By MC Galang and Ian Urrutia
Header Art by MC Galang
This week’s edition of New Music We Love is a little late than usual. We had quite an extraordinarily busy week but, alas, better late than never.
Enjoy this round of great fresh releases from Asia.
‘Ano Ang Aming Kasalanan?’ – The Axel Pinpin Propaganda Machine (PH)
What have we done wrong?
The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.
“Itong kaso ni Sinas, General Sinas, sa National Capital Region commander, ako ‘yung ayaw na malipat siya. He is a good officer. He’s an honest one, and hindi niya kasalanan kung may mangharana sa kaniya sa birthday niya.”
The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.
“Local officials in Santa Cruz town, in Laguna province just south of Manila, admitted locking up five youths inside a dog cage on March 20. The officials sought to justify their action by saying the youths had violated the curfew and been verbally abusive, and said that they had also been rounding up stray dogs that night.”
The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.
“Villance was on her way home after searching for an internet connection to submit her class requirements. She was riding a motorcycle being driven by her father when they figured in an accident. While her father only obtained scratches, Villance died as she was rushed to be transferred to another hospital.”
The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.
“‘As much as possible, ini-increase natin ang capacity ng testing kaya nga we’re aiming na aabot tayo sa 30,000 (a day), pero in terms sa mass testing na ginagawa ng Wuhan na all 11 million (residents), wala pa pong ganyang programa at iniiwan natin ‘yan sa pribadong sektor,’ Roque said in a Malacañang press briefing.”
The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.
“As the world struggles to beat the coronavirus pandemic, China has remained as aggressive as ever in the South China Sea, including the part that Filipinos call the West Philippine Sea.”
The State shall develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos.
“The country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) inter-agency task force has allowed Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to partially operate amid the quarantine imposed by the government to curb the spread of the virus.”
The State shall encourage non-governmental, community-based, or sectoral organizations that promote the welfare of the nation.
The State recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building.
No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
“’The case of media giant ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal ‘has not, nor has it ever been, purely an issue of free speech or freedom of the press,’ House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Monday night.
‘Can anyone honestly say, after watching the coverage of the network during the 2010 and 2016 elections, that ABS-CBN did not take sides and favor any candidate? Or that personalities and politicians who through the years have had a strong affinity with the station do not receive undue advantage during campaign season?’ Cayetano said.”
The prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people.
“My orders to the police and military … if there is trouble or the situation arises where your life is on the line, shoot them dead. Understand? Dead. I’ll send you to the grave. … Don’t test the government.”
What have we done wrong?
Watch the music video here
‘นานเท่าไร (Totem) Ver.2020 POP’ – Yooze (TH)
Sorrow lingers in Yooze’s “นานเท่าไร,” the bonus track to their newest Psych EP. It broods long enough to take shape, the grief of a lost love, and languishes in its own suffering—a self-inflicted, cyclic pain worth the burden if it meant holding onto that which also caused happiness. “นานเท่าไร” is effusive and unashamed of its emotions, for better or for worse.
‘24 Years Old of You’ – I Mean Us (TW)
Taiwan’s I Mean Us has a knack for elaborate storytelling, their songs weaving universes of their own. On their latest single, “24 Years Old of You,” the band continues to create dramatic, intriguing textures that they’ve already managed to establish in their debut EP, 2018’s OST. “24 Years,” however, is more fast-paced, more forceful. Whereas previous songs like “EYE” meanders elegantly, the latest from the Taipei-based rock band has a pressing defiance that makes its build-up all the more satisfying.
‘BOTA’ – TAGS f/ HANI (PH)
The way we celebrate success often hinges on our obsession on figures: the firsts, the mosts, the number ones. But the path to success paved with overwhelming and unfavorable odds is a greater narrative, one that Naga-based rapper TAGS co-opts in “BOTA.” Daring to dream is but a first step we all know too well, but the rapper approaches the journey with diligence, optimism, and humility. TAGS neither oversell or undersell his skills; but what he knows he may lack, he can make up with discipline.
What makes “BOTA” more than an aspirational song about success is its earnest honesty, delivered with lyrical clarity and expediency. It’s refreshing to hear someone with a keen sense of awareness, both of himself and his circumstances, speak plainly—but with such rich ingenuity—without romanticizing or evangelizing the hustle.
‘Searching 我的愛’ – ZANI (TW)
One of my growing frustrations with math rock these days is how it feels like it’s increasingly being trapped in its own distinctive complexities and irregularities, that it makes practitioners of the genre inevitably sound the same—to a point, at least. The excitement and unpredictability of sharp pivots and great rhythmic dexterity are among math rock’s greatest payoffs. However, these defining characteristics are also what makes the genre susceptible to a narrowed focus on composition: emphasizing technical agility and little else.
Of all their songs in Portal, ZANI overwhelmingly embraces math rock in “Searching 我的愛,” a spry, poppy number that subscribes to all the best parts of the genre and recognizes the human voice as a great melodic driver as much as any other instrument. It’s enjoyable and proof that, sometimes, deviating from the basics can mean more than one thing.
‘未撥來電 Schrodinger’s Call’ – JADE EYES (TW)
Electronic band JADE EYES muses on the consequences of unsaid love on “Schrodinger’s Call,” where the risk outweighs any absolute outcome. Picking up the phone is a risk: what if they never pick up? Confessing your feelings is out of the question: what if they don’t love you back? By inaction, we open up the possibility of receiving something in return, even though it only stays with us with no chance of fruition. Because the alternative is inviting hurt more than it is accommodating good. Fear is a far greater motivator than anything else.
