The How-To Guide on Holding Home Screenings

With the past few months’ GAME OF PEAKS night (where we screen Twin Peaks and Game of Thrones back to back), Monday has consistently been the highlight of my week. Nothing compares to spending time with friends and loved ones, experiencing stories of characters you all know and love together. Of course, it helps to be a good host for these kinds of things, and providing the optimal entertainment experience with no overlong set-ups, technical difficulties and mediocre video quality is key. I’ve been hosting movie and TV nights since college, and here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

        1. ALWAYS CURATE GOOD CONTENT 
          Find something that a big group can enjoy. It could be a hilarious comedy or a thrilling action movie. Sometimes even movies considered the worst of all time can provide fun for the whole crew (look up The Room). Be careful though– there really are some shows and movies that aren’t meant for big groups. As much as I ended up falling in love with The Wire I remember watching it for the first time with a few friends. Before the episode ended we were all asleep.
        2. SHOW SOMETHING YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS LOVE
          The best things to watch in groups are shows or movies your friends all love and have been waiting for. It’s no accident that I’m writing this article as everyone’s about to watch the Game of Thrones season finale. I’ve seen every episode of season 6 with friends, and we spend at least an hour after discussing theories, reliving great moments, or just hating on Lord Baelish and Sansa.
        3. MAKE SURE FOOD AND DRINK ARE AVAILABLE
          It’s always better to have more of everything to avoid running out of things. Prepare enough food and drinks that you can hold with your hands to minimize distracting moments of people using silverware or walking around and blocking the screen to get plates.
        4. GET A BIG TV THAT’S SUPER CLEAR
          You need a reliable and great TV that’s clear and crisp for optimum experience. I personally use the 65-inch X9300D Bravia TV, which gives the best color intensity, the most dynamic blacks and the peak brightness that the format can give. It’s great screening something in 1080 knowing that I can fully enjoy the 4kHDR it provides me with.

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          Getting ready for some of that Jon Snow action at Game of Peaks night

        5. MAKE SURE YOUR SOUND IS AWESOME
          The real secret to a cinematic experience is the sound. Once an explosion happens and you feel the hum of the subwoofers, it feels like you’re right there. I play everything from background music to HD movies on my Sony HT-ST9 Soundbar. The sounds is just so full and complete. It’s so hard to even listen to TV speakers ever again.
        6. HOLD SPECIAL SCREENINGS
          I’m very lucky to have friends that are truly talented filmmakers, and so sometimes we get together and screen each others’ films for comments or just to share something that hasn’t been shared yet. Just a week ago one of my best friends Marie Jamora came over to screen her short film Flip The Record, a sweet and charming coming-of-age story about a young Fil-Am DJ in 80s Daly City. After the screening we had a short Q&A and a signing.

           

        7. THEMES ALWAYS HELP
          I remember coming home after a long day at work, eager to watch the pilot episode of Twin Peaks: The Return with friends, and my girlfriend surprised me with the complete Twin Peaks experience: Twin Peaks toys and paintings, the soundtrack playing in the background, and an unhealthy dose of coffee and donuts. Sticking to a theme immediately puts you in the world you’re about to behold, and adds an element of fun and silliness to your viewing nights.

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          all that’s missing is the Cherry Pie

        8. THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT – GREAT CONVERSATION
          There are really a few things more fulfilling than talking with a bunch of people about your favorite show right after seeing a new episode. 13 years ago we had LOST in MARS (our back-to-back Veronica Mars/Lost night), and the thrill is back with GAME of PEAKS. But all of this would be incomplete without the final and most important element—great conversation. Debriefing about the episode, discussing dream scenarios and theories, revisiting your favorite moments and saying “grabe naiyak ako diyan”(that made me tear up) or “oh my God when the _______ did the ______ I was really holding my breath! — that’s what really puts the home in home viewing.

So fire up the home system, buy some chips, dip and drinks , and message your closest friends that you’ll be watching episode 7 of Game of Thrones all together tonight. Trust me: the experience will be exponentially sweeter.

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Returning to Twin Peaks

“Do you want to watch a movie?” my father asks, bringing in what was at the time the cutting-edge medium for home entertainment: a LaserDisc.

“Sure. What is it?”

“It’s a movie called Eraserhead, directed by David Lynch.”

He then pops the LaserDisc into the player and proceeds to show me a surrealist horror fever-dream about a man with poofy hair who has to take care of his unwanted monster-baby. A warning/parable for early fatherhood, the film also features a pimply-faced lady who dances and squishes gigantic sperm in the process, a severely-scarred man who controls the cogs of the world, fried chicken that gushes blood when punctured, and that baby. Oh, God, that baby.


I WAS 11 YEARS OLD.

This was before the band the Eraserheads, and long before I became a film fan. When we speak of turning points in life this was definitely one of mine. I had never seen anything like Eraserhead before, and to this day Eraserhead is one of the first films I show my film class, simply because I want them getting properly fucked up when they enter my classroom.

A year later ABS-CBN premieres a show called Twin Peaks, which, coincidentally was also directed by David Lynch. I decide to watch it, because they announce that they’re giving 10,000 Pesos away to whoever can guess the answer to the main mystery behind the show: WHO KILLED LAURA PALMER? The first episode I watch features the main investigator, Agent Dale Cooper, throwing rocks at bottles as possible suspects’ names are read aloud to him. Later that night he has a dream about a dwarf in a red room who speaks strangely and whose cousin is Laura Palmer. The dwarf then proceeds to dance as Laura approaches Dale Cooper and whispers the identity of her killer. I couldn’t sleep that night, replaying in my head the clues the dwarf had given, and just really trying to process what I’d just seen.


From then on Twin Peaks became part of my regular Friday night viewing, a habit that consisted of juggling back and forth between channels 2 and 9 and shows like X-Men, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Simpsons, Murphy Brown and Northern Exposure. I was so obsessed with the show that it became my mission to convince all my classmates in Montessori to watch the series, and I even made a little comic book parody about it called Twin Geeks. I bought everything there was to buy about Twin Peaks: books like The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to The Town. You should note that during those days the Internet wasn’t even a thing yet, so I had always felt like the lone crusader who, at 12, had witnessed the gospel and made it his mission to share it with the world.

