May 30, 2013

NEW TRACK: Alessandra De Rossi Feat. Yan Yuzon - "Swept Away"

Not to rest on her laurels yet, actress-singer Alessandra De Rossi teams up with Yan Yuzon (Pupil, Archipelago) on a wraithlike, triphop-drenched ballad enveloping the sensual and shamanist quality of her previous work. “Swept Away,” the new single off her upcoming sophomore album shepherds her to newer, darker pastures without fully departing her comfort zone. With Alex and Yan sharing vocal duties, and the instrumental pulse stitched together by hypnotic tinkers and atmosphere, the cumulative efforts evoke a gorgeous melting of voices, crashing while complimenting each other all at the same time. Download the track here.

NEW TRACK: The Valiant Vermin Feat. Zeon - "The Mystery of Empty Space"

The Valiant Vermin knows her way round delightful pop glitter, and on her second single “The Mystery of Empty Space,” the reluctant YLG muse continues to refine her aesthetic with a slice of cosmic four-on-the-floor bliss that grabs you by the ear and sends you floating in space. Anchored by incandescent synths, analog-fetishizing textures, and warped vocals, the complete product cuts some of the finest diamond future-disco this side of obscure internethon. Download it here.

May 28, 2013

NEW TRACK: Ifrit - "Anam Kyra"

You can hear a fragile piece of humanity unravel through Ifrit Rivera’s voice. On Library Kids’ quiet chamber-folk demos “A Quiet Walk Outside” and “Clear Waters,” he pulls out all the stops to supplant the quirky and intense contrast to Ridge Tan’s invitingly warm vocals, delivering his own spectral touches with unshakable conviction.

As a solo performer, Ifrit makes use of his voice as a keening, somber instrument that renders haunting evocations of Anthony and the Johnsons or Paul Buchanan—admittedly two of his personal heroes in music. There was never a moment of restraint and moderation; only cabaret transmissions from a mournful elegy sung in confessional, spine-tingling outbursts.

“Anam Kyra,” Ifrit’s debut track finds him unearthing the ghosts of his past, trying to redeem his soul in the many layers of tension and achingly beautiful, orchestral lushness. What stands out about Ifrit is how he was able to evoke fragility even from a neo-classicist standpoint, cutting this close to the bone the moment he opens his diaphragm and lets his soulful lament invade the open air. The last two minutes of the song, is where he loosens up like a primitive shaman mantracizing otherworldly ills with a desire to seek redemption. His voice fills us with hope for better things to come, a languid mediation imbibed with the rightful amount of sadness and divinity.

NEW TRACK: Unclemullet - "Deadbeat Delinquent"

Unclemullet never sounded pleasant. But at least, it’s something that they’re good at: floundering in the dusty garage to revive the days when rock music was all about dissonance and dense feedback, making the feral kind of early ‘90s noise that bleeds into the din and screeches right through your ears. All of these are buried in the chaotic stasis of “Deadbeat Delinquent,” a banging rust-smudged noise that has found a way to deliver sonic playfulness and recklessness, without resorting to sacrifice grit over candy-gloss crossover. It’s messy, paranoid and loud: in short—uneasy listening music that will make you start losing every frame of your brain. Literally. Play this at max volume if you have the guts:

May 27, 2013

NEW TRACK: The Chopping Board - "Simple Line"

For those nocturnes who beat up their time indulging to the dreamy, lo-fi charm of bedroom pop before going to sleep, The Chopping Board’s “Simple Line” might just be a good addition to your self-curated playlist. The music from this upcoming Naga-based roamer isn’t exactly easy to digest, but its earnest pop sensibilities, fueled by isolationist guitars and sparse, electro-folk glimmer, are enough to make your heart grow a yard. Spin this on repeat:

May 25, 2013

NEW TRACK: Join The Club - "Balewalang Pag-ibig"

It’s too early to tell if Join The Club’s latest single “Balewalang Pag-ibig” would end up being a startling pop-rock masterpiece that would finally lay to rest whatever criticisms the band garnered in the past. But to be succinct and frank, they’ve managed to shed uncertainties hounding their previous material with washes of unflinching moodiness and ambition.

