August 30, 2012


A week ago, we’ve invited fellow writers and bloggers to do their own spin on Alexis Tioseco’s acclaimed piece “Wishful Thinking For Philippine Cinema” as our little tribute to the late film critic’s persistence on elevating the level of contemporary art criticism here in the Philippines. Instead of writing about Philippine Cinema, we challenged ourselves to apply his cause on the state of Filipino music, with all of us agreeing to publish our version on or before September 1, 2012-- the exact date that marks his third death anniversary.

I wish the Aquino administration would strengthen the campaign on the protection of intellectual property rights, with emphasis on fighting against piracy and illegal distribution of music in various forms.

I wish The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Aquino himself would be true to their word when they’ve decided few years ago under Executive Order No. 255 to enforce radio stations to play at least four locally produced songs per hour.

I wish government funding would be allocated in supporting music projects that celebrate indigenous and regional culture.

I wish National Commission For Culture and The Arts (NCCA) and the government would be more vigilant in promoting a music literacy program targeted to the youth.

I wish The Department of Education (DepEd) would start an advocacy espousing quality music education even for people who can’t afford to pay for lessons.

I wish the Filipinas Heritage Library success in its preservation of vinyl records containing Filipino music from 1920s to 1980s.

I wish there would be another institution that can foster preservation and collection of OPM cassette tapes and CDs from the 20th century up to the present. Sales of physical copies have hit rock bottom for the past few years due to piracy and sudden surge of online downloads, and we don’t want our future generation to miss out on witnessing a rich musical heritage that is at par with other countries.

I wish record label bigwigs would refrain from assigning old tunes for their roster of talents to remake. Instead of cover songs, why not allow your artists to practice their creative freedom and work on an original material?

I wish record labels would put its money on tapping underrated, young, and forward-thinking producers to work with their prized talents. Why not try someone like Similar Objects/Idris Vicuna to collaborate on an electro-pop project with Sarah Geronimo? Yeng Constantino under the guidance of let’s say, Jazz Nicholas or Robin Rivera? Or Dan Gil trying his hand on redressing Kyla or Jaya for an authentic, drunken soul album ala Amy Winehouse? Pop music needs innovation ASAP.

I wish Star Records and the rest of the major labels would stop dumbing down the audience with formulaic ballads, flabby remakes, solo albums by sappy soap princes and princesses, and a whole lot of gimmicks.

I hope Vicor Records, home to several OPM catalogues and classics of the past, to continue the tradition of reissuing old albums and compilations by music artists from the ‘50s to the early ‘00s.

I wish Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit headed by Mr. Ogie Alcasid success in its pursuit to uphold the rights and interests of music artists in the Philippines.

I wish for the creation of a “LEGIT” “NATIONAL” songwriting competition ala Metropop aimed to showcase the talent and diversity of Filipino composers and songwriters.

I wish Sunday variety noontime shows and other related formats on Television would make an effort to bring quality live music to the table. I hope they would refrain from functioning as a launch pad for talentless TV/film celebrities who couldn’t even sing and dance.

I wish TV/movie personalities would stop lip-syncing on TV, mall shows and concerts. I hope they’d stop making the public believe that they can have a bright singing career by just capitalizing on looks and “kilig” factor.

I wish radio stations operating under a music format would play more songs from Filipino talents, mainstream and independent. It’s about time we celebrate the diversity of our own music.

I wish internet radio and music sites focusing on Original Filipino music content such as,,, and would continue supporting homegrown talents, especially underrated and independent musicians not given enough media mileage.

I wish iTunes,,, and would still continue to distribute ORIGINAL Filipino music online. Also, I hope these online music stores will be more considerate in putting independent and self-financed releases to their catalogue.

I wish Odyssey, Astrovision and other record stores would give more rack spaces for Filipino releases, mainstream or independent.

I wish music festivals here in the Philippines would rather operate as a modern-day pilgrimage unifying music-loving individuals than a cash-grab excuse of a bait extorting on hipsters and culturatis.

I wish there would be more people like Mei Bastes who’d go out of their way to provide the best gigs and music events in the country.

I wish there would be more of Revolver, Green Apple, Tubby Trousers, Attraction Reaction, Terno Inferno and other weekly/monthly gig productions supporting an assortment of underrated talents from different genres and music backgrounds.

I wish MYX Music Channel would still express its love for playing Filipino music. I also hope that unlike its giant, free TV counterpart, it wouldn’t succumb to network war biases.

I wish Jam 88.3 wouldn’t reformat into a top 40 station.

I wish Davao Music Nation would continue to recognize the potentials of Davao City as a hotbed of fresh music talents.

I wish other cultural hot spots outside Metro Manila (Cebu, Baguio, Iloilo, Naga, Cagayan De Oro etc.) would follow suit and start building strengthening their a music community of its own.

I wish Number Line Records would release more free albums in the internet.

I wish Terno Recordings would get to discover more underrated acts with so much innovation and talent to offer.

I wish Radioactive Sago Project would return ASAP with a follow-up to 2007’s Tangina Mo Andaming Nagugutom Sa Mundo Fashionista Ka Pa Rin. Make it happen, please?

I wish The Itchyworms would blow our minds again the way they did in 2005 with their satirical pop masterpiece, Noon Time Show.

I wish Wolfgang and Razorback more albums to come.

I wish everyone could get a copy of Up Dharma Down’s upcoming third album, Capacities.

I wish people would start marking their calendars on the release date of upcoming albums to be released this year: The Purple Chickens, Drip, Ang Bandang Shirley, Swissy, Laly Buendia, Dash Calzado, Bent Lynchpin, Urbandub, and more.

I wish Zia Quizon won’t fall under the trap of commercial success, and would still continue making accessible but brilliant pop music.

I wish Ryan Cayabyab would write more original compositions and restore our faith in the semi-drought that is Filipino pop music.

I wish people would stop comparing Gloc 9 to the “great” Francis Magalona, because he is in a league of his own.

I wish Fliptop would become a vehicle for more wordsmiths and street-life troubadours to expose their music to a larger audience. Read: Loonie, K-Jah, Fuego and Abra.

I wish more people would listen to Filipino hiphop music and realize that in a short nick of time, it has evolved into a forward-thinking machine.

