Lend Your Ears: New music from The Dawn, Oh, Flamingo!, and more

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CNN Philippines Life’s round-up of the latest Pinoy music for your listening pleasure. In photo: The latest album of Oh Flamingo!, "Pagtanda." Photo from OH FLAMINGO/FACEBOOK

New Year’s resolutions are, in truth, fleeting. Not that it’s a tragic flaw of the human condition. Old habits don’t die as soon as the clock strikes midnight. Take some wisdom from the running baboon in “Bojack Horseman”: “It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”

However, listening to new music can be something that isn’t demanding of a steep commitment, but can still feel worthwhile. Any time is a good opportunity to check out the discography of an artist you’ve always been told that you might like. Dive into a new genre or songs in another Philippine language. Play Russian roulette with the algorithm. Discovering new music is a matter of choosing your own adventure. Consider starting here, with CNN Philippines Life’s round-up of the latest Pinoy music for your listening pleasure:

“Earth” by The Dawn

In the light of the recent passing of band’s bassist Mon Legaspi (who was also in Wolfgang), “Earth” takes on a certain weight. And the song is heavy as it is, not just for being stadium rock, but also for bearing the weight of enduring a global pandemic. The single art bears a gas mask to boot. It’s striking to hear this weariness in Jett Pangan’s voice, which remains piercing and unwavering. What is there left to do when a dear friend and a formidable musician has passed on but keeps on playing?

“Na Naman” by Oh, Flamingo

The latest album of Oh, Flamingo!, “Pagtanda” is lucid about the passing of time, and the transformations people undergo whether they intend to or not. While the band are formidable musicians as a four-piece unit, they’ve invited in a vibrantly diverse roster of flavors into the mix: brass ensembles, sprightly synthesizers and keys, and even found recordings that show them pushing what they can do with the studio as an instrument in itself. “Na Naman” alone is a tantalizing feast of the different timbres and approaches at their disposal, from afrobeat to kundiman-influenced vocal harmonies. It’s no secret that The Beatles and the Beach Boys exert musical influences on the band’s releases, but Oh, Flamingo have fully made the modus operandi of seamlessly splicing different flavors together in their favor.

The 20th anniversary concert of Sugarfree’s “Sa Wakas”

Ebe Dancel celebrated the 20th anniversary of Sugarfree album “Sa Wakas” with the participation of their original drummer Mitch Singson, whose impeccable drumlines have inspired countless indie rock drummers to play with no wasted notes. “Sa Wakas” was the soundtrack of a generation where the rock radio station NU 107 was well and alive, chunky Nokia cellphones reigned supreme, and people still called meeting up with internet friends “EB” (short for “eyeball”). The songs themselves are timeless, and much has been said about them.

Even until the present, plenty of Filipino songwriters have continued in the tradition of personal, confessional love songs that make a telephone call a dramatic affair. “Sa Wakas” never ends.

“You Forgot to Say Goodbye” by Megumi Acorda

Megumi Acorda’s latest single “You Forgot to Say Goodbye” dropped on Friday the 13th with a music video of still, solitary landscapes of a certain Santa Rosa theme park. Not that introspective dream pop is at odds with ferris wheels and rollercoasters, really. Anyone can be blindsided on a sunny afternoon, and her debut EP “Unexpectedly” was a proven catalyst for the audiences that were charmed by the band’s gigs over the past six years. This new track feels wider in scope and space, now being navigated with the confidence and chemistry that musicians build after years of playing together.

“Para Sa Sarili” by SLIZ

It’s futile to define what the internet means by “a vibe.” It doesn’t come into existence thanks to a CRT TV filter or a drum machine. Some people just know what it is, and they have it in spades — like SLIZ, who could be selling mangos beside road repairs and rise to internet fame while she’s at it. That’s exactly what she did with her breakout hit “Sige Pa,” which is well worth listening to beyond Tiktok’s 15 seconds.

Of all of the local offshoots of the immeasurably influential YouTube channel “lofi hip hop radio - beats to study/relax to,” SLIZ stood out thanks to her unique manner of singing. No, her vocals aren’t sped up. Yes, that’s how she really sounds live, if you check her numerous videos on YouTube. She really does grow on you, thanks to her charm. As for her latest song “Para Sa Sarili?" It’s a vibe.

"Fugang Nakabase sa Pambansang Licc ng Pilipinas A.K.A. Magbalik Fugue" by Dominic Laxamana

Tulad ng mundong hindi tumitigil sa pag-ikot, “Magbalik” never ends. It is passed down by generations and well-thumbed song hits books, transcending generations and steamrolling past tastemakers. While the song may be played at Battle of the Bands and bars nationwide, no two people ever play it the same. In the case of the formidably titled “Fugang Nakabase sa Pambansang Licc ng Pilipinas A.K.A. Magbalik Fugue” by Dominic Laxamana, if you’ve ever wondered what Callalily would sound interpolated via a Baroque classical sensibilities, but on synthesizers, then this is for you.

This is one of the many surprises on MusiKolektibo’s experimental compilation “Tunog Lata,” featuring works by experimental and contemporary classical composers. The Philippines itself has a rich and storied undercurrent of avant garde music, which yields plenty of imaginative and unorthodox experiences to the interested listener.

“Skelet” by Levi Masuli

The music video of Levi Masuli’s “Skelet," released on PAWN Records, features a lone dancer (Mela Amican) in the middle of an anonymous urban alley, swaying and gyrating amid children playing and stray dogs. In contrast to the typical symphony of cranked-up subwoofers and karaoke in cities, the track itself is muted yet frantic, ripping the typical sounds common in budots and reconfiguring it as something mutedly frantic. Meanwhile, Amican improvises the choreography with grace as the music itself disintegrates into ambient noise.

“The Immutable Eminence of Despair” by Basalt Shrine

In “The Immutable Eminence of Despair,” Basalt Shrine crafted a sprawling sludge metal epic that crests in vertigo-inducing drops of heavy guitars and relentless rhythms. There’s a certain art to repeating motifs and pushing them to their furthest conclusion through repetition, all while still carrying a sense of movement and development. For that, its 10-minute duration is incendiary.