November 27, 2012

NEW TRACK: Spazzkid - "Desperate" (Eggboy Cover)

Spazzkid reconstructs Eggboy’s “Desperate” into a rainbow of Eurodisco joy, painting the material with the campy swoon it needs. Here, Mark Redito inhales and exhales night life in breezy, arms-in-the-air pulse, creating a crosspath where dance music and intimacy are not considered mutually exclusive.

My love for the original version aside, Spazzkid’s version is commendable for its efforts in bringing the dancefloor back to its bedroom roots. As if overhauling is not enough, he retouches the original with Chicago house piano lines and feather-light disco haze, but careful not to blotch too much pink to his own Dionysian party. When Mark Reddito confides, “I am desperate, I think it’s so quiet I need a cigarette,” he meant the world needs to chill once in a while. And he’s right: we all need to give in to the pleasures of life. With this track pumping color and groove nonstop, I don’t see any reason why people would rather spend time fathoming their existence than finding ways to celebrate it. Download the track here.

November 26, 2012

NEW TRACK: Pasta Groove Feat. Chedi Vergara - "Maharlika"

If there is one litmus test for every young record producer, it’s the ability to wear any attempt at sonic exploration with a new guise, always thriving for novel ideas and endless possibilities every single time spent on the music lab. Paolo Garcia of Pasta Groove measures up to that gold standard, recruiting Smokey Mountain’s Chedi Vergara on a meditative new age romp with electronic atmospherics that ebb in and out, as if floating in the above spaces.

Paolo pulls off quite a swelling, acidic take on indigenous chant music, arranging a comfy bed of ethereal textures and Zen soundscapes submerged from forested sonic otherworlds. Generous enough, he gives the former Smokey Mountain singer the lone throne of a spiritual alchemist, in which Chedi rises above the swelling digitalia with a voice that is as powerful as the background that molded it. And when she does, it seems eternal and fleeting, taking you to a solid ambient experience like no other. Stream it below:

November 25, 2012

NEW TRACK: Unclemullet - "Stasis"

The bombastic hissyfit of Unclemullet reminds me of everything cathartic about late ‘80s noise rock, that “your-world-in-a-blender” kind of guitar sound pioneered by alt veterans Sonic Youth, Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr. Their new track "Stasis" waxes a mixed proclamation of anger, love and frustration in its distorted, mind-numbing churn, making it sound more real and heartfelt than what you expected it to be. Sure it takes a few listens for the music and noise to sink in, but once they have, they're indelible. Next thing you know, you’re murdering it on a press play repeat without a bit of irony at all.

November 23, 2012

NEW TRACK: Idioms and Dispositions - "The Great Divide"

It takes a pretty catchy song totaling 3 minutes for Idioms and Dispositions to prove once and for all that they’re a bonafide “next big thing” primed for mainstream embrace. With virtuoso pop-rock precision and wide-eyed melodies pumped up in their repertoire, they create an approximation of what pop perfection might mean in its low-key but joyous studio crack.

Their new track “The Great Divide” ensures its generation-spanning appeal with charming hooks and melodic guitar tunes even a throng of Young Adult fiction-obsessed kids would love. But make no mistake: this is solid, ringing indie rock that leaves a strong impression, meant to be shared with people in need of something to fall in love and dance with.

November 22, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Forget Me Not – “Sweet Dreams In Your New Shoes”

Bianca Yuzon made it abundantly obvious where her interest in music now lies. On “Sweet Dreams In Your New Shoes,” she mashes up what could be Eurythmic’s biggest global smash in the ‘80s with Kaskade and Dragonette’s Euroclub stomper “In Your Shoes,” twisting and reinterpreting it with a sinister pulse that, more often than not, comes off as its own act of rebel defiance. Her version, topped with a sultry voice that’s part Regina Spektor, part Florence Welch, is stuff made of glittery free spirit and enigmatic art-pop, lashing sound more fit for bigger venues than garage. And yes, she’s willing to wear her influences more brazenly this time around, but she spills over the edges of the song with star-in-the-making vocals that could shame even the latest reality singing competition star on TV. Watch the video below:

