There’s an overwhelming amount of great music releases this week (both local and international) that I can’t make an individual post about each of them – not even being lazy right now, I swear. And then there are artists/bands that I also just discovered this week as well. Basically, if I get to update this weekly roundup, this thing will consist of my favorite discoveries for that said week, which are mostly new releases, and if there are old songs that I just happened to stumble upon, those will be included here as well. Okay, enough of the explaining. Here are my favorite tracks, music videos, and discoveries for the second week of this year.
‘Huwag Ka Nang Humirit’ – James Reid
The mildly embarrassing thing I did after watching this was doing a quick search on James Reid’s age because I honestly felt I’m having inappropriate feelings about this guy. HAHAHAHAHA. I’m not even to cute guys anymore since I’ve outgrown my Candy magazine-reading phase. But pedophiliac tendencies aside, this pop song, penned by Thyro and Yumi (same couple behind my favorite Sarah Geronimo hits), is infectiously brilliant. It doesn’t hurt that the James Dean-ish coif, black-and-white music video (which I think, is partly why it wasn’t to off-putty to me), and all that dancing got me hooked.
‘Sugar’ – Maroon 5
I was in first year high school when Songs About Jane came out and by that time I was heavy into pop and hiphop (still am), following my boyband obsession. That was the only Maroon 5 album I genuinely liked, not having been acquainted with their succeeding albums, much less when Adam Levine became the face (and became buff) for fashion brands, which was pretty much everyone has talked about. My interest with him sort of sparked again when I watched Begin Again and well, I gave this guy a shot. However, for their new single, ‘Sugar’, they decided to make a music video with them crashing at weddings and performing, much to the surprise(???) of common folk. While I may not be one to shriek or go gaga over weddings (not a fan, not a cynic), I caved in. This is actually a sweet, fun music video. (I can’t say no to sugar, it seems.)
‘In The Moment’, ‘Good Enough’, ‘No Apologies’, and ‘Tell The Truth’ – Jussie Smollett and Yazz from FOX’s TV series, Empire
Okay, let me just go rave about this one. I first heard of this series prior to the Golden Globes and decided to check it out with the mere premise of a “former drug dealer running the Empire business.” How so Jay-Z, P. Diddy story is this one? Lee Daniels is on production, Timbaland is on music supervision, so no harm on watching, I figured.
After two aired episodes, man, I am so in. I went straight to iTunes to buy the music from episode two because those songs just crept up to me that I can’t not have them.
This one’s my most favorite so far.
Jussie Smollett looks a bit like Raleigh Ritchie, so that’s a whole lot of plus points.
‘Window Seat’ – Ryoku and Clara Benin
This song glimmers with so much peppiness and vibrance, one that possesses wide-eyed unpretentiousness, but not done callously. This light-hearted collaboration between Ryoku and Clara Benin is perfect for breezy afternoon walks, lemonade drinks, and bike rides.
‘Too Many Rappers’ – Beastie Boys f/ Nas
This Roman Coppola-directed video surfaced online earlier this week (reportedly discovered by a student in one of the message boards of Beastie Boys). The ageless Beasties (we miss you, MCA) and Nas (like Pharrell, also curiously not ageing) goofed around a grocery store, singing about how there’s “too many rappers, and still not enough MCs,” years ago, which still rings true today.
‘Thunderclap’ – The Charmes
One thing about this track is that years after it’s being played on live sets during Terno Inferno nights, there is still something remarkable on how its intuitive, raw sound has eventually been injected with much precision and technical proficiency by not just the band itself, but fellow labelmates who each had their hand on the culmination of this song. One with an ear for how they work individually and, in turn, collectively, will notice these details – minute and overt – as a wholly different one from what the band performs live. From their garage, post-punk rock genesis, The Charmes has always been heavy on riffs and hooks, as well as plastered with rhythms. All of that took a massive shift in direction, with partly what I can only presume having a Ean Mayor as a producer onboard, which not only redefined the band’s punk sound, but also made it dimensional. This is what in lay term, people refer to as ‘pitik’ (i.e. “May pitik yung tunog nila”). ‘Thunderclap’ is entirely different from how The Charmes sounded in their debut album. It’s more polished, sharper, and even dapper. Case in point: I can hear the vocals very clearly. It’s fuller, rife with motion: something that does not only sound good to sing along with, but also to dance to.
