It’s difficult to keep stock of the latest releases of 2017, especially with the unexplainable surge of locally produced albums and EPs released independently through digital platforms such as Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes. But worry no more! FHM.com.ph gives you a cheat sheet for your rainy day listening.
We have compiled 20 of the finest Filipino recordings from different genres and musical backgrounds. From highly anticipated hip-hop debuts to game-changing indie-rock kickstarters, get your ears ready for the finest homegrown music so far:
1) Ang Bandang Shirley – Favorite
There are a handful of local recordings that skillfully marry sonic ambition with compelling pop smarts. From The Eraserheads’ Cutterpillow to Sugarfree’s Sa Wakas, we never run out of anthems engineered to capture the zeitgeist that are also filled to the brim with winsome experiments that defy songwriting conventions. This is where Ang Bandang Shirley’s Favorite comes in. On surface-level judgment, it’s a charming record wrapped in pure pop perfection. But from the inside, it reveals a realm of possibilities that none of its size and sparkle could limit. Whether it’s an anti-love song from the perspective of a heartbreaker (“Ilang Ilang”) or a 9-minute epic that excavates wounded feelings from the past (“Ono”), Ang Bandang Shirley harnesses uncomfortably familiar experiences with wisdom beyond years.
2) Musical O – Musical O
There’s quiet confidence ingrained in Musical O’s brand of twinkly, lush math-rock—a distinct stamp that somehow shaped the sound of today’s local indie-rock acts: from Run Dorothy, Tom’s Story, Fools and Foes, name it. They continue to carry on with the familiar sonic motif on their self-titled album, employing a balance between technical prowess and tasteful subtlety. Songs like “House Tea,” “Quatro Quatro” and “Gerry” are intricately arranged numbers with sophisticated textures and introspective lyricism cutting through the mix, while “Lorax” and “Straddling The Fence” exhibit a more understated kind of beauty that’s been absent in most modern rock releases of the current mold.
3) Taken By Cars – Plagues
Leaving dance-punk rot in its dated mess seems to be the wisest decision Taken By Cars have made. Anyone who had the chance of downloading their third album Plagues in digital format knows that it is by far their boldest and most intimate record yet. Breathtakingly pastoral and dreamy, Plagues tells stories of resilience and possibilities in the aftermath of an emotional unrest, each song forcing you to unplug from the world and embrace the beauty of solitude. Veteran bands attempting to make a glorious comeback should learn a thing or two from Taken By Cars, whose newfound appreciation for introspective songwriting and pop songcraft will most likely turn naysayers into converts.
4) Joee and I – To the End of the World
Joee Mejias assumes the role of a wayward pop figure on her debut album, To The End of the World. With its earthy rhythms, trippy electronic arrangements, and jagged beats, Joee and I’s latest release embraces the unconventional instincts of Kate Bush and Bjork, while cracking open a free-spirited personality devoid of pageantry.
5) Sound Architects – In Time of Need
Nothing prepares you for doom than Sound Architects’ achingly beautiful work on In Time Of Need. With an elegiac sound that doesn’t come off as overly dramatic and contrived, the post-rock outfit’s latest release explores ethereal darkness with a glint of hope, where you can find refuge from decay and loss, where the textural contrast between the heavy and subtle creates a rewarding effect. Considering that it’s just 6 tracks, you won’t find any throwaway moment on In Time of Need. Every silence speaks volumes, every cinematic swell changes the way you see things. No details should be spared from your ears with Sound Architects’ spectacular debut.
6) Pedicab – Remuda Triangle
In the great tradition of canonical releases inspired by sci-fi films and conspiracy theories, Pedicab’s Remuda Triangle ranks as one of the most interesting to date. The record’s striking maximalism somehow adds value to Diego Mapa’s alien invasion narrative, complementing the details with theatrical splendor and dystopian atmosphere. But more than the spectacle that it presents, Remuda Triangle is at its core, an expertly crafted punk record that sways you into believing Pedicab is here to stay. They’re the indie OGs that will keep on churning out the good stuff.
7) Eazyhead – Void Lord
Eazyhead comes swinging out of the gate with a more experimental spin on hip-hop. No Face Records’ latest recruit is no stranger to unleashing torrents of barbed verses and savage punchlines, but Void Lord takes his talent to a new level of whack with unprecedented oddity and left-field choices employed in the production. Even the last three songs blur the hip-hop influences with a cacophony of psychedelic soundscapes arranged in disconcertingly abstract forms and shapes. Predictability doesn’t exist here.
8) KZ Tandingan – Soul Supremacy
This year’s biggest surprise comes in the form of KZ Tandingan’s Soul Supremacy—a confident record honed with a remarkably consistent sound and top-notch production. Most commercial releases tank on the artistic front, but KZ’s 13-track album scores big with stylistic leaps and edgy showstoppers that utilize her strength as a vocalist. She can pretty much whip up everything and play any role: whether it’s the sassy vixen on “Labo,” the classy ‘90s R&B revivalist on “Imposible,” or the torch songstress on “Sa Aking Mga Kamay,” KZ succeeds as a character ready to put on a hell of a show in the name of quality entertainment.
