February 26, 2012

NEW TRACK: Lampara - "Pepé Le Pew"

"Pepé Le Pew” takes its cue from the synth-smeared mannerisms of the New Romanticism movement that once proliferated in the mid '80s, injecting in equal strides, the feeling of romantic longing and moroseness. Although instead of embracing the eccentric, gender-bending antics of bands such as Duran Duran and adopting a disco-derived, synth-heavy rhythm section, Lampara settles for a ballady schmaltz that borrows from acts such as Introvoys and The Dawn, its distinct appeal pulled from occasional guitar solos and swoony melodies that could pass off as potential radio crossover hit.

The track is available for free download in a limited time here, so make sure to add it in your music queue ASAP.

February 23, 2012

NEW TRACK: Multo - "Upon Returning" and "Hallelujah and Those Things"

We’re excited to announce that Multo a.k.a. Allan Lumba is expected to drop his first full-length album, Dead Stars sometime this year, which according to the official Number Line Records site would be “more lush, layered, somber, drawn-out, and ultimately more nuanced than Footnote to Youth.” Based from the giveaway two-track bundle, “Upon Returning” and “Hallelujah and All Those Things,” it looks like Allan Lumba has finally fleshed out his 90s indie rock fetishism for a more pastel-coated psychedelic sleaze, the style—more about atmosphere and lingering textures rather than guitar-based melodies.

On “Upon Returning,” a more laidback version of Toro Y Moi comes to mind upon first few listens—that familiar, wobbly electro pulse setting a wash of static effects and that crisp drum programming  and ambient aesthetics creating a trademark that reflect Lumba’s newfound affinity with chillwave. “Hallelujah and Those Things” on the other hand, offers a more delicate sound: gospel music freak-outs ala Girls’ Father, Son Holy Ghost flourishing over homespun textures and hazy orchestral music, and blurry, multi-tracked vocals that remind us of faded memories and nostalgia about to disappear.

You can stream the tracks below and download it for free.

February 22, 2012

NEW TRACK: Kai Honasan - "In Your Face (The Slap Song)"

Not since Lily Allen and Kate Nash have we encountered a bratty superwoman who could easily get away with tossing a loafer boyfriend out of the gate for acting like a total jerk. Enter Kai Honasan, a newcomer that shares the natural warmth and wit of the aforementioned post feminists, beheading them cheater’s heads in three minutes of unadulterated sunshine pop.

Surprisingly, Honasan succeeds in turning our heads with her droll and clever songwriting, impressing us with her funny diarist confessions that connect well with every modern ladies out there. Plain and simple, she rolls out a pretty catchy tune that sticks as it captivates from start to finish, and goofs around in gratuitous instrumentation of ‘60s pop and Lilith fair sensibilities like a pro. Check out the track below and enjoy!

February 21, 2012

NEW TRACK: Similar Objects - "Booth Bitch"

The new single from Similar Objects called “Booth Bitch” is perhaps Jorge Wieneke’s best and most accessible yet: a dollop of shape-shifting beats and sci-fi funk that works just as well on the dancefloor as it does on a bedroom juke grooving.

Accompanied by a Harajuku-inspired video that captures sexual excitement and a lot of weird dancing in the grassy park, “Booth Bitch” echoes the golden age of dance music videos, the innovative cum minimalist spunk of Christopher Walken tap dancing (“Weapon of Choice”) or monkeys playing massive tunes ala “Where’s Your Head At," those days where you can work your creativity around a tight budget and still look damn good!

So to give you a taste of what Similar Objects is up for, check out the video directed and produced by Brian Sergio and Jason Moll.

February 19, 2012

NEW TRACK: Some Gorgeous Accident - "Blush"

Great news! Some Gorgeous Accident is busy prepping up the release of its follow-up to last year’s underrated but awe-inspiring, Imaginary Lines—a 6-track EP released under Number Line Records. The sophomore record, the tentatively titled Sleep In Symmetry, is a collection of atmospheric, shoegaze-inflected songs featuring collaborations with Outerhope, Carnival Park, Jenny Arson, The Proctors, among others.

A track from the upcoming record called “Blush” is already available for streaming. As anticipated, it takes a nod at the noisier stuff of early ‘90s indie (shoegaze, dream-pop, dark-wave), but instead of relying on glossed-out studio tricks, Dale and company boards on a home recording polish to give it a more organic appeal. Frequent collaborator Connie Francis of Melody Style Apartment/Carnival Park shares vocal duties on this track, gracing a feather-light and barely understood singing buried underneath a pile of sweet noise and distortions. Stream the track below and be amazed at how good it is!

