Friday Fave: A Round-Up

I shall try to make up for all the Fridays I missed with today’s post! My music listening has been pretty good lately, thank to my Spotify Premium account I’ve availed through Globe’s GoSurf  promo. The Discover tab has been very useful. I haven’t tried Apple Music yet, but some reviews say that until Apple fixes its glitches, Spotify is still king in music streaming.

Anyway, here are my five favorite tracks as of late, in no particular order. Do give these listen!

RAN – Nirwana

“Nirwana (Nirvana)” is the sixth track of Indonesian group RAN’s third album, Hari Baru (New Day, thanks Google Translate!) released in November 2013. I’ve been a fan of the group since 2009/2010-ish, and I have to say that I’m glad to say that their sound has greatly improved. “Nirwana” is a testament to this: both vocals and guitars are refined. But if it’s your first time to listen to RAN, this is a great track to start with as it introduces you to RAN’s musical vibe: fresh, pleasant, and relaxed. Never mind if you don’t understand Bahasa.

OJ Law – Tongue Tied

“Tongue-Tied” by OJ Law rightfully deserves a spot in the must-listen The Ultimate SEA Indie playlist by Spotify Philippines. The synths are nice and they build up its disco-ey character. Law’s voice reminds me of another artist’s (I just cannot pinpoint it) but I think it’s excellent. My favorite part is when Law croons, “I dreamed of love before we met.” It comes with a kinda cute music video too.

Childish Gambino – U Don’t Have to Call

Look, I love Drake. But here’s the thing: if you ask me who the better singer is between Drake and Childish Gambino, I will flat out say it’s Childish. This track from his mixtape STN MTN, which you can download for free at  DatPiff.com, is a cover of Usher’s 2001 song. Though it’s stripped of layers unlike the original, it’s just as sexy. This track shows off Childish’s vocal chops; how his voice can reach different heights (listen to “And I”). And when the beat drops, it introduces you to his other talent, one of his many: telling a story. From reaching high notes, his voice sinks deep as he tells you a story about race, strip clubs, and how he’s gon’ steal yo girl.

Kimbra – Madhouse

Kimbra is more than just the girl who sang with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Her 2014 record The Golden Echo, to which “Madhouse” belongs, is worth a listen. But for “Madhouse,” my focus is not on her voice but on the funky feel of the song.  I absolutely liked the riffs and percussions at the 3:21 mark. I really, really, really liked it.

Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight

I first heard roots rock band Alabama Shakes on Saturday Night Live, when they were the musical guests when Dakota Johnson was the host. I’ve never head them before, but after that performance, I really got into them. “Don’t Wanna Fight” from their sophomore album Sound and Color has an unforgettable intro with its guitars. And as I’ve told my friend, frontwoman Brittany Howard’s restrained scream to soul vocals in this track forecasted that the whole album is, for a lack of a more suitable word, great.

Down South, 2015

This is a trip that was born in five seconds. Yep, my decision to go to Cebu was pretty quick, rather spontaneous, and the risk was quite high; the rewards, however, were glorious. Sometime in April, my parents planned a trip to Cebu to visit my grandma on Mother’s Day. None of us had concrete plans joining them because it was KKB–kanya-kanyang bayad. LOL. One morning during the last week of April, they were having their plane tickets reserved online. I was tying my shoelaces then, when my parents asked me if I wanted to go with them. I finished looping the laces in my right show and said “Yeah, okay.” That was roughly five seconds.

Continue reading “Down South, 2015”

In Between Pines, 2015

Part of my new job entails collecting outputs of research from faculty and researchers from different campuses of the UP system for publication. Last March, I had the chance to travel up north to meet with researchers from the UP Baguio campus.

An item in my list of goals for 2015 is also to travel to Baguio. My previous travel to the famed City of Pines and Summer Capital of the Philippines was in 2009, for a science-themed camp when I was a high school junior. Sobrang tagal na! Though traveling for work kinda bums me out, I had to suppress my excitement when I was called in for a meeting about this trip.

Here are some of the photos I took with my sister’s Fujifilm X20–a superb camera, I must say! The photos featuring my new watermark that bears my name! Wow!

Continue reading “In Between Pines, 2015”

Newly bought records!

I took time off from work today and went to Cubao to have my teeth x-rayed. Since I was pretty near Cubao X where The Four Strings is located, I decided to pay the shop a visit. I’ve been meaning to go to the place–they sell local indie bands’ records. For people who can’t go to gigs regularly like me, getting albums is made easier through The Four Strings. It’s mainly a ukelele shop, but they also sell other stuff–I remember seeing dream catchers, coffee, and Manic Panic hair dye. I initially went there to get Loop’s Flirting the Universe LP, but the guy at the store told me that the last copy was bought yesterday! But there’s no reason to fret, as I bought these equally awesome records:

IMG_1403 copy

That’s Prelude by Honeydrop, and indie rock band that hails from Cebu, on the left and Caprice by Ivan Theory on the right. Ivan Theory broke the news of their disbandment just a few weeks ago, but I’m psyched to listen to their record nonetheless.

