Lend Your Ears: New music from Dilaw, The Itchyworms, Syd Hartha, and more

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From the lyric video "Sansinukob" by Baguio-based band Dilaw. Screencap from DILAW/YOUTUBE

The month of April may have been heralded by a humid haze of hot summer days, but plenty of musicians have found ways to keep it cool. If you find yourself with some spare time, make yourself a nice, cold drink and lend your ears to these tunes.

“Sansinukob” by Dilaw

The Baguio-based band Dilaw has been making waves not just on the internet, but in real life, with crowds gathering at their performances along Session Road and outside the Wish Bus. While plenty of bands have followed in IV of Spades’ footsteps of smooth falsettos over rhythm sections so tight that you couldn’t poke a drumstick into the gaps, Dilaw stands above plenty of other acts because of their surprising twists and turns, especially in the bridge. Perhaps they drew inspiration from the many folks who bring djembes and other flavors of percussion to music-related happenings in the summer capital, setting sterling standards for rhythmic complexity.

Sherwin Tuna a.k.a DJ Love during his set at Boiler Room's Broadcast Lab. Photo by GEELA GARCIA

DJ Love live at Boiler Room’s Broadcast Lab organized by Manila Community Radio

On April 29, the internationally-renowned series Boiler Room set the stage for an incendiary performance by Davao-based producer and choreographer DJ Love, who is widely known as one of the many pioneers of budots. I overheard murmurs of his set being historic around the venue. While budots is already embedded in the national consciousness, resounding in packed jeepneys, basketball courts, and videoke bars, to see such an influential figure in the flesh was an utter delight.

“Panic in My Mind” by The Itchyworms

After The Itchyworms announced that their lead guitarist, Chino Singson, would be relocating away from the Philippines in mid-2022, it would be natural to wonder how the band’s upcoming music would change. After all, Singson is arguably one of the country’s modern guitar heroes, striking the balance between virtuosity and melody, inspiring many young guitarists and left-handed folks to reach for their musical ambitions. Fortunately, “Panic in My Mind” dispels any uncertainties. The Itchyworms latest single leans into their ‘90s indie rock roots, with non-sequitur lines and lush harmonies, and Singson’s guitar’s still feeling at home.

“gabay” by Syd Hartha

Syd Hartha’s latest EP, “gabay,” finds her adding lusher, subtler elements to her musical arsenal. Her voice is unassuming and disarming, nimbly dancing around wordplay, as best demonstrated in the song “3:15” feat. Kiyo whose bars fit in with ease with the warm, earthy landscape of the studio recording.

“Usok at Kape” by Marga Jayy

Marga Jayy hits the ground running on “Usok at Kape,” with soulful rhythms straight from Stax Records and sheer exuberance. It’s energizing like a triple shot of espresso, with hints of funky bass, and sugary harmonies. With the song being about breaking free of the mundane routines and the pressure of the hustle, the real grit of Jayy’s voice sounds hard-earned.

“Lambing” (feat. Kiyo) by KINDRED

KINDRED’s latest single “Lambing” turns the charm up to 11, wearing its love for Manila Sound and city pop on its sleeve. Like the word “lambing” itself, when it comes to the track, English terms for expressions of affection aren’t as apt as the Filipino languages wide arsenal of untranslatable terms: swabe at nakakakilig. They’ve fully embraced being a boy band, but that kind of tried and true pop archetype also comes with the bar set high for love songs. But there’s plenty of creative fuel to draw from the modern landscape of love, which is tumultuous and exhilarating. Yihee!

“korean blackout curtains 7ft (1pcs, not set)” by cheeky things

Cheeky Things’ debut EP “demo” is seemingly set up to perplex an unwitting listener. If it’s a demo, why does it sound good? If they’re cheeky, how do they rock so hard? Their guitars are tuned so low, you could trip on them like untied shoelaces. The vocals, sounding like they’re emanating from a telephone, are buried amidst the distortion when it gets loud. It’s hard headedly defiant, especially in its liberal use of found recordings. What do the song titles even mean, and does it matter if they aren’t understood by the general public? It sounds like they do like Ang Bandang Shirley, though. It doesn’t all need to make sense, and that’s the secret to its charm.

“Better” by RJ Manulid

RJ Manulid’s “Better” is a buoyant love song tinged with indie pop and hip-hop. It’s a lighthearted turn of direction from the Davao-based songwriter’s previous work like the alternative rock band Lucas, which had played shows in Metro Manila in 2015. It’s an interesting addition of a facet to Manulid’s work, showing that whatever genre he chooses to dabble in, his melodic sensibilities stand as a solid backbone.