February 15, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Strangeness - "Cain Was Furious And He Was Downcast"

Yet another fuzzy-headed ruminations on primal rock n’ roll, The Strokes-style. The Strangeness’ latest single, “Cain Was Furious And He Was Downcast” sounds more 2001 (The Strokes, The Vines, The Hives) than early '70s rock (The Stooges, New York Dolls), relying on ecstatic hooks, buzz guitars and frantic oomph that kick and scream just as it was about to disappear without notice. Also watch out for that kick-ass guitar solo at 2:02, that part when you thought the energy would succumb to a god-awful transition, when it turns out, it does not.

Below is the Robert Lyren-helmed video of the song featuring scantily-clad chicks posing and dancing with the guys from The Strangeness. Watch it and indulge.

February 12, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Hidden Nikki - Found (2012)

On first few spins, Hidden Nikki’s Found comes across as one of those pop-jazz records that appeal to a more contemporary crowd, a product tidied up on the edges, smoothened and manufactured for a potential crossover slant. But the more I engage myself to it, the more I end up discovering how good it actually is, and how little by little, Found unravels a sophisticated sound grounded in virtuosity and tenderly melodic arrangements.

Found opens with “Umaga Na,” a laidback number that moves in a casual, suave pace. It sets the pleasant tone of the entire record, starting off strongly with a punch that’s relaxed and raw, vibrant and tranquil, and definitely great for early morning jumpstarts. “In a While” follows the similar pattern, sporting a feel-good vibe with the drum beats more upfront, and the keyboard tones mellower, eventually leading toward an improvisational stomp of some sorts. From there, everything takes a familiar approach: Steely Dan-influenced, smooth jazz pieces that showcase the band’s affinity for imaginative keyboard and guitar parts, unusually intricate rhythms that range from swingy to mere slipshod, and a nod to the poppier side of ‘70s Manila Sound, thanks to the appropriation of the Filipino language and the sentimental cheese that’s distinctly Pinoy.

It’s also hard not to take notice of the similarities between Hidden Nikki and the Sach Castillo-fronted band, Sound. It’s true that Hidden Nikki goes for a more accessible, rounder groove, and Sound as we all know, dribbles on a center-of-the-leftfield stance, experimenting with electronic and ambient music while maintaining the high octane mixture of Bossa nova and acid jazz. It’s just that when Aaron Gonzales sings, I couldn’t help but point out of how close it resembles to Sach’s vocals. Both bands also take a dig at immaculately slick production values and pop sensibilities, pogi-jazz you may call it that way.

Despite the comparisons, Hidden Nikki stands out on its own marvel. They may not be as complex or as aggressive as Sound, but the band managed to pull off a solid compositional work that has a modern ring to it. That said, “Alone With My Thoughts” is a testimony of how capable this band is in yielding a remarkable piece of work, without swerving too far from its cached sound. Armi Millare of Up Dharma Down shares songwriting and vocal credits on the aforementioned track, and instead of harnessing soulful, big diva chops, she adds distinct whimsy to the mix, allowing Aaron Gonzales to shine on his own terms. It’s actually one of my favorite tracks in the album, and I love how the harmonized chorus blends well with the sparkly melodies and the light jazz notes tinkering at the backdrop. “Gabi Ng Sayawan” is another flawless gem that isn’t really sonically different from the rest of the songs in Found, but evokes everything that we relish in a pop song: a mesmerizing hook, easily relatable lyrics that sit well with our experiences and a knack for celebratory romance—something that we aspire for even in the middle of our sleep. Maybe just maybe, they happened to be just like us, hopelessly stricken by the four-letter word, immensely driven by what speaks of our emotional limitations and explorations. We’re contented by just the last dance with the ones we loved, and split-a-second, we remember it over and over, and kept it at the deepest of our memories.

