Best Tracks of 2015
by Ian Urrutia of Vandals on the Wall



With “Why”, Pupil’s long-standing relationship with the deeper pulse of post-punk has somehow diminished in favor of a more aggressively contemplative classic rock bent.

More Stones, more grunge, more The White Stripes, more QOTSA, but still familiarly grounded in pop sensibilities that anchored every Pupil track straight to the upper tier of the local music charts.

Pupil on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.


“Marco Polo” (Feat. Kajo)

Alt-R&B may have reached its saturation point, but CRWN never ceases to break out from the mold with his inventive, boundary-pushing take on the form.

“Marco Polo”, a collaboration with US-based artist Kajo, conjures both polar extremes of R&B: the raw authenticity of Miguel and Frank Ocean records mixed with the thrilling impressionism of CRWN’s distinct instrumental jams.

CRWN on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


Up Dharma Down
“All The Good Things”

Over ten years into their career, Up Dharma Down remain one of the most intriguing bands on the Filipino scene, maintaining indie credibility for their obvious talents while becoming an (almost) household name.

The Manila band’s 2015 single, “All The Good Things”, perfectly explains this phenomenon. Accompanied by a video shot in Singapore, it’s a simple if extremely likeable rendition of 80’s pop. At the same time, it demonstrates Up Dharma Down’s distinct restraint and sophistication.

Up Dharma Down on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, www.


We Are Imaginary
“Sunny Where You Are”

The first single off indie-rock outfit We Are Imaginary’s new record, “Sunny Where You Are” is the answer for any perceived lack of ingenuity that some detractors hurled at the band in the past.

Yes it’s a stylistic leap forward, where We Are Imaginary find pleasure in the littlest details, in cranking up fiery guitar riffs, atmospheric synths and infectious rhythms. Loud and proud.

We Are Imaginary on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.


Farewell Fair Weather

Bluring the lines of pop, rock, jazz, blues and soul with a splash of youthful energy and excitement, Farewell Fair Weather again demonstrate their sophisticated virtuosity on their recent track, “Beyond”, which many regard as one of their best.

Giving the song another interesting dimension is the bright, captivating chorus that not only captures the quality of their live performance in sparkling clarity, but also highlights their regard for breezy and memorable melodies.

Farewell Fair Weather on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.


Pastilan Dong!

Just a year after releasing their debut album, Pastilan Dong! made a step forward by proclaiming that “Every Step is Backward”, as they called their second effort.

For a band who opened their first work with an 18-minute soundscape, “Aphrodite” seems like their radio single. And indeed, as soon as you get through all the distortion you’ll hear a straightforward and not-so- pop song that could be a hit in a less polished time.

Pastilan Dong! on Facebook, YouTube.


Flying Ipis
“This Song Is Not About You”

A few weeks ago Flying Ipis announced they’ll be performing at South by Southwest this March, so let us predict that the moment they play “This Song Is Not About You” the crowd in front of their stage will at least double.

The Manila-based quartet goes four-chord and five-words here, but this austerity only multiplies the tension guitars and drums crete while Deng Garcia is steadily losing her calm and goes all neurotic.

Flying Ipis on Facebook, Twitter.


She’s Only Sixteen
“Just Another Face In The Wall”

Indie-rock quartet She’s Only Sixteen returns with “Just Another Face In The Wall,” a compelling indie-rock stomper that combines the unapologetic brashness of their early singles with a gut-punch maturity that comes with growing up.

Musically the song might be the group’s most refined work yet, showcasing frontman Roberto Seña’s heartfelt confrontation with his own breakup. The confessional tone of the lyrics, written in a way that is vulnerable but not too mopey, takes us to the band’s gritty, no-holds-barred side, but the kind that’s delivered with ferocious punch and style.

She’s Only Sixteen on Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.


The Gory Orgies
“One Hell of a Godsend”

Upon first impression, “One Hell of a Godsend” sounds like an interesting post-millennial permutation of everything adorable about ‘90s indie-rock: the youthful naiveté of bands like Pavement, the unerringly sweet, lo-fi noise of Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, the shaggy guitar-pop of Built To Spill.

The Gory Orgies may not have been aiming for high stakes when they channel the past with refreshing shimmer, but as showcased on “One Hell of a Godsend”, they’re capable of writing sophisticated pop songs with pleasing melodies.

The Gory Orgies on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.


“Close Your Eyes”

Formed in 2012 in Manila, electropop group Autotelic cleverly mend Filipino pop sensibilities with post-punk and disco traditions while nurturing a sound they can confidently call their own.

And now, they have a legitimate alt-radio hit in their hands via “Close Your Eyes”—a bouncy synth-pop anthem that understands the thin line between immaculately rendered ‘80s nostalgia and crossover appeal.

Autotelic on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.