I wish Sheila and The Insects would reunite for an album only to prove that some of the most innovative music exists outside Imperial Manila.

I wish The Camerawalls would incorporate more of the Rondalla-inspired classicism they used to churn out in their debut album.

I wish Child/ren of The Pilgrimage would release their highly anticipated debut album we’ve been raving about these past few months.

I wish more people would get to listen to Bagetsafonik’s sophomore self-titled album because it’s the best LP released this year (so far).

I wish Noel Cabangon, Gary Valenciano, Aiza Seguerra, Lea Salonga, Basil Valdez and other OPM icons would focus their energy more on creating music with original content. We’ve always believed that these revered music institutions don’t deserve anything lesser than giving life to a timeless hit.

I wish Joey Ayala would return to making music.

I wish Ely Buendia, Dong Abay, Rico Blanco, Ebe Dancel and Bamboo Mañalac success in their new music endeavors.

I wish more Filipino talents would penetrate the international market.

I wish artists/bands won’t take offense of criticisms.

I wish Anvil Publishing would reissue Eric Caruncho’s Punks, Poets, and Poseurs: A Reportage on Pinoy Rock and Roll.

I wish Eric Caruncho would go back to documenting the Filipino music scene. He deserves to have a music column in any of the three major broadsheets.

I wish Aldus Santos would write a follow-up to his Repeat While Fading: Pinoy Rock Biographs book.

I wish Lourd De Veyra would continue writing more about pop culture and forgotten music icons.

I wish Quark Henares, Luis Katigbak, and Erwin Romulo (QLE) would still publish their annual roundup of the best Filipino music releases.

I wish music writer Baby A. Gil wouldn’t mind opening her ears for new music outside mainstream pop.

I wish “lastdodobird” would blog about local music, again.

I wish Pulp Magazine more years of published music writings about local musicians and their music.

I wish Burn Magazine would resurrect from its ashes to bring us again, some of the finest writings in music.

I wish people would understand that Filipino music still exists after The Eraserheads called it quits.

I wish people wouldn’t stop buying Filipino albums after The Eraserheads called it quits.

I wish everyone have the initiative to look for new music in the internet.

I wish more Filipinos would support quality Filipino music.

I wish more Filipinos would write about Filipino music.

I wish Filipinos would make more quality music.

I wish for a better discourse on Filipino music.

And I wish Filipino music more birthdays to come.

Long live, Filipino music!

Other participants for the Wishful Thinking for Filipino Music Challenge:

August 29, 2012

NEW TRACK: Mastaplann x Bambu - "Welcome To Manila"

Perhaps the most unexpected turn in Philippine hiphop this year is when Bambu finally decided to hook up with the equally iconic rap group Mastaplann on “Welcome To Manila.” Everything in it sounds massive and triumphal, displaying a red-carpet tribute to the city that withstood all forms and shapes of calamity thanks to the unwavering Filipino spirit. With the rise of fliptop pitting wordsmiths and street-life troubadours on a game of wits, it’s refreshing to see two relevant stars in local hiphop sharing the microphone together for a hard-hitting observation on Manila’s fat-ass streets, recalling the nostalgic days when life was so much fun in here ala Francis M’s Man from Manila. Check the dope video below:

August 28, 2012

NEW TRACK: Tide/Edit - "Backpack"

Where so much contemporary post-rock releases focus on lengthy instrumental compositions and crescendo builds, Tide/Edit would rather embrace the genre’s melodic, soft side with a sparkly glide that clocks short of three minutes. Their new track “Backpack” is driven by such aesthetic stamp; with its chiming riffs and drum beats pushing farther than you thought it could go, transporting you to a moonlight swoon in just one sitting. Turns out, the world is an ideal aural setting for all things dreamy and mesmeric, especially when you view it with this beautiful song performing soundtrack duties in the background. Stream it:

August 27, 2012

EP DOWNLOAD: A Problem Like Maria - "Saudade" (2012)

On A Problem Like Maria’s new EP Saudade, Maria made a deliberate effort to distance herself from the minimalist, soul-inflected hiphop of her debut to give way for a lyrically introspective pop record that showcases the fragile beauty of her vocals. Upon multiple listens, I also figured out how there’s a Zen-like quality to it that floats understatedly from one song to another, rendering the type of quiet old blues and folksy guitar-pop tunes that refuse to retread into some sort of sell-out formula and predictability.

Over the weekend Maria told us why she opted to ditch her urban sound for the mean time and focus on something different and more singer-songwriter-friendly. “This one is anything but, which is probably confusing for some. I've always had trouble sticking to a genre, though. In any case; "Saudade" is the most unguarded, most honest, most myself that I've been in music. Ever. It's quite a terrifying thing to release it; but there's a perverse sort of thrill in what I'm doing, just the same.” 

Her new EP is available for digital download that follows the pay-what-you-want template. Make sure to cop it here before it fades out in the innernet. Check out her track called "The Girl Can't Help It" below.

NEW VIDEO: Eyedress - "Teen Spirits"

Yesterday, Eyedress dropped the video for his lilting synth-pop single “Teen Spirits,” a fun and weirdly beautiful snapshot of adolescent love, death and girl-to-girl attraction. In a recent conversation with Idris Vicuna, he shares how the concept for the music video was actually driven by a particular line (“I'm stuck in hell. Won't you take me up to heaven with you?") in his song and not by anything else that we'd like to assume it is.

The video borders on a campy, sci-fi romp with a whole lot of neon and summer pastiche thrown to it. And as the director to his own video, Idris was able to translate the ideas behind it into an exquisite visual with a whacko storyline to boot. Dude knows and digs his shit well, I’m telling you. Watch it here:

August 26, 2012

NEW TRACK: Toshi Andoroid - "What Ifs"

Toshi Andoroid, an electro-pop sextet whose members belong to indie rock veterans Tether, Identikit, Paranoid City and Valet Parking, has recently recorded an awesome dinnertime demo called “What Ifs.” Although the new track sounds like what you’d expect to emerge from a collaborative project among the members’ other bands, its flair for beautifully nostalgic trappings and near-perfect but downcast introverted pop sticks like a breath of fresh air from  dime-a-dozen bands releasing pretty much the same thing.

