The Spinners

♪ Sa Wakas (Eraserheads, 1994) ♪

In Alternative Rock, OPM, Rex Baylon, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:34 am

I am a neophyte to all things Eraserheads. As a kid during the 90s hanging out with my older cousins in the Philippines, who were themselves self-confessed audiophiles, I used to listen to their cassette tapes and educated myself on bands like the Cocteau Twins, The Cranberries, and other popular alternative rock groups then. When they tried to teach me about local music, I feigned interest but my uncultivated music palette made it next to impossible for my untrained ears to connect with songs that had non-English lyrics in them. Luckily, things had changed and that petulant little boy eventually grew up and his tastes broadened.

Dipping your toes into any artist’s oeuvre can be a daunting task, and the Eraserheads were no exception. I was aware of their esteemed reputation being the “The Beatles of the Philippines,” but other than that I was completely ignorant of their sound. After getting a few song recommendations from friends, I began to make my way through their discography and enjoyed what I heard, but nothing really grabbed me. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth song that I listened to—“Sa Wakas,” the fifteenth track in Circus—that they had my undivided attention.

To my astonishment the song is more Bob Dylan than The Beatles. Not having a full grasp of Tagalog, I was initially drawn to the melody and rhythm of the song. The discordant melody works in favor of Ely Buendia’s lyrics and vocal delivery. The inventive use of instruments like synthesizers, cowbells, and hand drums lends the song a very organic garage rock sound. Although initially I did not know what Ely Buendia was singing about, I did get hints from his earnest vocal delivery. The anguish, the frustration, and the triumph were all revealed in his voice; and like any true singer, Buendia is a man allergic to affectation. There are many songs that I have yet to listen to before I can offer anything substantial to say about the Eraserheads, but when I look back at my younger self I regret not having paid attention to my cousins who were sharing their passion for Pinoy rock with me. As a boy you hunt for the familiar, things that validate what you already know to be true, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but if you only look at the same picture everyday, listen to the same song day in and day out, and eat the same dish every meal, you risk living a snow globe existence.

Happily, I broke out of that shell years ago and now I can’t wait to delve deeper into the Eraserheads oeuvre.

– Rex Baylon


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