November 21, 2012

NEW TRACK: Library Kids - "A Quiet Walk Outside"

Make no mistake, Library Kids wrote and recorded the introspective “A Quiet Walk Outside” just yesterday, but it looks perfect enough that it might carve a special spot in our favorite songs of the year list. For one, it’s a gorgeous piece of dreamy, pastoral folk in the Kings of Convenience/Fleet Foxes/Bon Iver dress-up, spewing mint poetry out of heavenly vocal harmonies and gold-hued pop perfection. Equally disarming is the quality of their songwriting, which for all its stark nakedness and simplicity, takes a lighter but imaginative approach on how regrets can lead someone to stabbing one’s heart with an echoing conscience. Give this track some love and spin it on loop.

NEW TRACK: The PharM - "Limits of Stability"

Art-rap ensemble The Pharm pulls off another gem with an ethereal-weirdo streak, bending minimalism and style in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Over a ghosted ambient sample and lo-fi hiphop beats, Lloyd and Liquid exchange rhymes and flips every word with a delicate flow, striking a balance between hermetic verbosity and poetic urban cred. But it’s Skarm’s cosmic production that elevates this track to some form of a hard-hitting assault, oiling some finesse to an otherwise gritty delivery. Check it out:

NEW TRACK: Chillitees - "La la la"

“La La La” is another highlight in Chillitees’ Manila Sound brew of retro-R&B smoothness, an instant feeler that sends you a warm hug in a night of longing and emptiness. Uela’s voice grabs you by the ear, whispering in a close distance as if she’s someone who knows your weakness from soul to knees. When you hear her sing “Di na maghahanap ng iba, dahil sayo ay kuntento na,” it transports you immediately to a heavenly kink of ecstasy and you can't help but surrender in it. Don’t say you haven’t been warned, but I’m telling you as early as now: You wouldn’t want to escape this feeling. Download it here.

NEW TRACK: Feen - "Ero Mekkanik"

For all of the stylistic hopscotch being played, Feen’s “Ero Mekkanik” brings to mind a more ambient version of Up Dharma Down’s first single “Maybe,” furrowing on haunted washes of pitched up vocals and drum n' bass loops. Yes, both songs share the same pulsating groove tossed in London Elektricity bit, refined with dreamy ambient guitars that swirl upwards and downwards in circular motion. But unlike “Maybe” trying to put a bit of Janis Joplin into the blender to make it sound more organic in its own mesmeric turn, Feen’s “Ero Mekkanik” relocates everything to a zero-gravity climate somewhere in 1990's London, covering itself with warehouse breakbeats and ethereal-thick touchdowns.   Blast this in full volume and watch as the dancefloor bleed in radiating, purple red. Download it here:

November 20, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Eyedress - "White Lies"

Prolific glo-fi producer Eyedress pushes his creative upward trajectory to another record high with the release of his brooding new single “White Lies.” We’re still kind of surprised at how daring and inventive this guy could go; this time, deploying sauntering vocals on top of skittering, Nintendo pulse and glitchy funktronics. While the mood could easily teleport you to the claustrophobic space that reeks of grainy blindness and downbeat psychedelia, “While Lies” operates more as a video game version of love and betrayal at its most rad. It's 8-bit pop made grainier for the lonely, internet-bred generation to fondle at when there's nothing at night to do. Check it out, folks:

November 18, 2012

NEW TRACK: Up Dharma Down - "Turn It Well"

It’s impossible to imagine the local music landscape without Up Dharma Down and their desire to hit an equilibrium where future and past, human and technology, off-kilter experiments and modern pop accessibility, could all collapse and melt in a swamp of possibilities. Around the turn of the millennium when the biggest Filipino band, The Eraserheads called it quits and a new wave of youthful, sonically adventurous OPM started to gain its foothold on the gig scene and the internet, Up Dharma Down held up pretty well to modern ears, introducing a hugely influential sound that blends the melancholic and atmospheric style of post-rock, shoegaze and electronic music with the urban-funk breeze of Jill Scott.

