October 30, 2012

NEW TRACK: Oktaves - "K.U.P.A.L."

Ely Buendia has taken a bit of aesthetic turn: he now joins Nitoy Adriano of The Jerks and the Padilla brothers on a new hard rock band called Oktaves. There’s that burden of living up to the expectation of being labeled a supergroup, but on their new track “K.U.P.A.L.,” Ely and gang keeps it straight up and simple, swiping pretty heavily on feral riffs and unabashed rock n’ roll fury like some form of classic-rock worship is about to take us in a sweep. Never one to back down, Ely shows that he can screw around dirty, teeth-rattling guitar chords with a bluesy strut, taking its listeners to a time when rock music was about fun and gratuitous sexual tension. Stream it below:

October 28, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Youth - "Laruan"

It can’t be denied that The Youth remains to be a big influence on most thriving rock bands of today, hitting the two-decade mark with a reputation of bringing realness and primal energy in the grand scheme of rock n’ roll tradition. After almost a decade of not releasing any material despite being active on local gig circuits and rock festivals, The Youth returns with a new song called “Laruan”—a ragged, post-grunge tribute to childhood that delivers scum-bucket seriousness with more edge and teeth.

But it’s still classic Dodong Cruz, the bad-ass punk whino who’d willingly lay waste to the floor and let his parodied machismo speak. Exploding over raucous guitar-rock frenzy and a live-in-the-room performance, he can’t help but wonder, “Simple lang noon!” It’s an indispensible showcase of a legendary band that shows no signs of stopping, giving us, listeners a signature sound exhausted in the most refreshing way possible. Check it out:

October 27, 2012

GRAVE CAN DANCE: An OPM Halloween Mixtape

Cemetery lullabies, witch-wave ravers, spooky mantras, ghosted atmospherics and gothcore moshers—we got it all covered in one bloodied Halloween mixtape that features some of the finest Filipino indie tunes and rarities you’d want to dance and go crazy to, when the clock hits midnight. Cop this compilation and decide which suits your goth ball mood. Download here.


October 26, 2012

NEW TRACK: KaapiN - "Everyone's The Same"

Judging from the hidden gems we’ve found online, experimental pop/IDM duo KaapiN might be the most interesting export that came out from Cebu since Faspitch. At its mighty finest, KaapiN’s amalgam of eerily minimalist soundscapes and digitized textures showcase an aesthetic that bridges the space between technology and human emotions, amplified in a gossamer-thin electro pulse that articulates the new kind of loneliness and longing brought about by our constant connectedness.

“Everyone’s The Same” honors these feelings, bursting out all over a sheet of android noise and saccharine melodies. Plenty of things are going behind this cyborg wallop, but if you get past that, the song reverberates with something much deeper, leafing through a series of disconnected and connected emotional wiring that binds us all. Stream this amazing new track below:

October 25, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Hopie - "Heartbeats"

It’s no secret that most hardworking female MCs today resort to skinning their music with a sexualized, pop star artifice in order to get through the male-dominated urban market. Manila-born femcee Hopie deconstructs this fact with a schoolyard taunt and confidence that adjusts smoothly to an array of sounds and influences, giving the world her distinct take on hiphop.

Hopie’s new single “Heartbeats” proves that she was ahead of the curve as an enemy-deflating feminist rapping over The Knife’s synth-pop smash. She smack-talks with uncompromising energy, snapping a shit-talking bait that is at once calm and cool. But she holds up even better by just allowing the cheerleader in her do most of the talking. “Not all of them can handle your fly,” Hopie advises her fellow empowered women. There’s nothing that quite hits awesomeness than skewing hiphop’s masculinity with a bubblegum flow.

October 24, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Gentle Isolation - "US Rock"

There’s a reason The Gentle Isolation’s “US Rock” comes in the form of bright, candy-store whimsy. Like The Cults and The Cardigans’ feel-good tunes, the song seems to inhabit that lovely intersection between young love and wistful summer, cranking out great happy-sad music that drags on for days.