Bearing the bluest heartbreak ever confessed, “Balewalang Pag-ibig” feels like a product of diarist sentiments exposed in the most beautiful of ways. The banduria flourishes and introspective, lush arrangements exude timelessness that reverts back to the stylistic tendencies of John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. But it’s the words behind the song, fleetingly alluring and captivating from start to finish, that holds everything together as it should be.

May 24, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: KZ Tandingan - KZ Tandingan (2013)

KZ Tandingan is going through a hard time. Somebody broke her heart; you can almost feel the tension and grit of her vocal inflections as it moves from one syllable to another, recreating Adele’s uncanny ability to elicit a good ugly cry. When she opens up, “Nakakabiliw lang isipin, anong gagawin, anong gagawin sa sarili,” the world listens and bleeds, sympathetic of the emotionally devastating experience that went through and through.

There’s something beguilingly perverse about the nakedness that comes in when KZ sings, raspy and expressive, rife with its own character. She’s more than an interpreter who fakes dramatic conceit with note-perfect emotions. If in real life she’s indeed a happy person, she seems to extract the opposite on recording: one song she can be that grand dame articulating brutal confessionals of withered love with preciseness and crackle, the other she channels hopelessness with a vulnerable bluesy snarl that renders it the more heartfelt.

While the last two decades have brought along modern torch singers who have relied so much on copying the melismatic drawl of Mariah Carey and went to as far as imbibing the artificial power belting of divas Regine Velasquez and Celine Dion, none was as original and chilling as KZ Tandingan’s gritty soul, which surprisingly her producers at Star Records bankrolled on at their own (profit-making) risk.

Dressed up with organic but modern production that conveys her authenticity, KZ Tandingan’s self-titled debut album is an actual thing of beauty and pain, a straight-up commercial record riddled with soul siren feistiness, power ballad swoon, and jazzy, lighter-than-air bounce. Unlike her contemporaries, KZ’s strength lies on how she convincingly interprets these spirited songs that we can all relate to, into something bigger than life with fervor and fire. She also makes it a point to go beyond plaintive emoting, owning moments within songs word per word, sometimes struggling to move out from the emotional attachment. “Puro Laro” seems fit in this mold: a big soulful ballad that casts KZ as the scorned lover who wants to get things right. Backed with a soaring chorus that pierces the heart even further as it builds and blasts, the song challenges its listeners to hear and feel the pain her way. Same can also be said on “Bakit Lumuluha”—a wounded follow-up that for all its earnestness reveals all that can be found in every failed relationship.

Another standout, “Un-Love You” shows KZ Tandingan holding on to a confidence-joltiing weeper with a rockier edge that brings to mind Kelly Clarkson or Pink. Here, she sounds pissed at a controlled pace, but as the power chords, dramatic strings and crashing drums overlay in the chorus, you’ll notice the intensity that she interweaves into the grit, almost battling the ferociousness of every bleeding note with hint of irony and sarcasm.

Despite having the tendency to go for melodramatic overkill, the producers, headed by Jonathan Manalo, made it a point to expose KZ’s versatility as a singer, throwing in some lite-Motown twirl on “Love Love Love,” neo-bossa on “Umiibig,” and poignant piano ballad on “Scared To Death.” In another singer’s hands, this might seem like a heavy undertaking, a sugarcoated fluff lacking the emotions and attitude to pull it off. KZ proves that she can knock down these show-stopping songs and make it rather difficult for anyone to break into her level.  B+ 

May 23, 2013

NEW TRACK: The Tough Ones - "Last Oath"

It’s remarkable to hear a virtually unknown singer-songwriter capture serene beauty in a song stripped down to its essentials. On the new track “Last Oath,” Cebu-based folk troubadour Vincent James Eco serenades listeners with an exquisitely arranged folk ditty that adds a considerable amount of melancholy and breathless wonder to the mix. You could immediately feel the lush arrangements orchestrate within closed door intimacy, in which he wraps easy, soothing melodies with understated drama. And as soon as it ends, you’ll want to hit repeat and start again until you succumb to a deep sleep. Stream the track below:

NEW TRACK: No Rome Feat. Zeon - "Don't Let Go"

Deserting the effervescent club-pop spirit of “Dance With Me”—the internet crossover that landed him a spot on MTV Iggy and other Hypem blogs, No Rome recruits his brother-for-life Zeon Gomez on a retro-futurist banger rendered with unconventional sound choice and ambition. On “Don’t Let Go,” Rome has found himself locked up in the woozy downer of relationship troubles, meticulously crafting introverted dance music with his heart ripped on the paper shredder.