I personally like how Sandy Buladaco sings like a sunken muse laying waste to the emotional torture of nostalgia and regret, and allowing her voice to get clouded by textured, hazy wall of sounds as if it needed a warm hug. You can feel her breath in your neck. And by such, you want to empathize to her pleading-- her lonesome voice that reeks of guilt, of a request for time reversal that most likely will never happen. It's a sad, beautiful lament for every tortured souls out there, and Sandy just happened to share the blues by singing and dealing with it. Download the track here and listen below:

August 25, 2012

NEW TRACK: SunDownMuse - "Swinging Both Ways"

SunDownMuse finds the right mix of sensuality and enigma on “Swinging Both Ways,” a gorgeous jazz-pop lament told through the eyes of a sexually confused individual. Briggs Barutigo grabs your attention without asking for it, coming up with a song that dwells on contemplation only feelings can understand. “I’ve never felt this way before,” she intimates on the intro. And whether it leads to self-discovery or an excuse to re-evaluate one’s perception on love and sexuality, Briggs doesn’t have to tell you all the shit you need to know. All it takes is an open mind to get through someone else’s soul. Stream it here:

August 22, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Lampara - Lampara (2012)

Lampara’s self-titled debut album is one of the most strikingly passionate records I’ve heard this year, and I find it quite unreasonable that such collection of sprawling sweep and intimate post-punk catharsis didn’t have the media mileage it deserves. All of this isn’t to say that the album is a masterpiece or a game-changer that welcomes radical innovation. It’s by no means a modern classic even by OPM standards, but amid all the furor and brooding romanticism, Lampara exudes an aura of confidence, pushed by a dramatic flair that confronts you in unsuspecting jolt. There’s an attempt to aspire for greater heights, echoing their influences—Sheila and the Insects, The Dawn, Interpol, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Cure—with gloriously widescreen aesthetic that draws promising results.

The gloomy romance, the hopeful but still insidious love songs covered in synth-pop cushion, that inevitable touchstone of new wave melancholy and ‘90s stadium rock ballast, all contribute to the thematic consistency that holds their music together. Although sometimes it can be difficult to absorb so much emotional relentlessness, Lampara worms its way to your hearts the more you listen to it, finding the entire over-the-top feel, cathartically enjoyable. “Freezing Maze Of Light” and “Still” opens the album with all-consuming introspection and miserablist mope, backed with radiant synths and lush instrumentations that envelope into a big, warm and dense sonic motif. “Pepé Le Pew” tones down the epic, atmospheric vibe to give way for an alt ballad about emotional longing, written as if it’s the last call to salvation. “I know it’s wrong, but you are all that I want,” Max Barredo insists. The more you listen to it and the more that it plays around your thought bubble, the more you consider his pleading, at one point in your life, your own too.

“Mesopotamia,” Beast” and “Limits” remind me so much of Sheila and The Insects songs, stomping morose post-punk revival with saw-toothed guitar riffs and driving rhythms that spiral out of control, yet put together by meticulous detail and restraint. By the time it reaches “Bursting Fete,” the outbursts of aggression has dissipated, leaving only a pop glimmer that gives meaning to the meaningless. And then out of nowhere, “Kalapati” brings back the intensity and grit, working more as an endurance test than an attempt at continuity. In an early interview, the band shared how the song was conceived out of ennui. “Our vocalist, drummer, and guitar player were stuck in traffic on their way to rehearsal when they started listening to Wolfgang. When they got to the studio, they took the whole experience of that soundtrip to our songwriting session. So instead of coming up with a well thought of first song, we ended up with a fun, metal sounding one.” Laced with synth spikes and a groovier pace, it still managed to blend well with the rest of the tracks in the album.

It’s always refreshing when an album comes along to satisfy your craving for arena-sized mayhem while also plunges you deep down the emotional territory. Lampara’s debut album takes you to such delightful ride, turning theatricality and grandeur into something that can be felt, a warm cloak that you’d want to wear any time you feel like hiding or a drawn-out sanctuary that nobody but you, understands. It doesn't make sense, really. But everybody needs sweeping dramas once in a while. B+ 

NEW TRACK: Skymarines - "Dreamer"

Skymarines makes the kind of small, intimate bedroom music that you want to cuddle up with. Encrusted with downtempo sparkles and synthetic beats, her new single “Dreamer” sounds like nocturnal dream-pop filtered through the wistful lens of a foggy romance. Isa Belle Añiga’s lilting, lighter-than-clouds coos recall the pangs of a hopeless romantic. She intones the sugary chorus: “Coz I’m a dreamer baby, I’m a dreamer baby…” And you realize you sing and share the same sentiment too.  Listen below and download it here.

August 21, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Soundeep - "Realistic Dreamer"

In “Realistic Dreamer,” Filipino-British rapper Soundeep chronicles the life of a struggling artist in London, teaching us a thing or two on how life tribulations and trials can be survived through hard work. Over a flipped nu-soul sample and a narcotized beat, the song further cements his viciously cutting, street-smart style with understated emotions, with each verse’s rewarding intricacies showing rich layers of wisdom upon multiple listens. Check it:

August 20, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Ciudad - "There's A Lonely Road To Sunday Night"

Marie Jamora’s twee-pop film Ang Nawawala will have its limited theatrical release this September 12, 2012 in selected cinemas nationwide. We’re looking forward on how it will fare in the box office tills, especially with the much-anticipated Bea Alonzo-John Lloyd Cruz reunion flick The Mistress also arriving on the same date. To give you a foretaste of what the movie is all about, the team behind Ang Nawawala has recently released the music video of Ciudad’s “There’s a Lonely Road To Sunday Night.” Helmed by screenwriter Ramon De Veyra, the video features the casts wearing their full character mode while gamely lip-syncing the song. Watch it:

August 19, 2012

WATCH: The Itchyworms x Boboy Garovillo - "Ano Ang Ibig Mong Sabihin"

Not since Pretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off have we witnessed a golden lip-sync moment in movies, jammed with iconic performances that represent the youthful energy of the characters inhabiting John Hughes’ realm of ‘80s teenage ennui and twee. Marie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala, more than referencing Stephen Frears and Wes Anderson movies, also paid tribute to John Hughes by way of Gibson (played by Dominic Roco) lip-synching, dancing and doing air-guitar to Apo Hiking Society’s “Ano Ang Ibig Mong Sabihin.” It’s one of the many highlights in Marie’s hyper-indulgent, scenester-meme awesomeness, reminding us that hipsters too, have an ability to track down rare-find classics that your mamas and papas wouldn’t mind dancing to.