Ness Urian relays the exact moment that made her grapple on excitement and nostalgia: “Seasons would come and go, my love for you continued as we grow,” she sings in a sunny but terse melancholic tone, seemingly hopeful of that day when that guy she loves would feel the same way too. Stream this awesome twee-pop demo below:

October 22, 2012

NEW TRACK: Julianne - "Ex-Factor" (Lauryn Hill Cover)

There’s no formula for a successful cover. Sometimes, you just need to take a song in a new light or perspective; careful not to dress it up with a personality that you can't call your own. R&B songstress Julianne recognizes this idea and puts her soothing, lemony spin on Lauryn Hill’s breakup classic without straying too far from it. With the help of singer-songwriter Carlos Castano, Julianne gives “Ex-Factor” a touch of her personal style, emphasizing the uniqueness of her voice in a stripped down performance that eschews the gloomy vibe of the original for a pocketful-of-sunshine kind of warmth. 

Be prepared to reminisce about the times you've had with an old flame and spin this heartbreaker on repeat.

October 21, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Ringmaster - "First Cistern"

A peek into The Ringmaster’s intricately produced, bedroom indie-pop reveals a beautiful future to imagine. Though not exactly schmaltzy or twee, the outtakes released over the past few months contain sweet, straightforward melodies and chilly instrumentation that serve as backdrop to Francis Lorenzo’s sentimental glow, teasing us on what to expect from his upcoming debut album, Delusions of Reference.

“First Cistern,” another outtake that unfortunately didn’t make it to the record’s final cut, strikes a seamless balance between pop songcraft and charm, evoking a kind of warm-weather driving music that’s painted with cold, deep impressionism. This time, Francis gives more of himself, not allowing the surface beauty of melodies overpower its layers of emotional contour. Stream the track below:

October 19, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Archaster - Would You Like Some Tea? (2012)

Striking in its frail icy beauty, Archaster’s Would You Like Some Tea is full of small delights and quiet moments, putting as much weigh on the atmosphere and nuances as on the actual music. It’s easy to think of it as an intimate bedroom-pop that smells of fumy breath or yet another spare, low-key record from someone who wants to make a Leonard Cohen or Neil Young out of his slit-wrist poetry. Hardly the case, Francis Yu—the man behind the dream-folk project, Archaster—dismisses the preconceived notion with an attempt to create a reflection of emotional truth in the most affecting and sincere way possible. On Would You Like Some Tea, Francis claims to be a slave of love. He makes music that is smaller than his heart but is as big as the impression it sends, capturing the pulley between love and nostalgia as if it’s restored into a film roll filled with sepia-toned memories. 

While many artists struggle to create a stirring piece of work that yields interesting results, Francis’ strength lies on the smallness and claustrophobia that he imposes on himself, making excellent use of whatever’s near and dear to him. There’s no sense of ambition or groundbreaking experiments on his new EP, Would You Like Some Tea; only songs meant to be heard in your own little room with nothing to hold on to but a cup of brewed tea and a cigarette stick. From opener track “Khristine Anne” to “Oakwood Avenue,” you can feel and smell the kind of love that inspired Francis to write these gems. It’s that vivid, and its subdued silence tugs your heart without wanting anything from it. 

There’s also that fragile ambiance in Would You Like Some Tea that works like a natural extension of Francis’ delicate wounds and words, getting more in touch with his feelings first than what he really wants to say to his loved one in public. It’s why songs like “Café Downtown” and “Letter To Montecarlo” connect to me the most. He knows that it would sound pathetic and pointless, but he just carries on with whatever’s contained in his sleeves. “And we can talk about anything under the power of sun / then never mind the hours ‘coz time’s a thief” he shows signs of fragility on “Café Downtown,” but works his way around words with Hallmark mastery. And on “Letter To Montecarlo,” Francis writes the kind of love song that listeners would be obliged to listen to, even if it throws off your romantic perspective for very long. 

