The Local Outsider #18: Sleep Alley, I Belong to the Zoo and Gentle Universe… somewhere

To prove that I am, once again, cramming this month’s Local Outsider, I would like to point out the fact that it’s raining outside, classes in many places are suspended, and I have this feeling all the songs here align with the rain somewhat. Again, it’s weird, because I have listed down this month’s acts a few weeks ago. (Okay, so I was not cramming; just the writing, not the listening. This is a hard non-job.) So, for those days when we’re feeling delicate and yet still have to go out to work – unless you really can’t – here’s a bunch of songs for these rainy days ahead. Or otherwise. I’m sure there are other applications for this.



First off, Sleep Alley, a band that’s been on my radar for a few months now. (Actually spotted a tweet from them talking about recording with Nikki Nava, who we featured a few months back.) Here’s a, uhh, clickbait-y song. I mean that in the nicest way. It’s the pre-2017 definition of clickbait, when the Internet felt a bit more innocent and you deployed a catchy song only when needed. Know what, I’ll posit this. “Di Naging (Tayo)” – a new single they just released, coming off of their just-issued A Lesson on Perspective EP – feels very familiar. It feels like I was back in college, walking with earphones constantly on my ears. It’s accessible (I mean, a song about heartbreak!) and it’s radio-friendly. And that tinge of loneliness on Thea Pagdagdagan’s vocals – the keeping-strong-but-barely kind – sells it. I have a feeling this will be a hit, somewhat. Please break out.



Now, something really made for the rain: I Belong to the Zoo. To be honest, I thought the name suggested someone with a quirky sound. You know, zoo, the panda imagery on the just-released eponymous album… but, actually, no. This is Argee Guerrero of Tonight We Sleep (who we also wrote about before, albeit not as part of this column) and the sound is inevitably different but the same: gentler, more wistful, but affecting all the same. “Porter”, which is in the new album, feels like a song that will automatically play in your head, or some conveniently placed outdoor speakers, as the rain starts to fall on umbrella-less you. Or when you meet eyes with someone you just feel will be the love of your life (heartbreak possible guaranteed). It’s hazy, you know? Hazy and dreamy, oddly.



Somewhere in that album is a collaboration with Reese Lansangan, which reminded me of another act that collaborated with her – and admittedly fits the rainy day theme. But this one’s a bit difficult, because… where is the Gentle Universe? Unlike most of the acts I feature here, I saw them first live – well, at Reese’s Arigato, Internet! launch, where I was smitten by their toy instruments and their very chill sound. But then, just as I planned to revisit them, they seem to have disappeared. Soundcloud’s empty, no updates for a couple of years, that sort of thing. That said, “Saglit”, a live favorite, is available for free download over on Bandcamp, and if anything, this fits in with the very moments when you wake up. Whimsical, sure; imagery too twee, perhaps. But, well, it works. Now, if we could only figure out where they have gone. [NB]

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