Which begs the question: why Twin Peaks? There are many answers to that question, and I’ve found that certain answers have only become prominent in later stages of my life. At first it was the lynchness of it all: weird scenarios, disturbing ideas, offbeat characters and this looming atmosphere that you couldn’t scratch off. Later on I found myself more attached to the characters: Dale Cooper as the most charming eagle scout detective in the history of fiction, his logic-based sidekick Harry S. Truman, the gorgeous and inimitable Audrey Horne. Even Laura Palmer, who is never present in the series (except in the aforementioned dreams), ultimately becomes a tragic hero of the highest order. There was also the spirituality of it all: the idea that evil does exist, and it’s our job to stop it. The fear that, to quote Major Garland Briggs, “what if love isn’t enough?”

(THIS PARAGRAPH HAS SPOILERS) And then there was the humanity. As big a David Lynch fan as I am, it’s only in Twin Peaks that the auteur finds a perfect balance between what is surreal and what is real. When Maddy Ferguson is murdered and everyone just feels it happen there is a beautiful scene in the roadhouse that perfectly encapsulates grief and sympathy. When Major Briggs tells his son Bobby about his vision of being with his angst-ridden son in a pure, peaceful, white place one completely feels the brief joy we see in Bobby. When Leland Palmer realizes that he killed his own daughter and Cooper comforts him in his dying moments, we see one of the most touching conversations to ever grace the small screen. (END SPOILER)

Twin Peaks would always find its way back to my life, in one form or another. I actually did join that ABS-CBN 10,000 Peso contest and felt disappointed when I wasn’t the winner announced on Showbiz Lingo.  I would re-watch the series with every single meaningful person I had a relationship with. I had the entire run on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray  (+ Fire Walk With Me on Laserdisc). Then, around three years ago the series returned to my life in a big way. My alma mater USC held screenings of the show’s episodes, and Q+A’s with the cast afterwards. That’s when my 12-year-old self returned. I met all these cast members I’d adored since my tween years, asked them questions, had mini-conversations with them. I even had a 15-second interview with David Lynch that garnered attention (and sometimes ridicule) from a few prominent film sites. 

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Clockwise, from top left: Kyle McLachlan (Agent Dale Cooper), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Catherine Coulson (The Log Lady) and Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer)

Shortly after that, it was announced that after 25 years, Twin Peaks would return. These were my initial thoughts…

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 3.36.29 PM…and those feelings have only been magnified since. Shortly after making it a worldwide phenomenon, audiences turned their backs on Twin Peaks, resulting in the show’s cancellation. The resulting finale felt like a huge fuck you to from David Lynch to the show’s network, ABC. (SPOILER ALERT) Many favorite characters were randomly killed off, half of the episode happens in the weird AF red room, and the series ends with the demon Bob (the show’s main villain) possessing Agent Dale Cooper. (/END SPOILER) It was horrible. It was amazing. It, for me, was and still is the bravest hour of television ever produced. After two years of hoping for some kind of closure, I just gave up. I wish someone had told me I waited 23 years short.


In the finale, Laura Palmer actually tells Cooper that she’ll see him again in 25 years. And she’s right on time. In a few hours I will be watching not only the continuation of a series I’d waited 25 years for, but the new season of my favorite television show of all time, directed by my favorite director, who hasn’t made anything long-form in 11 years. That’s a lot of pressure to be feeling right now, as an audience member. And will it work out? I DON’T KNOW. So I guess I’ll just have to channel Special Agent Dale Cooper, who once said “I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”

A Pre-Guide to Coachella

A whole bunch of Pinoys have flown out/are flying out to California to see the Coachella Music and Arts Festival this year. This being my tenth, and probably last, Coachella, a number of friends have asked me for tips regarding the festival. Because of laziness, and for posterity’s sake, I’ve decided to put everything on two pages. So without further ado, here is my personal guide for preparing for Coachella!

I REALLY WANNA GO, BUT I RAN OUT OF TICKETS…
Now is the time, my friends. This is that window when something at work or personal life suddenly comes up and friends of your friends can no longer make it to Coachella. When I run out of tickets this is usually the time I strike. Craigslist.com is always a good source, though if you want something less shady, asking your friends who are going if their friends are selling tickets works 80% of the time.

Also, don’t buy VIP tickets. VIP tickets get you: shorter lines, access to better food trucks, a less crowded beer garden and opportunities to run into celebrities. They also give you a VIP area that is extremely far away from the stage. Not worth paying double the price.

WEEKEND TWO VS. WEEKEND ONE
People always ask which is the better weekend to go to, and the misconception is that weekend one is better. From someone who’s gone to both, this is not completely true. There are pros and cons to both weekends. Weekend One usually has all the celebrities, and for sure has most of the surprises. Weekend Two, on the other hand, is less bro-y and more about the music, and you can have a more curated experience knowing all the setlists, best reviewed performances, and special guests. I wouldn’t have gone to the front to see the Tupac Hologram if I hadn’t known about it from Weekend One, and I wouldn’t have watched Sia’s life-changing performance last year if I didn’t read all the reviews about it as well.

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Virtual Tupac. One of the most bizarre things that’s ever happened at Coachella.

This year will be the first year I’m going to Coachella Valley twice. The first weekend will be for Desert X and parties, the second weekend will be for Coachella proper. I feel in my heart that this is the way to go, hahaha.

ACCOMODATIONS AND TRAVEL
Coachella takes place in the Empire Polo Field in Indio. There are lots of hotels and resorts nearby that are shuttle stops. Those are kind of fun, especially Friday afternoons, because everyone is pumped and the shuttles get really rowdy. However, once Sunday night sets in everyone stinks and is tired and just wants to go home. My reco is to rent a multi-bedroom house in the surrounding areas (Desert Falls, Palm Springs, La Quinta, Palm Desert) with friends and bring a car. Going home is always nicer when you can kickback with friends and good air-conditioning, especially when it takes you two hours to get out of the parking lot.

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Desert X, an exhibit of massive installations featured all throughout the Coachella Desert. Something worth thinking about going to outside of the festival. 

