November 12, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Narda

People will remember Narda not for their ever-changing lineup, but on the merits of their tremendous influence to a lot of female-fronted bands of today. They’re simply one of the most overlooked, short-lived smarts of Filipino indie music cannon, committed entirely to championing the vintage-sounding aesthetic and confessional college-rock dirges written in tissue paper sap.

What’s also especially striking is that it gave us the chance to get to know Katwo Librando—the feisty woman behind the superhero’s alter-ego and her many effortless transitions from low-key Harriet Wheeler to becoming a confident, disco-punk diva with a Deborah Harry attitude. Katwo has always been a fun personality to watch live: she merry dances on an achingly pretty guitar jangle while capturing the adolescent spirit with so much brashness and youthful desperation. With the aid of the band’s creative director Ryan Villena, Katwo also became the muse to go for in every fit of genre you could possibly think of, reinterpreting every material with a sensual feminine punch that holds your attention and breaks it, all at the same time.

A week ago, Narda celebrated their 10th year anniversary by giving away Minus One, a rare unreleased album from 2005 which you can download here. It’s distinctly interesting in its own way and a must-have for every Narda fans out there that dig the somewhat lo-fi, basement sound of their early EPs. And as a way to recognize their contribution to the music scene for a great 10-year run, we’ve listed our favorite Narda tracks for your listening pleasure. Ranked in no particular order, these indie gems will shed light as to why all these years, they've remained relevant despite not being active in the scene.

“Kusina” (A Postcard From, 2002)

Few local indie acts have come to operate with quirky storytelling style and high flying dose of downbeat drift in the same manner as Narda. Their debut EP, A Postcard From brims with low-key campfire tunes and jangly guitar-pop that offers a sing-along vibe pulled from the crisp night air. “Kusina”—a personal favorite of mine from that 4-track EP, taps into some sort of brooding suicidal tale that’s equal parts Gaspar Noe, equal parts Gus van Sant. It’s one of the highlights from A Postcard From, playing along with gritty comic book fanfare that’s so detailed you wouldn’t want to stay in bed for long.



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“Suwerte” (Suwerte, 2002) 

“Suwerte” is a crowd favorite in every Narda gigs I’ve been to. It’s an infectious guitar-pop ditty that combines the lazy, dramatic flair of The Cardigans with something more than the skins and bones you see. 


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“Jaywalker” (Salaguinto’t Salagubang, 2003)  

There are some great things about Narda that we’ll never get tired of hearing. Their delightfully refreshing take on pop music paired with a warm yet raw recording feel, makes for an instant charmer that keeps their sentiment always short, sweet and playful. “Jaywalker” demonstrates this kind of strength, but this time with a more upbeat vibe presented as straightforwardly as possible. It’s carefree and instantly likable, even if all it does it to play around a sunny hook that immediately ends when all you wanted is more of that punch-drunk swag. 


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“Biyernes” (Formika, 2004) 

Credit Narda for reciprocating teenage sentiments that reflect that certain point in your life trying to figure out what love is and what kind of person you’d want to be. And with “Biyernes”, Narda recounts a lovely encounter that happened one Friday afternoon as pictured in one of those silly romcoms that you pay attention to when nobody’s around to comfort you. It’s a little fresh mint of a song that you’d want to hear all day long, especially if you’re feeling nostalgic about that one love you can’t get over with. 


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“Gasolina” (Discotillion, 2005)  

Nobody saw it coming. When garage rock and dance-punk were all the rage, Katwo stepped into the dancing pit with riot grrrl stage presence and sex machine appeal, trading her quirky, college girl persona for a stab at post-punk revival. Apparently, on “Gasolina,” the second single off their second album Discotillion, she’s determined to get your attention and nail you to bed while making you listen to a swooshing cascade of synth grenades pounding crazily like it’s about to dig your grave. Sure we missed the old Katwo, but this awesomely sexy, confident creature that she’s become is definitely cool in our book. 

2 comments:

  1. I always credit Narda (along with Candy Audioline, SoftPillowKisses and Orange and Lemons) for making me dig deeper for more raw uncompromising music in the music scene. Yes, I was a late bloomer. Kudos to Pulp Magazine for introducing them to my giddy Bicolano ears. Byernes is a personal fave too.

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