June was another month of the local music scene’s comeback, with events back all over the Metro. People are finding more answers to how the scene would be different. For musicians and artists outside of Metro Manila, it’s been a good time to travel and play shows considering how traveling is easier logistically, painfully high fuel inflation aside.
With June being pride month, many musicians also did their part in celebration and hope for the LGBTQIA+ advocacies in the Philippines. The month ended with the inauguration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and many Filipino musicians are stepping up to chronicle and shape the times in song.
Without further ado, here are some of the highlights of the month in local music.
Fête de la Musique PH
Fête De La Musique, one of the biggest urban showcases of local independent music, finally took place again for the first time since 2019. Interestingly, the format was different this time around. While the genre stages were still present, there were more gigs around the country, such as in Pampanga, Baguio, Siargao, Cebu, and Palawan. It sets a promising precedent for Fête de la Musique being celebrated nationwide and not just in Manila, providing support in cultivating music scenes in different cities.
That Elephant Party’s “Makibak-la!”
Elephant, one of the bastions of LGBTQIA+ Filipino nightlife, held a massive Pride Party with an all queer and trans DJ line-up. From its old home court of XX XX in Makati, which had closed down over the pandemic, the recent Elephant was situated at Dirty Kitchen in Quezon City. Wherever Elephant is, it gathers an audience that embraces the political agency of identity and expression, with the sheer intensity of its parties carrying out onto the streets, fighting for justice, equality, and safe spaces.
“Lagi” by BINI
Bini’s bubblegum pop single “Lagi” is an irresistible earworm reminiscent of ‘90s darlings like Jolina Magdangal and Donna Cruz, with a modern twist. While “world class” is still a term to be taken with a grain of salt since it gauges local acts according to international standards rather than appreciating them on their own terms, Bini is certainly a force to be reckoned with for anyone who listens, wherever they are.
“Dekada Setenta” by Zild
Released as a standalone track on YouTube, Zild’s “Dekada Setenta” is timely in its call to break the historical cycle of impunity and corruption. It’s been a staple in his live gig setlist, bringing the folks at his show to dance with dissent. The song is a funky and anthemic entry to the repertoire of protest songs being written by this generation of musicians.
Catshelf Records’ compilation “Top of the Shelf: Vol. 1”
Catshelf Records released a compilation as a fundraiser for an upcoming tour in Southern Luzon. “Volume 1” features rarities and new tracks by alumni of the Alternatrip and Redverb scene in Quezon City: Megumi Acorda, Public Places, spacedog spacecat, The Strange Creatures, Public Places, and Cinema Lumiere. Catshelf may have been founded recently, but it comprises a roster of seasoned indie rock musicians who have held the torch for melodic pop detours and frolicking sugary twee, meaning that the compilation has something for anyone who has ever loved NME C86.
“Binhod nga Kalag” by Liberty and Justice
US-based and Filipino-born, Edwin Carson's band Liberty and Justice released a searing Bisaya-Tagalog outcry against apathy and indifference. According to a statement he shared with Unite Asia, "The inspiration for the lyrics came from a conversation I had with a Pinoy Trump supporter during the protests for George Floyd." Carson came from the mid-’90s Cebuano HC-punk scene, turning his lyrical themes to diaspora struggles in America with Liberty and Justice, and being in a foreign land hasn’t kept him from singing about home in his mother tongue.
“Stay” by Anesthesia
Naga-based jangle rockers Anesthesia released a hypnotic, spiraling ballad that sounds spacious and broad, building upon the contrast with the sung lyrics, which are about what most songs are about: love. The band does love layering their arrangements with rich textural details, and it shows.
“Sweet Tooth Achin’” by Fervids
Legazpi-based garage rockers Fervids dropped a crunchy rock and roll tune with rockabilly guitars and freewheeling sing-speaking ramblings. They wear their influences on their sleeve, and they pull it off with confidence. It comes in strong and ends its guitar freakout too soon, which, when you really think about it, is garage rock through and through.
“still luv u” by markmuffins
Cult favorite markmuffins released an EP that, he wrote, is “a short(?) farewell” before sailing on to other sonic territories. Hopefully he doesn’t let go of his hazy, slowcore roots that are reminiscent of ‘90’s Olympia lo-fi outsiders and Elephant Six. There’s something to admire about the melodic songwriting that emerges in these obscured hummings. It’s a solid case for lo-fi as a choice, rather than a result of circumstance.