Imagine the collective glee and excitement that followed at the Ang Nawawala victory party when The Itchyworms called Boboy Garavillo of Apo Hiking Society to come up on stage and jam to this year’s finest musical moment this side of repackaged John Hughes. Jugs and Boboy sang “Ano Ang Ibig Mong Sabihin” with enthusiasm that matches the original’s lovesick plea, and got the crowd fist-pumping and cheering to such memorable and blissed out performance. Watch it below:

Video courtesy of Bel Certeza.

August 16, 2012

NEW TRACK: Gloc 9 Feat. Ebe Dancel - "Sirena"

Homophobia, whether direct or implicit, has always been present in Philippine contemporary music, a testament of how divided modern society is when it comes to approaching issues that hound gender and sexuality lines. From Michael V.’s “Hindi Ako Bakla” to something as offensive as Blakdyak’s “Modelong Charing”, gays of the loud kind have been mocked by some misguided artists who’d resort to ill-considered caricaturing of homosexuals in favor of entertainment fluff.

On the polar opposite, there are few artists that deserve plenty of kudos for sticking it out with the LGBTQ community, standing even more strongly on the power of art as an expression to advocate gender equality. Gloc 9’s new single “Sirena”, while deemed by others as stunted shock factor or just pretentious sloganeering, sends a pro-gay message that doesn’t come off as a duty to please a certain demographic. Told in first person perspective, Aristotle Pollisco takes the role of a hardworking gay man who hurdled his childhood and teenage years being the center of ridicule, yet remains to be a colorful, forgiving, and responsible person unfazed by other people’s opinion of him.

Ebe Dancel lends a helping hand by singing the chorus hook, spewing the self-empowering line “Ako’y isang Sirena, kahit anong sabihin nila ako ay ubod ng ganda” in a mantra-like grind that cuts right to the soul of every gay men and the world that’s been ignorant of the real struggles of LGBTQ youth. But Gloc 9’s narrative flow and delivery makes it more special and uplifting. Aside from acknowledging and embracing the humanity of gay people through a music genre that had long-standing issues with the LGBTQ in the past, he also channels his message through a valid art form that catalyzes critical thinking and inspires individuals. That itself is something that goes beyond art, something that is truly relevant especially in a time when rampant homophobia is a bubbling issue across our culture.

August 15, 2012

PINNED: Outcasts Of The Universe

We’ve first heard of Outcasts Of The Universe on the inclusion of the charming downtempo “One Little Bomb” in an independent compilation album released over a year ago. Since then, we’ve followed their releases on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, and found ourselves engulfed to their intimate yet dreamy pop universe—a totally different vibe that separates them from the recent crop of musicians dishing electronic pop music that sadly, lacks emotional resonance and warmth.

With Outcasts Of The Universe, you can instantly feel that strong human pulse steering in the beats and contours of their music. There’s emotional connection breathing in cybernetic idiom, throbbing as if it mimics the sound of a human body. And yes, the music doesn’t just demand you to dance in your bedroom; but also, makes you feel the emotions and vibe emanating from their songs. We got the chance to talk to Antz, one half of the electro-pop duo OOTU. In detail, he reveals his thoughts about the upcoming record to be released this year, Baron Geisler, and the anonymity that they pull off in live performances and gigs.

Q: How do you feel about the word-of-mouth praises and hype you're getting from random strangers who happened to get hooked to your music? Things are kind of exploding for you this year.
Charmed, Thankful and Blessed.

Q: Tell us something about your new single "One Little Bomb." We've first heard about the song in an all-Filipino indie band compilation some years ago.
“One Little Bomb” is the first track we've ever recorded so it just seems proper to release it as our first single. And yes, it was first featured on the "Everything Is Fine" compilation by Bangkok-based label Sea Indie.

Q: How does it feel like working with Baron Geisler on the video of "One Little Bomb?" A lot of bad press about him has surfaced over the years regarding his work ethics.
Baron was very easy to work with during the video shoot. And we're very radiant that he said yes to our invitation. He's cool.

Q: There's that Daydream Cycle vibe going on with some of your songs. Are you guys inspired by them or it just so happened that you share the same aesthetic and feel?
I like and miss Daydream Cycle and yes, you can say that we share the same vibe coz all of the electronic sounds going on in our songs. And I hope they come back performing again. To share a stage with them will be awesome.

Q: "Open Hearts" is a personal favorite. What is the song actually all about?
“Open Hearts (Absorbed & Disposed)” basically deals with unrequited love. Unanswered. Unreturned. Yes. I think that's the core of that song when I wrote it.

Q: Because the masks and dressing up have become an integral part of your gig performance, we're wondering if there's an instance where you've performed without anything that covers your face.
At this point, I think it's very unlikely because we are advocating anonymity during our live sets, making the music the face. The electronic beats and soundscapes the rhythm, the heartbeat.

Q: There's undeniable chemistry between you and your she-who-shall-not-be-named music partner. Where did you guys get it from?
I think it comes from the friendship that we've built over the years.

Any EP or album in the works?
We are currently finishing recording new tracks and hopefully a proper release from us will be out this year. I'm very excited to share this future release to all our friends and to all the dear random strangers who dig our music. And I'm positive that you all are going to trip out on it. Hmmm, You can call it Trip Out music if you want. Hehehe!

So what kind of records do you listen to on your own?
I listen to a lot. I draw inspiration to a lot of music and right now, I'm listening to Jonwayne, J Dilla, Prefuse 73 and revisiting Ladytron as well.

August 14, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Eyedress - Half Japanese (2012)

Released last month, Idris Vicuña’s Nature Trips serves as feast for the senses, a beat tape filled with palatable mixture of bittersweet sounds, dreamscapes, and ketamine swirling pleasantly in ear-candy rapture. Its effect is dissociative, creating a blurry, boundless universe that magnets you to its whim.

Applying this metaphor would not be repetitive, but merely a continuation of the trippy offering Eyedress generously laid out in Half Japanese, his first solo effort under Number Line Records. Warmly hazy and brimming with tepid, innocuous tinge of nostalgia, Half Japanese evokes too many passive and subconscious feelings which rise into the surface after a day spent in autopilot maneuver.