“Schrodinger’s Call” is defeatist and achingly somber, the lushness that usually defines the trio’s records replaced with heavy sluggishness. In the past, JADE EYES has often filled up the space with longing, yet sensual pleasure that loneliness—especially now—feels alien and brutal in its place.
‘Don’t Play!’ – Shelhiel (MY)
Nothing like the honeysuckle charm of “Don’t Play!” to throw off any whiff of heartbreak’s dread. Malaysian singer-producer Shelhiel concocts a twinkly, electro-smooth R&B jam that honors classics like Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo.”
‘Two Worlds’ – Armi Millare (PH)
What sets Armi Millare’s solo work from UDD apart is its perplexing rhythmic complexities, her penchant for percussive arrangements and earthy soundscapes—both symphonic in nature, but showcases a world outside of beaming melodies and dreams. Her sense of ambition is grounded in the unsteady times, and not so much on the universality of feelings as captured expertly by her band. Despite her distinct musical lane, there’s an obvious charm in Armi’s musical exploration that’s nowhere to be found in a lot of contemporary releases: it’s inarguably experimental and more sonically diverse, but doesn’t erode the enveloping warmth and tenderness of her lyrics; its opennesss to unrecognizable shapes and forms, and sometimes to sonic elements completely foreign to our ears, but delights in soulful delivery. Armed with a voice that marks the passage of time, Armi expertly utilizes this strength in her brand of storytelling.
“Two Worlds” gives us a glimpse of Armi Millare, the “potential” solo artist. Far removed from our expectations, she stretches her music to adventurous new directions, without the need to please fans or a certain type of demographic. The contrast between the frenetic but nuanced energy of the beats and Armi’s unyielding delivery is apparent, but in this shared space lies a narrative that champions an empowered woman who knows how to take charge of her own glorious mess, and turns it into a captivating anthem that reads like fragmented memories, a dream within a dream, and a much needed escape to our daily dread. No music has ever sounded quite like it so far.
‘309’ – Gizpel f/ Bin Idris (ID)
Gizpel, the enigmatic indie band from Indonesia, returns with a new single called “309.” It’s a somber piece of dream pop propelled by reverb-laden instrumentation, groovy bassline, and drowsy melodies. Without eliminating any barriers of excitement in terms of exploring moods and soundscapes, the song gradually reveals a defiant lo-fi sound that serves as a documented blueprint to the band’s enduring consistency. The ‘Your Loss’ trio also recruits Haikal Azizi a.k.a. Bin Idris in the recently released track—somehow adding a much-needed layer of fragility to the mix.
“Rainbow” – The Novembers (JP)
More than a decade into their career, The Novembers have always been an interesting anomaly among their indie rock peers. Their sound constantly evolves from one release after another, stepping out of the fringe to discover a stranger sonic realm or sometimes, surprising its long-time fans when it courts pop accessibility by way of city pop and anime soundtracks. “Rainbow,” their latest foray into both ends of the persona, shows the band’s melodic impulses against a bed of skittering beats, lush strings, and textured shoegaze guitars. It’s The Novembers making the kind of music that they’ve pioneered through the years, navigating into studio trickery while pushing into the direction of honeyed noise and dissonance with a new approach in mind.
“Ready Cheeky Pretty” – CHAI (JP)
This is exactly what happens when you give Japan’s beloved girl gang a platform to express their admiration on “the carefree nature, strength, and purity of a monkey.” CHAI’s latest song “Ready Cheeky Pretty” is a riot of kawaii explosions. With its alluring blend of bubblegum pop, twee, and indie rock, the track is exactly the perfect jam that we NEED right now to drift away temporarily from the loneliness that comes from our self-imposed isolation—an enthusiastic pump of life that drives us to carry on and move forward, even as the pandemic continues to tear us from the inside—night and day. The animated music video, which was co-directed by Hideto Hotta and the band’s bassist YUUKI, is a definite must-watch!
Stream on Spotify
“Mother Spaceship” – Hajime Uchiyama f/ Charlotte Is Mine and 宮内告典 (JP)
It’s refreshing to listen to a pop song that screams yes to carefree joy and warmth, with the intricacies of human emotions ringing in the colorful canvass and pulsating with shimmering, ‘80s pop synths. “Mother Spaceship” brings these Japanese artists together to “make yah dance your pants off,” to borrow a line from Queen Carly [Rae Jepsen], and get you in the mood for fun. Listen below.
“Let Me Fall” – VANNA (IL)
Israeli singer-songwriter VANNA teams up with Roy Avital of indie electronic group Garden City Movement on “Let Me Fall,” an ethereal pop ditty that speaks about the earnestness of being helplessly in love: “And all I could ever ask is to be someone else / To know what I am for you to feel that you want me too,” VANNA sings over narcotic, ambient textures and restrained guitars, her echoed yearning feels more like an act of desperation in what could be a dangerous time to feel things and embrace vulnerability. Even in its downcast moments, the song rises above the fog and strikes a chord with millions of people out there who are going through the same experience as the subject in the song. Sometimes, it’s okay to say you’re not okay, and this song captures the sentiment perfectly and unexpectedly.