Words by MC Galang and Ian Urrutia
Illustration by MC Galang
If there’s anything worth celebrating at the start of the new year, then it would have to be the constant flooding of new music releases from both sides of the mainstream and indie spectrum. While majority of these songs offer temporary escape from the social and economic disarray happening inside and outside of our homes, some of it reflect the mood of the times—bleak, helpless, mourning in flames, or on occasions, revealing a crack worth seeing in remote darkness.
This week’s New Music We Love responds to a radically altered universe in ways that are relatable and communal, intimate and insular. These tunes function in multitudes, with beauty and madness thrown in the mix, inspiring us to keep going, bring our frustrations to the streets, or sulk under the sheets for a good cry. There’s so much diversity in this week’s roster that it actually qualifies as an “all-purpose” mix, depending on how you want to interpret or read it. — Ian Urrutia
‘Goodbye’ – The Fur. (TW)
There is a wistful sentimentality palpable on The Fur.’s music that lures you in. The Taiwanese indie pop-rock band’s 2018 album, The Town, reminds me of BP Valenzuela and Phoebe Bridgers, the way their songs carve interiors that feel personal, inhabitable.
Their 2020 follow-up, Serene Reminder, dovetails The Town in a way that it is defined by motion: the inertia of change; how we outgrow some things. People. On “Goodbye,” vocalist Yuwen Liao accords significance to imminent endings beautifully. “So long, so long / Time to come and time to go,” she sings. You feel the full weight of these parting words, somehow reassuring us that not all goodbyes are endings, but chances at new beginnings, too.
‘Super Flying Man’ – Deadly Cradle Death (CN)
One of the standout cuts from Japanese label RHYMING SLANG’s self-titled multi-genre compilation album is “Super Flying Man,” a techno-punk track from Beijing-based experimental act Deadly Cradle Death. Best described as “alien pop music,” the track rides on a trilling synth work and distorted bass structure meant to rattle. Exhilarating at best, “Super Flying Man” is a transgressive work that follows the balls-to-the-wall fun of 2020’s Disconnection. While last year’s record often presents itself devoid of context, this latest track is clearly more referential. But honestly, who gives a hoot? It’s fun, it’s bonkers, it’s out there.
‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ – Moshi Moshi Defect! & Limbs (PH)
Easily one of the best tracks at the beginning of 2021, “Satisfaction Guaranteed” aligns itself with the breathlessness of JME’s Grime MC, Pharmakon’s Devour, and my favorite record of 2020, clipping.’s Visions of Bodies Being Burned thematically, if not entirely structurally. It’s unforgiving and visceral, hair-pulling in its intensity. Moshi Moshi Defect! (a new project by FEIFEI) and post-hardcore act Limbs don’t seem to be interested at all in the payoff, but more on how they can pull us in and take us to the same place of rancor and near-hysteria. Therein lies the satisfaction.
‘ACTION’ – CHAI (JP)
The latest from CHAI is one of my favorites from their recent string of releases—a tall order after the extremely delightful “Donuts Mind If I Do.” The recently Sub Pop-signed, hyperpop Japanese act keeps expanding the realm of pop music, from the bewitching pop-rock triumph of 2017’s Pink to their relentlessly optimistic individualistic anthems (who would’ve thought a song essentially about cake could be empowering). “ACTION,” steps into dance-pop territory with unmistakable house music inflections. I would have been content with that merit alone, but this being CHAI, the song remains grounded on the pursuit of happiness: the take-it-by-the-day kind. No pressure, just move. Just dance.
‘Disco Manila’ – Tarsius (f/ Vex Ruffin) (PH)
The music Diego Mapa and Jay Gapasin often make as Tarsius has managed to reconcile percussive, tribal elements with underground dance music. Surprisingly, the result doesn’t deter listeners from swaying their hips to the eclectic duo’s mélange of uncompromisingly experimental bops, as their songs have a tendency to leave the room blazing even on its first few bars.
Their latest collaboration with Filipino-American beatmaker Vex Ruffin is nothing short of primal and weird, but there’s always a veil of infectious energy that draws you further into its realm. Tarsius’ penchant for fighting their way out of a maelstrom using distinct elements on their disposal—hard-hitting drums, fiesta-heavy percussions, subtle effects, and colorful production—pushes the agenda to a whole new space. With Vex Ruffin’s contribution to turn the recognizable blueprint into something that serves the senses, “Disco Manila” is a pleasurable oddity for the ages, and another great addition to Tarsius’ arsenal of generation-defining bangers.
‘Broken Glass (LONER Remix)’ – She’s Only Sixteen (PH)
She’s Only Sixteen has recently dropped a remix EP to their single “Broken Glass,” which features Filipino electronic musicians reimagining the softly pulsing anthem into a gem of sonic possibilities. My favorite among the bunch is LONER’s sinfully delightful, UK garage take on the band’s underrated jam. Clocking in less than 4 minutes, LONER’s version encapsulates the morph with club sensibilities that don’t feel alienating even in formats such as pop and alternative radio. The remix is primed for longevity: both serving its purpose on an intimate headphone-listening experience and in a communal gathering somewhere in post-pandemic Manila, where the future isn’t as bleak and dancing your heartbreak away in a packed club is a norm.
‘Painting’ – HIGA (KR)
“Painting” conjures ambition of mythic proportions. It’s basically a movie unto itself—a hymn that hovers into ambiguous territory, but sails through themes of profound depression and loneliness in a time that’s filled to the brim with bleakness. HIGA strips off the haunting instrumentation to essentials, while subtly exploring a magical realm that sounds like nothing else. The ornate but quiet landscape builds into a pruned garden of avant-garde noise and drone, surging triumphant above the clutter. It’s a song that reeks of New Age beauty, and the sight and sound it evokes, go beyond cinematic standards. Can’t wait to hear more from HIGA in the coming months.
“Stay With Me” – The Fur. (TW)
On the surface, “Stay With Me” sounds like a chameleonic force of a tune that revisits the ‘80s with the sensual demeanor of Blondie or Kate Bush at her most accessible. Though it draws an oddball jumble of sonic references that range from new wave, funk, disco, and pop music, The Fur.’s latest track is charismatic enough to stand on its own, moving from the fringes to create something that is enjoyable from a wider market perspective. Thanks to Yuwen Liao’s supremely grounded vocals and Yuchain Wang’s unabashedly retro production, the song winds up its high points from start onwards, culminating into a sophisticated finish filled with surprises.