By MC Galang and Ian Urrutia
Illustration by MC Galang
It’s a brand-new month and the Palace just shifted Mega Manila back to general community quarantine (GCQ) until August 15, as Filipino health workers called for a two-week enhanced lockdown (ECQ) to relieve some of the mounting pressure on our healthcare system.
Meanwhile, Filipino chemists had to put out a statement to warn the public against using gasoline as disinfectant, despite President of the Republic of the Philippines and Not-Chemist Rodrigo Duterte instructing so (and doubling down, after his spokesperson dismissed the earlier statement as a “joke”).
What’s new on The Rest Is Noise this week:
- Get to know South Korean band DABDA
- Our latest installment of THIS SIDE: ASIA, featuring Thailand
- 30 years of shoegaze in the Philippines: If The Shoe Fits: The Who’s Who Of Philippine Shoegaze Curated
- New Music We Love July roundup
- Inaugural edition of our newly launched feature series focusing on hip-hop and electronica records in Asia: Heavy Rotation
‘Always’ – Telever (TH)
There’s an innocent quality to “Always,” the latest from Nakhonsawan-based band Telever, that’s ultimately consumed by melancholy and longing. The latest from the Thai quartet weaves hazy dreamscapes that revisit some of the best shoegaze records like Slowdive’s “Alison” and the indelible gauziness of Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine: the soft vocals interspersed across reverb-heavy guitars to anchor the track.
Stream on Spotify
‘Sino’ – Ino Makata (PH)
Filipino rapper Ino Makata’s “Sino” approaches the moral dilemma plaguing the country made manifest by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the recently enacted Anti-Terror Law. It’s one of the more forceful condemnations of despotic actions and warmongering, posing the question, “Sino nga ba talaga ang gumagamit ng dahas / Bala ba o salita ang gamit nya armas?”
The track also dovetails the government’s ongoing response to another public health crisis: the problem of drug addiction. Both overwhelmingly criminalize the poor but do not uproot the main problem: economic inequity, unemployment, lack of access and/or availability of social programs, and poverty.
Ino Makata distills the public clamor for systematic changes in leadership and public service (“Sa panahon ngayon ay hindi lamang epidemya / Kinakalaban natin maging ang ating sistema”) and underscores the value of healthy discourse, while cautioning against the unconstitutional provisions that aim to muzzle our right to dissent (“Mag-ingat ka sa salitang ibibitaw / Baka tamaan ka nang balang ligaw / Ngunit wala naman silang pake , terorista nga kasi / Katotohanan itatago at hindi yan lilitaw”).
The artist’s duty to reflect the times has never been more urgent and evident than now, and “Sino” stands with the era-defining work of KOLATERAL, Dicta License, The Axel Pinpin Propaganda Machine, and a handful of musicians engendering a movement that pushes back against any efforts that impinge on democratic freedoms.
‘Royal Blue’ – DiiD f/ Jade & Tyle (KR)
South Korean producer DiiD’s Imagine mini-album trades in honeyed, synth-heavy R&B that features dense, amorphous production that slinks around sprightly guest vocals. In the case of “Royal Blue,” a slow-burning number that pursues fantastical escapism, DiiD signs singer and lyricist Jade and rapper Tyle to personify desire and apply heavy tension. She sings in English, “Now take my hand let’s flow away / We can do anything we want.”
‘vividly’ – Breakfast Clouds (PH)
Dream pop duo Breakfast Clouds draw from a delicate palette of sounds: reverb-soaked guitars, lilting synths, and bedroom pop vocals. But their work has always been layered with emotional depth, displaying self-deprecating take on relationships; and sometimes, personal musings that navigate both self-doubt and confessional honesty in equal strides.
Their new single “vividly” excavates bitterness and regret, while expressing fears of what’s to come in the coming days head. The pop sensibilities roll past subdued textures and pillow-wrapped minimalism, evoking the earnestness of indie pop bands such as Camera Obscura, and the happy-sad intimacy of music personas such as Fazer Daze, Yumi Zouma, and The Japanese House. Even against a backdrop of gentle, no-frills arrangements, Breakfast Clouds are capable of writing carefree and candid thoughts that felt like remnants from a Livejournal entry, never allowing the mood to compromise what they’re feeling at the moment.
‘and you’ x ‘the names of the cities’ – Soha (JP)
Blending intricate, otherworldly production with laid-back rhythms and prominent basslines, Japanese indie band Soha marks a creative leap forward with the release of their two-punch singles “and you” and “the names of the cities.” Both instrumental releases expand their galactic vistas with cinematic flair and progressive rock sensibilities, while staying committed to the technical dexterity that defines most of their songs in the past. Leaving listeners in awe with their stylistic shifts and scintillating buildups, the two new songs make for a moody, bombastic experience that is best served with your headphones on.
‘Stay… It’s Eventide’ – Precal Dropouts (PH)
Drifting away from the atmospheric, slightly more ambitious sound of their debut track “Daragang Magayon,” Davao-based band Precal Dropouts explore a warmer, more palatable offering on their new single “Stay… It’s Eventide.” It’s easy to get swept in waves of reflective imagery and dreamy translucence with this sun-dazed of a pop gem on repeat: the guitars swirl repeatedly in wash of reverbs and hauntingly gorgeous motif, while the yearning vocals reveal a level of introspection that fits the song’s entire mood. Everything about it is captivating at best, transcending the limitations of the recording with its lighter, more vibe-oriented direction.
‘Love Goes’ – SB19 (PH)
Over a delectable serving of late ‘90s/early 2000s R&B and a retro-futurist production that characterizes peak Timbaland/Dark Child, SB19 drops a new jam entitled “Love Goes,” off their highly anticipated debut album, Get in the Zone. As one of the album highlights, the song shows a more restrained songwriting that tackles suffering over a lost loved one. Gravitating toward the spastic sheen of boyband sounds from N*Sync to O-Town, while wearing the confidence of their K-pop counterparts, SB19 knows how salvage the best parts of their blended musical influences while venturing into something that is laser-targeted to what their fans want.
‘LOVE’ – Eunoo (KR)
On “Love,” Korean indie sensation Eunoo thrives on the sophisticated minimalism of contemporary and classic R&B sounds, while redefining its edges with sultry grooves straight from a Quiet Storm session. She demonstrates natural smoothness with a rare mix of fragility and calm, while expertly tapping into a frothy summer tune that soars even in its nuanced production approach. There’s no way to escape this sugar rush; its swoony qualities are enough to make you feel warm and fuzzy from the inside.
‘Innocent’ – The Jukks (TH)
There isn’t as much room for indie rock in online music spaces now as there was 10 or 20 years ago, but thank goodness for The Jukks, music fans are treated to the glory days of effervescent, stadium-sized rock that sounds immediately explosive from the jump. Their new single, “Innocent,” finds greater purpose in exuding the excitement and youthful vigor of an anthem, while taking pure pop songcraft to new heights. It’s as if they’re yelling like hell to the heavens, with guitar-driven melodies that blow right past the propulsive energy, and a chorus that makes the heart swell. In other words, it’s a manna from heaven.