Exploring the fringes between experimental trappings and accessibility, Rome folds in a few more layers of Giorgio Moroder throb, heavy reverb, and droning psychedelic synths to evoke a pretty singular mix of yearning and hopelessness, but more than the stylistic overhauls that radiate in the background, the real highlight of this particular track is the songwriting, which for all its juvenilia, showed his vulnerable, emotional side.

“Time isn’t always a favor, a battle we all have to fight,” he intimates over a heavily filtered, chillwave groove that eventually slurs into washes of echoes and ambient drown. Things start to get interesting when Rome flaunts his emotions on the dancefloor with an enduring guise—drinks spilled on shirt, stomping wildly to the beat until the feeling momentarily wears out and haunts. Exploring this path might be a lucrative option, but leave it to Rome when it comes to leaving the audience wanting for more.

May 22, 2013

NEW TRACK: Spazzkid - "40 Winks" (Justin de Guzman Remix)

While Spazzkid’s “40 Winks” is a gorgeous bedroom anthem on its own, hiphop/electronica producer Justin de Guzman took the track from the far depths of the internet straight to the IDM vault, tossing the summery laid-back grooves around his own obscure constructions.

What draws me the most about Justin’s own take of the song is the transition, the slow build from unkempt electro-chill flourish to the last minute of gurgling, pulsing house thump. And somewhere midway in the clubland paradise, as JDG’s about to locate the climactic pleasures of the original, he loses it to the floor and pulls off his own idiosyncratic elements that had us salivating for more. Bring your homies and beat this track to the ground:

Justin De Guzman’s awesome take on “40 Winks” is part of Spazzkid’s Desire Remix album to be released soon. For more details visit his bandcamp page.

May 20, 2013

NEW TRACK: Farewell Fair Weather - "Rough Skies"

It’s amazing how a young, collegiate band like Farewell Fair Weather have easily earned a deified place in the local gig circuitry, based on impassioned and remarkable live performances alone. Their dexterity in combining swooping pop-jazz musicality with contemporary soul fervor, one that emphasizes raw emotions and improvisational arrangements instead of clinical technique, is commanding to say the least. But wait ‘til Mic Manalo opens her mouth and starts captivating the audience with intimated sensuality and youthful charm that could only arrive with time.

On their new track “Rough Skies,” FFW have successfully translated the smooth jazz vibe of their live performances into recording, putting their own breezy intonations to the brew. Its silken groove moves freely from one accent to another, and in a matter of minutes, cocoons into a bright-eyed improvisational earworm that you wish won’t stop.

And with all due respect to a lot of jazz musicians out there, its’ pretty refreshing to listen to the rubbery basslines, earthy drum beats, funky guitar solos and warm keyboard tones that veer towards self-indulgence, and instead provide a one-of-a-kind sparkle that suits the velvet optimism of the song. And Mimic—what can I say? She has reasserted herself as one the most promising voices in the emerging local music. Her understated, keening voice is sophisticated in its own little way, and I love that she’s more in control than ever. via

NEW TRACK: Against The Light x Skymarines - "Nighttime Mist"

In no less than a year, Davao-based electro-pop act, Skymarines have made a remarkable crossover from blog-pop pixie to accomplished internet star, a proof that the next wave of future big shots could be found lurking around Soundcloud, posting demos that might get a second chance on other viable platforms outside the internet. Recently, she collaborated with Cagayan De Oro’s electronic producer Against The Light on the track called “Nighttime Mist,” and as cold and haunting as the title suggests, both artists have embraced the midnight artifice of Chvrches’ dream-pop suave, lacing it with shimmering guitars that glide and soar above the ambient pulse.

