February 28, 2013

NEW TRACK: Bee Eyes - "Dasma Girl" (Studio Version)

Regular people are envious of musicians because of their ability to express their deepest emotions and secret thoughts through creating beautiful music, and their ability to look so cool while doing so. Unfortunately, regular people don’t often have the time or inclination to get up and make music, or have tried and made fools of themselves instead, so we wait for the real musicians to experience something vaguely similar to our own experiences, and claim that they were reading our minds while writing said song. “Soundtrack of my life right now!” “This is my song!”

Bee Eyes newly mixed release, Dasma Girl, should do just that for the more love-struck listeners out there. Bee Eyes has been playing it for quite some time now, but now you can hear it in its full cosmic glory. It has more elements of chill wave than any other recorded version we’ve heard, with some blues thrown in there too. In the vocals you can hear love and longing, and the druggy waves of sound are supplemented nicely by excellent plucking in the foreground, all making up the emotional heaviness of the track. Bee Eyes creates an atmosphere perfect for sitting and reminiscing, or if you’re lucky, actually looking your lover in the eye and mouthing out the words for her.

In any case, it’s a nicely made track, and definitely worth a listen. Many have been in love, but few know how to express this way, the way musicians have been doing it since forever. For the rest of us, it’s a constant search for that one song that expresses what we feel at the moment. Lovers, look no more: this is your song! via Joey Gutierrez

February 27, 2013

NEW TRACK: She's Only Sixteen - "Amygdala"

It’d be a travesty if history would only remember She’s Only Sixteen for its infectious debut single “Dying To Meet You”—a skinny-tied Britpop anthem that could easily be mistaken as the second coming of The Strokes or Arctic Monkeys. I mean, their previously released EP captured the band playing to their manic strength, keeping their energy level intact while exhibiting a kind of finesse that's pretty rare in most local rock records of recent years.

Thankfully, their new single “Amygdala” puts every shade of worry to rest. As expected, it’s a bouncy indie rock stomper that force-feeds its listeners with fist-pumping choruses and frantic energy. It has all the makings of a confident young band ready to headline arenas, with its main selling point relying on the rhythm section’s tight framework and off-kilter pop sensibility. Stream it below:

February 26, 2013

NEW TRACK: Spirit Ocean - "In The Afternoon"

Many of the finest indie pop records in recent years have stepped out of traditional C-86 jangle pop only to find sanctuary in the sketchy nature of electronic music and synths. Spirit Ocean, the bedroom project of Zeon Gomez and Nyssa Ebora, belongs to this pool of wistful synth-pop nostalgists channelling heartbreak and teenage infatuation with girly cuteness.

Their new track “In The Afternoon” is crafted with optimist spirit despite the sad, worn-out lyrics fuming all over. You can feel and breathe every element present: sunny, casio-toned synth chords that provide the song’s clear melodic anchor, whimsical melodies enough to carry this song to the end of the rainbow curvature, and Nyssa’s daydream-lite vocals—a relentless pursuit of beauty and innocence wrapped in Technicolor coating. It’s every inch pretty and melancholic, making music about having your heart ripped out while making it sound like they’re having fun. Stream it below and download it here.

February 25, 2013

NEW TRACK: Similar Objects - "TheyDream"

Emerging unscathed from the success of “Mimimomomumu”—a Mariah Carey-sampling, fractal-soul earworm that managed to gather 59,000 streaming views on Youtube in just 2 months of its release, Similar Objects returns to what he does best: exploring the nocturnal end of ‘90s R&B while weaving his way around a lightly syrupy, sensual production reminiscent of Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream. His new single “TheyDream” is a midnight jam drenched in smooth sex, with gorgeous soulful croon to back it up. Jorge’s vocals glide atop richly textured beats and intimate electronics, darting through comforting emotions of infatuation and sex, and everything in between.

It’s erotic and dreamlike, you’re almost in for a fantasy ride. Stream the track below:

February 22, 2013

NEW VIDEO: Eyedress - "My Hologram (Nothing Special)"

When he’s not making gorgeous glo-fi pop on his own, Idris Vicuna mans directorial duties, whether it's for his friend’s music video or his. And if there’s something that’s become increasingly apparent in the past few months, it’s that his videos contain quirky and interesting storylines mainly featuring hot fashionable women who are either slightly deranged or high on drugs. “My Hologram (Nothing Special)” keeps up with the tone of his previous videos—slick and low-key, psychedelic but brimming with life and color. That said, it conjures an aesthetic that makes you like a song even more, carried out with whimsical surrealism that’s so sublime it’s almost real. Watch it.

NEW TRACK: August Wahh - "Starborn"

August Wahh has one of those voices that bounce back like an echo and resonate inside one's mind, soothing and refreshing the weary body at the same time.