Hidden Nikki’s Found doesn’t work all the time though. It sure has lapses, especially with the kind of hackneyed songwriting that still needs a little fine tuning. However, you can’t deny that it’s a solid debut that makes its youthfulness even more wonderful. Nothing in it breaks new grounds or directions. But it is indeed a grower, an album beaming with sophistication and a polished structure that I haven’t heard in a contemporary jazz record for quite a while. With just a few years more, I’m pretty sure that these guys are home-bound to something great and transcendent; ready to surprise us with yet another album. Here’s hoping.  B 

February 10, 2012

NEW TRACK: Pasta Groove Feat. Armi Millare - "Psilo"

Paolo Garcia a.k.a. Pasta Groove is back tossing and splicing samples from his old vinyl record collection, layering a beat-based, musical template with a meditative crosspiece that Erykah Badu would jam for. Such description captures the vibe on “Psilo”—a smooth slow-burner of a track that drifts, ebbs, and flows, moving in a gradual sonic muster that recalls some of Paolo’s finest works. It is ambient, chill-out and neo-soul music ambivalently lumped in together, sounding more like Badu/Aretha Franklin on acids. Armi Millare provides guest vocals on the track, and as usual, she kills it with melismatic singing that qualifies as smoldering lust to the ears. Listen to the track below.

February 9, 2012

NEW TRACK: Earthmover - "First Sighting"

Amidst the noise and guitar shapes contorted in ambient drones and distortions, there remains a cathartic sensation listening to Earthmover’s “First Sighting.” It’s post-rock music with a fang, grinding on explosive instrumental meltdowns and climaxes that feel at once satisfying and bewildering. The quieter moments are nothing short of breathtaking, but it is through the climactic freak-outs, the tensions built and released that make the entire listening experience worth the time.

Listen to the track below and download it here for free.

Earthmover will be launching their debut EP, First Sighting this February 22, 2012 at Route 196 in Katipunan. Make sure to drop by and give the band some love.

February 8, 2012

NEW TRACK: Ian Zafra - "Tell Me How To Make It Right"

Ian Zafra isn’t channeling Ian Curtis, Robert Smith or Morrissey, not even fashioning a throwback to post-punk or any of its morose cousins. His upcoming solo project doesn’t have anything to do with Cebu supergroup, Sheila and the Insects. So expect less of the 80s revival shtick and gloomy, atmospheric guitar snarls that we’ve grown too fond of. His new single, “Tell Me How To Make It Right” which came out a few weeks ago, is a quietly poignant rendering of the classic singer-songwriter trope—a kind of vintage pop fixture that would remind you of acts like Cat Stevens, Elton John, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell in their ‘70s heyday. It has that middle-of-the-road vibe to it and an NPR filler that your moms and dads would love to listen and have a cup of coffee to. Listen to the track below and enjoy!

February 6, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Hijo - Slow Rock Volume ½ (2011)

When Bamboo Mañalac left his own band to pursue a solo career in recording, we thought it was the right time for the remaining members to shine and form their own bands and respective side projects. It turns out such forecast never materialize as they decided to stick it through thick and thin, and continue making music using a different moniker. At the expense of being compared to their predecessor bands ‘Maya and Bamboo, the three stayed tight and remained unaffected by intrigues, soldiering on like true survivors of a shipwreck. Nathan Azarcon eventually took over the vocals and bass duties. The remaining two, Vic Mercado and Ira Cruz manned their respective tools like it was 2004—when they were first introduced as drummer and guitarist of the now-defunct supergroup. To complete the line-up and fill the sonic spaces, they recruited classically-trained guitarist Junji Lerma of Radioactive Sago Project fame and keyboardist Josiah Orduna. In just a span of months, they went to the studio to officially start their business, writing and recording new songs. Hijo came to life, and the rest as they say, is history.

Their debut EP, Slow Rock Volume ½ surprisingly deviates from the Bamboo sound that we’ve grown accustomed to. This time, they’ve softened a bit, learned to scrap the hard-hitting anthems of empowerment and socio-political sloganeering for a glaze that coats at a more personal level, perhaps a warmer, slyly intimate songcraft. Sure they’re still angry at the current system, still passionate about love as it was before, but they haven’t displayed a range of subtlety this vivid and widescreen at least when their previous work with Bamboo is concerned. Except for maybe, “Tamalee” which does sound like it was written for Bamboo Mañalac in the offshoot that were Bamboo’s previous hits “Hallelujah” and “Kalayaan.” Most of the songs in Hijo’s Slow Rock Volume ½ actually have a life of its own, each has a story to tell, a contrast to shade and differentiate. “Dahil Sayo” for example, starts with a tango beat and slowly morphs from a kundiman-inspired, prom dance song to a classic rock axiom that mashes glam guitar solos and grunge-lite instrumental breakdowns, all in delicate grit. It’s a love song declared in open arms stillness, but like everything that’s meant to be sad and draggy, it ends in painful pleading—allowing for somber piano notes to cascade and grow fainter the time it hits the final straw. “Di Mo Na Kaya” deploys good old fashioned rock with jazzy undertones and heavy rhythms gradually ascending in calculated chaos. From where it starts, a calm power ballad of some sorts, it quickly builds up and soars to a technical lunacy that displays their expansive musical chops— one that is propelled by chunky, big riffs and polished arrangements.