There’s that vague hint of a default Haruki Murakami plot which seemingly laze in the washed out vocals of “Mountbatten”, with the gentle strumming of Oriental strings serving as an accompaniment. Charged with teenage misery and drama, “Teen Spirits” opens with “when we die, will you still be mine? In the afterlife, ‘til the end of time,” stabbing straight to the apex of a tragically wounded heart. Then there’s the passionate pleas and conveyed promises in “Tokyo Ghost”, a song dotted with moseyed beats best pictured with the longing stares of an agonized soul in an airport’s departure area. “Death Bed” strolls in classic Nintendo sonics, glazed with lounge-pop skitter that complements Cat Cortez’s sickly sweet vocals.

Short and bittersweet, Eyedress' Half Japanese successfully takes you to an 11-minute wooze cruise, maybe not a decent length of a complete psychedelic trip, but nonetheless, a more-than-decent preamble to one. Its slow-wave pace, crestless storytelling, and meandered synths will undoubtedly escort its listeners to the epicenter of surrealism-- a temporary refuge that shields you away from reality check.   A- 

Review c/o: Mary Christine Galang
Check her other writings here and make sure to follow her on Twitter.

August 13, 2012

NEW TRACK: Dr. StrangeLuv - "I'm Dynamite"

Even with a short runtime, “I’m Dynamite” finds Dr. StrangeLuv goofing its way to a breakneck pace, gliding along a manic fit of hardcore-punk tantrums with a rhythm that felt like it’s been shot out of a cannon. Urgent and fun, inanely entertaining and pissed, it grows out of being jaded and swoops into a WTF screwball of a jam. Stream this stoner thrasher below and download here:

August 12, 2012

NEW TRACK: Archaster - "Hometown"

Archaster’s new track “Hometown” finds Francis Yu contemplating on his decision to leave the town encrusted with memories of his friends and family, nothing coming out in his words but grieving from a distance. The music around him sways in between hopelessness and lament, chiming in the pangs of a brooding road-folk sentimentality reminiscent of The National’s work in High Violet and Alligator.

“Let’s take a walk down to the streets of Valenzuela, walk down with me,” he muses with a heavy heart, clouded with thoughts that it might be the last time he’ll get to experience walking on a late-night empty street with familiarity winding down in thick air. Archaster’s reputation for sad bastard melancholia is pretty evident in this track and a closer listen reveals big moments that get more affecting with more listens. What draws me into this emotional claustrophobia is the way the music gets into the layer of the storytelling, providing crack of light coming through darkness. Listen to it below:

Archaster’s “Hometown” is part of Habagat Sounds, a music compilation commissioned by Artiste Connect to aid the calamity victims in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. You can give P100, P500 or P1000 to have an access to a folder containing awesome OPM songs, this track included. All proceeds will go to Rock Ed Philippines and its effort to help the typhoon victims. For more information on how to purchase the compilation record, visit their website here.

August 11, 2012

NEW TRACK: Sandwich - "Mayday"

An anthem doesn’t attempt to be anything. It just is. And that’s everything I like about Sandwich’s break-out hit “Sugod." It's a song that aside from transcending social class and margins, tackles the quintessential hymn of all music festival goers and free gig campers, the glee that ensued in every beer-wasted rock n’ roll moshpits, and the fun and fulfilment live music brings to the table. While not everyone will agree with me, it is without any doubt, this generation’s answer to Juan Dela Cruz Band’s “Ang Himig Natin” or Sampaguita’s “Bonggahan”—an anthem that nurtures the wild side of youth culture in an authentic way, where it smells natural and bohemian.

Same can be said on “Mayday,” Sandwich’s attempt to rewrite “Sugod” with a surf-rock flair that recalls The Pixies and a poppier Sonic Youth. But instead on universalizing the collective embrace of every gig goers out there, Raymund and gang pays tribute on the culprit behind some of the best rock n’ roll parties and gigs thrown in recent memory. Yes, more than anything else, it’s a song about Mei Bastes—the tattooed events organizer who at one point in her life, brought free live music to a different dimension that united all music fans from all walks of life. It’s an anthem to get your hips to dancing and like every nostalgia fetishists, a recollection of a time when every Meiday gig is worth looking forward to. Watch it here:

August 10, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: The Camerawalls

Pocket Guide To The Otherworld, the head-turning debut from The Camerawalls stamped Clementine Castro’s credibility as a craftsman of sensitive pop—slightly in the same league as his last work in Orange and Lemons’ underrated Moonlane Gardens. But unlike the last Orange and Lemons offering, PGTTO is a more focused and cohesive record in terms of production and style. It is a collection of songs built on ambition, melding the sensibilities of ‘80s British pop with lilting folk tunes and Rondalla orchestrations that channel traditional Philippine music during the Spanish colonial era.

The force behind the creative push is Clem Castro, the romantic Bulakeño whose penchant for whimsy melodies and flamboyantly sentimental songwriting matches that of a younger Ian Brown, Roddy Frame, even Morrissey. I could go on and on, write about how Clem captured the true musician’s spirit and how after the heartbreaking Orange and Lemons break-up he tried to reinvent what is left of his former band’s legacy, and turn it into some maudlin piece of literary bravado set to music. He knows what he’s exactly doing and his vision to push the envelope of pop music to something mesmeric and empowering remains unrivalled up to this day.

The Camerawalls’ follow-up record, Bread And Circuses— a metaphorical reference coined to describe the superficial attempts of an institution or an establishment to get the approval of its constituents—somehow dispels any notion of the band gearing towards the mainstream wonderworks despite the strong following that supported their debut. On hindsight, it could just be a personal rambling ascribed to what Clem actually felt during that moment: frustration or maybe just plain disappointment. “I’m tired of being fed with bread and circuses, this world view seemed incredibly conservative,” he sings on the title track. There’s some sense of nonconformity to it, that idea of merely rejecting what’s been there and then. And it just gives the over-all push of what the album is all about when played on full volume: an easy listening, guitar-pop record completely devoid of ambition and pretense, and more of the fuck-you-I-won’t-compromise kind of record that they seemed to advocate.