Which is why “Starborn” is an earnest soul breather, equally driven by its pragmatic lyrics ('For I am what I was and what will be, is my truest entity') and pacifying, almost tangible rhythms. There are no grandiose attempts to deliver bulky synthesized beats, just a simple arrangement hinged with lithe taps that go perfectly well with a nightcap.
via Mary Christine Galang

February 21, 2013

NEW TRACK: Rebelle Fleur - "Oh Karen"

Ask any rock fan out there familiar to Karen O, they’ll paint you an imagery of pure punk and character – twisted, colorful outfits, make-up that seemed to be put on in the dark, a figure of madness on stage. This, coupled with her outrageous antics (fitting a microphone into her mouth, moaning and yelping), is what set her apart from other female vocalists out there.

This is the figure that the band Rebelle Fleur tries to capture in their song aptly titled "Oh Karen." Highly reminiscent of an Arctic Monkeys’ vibe, mainly because of the British-sounding vocals, this tribute is full of allusion to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman. Relying on riffs that are instantly knowable and chomping bass lines, the track manages to have that vigor which makes it very easy to listen to. Though the song may not have that punk-hyena-chaotic vibe that Karen O is known for, its strength lies on the distinct vocals that are excellently fuzzed over the song’s grisly tone. The song exudes light and youthful appeal – imagine a British rock band composed of members 19-22 years old – singing about their adoration towards this unpinnable music figure. via Weng Cahiles

NEW TRACK: H-Beat Feat. Pow Chavez - "Take It Easy"

Hiphop today is seemingly filled to its capacity with young hotshots rapping about having a lot of money, spending it on expensive cars, houses, and women, and having a lot of money. It’s hard to see that hiphop was actually born out of a grinding state of poverty, prejudice, and lack. Gone are the days of Tupac, Biggie, and A Tribe Called Quest – it’s now all about Lil’ Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and a guy named Kanye West.

In the Philippines, however, hiphop can still be considered the soundtrack of the struggle because, well, most of us are still struggling. H-beat’s new track, "Take it Easy" is a message to those of us still grinding our way to the top, telling us to take it slowly and patiently. Mashed up with Pow Chavez’ R&B accents and a classic-sounding beat, the track actually helps you relax and put things into perspective. Hit this link and check it out. via Joey Gutierrez

NEW TRACK: Conclave - "Melted"

Dense and pounding, a Conclave track used to sound like standing too close to industrial factories--absorbing the noise and paranoia of how assembly line production works in the darkest of days and hearing the chemical solvents glide in a complex machine process. But his new track “Melted” is surprisingly poles apart from his previous production portfolio. It’s noticeably downtempo and more druggy, with Conclave stretching an Oriental-sounding synth riff over a lullaby backdrop. Berna So’s vocals are given room to shine above the minimal production touchstones, pouring a cold, biting accent that complements the overall mood of the track. Hear it below:

February 20, 2013

NEW TRACK: No Rome - "Dance With Me"

No Rome, Number Line Records’ latest prodigy, has spurted out a neon-disco anthem with a warm synth palette stripped from the Toro Y Moi playbook. His new single “Dance With Me” rolls out a summery, chilled out vibe that’s hard not to jam along to.

With such natural ease and charisma, 17-year old Rome Gomez was able to produce a clubby, pulsating pop music that could very well put you into a joyful mood, casting an often dismissed sound in a positive light. And yeah, we’re seriously rooting for this particular single to soundtrack a lot of barbeque parties this year. Count the clubs in, my friend, to take hold of this brimming crossover. Download it here for free.

February 19, 2013

NEW TRACK: Soft Pillow Kisses - "Stolen Flowers"

Soft Pillow Kisses are as traditional as any cult hero indie-poppers putting garland to every trace of Sarah Records and C86, but their new track “Stolen Flowers,” while evoking pastel summers and girly cute shyness, shows us that they can still deliver pure pop perfection with infectious Swiss Miss harmonies and acoustic guitar jangles, championing this somewhat dated, sweetheart tune in a pretty fascinating way. There’s a reason why these Filipino twee-pop pioneers have stayed in the game for so long and still remain relevant in the indie circles: they don’t simply give an F about trends. They keep making music for themselves, as themselves. Straight as it is. Stream the track below:

NEW TRACK: Spazzkid - "Magical Oahu"

As much as critics dismiss chillwave as an artificial, low-budge update of 80s pop, a product of an aesthetic fad built around ambient laptop tricks and synthesizers, there’s something genuinely infectious and escapist about it that makes every listening journey a dip in the breezy, summer seas. Spazzkid, whose music lately has essentially conveyed the micro-genre’s bedroom-feel, that hazy, chilled out nostalgia that steps forward as dance music for the introverted, is a living proof that there’s room for innovation this side of chillwave.