THINGS TO BRING

  1. SOMETHING WITH SHORT SLEEVES – Sorry to dash your Williamsburg dreams but this is not the place for buttoned-up long-sleeved shirts. It gets crazy searing dry sunburn hot in the Empire Polo Field. Wear something thin and breezy during the day. Or wear nothing at all.
  1. SHORTS, OR EVEN… CARGO SHORTS – I know guys. Cargo Shorts: so Pulp Summerslammy. But when you’re in Coachella and you need immediate access to the pocket-sized programme, your powerbank, your phone, your lighter, your wallet, your keys… you will never be more thankful in your life that you’re wearing cargo shorts.
  1. SHOES YOU DON’T LOVE- Many people use Coachella as a venue for OOTDs and showing off their favorite wardrobe. Trust me: they usually regret it. There’s so much sand and grime and sweat that it would be wiser to wear clothes that are on the way out. This especially applies to shoes. The more athletic and comfy, the better. You should also be ready to have it so covered in mud that even the insides get squishy (though this applies more to Governor’s Ball in New York). DON’T YOU DARE WEAR YOUR FAVORITE PAIR. Hey look, that rhymes.
  1. SHADES- And again, not super expensive ones that cost thousands of Pesos. You can get nice $10 ones at Urban Outfitters or H&M. They’re apparently more trendy anyway.
  1. MASK ­– Sometimes the wind can get so bad that it feels like you’re in the middle of a sandstorm. Some smart kids deal with this by wearing a Bandido Bandana, which doubles as an awesome fashion statement. I get too lazy to tie it around my face so I use the Asian Surgical Mask.  
  1. POWERBANKWhich is a bit of a no brainer. Make sure you put your phone on low power mode from the very start! Instagram Stories/Snapchat take so much power, and we all know you’ll be using that all weekend.
  1. JACKET – Remember—the Coachella Valley is in the California desert, so it cools down as fast as it heats up… and it can get quite cold. I usually buy merch when I go so I double up on the T-shirts. But if you’re lamigin you should definitely bring a jacket.
  1. SUNBLOCK/SUNSCREEN – Where I shamelessly plug Belo Sunscreen because it’s has no weird coconut smell and is really great on the face! 

    Also, giving out Belo Sunblock is a good excuse to go up to cute girls.

  2. BACKPACK – You may look like you’re going to the festival with nothing, but trust me, a backpack/totebag/purse-type-thing will come in very handy for storing merch, your powerbank, a jacket and extra bottles of water.
  1. A CUTE SIGNBOARD OR A THING WITH LIGHTSThe hardest thing to do in Coachella is regrouping with friends. When someone says “I’ll go to the bathroom” or “I’ll get a drink does anyone want one?” this usually means that this is the last time you’ll see this person for the day. One way of finding your crew amidst the 100,000 people that attend Coachella is having specialized placards/flags/things that light up that are easy to spot. People sometimes use this as a venue for humor and creativity, using everything from the happy person raising one hand emoji to Drake’s reaction after Madonna’s kiss as their gangsigns. During his weekend two performance Drake saw the latter, and spent a good minute cracking up onstage.Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 3.25.37 PM
  1. FLOWER CROWN – just kidding. Who even uses those anymore.

Why I Cut The Cord

I watched this really awesome short film the other day. It was called Dogwalker, and it was basically about this dog walker whose client’s dog just died. The dog was too big to carry, so she stuffed it in a big piece of luggage and went on a commute across town to return it to its rightful owner. Along the way a random person helps her carry the suitcase, and an attraction develops between the two. Problem is, he’s unknowingly helping her carry a dead dog as their little flirtation ensues.

DOGWALKER from Kim Sherman on Vimeo.

I’m used to watching short content like this on my phone. Shorts films, music videos, webisodes – they’ve all become the stuff of sites like Youtube and Vimeo. This time, however, I was able to view it all in 65-inch Hi-Definition glory. New TV sets like my Sony Bravia have a built in cast function, and I can literally play anything on my phone or tablet and just cast it straight to the TV. That’s some Black Mirror stuff right there.

You know what I’m talking about. That Black Mirror episode where your memories are immediately recorded and can be cast onto the television as proof. I think it was called The Entire History of You or something. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it on Netflix. I get to watch it on full HD just by pressing the Netflix button on my remote. Such is the life of a Cord Cutter.

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Me and my homies pigging out on pastries and looking for something awesome to watch on the Sony Bravia 4K HDR. Such an adventurous life we lead.

I’ve been a Cord Cutter for almost two years now. Cord Cutter being annoying industry parlance for people who’ve given up their cable subscriptions, sometimes even giving up free-to-air television in the process. And honestly? Life has been better. I don’t have to wade through hours of crap to watch something amazing. I don’t have to have my stories violently cut up by commercials anymore, either. I can literally find any video on Youtube by speaking to my TV’s microphone. If I want to watch a crisp, clear, guilt-free copy of Oscar winner Manchester by The Sea all I have to do is get on the Amazon app on the Bravia. Watch the season ender of Westworld with my friends? I can cast directly from my HBOGo app. Right now I’m going through all two seasons of my favorite show of all time, Twin Peaks, on Blu-Ray. Some things still need that special physical treatment, after all.

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Even as I write this I’m casting my Spotify playlist called Wallpaper: A Soundtrack for Studying onto the TV, and the HT-ST9 Hi-Res Audio Soundbar is playing Bonobo with such crispness and booming bass that I’m almost tempted to dance.

This is why I joined IFLIX two years ago, and why I continued to do work in this field with Globe Studios. I’m from what the industry (here we go again with industry parlance) calls Legacy Media. But I’ve seen the signs, and I’m loving it. The power is with the experiencer now, and we watch/listen to/play what we want, when we want it, how we want it. Welcome to the new world.

This is Our Last Dance

Recently, Jill Tan Radovan sent me a little questionnaire for an article she was doing on musicians reacting to David Bowie’s passing. I was pretty sure she just needed soundbites and one-sentencers, but I found myself unable to stop writing. Bowie’s passing affected me, and many of my friends, more than we thought. Maybe it’s because it happened without warning. Maybe it’s because we thought that the man couldn’t die.

Here are the answers I sent to Jill, along with some audiovisual aids. It’s incredibly hard describing Bowie’s importance to people who have never been fans, but to quote Carrie Brownstein, ” It feels like we lost something elemental, as if an entire color is gone.”

What was your initial reaction when you learned of David Bowie’s passing?

I remember I was on a call at work and the minute I put my phone down I saw all these tweets saying “David Bowie RIP”. I stood up and went to the table of my co-workers with taste, totally shellshocked, and went “Bowie’s dead?!”

They all looked at me with sad eyes and a nod. I had to sit down.

