Best Filipino Albums of 2014
selected by Ian Urrutia of Vandals on the Wall

Populardays <BR>“Somewhere In Time”

“Somewhere In Time”

This is the sound of settling: breezy indie-pop songs that brim with tender choruses, shambling with amateurish charm, occasional shoegaze guitars and straightforward intimacy like it’s the summer of 1991. Populardays neither attempt to make bigger promises nor implie larger-than-life gestures of romance.

But there’s no reason to doubt its intentions. Its youthful idealism feels true to life, and its earnest but ruminative sentiments sit well with their dreamy-pretty production. It didn’t hurt that their rearing of what qualifies as pure, perfect pop sounds old-fashioned enough. It’s a style that’s grown more sophisticated as it ages, and it suits them perfectly.

♪♫ Listen: “December Song

Populardays on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Wilderness <BR>“Ballroom Dancing”

“Ballroom Dancing”

For a music style built on radical experimentation and sprawling art-rock jams, Wilderness’ new full-length record “Ballroom Dancing” sounds weirdly close to home.

Here, you start to sense that patterns and structures are just extraneous portions of the band’s inspiration, and that humanly movements and imagination captured in the grandest scale of sounds, are what makes them doing what they love best.

♪♫ Listen: “Pasaway

Wilderness on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube.

Autotelic <BR>“We Are Autotelic”

“We Are Autotelic”

“Unstable,” “Dahilan,” and “Kung Sabagay” are stuff of messy breakups, but instead of pushing you into the pits of misery, these songs invite you to dance and make you forget how messy feelings can be. It should come as no surprise that beneath Autotelic’s euphoric pop anthems is a bruised heart that longs for sunshine warmth.

“We Are Autotelic” thrives in this form of sentimental recluse, rewriting pop music conventions with a giant emotional hook, with mascara tears streaming down the verses. Josh Villena writes songs as if it were his own confessions. But he does it to get people moving, to make us realize that there is a bigger world out there.

♪♫ Listen: “Misteryoso

Autotelic on Soundcloud, Facebook, TwitterYouTube and beehype.

Tide/Edit <BR>“Foreign Languages”

“Foreign Languages”

Post-rock has always been a misunderstood subject, specifically the impression that bands under that umbrella rely more on stunted improvisations and technique rather than explore an emotional spectrum.

Tide/Edit’s debut album “Foreign Languages” proves that these claims are not entirely accurate. Their brand of lush, math-pop instrumentals often ebb and flow with big sweeps of dreamy climaxes, reaching moments of heavenly calm and contentment.

There are plenty of great ways to start your day: Listening to this album in its entirety is one.

♪♫ Listen: “Odd Even” + album stream

Tide/Edit on www, Bandcamp, YouTube, Facebook.

Loop <BR>“Flirting With The Universe”

“Flirting With The Universe”

There are plenty of sparkly adjectives thrown around “Flirting…”, most of which have something to do with the ethereal quality of Kim Trinidad’s vocals and how it complements Loop’s melancholic guitar-pop. Loop has carved a trademark sound that’s only been enhanced by a terrible heartbreak or a kind of love that wafts on forever.

They’re relevant to the current music conversation because they tap into something relatable and possibly human—real in every sense of the word. Their music feels like home: comforting and safe, a place that gives you temporary but reassuring warmth. As far as adjectives are concerned, that’s quite a stretch.

♪♫ Listen: “Runaway” + album stream

Loop on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter and beehype.

Radioactive Sago Project <BR>“Ang Itlog at ang Demonyo”

Radioactive Sago Project
“Ang Itlog at ang Demonyo”

Is “Ang Itlog at ang Demonyo” the unofficial sequel to the controversial album “Tang Ina mo Andaming Nagugutom Sa Mundo, Fashionista ka pa rin”?

While it echoes the witty, subversive tone of Sago’s acclaimed third full-length record and explores the rusting core of a Nation obsessed with societal filth and greed, “Ang Itlog at ang Demonyo” is a sonic beast from another mother: the tamed kind, the one mellowed through the years.

♪♫ Listen: “Trip” (live)

Radioactive Sago Project on Facebook, Twitter.

Teetan <BR>“Teetan”


Teetan comes across as a one-man show that’s hard to lump into a specific category or movement. His music straddles between industrial exhibitionism and ethnic free-form, but it has the blood and viscera of someone comfortable in his own imperfection and with no direction.

Part of Teetan’s appeal lies on the uncertainty and fear that his songs suggest. By combining ambient textures, tribal rhythms and shock rock antics, the filmmaker turned avant-garde artist gets under your skin with music that warns the world of an impending doom.

♪♫ Listen: “Oras Na Para Gubat” + album stream (Soundcloud)

Teetan on Soundcloud, Facebook.

Pastilan Dong <BR>“Pastilan Dong”

Pastilan Dong
“Pastilan Dong”

Pastilan Dong are hardly the first contemporary indie rock collective that became more comfortable doing fuzzy, shapeless experiments that suggest isolation or unfathomable sadness.

But to Pastilan’s credit, they display a level of craftsmanship that isn’t art for art sake. Take out the layers of shoegaze noise in “Bell Spell” and you’ll hear an emotionally vulnerable song that slinks into the hum of heartbreak.

Outside of its extraneous hisses and avant-garde excesses, “Pastilan Dong” is a pretty solid debut.

♪♫ Listen: “Bell Spell

Pastilan Dong on Facebook.

Peso Movement <BR>“The Gentle Sounds of Chaos”

Peso Movement
“The Gentle Sounds of Chaos”

Loud is the new quiet, and in Peso Movement’s case, a code spoken in silence and breaks. “The Gentle Sound of Chaos” amps Peso’s energy with the willful excesses of classic rock and the quirky hallmarks of Britpop, and finds a way forward with listeners on a more intimate level.

Songs like “Five Star Riot,” “Bawal Simangot,” and “Tech Support” plumb into the depths of noise with vengeance and pleasure, but “Aling Pag-ibig Ba” proves that even at their most vulnerable, Peso can still rise above the crowd and make us fall to their knees.

♪♫ Listen: “Bawal Simangot

Peso Movement on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

The Purplechickens <BR>“Haláng”

The Purplechickens

Anyone who’s listened to The Purplechickens’ new album knows that it is destined for greatness. There is so much ambition here, flawlessly executed that it can feel a little calculated at times.

But it’s easy to understand why: “Haláng” is larger, at least in scope, than anything released in Philippines in 2014. It is the sound of your feelings, of our collective defeats and dreams, of the anthems that define a generation.

This is nothing short of a modern classic.

♪♫ Listen: “Dayami” + album stream (Spotify)

The Purplechickens on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook and beehype.