We all have those albums and singles from the past year that ruled our playlists, but have you ever wondered what Filipino musicians and the industry professionals behind the scenes listened to the most?
Bandwagon caught up with your local favorites for a special rundown of the 3 albums they'd put at the top of their personal charts in 2018.
2012-2017 - A.A.L. (Against All Logic)
A side project of Nicolas Jaar. Killer album with a lot of sampling going on. Listen to 'I Never Dream'. Almost like J Dilla on house and Nu Disco. A treat for electronic fans.
Collapse E.P. - Aphex Twin
My favorite Aphex album is Drukqs which was released in 2001 and I've been waiting to hear more of like that album. Richard D. James' follow up to Drukqs is Syro and the Cheetah E.P. Those are wonderful releases but Collapse is back to mind-boggling electronic work which I like about Drukqs. Still can't figure out how he does it! Plus I saw him live this year at Bilbao, Spain. So, the more I like the new release.
Humble Pi - Homeboy Sandman & Edan
This release came later this year on Stones Throw and I like whatever Edan does. He's really good mixing hip-hop with fuzz guitars and psychedelic atmospheres. Hip-hop is not my specialty, but if you like Beastie Boys, Jurrasic 5, Madlib, DJ Shadow, etc., this one might be for you.
GEOGRAPHY - TOM MISCH
Tom Misch is also one of my favorites, his debut album Geography is perfectly written and his guitar riffs are the best thing about his album. I love his song 'Movie', [it] always puts me in a good mood. Who wouldn't like him to be honest? He’s a boy wonder.
Love - Adoy
This Korean indie band is my new discovery when I met them last October. Their music deserves to be heard by the world and I’m happy that they've been touring the region and gaining listeners everywhere. I love their chill electronic-pop vibe. Their album LOVE is part of my everyday playlist.
I’m happy to be bringing Adoy as one of our first Asian acts for Wanderland 2019.
Love Me/ Love Me Not - HONNE
I’ve been a big fan of Honne since they released their debut album that they became one of my favorite bands. Their second album came out pretty good and the vibe is same as the first one, dance-pop and jazzy vibe. They are consistent in creating good music. I love their new song 'Day 1' and 'Me & You' featuring Tom Misch and I've been listening to these songs every day.
VILETIN - The Ringmaster
I only have one album of 2019 I would like to praise. The work of Francis Lorenzo (The Ringmaster) has captivated me all throughout our years performing as the older veterans of the Philippine independent music scene. This release has solidified my belief that he is one of the best producer/arrangers in the country in this particular genre. He has an incredible talent for creating layers upon layers of melody and harmony with chaos and groove. All the while paying minute attention to details which upon first listen will go unnoticed, but 2nd and 3rd listen we will b treated as musical Easter eggs. In addition to the superb musical arrangement is by far THE BEST RECORDING PRODUCTION I have heard in probably EVER for a locally produced album. Everything is just a huge ass sound wall of ART. Lastly, I'd like to commend his effort to actually put out an ENTIRE ALBUM as opposed to releasing single per single. It shows that he has a sincere effort not just for plays, but for the sake of the craft of music. Super mega A+++++ with a MF cherry on top.
TIM AWA - TIM AWA
Although this was produced at La Balls, this is of no bias that this is my other favorite release of this year. TIM AWA is a one-woman effort named Zephra Lagos from Lucena, meaning that she has performed all instruments and vocals (with the exception of 3 drum tracks from Alyssa Abanilla). I just love how although her music leans toward the whole instrumental post rock sound, it is completely unique from previous local releases of this genre. There's no cliche guitar tapping or out of this world technically "impossible" musical lines or odd tempos. It's just ALL BEAUTIFUL SINCERE MUSIC. Imagine if u took Godspeed you Black Emperor!, cocteau twins, Jesu, isis, pinback, musical O, American football, and the American analog set, and threw them all in a blender. TIM AWA is amazing. TIM AWA destroys.... Beautifully.
Dear Universe - Vica Hernandez
This is also another La Balls produced effort. I find beauty in its simplicity and sincerity. with the intention of not going over the top with crazy musical arrangements, It allowed Vica as an individual to shine and let her voice be heard. Her lyrics, although quirky and sparkly at first listen, are intelligent and reflect her sincere nature as a human being. I highly recommend checking this out.
room25 - noname
Room 25, the follow up to 2016's Telefone, highlights the skill noname has already created on her first record and displays how she has blossomed into a more realized artist. It's refreshing listening to her flow and flavor.
Her spoken word slam poetry style of rap bounces perfectly along the beats creating this natural abstract to soul and hip-hop. If you haven’t listened to any of her stuff, you most definitely should. Imagine the new queen collaborating with Anderson .Paak though.
Should be one of the most lauded artists of the year. The record opener 'Self' gives you a rundown of what the album is all about. But the tempo and beat change as soon as you get into 'Blaxploitation'. Also check out 'Don't Forget About Me' and 'Montego Bay.'
