Favorite OPM albums of the Noughties December 5, 2009Posted by Richard Bolisay in Music, Noypi.
The decade is about to end and seriously I can feel a bug coming- – the laziness to do anything. Everyone’s making a list, from shopping lists to yearenders, and somehow I felt, for personal reasons, I should make one myself. So before the bug comes, tangina, uunahan ko na siya! I cannot do any shopping with the money that I have now, but I will always have music. Music to rely on, music to embrace me, and music to offer me escape. It’s always music to the rescue. And these, from the ten years that elapsed, are the local albums that made me sing, cry, laugh, roll, jump, fly, sleep, pee, poop, gasp, yawn, giggle, levitate, pray, exercise, dance, surrender to life, and appreciate the things around me; in short, the local records released this decade that I love.
Rippingyarns (Cynthia Alexander, 2000) I could put in any album by Cynthia Alexander and it wouldn’t really matter; surely it’s all a virtue of preference, of personal reasons, of love at first listen. Everyone I know who owns the record loves Rippingyarns; even those who haven’t listened to it love it already. And it’s not because of anything but Cynthia Alexander, she who can turn every word into some supernatural creation (or maybe it’s so natural we don’t notice it anymore), into images that define experience, and into sounds that defy our notions of the world. Quoting Cynthia herself, whenever I listen to this, I see sky from end to end.
Love in the Land of Rubber Shoes and Dirty Ice Cream (Orange and Lemons, 2003) Listening to Clem vs Mcoy through this album is light years apart from listening to Clem vs Mcoy in real life. This debut is nothing short of beautiful- – at times, even brilliant for its softness- – and us, who used to be fans; us, who have been with the band from “Pinoy Ako” and “Blue Moon” to that popsy shampoo commercial hit; us, who used to repress our love for them, pretending to be cool; and us, who truly enjoy ’em when it’s time to be alone and we need some love songs to comfort us- – yes, we hate those who regard Orange and Lemons as mere hasbeens, unaware that this beauty ever existed.
Sa Wakas (Sugarfree, 2003) You will never forget the first time you heard Sugarfree, or the first time you listened to Sa Wakas, or the first time you heard “Mariposa” on the radio, or the first time you cried while listening to one of their songs in this killer album. Oh shit, even the first time you went to their gig and sang along with them, cried your hearts out, and thought you could die right that very moment. Perhaps you even bought your girlfriend this album as gift, and eventually broke up with her while “Burnout” is playing inside your head. Sigh. You will always remember this; that’s the mighty curse.
Take 2 (Imago, 2003) Oh, Imago; my Imago. You know I love you. I could have chosen Probably Not But Most Definitely so I’d look cool and such a digger of obscurity but this is when I first fell in love with you. When you “Akap” me and you gave me a “Taning” the last time I saw your “Anino,” I know that will not be goodbye. I will always cherish this, and I can’t really say how I much I love this because that’s what happens when you really love something or someone and you are at a loss for words, right? Geez, even Blush is lovely even if Zach and Tim and Myrene are all dolled up. (Of course, Aia is a doll already. Doll her up and I’ll wet myself.)
Is That Ciudad? Yes Son, It’s Me (Ciudad, 2003) Come on, admit it, you had, at some point in your life, a crush on Mikey Amistoso. Deny it or that blush will never fade. That will be red for the rest of your life. Mikey likes it when a lot of people are swooning over him- -even silently, even if no one tells it at all and keeps the admiration deep inside- -and that’s great ’cause he looks more inspired, sings like his songs never age, like in Ciudad’s latter albums. Elliott Smith is dead but Ciudad are alive, kicking with a cherry on top (sounds like Shirley Temple now). Oh yes, I’m digressing quite suspiciously. Should I talk about the album? Well, just watch that dreamy road video of “Make it Slow” featuring Master Showman himself, Iza Calzado, and Vicki Belo (yes, Mikey undergoing a much-needed lipo!) and it will pull your heart in.
Influence (Urbandub, 2003) Once, before Embrace was released, I got a feeling that Urbandub would never be successful in Manila. Come on, we already have Chicosci and Typecast (yes, Typecast, don’t misinterpret, the conjunction is never meant to compare you to Chicosci, just to conjoin okay?), why should we need another emo band? Even before Mayday! Mayday! became a rowdy pick-up line of the JJs or before their videos started to look like Green Day’s, Urbandub are already Urbandub- – their diction better, their songs reek of what you call lyricism, and their band members are not wimps. Influence is one of those few instances when the best album of the year in the Rock Awards is won at the right time, and to right acclaim.
