The rain-drenched misery of Girl in Park belie their sunny, tropical roots. Often recalling the dream pop of the Cranberries and the introspective female fury of Sinéad O'Connor, Girl in Park crawled from the alt rock underground in the Philippines and released an album in the U.S. before their own native land. Fronted by Jaja Manuel (vocals, guitar), Girl in Park is a product of the '90s modern rock explosion, when the unpretentious lyrical rage and guitar attack of grunge co-existed with the punk-funk of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the ethereal melodies of the Sundays. Girl in Park is a melting pot of them all, those influences stitched together by Manuel's revealing and often melancholy diary like songwriting. In the late '90s, Manuel was a member of an all-girl college group, Dazed and Confused, later shortened to Dazed. Dazed performed covers of alternative hits from Madder Rose, Belly, and the Darling Buds. However, due to personal issues Dazed broke up, and Manuel searched for another band, ending up in a short-lived combo called Forgotten 7th String. Personality conflicts arose between the bassist and the guitarist, and the group disintegrated when neither of them showed up for a gig. However, Manuel had discovered that her neighbor Boyeth Conde was a drummer, and they started to jam together. With Conde, her high-school friend Aji Nomoto (guitar), and Jason Tres Reyes (bass), Manuel formed her own band Girl in Park. Girl in Park gigged around Manila and recorded a demo but remained out of the spotlight. In 2002, Manuel became a replacement guitarist in the Pin-Up Girls, filling in for Pamela Aquino who had relocated to the U.S. A year later, Manuel made her American debut on the Pin-Up Girls' Taste Test EP, contributing guitar riffs to "Love X Ten," but she left the group shortly thereafter, resurrecting the dormant Girl in Park when an American label expressed interest in the band. In 2004, Girl in Park released their first album Sequoia, receiving immediate praise for Manuel's hauntingly beautiful yet emotionally scarred and tortured, heartbroken lyrics.
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