His new track “Magic Oahu” indulges on summery, multi-faceted surfaces—barely recognizable lyric covered in reverb and ghosted echoes, a buffet of laid-back synths pouring in and out of a cascade, a vintage Nintendo breakdown somewhere in the middle, a woozy psych-pop beat, a subtle horn sample, and an earworm pop melody that drifts and sparkles like clear ocean waves. There’s so much going on in this track that perhaps more swiftly than expected, overwhelms every first time listeners. But with the right mix of skill and control, Spazzkid shifts effortlessly from one sonic element to another, pulling everything together in a lush chill-pop oasis that finds itself floating at your inner thoughts of a perfect summer vacation.

February 18, 2013

NEW TRACK: Pasta Groove Feat. Armi Millare x Nikki Cabado x Junji Lerma - "Habang Tumatagal, Lalong Tumitibay"

One of the many beautiful things about music is its ability to reflect the culture and time in which it was made, and intimate this to its listeners. You can hear the inner city struggle in hip-hop, for example, or the rebelliousness in rock and roll, or the drug-induced chill waves in chillwave. Seeing that we are such a rich tapestry of different cultures, it’s easy to understand why not a lot of contemporary artists have been able to capture that elusive Filipino sound with much success.

That’s why Pasta Groove’s new track, a remake of Wadab’s 70’s hit, "Habang Tumatagal, Lalong Tumitibay" is such a joy to hear. Through it you can feel the subtleties and nuances of being in the Philippines – and being Filipino. Pasta Groove on the MPC and bass channels the pulsating rhythm of inner Manila; Nikki Cabardo’s flowing keyboard line captures the warmth of our tropical shores; and Armi Millare’s romantic and graceful vocals are the voices of happy Filipinas keeping cool on the street. The reggae accents add an island flavor, something – surprisingly, given that we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – we don’t hear often in our American-influenced music industry.

Knowing the song was composed in the seventies will probably make you ask yourself if there are still local artists that are capable of making music so representative of our culture. Listen to this rendition and put those doubts to rest. These artists don’t just know how to remake songs; with this sensual track they convince us that they can capture the ebb and flow of the Pinoy lifestyle with new and exciting skills and instruments.
via Joey Gutierrez

February 17, 2013

NEW TRACK: Skymarines - "Where You Really Are"

"Where You Really Are" carries on the dreamy, synth-laced direction Davao-based Skymarines strides upon. In essence, it's like listening to a spoken-word love letter or an ode being whispered on a lover's ear, with the lushness in vocalist Isa Añiga's narrative only adding to the song's appeal. The singer has some good moments in the track that reveals her almost teardrop-inducing purity, at times even relying on an inimitable accent a la Tori Amos, that it will make you wonder if it was done to accommodate the rich yet irregular tonal patterns in the piece.

If you're new to this hypnagogic, ad hominem world of minimal dreampop, try not to get lulled into a comfortable coma when listening to "Where You Really Are." Just bask in the pleasant bliss it presents and let its thought-provoking melodies seep into your taste buds, albeit slowly.
via Klaris Chua

February 16, 2013

NEW TRACK: Hannah+Gabi - "In The Lost And Found"

It can be a gargantuan task to cover an artist as iconic and celebrated, even in his death, like Elliott Smith is. But if there is any local artist out there that can accomplish this with such ease, it is Ciudad's frontman Mikey Amistoso--that comforting voice behind the one-man lullabye machine Hannah+Gabi.

It doesn't just require you the musical gift to sing in that distinct Smith tone – hushed, mellow and in control of the voice. But perhaps what it demands more is the emotional commitment to the song and the story behind it in order to capture it all in a capsule of a three-minute track. Hannah+Gabi's take on Elliott Smith’s "In The Lost And Found" is a faithful rendition to the original. Perhaps Amistoso recognizes the fact that the strength and silent beauty of the song lies in its simplicity. Why fix it if it ain't broke anyway? With the bipolar mixture of an upbeat, child-like piano tune and painful, piercing lyrics, Amistoso presents us with a polished track that managed to effortlessly bottle the Elliott Smith spirit. via Weng Cahiles

February 15, 2013

NEW TRACK: Outcasts of the Universe - "Empire Heavyweight (Sushi Edit)"

For an electro-pop duo known for their glistening pop hooks and boundary-escaping experiments, “Empire Heavyweight” finds Outcasts Of The Universe sitting comfortably at the witchy black-lit end of bedroom electronica. Shifting towards abstract blurs and distant loner atmospherics, the music stands out as a well-constructed pop song mined with subtle elements of cyborg spook. Dylan’s vocals resemble sweet nightmare—fluffy and lightweight, covered with hazy, ghosted effects. But it’s the contrast between the urgent digital beats and dreamy synths that gives the song its extra darkness and edge, glimmering as it is about to fade without notice. Stream it below and download here.