How do you feel about it/how does it affect you now?

It’s still shocking. Bowie is one of those people you never thought would die, and unlike someone like Lou Reed, I didn’t hear anything about him being sick. I was talking to my friends Wanggo and Tals about him just the day before. I saw this awesome gif of drawings of Bowie through the years and sent it to them. We talked about his new album, and the Blackstar video. David Bowie isn’t past tense. He’s still shaking shit up.

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Do you remember how/when you discovered David Bowie?

David Bowie is that rare artist where you just keep rediscovering him. Like most people my age, I discovered and became a fan with Labyrinth. People would already say “David Bowie is starring in this movie” and I had no idea, all I knew was there was this cool guy who was Jareth the Goblin King. Then as a little kid I would listen to NU 107 and hear stuff like Space Oddity, China Girl and Let’s Dance and it was only later that I found out all those songs were made by one guy.

That’s what’s great about him. You have this larger-than-life persona but when you get down to brass tacks, the songs are really fucking good. And to be honest I didn’t get into all the weird stuff David Bowie was doing until I saw Velvet Goldmine in the late 90s. I was really more a fan of the music than the fashion and characters.

Favorite song and/or album/film and why

My favorite, favorite song of his is Modern Love. It’s just such so perfect and happy and makes me dance.

I always have to put a Bowie song on when I spin, and if it’s not Modern Love then it’s Let’s Dance or Rebel Rebel. There was a time where, for two months straight, I would put Under Pressure on all the time and sing at the top of my lungs.

Other faves always change, but after he died I was listening to him on Spotify and I started crying when Starman came on. It’s probably the las of his songs that affected me. I really loved that Starman montage in The Martian.


Filmwise I think the best role for him was the Nikola Tesla role in The Prestige, funnily enough. It was perfect, enhanced in part by the fact that Christopher Nolan is such a Bowie fan. There’s also Labyrinth and the Andy Warhol role in Basquiat. My favorite, however, has to be his short role as Phillip Jeffries in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. He has only one scene in the finished film, but it’s one of my favorite scenes in movie history.

Since you mention film, I should also take this moment to say how perfect a match cinema and Bowie are. Whether it’s the aforementioned Starman montage, that beautiful scene of Frances Ha dancing in the street to Modern Love, how Heroes plays into Perks of Being a Wallflower or the very ending of Dogville with Young Americans, his music is so cinematic. Even the soundtrack of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was comprised mostly of Bowie covers by Seu Jorge.


How has David Bowie and his music influenced you as a person/artist/musician?

Bowie is a consummate artist, one of the greatest creatives we have in this age. He was unafraid of taking his music to other places: telling stories, creating characters, making films and all these amazing music videos. He was also doing it at a time when nobody was doing that sort of thing. He was controversial and dangerous, and time taught us that that’s what he needed to be at the time. Music videos like “Jump They Say” and “Survive” were super influential to me as a music video director, and his fearless approach at creating without boundaries is something I always aspire to.


Myrene Academia made this status message shortly after his death: “We are going to mourn for a while. And then we’re going to go on and keep our freak flags flying. Because that is what he paved the way for.” That pretty much says in three sentences what I’ve been trying to say this whole essay.

When Bowie died, it felt like a personal death, like someone close to you just suddenly passed away. And then I looked at my Facebook and Whatsapp groups and Twitter feed and my heart wanted to explode because I saw all these people I’ve become close to: bandmates, co-workers, peers, friends, mourn . He was an outsider, he will always be an outsider. And he brought all us outsiders together.

The Top 10 Long-Playing Musical Recordings of 2015

OH MY GOD THANK YOU 2015 FOR TAKING MUSIC OUT OF THE RUT IT’S BEEN IN FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS.

An unfair statement, yes, considering that 2013 was pretty good. Still, 2015 was phenomenal. I’d choose any album from the top five on this list over last year’s number one, and I feel that I’m not even through listening to the good stuff that came out this year.

This is the year all the greats seemed to return with a vengeance. Most of my list is populated by old favorites, and most of the first-timers are artists whose previous albums should have been included (*cough*Kendrick*cough*). There are major returns as well, including a reunion from one of my favorite bands of all time and the follow-up to my favorite album of all time. One of them is a dud, while one of them ends up at the top spot. Let’s do this.

10.Disclosure – Caracal This could actually be a pity vote, or a guilt vote, because I didn’t include Disclosure’s brilliant debut albumSettle in my 2013 list. Since then “Latch” has become my favorite song of the decade (so far), I’ve become a fan of the Lawrence brothers, and I even co-promoted their DJ set in Manila. Caracal is honestly more of the same, just with bigger collaborators including The Weeknd, Lorde and a post-Latch Sam Smith. Still, there’s no doubt that Disclosure is the real deal, and they prove it by producing, performing and singing Jaded, the album’s best single.
9.BP Valenzuela – The Neon Hour
FRIEND: Any good new local artists you can recommend?
ME: BP Valenzuela. She’s fantastic.
FRIEND: Really? What does she sound like?
ME: Hmmm. Parang… Debbie Gibson.
FRIEND: …
ME: What?
FRIEND: Fuck you.
ME: No! I’m serious!

The irony of it all is that I meant what I said wholeheartedly. There is a lot of Debbie Gibson in BP Valenzuela’s work. And Janet Jackson, and Mary J. Blige, and Grimes, and CHVRCHES, and Prefuse 73 and a plethora of the most interesting pop musicians of the past two decades. It takes a lot of discipline and talent to not only combine those influences, but sift through their idiosyncrasies and come out with something uniquely your own. At the age of 20, BP has already evolved so much from her days as the nervous, awkward garage musician.  Kid’s got a bright future, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

