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List Addicts Fridays : Manila goes indiepop

by Cris


filipino indiepop.jpg

This has been long overdue – much like the site redesign (which is progressing quite nicely – see the brand spanking new header? 😉  I have put off featuring bands from Manila because I haven’t the slightest idea about the indie music scene there. This, coming from someone who grew up in Manila most of her life, is a bit embarrassing.  Admittedly, my knowledge of Philippine bands is quite dated. To give you an idea of how dated it is, I’ll give you three music related facts about my life that occured at the heyday of my music listening days in Manila – 1. My choice of university was governed mostly by what university members of The Eraserheads went to, 2. As far as Pinoy indie music goes, my earliest foray into it was having bootleg recordings of The Youth songs before they got signed, 3. I went to university at the same time members of Parokya ni Edgar did, since I’d occasionally see them up and about campus. I never did get a chance to meet them though, but on a somewhat related note, I did get to shake hands with Jeffrey Hidalgo in school while he was campaigning as a department rep for the student council. I do remember being set on voting for him after that – despite the fact that he was running for the department of engineering and I was in the department of social science 😉

I haven’t been as keen on listening to Filipino bands since college, most especially when I moved here in Vancouver, where the usual word-of-mouth news about up and coming bands isn’t as easy to get. So without a wide range of available music to listen to, my Philippine music knowledge floundered.

But then came the internet. And I was saved.

Following leads from music-minded friends on local Filipino bands they liked, I stumbled across this site that, lo-and-behold, offered a nice collection of songs by Filipino indie music artists. And not only that, it offered a wide array of songs from my favorite flavor of indie music: twee. So, this week, I’m finally able to have some Filipino flavor our weekly list courtesy of the burgeoning Filipino Indiepop scene

1. OuterhopeLost in Numbers

My music surfing session began with this band which was a result of me googling Terno Recordings – an independent record label recommended by one of my friends. The label’s site pointed me to the group’s Myspace site and eventually, a link to download this whimsically sweet tune from the online compilation album ‘Kissing Ballade‘ on the Filipino Indiepop scene site.

Lost in Numbers is a nice song in harmony,  sung by the musically talented brother and sister tandem of Mike and Micaela Benedicto. Their acoustic style reminds me of Sufjan Stevens with a bit of cuteness factor added into the mix.  Despite the lullaby-ish quality of the song, it kind of has the feel of quiet early mornings, with nice warm sunbeams and butterflies fluttering about.

2. ArchasterKissing Ballade

Despite being named after starfish, Archaster’s song won’t remind you of stars or fishes, or even the sea – but it will most definitely remind you of`fields, the magnetic kind.

Undeniably influenced by Stephin Merritt, Archaster even sounds like The Magnetic Fields frontman himself.  Does he also share the same talent for mixing melancholy and humor as The Magnetic Fields do? I haven’t heard his other songs, but with Kissing Ballade, what Archaster shares with The Magnetic Fields (besides Stephin’s voice) is most definitely their talent for writing unique and heartfelt love songs.

3. Carnival ParkMoonlight Darling

Moonlight Darling has the classic elements of a twee song: the jangly guitars, toy piano sounds, the breezy female vocals and if they added some trumpets and handclaps it would’ve completed it even more. I’m actually imagining how it’ll sound like with all the twee perks – it wouldn’t be twee overkill would it? This song is a part of the online compilation album Summer Escape that the next song in the list is also featured in.

4. Soft Pillow KissesJust Like the Sky

Just Like the Sky actually has more of a retro-feel to it than indie-pop. It begins with drum thumping that kind of reminded me one of the songs of 60’s inspired band Lucky Soul. I wondered what it would’ve sounded like if they had Dusty Springfield sing to it – or even, if it was featured in an early Sampaguita Pictures film with Susan Roces in it (complete with a music montage with some dance choreography of course!).

5. Arigato, Hato!Kissus

There’s a Japanese feel to this Filipino band, and it’s not just the name. Kissus, is much like Japanese poetry, or a lot of other popular Japanese artform: there’s no frills – so you can enjoy the beauty in it’s simplicity. Much like their music, I also have minimal info about the members of this band, only that they go by animal names. Their lead vocalist is named Gato – which, slightly veering away from the Japanese theme, is Spanish for cat.


All songs in this post are available as a free download at the Filipino Indiepop Scene site . If you want to check out more Indie pop tunes from Filipino bands you can go to the Filipino Indiepop Scene site where a couple of albums are up for grabs.