My only problem with Slow Rock Volume ½ is its inconsiderable length. With only four songs that left you hanging, you’d find yourself wanting for more of that propulsive energy, that ringing promise of intensity you haven’t heard in a rock record for the longest time. And to our surprise, Hijo marches on with a solid, highly listenable debut, strong enough for you to ditch the shadows of its past.  B 

February 3, 2012


The Mayans have long predicted that 2012 will be the end of the world, but that shouldn’t take us away from all the great music slated for proper release this year. In an attempt to shed light to this, Vandals On The Wall rummaged through official artist pages and related links to give you a foretaste of the upcoming OPM albums that we wish to review in the coming months. To avoid playing favorites, we listed them in alphabetical order:

Ang Bandang Shirley
Power-pop supergroup, Ang Bandang Shirley is back on the studio recording the long-delayed follow up to 2007’s excellent debut, Themesongs. So far, they’ve teased us with the Broken Social Scene-leaning “Nakauwi Na” and the mopey “Di Na Babalik,” both pretty good tracks in classic ABS bent. And then there’s “Taksil,” an awesome song that explores the subtler dynamics of break-up. So far, it’s my favorite among the new tracks in Shirley’s forthcoming record, and has a winsome crossover appeal written all over it.

Travelogue was a favorite album back in 2007. It’s a fuzzy, space-psych pop affair of some sorts that drowns itself from the cosmos of heartbreak and escapism, two things, that I guess occupy most of people’s memory bank right now. Fast forward 2012 and we’re happy to announce that the boys from Bagetsafonik are already working on the finishing touches of their sophomore self-titled album, which they promised to be “fuller, darker, perhaps more bittersweet than sugary.”

Bent Lynchpin
Bent Lynchpin, a supergroup formed by electro music heavyweights Caliph8, Malek Lopez, Fred Sandoval, and Mark Zero made its debut last October at B-Side Collective, pulling off a tricky, challenging assortment of Krautrock, IDM, jazz and maximalist electronic music during their set. They remind us somehow of Flying Lotus, with the improvisational pizzazz of avant-garde musicians trying to collate the skitter-scatter of every sonic strands in a cohesive package, or lack of it. According to International music webzine, CHAIN D.L.K., the electronic supergroup is eyeing for a late, year-end release this 2012. We just can’t wait to get a hold of it, like right now.

Dong Abay
In a Facebook status message dated January 12, 2012, Dong Abay posted details on the new record that he’s working on. “My soon to be released 7-song collection entitled Rebulto is not an EP nor a full length album. It is a body of work.” Dong’s debut solo album, Flipino which came out in 2006 was easily one of the best albums of the last decade, a spot-on throwback to the conscious folk records of the ‘70s and ‘80s that we all loved. It’s also subversive and in-your-face, and showcases a mellowed down Dong Abay reinventing himself as a singer-songwriter who can actually, sing. We’re happy that he’s back recording new songs of his own. What we’re expecting from the new album: the familiar, razor-sharp commentaries (“Perpekto” “Mateo Singko”) and yes, the love song (“Dyad”) that colored us impress.

Hidden Nikki
Terno Recordings has been one of the primary movers and shakers of the independent music scene, and is always on the go discovering new acts with something fresh and innovative to offer. Hidden Nikki, a jazz-pop quartet from Ateneo is lucky enough to get noticed by the 6-year old indie label. To give us an early year salvo, they happened to launch the aptly titled, debut album, Found last night at 19 East. Based from the song previews, most of the songs rock in a positively, pogi-jazz kind of vibe: cleaner on the edges with a groovy, cozy sound perfect for Sunday afternoon chill outs.

