Best of 2011: Songs

The lack of outstanding full-length releases this year can be quite bothering. In a year which saw the release of Anne Curtis’s Annebisyosa, one would think that an antithesis would exist, as if to maintain the balance of The Force. There’s also the curious case of Somedaydream, who has been hailed as the future of the local music industry but whose lack of actual singing talent and fractured musical sensibilites (latching on the autotune hysteria way after its impact has died already) has people almost dying in fits of convulsive laughter whenever the messiah proclamation comes up. If indeed he is, then our music industry is seriously retarded.

Tags are shady anyway. They fulfill the need for neat categorization. But if there’s one thing that should rightly be marked as the hope for local music, it should be Number Line Records. Featuring a sonically diverse line-up of artists, Number Line’s 2011 releases make up much of this year-ender list, signifying a burning torch that foretells a glimmer of a brighter future.

1. Indak – Up Dharma Down

For some weird, otherworldly reason, a YouTube commenter chose to call UDD vocalist Armi Millare as the Filipino version of Adele, citing perhaps both singer's remarkable vocal prowess and their predilection to championing the woes of broken hearts. It's still amazing how Up Dharma Down can put out vastly different songs centering on heartbreak. Lingering in the vein of 'Oo', 'Sana' and last year's 'Tadhana', 'Indak' tracks the shoddiness of uncertainty, where the only thing you can do is to dance along to it.

2. Pagsamba – Vic Robinson III

In Alvin Yapan’s Gayuma, Mercedes Cabral braces herself for an uphill climb, carrying her comatose lover on her back, dragging him along to a mystical waterfall in the hopes of waking him up until the effects of his love potion reveals the truth behind their sweet words. ‘Pagsamba’ accompanies this pilgrimage, forming a haunting plea for a love grounded by a conviction as strong as a fundamentalist’s faith.

3. Spectre – Modulogeek
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1267104" params="show_comments=false&auto_play=false&color=000000" width="590" height="81" ] ‘Spectre’ skitters with warm happies that take the form of soft, pitter-pattering beats that bounce off the walls. There are no menacing apparitions here, only Joon Guillen’s impressive articulations that border between waking and starry-eyed dreaming.”

4. Anarchy in the Ukay-Ukay – Tarsius ft. Evil Scientists

Basically, reveling on the cheap kicks of ukay-ukay finds, ‘Anarchy in the Ukay-Ukay’ is a stroke of mad genius, with Evil Scientists ruminating on the life of a strapping young lad courtesy of secondhand goods. Ukay is swag indeed.

5. This is Our City – Taken by Cars

Whether it’s really ‘This is our fall’ or ‘This is our home’, Taken by Cars’s opening salvo for their sophomore release Dualist breaks their trendy shoegaze shackles. ‘This is our City’ is awash with a recognizably muscular sonic direction, zooming off into a pedal-pumping frenzy of crunching guitars, shifting effects and turbo-powered precision.

6. D.R.U.G.S. – The Strangeness

‘D.R.U.G.S.’ is The Strangeness shaking hands with a dark entity. It’s not exactly Beelzebub but maybe you can actually hear his maniacal laugh amid the distortions and substance-aided cries of longing and anguish. This is a two-minute trip into a lost highway somewhere in David Lynch’s imaginings. Desire, despair, desire and disrepair.

7 . Casual Fridays – Multo

Multo comes around the local gig scene, seemingly unannounced from the land of hipsterdom (Portland, OR). ‘Casual Fridays’ represents Alan Lumba at his best, where the warm fizzles break out into riffs that demand a closer listen, inviting you in its confusion until you just find yourself shuffling along.

8. 20/20 – Pupil

More than anything else, 20/20 will always be remembered for its car-free EDSA music video, something that actually happened in an alternate universe. ‘20/20’ drifts until it collapses in itself, zipping through the stars “in a silver shopping cart” while Ely Buendia waxes poetic about some being probably responsible for that miraculous quasi-post-apocalyptic vision of EDSA.

9. Cold Turkey – Slow Hello

‘Cold Turkey’ ends abruptly, the way it begins with a mantra-like repetition of an acceptance of an ending. Selena Salang buries her frustrations and disappointments in the song’s lo-fi backdrop, an act that echoes in the wail of guitars and the stomping of percussion.

10. Fish Song – Arigato, Hato!
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/24645348" params="show_comments=false&auto_play=false&color=000000" width="590" height="81" ] Arigato Hato’s ‘Fish Song’ thrums and escalates while vocalist Cat Cortes croons as though she were swimming in Bjork’s mother Oceania. Heartsongs humming and thriving in the glimmering promise of a newfound love.

Honorable mentions:  

  • Stereo Light – Japuski
  • Escape – Techy Romantics
  • Muli – Ebe Dancel
  • Panorama – Some Gorgeous Accident
  • Fizzy Good Make Feel Nice – Don’t Bogart the Can…Man
  • Missionaries on Rural Transit – The Treblinka Love Scene