‘Odd & Even’ – tide/edit
I’ve included this because it’s the first time that I’ve heard this again after tide/edit’s album launch in June last year. That gripping intro is perhaps the greatest one to give justice to the equally brilliant outro of this track. The intensity of this song has never wavered, and it’s only ever amplified during their live sets.
‘Begin Again’ – Purity Ring
My unpopular opinion: I like Purity Ring better than Chvrches. I guess the reason why I never really got hooked on the latter was because early on, I made the comparison between both these acts since they’re theoretically within the same spectrum of sound, or genre: heavy on electronic beats and not to mention, the vocals are similar-sounding. Anyway, Purity Ring just grappled me better, mostly due to their songwriting, which is incredibly poetic at best. The moods of their songs also veer from dark to high-spirited, which suit me well.
‘Uptown Funk’ – Mark Ronson f/ Bruno Mars
Even a person in coma will wake up and dance to this. sick. funk.
‘Groove’ – Dailon
Filed under ‘Future R&B’ – whatever that is – this song is just bathed in lush, all sexed up.
‘Sober’ – Childish Gambino
I’m just looking for excuses to just rave about this song, really. And more Donald Glover dancing.
‘The Irony Of Valkyries’ – Ephesus
God, I’ve missed this band. THAT guitar solo.
‘Sunny Where You Are’ – We Are Imaginary’
NOT the sunniest song – not that I’m complaining. It seems like We Are Imaginary, after the band’s name change and the departure of their bassist, has been treading a different course of direction with their music. Now signed under Wide Eyed Records, Ahmad Tanji and company churl more calculated (but not rigid) elements to their sound: a fuller and deeper bass, despotic riffs at the right moments, and memorable ambient synths.
‘Higher Than You Are’ – 88 Ultra
Ever since Tomi (Uysingco, #100YearsOfSadness and KLMBRNG) hooked me up with this, I can’t stop obsessing with the guitar parts. Combined with those airy synthwork, it’s just sounded so divine. Yes. That’s the word I used.
The following music videos made me cry. That’s all I’m gonna say about them.
‘Coronus, The Terminator’ – Flying Lotus
‘Love Don’t Live Here No More’ – Ghostface Killah
Lastly, I have a thing for highly articulate rappers and brilliant producers, more so if they are both. But as a writer myself, I am naturally drawn to words and how they are creatively and genuinely expressed in rhythmic bars and verses – which is why I am a fan of rap and hiphop.
West Coast rapper Nocando began this song with this line, One man’s trash is another man’s rubber band stash. So many stories have been rooted from the “rags to riches” theme that I’ve found myself weary on how trivial some made it sound when it’s nothing but. While country music, as I’ve learned (from Dave Grohl’s Sonic Highways, nonetheless), is focused on storytelling, the same is with rap, only I still prefer the latter. There’s something enigmatic with how rappers freestyle their verses in a manner almost of a Shakespearean tragedy. For me, hiphop is like Catherine Breillat’s idea of romance – not the ‘sugary’ kind. The reason why I’m blabbering about this is because, like the Flying Lotus music video above, songs like ‘Good Gravy In The Morning’ are intimately personal to me. In a way that their stories reach to me as if I were a part of them. I’ve been in no gang wars, no gunfights, no street altercations, or were I born in an era where lynching was a norm, but this kind of music humanizes me in a profound way. And this song, which is from a man who lives in the state I’ve come to know so much even without setting foot on (but also I’ve known so much because my family lives there), makes me wonder what kind of air is it that they breathe from this region to spawn the greatest rappers I grew up listening to.