Fast forward 2012. The Camerawalls remains to be one of the primary movers of the independent music scene, releasing consistently stellar singles that trail into modern indie classic territory. Their new single “Wanderlust” off their still-untitled upcoming album, brims with inexplicable charm that reeks of pastoral beauty and warmth, pretty much a return to good old, Rondalla-inflected folk-pop that we instantly fell in love with. In the band’s official site, they describe the track as “a mellow departure from the band's usual driven tempo. A downtempo tune that prompts the listener to sigh for the nomad's life, if not immediately bring out the backpack and slip on a pair of walking shoes. An invitation to wander is an invitation to discover, to breathe, to take a moment to appreciate what life on the slow lane has to offer -- and "Wanderlust" captures this beautifully.”

As an effort to provide financial help to the victims of the recent flood in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, The Camerawalls will be donating 75% of the proceeds of the song’s digital download to DAKILA. The money collected will be used in buying relief goods and stuff needed to aid calamity victims. If you have the heart of the good and willing to help out even in your own little way, please click here to find out how you can donate and purchase the single. Btw, here's "Wanderlust" available for streaming.

August 9, 2012

NEW TRACK: Turbo Goth - "Coastal Catastrophe"

Even by the loosest of music standards, Turbo Goth’s new single strikes me as particularly distant and strange, embracing the fairy cyborg-pop of Grimes, Purity Ring and even Nite Jewel without direct appeal to human emotions at all. Devoid of hook and structure, and floating instead on a sparkling cluster of digital textures, “Coastal Catastrophe” sounds like a fembot programmed to coo a twee jam of its own, plasticized and processed into what passes off as music for internet age ennui. Stream it below and download here.

NEW TRACK: Techiyaki Feat. Boltair3 - "Fly, I'm Alive"

Here’s something that will bowl over EDM denizens yearning for big-tent house anthems and endorphin bangers. “Fly I’m A Live,” the latest collaboration between electronic music producer Techiyaki and Voltaire Baniqued, evokes the euphoric club vibe you get from listening to Avicii and Calvin Harris. It’s a fun, refreshing dance-pop fashioned by homemade production tricks that have enough flare to keep it interesting for the clubs. Stream it below.

August 8, 2012

PINNED: Eyedress (Idris Vicuna)

From the surface of it, Eyedress’ new EP Half Japanese thrives on a deeply pained soundboard steeped in the memories of a past, of an old flame that fails to recognize the possibility of eternal love, of devastating death that leads to a thousand-fold inspiration. It’s obviously a sad, sad affair devoid of brightness and sunshine (well maybe except for “Teen Spirits”), laced with blurry womblike music that seeks refuge in isolation. Yes, it’s a common theme for most chillwave experimentalists dabbling into cosmic soundscapes and 80s synth-pop minimalism. They tend to evoke a certain feel, a certain atmosphere, a certain vibe that wallows in emotion and recluse. Eyedress, though does it in his own terms, devoted to making music that’s a hazy remembrance to one’s muted old self and past experiences.

Luckily, we got the chance to talk to the man behind some of the most refreshing pop tunes in recent memory. In this interview, he gamely shared his thoughts on Half-Japanese, his first gig as a solo artist and his other creative endeavors outside of music.

Q: How do you feel about the positive critical reception surrounding your debut solo project? Everyone I know seems to love your brand of distant and self-effacing chill-pop.
I'm totally unfazed by it. The only person whose opinion I really care for is the person I wrote these songs for.

Q: Your new EP ‘Half Japanese’ lingers around the themes of heartbreak, loss and adolescent angst. Is it safe to say that these songs are stuff based from personal experiences?
Yeah, all the songs I wrote on this EP were based on personal experiences, particularly with my ex-girlfriend who I met in Singapore, who is also half-Japanese. Which is why I decided to call the EP that way. But the last song entitled “Death Bed,” which was written by my friend Cat Cortes of Arigato Hato is about losing someone close to you so in a way it all makes sense because all the songs are about losing your loved ones.

Eyedress - Death Bed (Feat. Cat Cortes) from Idris Vicuña on Vimeo.

Q: So you are now part of the Number Line Records family. What made you decide to collaborate with an established independent label specializing in distributing free online releases?
I’ve played at one of their shows a long time ago. Me and Michael have been talking about coming up with a release for Number Line. So yeah, it took me awhile. I had to live a little and sooner or later, I’ve gathered enough inspiration to come up with some songs and as soon as I was finished with them, I immediately sent the tracks to him. And yeah, that’s pretty much what happened.

Q: Before Half Japanese, you’ve released the psychedelic and trippy beat tape 'Nature Trips.' How is it different from the previous work you’ve done for Bee Eyes and to your more synth-laden, lo fi pop solo effort?
Well, Nature Trips is pretty much a compilation of all my best beats. As to the stuff on Half-Japanese, they are more personal and the Bee Eyes stuff are just on another level of life that I can’t even describe because it’s kind of a lifestyle that me and my best friends share so that’s just another world of its own but it’s all pretty personal. I mean I’m a serious person and I only fuck with serious people.

Q: We got the chance to catch your first solo gig when you played at the Outcast Of The Universe’s video launch for “One Little Bomb.” How was it like performing on your own without your bandmates from Bee Eyes at your side?
It was nerve-wracking. Actually the person I performed with, Roman ak.a. Fuego from Fliptop used to be our drummer for Bee Eyes so it was natural that I decided to get him. But yeah, I was pretty fucking terrified but at least I can cross that off my list now. Haha!

You’ve also dabbled into directing music videos. Tell us something about your experience behind the camera, providing visual reels for fellow musicians Turbo Goth and J-Hoon.
We all need a fall back, and music and videos just go together so perfectly that I had to get into the visual aspect of creating. And being a photographer and graphic designer in my younger years, I guess it was inevitable for me to get behind the camera and express my visions. I really look up to Vincent Gallo who is my favorite director and musician so yeah I guess I'm just following in his footsteps because he showed me that being two things at once was possible.

Any plans for future releases/projects/collabos?
No plans right now. I just wanna focus more on Bee Eyes stuff and I'm gonna be shooting a music video for “Teen Spirits” this month so look out for that. Hehe!

If there’s one OPM album you’d be playing for the rest of the year, what would it be and why?
No End In SIght by Outerhope because it’s beautiful and really calm and dreamy. Totally my vibe.

