Six (old and new) music releases by Filipino women you should check out

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Beng Calma in the music video for Drip's "Morning After." Screencap from JASON TAN /X\ CELLULOID MANILA/YOUTUBE

Editor’s note: Andi Osmeña DJs under the moniker baby ikea. They have performed live and online for transit records, Manila Community Radio, and wherever queer people are.

When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be Myrene Academia. She had a silent swagger to her that became the epitome of cool to my little introverted self. She is my Sandwich bias to this day — which is why I spent most of my childhood daydreaming about being a girl in a band.

I didn’t grow up to become a rock star, but watching Filipino women in music continues to change my life. Here’s a look into a few releases — new and old – that were either formative to me, or have provided a hopeful glimpse into the future.

“Rave Garden” by T33G33 (2022)

I’ve been watching Aly Cabral play music under a number of acts and monikers for a few years now, most recently under the DJ name T33G33. Sometimes I’d find myself deep in the throes of her playful and progressive sets needing to remind myself that she also wrote a whole bunch of the Ourselves the Elves album “Self is Universe.” This isn’t to say her best work is behind her, T33G33’s latest forays into techno is some of her most exciting music yet.

In “Rave Garden,” complex layers of rhythm unfold over humming sounds of nature as Cabral imagines the dance floor as a utopia free from oppression. A reminder that raves are, in fact, something so spiritual. It’s over eight minutes long, and the vocals only come in much later in the song. A real trip.

The track is available on the newest Sounds Nais compilation on Bandcamp.

“Ano Na Plano Mo?” (Prod. Inkyu Demon) by switchbitch (2022)

I think this is the hardest drum programming I’ve heard in a long time: fiesta breaks that perfectly complement switchbitch’s rapid-pace delivery in what is probably the duo’s best track so far. This Inkyu Demon linkup bemoans the horrors of late stage capitalism and general hardship of young adulthood. A sentiment I can always get behind. The highlight verse: “Graduated, / year was fucking twenty nineteen / Head filled with all them useless wants and hopes and dreams / Teka 2022 na, / anong napala na, / naging fan ng LOONA, / yun lang ba?”

“Ano Na Plano Mo?” is available for purchase on Bandcamp.

“Jocelyn” by Jocelyn Enriquez (1997)

“Jocelyn” was a huge lockdown jam for me, though it was released before I was even born. This album was my entry-point into one of my favorite dance music subgenres: Freestyle, a Latino offshoot of acid house that J. Lo herself has cited as influential. What’s more interesting than the way that “A Little Bit of Ecstasy” shamelessly breaks down into half-tempo (a common trope in the genre) is the curiously detailed Wikipedia page about the artist’s life. She broke the Billboard 100, signed with Tommy Boy (label imprint of Queen Latifah and De La Soul), and worked closely with Jaya (before her conservative-leaning era).

There’s definitely some filler on this album, but still grateful for its entire existence nonetheless.

“Silver Fairy” - Megumi Acorda (2023)

“Unexpectedly” was the glue that held my college barkada together for years (alongside The Strokes, sunny afternoons, and shenanigans.) When Megumi Acorda was on the gig poster, we were there.

So when I heard that the band released a new album in March, it felt like a special birthday/women’s month gift from the heavens. Their new release offers similar sounds and progressions as their breakout EP in a way that feels like the expansion of an already-familiar world. It’s like a robust B-Side to “Unexpectedly.” And you can’t blame them for the nostalgia, they make shoegaze after all.

Bonus: Their cover of “Crimson and Clover” is my absolute favorite rendition of the song.

You can buy Megumi Acorda’s latest album on their Bandcamp page.

“Morning After” - Drip (2008)

Of all the bands that defined the mid-2000s indie-electro era, Drip has consistently flown under the radar, which is strange because they might conceptually be the strongest of the bunch. This is in large part because of Caliph8’s intricate production flourishes, but Beng Calma’s vocals remain ever in the fore. There’s a dominating quality to it that makes it perfect for dance music and songs about wanting.

This track is an epic clash between Caliph8 and Calma. Strong production. Stronger vocals. It’s dripping with the Utada Hikaru blueprint. Also worth noting: this music video! The wardrobe, the martial arts choreography, the Final Fantasy of it all. It’s just ambitious enough that it works.

“Heaven is a Long Exhale” - The Buildings (2021)

It’s such a privilege to be on the cusp of adulthood when a certain piece of art comes out — this is certainly how I felt about The Buildings’ debut album “Cell-O-Phane,” and their 2021 follow-up “Heaven is a Long Exhale” certainly didn’t disappoint.

It’s hard to talk about these two albums without getting too personal, and without relating them somewhat to each other. I had met some of my dearest friends the night I first heard the band. I was so awestruck by first watching them perform, that at the end of their set I just turned to my friend to say “...they rock.” They launched their second album deep into 2021 lockdown. We partied on Minecraft and it’s still one of the best gigs I’ve attended. This was exactly what I needed when I was deep in my Quarantine Depression. That title! The title track! The instrumental breakdown on the title track!

Buy “Heaven is a Long Exhale” on Bandcamp.