Everything my hormone loaded teenaged brain witnessed and experienced —nothing brings them rushing back like The Eraserheads. The pinoy Fab Four’s mastery of Filipino-isms and their grasp of the perfect pop structure do a better job of reconstructing the bittersweet moments of a life lived in the Philippines during the ‘90s than my own neurons. Twelve years after their split, the Eheads are now giving fans an early Christmas by way of two new singles to be launched in Esquire Philippine’s September 2014 Travel issue.
The Eraserheads were the biggest band to come out of the alternative music explosion that happened in the ‘90s. From out of nowhere alternative bands came out of the woodwork to soundtrack the last great decade in music. The Eheads dominated this new pop landscape with irresistible songs laden with sticky melodies and a lyrical sensibility that framed living and struggling in Manila with an optimist’s lens but also with a snarky commentary on the ironies of being Filipino.
Through the course of a career than spawned seven hit albums, an MTV award as well as local and international critical acclaim, the Eheads (Ely Buendia, Marcus Adoro, Raimund Marasigan and Buddy Zabala) are one of the most influential bands in Original Pilipino Music. With their last studio album launched 14 years ago, rumors of a studio reunion were met with a positive vibe and we’re fleshed into reality by Esquire Philippines.
Ely, Raimund, Marcus and Buddy we’re the unwitting lords of the soundtrack of my teenaged life and I find myself with the same jitters and shaky excitement of a pimpled teen while soaking in the sights and sounds of the EsquireEheads magazine launch at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati. The ball featured the Esquire September Travel issue that would be the main vehicle for the two new singles to be released by the ‘Heads.
After a 12-year studio hiatus, 1995 and Sabado are the new songs that the Eraserheads cooked up together in the midst of a whirlwind schedule of international tours. Highly anticipated is an understatement, as these two singles are a Pinoy music fan’s wet dream. You can even sense the excitement over these songs and the magazine issue launch in the packed crowd at the Mayuree Grand Ballroom in Dusit.
The event also featured a mini Eraserheads memorabilia section in the far corner of the ballroom to further wring out the nostalgia in everyone for this historic event. Featuring the band’s MTV moon man, Vinyl Toy figurines and countless other Eheads fan boy items, the mini museum was an extra drool worthy treat for everybody.
As the ballroom reached capacity, Esquire unveiled the two new music videos to accompany the singles. The videos were the perfect counterpoint to the two new songs that capture the band’s introspective, everyman lyrics encapsulated in a rough sheen of glorious pop.
In their official Facebook page, Esquire Magazine Philippines assured fans that an Eraserheads performance wasn’t in the cards for this event but after the music videos a frantic Marcus Adoro was seen rushing from the stage and babbling excitedly. As the unbelievable whispers of a surprise performance was slowly spreading through the crowd, the nearing presence of the other Eheads to the stage stoked everyone’s hope and triggered a stampede to the front.
In the rushing blur of the moment, all four were suddenly onstage and the words from the organizers and the Eraserheads, who were now all on stage, were indistinct as the crowd cheered loudly.
As the Eraserheads launched into the song Magasin, the crowd went ape shit. The crowd of esteemed journalists and ad industry executives suddenly morphed into a raucous mosh pit of fans. Gadgets were whipped to capture the moment and every hand was noticeably shaking as an historic event in OPM unfurled.
The Eraserheads’ charisma, chemistry and the legacy that now enshrouds them was a potent experience. Some sniffs were being stifled and a girl to my left had a tear streaming on to her cheek. Nostalgia mixed with music can hold a vise grip to your emotions.
Pictures would tell a better story.
After that historic performance, another gang rush ensued, this time to get in line for the Equire Issue that holds the two new singles. I grabbed my copy and immediately headed to Soundesign Studios to listen to the two new tracks and to soak up the articles in the magazine.
As the two singles played on repeat I find myself being unable to read the articles. My focus is on the sonic slice of heaven from the two new singles. It’s technically more polished than your average Eheads material. The years of their post-Eraserheads careers and the sure handed experience of two decades worth of gigs and recording experience are on display on the songs.
But it’s still there.
Call it magic or pop or a case of nostalgia hijacking my brain but these songs stick with you. The lyrics poke your heart for that piece of bittersweet insight that comes from the everyday. The simple but effective pop rock structure seem to carry the right amount of heft and weight to frame the song in a way that hits you in your gut.
As if combatting the concept of their very own nostalgia in Sabado, Buendia sings,
Ang pagpanaw ng araw, at paglalim ng dilim
Ang oras na lumipas di natin maibabalik
itapon ang kahapon, yakapin ang darating
They’re not a technical band and a full analysis of these songs will render the exquisite taste of a well-crafted tune stale. I find myself soaking up the songs in a gush of lightheaded calm. Like the Eheads of old, they have a way of making these songs about you. Every guitar crunch and every time the drums lock in to a groove frame the warble of Buendia’s voice for the maximum efficiency that hooks to your heart.
Every simple bittersweet appeal of the songs jives with every neuron of you. The singles are a master class in simplicity and speaks of the essential truth that good songs simply stay with you.
They speak of that unknowable place in you and you have no choice but to use their voice for your own. You can’t escape that they can say what you feel better through that simple recipe of grit, melody and the four minds that are simply better than ever together.
You owe it yourself to listen to these two new songs so grab a copy of the Esquire September travel issue. Its limited to 30,000 copies and for a band who can pull off a platinum record in a matter of days, that’s a low estimate for the needs of the music consuming public.