February 13, 2013

KILIG. A Valentine's Day Mixtape

It’s easy to dismiss Valentine’s Day as a shallow Hallmark holiday capitalizing on our innate desires to feel loved. But there’s something about it, riddled with fondness or shame, which gets us in the sentimental mood all day long.

On our end, we thought of doing a Valentine’s Day Mixtape to celebrate that kind of upswing, intense feeling that you want to let out, but just can’t. And because we can’t freeze the moment for you, a bunch of hopeless romantic songs might serve as perfect companions to your lonesome or happy days  and in-between, skewing love the way you want it done. Most of them are love songs, but we’ve thrown some heartbreak-fueled tunes too, in case you want a slice of your own bitterness.

Download it HERE. It’s entirely free, just like the vast ocean that is the internet. Enjoy!

01 Fando and LisGusto
02 A Problem Like MariaCrazy He Calls Me (Billie Holiday cover)
03 SwissyAfter All
04 ArchasterCafé Downtown
05 Your Imaginary FriendsIn Washington Drive
06 KidstuffIt’s Only Fire
07 SkymarinesHappiness
08 PancakesWhere The Cheese Sun Shines
09 Our Numbered DaysCarlos
10 Eyedress x Skint Eastwood - Nobody (Keith Sweat cover)
11 Uela Feat. Rye/ArtstrongLove Is What You Do (Produced by Dan Gil)
12 Tradewinds Sailing ClubThe Saddest Goodbye

February 12, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: The Nocturne Project - Awakening (2013)

The Nocturne Project puts out its first proper release titled Awakening under Maryana Records in early January 2013, a little over two years after releasing its miniature album Opus 1. Being grounded in the post-rock mold, TNP thrives on creating compelling sonic art filled with rudiments of abstraction spotlit by the absence of words.

For the uninitiated, The Nocturne Project was started in 2008 by Ivan Ferrero. It is one of those few local outfits that perfectly blend ambient, electronics, acoustic instruments, and field recordings to deliver a fresh and unique sound that doesn’t get heard quite a lot in these shores. Incidentally, the band belongs to the Buwan-Buwan Collective, a group of young musicians who draws inspiration from the concept of the traditional Filipino game it was named after for their creative exchanges.

Awakening contains a total of 10 tracks, each one clocking in anywhere between over three to a little fewer than seven minutes. While the befitting title pretty much sums up the kind of trip a listener is in for, it is something that requires a close listen and a good-old serious introspection (as with any other post-rock, ambient-leaning album). It opens up with the gorgeous track titled “First Dream Called Fly,” which starts with a lilting melody that slowly crescendos into a piano driven overture and ends in sweeping, tingling patterns that quickly brings one in a pensive mood.

What follows is the equally engaging title track which sounds like a musical score for a Sundance-bound road movie. And by the third track, you’ll start wondering where it will all lead to; the only earmark being the cohesive rises and falls fantastically – with neither of them climaxing nor falling flat. The unexpected changes in the sound are of the physical and metaphysical kinds – so meditative, so ambivalent, and so sentimentalized that you’d feel as if you’re actually gazing into your own life’s journey.

Tracks six and seven in particular are worth noting. “Will Hunting,” which features a lengthy sample from the movie Good Will Hunting, is a gem that can stand on its own even without the spoken-word parts. However, it wouldn’t be more perfect if it hadn’t successfully encapsulate the flooring exchange between therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) and the genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon) about really living life instead of just using one’s intellect as a defense mechanism.

Equally luscious is the track that follows right after, titled “Scenes from Childhood.” According to the band’s Facebook page, it was inspired by Kinderszenen, an opus written by Robert Schumann in the 1800s for piano whose manuscripts have been known to be incomplete. As described, the piece was created as a tribute to the frailty and nostalgia of one’s childhood as seen from an adult perspective. If the words childlike profundity had a sound, it would be this.

In the ninth track, “Sirens,” you’ll suddenly get pulled into a heavier, less organic roundelay that’s surprisingly gritty and angsty to the core (and seems a bit more commercial).

At the onset, the final track “We Left Our Homes” leaves a subdued and soothing impression. In some moments, you’ll feel like you’re being guided by some serene invisible entity out of a dark maze. Around three minutes into the song, everything builds up to pave way to plenty of rounded tones and the track immediately transforms into an interesting multi-layered ripple that almost sounds like a cadence march. Once you get past this part, the music dissipates without any indication and leaves you wanting for more.