9) Big Hat Gang – How I Am At Home
Mario Consunji follows up the incredibly underrated “5” with another banging release that dives deep into a new level of curiosity and exploration. Everything on How I Am At Home is a cinematic trip; its elements integrated seamlessly to create moods and emotional blocks, its overall aesthetic never lacking in variation and inspiration. Listen to the lead track “Hotel Love” for some tender warmth, immerse yourself to the brooding synth-pop of “Ha” for those Drive soundtrack feels, and get cozy over “Roboto’s Disco Masterpiece” for a retreat in ‘70s pop fantasia.
10) The Geeks – The Double Sided Sophomore Slump
The Geeks have always felt like a younger version of Ciudad. Their debut record is basically Is That Ciudad, Yes Son It’s Me for millennials: a collection of slacker pop songs brimming with self-deprecating humor, meme-ready sarcasm, and ironic wit. Somehow, the parallelism thins out on The Double Sided Sophomore Slump, where The Geeks take pleasure in transcending the mundane and the nonsense into living, breathing adolescent anthems. It’s as if they’ve come of age, wiser and more experienced than ever, hanging on for dear life despite adjustments in adulting.
11) Illustrado - Illustrado
Underground hip-hop label UPRISING has not only introduced the most original voices of Fliptop Battle into the recording platform, but it also brought us some of the most groundbreaking releases of the last three years. Seated comfortably on this triumphant streak is Illustrado’s self-titled record. Determined to push local hip-hop to exciting, thought-provoking places, the hip-hop collective dissects the social fiber at large with compelling hits and misses. And when it darts straight to the target, their willingness to shock your system, even when it’s doomed to falter, remains stronger and more incisive than ever.
12) GYHT – Maybe In Another Universe I Deserve You
There’s no indication that artists have found their real sound other than their last. Taking into consideration GYHT’s latest release Maybe In Another Universe I Deserve You, it’s refreshing to hear the band morph into a kaleidoscopic act capable of confronting their fears with bolder ambitions and a more sonically challenging front. Liberated from the confines of industrial noise and bombastic soundscapes, GYHT wakes up from a midnight nap and finds itself enamored with the hazier, more narcotic side of pop music.
13) Muni-muni - Simula
While most indie-folk luminaries would rather court millennial music tastes with a smattering of artificial quirkiness, Muni-muni ditches the trend as they take their listeners to a place of comforting warmth. Breaking through the glass ceiling with mystical edge and simplicity, their debut EP Simula has a haunting ambience that extends beyond the instrumentation, a living proof that you don’t have to adhere to a specific demographic to redefine “feel good.”
14) Honeydrop - Signs
Signs may have lacked the starry-eyed straightforwardness of Honeydrop’s debut album Prelude, but it shows remarkable improvement in all aspects. This collection of dreamy pop tunes acknowledges the intricate subtleties of the band’s combined music influences. From math-rock (“Set Apart” and “Mood/Swings”) to singer-songwriter folk (“Once” and “Mirage”), Honeydrop renders a variety of emotions in technicolor, capturing quite well a voice close to a calming whisper.
15) Plazma - The Impaler EP
“This EP is for the heads who are down with that dark and gritty sound,” greets the listeners on the liner notes of The Impaler EP. True to its core, Plazma’s new record is a diarist observation on street violence, mental illness and personal struggles. There’s emotional honesty in the delivery that gives the songs a more vulnerable touch. When Plazma raps about the woman that made his life a living hell on “7-16-11,” you can hear his voice break with spitefulness and sorrow, it’s as if his life is on the line.
16) Mirror Masks – Please Get Out of My Head
Please Get Out of My Head only contains 3 songs, but what a solid collection of fuzzy indie-pop it is. Angie Pablo’s poetic manifesto has always been about capturing love in its complicated glory, written as if it were a confession that matters to her and the invisible listeners. Backed by Jam Lorenzo’s merry-go-round guitars and Josh Crae’s sun-kissed production, her songs hit the bright and sweet spots effortlessly.
17) Asch – For Two
Electronic producer Asch explores the thrills and pitfalls of adolescent love on For Two, his 5-track instrumental EP. There are certain elements that dial down jazzy chords, wistful synth stabs and smooth beats in the service of the record’s overall vibe, but it’s when Asch switches from subscribing to the format to flipping it to an entirely different beast that we get to hear its unguarded moments of beauty.
18) Flying Ipis – Roach Motel
In their attempt to capture the spirit of female power albeit sifted through Deng Garcia’s lens, Flying Ipis upholds the punk virtues of its debut while also acknowledging the fissures and cracks that come with its package. Roach Motel is the result of this imperfect but masterful undertaking, a strong follow up that forges an uncharted path, lyrics and sonic-wise.
19) Carousel Casualties – Madison
Carousel Casualties doesn’t need to take groundbreaking steps to redefine the trendy indie-rock anthems of the noughties. Madison is a fine debut that plays to the band’s strengths. In the true spirit of their music heroes, they know how to write hooks with a beating heart, plant guitar riffs that could sashay the crowd to a happy mosh, and work their way to the summit of youthful fervor with creativity and pop smarts.
20) thisbeing_ - softhands
There’s more to ambient music than its ignorable wallpaper sentiments. As once described by John Uy in the liner notes of his new album, softhands, it could be a “gentle force that lets us savor an experience and eases the transition to the next moment, the next day.” Right where it fits, thisbeing_’s new ambient release shies away from misconceptions to create something that highlights a cinematic moment.
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