”, the one song they deliberately tried to channel the Beatles is very much Pinoy at heart—its story revolves around a sari-sari store and migration to Canada. There’s no fake Brit accent on “Shake Yer Head” either. And despite referencing “Silly Love Songs”, “Toyang” is unassailably Pinoy; with bitso-bitso, Coke 500, Sky Flakes, and “Bahay Kubo”, all in a song about true love.
Looking past its cultural impact and significance, Ultraelectromagneticpop! isn’t so much groundbreaking as it is an excellent pop record. The songs may sound pretty dated by now, but back in 1993, they did sound unlike anything else. Thanks mainly to the local mainstream music, which back in 1993, sounded like it was still 1983. The Apo Hiking Society, Gary Valenciano, Smokey Mountain, Donna Cruz, Regine Velasquez, and the Introvoys—they were all stuck in the ’80s, sleeping for so long with their hair rollers on, only to be awaken by the noise from an underground scene, already bursting at the seams.
Not All Songs with the Word Baby Are Wussy
The word baby, like love, is one of the most frequently abused words in popular music. From Peter Frampton’s 1975 single “Baby I Love Your Way”, to the annoyingly ubiquitous Big Mountain cover of the same in the mid-90’s, to Ed Sheeran’s 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud”, there have been countless times the word appeared in songs’ lyrics and titles. Needless to say, the word has been used and abused by singers and songwriters, especially in the pop and R&B genre. So that when someone posted a question on the internet, asking about songs that have the word baby in the lyrics, someone answered that it’s probably easier to list down songs that don’t contain that word.
Overusing the word in songs surely cheapens its meaning and intended impact. The good news is, creativity knows no boundaries. Yes, there are countless forgettable songs with the word baby in them, but there are also songs that made use of the word in ways more imaginative than just rehashing same old variations of “baby, I love you”.
Below is a list of songs that use the word baby, but not in a way most songwriters have used them. This list will not include songs that go along lines of Bon Jovi’s “Always” or Guns & Roses’ “Patience”. So, songs like Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss”, a straight-ahead cover of an old 1961 non-hit that eventually became the Pearl Jam’s highest charting single; 3 Doors Down’s maudlin and watered-down post grunge ballad “Here Without You”; and Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby”, which is actually fine, will not be included. And definitely not “Thinking Out Loud” – because even at its best, Mr.Nice Guy’s song sounds like a low-rent version of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”.
That one song that has a chorus that sticks to your head like glue – even if you don’t understand the lyrics except for the words, my and baby. Forget about what they’re actually singing in it. In the years before Google Translate and smartphones – good looks, hair mousse, catchy chorus and the lines “Oh baby, baby, baby/my baby, baby” were enough to make a hit as big as this Mandopop meteorite.
Britney Spears’ 1999 hit made the cut mainly for Travis’ sort of impromptu and knowing cover version of it. On second thought, the original gets half a point for having the words hit me and baby in the same line – undeniably, an artistic achievement in teen pop music. Some people mistook it for S&M, some, misogyny. Turns out the guys behind the hit only meant “call me”. So, despite all the suggestive dance routines in a school girl outfit, it’s actually quite harmless. But Travis’ version is hilarious, and probably the best version there is. Like the audience in that concert, I had good laugh the first few times I heard it.
Before Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, and [insert recent cool indie band here], there was Blur. And before Blur, there were Faces, The Kinks, and well, The Beatles. “Beetlebum” and “Song2” may be their most recognizable songs, especially in the US, but the band is way much more than the noise-guitar band that they were in 1997; as can be heard on their previous singles like “The Universal” and “Girls and Boys”, and on this first single off their 1999 album 13. “Tender” was a departure from the sound of Blur (the album that houses “Beetlebum” and “Song2”), and features both Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon on vocals (with Coxon singing the “oh my baby”-part) backed by the London Community Gospel Choir. With all the aggression that dominated rock in the late nineties, this break-up tune with the line “Love is the greatest thing (that we had)” was like a beacon of hope shining across the dark Nu Metal-infested landscape.
There’s a very thin line between clever and lame and Rico Blanco probably crossed it more than once on one of the best tracks off his debut Your Universe. This is one of those where he played all the instruments (and he was splendid on drums!) And whether the lines “Gumawa na lang tayo ng paraan/Gumawa na lang tayo ng (baby)” is clever or not, this remains as one of his all-time bests – a hopeful love song that acknowledges his keyboard-man role in Rivermaya and pays homage to his namesake thru its Tag-lish lyrics and one off-color joke.
You probably knew them for “Stacy’s Mom”, a.k.a. the MILF song, which is also their most popular hit. The music video for which, pays homage to Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Outside of the said song, Fountains of Wayne is hardly the type of band that thrives on peddling sophomoric jokes, as one might assume based on that song. Most of their songs tell stories (i.e., Leave the Biker, Hackensack (yes, the one covered by Katy Perry)), but Fountain of Wayne’s first single “Radiation Vibe” is lyrically ambiguous. And that’s probably the reason it was a minor hit, despite the ear-worm melodies and knockout musicianship. The lines “Baby, baby, baby/Come on, what’s wrong?” aren’t really the most ingenious part of this song – it’s the melody with which Chris Collingwood sing those lines. It’s the way the song transitioned from the seemingly bottled up verses then burst into the chorus like an exploding bottle of soda. Sounds exactly like the kind of vibe the song is referring to.
Here’s another song that pays tribute to the one and only Rico J. Puno. The inspiration for the song came one time the Eraserheads did a show with him. The lines “Mag-ayos lang daw ng upo”, according to them, came from one of Rico’s joke that night. Whether the joke was about sitting in general or specifically about sitting on the toilet, we don’t know. What I know is that the word baby is uttered somewhere in this song. And I didn’t catch it until about…a few months ago? Sticker Happy came out in 1997 and I’ve been listening to this song sporadically for almost twenty years. (Damn, I really need to quit on loud music now and go visit an ENT specialist before I totally lose my ears.)
Whether it’s the 1971 Carpenters version or Sonic Youth’s fuzzed up tribute to the former, one can never go wrong with this classic. Written and first recorded in 1969 (by a bunch of musicians who were so in loved with themselves that they had to write a song about a groupie longing for someone who’s really good with guitars – someone like Eric Clapton), Richard Carpenter took the song and turned it into what is now the most popular version of it. One might think that this made use of the common “baby, I love you” line and does not belong in the list. But it’s not a cutesy boy-who-plays-guitar-meets-girl kind of story. More like rockstar-meets-groupie-had-one-night-stand-and-then-goodbye. Of course, I don’t hear it that way. What I hear is just a good schmaltzy song – a bit naïve, romantic and sweet. And that’s the kind of magic only Karen Carpenter could make. The same magic Sonic Youth destroyed and reconstructed in the 1994 version.
The most sentimental song on the list, Pavement’s “Stereo” is actually the long lost answer to the previous song – the Carpenters classic. “Hey, listen to me! I’m on the stereo! Stereo-oh!” is definitely about a guitarist addressing someone who’s listening on the radio (i.e., the groupie). And on the next line, Stephen Malkmus appropriated Karen Carpenter’s “Baby, baby, baby…” line, before shouting “Give me malaria! Hysteria!”
Wait, that didn’t sound right.
Okay, maybe this isn’t really the answer to “Superstar”, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the greatest slacker songs ever—not to mention having the balls to make fun of Geddy Lee’s impossibly high register. Which isn’t really surprising given that they once dissed both The Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots before, in one of their songs. Which only proves that, Pavement is ultimately, definitely, and absolutely rad.