Like slow-brewing coffee through a narrow paper filter or green tea leaves steeping in a handcrafted porcelain cup, most of the tracks from Awakening require thorough, self-paced listening in order to be appreciated. From beginning to end, it somewhat sounds like a journey about rising from the doldrums; something that will give you the feeling akin to leaving home and returning after some time with an altered perspective and a fresher, more positive approach to life.

It is hard to draw out similarities and differences with each song, especially for the instrumentally inept or naturally tone deaf. But if you appreciate masterfully crafted wordless music that treads and glides to create a gorgeous and sprawling narrative, then Awakening from The Nocturne Project presents plenty of sound possibilities that are perhaps up your alley.  A-   B  
via Klaris Chua

February 11, 2013

NEW TRACK: Tradewinds Sailing Club - "The Saddest Goodbye"

Always one for compelling character sketches and melancholia, the husband-and-wife tandem of Dale Marquez and Connie Francis dares to come up with a breakup ode precariously caught between an unlikely marriage of rainy day sadness and vintage pop songwriting. “The Saddest Goodbye,” a track off their recently released Offshore EP, conveys wounded, pleasantly restrained music that sounds as if it’s wandering off to a lost road, about to lose its balance on a cliff. Connie’s worn-down delivery ala Hope Sandoval, one that shifts from hopeless pleading to a slow burst of remorse, is delightfully layered with sparse flashes of electric guitar shimmers and keyboards, strung together in an attempt to save whatever’s left of the relationship. Heartbreaks never sounded this beautiful and warm.

NEW TRACK: Gary Perez - "Facebook"

We’ve witnessed how pop balladeer Dingdong Avanzado and theatrical goof-rockers Tanya Markova murder a song about Facebook, and quite frankly, their take on the site’s pop culture impact sounds more like a kick in the teeth to Mark Zuckerberg and his crew than a tribute. Purely grotesque cash-in, if I might add.

Enter Gary Perez, the bluesman behind Sampaguita’s beloved rock classics—“Bonggahan,” “Tao,” and “Laguna”—now a struggling artist hoping to get back on his feet and make a mark in the local music industry. After more than two decades, he returns with a solo track called “Facebook,” trying to stay relevant by writing an intimate love song dressed with crunchy but accessible electric guitars and a finely stripped, ‘70s rock arrangement reminiscent of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Although he doesn’t succumb to the genuine ambition and social consciousness of his previous work, Gary wrote a heartfelt, nuanced tune that is sure to bring back good old rock music to the mainstream radio format. Detractors will find this easy to fault for sure, with its attempt to keep up with the trend, but there’s something unusually sincere and vibrant in this track that would make you listen intently to it while having fun. Stream the track below:

February 10, 2013

NEW TRACK: Uela - "Before There Was You"

There are some songs – and some artists – that you need to listen to more than once (or twice, or thrice) to really appreciate. And then there are those songs that catch you off guard the moment you press play, tracks that are just so harmonious and catchy that you find yourself instinctively snapping to the beat. Uela’s new track, “Before There Was You” is just that: easy listening at its finest.

Not to say that it sounded easy to make – Uela Basco, Dan Gil and Ryan Armamento did an excellent job of maintaining the musical integrity on this smooth and simple track. The beat is a nice backdrop for Uela’s smooth, soulful R&B vocals, and the song in its entirety is a versatile backdrop for several situations – from sitting on the beach with a beer in hand to driving home late from a long day at work.

Uela’s voice steals the show on the track, though, as she channels female R&B when it was a relatively new genre (Think Brandy or Keyshia Cole), albeit with a distinct Filipina flavor. It’s raw at times, but her voice is everything it needs to be, at least for R&B – butter-smooth, relaxing, expressive, and easy on the ears. via Joey Gutierrez

February 9, 2013

NEW TRACK: Techy Romantics - "Electricity"

You have to work double time to sound this intimate and electric. Techy Romantics’ second single “Electricity” slightly veers away from the chilled, house-pop handicraft to accommodate a shift towards an electro-ballad direction.

It goes without saying that “Electricity” captures the optimum expressions of unrequited love, but rendered this time with a sense of utmost devotion and hope, keeping the emphasis firmly on Camille’s vocals—longing and melancholic, entirely consumed by the atmospheric coldness brought about by the guitars and beats. “Do you feel the longing in my heart? Can we bridge two worlds apart?” At the very last life of the song, Camille still faces the mirror and pleads for a second chance. She articulates these feelings in one irresistibly memorable package that makes dancing the most invigorating thing after a tough cry. Stream the track below:

February 7, 2013

NEW TRACK: Frills - "Dreamboy"

Such times when one’s heart yearns and aches for love, we transpose such desires into melodies that truly mirror what’s inside. Fired with unyielding passion and an effectual source of inspiration, something can be reborn out of anguish and turned into a work of art.