8.Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up This year two of my favorite 90s Alternachick acts, Veruca Salt and The Juliana Hatfield Three, came out with albums that were…OK. I almost gave up until I discovered someone who packed the punch they did in the 90s and was probably only in her tweens when it all happened: Colleen Green. The crunchy guitars, the dissonant double tracking, the adolescent angst are all present in catchy pop ditties like “I Want To Grow Up”, “Wild One”  and “Things That Are Bad for Me”. Sometimes I wonder if my love for 90s girl-fronted alternative music was just a teenage phase. I’m glad Colleen Green exists to remind me that it wasn’t.
7.CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
For their sophomore effort Every Open Eye, CHVRCHES does everything that worked with their phenomenal first record The Bones of What You Believe (still easily my favorite album of the decade): simple structures, catchy choruses, upbeat mini-anthems. Why, then, is it not the masterpiece TBoWYB was? My guess is that the trio is aiming for profundity while staying on safe musical ground, thus losing simple-but-fun songs like “Lungs” or electronic jamfests like “Tether”. In other words, they’re treading dangerous Coldplay ground. They still are CHVRCHES, after all is said and done, and their uncanny gift of combining bad vintage pop and punk rock sensibilities to make great music is still heavily felt in songs like “Leave a Trace” and “Rise Above”. Especially of note is “High Enough to Carry You Over”, Martin Doherty’s best song yet.
6.Grimes – Art Angels Last year Grimes released a collaboration with Blood Diamond called “Go”. It was horrible: a weird, try-hard single that tried to keep the Grimes aesthetic but incorporate dubstep and EDM. At that point I pretty much gave up on Grimes, figuring she’d go the Avril/Jewel route and water down her music to get a bigger audience. My bad. Art Angels is definitely a more audience-friendly album than 2012’s Visions, but is totally, completely, 100% Grimes. It’s also a different side of the artist – instead of the ethereal soprano we’re used to, we see the videogame playing, cosplaying, Game of Thrones fangirl she so often appears as on social media. The coup-de-grace comes in the song “Realiti’, when she starts using THE SYNTH THAT WAS USED IN ALICE DEEJAY’S “BETTER OFF ALONE”. Grimes aka Claire Boucher is the most talented troll I know, and I will forever love her for it.

5.Tame Impala – Currents Tame Impala’s album Lonerism was another unfortunate omission from my 2012 top ten list. Over the years I’ve come to really appreciate that album and its psychedelic Beatles-esque vibe. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I first heard Currents – an album that leans more towards disco and soul than the crunchy classic rock the band is beloved for. I didn’t want to let another possible gem pass me by, however, and decided to give it a chance. Sure enough, much like Lonerism, Currents is one of those albums that just grows on you. Plus, despite its retro feel, there are touches of cutting-edge genius, like the filter/looping combo towards the instrumental of carrier single “Let it Happen” and the multitude of instruments at work in the simple-seeming romantic masterpiece “Eventually”.

4. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly In the wake of Trayvon Martin, Ferguson and #blacklivesmatter, it feels like rapping about bitches and guns simply isn’t enough anymore. Enter Kendrick Lamar, who wowed the world with his sophomore album Good Kid M.A.A.D City: an earnest, real and heartbreaking account of growing up in Compton. He follows this up with To Pimp A Butterfly: more experimental in style and grander in scope. With lyrics like “ 2015—Niggas tired of playin victim, dog … the history books overlook the word and hide it, America tried to make it to a house divided”, Kendrick is the rapper Hip Hop needs right now—a man who is not afraid to take today’s issues head on and digs through the history of black music to create a stunning and game changing opus.  And hey, the bitches and hos are still there, but at least he raps about that spoken-word style accompanied by an awesome jazz soundtrack.

3.Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell Sufjan Stevens can get really epic and experimental, and when he does he just gets annoying. After the last two albums, 2009’sThe BQE and 2010’s The Age of Adz, I was ready to forget about my favorite living folk singer completely. And then came Carrie and Lowell, an intensely personal album about Stevens’s mother, her boyfriend post-divorce, and eventual death. Its sparse, minimalist tone echoes my favorite Sufjan Stevens album Seven Swans, but has enough electronic undertones to be more than just a throwback. Stevens also proves that he is still one of the best lyricists working today, with lines like “Spirit of my silence I can hear you, But I’m afraid to be near you, and I don’t know where to begin” or “Tell me what did you learn from the Tilamook burn, or the Fourth of July? We’re all gonna die,” repeating the phrase more and more somberly until the very end of the song Fourth of July.  Carrie and Lowell is that rare record that speaks about faith and family, mortality and death; and leaves you kind of just sitting there, thinking about the bigger questions in life.
2.Jamie xx – In Colour The xx’s debut came out in 2009, and their follow up Coexist came out in 2012. Following that pattern, this year should have been the year the London trio released a third album. Instead, we get something even better in the form of member Jamie xx’s first solo record, In Colour. Being the only one who doesn’t sing, Jamie Smith is usually the most underappreciated member of the band, but in this record his musical genius shines. A big reason is that Jamie xx is allowed to veer away form the minimalist arrangements that the xx is known for, and play around with house, garage, trance, hip hop and even reggae. Plus, you have “Loud Places” sung by The xx’s Romy Madley-Croft, which is not only my single of the year but the best song The xx members have released since their first album six years ago.

1.263884Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love Almost ten years ago, when Sleater-Kinney broke up, I wrote an essay about how much I love the band and how influential they were to me not only as a musician, but as a person. When they announced their return and released their 8th album No Cities to Love last January, everyone knew that I already had my album of the year.  I’m relieved to say that almost a year later I still can’t stop listening to it, and it still is my album of the year. No Cities to Love is far from the best of S-K’s catalog, but it is a formidable addition. It’s interesting to see how the dynamic has changed after Corin Tucker became a folk singer and full-time mom, Janet Weiss became the most in-demand indie rock drummer working today, and Carrie Brownstein became a radio host/actress/rockstar/novelist/Portlandian. There is a lot of looking back, as befits a band aware of their legacy and importance, but there is also a certain humbling and acceptance of age. “We win, we lose, only together do we break the rules,” Tucker sings in “Surface Envy”, while Brownstein acknowledges the importance of friendship and camaraderie over genres and movements in “A New Wave”:  “No one here is taking notice, no outline will ever hold us; it’s not a new wave it’s just you and me.”

HONORABLE MENTION
Hannah and Gabi’s Years Gone is sweet and melancholic and wistful. My only problem with it is that it’s too short and leaves you wanting more. Purity Ring’sAnother Eternity almost made it to the list, but I got tired of it as fast as I fell in love with it.

There are two more albums that should be in Honorable Mention, but considering how much I love the artists they are now delegated to…

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE YEAR
Despite all the great albums we saw this year, 2015 was also the year for major disappointments. After 21 years The Juliana Hatfield Three have finally released a follow-up to my favorite album of all time, and it doesn’t even make the top 10 of  2015.