Despite the musical simplicity built around hushed, dulcet melodies and keyboard flourishes, Archaster’s Would You Like Some Tea achieves something that can’t be bought by highly elaborative concepts and sweeping declarations of the profound. It’s effortlessly beautiful in its closed-door intimacy, leaving you with just about every form of comfort imaginable.  A 

October 18, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Eyedress Feat. Skint Eastwood - "Salaamin"

If you’ve been following Idris Vicuna’s solo project, Eyedress for almost a year now, then you know he doesn’t want to leave his deck without jumping from one cool idea to another, with each release carrying a certain element and style that distinguishes one from the other. On his new single “Salaamin” from his newly released EP Beko_200, Idris translates his wide-ranging influences to a shapeshifting wash of astral beats and synths, bearing an imaginative adoption of druggy R&B and futurism with minimalist sound design in mind.

Newcomer Skint Eastwood gets her breakout moment on this intricate electro jam, her vocal flourish wrapping itself entirely around a celestial swoosh, echoing life’s crashing moments in blissful, sweet surrender. Few singers can pull it off for sure, but might suffer from blandness or too much melismatic drawl. Skint on the other hand, strikes me as someone who can combine poise and mystique with a renewed sense of character, making you believe that everything will be fine by just hearing the whip of her voice glide into Eyedress’ heavenly ambient frost. Check it:

October 17, 2012

NEW TRACK: Z◊ɤɤ◊B▲Bͼ// - "Plagiarism Is More Fun In The Philippines"

A lot of music snobs easily dismiss witch house music as manifestation of post-internet ennui hiding under dragged down beats and haunted moodscapes, textured and screwed using digital manipulation to make it sound like roboticized ghost-core lullabies that bedroom producers would love to fondle during midnight. Witch house artists also have this habit of manipulating old and new pop songs—its identity washed out for ethereal effect. Vocals are then chopped up and sometimes buried in the mix, relegating its function as part of the background. But behind the micro-genre’s occult-based aesthetics and digital tricks, it is mostly known for sending subtle social message, circulated across interwebs in a language that only a few could decipher and understand.

Upcoming Cult Shit Media Blackout artist Z◊ɤɤ◊B▲Bͼ// shares the micro-genre’s subversive take via his new track “Plagiarism Is More Fun In The Philippines,” expressing disdain over what seems to be Senator Tito Sotto’s denial and commission of plagiarism. As a gut-punch tirade to the Senator’s embrace of intellectual dishonesty, Z◊ɤɤ◊B▲Bͼ// skews VST & Company’s “Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko” (Sotto’s former band’s biggest hit to date) while slowing it down 30 times its actual tempo, dragging it like a synth-goth juke from someone’s Skype slumber party. He also injects samples from Tito Sen’s speech about plagiarism, directed to what he pertains in the email as “a political statement on the absence of intelligence in our political leadership, as well as the absence of talent in our entertainment.”

Grab your headphones and give this ghosted satirical piece a chance by streaming it below:

October 15, 2012

NEW TRACK: Stomachine - "Your Turn"

In its unique and infectious approach to indie pop, Stomachine’s “Your Turn” sounds like it belongs to a particular decade spinning bigger but softer alt anthems straight from someone else’s sensitive ego, scribbling notes from The Magic Numbers' sappy fluff and finding delightful escape in Ben Gibbard’s sharp-witted confessionals. With a chorus as warm and sad as the ocean waves, “Your Turn” convinces us that in its embrace of widescreen hooks and power-pop melancholia, Stomachine could pull off heartbreakingly sincere moments without being unintentionally funny, creating a sonic blueprint that hits a little closer to home. Stream it below:

  

October 14, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Pervs - "Wind-Up Frogs"