In this case, fashion stylist and 1/2 of Grrrl Scout Manila, Candy Gamos a.k.a FRILLS, dropped her debut single ‘Dreamboy’, produced by Ernest Aguila (of Ernville). This maiden track buoys into desires, sentiments, and forlorn feelings. It opens with a nagging piano, looped throughout the rest of the song, progresses to a steady thump of electronic drums, clipped samples, and finally breaks out into a cascade of brooding and lilting synths. Gamos’ vocals are layered with nymph-like echoes, amplifying each word of plea, and carried into the wind, hoping to break into someone’s subconscious. Download it here.
via Mary Christine Galang

February 6, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Your Imaginary Friends - Silence Is A Villain (2013)

For an indie band that often seemed to be on the edge of commercial breakthrough, Your Imaginary Friends sounded like they completely belong to the ‘90s. Their fuzzy, melodic guitar-rock anthems mixed with existential angst and sad bastard sentimentality complement the alt mixtape era very well, and much like Teenage Fanclub, Lemonheads or Weezer, they can turn scribbled, post-adolescent confessionals into catchy, emotionally evocative songs that you can celebrate and cry to while you’re busy tearing up your ex-lover’s photos. 

Make no fuss: Your Imaginary Friends’ new album Silence Is A Villain, despite fostering faultlessly crafted pop songs out of misery and heartbreak, has the ability to articulate an aesthetic of its own, a demasculated Judd Apatowian storytelling layered with a bratty tone, perverted and made more appealing by a gamut of influences—from ‘90s Britpop to shoegaze, from power-pop to noise-rock, from Manic Pixie Dreamgirl to Bratpack. It’s a snapshot of a band that operates at the summit of their creative capacity, ditching the sugary sweet punch of their debut EP One Dreamy Indeterminate Hum for a grittier songwriting perspective and a more refined sound.

Sure you’ll all miss the rosy cuteness of coming-of-age staples “Hey Rowena” and “Oh Liza,” even more than that, the curly, elegant melodies and clean guitar tone that made those songs an instant charmer, but we could all agree that the new batch of tracks in Your Imaginary Friends’ follow-up album is an expansion into new territory, a riskier move to be exact. And just as we’re about to move forward to a brand new year, free from the heartbreaking diarist pop of Bagatsafonik’s sophomore album, Ang Bandang Shirley’s Tama Na Ang Drama and Up Dharma Down’s Capacities, Your Imaginary Friends open up the deep wounds of the past and made songs that stab your soul with heartfelt gravity.

There’s that stench of seething remorse on “Baby You’re Going To Hell” and “Your Silence Is A Villain” that is just fun and exciting to listen and sing to while you exactly imagine yourself setting your ex’s house on fire just to get even. Like a jerk who wants to let the world know how much aggravated and pissed he is, Ahmad tackles a sprightly, slightly twisted take on breakup, mastering that kind of sensibility with a natural sense of understanding. Or maybe because all his life, he’s been writing jackass revenge on his palm. Who knows?

“Beyond Euphemisms” also follows the similar template with unabashed seriousness, but the delivery doesn’t fall under mopey or self-absorbed machismo. Over soaring guitar arrangements, tender-hearted stomps and life-sized sprawl, Your Imaginary Friends show a much broader dynamic, churning up enough bile to get across the bitterness and heartaches. “Visiting Hours Are Over (Come Over)” clings into sleepy waves of hazy innocence with guitars stretched into narcotic drawl. It’s the sound of waking up early in the morning only to find out you’re still drifting in the dreamworld, completely washed out from reality. And then there’s the psychedelic alt-pop of “While Beating Red Lights,” and the stripped down wistfulness of “In Washington Drive” to complete the album’s hearts-on-sleeve touch.

Few bands have successfully managed to defy the formula of their debut for a record that gives itself to so much sin and vulnerability. What I like about Your Imaginary Friends’ follow-up record is that it isn’t afraid to reverse the equation and move on to a bolder chapter, waxing adolescent angst without surrendering completely to it. It’s not an easy climb for sure, but despite the stains and dirt, they were able to find the meaningful value in that long trek, something that would hardly fade in the long run.  A- 

NEW TRACK: Johnoy Danao - "Salamat Sinta"

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the release of Johnoy Danao’s latest track seems to add up to the momentum of the occasion, carrying a passionate, starry-eyed sentiment that makes falling in love the most invigorating feeling there is. Dressed with a jazzy, big band ensemble and a spirited vocal performance, “Salamat Sinta” proves that Johnoy is capable of demonstrating his chops without getting in the way of the song, hefty part of its charm credited to Johnoy’s singing style and how it complements the track’s vibrant '50s mood. Stream it below:

February 5, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Similar Objects - inner temple (2013)

Whether you’re listening to today’s most mainstream pop album or the deepest underground artists (yes, the ones you knew about before any of us did), you can probably hear it: electronic music in the notes and instruments, weaved into the very fabric of the songs. Many could say and few would disagree: electronic music is the wave of the future.