“Tayo Lang Ang May Alam”

Peryodiko’s “Tayo Lang Ang May Alam” was written by Vin Dancel as a response to Up Dharma Down’s “Indak”, a hauntingly beautiful ballad that anchors us towards moments of reverence and isolation.

While both bands have shown mastery in tackling the woes of broken hearts, Peryodiko’s portrait of a relationship undergoing terminal decay, feels more like a slow-motion punch to the chest.

Peryodiko on Soundcloud, Facebook.


Jensen and the Flips

Manila-based collective Jensen and the Flips have been obviously inspired by the legacy of Motown, combining the groove of classic soul with contemporary urban pop.

Everything seems to be going fun in the video for their latest track, “Slow”. Playful, random scenes with the band are shot entirely in breezy, slo-mo style, matching the track’s somewhat laid-back but vibrant attitude.

Jensen and The Flips on Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud.


BP Valenzuela

The thing about BP Valenzuela is that apart from being a respectable young producer, she is first and foremost a confessional singer-songwriter who is not hesitant to reveal the scars of her own heartbreak, pulling it off quite well with meticulous sonic details and moody simplicity.

Her new track “Steady” serves yet another soundtrack to wallowing in mope—typical BP stuff that delivers harrowing observation on young love. Excruciatingly sad songs have done a wonderful job for the careers of Joni Mitchell, Taylor Swift, Elliott Smith and Adele. It has too, for BP.

BP Valenzuela on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.


“Nice Choreography”

After six years of playing together, the Manila-based quintet Stomachine finally released their first official single in October and it immediately reminded us of the golden days of indie rock.

In just four minutes, the drifting guitar lines of “Nice Choreography” take you from appealing if somehow shy tune to an exuberant culmination that cuts much too soon. But hopefully soon we’ll get a full-length debut from this extremely talented and invigorating quintet.

Until then, let’s “Twirl and kiss your cheeks and then repeat / Turning to a nice choreography / ‘Til the music stops, let’s wait and see.”

Stomachine on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.


Assembly Generals

Equipped with knives, guns, masks and camouflage jackets, the Manila-based hip-hop squad promise/threaten to overthrow the corrupted system that exploits the weak and poor. And the director Kevin Vea is obviously on the rebel’s side as is his restless camera.

The single “Kontrabida” (“Villain”) comes off Assembly Generals’ self-titled debut album, relased earlier this year to a great critical acclaim. And while “Kontrabida” might be the record’s most spectacular point, it’s certainly worth checking out the whole thing.

Assembly Generals on Facebook, Twitter.


Fools and Foes

Released in December, “Underneath the Roots” EP shows the four-piece Fools and Foes simply knowing how to write and execute coherent material that’s direct, intriguing, and cohesive. Especially for a band whose members come from such diverse backgrounds as punk, alternative, metal, orchestral music – and post-rock, probably their only common interest.

What could be a challenge, turned out to be Fools and Foes’ main strength. Each track on their debut EP avoids the most common sin of indie bands around the world, which is sounding just like their western idols. Their summer single, “Undisired”, is just one of five great pieces you’ll find on the record, so don’t even think about stopping here.

Fools and Foes on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.


Ang Bandang Shirley
“Tama Na Ang Drama”

“Tama Na Ang Drama” is the title of Ang Bandang Shirley’s latest album as well as our favourite track off this Manila-based septet’s new effort – certainly worth your attention in its entirety.

The video introduces us to a homecoming attended by two friends played by veteran theater actresses Mailes Kanapi and Erlinda Villalobos. There are balloons, disco lights and party poppers, but the hallways are empty.

Ang Bandang Shirley on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.


The Purplechickens

Detail-rich production, introspective songwriting, and inventive chord changes is what keeps The Purplechickens being one of the most fascinating bands in the Filipino scene.

“Casanova” is a pop song stripped down to its core essentials, and much of its beauty is due to the scaled-back instrumentation rendered with clarity and warmth. But the real highlight here is the lyrics, penned from the perspective of a smooth-talking charmer being objectified.

The Purplechickens on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.


Oh, Flamingo

After the success of their Afro-infused debut single “June“, came the second, equally captivating single from the young Manila-based quartet fronted by singer/guitarist Howard Luistro.

Displaying both playfulness and unpredictability, “Reflections” is a reminder of why we fell in love with bands like Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend years ago. It’s funky, cozy, and breezy—another inescapable anthem that screams summer all over.

Oh, Flamingo on Soundcloud, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, www.


Ourselves The Elves
“Longing For”

Aly, Aki, Paula and Ponch. The Manila-based quartet Ourselves The Elves are self-confident enough about their music not to look for a more serious name – nor to aggravate emotions in their performances.

“Longing For” is the second of four tracks included “Geography Lessons” EP, which they released last October. Steering between indie folk and alternative rock, and always in the right spot between giving too much or too litle, they seem to have an inner GPS for music geography. Let’s learn.

Ourselves The Elves on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.