In an attempt to recapture the glory of bands such as The Ramones and New York Dolls, Cebu’s beloved punk quartet, The Pervs comes off as drunkards always looking for reasons to get mugged and punched in the gut, shamelessly asserting their love for three chord menace with a bewildering energy that could get them in trouble at any given rate. Boiled down to its  essentials, their new track “Wind-up Frogs” grinds the band’s charismatic, low-key attitude with tension and excitement, turning your attention to its wild mood swings. Still out in the streets with their rust-covered pipes, The Pervs delivers in-your-face anthem that encapsulates everything the group loves about late ‘70s rock music and early ‘80s punk—played considerably shorter and more fun as if the night’s running out of time. Download the track here:

October 12, 2012

NEW TRACK: Nemesis Q - "Doppel"

Not everyone’s a witness to the mammoth size of a genius that is Jayme Ancla. Outside his guitar duties for alt-psychedelia band The Strangeness, he turns to his hiphop alter-ego Nemesis Q for some bedroom comfort, lashing out on Tito Sotto and forgotten ‘80s tabloid drama over cluttered, funky beats and mellow jazz breaks. At the risk of being laughed at, he wears the mask of a noir storyteller that spins tales of cold violence and bloodied revenge, his fangs way too sharp that it cuts on steel egos and bikini tops with an easy nibble.

On “Dopple,” Jayme pulls off a rehashed psychoanalytical thriller on record with an entirely refreshing take, spitting pig-sick venom one moment and humanly realizations the next. He battles with his mind like Norman Bates would on a regular day. Then he decides to torture the bitch that cheated on him, works his way to clean the crime scene after as if nothing happened, and drives to his ex’s house to destroy every pictures of them together with slanted rage. He raps:

So, I drove into her house, breaking every picture of us being together like a fuckin earthmover. I tied her upside down then stab her fuckin neck. Then she looked at me "Who are you?" as she fuckin wept. 

Jayme has a macabre imagination that could rival even the oddest of misogynistic morality tales, taking gruesome content to a heartbreaking art-form instead of just the usual grim. He’s Nick Cave trying to get through Childish Gambino’s soul with an effortless street cred, and when he completely immerses himself to the act, his schizoid panoply of words leaves you emptied and stunned. And worse, it gets you stoned for a day trying to figure out where that canned of a wisdom came from. Stream the new track below:

October 10, 2012

ALBUM DOWNLOAD: Mabuhay Singers - The Last Legends of Kundiman from the Philippines (2012)

No one could sing of joy and fundamental loneliness better than Mabuhay Singers—a group of singers that take kundiman way too seriously, tearing every performance with a show-stopping vocal presence that commands you to sit down and listen, and enjoy them articulate the music of the past with a hand-holding world of their own. To date, Mabuhay Singers has released over a hundred-plus albums of traditional and contemporary Filipino music ranging from countryside folk ballads to love songs and everything in between, reinterpreting these cultural markers with heartfelt straightforwardness and utmost care.

“How can anyone play around with something sacred,” Raye Lucero of Mabuhay Singers once told Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview. What makes her statement soar and punch hole in our hearts is not exactly the serious tone surrounding it, but the eagerness of these vocal pop group to preserve the pureness of songs that define a certain era and feel. And whether you take it as a form of sneer or arrogance, these patrons of kundiman will probably just die one day, smiling in their barongs and sayas holding what’s sacred and dear to them.

That’s Mabuhay Singers for you—a gleeful bunch of torch singers never afraid to relive the past. It’s their chief selling point, anchored with a kind of singing that’s filtered through a vessel of honest hurt and euphoric liveliness. Even renowned experimental ethnographer and filmmaker, Vincent Moon took notice of their talent, eventually featuring them in Collection Petites Planètes, a nomadic label that features a treasure-throve of recordings around the world. Their latest international record under Moon’s label, conveys more than enough raw emotions that take an old song to an imperfect but utterly captivating piece. Backed by just a guitar and random noises in the background, The Last Legends of Kundiman from the Philippines shows the vocal group performing well-loved and lost Filipino classics live and stripped bare to a new audience, with vocal harmonies soaring amidst layers upon layers of emotional captivity. The album is out now here. Download it for a complete nostalgia trip!