But it’s Isa AƱiga’s lilting coos that pretty much gave the song its much-needed sunlight. She sings as if her voice is destined to be the world’s only centerpiece—beautiful, almost unreal, floating in wherever the gentle whirl takes it. John Uy of ATL on the other hand, holds everything together, without ever breaking. The beats and minimalist post-rock build he drops, never too empowering, are executed with just the right amount of finesse and subtlety. Download the track here.

NEW TRACK: Hello Joe - "Just A Wonder"

Of course, its’ easy to denounce Hello Joe as another fairly talented newcomer shuffled into derivative post-Britpop playground ala Arctic Monkeys or The Libertines. But with new track “Just A Wonder” in tow, Hello Joe brim at the seams with vehement energy and catchy guitar chords, and prove critics that they’ve got some hook-laden summer tunes to churn. Moreover, the songcraft displayed here—youthful and incredibly refreshing—indicates that these quirky lads have studied their lesson well and wore their influences right on the sleeves. Stream it below. via

May 17, 2013

NEW VIDEO: Reklamo - "Be Unique"

“Be Unique,” the bluesy punk anthem from Reklamo, now has a video that mirrors the song’s nihilist brashness. The clip takes place inside UP Diliman campus, where skater chicks, amateur bikers, and snotty punks gather for an entire day of slacker fun and trouble. If you dig (1) bunch of teenage tease flaunting their legs and side boobies, (2) bloody skating injuries and (3) rockstar cameos, then this will most definitely strike your fancy. Watch it below:

May 15, 2013

NEW TRACK: Simon's Books - "Gone On Repeat"

Like hopeless portents of withered love, “Gone On Repeat” lives on nostalgic moments that peel every remnant of heartache and pain one could hear and feel within distance. Over a piano figure and trippy backbeat, bedroom-pop dweller Simon’s Books obsess over rewinding time to capture beautiful details in his life that sadly, were gone. “There were moments that we could have kissed, there were moments gone,” he went on to reveal on the first few lines of the song, trying to find sadsack sanctuary in words and meanings, and everything in between.

May 13, 2013

NEW TRACK: Hana ACBD - "Stephen"

At a leisurely pace, Hana ACBD of Spirit Ocean toys around twee-pop experiments drowned in kitschy e-gimmicks. But when she hits the pleasure points, expect the teenage newcomer to exude a charismatic flair that allows the song to capture some emotional resonance even in its smallest details. Hana ACBD’s new single “Stephen” builds from the shimmering mood laid forth on Spirit Ocean’s best tracks, tucked with an infectious pop melody that got a little more color and style compared to her previous solo project releases.

Restrained dynamically, perhaps the most notable change in Hana is the warmth and breeze that she conveys when she sings around twinkly keyboards and synthesized horns. Her growing confidence both as singer-songwriter and producer is palpable, and on “Stephen,” you can hear her embracing artistic leaps forward, bolstered by her unique personality rustling through and through the song. Download it here.

May 10, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Franco - Soul Adventurer (2013)

“The world is gonna see some better days, this feeling starts within yourself today,” pours the charismatic rock icon Franco Reyes on the stirring, huge-hooked anthem “Better Days.” This time, he delivers the goods as if he’s screaming in front of the biggest stadium of the world, persuading the crowd to smell and imbibe the free-spirited optimism of what humanity has to offer. Anthems have always been big and rousing, carried with a messianic message that impacts other people’s lives. And it’s refreshing to hear Franco channel the vibe so effortlessly, like it’s almost second nature to him.

Working for or against it, Franco’s sophomore album, Soul Adventurer threads on similar waters: the kind of anthemic rock sprawl hidden under a wash of infectious sing-alongs and power chord stompers. In the case of “To Survive,” “Better Days,” “Moonset,” and “A Beautiful Diversion”—it works, and even finds the band harnessing a particularly introspective mood. However, there are times that Franco’s stadium aspirations tend to overwhelm. The ambitious gestures downplay moments where he could have been more tender and nuanced; leaving us sometimes with schmaltzy, life-affirming pronouncements quite short of sincerity.