But there’s more to their revisionist take on contemporary music than meets the eye: these guys have embraced the mood of 21st century life and post-modern ennui with a kind of music that carves out spots in the lives of many Filipino people. The songwriting tandem alone of Paul Yap and Armi Millare spawned singles that nearly takes then rescues life. For the last 7 years, they’ve made us shout-along to the bitterness of “Oo,” fall in love over and over again with “Tadhana,” and run sobbing in daydream with “Indak,” while making our everyday life experiences and heartbreaks a part of theirs too. At their most engaging, Up Dharma Down wrote songs that are landmark of its time, pained and genuine, delivered as if it echoes the sentiment of someone who has gone through a lot in life.

Their new single “Turn It Well” off their highly anticipated third album, Capacities slightly veers away from the trajectory of all-heartbreak and soul that caught the world webbed in emotional tangles. Surprisingly, it falls headfirst into well-placed blasts of retro-cosmic fetishisms and hooky, New Order-inspired synthwork, cruising on some ‘80s throwback that’s unlikely stripped off from the pop thrills of a dance record. If that seems like a sort of bait and switch, then you must have underestimated Up Dharma Down’s change of sonic direction that early. Armi Millare gets pummeled by this newfound aesthetic, her voice now fogged up and processed in the cushiness of the production to make her sound like life’s depended on a bejeweled heart controlled by Nintendo gamers stuck in the ‘80s. Synthesizers and velvety electronic flourishes are also more upfront here, trying to control the over-all flow than hijacking it. But compared to anything that Up Dharma Down has released over the past few years, “Turn It Well” is more about shredding their emotional pop tropes for something more adventurous and stylish, dressing it up with straightforward new wave pulse that sounds way ahead of its time, even in its retro-fashion sense.

November 15, 2012

NEW TRACK: Drake x Lykke Li - "Little Bit" (Noodle's Movie Scene Remix)

Filipino rapper/producer J-Hoon has recently dropped his remix of “Little Bit,” slowing down the over-all vibe of the original for a drowsy, narcotized effect of some sorts. Here, J manipulates the vocals and twists the beats into something moodier and more brooding. The result: it felt like a haunted drag of cinematic sounds hovering over an amniotic smoke, with Drake and Lykke Li’s verses buried in the mix so as to accentuate the pulsating qualities of its track. Download it here:

NEW VIDEO: Bee Eyes - "Who Does"

Fresh from a successful bar tour, Bee Eyes will soon be releasing their new single “Earthworm Jr.,” a sing-along crowd favorite with inescapable summer vibe to boot. And now they’ve also given us a video for their old track “Who Does,” a fuzzy narco-rocker which builds from ghosted noise to distorted guitar squeals.

In the video, we see a drugged Pauline Prieto and Lucy Fischer participating in what appears to be “another” cult ritual for kids and teens, surrounded by Christmas lights, neon props and legos. As it unfolds, the images hop from psychedelic fun to some bizarre form of unorthodox religious staging. I have no idea what the visuals exactly mean, but like so many other Bee Eyes videos, it’s another keeper that’s worth a repeat. Watch it below:

November 14, 2012

NEW TRACK: Spazzkid x Skymarines - "Candy Flavored Lips"

Prolific electronic producer Spazzkid recently hooked up with Skymarines on a purple-tinted, bedtime cradler that captures the numbingly sublime feeling of young love. Together, they push the sonic boundaries of R&B and electronic music to a more esoteric direction—woozied, drugged and liquefied until it enters your consciousness and refuses to leave.

Sure it brings to mind PBR&B stars The-Dream and The Weeknd, or on a local level—Eyedress, but what makes this thing work in a novel context is that the combination of organic percussions and abrasive sonic elements actually fit together, from Skymarines’ wistful singing tone to Spazzkid’s spacious and nocturnal production. Download the track below:

 

November 13, 2012

NEW TRACK: Theories of Sweetness - "S'il Vous Plait"

I’m sure you all know by now that the internet is home to unearthed electro-wave gems that are completely at odds with the big-budgeted production and ambition of mainstream pop, most of which relying instead on homemade tricks and lo-fi digital haze to create an appealingly lush ambiance that seeks comfort at the end of the tunnel. And because of this development, we’ve recently traced an alternate universe outside Manila that offers glo-fi and dreambeat comfort for your restless evenings. From Davao’s Skymarines to Cebu’s KaapiN, you can smell that hunger for pastel-coated ideas that take on genre experiments while espousing pop sensibilities, a proof that there’s so much regional talent in the country waiting to get their well-deserved break.