NEW TRACK: Eyedress - "I Knew I Was Right About This"

At a very young age of 22, Idris Vicuna has established himself as a prolific digi-pop tweaker responsible for some of the most refreshing indie gems of recent memory, waxing guitar duties for fuzzy dream-wavers Bee Eyes while also moonlighting as bedroom producer and synth-wielding romantic for his solo project, Eyedress. Not to mention, he’s also collaborated with a few respectable music acts inside and outside the country, from singer-songwriter Marcea Decker on the Mind Slums’ EP to upcoming artist Louise Ferguson on the new Beko release “I Knew I Was Right About This.”

The latter has that sense of challenge and morse-code quality that felt so pronounced it’s almost impossible to detect the introverted, starry-eyed lover introduced in his narrative. The production, while still as equally compelling as his most intimate work, sounds distant and cold, lost in the wilderness of urban alienation. Judging from the casio-tone loneliness looping around “I Knew I Was Right About This,” Idris seems like he doesn't want to stagnate and stay stuck in what he knows best. He outgrows quite a number of mannerisms that we once fell in love with—from the downcast singing to the dramatic synth sweeps, and moves on with a different vibe in mind, even if it means that he has to let someone echo the sadness he feels instead of him doing it for himself.

“I Knew I Was Right About This” shows this slight change of direction. This time, you can feel the claustrophobic atmosphere of where they are recording, and with just a repetitive organ pulse and a kickdrum beat—Idris provides the nighttime minimalism that tempers the naturalist mood of the song, letting Louise Ferguson’s washed-out baritone do most of the talking. It’s nuanced and quiet enough that there’s no need to further touch it, or dissect its meaning. The daring sense of space and the voice alone makes for every detail of the emotional yearning, capturing an intimate longing that’s rich with possibilities. Stream the track below:

October 9, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Kalayo - "Sumigla, Sumayaw"

Kalayo plainly sees no boundaries. They’re a living proof that music transcends across borders and wanders past cultural differences. “Sumigla, Sumayaw”—the latest single off their Kalayo Malaya LP—provides a fresh perspective on the pan-global sound that they strut their funk on, bringing together people from different colors and backgrounds to a bare-footed communal dance somewhere outside the grimy, dirty cosmopolis.

“Sama-sama muna tayo at mag-indakan, iwanan natin ang gulo,” Sammy Asuncion tells us, his yearning intertwines with the world at large, giving us a euphoric, five-minute Earth jam that calls for unity and harmony. It serves those who got on board with them, a thing or two about the emerging global culture and the greater good that it does to mankind. But more than anything else, it brings us closer to a world completely divorced from the concepts of geography, a place where we could let loose of ourselves and dance to just one beat.

October 8, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Dirty Hate - We Don't Mind, We Don't Care (2012)

If their debut EP We Don’t Mind, We Don’t Care was any indication, Dirty Hate could be one of the most important Filipino guitar bands that came out in recent memory. They pop and fizzle with glam-nasty guitar riffs and suffocating post-punk menace, cutting through the silence with playful anthems of brood and sex, mostly combining these two to create a mood that translates to joy and sorrow, guilt and ecstasy, and a sense of vague emotional immediacy that makes you feel bad before admitting with a laugh. Like nocturnals sneaking into the empty streets late at night, they sing about finding escapism in sexual fantasies (“The Devil Inside Me”) and making love to a stranger in some hotel room to temporarily take away the loneliness (“Deception Temptation,” “La Brea”).

Dirty Hate’s We Don’t Mind, We Don’t Care vividly captures this unflinching grimness of a woefully misunderstood man completely lost to his sexual impulse and desire, sometimes mistaking it for intimacy while also reinforcing the idea of suburban loneliness and romance through a damaged, late ‘60s garage-rock tune that has everything and nothing both at once. It’s a concept record by standards: heavy on sex and emotions, relatively short on details. But looking past the artifice, it seems like the band is savoring every part of this process with seriousness that can be interpreted as mere camp, something that’s rare in indie rock music nowadays.