I had a very brief Q&A with the guy from the store and learned that the handcrafted ukeleles being sold are made from acacia, narra, and lauan wood, to name a few. The prices range from Php 2,500 to Php 7,000. I left the store saying “Pag-iipunan ko muna” (can’t wait to get my hands on my own ukelele). 🙂

For more info, check out The Four String’s Facebook page here.

Friday Fave: Feel the Same by Lougee

It’s Friday somewhere! This is still valid!

Here’s a little story: most of my afternoons from 4th grade to freshman year of high school (around 2004 to 2007) were spent doing homework on the dining table with my favorite local bands’ albums playing in the background. These bands were my heroes, and I looked up to them for making hella awesome music. One of these bands was Mojofly, fronted by Lougee Basabas. Naalala ko pa noong naging endorser siya ng Cream Silk (yata), at pag lumalabas yung TVC, napapatigil talaga ako para manood. 🙂

I haven’t been following Mojofly after their breakup but I do know they continued to make music, though with different acts. Last year, though, Lougee’s name came up on Facebook and Twitter feeds as she became a contender in the second season of The Voice of the Philippines, and Bamboo Mañalac took her under his wing.

But before her stint in The Voice, she released a single called “Feel the Same” with her eponymous band (according to their Amplify.ph page, it’s composed of Kiko Montecillo, Mark Gelbolingo, Ali Alejandro, Daniel Crisologo, Philip Queyquep, and of course Lougee).

I found myself listening to it again this week, humming it as I walk to the jeepney terminal when I go home from work. Hehe.

“Feel the Same” stays true to Lougee’s strength and background: pop-rock. Lougee’s vocals–not exactly drawling, but in a pace that is just right–weave in well with the steely guitars that make up for the rock part of the label. The harmonic guitar parts are great touches as well as it lends to the tender and feel-good vibe of the song.

The lyrics evoke imagery of light and lightness: light, summer, a kind of love that makes you feel high. And I’d like to think all the other elements of the song capture it well. The song radiates.

In its Amplify.ph write-up by Miao Olivar, it’s described as “fresh and familiar”, and I couldn’t agree more.

“Feel the Same” is available for download on Amplify.ph. Follow Lougee on Facebook and Twitter.

P.S. A demo of “Feel the Same” is on Lougee’s Soundcloud.

Friday Fave: Peppermint Mocha by Loop

I swear to make Friday Fave a weekly thing again.

I was cleaning up my iTunes library a month ago and I stumbled upon LOVE FOOL: A Vandals On The Wall Mixtape, released February of last year. I listened to it again and found myself listening to tracks that I took for granted when I got the mixtape last year.

One of those tracks is “Peppermint Mocha” by Iligan-based band Loop.

It now has the highest number of plays in my library.

There’s a lot to like in this song, like vocalist Kim Trinidad’s effortless croon and the lyrics that hit you with the memory of longing for someone, particularly your high school/college crush. *cue the “Yihee!” from the back of the classroom*  I hear this song as a soundtrack to a romantic movie, especially when the lead guitar takes the spotlight at the 2:00 mark that results to the dreamy mood (side note: shit, I really need to get schooled in guitar effects), as dreamy as person this song is most probably directed to. I hear it as I see the couple hold hands in my head.

Other reviews of this songs might have described this as smooth as its eponymous drink, but I can’t help but repeat what they have said–it just is. Swabe and sweet, even as the vocals reach the higher notes towards the end.

I’ve yet to hear other songs by Loop, and I’m on the lookout for stores that sell their album here in Manila (EDIT: Looks like I’ll be heading to The Four Strings soon!). It’s pretty great that we’re moving our attention to regions outside Metro Manila for good indie music. It’s about darn time we shine the light on them, and thank heavens for the internet for making this possible.

Like Loop on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Culturematic by Grant McCracken

Culturematic by Grant McCracken | 2012, Harvard Business Review Press (book cover from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13235910-culturematic)

I’m a huge fan of popular culture and I’m always hungry for texts that shed light on it. McCracken’s Culturematic fed that hunger–it’s about good ideas and how these good ideas are executed, and paints a picture of Western culture. It’s a must-read for those in the marketing and entertainment industry, as most of the examples are from said industries. But it shouldn’t be limited to them, as it provides a handful pieces of advice for creating breakthrough ideas, which should happen in every field. It teaches the reader through examples and the takeaway from those examples.

A few favorites of mine are included in the book as excellent examples of “Culturematics”, like Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts and Dan Harmon’s Channel 101. It’s pretty interesting to know the story behind these things. There’s so many insights in the book that can inspire anyone; for one, the book quotes Canva evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who says that “the nobodies are the new somebodies.” (p. 203)

Despite these, though, McCracken tends to be repetitive, to sound so excited all the time. While this is intended to drive a point, it gets tiring. There’s just so many things that describe a Culturematic that it’s hard to pin down what it really is. Moreover, it gets so concentrated on Western Culturematics; it would’ve been interesting to see some Culturematics, say, from Asia, to be featured in the book. The premise is interesting, nonetheless.