The Local Outsider #33: Washington Drama Club, Where’s Ramona? and (once again) Reese Lansangan

When I began this column three years ago I had a bit of apprehension that this would be a token slot for local music, which these things tend to be, which ultimately isn’t good for this blog’s attempts to cover it all better. Well, yes and no. I’ve amped up the album reviews, but then I still forget a lot of things. But then, can I blame it on being busy too? I was meaning to review the new Apartel album, but haven’t. Same with the new Strange Creatures album, but haven’t. Same with Eyedress‘ album, but haven’t. (I do have a “review the album within a week of release” policy.) I can barely keep track of my editorial calendar, much more my work one. It is a sign of things to come, I’m afraid.


What I have listened to is the new single from Reese Lansangan, “Islands”. This blog (and, by extension, this column) owes her a fair bit: she’s the first local artist who we first covered with a bit more seriousness, and arguably she paved the way for us to have a bit more confidence in writing about the local scene – one I have had a mixed relationship with, so to speak, if only because it feels so exclusive. Anyway, so I felt I had to reserve some time to listen to that new single. Is it a change in direction? I’m not sure it is, although it does shimmer in cool pop production. I don’t feel much for that because it’s what everybody else likes and it’s everywhere, but it does fit her voice. Also, unlike what I tweeted when the single first dropped, it’s not a summer song. It’s universal. It still feels like a Reese song, but with the maturity that began to seep through her Of Sound Mind & Memory EP. So, I wonder what that next EP will sound like…


I had also made some time for Washington Drama Club – for a band that’s been around a while I have only heard about them this month, when the release of their new EP Yada Yada Yada. Okay, so the band’s name was interesting – it is how I stumble upon most of the acts here, really. I haven’t listened to the EP, but I did listen to “Lucid Dreamer”, which reminds me, as with many of the bands I tend to like, of when I was in college. I won’t say I had a shoegaze period, but there’s a spring in this song’s step that reminds me of when infinite possibilities were ahead of me. (Or I was just smarting from returning to my alma mater.) What is it with shoegaze anyway? Everything is fuzzy, which not everybody will get into, but that very fuzziness tells you that you can do it, or at least some of it. I wish I understood.


Finally, Where’s Ramona? is a band I should have written about much earlier, but, well, you know. Since we’re on some sort of theme of throwbacks, the comments to the lyric video for “Tonight” have a lot of mentions of All Time Low – and while I know the band, I didn’t really listen to them. I felt too old for them. My sister did, though, and most especially my brother, before they left the pop-punk sound and she went towards K-pop (yep) and he went towards “cool” pop (of course he would). So, yes, listening to this I feel old still, but then this stream of Filipino alternative whooshed past me even then, when Chicosci’s “Seven Black Roses” was all the rage. They’re not the same, technically, but you lumped them together, and you sang along to them, and you felt feelings. I get the invigoration, and I appreciate that thing is still going strong. But, but, but, who is Ramona?

Also, it’s a wrap for the third year of this attempt to make more sense of Philippine music. Have we gone full circle enough? [NB]

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