The EP opens with the Joy Division-worshipping “Deception Temptation,” a song that calls for sweet surrender more than anything else. When Jon Tamayo sings “Come and love me then abuse me, I am yours,” the admiration and lust moves away from its sadomasochist nature, darting now on an emotional vacuum that feels strange and dark, even bordering to love-sick crazy territory. “La Brea” takes away the uncertainty of the first two tracks with a more sober tone, evoking memories of a one night stand that’s as sticky-sweet memorable as your first kiss. It’s a spine-chilling, psychedelic love jam with a breakneck chorus that makes moments out of a sexual encounter, stomping with the reigned-in tension that eventually bursts in some kind of a punk Sweeney Todd sing-along halfway though.

“The Devil Inside Me” and “She Fell Into Darkness” continues to plod along the similar themes with sinister sexiness, turning the sexual plea into some form of a desperate howl that gets nastier as it progresses. The album surprisingly ends with “She Is My Sin,” a bright, indie-pop tune that steers into a cocktail of summery bliss and rosy romance as if darkness never really happened all along. It’s a diversion from the grim psychedelic trappings of the first 5 tracks, sucking the air out of the everyday morning haze.

You’re not going to hear many local rock records this year that will grab you by the first hook and hold you to the very last minute. Dirty Hate’s We Don’t Mind, We Don’t Care makes quite a solid impression with its churning psyche of a man trapped in his own sexual desires, providing us an inner look at the wild, dark side of intimacy and loneliness. It’s hard to turn away from this impressive bunch of sexual noir, because at one point in our lives, we could all relate to that vulnerable man looking for a sumptuous prey to bed and love. And like him, we all guiltlessly play with every sound and riffs that we’ve found at the core of our desperation, silently wishing that everything will turn in our side. B+ 

October 7, 2012

NEW TRACK: Greyhoundz - "Gaba"

Making a comeback isn't exactly what you can say about Greyhoundz releasing a new single because that automatically comes with answering the question, “But were they really gone?”

With "Gaba" – Pinoy concept of karmic retribution – the band displays that undeniable Greyhoundz sound as characterized by Reg Rubio’s distinct and powerful vocals. The song opens with a flash of guitar riffs alongside Rubio singing “Just can’t have fun and not get hit / You live by the gun you die by it” which can also be said about the band’s career. Playing to their strengths, they have built a strong following as a result of countless Pulp Summer Slam appearances and ever-growing Brgy. Tibay and Chronic Wheeze gigs – undeniably the crowd that appreciates and lives for this scene.

As per usual, Nino Avenido’s bass lines will never go unnoticed, with thumping licks only he can do with much suave and is a thousand times impressive during live shows. Every bass-wielding rock-star wannabe out there should shell out money and attend a gig just to see this rock virtuoso kill it live. On this note, "Gaba" unquestionably has that Greyhoundz trademark – from the lyrics (which can be heard as a sort of warning to those who don’t want to pay their dues) to the frenzied drumming of Brillantes and the screeching and howling of Audie Avenido’s guitars.

Maybe that’s one of the greatest things about being indispensable in the scene. Through time you develop watermark of some sort so no one can say dibs on a Greyhoundz sound aside from Greyhoundz themselves. With this single bringing their legion of fans up in arms as they await for the new album, it is pretty much safe to say that they can expect this new material to be same solid Greyhoundz sound they’ve all been dying to hear again. In the last dying seconds of the song where Rubio screams “You can't get away from this,” you better believe it. - Weng Cahiles

October 6, 2012

NEW VIDEO: She's Only Sixteen - "Dying To Meet You"

As if The Strokes wasn’t enough, third wave, garage rock revival is making its presence felt this year, from The Charmes’ fun-loving guitar rock to The Strangeness’ cult-inspired, smashing-windshields psychedelia. Suddenly, everybody wants to be next The Velvet Underground or The Stooges again, or to a more obscure extent—Television, embracing the loose, primal energy of their heroes while incorporating the ragged revolt of 21st century youth culture and ennui.