Download Eyedress' debut EP Half Japanese under Number Line Records here.

August 7, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Pedicab - "Otomatik"

“Oh Diyos ko, ayoko maging robot.” It’s a sentiment shared by thousands of caffeinated zombies working their butts off a corporate boredom, dreaming of trips abroad and a perfect tan. Pedicab captures such collective yearning in the video for their new single “Otomatik”—an agitated, surf-punk raver with honeyed disco beats dripping like it’s about to grow sunflower. Shot in Vietnam, the video features the band enjoying their vacation, goofing around in Ho Chi Minh and other interesting places in the Southern-most part of the country. It’s a fun clip fashioned with classic Pedicab humor, Kraftwerk-posing shots, and space glasses, something you'd expect from a bunch of kiddos just having the time of their life. Turn this up on full volume and watch:

NEW TRACK: Hijo - "Cause She Knows"

If there’s one thing veteran musicians behind Hijo have consistently kicked against, it’s doing what anybody expects of them. Plucked from the old ashes of Bamboo and Rivermaya, it’s quite amusing how they were able to write off history by exploring a compellingly different direction outside the anthemic, radio-wooed rock they've been boxed into. A testament to this effort is the new song “Cause She Knows,” a slyly-crafted piano ballad that channels everything from the classic rock dump: The Beatles, Dylan, Byrds, and Stones. It’s a perfectly pronounced performance rife with a stroke of collaborative genius, something that they should elaborate more on their future releases. Listen below and download it here:

August 6, 2012

LISTEN: June Marieezy - "Call Me Maybe" (Carly Rae Cover)

Here’s a rare treat for all you June Marieezy fans out there! The astral-soul diva from Deeper Manila Records turns Carly Rae Jepsen’s summer hit “Call Me Maybe” into a relaxed, PBR&B improv that channels the small, wondrous feeling you get from lounging alone in your room without anyone to cuddle to but your pillow. It’s smooth on the edges and just perfect for this chilly weather that you can’t help but to get down to its laidback vibe. Stream it, folks:

August 5, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Ciudad - Follow The Leader (2012)

Universal opinion is a bitch. You sometimes find yourself staring at the blank celing, looking for the right words to use as contention to the critical consensus you don’t share an affinity with. While I thoroughly enjoyed Ciudad’s latest album Follow The Leader and its openness to sonic adventurism, I still feel that it isn’t the Ciudad record I used to listen to in my younger years. The playful twee punk of Hello! How Are You, Mico The Happy Bear? and the youthful recklessness of career-defining, Pavement-influenced Is That Ciudad? Yes, Son, It’s Me are now replaced with well-crafted, sophisticated pop that deals with ruminations on modern life and adulthood, something unusual to hear from the awesome gents that gave us nothing but forever young anthems we could mosh to whenever we feel like wallowing in misery and getting into the high of our own imperfections.

“It’s different yes it’s different… It’s not the same old shit you know,” Amistoso shares on “You Know The Answer, Just Follow The Leader”. Everything about it reeks of maturity, heading towards a more realized, studio-disciplined direction that might just alienate old fans who adore their raw and carefree aesthetics. With the help of Jazz Nicholas, himself a self-confessed maximalist who made a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band out of The Itchyworms’ Noontime Show, Mikey and the rest of the gang shows that they’ve finally come of age, offering love homilies and wisdom nuggets through the most basic pop syntax. Follow The Leader, Ciudad’s fifth studio album clings to a musical ambition that soars in twinkly bursts, incorporating layers upon layers, keyboard melodies, muffled heartbeat drums, string arrangements, guitar strums, sha-la-la vocal harmonies and subtle orchestral flourishes—with each element, a driving force to the theatrical conceit that they strive to perfect in melodic sweep. Obviously it’s not my favorite Ciudad record, but its all-encompassing embrace for greatness ups the ante of OPM in terms of production style and musicality.

From the majestic pop songcraft of “Due Dates” to the late ‘60s keyboards-and-soul leanings (reminiscent of Girls' "Love Like A River" or The Beatles' "Oh Darling") of “How You Do It,” it’s clear that they’re gunning for something epic and game-changing, borrowing heavily from rock classics such as The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and The Who’s Tommy. Thankfully, not much has changed for the worse. “You Know The Answer, Just Follow The Leader” is inescapably swoony, redolent of a time when music used to be about beautiful melodies and delicate arrangements. Its outro is nothing short of breathtaking, lulling you to visualize a dreamland filled with glittery clouds and sugarcoated seas. “There’s A Lonely Road To Sunday Night” offers glint of optimism even in the most dastardly of situations, with Mikey Amistoso’s whispery coos telling you that everything’s gonna be safe and sound. “Leads” and “Johnny” both have the pillowy vibe and intimacy that makes for a fascinating ballad, written in a way that doesn’t overindulge in sap. “When You Go To The Top” is an estimation of the gut-level production style carved in the album’s overall sound: big-sounding pop stuff laced with fun-loving experiments that unearth grounds they’ve never tapped before.

There’s vaudevillian quality in Follow The Leader’s approach of conveying timelessness and ambition, echoing familiar song forms of yesteryear’s golden age pop with unusual turns and quirks. Although the frisky kiddos in the first three albums have grown into a less hip, 30-something dads that have yet to solve the puzzles of the world, you can’t help but marvel to what Ciudad has become. And it’s something that’s worth remembering from here and beyond, as you go on and track down a discography that endures the test of time.  B+ 

August 4, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Outcasts Of The Universe - "One Little Bomb"

In just a span of two years, Outcasts Of The Universe has mastered the art of harnessing emotionally captivating songs layered with cold flowing beats, synths, and downtempo electronics that satisfy a need for solitude and introspection. So it only makes sense that director Zoraya Lua would turn the video for their song “One Little Bomb” into a twee My Blue Valentine that nobody anticipated: a time-clutching story of a relationship gone astray amid open boxes and found secrets. Actor extraordinaire Baron Geisler and newcomer Diandra Zach stars as the hip, artsy couple in the video. Watch it:

August 2, 2012

NEW TRACK: Valley Of Chrome - "Dagat Ng Apoy (Mecha Hell Remix)"

Dubstep producer Mecha Hell turns Valley Of Chrome’s “Dagat Ng Apoy” into a druggy rock raver, slanting it with saw-like bass drops and strobing beats that stretch out in jagged directions. It’s the closest thing you can get from an amalgam of metal and dance music; the sound people wish the last Korn album sounded. Stream it below:

August 1, 2012

PINNED: Patience Dear Juggernaut (Wincy Ong)

Nerds and socially awkward intellectuals are major mainstays in popular culture, usually ridiculed as the peer-challenged, eyeglass-wearing characters bumbling around the school corridors with their backpacks and stiff personas on. But at the turn of the millenium, there’s been countless of attempts to transform the nerd and the geek into the hegemony of the new cool, their roles switched from a social and sexual failure to becoming the new face of cultic hipsterdom.