Similar Objects rides this wave with grace and skill on his newly released EP, inner temple. It’s another journey into the depths of the beatmaker’s mind, but more than that, it’s an invitation for us to explore our own inner temples. In fact, the same process of exploration is what brought the EP into existence. Jorge Wieneke, the brainchild behind Similar Objects, found himself in a nostalgic mood one day and unearthed old tracks from his hard drive, pairing them with a couple of new tracks he had made towards the end of last year. What was the common denominator? “Even though they were all made in a different timeline they still had a unifying element weaving themselves together in some way,” Jorge says. “These songs like thoughts were all immortalized in my inner temple, and in there it was all raw.”

If the songs in his head were raw, the actual product is far from it. Listening to the new material, you can hear the refinement and fine-tuning that goes into the making of the music. And because all of Similar Objects’ previous releases are available at the click of a button, you could literally sit down and hear how his sound has matured over the years. Listen to the intricate and frenetic details juxtaposed against a druggy, hazy and ambient background on "Temple Thoughts" and "Window Light," and you’ll be surprised that the artist is still able to churn out fresh concepts each time. According to Wieneke, the process is simpler than it sounds: “It usually all just comes together when it does.”

That could be the best way to summarize what Similar Objects is about – all these samples, sounds, and influences coming together, in good taste and in good time. Inner Temple is only one of many releases that showcase this talent, as Similar Objects is only one of many electronic Pinoy artists making quality music (our only job is to find it).  A- 
via Joey Gutierrez

Download the EP here

February 4, 2013

NEW TRACK: Ephesus - "Karbonis"

At first, you might dismiss Ephesus as one of those whino pop-punk scenesters whose entire life revolves around making the internet rain tears and blood. But contentious as it sounds, they’re more than just that. Their new track “Karbonis” is a testament of their willingness to experiment, to expand the genre’s boxed sound into a synth-driven anthemic rock with well-placed vocal harmonies floating freely in the chorus and a Nintendo beat for added texture. The result is nothing short of charming, bolstered by a gleeful chorus that goes directly to your pleasure midpoint. Stream below and download it here:

February 3, 2013

NEW TRACK: Similar Objects - "8bit4dawn"

For some of us, insomnia might be the perfect conductor to spark creativity, for some of the best ideas do come at night. However, not all of us are capable to weave a blanket of hazy, spaced out, and ear pleasing synths and textures. Similarobjects, clearly, is a master tailor, chronically synthesizing glowy beats that breathe irrepressible warmth against the chilly temperature.

His newest track, '8bit4dawn', is a complete ensemble of skewered beats, accentuated with 808 drums, and hints of chipmusic, which is commonly used in old-school video games - all put together against a dreamy backdrop tinged with infantile nostalgia. The track progresses towards the second half with sweet, dulcet tones that lassoed its captivating quality, softly hushing out all the white noise, and instead, lulls you into a deep, peaceful sleep. via Mary Christine Galang

February 2, 2013

NEW TRACK: Eyedress x Skint Eastwood - "Nobody" (Keith Sweat Cover)

The blogosphere is teeming with anonymous internet personalities re-imagining R&B and chillwave to a drugged state of mind, but nobody does it quite like Idris Vicuna, whose work evokes a vulnerable, out-of-body experience set to music. On the cover of Keith Sweat and Athena Cage's urban smash "Nobody," Eyedress recruits Skint Eastwood in reworking the '90s slow jam by his book, injecting a seductively minimalist production and hazy atmosphere suited for cold summer nights. The duo dispatched the chorus to dissociate the song from the original's main hook, and it somehow works. Nuanced, quiet and sexy, that's what this cover is. Download it here.