She’s Only Sixteen belongs to this new wave of stripped raw guitar bands from The Philippines that you don’t feel sorry to have existed this late, updating their old fashioned, less-is-more aesthetic with a more commercial sound and boyish appeal. Their new single “Dying To Meet You” is a proof of this bristling revival, a fist-in-the-air mosher that’s too charming to ignore because it’s just that good. It’s rife with solid, driving rhythms and hooks reminiscent of The Strokes, sneaking its way to you like a love letter from a dusting cabinet. Check it here:

NEW TRACK: Similar Objects - "ESP"

Jorge Wieneke keeps it nice and slow this time. His new track "ESP" is a nocturnal-savvy earworm with a stretchy R&B finesse that glides all throughout, rewarding its listeners with a numblingly sublime midnight jam that leaves enough mystery for anyone to get curious to. There's that lush, gentle thumps and skittery beats running smoothly over a sparse, spectral loop from start to finish, giving Jorge's heavily filtered but slinky singing style a diluted effect of some sorts, like some drugged R. Kelly or Abel Tesfaye. Stream this sweet slice of electro-soul below. - Mary Christine Galang

October 5, 2012

NEW TRACK: Feen - "Cynosure"

Local electronic artist Feen has finally dropped the new track “Cynosure” after a year of dishing songs from their underrated DnB-heavy record Propaganda. Thick with 808 kick drums, liquid bass lines and a decent blend of sparse industrial melodies and chopped up beats, “Cynosure” is an elevating track that's perfect for perking up a sullen crowd.

It doesn’t need assaulting breakbeats or hostile techno shrieks to give the song an extra push; Juno Limjap’s commanding vocals alone can build a dramatic force that leads to an explosive dance anthem of all sorts. There's also a nymph-like quality in it that sounded strangely charming amidst the edgy triphop booms. Find yourself in between jolts and trance as you move to this track. - Mary Christine Galang

Download it here.

October 3, 2012

NEW TRACK: August Wahh - "Just A Thought"

Let’s face it. It’s not very often that you get excited over a solo female artist who puts her knowledge of beat-making and production into practical effect, juggling floor-burning eccentricity and feminine oomph to create some of the year’s freshest pop releases. Deeper Manila’s latest talent, August Wahh dresses herself with a spacey throttle of minimalist beats and samples, but also careful not to upstage the singing that serves as the highlight of this futurist, R&B-inflected pop blueprint. Toying with stern homemade-electro, August Waah finds a fascinating ground between Bite Orca-era Dirty Projectors and Aaliyah, taking what could have been conventional and made it gloriously woozy, exciting and further outward. Stream this new track below.

NEW VIDEO: Cattski - "Monsters"

After a long hiatus, Cebu-based singer-songwriter Cattski makes an impressive return with the recently released 0:00:00, a confessional alt-pop album that bears witness to her slippery, fucked up years and how she was able to confront it with unadorned confidence. A few days ago, she debuted the video for the album’s first single “Monsters,” and it features Happy, a vibrant nomad character developed by performance artist Russ Ligtas. Watch it below.

October 2, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Various Artists - The Pharmer’s Guide To Higher Ground (2012)

Exactly 6 months ago, we wrote about how in a sudden turn of events, Filipino hiphop swept away the game with its steel might of a presence, making torrential waves like it’s the ‘90s again when Francis Magalona and Andrew E. ruled mainstream radio and pioneering rap groups Mastaplann, Death Threat and Pamilia Dimagiba took the genre to an entirely different level of critical and commercial success. My colleague Ian Urrutia wrote back then:

"The past few months witnessed the Philippine urban music scene unfurl into a monstrous force. From an outsider point of view, it’s amazing to see the baby steps expand into something bigger and wider, with everyone in the community setting aside their differences to just concentrate in improving their respective craft. The recent development also showed how flourishing the actual scene is. It started out with Fliptop surprisingly becoming a phenomenal platform in reintroducing the local underground hiphop culture to a wider audience, with Youtube hits of rap battles amassing over a million internet views and with popular comedy gag show, Bubble Gang doing spin-off by way of Boy Pickup sgement. Also every week, thanks to the cooperation of blog buzz and social networking sites, we get to hear fantastic teasers of upcoming releases, from People’s Future to Mighty Miscellaneous, from Loonie to the roster of Deeper Manila talents." 

