Music to listen to now: Tanya Markova, Blaster, Tarsius, and more

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From interstellar dairy dimensions to Midwest emo via Singapore, here’s our music round-up for September. In photo: A still from Blaster's "O Kay Ganda" music video. Photo from BLASTER/YOUTUBE

Come September, jingle bells and holiday tunes suddenly spring forth with renewed vengeance, revisiting malls, public transport, and seemingly every other public space. Reveling in “Christmas in Your Hearts” is nice for the first thirty minutes or so, until the impending doom of Christmas traffic and escalating inflation creep up. Ever wondered about the royalties that Jose Mari Chan rakes in every season, on top of the free publicity he gets from overdone and tired memes?

That aside, there’s plenty of music to spin long before one’s tried-and-tested holiday playlist has extended its welcome. From interstellar dairy dimensions to Midwest emo via Singapore, here’s our music round-up for September.

“Hulog” by Tanya Markova

12 years, that’s a hell of a long time. And Tanya Markova fully deserved to celebrate it with their packed anniversary gig at ‘70s Bistro. They’ve outlasted many of their contemporaries with their face paint-drenched shock pop, with due credit to be paid to all the paradoxes they embody: theatrical, whimsical, relatable, and absurd all at once. These beloved jesters are known for their certain knack for taking a lyrical premise and soaring to its metaphorical extremes on a magic carpet ride, but their latest single finds them in more straightforward thematic territory. It’s proof that whether they’re singing about exorcisms or enamored longing, in their latest single “Hulog," Tanya Markova’s earnestness still shines.

“Culture Cow” by Tarsius

Diego Mapa and Jay Gapasin are a force to be reckoned with live, with their hybrid of electronic music and live drums that has seen them crossing different music scenes, from live bars to techno raves. “Culture Cow,” created over the pandemic and finally having an album party at 123Block this Sept. 30, finds Tarsius seeking rhythms internally rather than in a mass of dancing bodies. It lends a fascinating flavor to the album as the duo hones in on the pulse of dance with surefire precision.

“O Kay Ganda” by Blaster

In Blaster’s latest single in support of his upcoming album “My Kosmik Island Disk,” he wears his “Let’s Dance”-era Bowie influences on his sleeve, both musically and visually. Yet Manila Sound’s influences and characteristic longing also shine through, marking nuance and maturity in Blaster’s creative trajectory.

“Dust Collector” by Identikit

Manila-based indie rock veterans Identikit dropped “Dust Collector,” a somnambulist tune that marks a departure from their previous band-centric arrangements in favor of recording studio texture and character. The kundiman-esque cadence of the bridge is a surprising delight, reimagining sepia-toned hooks through electronic dream pop sensibilities.

“Speed Milk” by O.I. Research Partners

A psychedelic odyssey through a distant planet, O.I. Research Partners’ “Speed Milk” is more than an album that melds folk, sludge rock freakouts, and found audio; its concurrent exhibition at Kalawakan Spacetime in Quezon City, which contains found artifacts and cryptic paintings is a case for rich lore building. Behind it is the Nueva Ecija-based duo Eva Yu and Vik Laugo, who call O.I. Research Partners a “center for fantasy research and artistic development” on their Bandcamp. It’s a lo-fi entry in the Philippines’ roster of concept albums, proving that a thematic narrative told over a series of songs can still be DIY.

Subsonic Eye Live in Manila

Singaporean band Subsonic Eye played a show co-organized by Furiosa and TFL at Mow’s on September 24. It’s the third leg of their Southeast Asian tour to promote their latest album “The Nature of Things” that garnered critical acclaim from NME Asia, which dubbed it the best Asian album of 2021.. Despite the album being released after the pandemic began, audiences sang along to album highlights like “Fruitcake” and “Cabin Fever." Over the past five years, the kindred connection between Singapore and Manila’s music scenes has bloomed, hopefully setting the stage for more exchanges amongst music scenes in Southeast Asia.

“Signs You’re Getting Older” by Cowboy Country Club

Cowboy Country Club, a freewheeling trio from Parañaque, released their sophomore album “Signs You’re Getting Older,” which imbues their unabashedly melodic songs with lusher, clearer arrangements. Their 2017 debut album already hints at more ornate orchestration, which is more fully realized on this latest release, from the velvety synths to the resonant harmonies, with a good dose of bluegrass riffage.

“Fuzz Sounds” by Spacedog Spacecat

Spacedog Spacecat is less than six degrees of separation away from nearly any musician in the music scene, counting Megumi Acorda, Twin Lobster, The Geeks, Eggboy, and more in the sum of each member’s history of collaborators. The band’s members are all veterans of the community that gathered in the Quezon City studio Redverb, which is dearly missed after closing down during the pandemic. Their latest album “Fuzz Sounds” features a rotating arsenal of vocalists, with highlights being the boy-girl vocals that temper and complement the distortion-drenched guitar breakdowns.