MANILA -- With all due respect to The Smiths, let me crib the title of a famous song of theirs and appropriate it for this young band.
Meet this charming band – The Vowels They Orbit.
That has to be one of the coolest names for local bands in recent memory. Say it: The Vowels They Orbit. They even have an acronym for it – The VTO – that sounds even cooler.
You know like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is BRMC.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is cooler than its mere acronym, right?
Then The VTO is unique in their own way.
By sheer happenstance, I caught the band last July 10 at 70s Bistro for their music video launch. I was there to watch Moonstar 88 and talk to band manager/underrated talented songwriter Darwin Hernandez (more about him later if not another feature article), and I came away thoroughly charmed and feeling the same vibe that I got when I saw a young Up Dharma Down – an outstanding rhythm section with a female vocalist with an intoxicating voice (although a bit more Acel Bisa than Armi Millare).
The VTO is a five-piece indie pop rock band out of the University of Santo Tomas (Nikka Melchor on vocals and guitars, Hannah dela Cruz on keyboards and guitars, Jeremy Sayas on drums and vocals, Gene Santiago on lead guitar, and Patch Javier on bass guitar) and is a happy melting pot of pop, alternative rock, folk, soul, and jazz.
That they also have two other singers in the band (Hannah provides that wisp of silvery voice that flutters, while Jeremy adds a schmaltzy baritone making the songs warmer) gives the band more flexibility and counterpoints.
Aside from the beautiful songs they sing, Nikka’s voice is richly entrancing. She sings with the right timbre and expression that belies someone of her years. According to Darwin, the manner in which she dresses reminds reveals an old soul. I like her already.
It is no coincidence then that The VTO’s first single, “Selos” released on Spotify (that as of Sunday is close to 350,000 streams), is written by Hernandez who also penned “Torete” for Moonstar 88 some time ago but has once more found traction for today’s Filipino music fan.
“Selos” is a beautiful song for the lovelorn about one-sided jealousy that for Gen Xers like me sticks like a song on the radio. I guess for today’s folks, you hit that on repeat on Spotify or other digital formats.
The VTO, though a young band, have other original songs in their repertoire. During that music video launch for “Selos,” they also performed “Pasa,” “Bumubulong,” and “Kiliti” – that will be their second single -- that are also no less gorgeous.
I walked into 70s Bistro that night looking forward to see Moonstar 88 and friend Buddy Zabala, as well as to have a chat with Hernandez about something. I came away also thoroughly charmed if not smitten by The Vowels They Orbit. Along with Lola Amour and Over October to name a few, we’ve got some really indie pop rock to balance out this exciting and vibrant music scene of ours.
That The VTO is the first to be signed by Sony Music Philippines in their return to the music scene is testament to their potential. That extended play album release expected soon.