Fast forward to 2012, rap/hiphop continues to push and break boundaries with like-minded individuals sending socially sentient messages that provoke and stir reactions from people of different backgrounds, combining witty street wordplay with storytelling based from day to day experiences and the current socio-political landscape.

Out of nowhere, from what seems to be another high tipping point in urban music this stretch of our generation, Beat Productions released the 14-track mixtape The Pharmer’s Guide To Higher Ground featuring a new wave of forward-thinking Filipino MCs and beatmakers dedicated to changing the game of local hiphop. Filled with cut-like rhymes and sharp-witted punch lines, its compilation of verses chokes you with its smorgasbord of eclectic thoughts, its charm embedded in its message of invincibility and thirst for spreading the wildfire in music that fuels the drive to speak their mind. Collectively, the MCs spit every verse with such vigor as if their lives depended on it. And there, lies its heart and wit.

Abandoning prodigious and boisterous production for a stab at minimalist brilliance, Liquid, Skarm, Flexx and Lloyd sticks to raw, head-nodding beats (with able assistance from beat honchos Ill Primitivo and DJ Fresh-Lee) and gives us a whiplash of clever wordplay snatched from progressive think pieces. Whether it's playing with their inner Peter Pan in “Time is Blind,” laying the blueprint of their mental animation in “Form the Concepts”, displaying the goods in “Forces We Deliver”, or raising the bar in “Float”, they keep the rad meter in jaunty pace.

Needless to say, there are more exciting things to be expected from the underground hip hop scene. In the meantime, these MCs are repping the game victoriously, and it’s clear that they’re gunning for something that is personal to them, yet cuts through a more universal layer that a lot of people can relate to. And at this rate, there’s just no going home with this impressive bunch of raw, street poetry. - Mary Christine Galang B+ 

October 1, 2012

NEW TRACK: Kimmie x B-Roc - "Walk The Talk"

Like J. Lo and Ja Rule, Nelly and Kelly, or Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Kimmie and B-Roc know how to turn up the heat without overdoing it. Carrying “Walk the Talk,” Kimmie flips her words effortlessly, a style more reminiscent of TLC than Lil’ Kim, and shifts between rap and singing with sharpness and ease. Her voice clutches, following the beat of synths and drums, and her hooks stick instead of slipping away. As she shows off her skill, B-Roc trails her behind and brags about meeting a lot of chicks, Kimmie possibly one of them, a rendezvous that turns out to be quite productive. This collaboration has so much steam in it that its title couldn’t have been anything but appropriate. - Richard Bolisay

Stream the track below:

NEW TRACK: Swissy - "Moonlight"

Every once in a while, a song comes out in the open to embrace that giddy feeling of young love, punctuated with bear-cuddle cuteness that no amount of shade could raze. For all its poise and restraint, Swissy’s latest single “Moonlight” taps into this realm, merging honeyed slow jam beats with acid jazz strut that breaks into D’ Sound-meets-Carole King vibe halfway through.

From the lilting instrumentation down to the languid keyboards, the song captures low-key confessional moments with retro sheen. This allows her personality to shine through in cozy campfire glow, charming its way with a great deal of innocence and sweetness. As a woman who never grew tired of singing about infatuation and young love, Swissy is determined to come up and give you a kiss over and over, one day after the other. And with “Moonlight,” she wants to make you feel her love while she swings her hips in front of a ‘70s jukebox, hoping you'll listen and take notice. Download it here.

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