GEOGRAPHY - TOM MISCH
I was not done soaking my ears onto those sweet jazzy beats and sick bass lines from Reverie, and collaborations with Carmody, Jordan Rakei, and Laura Misch. And then he drops 'Movie', with an intro as like most of the Soundcloud and Youtube beat scene, but breaks away from the pack by continuing into a full song. The good vibes remain alive with 'Geography.' It's soul, jazz, and hip-hop. I've had this record on repeat for quite some time. Add some sugar to your life and check out the other tracks 'Lost In Paris' with 'Goldlink', 'Cos I Love You', and 'Disco Yes.'
Thanks Karpos for bringing him for a show!
Cool - Otis Junior & Dr. Dundiff
Isn't it an amazing year? We've been blessed with the second album of Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff. Slowed down early 80s-influenced hiphop infused with jazz and future soul. The result is indeed too hip-hop to be soul and too soul to be hiphop. Listen to 'Cool', 'Need To Know', 'In The Dark', and '5PM.'
We Do What We Can - Tangled Hair
We Do What We Can is the band's latest record after 7 years -- and it was definitely worth the wait! I was doing a live commentary via Instagram stories with every track becoming a new favorite after the other.
ALL MY FRIENDS - TIDE/EDIT
Perfect road trip companion! I felt like each song took me to a different place. Three years after their last release, tide/edit continuous to share their own brand of happy music.
Vive - January
Thai trio January is the latest addition to A Spur of the Moment Project's roster. I had the pleasure of listening to Vive ahead of its release and I liked it so much I just had to get them on board!
BE THE COWBOY - MITSKI
Mitski's fourth album dodges the assumptions made about female singer-songwriters. A lot of musicians that fall under that category are expected to write only about pivotal moments in their life and document authenticity from a first-person perspective.
Mitski broke the rules with narratives that function as a performance. She dressed up in a variety of roles; her music emitting chameleonic tendencies to complement her storytelling. Her radical approach to songwriting did not just establish herself as one of the most forward-thinking visionaries of her generation. It also opened opportunities for fellow artists of Asian descent to attain visibility in an industry that often reduced their work as unimportant.
When We Were Together - Say Sue Me
I honestly don't understand why a lot of music publications failed to include When We Were Together on their year-end lists.
Say Sue Me's latest record brims with sophisticated details that sound more traditional in structure, but more open to possibilities in terms of songwriting. They're pretty adept when it comes to writing effervescent hooks that resonate with the times. For fans of indie pop, this stunner deserves to be in the upper tier of your playlist. Listen to 'Old Town' and tell me I'm wrong.
Honey - Robyn
Robyn is no longer concerned about writing soundtracks to our pity parties and has moved on with a new role to play. Her latest record turns her personal blues into dance-pop gold, and this time around, she's more fun and fearless than ever.
‘Honey’ allows her to be more experimental in terms of production and overall sonic direction, focusing more on the mood and groove and less on cathartic release. On the title track, she rewrites club music with a methodical but masterful approach, letting it simmer slowly before peaking to a satisfying build. "Ever Again" challenges the classic Robyn narrative with an empowering message: Never gonna be brokenhearted / ever again - the indie-dance queen philosophizes to the beat of a misty funk. And of course, who can forget 'Missing U' and its piercing loneliness?
Her album refines many of Robyn's strengths as a pop visionary, and leaves us with a collection of spacious bops to melt our hearts.
Honorable Mentions: Snail Mail's Lush, Kamasi Washington's Heaven and Earth, Wild Pink's Yolk In The Fur, Sobs's Telltale Signs, The Ringmaster's Viletin, Kacey Musgraves's Golden Hour
The Return - Kamaal Williams
This one’s more than a jazz record. it’s soulful and funky in all places. stand out tracks are 'Broken Theme', 'High Roller', and 'Rhythm Commission'. if only there was a repeat button on my turntable I’d keep on repeat[ing] it.
Con Todo El Mundo - Khruangbin
An excellent summer record. play it while lounging on the beach or your mom’s porch. those basslines and guitar licks are infectious!
Full Flood - Apartel
I must say that Apartel’s sophomore album simply outshines the first one in all aspects. Of course, I still can’t go over 'Guijo St.' but this one is a bonafide “all killer, no filler”! The first single 'Pateros' is plain groovy and could already be on its way as a dancefloor classic. 'Mahiwaga' could be mistaken as a Steely Dan track if not for Ely singing it [in] Tagalog. The second single 'Sisid' on the other hand is soothing, much like one played at Ibiza’s Cafe del Mar. Pat Sarabia's cameo vocals put the icing on the cake. Don’t take our word for it. Buy the album on hires digital to fully appreciate this OPM masterpiece. By the way, did I fail to mention that this was remastered by the great Bernie Grundman? OPM never sounded this good!