Count Cagayan De Oro-based chillwave duo Theories of Sweetness as one of the most interesting new breeds in the local ambient department. On their spare time, TOS makes moody, intricate piece of bedroom melancholia, combining layers of delicate keyboard melodies and syrupy electronic beats with dragging haze. Distant and textured, their new track “S'il Vous Plait” sweet-talks you to curl up and get cozy, conveying that lackadaisical feeling of youthful abandon in a six-minute pop song. It comes across as some form of a sleep-inducing drug set to headphone music; and the more you listen to it, the more it puts you to daydream unconscious that’s all too sweet you wouldn’t even want to wake up from deep slumber. Stream and download the track below:

NEW TRACK: The Broken Leslies - "A Little Love"

Once again, kick-ass rock n’ roll is resurrected in the form of The Broken Leslie’s “A Little Love” and it offers unexpected freshness in its garage-punk orthodoxy, something that’s been missing in most hard rock releases of the past few years. Here, Raphael Pulgar howls and screams like a man set on fire, all rage and wild, running in apocalyptic speed so as to catch up with the lurching groove of mammoth, chunky rock verses and overdriven, tortured guitars. 

It’s actually over the top in a fun, riotous way. Think of The White Stripes or Stones, restless in playing that familiar classic rock jams made dirtier in execution, but with a bit of style and modern vibe thrown to it. And with Bianca Marbella pounding on the organ like Motown never happened, “A Little Love” explores more than what loud music is all about: that it’s got soul too, and there’s more to this raw aggression than dismissing it as ungodly waste of trash. Stream this amazeballs now or die:

November 12, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Narda

People will remember Narda not for their ever-changing lineup, but on the merits of their tremendous influence to a lot of female-fronted bands of today. They’re simply one of the most overlooked, short-lived smarts of Filipino indie music cannon, committed entirely to championing the vintage-sounding aesthetic and confessional college-rock dirges written in tissue paper sap.

What’s also especially striking is that it gave us the chance to get to know Katwo Librando—the feisty woman behind the superhero’s alter-ego and her many effortless transitions from low-key Harriet Wheeler to becoming a confident, disco-punk diva with a Deborah Harry attitude. Katwo has always been a fun personality to watch live: she merry dances on an achingly pretty guitar jangle while capturing the adolescent spirit with so much brashness and youthful desperation. With the aid of the band’s creative director Ryan Villena, Katwo also became the muse to go for in every fit of genre you could possibly think of, reinterpreting every material with a sensual feminine punch that holds your attention and breaks it, all at the same time.

A week ago, Narda celebrated their 10th year anniversary by giving away Minus One, a rare unreleased album from 2005 which you can download here. It’s distinctly interesting in its own way and a must-have for every Narda fans out there that dig the somewhat lo-fi, basement sound of their early EPs. And as a way to recognize their contribution to the music scene for a great 10-year run, we’ve listed our favorite Narda tracks for your listening pleasure. Ranked in no particular order, these indie gems will shed light as to why all these years, they've remained relevant despite not being active in the scene.

“Kusina” (A Postcard From, 2002)

Few local indie acts have come to operate with quirky storytelling style and high flying dose of downbeat drift in the same manner as Narda. Their debut EP, A Postcard From brims with low-key campfire tunes and jangly guitar-pop that offers a sing-along vibe pulled from the crisp night air. “Kusina”—a personal favorite of mine from that 4-track EP, taps into some sort of brooding suicidal tale that’s equal parts Gaspar Noe, equal parts Gus van Sant. It’s one of the highlights from A Postcard From, playing along with gritty comic book fanfare that’s so detailed you wouldn’t want to stay in bed for long.



