We’ve pooled together 15 rising newcomers who have yet to release an album or EP, but have got us excited about the future of local music. From bedroom producers to budding pop stars, here’s a list of breakthrough musical acts blowing up on the internet's consciousness with game-changing debuts and promising material. Press play, now!
Trust No Face Records for grooming some of the best music discoveries hiding in the blanket of online anonymity. Slutgirl, the netlabel’s newest addition to their pool of talents, scored nods from music critics and fans with the release of her singles “Safer” and the Similarobjects-assisted “Candy” this year. The latter is a self-assured work that flirts and flutters around amorphous atmospherics and sensual, downtempo beats.
2) Kiana Valenciano
It’s startling to hear Kiana Valenciano dig through the more obscure strains of pop and R&B with “Does She Know,” the sultry jam that instantly blurred her associations with her showbiz lineage. Kiana rose to prominence on the strength of her single alone, which amassed close to a million views on Youtube, Spotify, and other streaming platforms. With an EP in the works, expect Kiana to reign over crossover radio and headline music shows in the near future.
Inspired by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Elliott Smith, and Glen Hansard to name a few, Pamphleteer is an indie-folk duo by The Purplechickens’ Aldus Santos and Run Dorothy’s Dee Cruz. “Castaño and I are workmates with Dee Cruz, and she was the perfect fit for the voice I was hearing in my head,” Aldus Santos shares of how the project came to fruition. “While I am a fan of her work with Run Dorothy, as a friend, I also get to hear her singing casually at the office, songs you wouldn’t associate with her band: a lot of pop, ballads, and things like that. She also has a good ear for harmony. I taught her the part right before we headed to the studio.” Pamphleteer recorded a few songs with Carlos Castaño as producer for a 2017-2018 release, with the acoustic ditty “Pas de Deux” as its first single.
Irrevocable is having its well-deserved moment. The punk/hardcore/math-rock supergroup, whose members belong to prominent underground bands Neverdie, Nyctinasty, The Oemons, Lindenwood, Browse In Bridge and Beast Jesus, have teased us with the ceiling-breaking debut “Night Shift.” They’re also set to open for US-based pop-punk band Turnover next month.
5) Manila Magic
After landing a prominent spot as finalists in the recently concluded Wanderband 2017, Manila Magic have quietly become fan favorites thanks to the success of their retro-modern bop “In The Night.” Both Zild Benitez and Tim Marquez are members of upcoming bands IV of Spades and One Click Straight, but it’s their instantly likable pairing in Manila Magic that catapulted them into buzzland sensations, getting props from publications such as Young Star, Beehype, and Scout Magazine.
“Genderless deep space lifeform stuck on earth trying to reach home,” writes Bedspacer in her bio. The description somehow fits the music’s transmission-like pulse, anchored by minimalist soundscapes and soft-brushing beats that roam around freely, but are haplessly lost in the horizon of her distinct sound. The electronic music project, which comic book illustrator Mich Cervantes started on Soundcloud a year ago, has gained traction in a short amount of time. This eventually led to a few gigs and live sets, including a spot at last month’s "The Rest Is Noise" with Barbie Almalbis and Tom’s Story, and a co-headlining stint at Glossolabia with BP Valenzuela.
Luncheon’s music embraces the fresh vigor of pop-punk, but pushes the irresistibility of their songs to a place of striking earnestness. The Marikina-based group is currently working on their soon-to-be-released debut record, with the music video of their current single “Deadlines” already making rounds online.
8) Memory Drawers
When you get to discover promising acts like Memory Drawers, the initial impulse is to keep it all to yourself—especially if they’re that damn good. Their captivating brand of dreamy but low-key pop renders an exquisite vulnerability that is absent in the majority of young bands treading a familiar path. With their music now gaining international recognition, thanks to their inclusion on countless of twee and indie-pop compilations, Memory Drawers are set to spread their wings this year with upcoming shows.
9) Northern Man
Northern Man’s music plunges headfirst into an astral trip while adding layers of raw, quiet beauty for a more tranquil effect. From its early beginnings as Mark Paredes’ bedroom project, Northern Man has morphed into a four-piece psych-pop band, with Ourselves The Elves’ Aly Cabral, Lean Ordinario, and Marty Carsi Cruz joining the skyward crusade live.
10) Our Inflatable Friends
Ateneo Musician’s Pool is the birthplace of music acts such as She’s Only Sixteen and BP Valenzuela, but it’s also a nesting space for newbie college acts that push the boundaries of creativity forward. Our Inflatable Friends—a five-piece indie-folk band formed in 2016—is sure to penetrate everyone's must-listen list this year. Their current single “Seven Eleven” is enjoying heavy airplay at Jam 88.3, and is now available on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Soundcloud.
From Skymarines to Thea, Davao City has produced some of the most underrated game-changers this side of the music hemisphere. Tradecraft is the latest in a pool of Davao-bred acts who rose to a new level of attention thanks to their online singles “Feeling Blessed” and “Image Binary.” Their sharply menacing mix of Britpop, C86, dream-pop and ‘90s alternative rock not only transports you to a nostalgic realm, but also manages to give new meaning to your listening experience.
12) Ice Berg
Ice Berg captured the hearts of music fans with the release of his single “Chill” last year—a fun, crossover jam that breeze through it all with infectious energy and manic confidence. The Cebu-based rapper certainly has a big opportunity to capitalize on buzz for the coming months, especially with the majestic follow-up “Fish” getting some homegrown love.
13) Supernova Scene
Other than being in an obscure college-rock outfit called Atomic Sushi, Jai Reyes moonlights as a dreamy troubadour with a handful of demos available in his Soundcloud account. His recently released track “Highly Obscure, Partly Unsure” is probably his best solo work to date: a swirling, lo-fi opus that wouldn’t sound completely alien to fans of Slowdive and Nick Drake. While still rough on the edges, his demos have the potential to stand on their own given the right platform and production polish. For now, here’s a budding artist that deserves your attention.
Olongapo-based melodic hardcore outfit Palepaths doesn’t have the evident markings of a crossover breakthrough, but its gripping anthem “Forever” caught major attention a few months ago with its ferocious range and astonishing complexity. Palepaths is slated to release their debut album, The Colard Delusion, this year.
You’d think a newcomer dabbling into several music projects would make for a confused identity, but MINT College alum Jaren Ladia proves otherwise. His skillful grasp of bedroom production, coupled with confident hip-hop rhymes and soulful singing, is a cut above the rest—a mad talent that bottles up his youthful disposition, manic energy and restraint in whatever work he’s on. Listen to his new single “No More” for that frothy, R&B-flavored sweetness or better yet, rape the repeat button of “For The People” for an inspiring rap anthem with universal appeal. This dude is going places.