But don’t get me wrong. Soul Adventurer is a compelling modern rock release, and delivers the sonic hugeness that we’ve come to expect from arguably one of the country’s most popular rock icons of the last 5 years. While there’s some sort of heavy-handedness in the way Franco inject his own vulnerability, you could sense from a distance that’s he’s willing to compromise between experimental and pedestrian tastes, often making songs that go beyond satisfying its core audience.

“Lover's Fire,” with its minimalist R&B inflections and slowly seductive grooves provides a refreshing undertow that can’t be shaken for weeks and months. Opener “To Survive” and “A Beautiful Diversion” could rival first single “Better Days” in terms of chart longevity and pomp, wrapping the inner workings of love, life and religion with triumphant and emotional ballast. The rest of the songs range from good to middling, executed with rockstar confidence that cuts across class and ages.  

May 9, 2013

NEW VIDEO: Deanery - "Monthlong Sundays"

Take the contemporary new wave brood of Sheila and The Insects and then mix it with raw production ethos and cockney snot. The result leads to Deanery’s new single “Monthlong Sundays”—a tightly-wound jam with clear indebtedness to the post-punk revival of the mid ‘00s. In retrospect, while bands like Interpol and Bloc Party have tore down the danceable but sensitive framework of post-punk in favor of stadium-sized ambition, Deanery still wears the same enthusiasm and grit of said bands 8 years ago, churning out dark, atmospheric anthems filled with angular guitar riffs and bouncy rhythms. via

May 8, 2013

NEW TRACK: Frank Ocean - "There Will Be Tears (James Ussher Remix)"

Here's the fact: remixing a Frank Ocean song, when done sloppily, is a heresy. He's the face of a music genre that thrives on the liberated junction of urbanized R&B and electronic music. But when done right, nobody will care whose song it is originally, it'll just be damn good that's going to stand on its own.

Which is the case on this remix.

James Ussher, the newest addition to the berth of Buwan Buwan Collective's artists, dotted the original with a more lavish approach. It opens with a sloshed tinker and wobbled hook, which is when you'll know this is a good song to listen to as an alternative to its more upbeat original. Layered with sparse synths and spurious glitches, it flourishes into a cathartic arrangement - just the right amount to make it the more affable, laid-back, and 'no tears' version. via Mary Christine Galang

May 7, 2013

NEW TRACK: Ourselves The Elves - "Silly Little Song"

What a beautiful song. Wrapped in delicate warmth, Ourselves The Elves’ “Silly Little Song” renders confessional fragility with a stripped down approach that delights and blooms over time. It’s obviously a poignant song steeped in vivid evocation of heartbreak, with “sadness so real that it populates the city and leaves you homeless again,” to quote Feist.

ALBUM REVIEW: KaapiN - KaapiN (2013)

With so much going on, you think Rotsanjani Mojica (synths, beats, noise, glitch) and Michael Nuesca (vocals, glockenspiel, melodic) would mess it up big time, dressing up their work with half-finished sketches and painfully shapeless hooks that hover on most post-internet records as of late. Luckily, you barely need 15 minutes running time with the new KaapiN record to fully understand how committed they are in producing glitchy, almost flawless electro-pop affair compelled with gripping ideas and processed wizardry. Instead of wasting precious time on experiments that aren’t substantial enough to hold your attention, KaapiN provides a gleaming glimpse of the possibilities and impossibilities of homemade laptronica music, adding an ethereal yet humanly dimension to an otherwise robotic hostile.

The EP opens with the two-punch knockouts “Movements” and “Taxi Taxi,” both spaced-out ambient jams layered with haunting vocal arrangements and lush, digital burbles. It’s fascinating to hear Michael’s pitched up vocals stretched to gorgeously vertiginous effect; somehow, it contributes to the esoteric earnestness of the record, which so much reminds me of Purity Ring and Grimes. The pace slows down a bit with “Freedom,” a grainy, witch house experiment built around glockenspiels, ambient samples, ghostly hushes and noise. I personally prefer not including this track on the EP, as it sounds more like unnecessary clutter than an actual song.