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“Suwerte” (Suwerte, 2002) 

“Suwerte” is a crowd favorite in every Narda gigs I’ve been to. It’s an infectious guitar-pop ditty that combines the lazy, dramatic flair of The Cardigans with something more than the skins and bones you see. 


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“Jaywalker” (Salaguinto’t Salagubang, 2003)  

There are some great things about Narda that we’ll never get tired of hearing. Their delightfully refreshing take on pop music paired with a warm yet raw recording feel, makes for an instant charmer that keeps their sentiment always short, sweet and playful. “Jaywalker” demonstrates this kind of strength, but this time with a more upbeat vibe presented as straightforwardly as possible. It’s carefree and instantly likable, even if all it does it to play around a sunny hook that immediately ends when all you wanted is more of that punch-drunk swag. 


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“Biyernes” (Formika, 2004) 

Credit Narda for reciprocating teenage sentiments that reflect that certain point in your life trying to figure out what love is and what kind of person you’d want to be. And with “Biyernes”, Narda recounts a lovely encounter that happened one Friday afternoon as pictured in one of those silly romcoms that you pay attention to when nobody’s around to comfort you. It’s a little fresh mint of a song that you’d want to hear all day long, especially if you’re feeling nostalgic about that one love you can’t get over with. 


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“Gasolina” (Discotillion, 2005)  

Nobody saw it coming. When garage rock and dance-punk were all the rage, Katwo stepped into the dancing pit with riot grrrl stage presence and sex machine appeal, trading her quirky, college girl persona for a stab at post-punk revival. Apparently, on “Gasolina,” the second single off their second album Discotillion, she’s determined to get your attention and nail you to bed while making you listen to a swooshing cascade of synth grenades pounding crazily like it’s about to dig your grave. Sure we missed the old Katwo, but this awesomely sexy, confident creature that she’s become is definitely cool in our book. 

November 10, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Gentle Isolation - "This Song"

The Gentle Isolation returns with a gorgeous, bedroom-pop bummer that pays lip service to everything fun and early ‘90s, employing Sarah Records vibe with xylophones, shoegaze guitars, and a whole lot of girly skirt twee scattered in honey-glazed floor for everyone to lick at. It didn’t hurt that the band continues to work their way into a lackadaisical stew of sound, because admit it or not, Gentle Isolation knows the fuck-you-I’m-twee-aesthetic more than you do. Stream the track below:
 

November 9, 2012

NEW TRACK: Spazzkid x Kⓘяvy - "Untitled"

Just like some of the best production efforts pushed by electronic music maven Spazzkid, “Untitled” taps into unexplored levels of minimalist retro-futurism and low-key laptop aesthetic, allowing a random rapper who remains unnamed at this moment, to embrace the sonic space and make it his center stage. MPC beatsmith Kirvy adds a blood-pumping throb to this immaculately constructed hiphop track, a proof that sometimes, it takes two contrasting ideas to create some goosebumpy but beautiful friction.

Groove to this while you still can:

November 8, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Ciudad - "You Know The Answer, Just Follow The Leader"

Five studio albums into their career, Ciudad continues to churn out remarkably consistent songs that fuse youthful vigor with sappy fun mess. These guys didn’t even have to suffer from rock n’roll mid-crisis; because Mickey and friends, as depicted in the forever young anthems that they’ve perfected themselves, haven’t really matured in the course of time. Surprisingly, they’re contented in strutting goods the brash, unapologetic way—fucking up with the wasted time of youth culture while leaving it perfectly with memorable tunes you can sing and dance to, regardless of the vibe.

If “You Know The Answer, Just Follow The Leader” is any indication, Ciudad might be grappling the onset of middle age slowly but surely, kicking out the ragged young in them with a lot of questions and uncertainties. “It’s different yes it’s different… It’s not the same old shit you know,” Amistoso tells us, confident but hopeful that changes will go his way.