Also of note is the absence of Death Cab for Cutie, one of my favorite bands OAT. Their albums usually end up at the number one or two spot of the year (and even number one of the last decade), and this year’s Kintsugi is their first album that doesn’t see the list. Ah, well. Wala na si Wallah, so it’s fine.

TRACKS OF THE YEAR
Oh, God. I’ve become one of those “hey OK ang mga kanta ni Justin Bieber ngayon ha” people, and it shows with the presence of “Where Are You Now” and  “What Do You Mean” on my top tracks of the year. In fairness to me, my list  is the most eclectic it’s ever been, littered with indie rock (Sleater-Kinney, Grimes), dance (Jack Ü, Jamie xx), hip hop (Drake, Kendrick) and pop (Taylor Swift, Carly Rae). My single of the year is Jamie xx’s “Loud Places”, which is beautiful and worth putting on repeat if you haven’t yet.

MUSIC VIDEOS OF THE YEAR
The less you know about Tame Impala’s video for  “The Less I Know The Better”, the better. Just watch it and let it happen. Also, good stuff on the urban front like Vince Staples’ video for Señorita and my fave, Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money ❤ ❤ ❤

BEST LIVE BAND
St. Vincent. Oh my God St. Vincent.

I was able to catch Sleater-Kinney at the Palladium last year, and that show was amazing. They did “One More Hour”, and I shed quite a few tears that night.

Tame Impala was great. They make you feel like you’re on drugs even though you’re not on drugs. Also, that chick from Sylvan Esso can really dance.

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Nagkakagulo sa Kagulo

The last post was supposed to simply be an introduction to this one… except I got carried away. This post is about process, and what goes into the making of a music video. From beginning to bloody end 🙂

Sandwich is one of my favorite bands to work with. I’ve known Myrene and Diego since my formative teens (I actually dedicated my first movie Gamitan to both of them) and have been a fan of their band since its inception, so much so that I actually did their first interview back in 1998.

When Diego asked me to do the video for the new single, I was overjoyed. For one thing I hadn’t done a music video in three years, unless you count this pretty horrible Call Me Maybe parody I did for Business School. For another, it was Sandwich. I love Sandwich, and I love the videos I’ve worked on for the band. 2005’s Masilungan was Diego’s and my first foray into that whole “urban depression” thing, and 2008’s Procrastinator was a landmark in my life in so many ways.

But what do you do with a band you’ve done so many videos with? And how do you come back to a medium you were so close to after such a long time? We had to shake things up, mess with the status quo. I listened to the song a number of times, and I couldn’t get the idea of a girl going increasingly out of control out of my head. And so I wrote them this treatment:

I’ve been thinking about music videos lately, and how no one seems to watch them anymore. Gone are the days when people would ask each other “have you seen _______’s latest video?” and people would wait by the TV screen for these videos on Myx and MTV. The strange thing is, ever since music videos have become so readily available on Youtube and online media, people seem to have taken them for granted.

Maybe that’s good for musicians. Maybe it’s back to basics for the artists now, where people focus on the song and nothing else (albums, videos, promotion). And maybe when we think of a music video, especially for a band that’s been documented and shot so many times, we should think of it as a separate entity—a short film set to music.

At this point in Sandwich’s career you guys have been shot from every possible angle already; from black and white and kinetic to stop motion and fun to urban and depressing. What about a Sandwich video without the band?

And this is what I propose Kagulo be: a short film set to music without the band. The whole thing centers around an actress who has that perfect mix of sweet and wicked. She’s on a date with someone. It’s nice, sweet, cute. So much so that it doesn’t even cut along to the music. They then decide to go and drink a bit and end up in Finder’s Keepers. She gets wilder, has alcohol poured into her mouth, starts dancing on the table. Her date, Edward Mendez, is getting a little weary and turned off. She brings him to Black Market. There she goes absolutely nuts. She starts slapping her date around, finding it fun. She bounces from person to person. She dances like a crazy person. Then she rides piggyback on her date, and ends up slitting his throat with a razor. At the very end it’s just a close up of our heroine, covered with blood, looking around her, strobe lights flashing on her face.

Kagulo 🙂

During Mong’s wedding Diego suggested that we go all out with the video. Don’t hold back, go for the kill. He cited Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up video, and how we shouldn’t care about censors with this one. He made complete sense. I remember having to cut out the drug use and suicide in Sugar Free’s Mariposa, and the hammer-to-head shots of Urbandub’s Evidence, and I didn’t want to go through that again.

So we shot another video.

Which was great, because Raimund wanted a performance in there anyway. But Sandwich is a band that has been shot so many times, and so well at that. How do we make it different? Well, why not just shoot everything in one shot? And why not put our heroine in it, linking it to the other version? So we did.

And it was fun, except while I was watching it I got super bored. Then I realized something: while watching the video on my laptop, listening to my headphones at full blast, all the people around me were just going about their business. I loved the contrast. I took out my phone, shot the screen, and sent it over to editor Maui Mauricio with the following text: “tell me if i’ve gone completely insane.”

“I like it. Fuck the man,” he replied. That made me feel a bit better, though I still felt I was going nuts. I showed it to the band, with the preamble that yes, I might have gone completely mad. Raimund at first thought i couldn’t get the original file to work and had to shoot the screen. I told him, “Nope. This is it. Like, this is what’s gonna be onscreen.”

He liked it, surprisingly, but asked that other stuff happen in the cafe. So I reshot it during another meeting, and here it is.

Now is probably the perfect time to bring up Bianca King, she of the closet housewife fame, who did all this crazy shit in the video and yet will go on her probiotic diet and bake you gluten-free banana muffins right after. The girl was a complete trooper, and a literal life saver. The original actress meant for the role backed out at the very last minute, and I just cold-called BK without warning.

Me: Hey.

Bianca: What’s up?

Me: I need you to act in a music video.

Bianca: Sure! When?

Me: … tomorrow.

Bianca: WHAT?!

Me: I know. I’m so sorry.

Bianca: OK. I have one meeting but I’ll cancel it.

Me: OHMIGODILOVEYOUSOMUCHTHANKYOUTALAGA

She’s also quite the gifted actress. I remember being really shy directing her and Annicka Dolonius during the girl-on-girl kissing scene and moving on right away. Both girls approached me after and said “you should have let us do one more take.” How can you not love that. We found her the perfect foil in my trainer, True Dream Body Edward Mendez, and without those two this video definitely wouldn’t have happened.