On a positive note, the Cebu-based IDM/glitch-pop duo picks up with “Everyone’s The Same” and gloriously marches toward vibrancy and androgyny, all at equal swing, channeling Claire Boucher’s elfish mannerisms to strangely heavenly result. Rotsanjani complements Michael’s airy vocal gymnastics just as he gamely exposes their kaleidoscopic pop sensibilities in between tension and breeze, with the desire to do something more in touch with dreams than reality. The last track, “Hear Me” surprisingly ends the cryptic chasms of KaapiN’s debut EP with a warmer, more structured indie-pop luminacy, camouflaged like the lone crossover track that alternative radio might consider playing.

All in all, KaapiN is in for some great start, with innovative sonic sketches at play. And in today’s Soundcloud era, post-internet pop landscape, they were able to embrace electronic music trends effortlessly while also shredding some layers of it, making a record so recognizably theirs that it’s hard not to get smitten by its traces of inherent charisma and oddity.  B+ 

You can stream the entire EP below via, and puchase the tracks on the duo's official bandcamp site.

May 5, 2013

NEW TRACK: RH Xanders Feat. Raw Mf - "(Y)our Pain"

This year, it seems that immersing to the artier, more psychedelic-leaning brood has become the tall order in local hiphop—at least to some. Most of these adventurists snarl cosmic verses on top of blurry, minimalist beats and hazy flow, sometimes collaborating with eccentric producers whose idea of hiphop is far removed from the conventions and tricks of the more mainstream groupthink. Smoking on this referential joint is RH Xanders, whose star-in-the-making single “(y)our pain” felt like he gargled acid and spitted a washed out, stream-of-consciousness drift in the way he attacks his verses.

Equally compelling is Raw Mf, who displays a better grip to his abilities, sliding effortlessly from one beat to another. With skill and artistry displayed to striking effect, RH Xanders and Raw Mf prove that there’s more to blog-era rap than experimental fetishisms.

May 2, 2013

NEW TRACK: Gaijin - "Parachutes"

It makes perfect sense that after a month-long jolt of summer heat, Gaijin’s “Parachutes” comes in, launching an explosive power-pop splash that wipes everything away in an instant. Syrupy hooks and catchy, chord progressions have always been the group’s greatest strength ever since, and on their latest track, Gaijin keep the formula at a close distance, serving up some stadium rock killer with na-na-na harmonies loosely ready for a communal sing-along.

You can tell they’re aiming to live by the moment. And with “Parachutes,” Gaijin take the fun side of making music to a higher level, treating every experience as if it’s the last barbecue party this summer.

NEW TRACK: 5Hundred Feat. Skymarines - "FMN"

On his confectionary reimagining of Craig David’s worldwide smash “Fill Me In,” 5Hundred decides to bring back ‘90s R&B slink to the post-internet future world, toying with wonky production and druggy ambiance to make the song stretch and soar to limitless bursts. Skymarines’ Isa Aniga, who lends her caramelized coo on this narco-soul joint, smothers the song with innocent sexiness and edge. Together, they explore the left-field end of commercial R&B with disjointed patchworks: deconstructing it, while still amplifying the genre’s innate qualities.

May 1, 2013

NEW TRACK: Luxe - "New Beginning" (Prod. by Conclave)

Luxe’s “New Beginning” sounds like a Charli XCX-Lykke Li mashup from last night’s bedroom rave party, with electronic producer Conclave providing a shadowy slice of midtempo banger swathed in dreamy synths, stray glitter beats and homespun digital arrangements. Despite the plethora of sonic allusions involved, Luxe’s debut track weaves through an optimist sentiment that’s just as infectious as the intimacy it sends to the listeners. Her vocal alone, without exerting too much dramatics and effort, strikes an emotional chord tailor-made for Conclave’s moody synth-pop motif: both of which have bigger picture for what post-internet pop sounds like, with eyes closed and ears dipped in headphone bliss.


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