As for the actual music, Ciudad has now orchestrated their sugar sweet power-pop with more layers and details—paying homage to The Beach Boys and The Beatles instead of revisiting their past work filled with ‘90s college rock worship. But it’s the outro that sets the bar high for this epic softie, giving us nothing but two minutes of daydream heaven. Listen to this and enjoy:

November 6, 2012

NEW TRACK: Moonwlk - "Your Nose, Your Throat, Your Words"

Nicholas Lazaro is temporarily down with the noisy indie rock pastiche that brought him and his band Twin Lobster to the game. Out of nowhere, he recruits Gabbi Buencamino as muse to his new music project called Moonwlk. Finding an unlikely spatial comfort between icy and warm pastel sounds, Nick and Gabbi make the kind of synth-pop music that you can groove along to easily and quietly, stepping into some ‘80s throwback with the other foot trying to tap the brighter corners of the future.

Such description perfectly applies to Moonwlk’s debut track “Your Nose, Your Throat, Your Words”—an auspicious introduction to their starry, unassuming burst of electronic glam and snapping beats. This time, Nick allows Gabbi to wear her glitterball ponies and be the Goldfrapp that she is, staying behind her up to the very last straw. It’s a fun, fun song that aims for bedroom production relevance, where pop music is considered to be small intimate conversations between the artist and the audience, and not as how people assume it to be, a stab at ambition and commercial success. Stream the track below:

November 4, 2012

NEW TRACK: Kidstuff - "Jeremy Died In A Car Crash"

Not a lot of people are aware that The Strangeness’ Francis Cabal also moonlights as a bearded folkie responsible for creating some of the year’s finest narco-country ballads that you probably haven’t heard of. Not that Cabal necessarily needs all our backing, but his one-man project, Kidstuff will be releasing a new album called Nothing But A Test under Cult Shit Media Blackout and based from the previews we’ve been hearing from time to time, the new record certainly oozes with compelling materials guised in fuzzy, lo-fi leanings and solid pop songcraft. You all should watch out for it.

In the mean time, you can stream his new track “Jeremy Died in a Car Crash.” It gives us a hint of the album’s barenaked mood, one that’s built around a sober, solemn pile of story-songs that Johnny Cash or Neil Young would kill to jam for at any rate. Check it:

NEW VIDEO: Eyedress - "Everything We Touch Turns Into Gold"

The video for Eyedress’ gauzy, post-R&B jam “Everything We Touch Turns into Gold” bears no shortage of chemistry from its two leads, in which Idris Vicuna and actress-singer Alessandra de Rossi share random cute moments together, strutting gangsta-bragging poses and playing lovey-dovey couple when the situation calls for it. Bee Eyes’ Julius Valledor helms this weirdly beautiful video, mixing gloriously absurd visuals with druggy quirk. Watch it below:

November 3, 2012

NEW TRACK: Glaiza De Castro x Angelica Panganiban - "Barcelona"

Much ado has been said about celebrities trying to dabble into music, but for every talentless hack sucking the thick noise pollution out of EDSA for a quick recording cash-grab, we’ve also got people like Glaiza De Castro and Angelica Panganiban willing to make unconventional choices, recording songs that are first and foremost devoid of commercial trappings while waxing Crayola-tinged poetics with Sundance melodies and lilting Lilith Fair sheen in mind.

Yes, "Barcelona" takes a stab at love balladry in the Hunger Games vein or any tween-hugging blockbuster franchise, draped in ethereal swoon to make it sound like me-against-the-world pronouncements done while watching the buildings around you crumble as you held your partner’s hand and kiss. But there’s also a gesture of small, heartfelt moments that stay in your memory long after the credits have rolled. And that itself, makes this celeb love fodder a must-hear gem for anyone who wants their cup of coffee bittersweet with a bit of spice to it. Stream the track below:

 

November 2, 2012

NEW TRACK: Cerumentric - "Beloved Beautiful Noise"

If there’s any justice left in this world, Cerumentric’s new single “Beloved Beautiful Noise” will keep  you swooning from Halloween towards the end of summer, holding up against some of the finest modern synth-pop releases in the last two years. It’s no Cut Copy or a raved up Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, but it threads on similarly forested terrain, pounding on heavy industrial synthesizers and sunshiney gloom with a utopian disco stomp from 1983, and though that sound was heavily rehashed by blog-era bands partying at the shimmery end of indie, nobody does it quite refreshing and brooding like Cerumentric. Stream the track below:

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