QUARK BIANCA_zpsio9ixs90

When you’re a music video director you also end up being a production manager at times; begging, borrowing and stealing to get the shots you want. I was lucky enough to have Anna Sobrepeña Ong allow us to use the whole Black Market compound, which is an amazing location with the best employees. A lot of them appear in the video, and many who frequent Finder’s Keepers are sure to recognize them. We also had to text and call friends and loved ones to appear as extras in the video, and that still wasn’t enough. We had to shoot the big shots with crowds some other day, but if you’ll look at the last few shots of the video there are really only around eight people present. That’s why we kept on using close-ups.

In the end, this is our finished product. It’s funny how people who don’t know me get so shocked by the video’s ending, while those who do go “of course that was going to happen.” You always go back to your first love, i guess. Mine happens to be  crazy violent girls.

Before closing, I’d like to thank the team, because the team is everything. Mads Adrias is the best producer in town, and I’m always grateful to work with her (and Alrik). Diego Castillo was and will always be the man, and I’d like to thank him for being as valuable offscreen as he was on. This is the first time I’ve worked with DoP Tristan Salas, and we were blown away at how talented this kid was. Sharon See is super sungit but also super talented (that blood effect!) and I love her to itty bitty bits. Maui Mauricio is a true champion of the medium, and you can see it with his super-awesome web series The Playground. Mihk Vergara always just shows up and does awesome work even though I never ask him to. And Tracy Abad brought pizza and actually danced as much as she hated it. Nobody got paid, I shelled out some of my own money, I had to pull in tons of favors.  I remember now why I promised myself I’d stop making music videos. Can’t wait to make the next one.

Call Them MTVs One More Time and I’ll Break Your Face

I’ve been thinking about music videos a lot, lately.

A group of La Salle students approached me one time, lamenting how their professor completely bashed the medium they loved. “Any idiot can make an MTV,” he said, and for a bunch of kids whose ambition was to make a living creating videos to songs they loved, the statement was completely disheartening. The professor was kind of right, even though he committed the cardinal sin of calling music videos “MTV”s (that’s a channel). Any idiot can make a music video, but not just any idiot can make it well. That was the beauty of it.

The music video was and never will be considered by the academe as a form of art, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would go so far as to posit that the most exciting time in an art form’s life is when people aren’t taking it seriously. When snooty critics aren’t making dissertations on a medium, that’s the perfect time to come out and play.

As a result, music videos were the calling card of the young, the visionary, the (this is the most overused word ever but it was always synonymous with the MTV generation) edgy. It became the modern experimental film, taking inspiration from everything from the Lumiere Brothers to Stan Brakhage, video installation to TV commercials. It spawned an entire generation of mavericks who eventually changed the face of cinema: David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network), Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Her), Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep), Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Under The Skin) Dayton/Faris (Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks) and a host of others.

I remember being 15 years old, watching MTV the minute I woke up, stumbling onto Chris Cunningham’s brilliant “Only You” Portishead video while eating breakfast. Seeing Spike Jonze’s Beastie Boys “Sabotage” promo for the first time as an MTV Buzz Clip and being blown away. Staying awake from 3-5AM on a Monday morning so I could catch Matt Pinfield show music videos by Guided by Voices, Girls Against Boys and Pavement on 120 minutes. Something big was happening right under our noses, and most only took notice when the seeds were in full bloom.

In the early days of Pinoy videos an MV was given to bands as a nice reward for making the song a hit: Teeth’s “Princesa” and Eraserheads’ “Ang Huling El Bimbo” are number one on the charts? Give them a music video! Eventually they learned that music videos worked best for those who needed to be introduced, and the golden age of the Pinoy music video was born. On Channel V’s “Sigaw Manila” you’d be able to watch Robert Quebral’s fun work for people like Francism and Parokya ni Edgar, Louie Ignacio’s glossy pop pieces and Lyle Sacris’s dark and gritty work that defined a whole movement of music. Thanks to them and a few brave others, people like RA RiveraMarie Jamora, Avid Liongoren, Topel LeePancho Esguerra, Treb Monteras, Wincy Ong, King Palisoc and me (and many others I may have failed to mention, please don’t kill me) were inspired to carve out film careers by making music videos.

So what happened? The fall of the music industry did. When piracy came in and decimated the labels certain luxuries had to go, and the music video was definitely a luxury. From budgets ranging from 250,000 -500,000 Pesos music videos now average at a budget of 50,000 Pesos. This means nobody gets paid. I wouldn’t be surprised, even, if most filmmakers shelled out their own money to get music videos made.

The irony is that there is no better time for music videos than now. At the click of a few non-buttons you can watch any music video ever made on your mobile phone, and because of Youtube CPM’s and iTunes Store Downloads people actually pay for music videos now. So why the smaller budgets, the seeming lack of talent? Maybe it’s the end of serendipity. We used to have MTV and Channel [V] on in the background all the time, and that used to be our main source of music discovery. Now it’s the other way around – we discover videos for the music we love. Maybe it’s the proliferation of MP3s and Music Apps where music without the frills has once again taken center stage. Maybe it’s how the consumption of music has become so niche and specialized that there hardly is a common music culture anymore, thus the fall of radio and music videos by the wayside. But then again, maybe it’s not. I’m trying to figure that out myself.

The Top 10 Long-Playing Musical Recordings of 2014

Wow. What a sucky year in music.

This year I found myself Spotifying the albums in every “best of” list because I couldn’t find the ten I was happy with. You know things are bad when you’re stressing over who gets the last three spots instead of the first three. This might be the worst year in this list’s history, and the first time I’ve put an album in number one I wasn’t completely in love with. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

2014 was the year of the singer songwriter. Half of this list (and four of the top 5) is comprised by old solo favorites, old favorites who went solo, new solo musicians, or, in the case of number 1, a solo musician who’s been around but who I never really gave love to. Maybe it’s why these ten stand out—because of the singular vision they carry. Or maybe it’s because singer/songwriters are an old person thing.

So here’s my 2014 list, also known as the few souls who actually made good music this year.

10.Spoon – They Want My Soul Oh Spoon. Always in my top ten, never really making it to the top top. I was afraid they wouldn’t make this list for a while there, but in the end they edged out Sylvan Esso and Ex Hex to get to number 10 by the skin of their teeth. Many are lauding They Want My Soul as a return to form for Britt Daniels and team, but really—did they ever go out of form? As far as I’m concerned this 8th album is the 8th in a line of great albums by the most consistent rock band this century.

