2013’s Best Finds: A Personal and Exclusive Amplify.ph Playlist

When Amplify.ph first asked me if I wanted to write for them, I knew I had to do it. As much as I loved writing, especially about music, it was a personal mission. Feeling indebted to music, I have always wanted to do this as my way of giving back. Coming up with my monthly playlists is the best way to showcase the hundreds of songs I currently love and eventually come to love as I go along my way. I spent hours scouring Amplify.ph’s music library for tracks, unearthing classics I did not know existed and putting new and old material alike under the spotlight. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

Here are ten of my favorite 2013 finds from Amplify.ph’s archive.

It’s such a shame that I knew little of The Out of Body Special before their despedida in 2013. While “Sexy Beast” is a staple recommendation, the entirety of their debut Is Love is just brimming with salacious beats and timeless rhythms that no one, in my opinion, should miss out on.

A Problem Like Maria’s BONSAI is among my top local releases of 2013. The thing I love most about this album is that while it possesses both personable and sophisticated qualities, this paradoxical blend is ultimately its own charm.

I heard so many tired and formulaic songs during the past year. There are more “recording artists” who—for some reason that’s beyond my comprehension—are still releasing albums weighed down by heinous levels of substandard covers. That might sound mean, and it is; but it’s also the truth.Anj Florendo‘s a welcome change. While sticking to traditional ways of creating and writing music, her voice (coupled with endearing arrangement and thoughtful production) is one that excites me upon listening to it.

Ephesus‘ 2010 album, To Speak of City Lights and Skyscrapersis a combination of juvenile desire and mature rumination. There are breathtaking moments throughout, caught up in either big riffs or airy pauses in between. Its closing track, “Manila Skylines,” is one that describes the arresting beauty of Manila skies—and all its hidden meanings—in abundance.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as “so-so” in jazz. It’s either good or bad, no in between. There’s no “sort of” or “passable” jazz. It’s the same with many types of music, I suppose; but sometimes it gets blurry along the way. Not in jazz. It’s an acquired taste, which makes it all the more scintillating and unique on its own. Makopa is exactly that.

I am finicky when it comes to local hip-hop, mainly because I was not exposed to the scene early on. I welcomed the fact that my preferences were challenged by artists like Dash Calzado last year. His flow is very natural, with no phony gimmickry whatsoever, which works well for me.

Threads’ profile states that a sole person responsible for the music that I have yet to find the proper words to describe. Wordless, yet with an inexhaustible amount of feelings, Paolo Owyong masters the art of musical rapture found in the unlikeliest of places and circumstances. I am personally hoping to hear more from him, and anticipating a potential follow-up to 2013’s As Everything Is Built From Nothing.

The first time I heard this song when I was when I was working on my Songs of the Nation playlist last August. It easily became one of my favorite songs from the late Francis Magalona. If I had to single out a track that sums up all the gratitude I feel towards life and everyone who makes it bearable, this would be it.

Nights of Rizal’s late night beats add more energy to whatever atmosphere, turning the mood less aloof and more ebullient, if not relaxed. The bulk of its magnetism lies in its youthful quality.

Speaking of youthful quality, it seems to be the fuel and defining character of the unending perkiness of Moonwlk. Their songs leave giddiness in the air—almost with a perceptible trail of fairy dust. With Moonwlk there simply is no room for a letdown, in every sense of the word.

Special mention: Timbre Headphones’ two mixtapes are my favorite perk-me-up compilations from the Amplify.ph music library.

(Editor’s Note: Moonwlk’s photo is sourced from their official Facebook page.)

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