Wincy Ong, the man behind the bedroom pop project, Patience Dear Juggernaut casts the geeks and the comic book-worshipping introverts in a different light, writing whip-smart songs about girls, heartbreaks, and the awesomeness of being the unpopular kid at school.

His debut album Girl The Impaler champions this generation’s embracing of the hip, geek persona—but one that walks away from the media-represented notions of it. We got the chance to interview him online, and guess what? He’s game enough to answer all the questions that we’ve thrown at him. Wincy has this chatty, articulate persona that isn’t afraid to tell you what’s on his mind. It’s rare to find someone who knows what he’s talking about and yet stands incredibly truthful to every word he’s saying. Well, maybe behind Gary Wallace and JD Salinger, there’s a real person in him unconcerned with the modern world’s expectations and double standards. And that’s something you need to find out in this interview.

1. Your debut album Girl The Impaler sounds like Napoleon Dynamite or some geeky male character in Wes Anderson movies trying his hand at writing about confessional tales on the women in his life. So is the album just a conceptual record paying tribute to the opposite sex or is it more of a diarist thing that you’ve been dying to share?
One day, it just hit me: I really suck at women. I’m completely retarded when it comes to their kinds of social mechanics. Women have so many games, and smoke and mirrors, that a once-prude like me can never be good at. Yeah, you can surely say that I’m no Miggy Chavez or Mong Alcaraz. I’m the kind of guy who would leave a party early and read X-Men comics with my best friend. It’s just the way I’m built. The songs are all- fictional, but are a heady mix of all my past experiences. Sorry, I can never be completely diarist in my writing. I lack the courage of an exhibitionist.

2. The songwriting style in Girl The Impaler reminds me of Ben Folds and a bit of Belle & Sebastian—that whip-smart lyrics combined with self-deprecating humor and introverted wit. How do you deal with your songwriting process?
I realized that most songwriters nowadays write in a cryptic style. You read the lyrics and they’re all just words from a hat; they just sound cool but really don’t mean anything. Blame it all on hipsterism. Nobody wants to be vulnerable in their songs anymore. Most songs are about meeting girls in a party and dancing and being cool. I wanted to write songs that were embarrassing. If you feel embarrassed, it means you’re telling the truth, it means you’ve made a genuine connection with a listener.

3. Early this year, you told me that you’re planning to record an all-Filipino album ala Sugarfree’s Dramachine. How are things going now for the follow-up to Girl The Impaler?
I am really excited about that. It’s called Himpapanaut. Cosmonauts are Russian. Taikonauts are Chinese. Himpapanauts are Filipino, if we ever had a space program. It’s shaping up strangely, now that I culled a lot of influences from the Seattle grunge sound, after an inspiring trip to Kurt Cobain’s hometown on my 30th birthday. I am mixing and mastering it now, and it should come out this year.

4. Tell us something about your new song "Para Kay CJ." Is it going to be part of the new album you're planning to release late this year? 
Thanks for asking. No, the Cj song is one of the mini-songs that I am making as part of "The Road to Himpapanaut." But anyhow, I will be releasing a 5-song EP this week called The Divine Autopilot EP (B-sides). Himpapanaut will be launched on November.

5. Tell us something about your previous single, Joan. It’s giving me Lolita vibes.
“Joan” is my favorite song in the album. Yes, it’s the Lolita song, the token May-December affair song. It’s entirely fictional, of course. The whistles in the outro is something I keep on listening to on repeat. It’s my ode to Gilbert O’ Sullivan.

6. Admit it or not, you’re one of the perennial forces in the local music scene, having fronted relevant indie bands such as Narda and Us-2 Evil-0. How does it feel like surviving 10 years of DIY and no label support?
Thank you very much for that , but honestly, until now I don’t feel like a legitimate musician. My breaks were just okay breaks, they were not Itchyworms- or Sponge Cola-sized breaks. I’d always needed a day job so I could buy guitar strings and Graham Coxon t-shirts.

But having a day job is something I'm not ashamed of. Working in an office made me a humble person. On the other hand, working in an office has also given me a spare tire, which often pokes out of my shirt when I sit.

7. You’re also a filmmaker and your work on San Lazaro proves how versatile you are as an artist. Are you planning to direct more movies? How about a music-themed movie ala Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous or Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People?
Right now, in all honesty, I’m thinking of whether or not to take a sabbatical from filmmaking. Filmmaking is bad for the health. It’s also bad for your ATM account. And as I grow more gray hairs on my head everyday, I am more and more inclined to embrace my old soul self, and get into graphic novels full-time, do my Grant Morrison dreams a service.

Making a music-themed movie set in the Philippines is now futile. Quark Henares and Diego Castillo are the perfect filmmakers for that, and future films can never hold a candle to the awesome Rakenrol.

8. Any artists/musicians/filmmakers you want to collaborate with in the near future?
I’m not too big on collaborations when it comes to music, because I think music is best when it’s done by one person rather than a committee. But as for film, I would definitely want to collaborate with music video director King Palisoc, who is such a great storyteller, in my humble opinion.

9. What makes Patience Dear Juggernaut different from Wincy Ong?
It’s funny you asked that. I think Patience Dear Juggernaut is the internationalist side of me. Wincy Ong is very Pinoy. He speaks in Tagalog and he’s just in his pambahay and tsinelas all day in his room, reading books and drawing superheroes on his sketch pad. PDJ is the Canadian indie musician inside my Filipino body. ‘Juggernaut’ itself is a work that reeks of the Unpinoy.


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