Ang Bandang Shirley plays ‘Favorite’

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Photo by Danica Condez

“Buhangin. Tubig. Alon. At pag-ibig.

Sagwan, sagwan, sagwan.

Ang lakas ng katawan.”

The lyrics are from Ang Bandang Shirley’s song “Karagatan” which is included in their latest album “Favorite.”

Guitarist Ean Aguila, who also penned the song, filled the first half with frustrations about a former lover who left to follow his dreams and chose to put an ocean between him and the person he loves. Eventually, the song turns more optimistic, as the person who was left behind attempts to cross the metaphorical ocean that divides them, rowing through deep waters as long as she can. It’s as exhausting and heavy and melancholic as it sounds, and for some reason, also addictive.

It’s difficult not to get sucked in into the fanfare of Ang Bandang Shirley, not just because of their unique productions that play along the lines of nostalgia and modern pop culture, but also because of their succinct depictions of heartbreak and loss.

The band is blessed with prolific writers like Aguila who’s also on guitars, Alvero and Selena Davis who are the main vocalists, and band manager Kathy Gener who also happens to sing. These wordsmiths do not only make catchy tunes, but also good poetry. Add to that mix Enzo Zulueta, the band’s newest bass player, Zig Rabara who man the drums, and Jun Fontanilla who completes the band’s guitar duo, and you have a team of whimsical musicians with years of background behind them.

Despite their unique attack on sad love songs, the band also never fails to enunciate what makes all of us chase that elusive feeling of love—the warmth, the happiness and the moments of trust, no matter how fleeting.

Alvero shares that their gut-punching tropes and subliminal metaphors come from the fact that the band treats their listeners as equals or smarter than most, and admits that even he himself still notices details in the songs that he did not realize during his first few listens. But more importantly, the lyrics of the songs are not idealizations of universal experiences, which make the mushy parts work. It is simply real: What is, must be.

“I hope people like the album from the start but I also hope they find themselves on the album as they listen more to it… It’s something that grows on you.”

“Favorite” will be the group’s third album, following what became this generation’s anthem “Tama na ang Drama” (2013) and their debut recording under Terno Recordings called “Themesongs” (2008).

Based from history, the band surely takes its time in creating their music. It has produced only three albums and one EP for a career that spans for more than a decade. Nonetheless, they have proven that quality trumps quantity, as always. Despite the relatively large pool of talented musicians sprouting all over the country, Ang Bandang Shirley rises above the rest. Although often labeled as “indie” or “underground” (they prefer the label “pop rock” by the way), they have appeared in commercials, graced movie scores of some of the most-acclaimed local movies as of late, and have been constant headliners on music festivals. It is no debate that they have already etched their mark in the local music industry, and has proven that they’ll be at the forefront toward the proliferation of good OPM.

For the band’s loyal fan base and for their new listeners, the 14 tracks from Favorite are not experimentation of sorts, or an attempt toward self-discovery. Instead, it’s a consummation of the members’ talents and skills ripened through age, experiences and mistakes.

Everyone participated with the recording and producing, there was more attention to every detail and arrangement, and songs were more polished. But the band also believes that less is more, for they were “hands on” as much as they were “hands off,” Alvero points out.

They welcomed more collaborators and artists to help them craft these new additions to their well-curated discography, including Modulogeek, Big Hat Gang, Nights of Rizal, The Ringmaster, and Mikey Amistoso of Ciudad and Hannah + Gabi.

He adds, “We called it favorite because ‘Favorite’ is going to be your favorite album.”

For Davis, this is the peak of their songwriting, and for the rest of the band, an album they are unanimously proud of. This is also the first album where Zulueta played bass for the group, who Davis describes as someone who “elevates the songs.” Ultimately, they consider “Favorite” their best one yet.

As with all music, songs are reflective of the time they were created and produced, and for the members of Ang Bandang Shirley, “Favorite” is a perfect snapshot of who they are at this point in their careers and in their lives. For them, they are at their best.
In their recent encounter with rock musician and OPM legend Dong Abay, they were asked: “As a songwriter, what is your goal when writing your songs?” And Abay said it best when he answered his own question— to write songs that are time-based, but are timeless.

The band is well on their way to doing just that.

 

Buy Ang Bandang Shirley’s “Favorite” album on iTunes. CDs are available on wermshop.bigcartel.com, or e-mail buy@werm.ph; coming soon on Satchmi Store Megamall, UP Town Center, Four Strings @ Cubao X.

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