Chrome Neon Jesus - Teenage Wrist
This band rocks. I first heard of them through their amazing 2015 EP entitled Dazed. Fast-forward to 2018, and they’ve released their debut full-length, still filled with that relatable angst so prominent in both the vocals and the instruments. I hope they come to Manila!
self titled ep - killuv
One of the more underrated solo artists out there. This is lo-fi pop mixed with R&B, soul, and emo. You can really hear the love in every track Alana puts out. I have a feeling they’re going to be big.
holographic heartache - if i die in mississippi
Released on Z Tapes, holographic heartache is an ambient experience fused with a wide range of influences. This is an album that begins with the cover art and then absorbs you into a world of dreamy, encapsulating noise.
Honorable Mentions: Camp Cope’s How to Socialise & Make Friends, somesurprises’ Alt, Kino1998’s CLOSER EYES, Fiddlehead’s Springtime and Blind, and The Night Game’s self-titled debut.
I’m All Ears - Let’s Eat Grandma
Can’t quite say this a traditional pop album (as the internet forces me to believe) because of its gloriously menacing guitar-washed moments unlike any pop album I’ve heard of and yet another mind-blowing production from none other than SOPHIE (who herself released an incredible album this year), but if this is where pop is headed, then I’m buying a one-way ticket.
My most favorite part of listening to this album is how grating it is in its teenage-ness in an increasingly populist world and its stranger-than-fiction inhabitants. I can project my frustrations to it one day and just completely resign myself into dancing without a care the next. It’s one of those albums where I don’t wish I’m somebody else; but one where weird British young women inviting me to go be my weird self, and they’ll take care of the party.
Whack World - Tierra Whack
Whereas everyone else languished in a hyperactive environment filled with people with an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, Tierra Whack built micro-universes out of it. It’s a 15-minute rabbit hole engineered by a black woman with all the baggage and lofty imagination of what it means to be like her, “the most disrespected woman in America”—as Malcolm X puts it. One that literally forces you to look at and listen in a format where black people are deemed to be quite safe: at a distance, as black athletes or on a less capacity, entertainers.
Ultimately, what draws me the most is her mere presence calls for recognition and acceptance as a full, complex human being through her art, and not just by the overt identifiers that immediately define her, which is the genius of her work.
CARE FOR ME - Saba
Chicago artists produced some of the most enduring, powerful music this year that specifically bends the still-rigid conversation on mental health (for better or worse). There’s Noname’s Room 25, Mick Jenkins’s Pieces of a Man, Lupe Fiasco’s Drogas Wave, and a solo Kanye West album and his collaborative project with Kid Cudi as Kids See Ghosts. One that particularly hits closest to home is Saba’s Care For Me, which was pivotal in anchoring my state of mind as I navigated grief due to the death of my grandfather. The album opens with “I’m so alone” and culminates with the opening lines of 'Heaven All Around Me:' Yellin' at my mother like, "I know you hear me." With CARE FOR ME, Saba shares as he lives through the devastation of loss, embraces his vulnerability as he celebrates the life and memory of those who will always be with us.
Knock Knock - DJ Koze
Quite an emotive album, and we mean it in every beautiful way. It’s wistful, bright and has a lot of heart. It also helps that Stefan Kozalla (real name) doesn’t shy away from vocals and a fete of collaborations. There’s a Bon Iver cut in there, a dreamy José González bit plus a couple of tracks with Roisin Murphy. If you’re seeking something that breaks down the barriers of genres, this is the one. PS: You may have heard 'Pick Up' played one too many times during our DJ sets.
Livingstone - Jungle By Night
This one was released just at the tail end of November, but was an instant hit for us! There are tons of playful elements that are very well incorporated with each other, which also makes for great DJ set additions. It’s jazz fused with indie pop, and a hefty amount of brass. It’s a feel-good album. Wouldn’t expect anything less from one of our favorite record labels.
Basically Saturday Night EP - Basically Saturday Night
Not a full length, but this little cheat is worth it. Basically Saturday Night is easily one of our top-rated local acts this year. From the sexy riffs and basslines to the commanding vocals, these guys are just oozing groove, sexiness, and funk. It’s a big treat to watch them perform live because you could really feel the dedication and passion. Very excited to hear more from them!
VACATION - OUTERHOPE
Finally, a new release from Outerhope! The duo's LP, Vacation, is one of my soundtracks whenever I take long walks from our shoot location in Rada going to my apartment for 8 straight weeks. It was a 10-block walk but the distance disappears when I pop in my headphones and start playing the album with a very apt first track 'Traveling Time'.
APARTEL - FULL FLOOD
Apartel's latest release Full Flood has acquired yours-truly a number of awkward looks while riding a jeepney or walking a crowded mall. The magical wall of sound the band created for each of the tracks would without a doubt make ANYONE bump their heads or even dance to the groove of this rich masterpiece from Ely Buendia. This was among the first album I listened to when a good friend of mine gave me a pair of high-definition headphones for my birthday. 'Mahiwaga' has the sickest bass line.