February 1, 2013

PINNED: Identikit

The loose punk energy and sweet noise of “Me and My Japanese Bike” made me miss those days when indie rock was all about fuzz and screech, that son-of-a-guitar-sound crashing on the monster chorus just as we’re about to keep our eyes closed and mosh like a first-time lottery winner. With their new single on repeat, Identikit perfectly brings us back to those happy summery times listening to Pixies, Slowdive and The Smashing Pumpkins, their music—tilting our fascination with guitar bands to a whole new nostalgic level—is catchy but loud, savaged and cutesy at equal turns—somewhat of a diversion from the million microtrends we hear in today’s Soundcloud-era bedroom indie. We’re glad that finally, we’ll get to hear what they’ve been toying around for two years as they’ll be launching their debut album, Out of the Floodways and into your Homes this Saturday at Escobar, Cubao X.

But first things first: we’re lucky enough to ask them questions regarding the process of recording their first album, the pressure that goes along with it and plans of writing more songs in the local vernacular. Hear them out, people:

1. Identikit has been around for 5 years and it’s only now that you guys decided to finally drop your debut full-length album. What took the release so long?

Darrel: Well it took us 2 years to record the album, since most of us were being busy and occupied with other things (day jobs, art careers, rakets, side projects and gigs) I think two years is good enough since there is no need for us to rush like as we always say na "kapag hinog na then pwede ng pitasin.”

Joe: We didn't really need to rush things. From the EP Saturday Morning Chemistry some of the songs on that album we have re-recorded to fill in for the full-length album. It sounded much better than the EP version.

2. Can you give us an idea of what to expect from your new album, Out of the Floodways and into your Homes?

Darrel: I'm very much happy of the outcome of the album since we're all able to pull off most of our ideas. It's a mix of 80's and 90's inspired music.

Joe: Daming heavy riffs on the album. Mostly, I only use an overdrive pedal, but on the studio—me and Ced Concepcion—we experimented with Siochi tube amps just to get that 'crunchy' feel.

3. Saturday Morning Chemistry was named best EP by QLE (Quark, Luis, Erwin) in 2010. Is there any pressure from your part to exceed the expectations of fans and music observers alike?

Darrel: Honestly, I didn’t expect for that award, the idea for releasing the EP is just to introduce our band to other people. That is why the EP is free. Yeah, part pressured and part inspired because most of our followers are also our friends.

I’m still clueless on what they’re supposed to expect, but we put a lot of effort in the album. I hope they appreciate it.

4. Are there any songs in the album written in the local vernacular ala “Peach?”

Darrel: Nope. Probably next album we'll try to make more Tagalog songs.

Joe: “Peach” is the only Tagalog song on the album. Haha!

5. Tell us something about your first single “Me and My Japanese Bike?” Are there plans of releasing the video soon?

Joe: Musically, the riffs were inspired by The Smashing Pumpkins (not really)—the analog delay pedal doing it's magic. The heavy riffs were a toss between Queens of Stone Age and Prong. Haha!

6. Who are your music heroes? Is there any intention of injecting bits and pieces of their music to your over-all creative decisions when it comes to making/writing songs?

Sandy: Anne Clarke and Thom Yorke.

Darrel: My Bloody Valentine, Joy Division, Metric, New Order.

Joe: Dave Knudson, Joe Pass, Marty Friedman and Weezer. On my part, if the riff fits then use it.

7. Any dream collaborations in the near future?

Sandy: Tarsius, Dayuhan

Darrel: Local would be Tarsius, Drip, Turbo Goth. Foreign--Sonic Youth, Kevin Shields, Weevil, and St. Vincent.

Joe: Johnny Alegre, Diego Mapa, Mayo Baluyut, and Spazzkid.

Identikit will be launching their debut album, Out of the Floodways and into your Homes this February 2, 2012 at Escobar in Cubao X. The event will also feature guest performances by Gaijin, Flying Ipis, Tether, Paranoid City and Lochness.

NEW TRACK: Mad Love Misery - "All Things Come In Time"

Mad Love Misery doesn’t have any information in neither their Facebook nor Bandcamp page as to how their music can be described. But if we take their new single “All Things Come In Time” as a yardstick to what genre or label they want attached to the band, then we should start looking for positive synonyms.

The opening combo of guitar riffs and drum beats is reminiscent of a stripped down 90’s alternative song, think Everclear or Semisonic. Followed by scruffy yet assuring vocals, the track carries that vibe of an authentic alternative rock song lost in a scene that is currently big on lo-fi, twee songs. The song has this certain grittiness to it, as characterized by its jagged and powerful guitar sounds. The roughness to it coupled with the surprisingly heartfelt mellow lyrics adds to the pretty rawness of the track. This is what makes the song hit the right balance between two opposing poles, making it a great addition to the ‘songs to drive by on a Sunday morning’ playlist that you have on your iPods. “All Things Come In Time” is a song that echoes a progression of a hushed longing building up into a loud declaration of acceptance that most things in life are dependent on what time allows us to have. Much like what time has in store for this obviously talented band. Download it here. via Weng Cahiles


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