Noontime Show (Itchyworms, 2005) It’s weird seeing Jugs now hosting Showtime. He’s doing it like he’s never sung that rollicking theme, Ganito dapat ang kulay / para umunlad ang buhay / ganito dapat ang banda / pagkanta may epal na artista– – but, but, but, one has to earn. He looks like he’s having fun after all. Maybe he’s saving up to produce their next album. Anyway, Noontime Show is daring, noisy, unprecedented, and entertaining to the bone; no doubt it’s a critical and commercial success. You can’t keep a straight face while listening to this; and you can’t help but push the repeat button over and over again either. It’s the best concept album of recent years, and that’s just the surface. Listen to the songs and you feel your life is being told, and the people around you start to shape, to manifest, to roll and dance in the street, like a circus. Never speak ill about this album, or I will have to kill you.
Beautiful Machines (Pupil, 2005) You are wrong if you think that I included Beautiful Machines here just because I am a huge fan of the Eraserheads, and they sort of need to be represented yada, yada, yada, but that’s just exactly why this album is here: this is not the Eraserheads. Beautiful Machines blasts with newness, with an ambition so huge it fails in the middle but earns it back again in the end. One can tell that Ely insists on not singing everything- – a déjà vu of his previous band, maybe?- – that he wants his band members not only to co-arrange and co-write the songs, but to sing too- – because he figures this is a band, and this is collaborative. This is corroborative. Some of the songs sound so electrifying Ely was rushed to the hospital while singing them in a gig. Might have caused it? Not far-fetched.
Discotillion (Narda, 2006) One time I obliged myself to consider that my new basis for friendship will be whether or not a person likes Narda. And it still is- -sometimes. ‘Cause really, how can you not like them? They’re crazy, they’re sentimental, they’re lovely, and Katwo sings with a fist in her mouth, like punching you one song after another. Their followup to Formika is surprisingly different, astonishingly out of this world it kicks a lot of ass. I see myself jumping whenever I listen to this. And after too much jumping, I sit down and start to wallow in the thought that awesome bands really need to disband to go on with their lives.
Tanginamo Andaming Nagugutom Sa Mundo Fashionista Ka Pa Rin (Radioactive Sago Project, 2007) The title alone is everything. Then there’s that album cover and sleeve art by Louie Cordero. Then there are the songs, the bombs, the fillers, the homage to pop not-pop-now culture. The dead is the new living. The living is the new dead. There is still that overwhelming angas that Sago are known for; and charged more with formidable political poetry, nihilistic understanding, and social gas that spreads the great fire. There is blood everywhere. Smokes, fumes, and ashes of the Philippine flag. I awake and this plays: right, this is still the 21st century.
Themesongs (Ang Bandang Shirley, 2008) Quite possible that only a few manage to get hold of Ang Bandang Shirley’s first album- – or know that the band even exists- – but hey, you should! In this debut are songs that could be listened to any time of the day, like beautiful ambient music. Light, fun, dorky, and melodic- – these are tunes that you feel you have written yourself, and you start to own them the moment you sing them while you’re riding a jeepney or inside the cramped train while everyone is busy pushing one another. Themesongs is infectious but I’m not telling you to beware of it. On the contrary, I implore you to come and devour it. And isn’t that cover sweet? A candy for 299 pesos- – not really bad if this is how it tastes.
Bipolar (Up Dharma Down, 2008) Just when you thought Fragmented was already great. . . then came, almost three years later, Bipolar. It sort of felt like betrayal, like supposing the wrongest thing in your life, like. . like. . Armi Millare is a wicked fairy who told you that you have to listen to this or you’ll die, which, you followed because you wouldn’t want to die of course. I had a Bipolar day once, listening to the songs the whole day, swimming in the beauty of the arrangements, summoning the gods of nature, asking what have I done to deserve such lift to heaven. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine this decade of OPM without this- – without this- – a decade so turbulent and uneasy that a breath of magnificence like this is such a welcoming respite. And from here- – yes, from here- – we really go sublime.
Lights off, and that’s a wrap!