June Marieezy
June Marieezy’s trippy neo-soul jam, “Sometimes” is a solid proof that viral marketing is the next big gun that independent musicians should consider big in relaying their music to a wider audience. We were amazed at how on its first day, the music video cracked 4,561 hits and went on to become one of the most successful viral music vids to ever graced 2012. Under the tutelage of Manila-based record label, Deeper Manila, June is expected to release her solo album on the first quarter of 2012, featuring collaborations with Silverfilter, RBTO and Justin De Guzman. Now that is something to look forward to.

Kate Torralba
We’re glad that acclaimed Fashion designer Kate Torralba has already resumed recording her debut EP, Long Overdue—a collection of songs that according to Kate, reveals the “equally defining facets of her persona. “ She’s been working on it for several years now, even sharing some of her original compositions at her gigs. The last time we saw her perform live was at Conspiracy Café, where she played the quirkily giddy “Pictures” and “Anywhere With You”, two of the songs we’ve been crossing our fingers to make it to the EP line-up.

Lally Buendia
For those who care, Lally Buendia used to be the frontwoman for alt-pop band Domino, which was signed by Viva Records several years ago and even managed to put out the underrated but brilliant album, Fair Tales. “Cat Eyes” was a stand-out track from that album, drawing restraint and brood in equal measures, kind of like a poppier version of Portishead. It’s great that she’s been active in the indie scene for quite some time now as a solo artist, and even promised to deliver a brand new album this year. And sorry for this, but is it wrong to hope for a Lally-Ely Buendia duet?

Never The Strangers
If there’s one band out there that we’ve been predicting to be big this year commercial-wise, it has to be Never The Strangers. Judging from the first single alone, the fist-pumping “Alive,” they remind us of a talented ragtag with an ear for catchy, emotive melodies and hooks. Think of Hale, minus the pogi-rock tag. Or maybe Switchfoot, Silverchair, and Gin Blossoms. According to Warner Music Philippines, NTS is expected to drop their debut album come first quarter of 2012.

Patience Dear Juggernaut
“I am actually working on the second one. And it will be an all Filipino-album. Hopefully this April,” reveals Wincy Ong himself in a recent conversation that we’ve had early January. Patience Dear Juggernaut’s homemade indie pop debut, Girl The Impaler was released as a download-for-free album last year, and it’s the first one under Wincy Ong’s solo project. The sophomore album, to be released just in time for the summer is expected to be closer to home, one that once again would reveal his whacky, geeky, and helplessly romantic persona.

The Purplechickens
What would happen if you’d lump in Mars Volta, Radiohead, and Elbow in a studio? It’s going to be batshit crazy for sure, stormed by a wallop of creative tension and riot. I know it’s an impossible casting stunt, but the closest thing we’d get from that imaginary force of a sonic pomposity would have to be listening to The Purplechickens. They’ve been on the studio in and out since last year, completing the follow-up to 2007’s Girls, Etcetera—that brilliantly complex, chaotic-as-mind-fucked record that deconstructs musical structure and style without swarming pretentiousness. We’ve already heard the track “Dayami” and it’s an effortlessly beautiful piece that eventually dissolves in a narcotized stretch of mood music.

Up Dharma Down
In a span of 6 years, we’ve witnessed them mound pop music in a gorgeously ramshackle wall of sound, a conscious effort that strikes a balance between sounding commercial and experimental. Only Dharma has mastered such stunt of an art form, mixing and decomposing music genre-lines while immersing into our inner thoughts and souls, writing the populist anthem of our lives. It’s great to hear that they’re on the process of recording their third album, Capacities. They’ve already previewed two of the tracks (“Indak” and “Turn It Well”) from the forthcoming record, and the critical reception as always, remains positive.

February 1, 2012

NEW TRACK: Bagetsafonik - "Airports"

First single off Bagetsafonik’s upcoming self-titled album is already making rounds at Jam 88.3 FM's playlist. The lead-off track is called “Airports,” a dreamy alt-rock stomper peppered with bittersweet melodies and jangly guitar hooks. Unexpectedly, it takes a traditional approach at songwriting and production, if not a return to good old fashioned '90s rock. Yes, there’s less of the heavily textured, electro-pop sheen of Bagetsafonik’s early material from 2007-2008, but it’s still as emotionally potent and as affecting as the ones in the Travelogue album. You can listen to the track here


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