9.+/-  –  Jumping The Tracks I’ve been thinking a lot about the 2000s indie scene lately; how many of the bands were eclipsed by garage, dancepunk and emo; how so many of them simply dropped out of the conversation. Bands like Masters of The Hemisphere, Mates of State, True Love Always and Aden were legion, and they were amazing. +/- is one of those bands, and their latest album Jumping The Tracks is solid. So how come websites like Pitchfork and Stereogum, who used to champion the band, didn’t even bother giving them a review? Maybe that’s what happens when you disappear for six years, or when you have other things to worry about like career or family. I’m overjoyed that James Baluyut, Patrick Ramos and Chris Deaner decided to pick up their instruments once again despite all that, and am a fan for life.

8.Real Estate- Atlas Real Estate’s 2011 album Days was a complete revelation—a layered, contemplative masterwork; it’s what Adult-Oriented Indie would sound like if such a thing existed. Their follow up album Atlas is more of the same, but in a year like this that’s not such a bad thing. Martin Courtney and Matt Mondanile play some of the most intricately impressive guitarwork in a year where guitars take a back seat, and the song “Crime” is the best they’ve ever written.

7.Beck – Morning Phase I love “Loser” and “Devil’s Haircut” as much as the next guy, but let’s face it: Beck is best when he’s depressed. Morning Phase is a spiritual sequel to Beck’s 2002 masterpiece Sea Change, and while it’s nothing new or groundbreaking, there’s a certain warmth to it. It’s familiar and comfortable, the kind of record you go back to because it fits perfectly with the state you’re in. This is also the album where Beck actually sings, and when the king of the melodic drawl gathers enough courage to belt out “I’m so tired of being alone” at the beginning of “Blue Moon”, the ironic cool of Beck’s 20-year career just dissipates.

6.Phantogram – Voices One of the reasons Phantogram may not get the respect they deserve is that their music isn’t anything new.  Take a listen to their 2010 debut Eyelid Movies and you can easily throw them in with secondary 90s trip hop acts like Mono, Ruby and Hooverphonic. Sophomore effort Voices is no take off, but the songs are so good. Take the time to listen to one-two punch singles Black Out Days and Fall In Love, and you can easily imagine this duo joining the ranks of Massive Attack and Portishead. Alas, Trip Hop really isn’t a thing anymore, but with the 90s coming back maybe the genre will get some sort of revival, and expect Phantogram to be at the fore.

5.Kevin Drew – Darlings Back in the noughties Broken Social Scene was the band to watch—a Canadian supergroup that sounded as if they were destined for superstardom. The amount of talent eventually proved to be the downfall of the band, with members like Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan taking off on their own respective careers, leaving founder and lead vocalist Kevin Drew a musical orphan. Drew spent the rest of the decade trying to keep BSS’s legacy alive, entitling subsequent solo projects of its different members “Broken Social Scene presents…” and even trying to get the band back together with new female vocalist Lisa Lobsinger. That failed, and Darlings is the sound of Kevin Drew finally letting go. With this album, all the ambition has finally faded away, and what’s left is simple, nuanced songwriting. Drew puts it best in the chorus of Good Sex: “but I’m still breathing with you, baby. Yeah I’m still breathing with you babe.”

4. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days Mac DeMarco is one of those musicians I love to hate: a too-cool-for-school gap-toothed ironic hipster who actually grew up in Canada and moved to Brooklyn. And yet, his album Salad Days is irresistible. Wispy and dreamy, the record is perfect for lazy Sundays reading books by the couch, and DeMarco (not even his real name, tsss) is probably the first guy to get slacker right since Pavement.

3.Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 Back in June I happened onto Run The Jewels’ set at The Honda Stage in Governor’s Ball. I had no idea who this group was but the crowd was supercharged, like they were waiting for someone to poke them so they could tear shit apart. Five months later they release Run The Jewels 2, and the album feels exactly the same. Listen to “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck “ and you’ll know what I mean. Plus, it’s so great hearing Zack De La Rocha rap again.

2.Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots On the flipside of the aforementioned Kevin Drew you have Damon Albarn, the reluctant genius who hides his singular brilliance behind his many bands (Blur, Gorillaz, The Good The Bad and The Queen) but never seems to allow credit for himself. Finally, for the first time in over two decades, he puts his name to a record. The result is not what you’d expect—Everyday Robots is solemn, quiet, reflective. No trace of masterful pop collages like “Feel Good Inc.” or even dumb fun songs like “Boys and Girls” here, just melancholy and solitude. Albarn said that unlike many of his albums that were put together swiftly, a lot of thought and time was put into Everyday Robots. This is very apparent and very sad, considering the loneliness that fills this record (look at the cover, for God’s sake).

1.St .Vincent – St. Vincent I was never a big fan of St. Vincent. Sure, I’d buy the occasional Polyphonic Spree album and I liked her second solo record, but not enough to go get the other albums, or even her collaboration with David Byrne. This is why no one’s more surprised than me that she’s at the top of this list. Upon first listen, you know that St. Vincent’s self-titled album is important, whether you like what you’re hearing or not. There’s just something about the way she deftly plays the guitar that makes it not sound like a guitar, or how she’s able to sing lyrics like “oh what an ordinary day, take out the garbage, masturbate” or “I prefer your love to Jesus” and make it sound profound. I stand behind my blahness at making St. Vincent number one of  2014, but the genius is undeniable.

The Things That Are Not Album of The Year 2014
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The 00s

The Things That Are Not The Albums of The Year

The end of the year is nigh, and you know what that means: another overwritten top 10 albums list by me that no one will really read!

To whet the appetite, here’s a short list of some of the best musical things that came out this year that are not albums, and albums that almost made it this year.

HONORABLE MENTION

The three albums that almost made it were FKA TWIGS, SYLVAN ESSO and EX HEX – all new bands, all self-titled. It was a bit hard taking Mary Timony’s Ex Hex out of this list because I love her so much.

Also, Twigs has the best PMC (Poor Mouth Closure) I’ve seen in my lfe, beating out even Adele Exarchopoulous.

TRACKS OF THE YEAR

Funnily enough the song I listened to the most by a landslide was last year’s “Latch” by Disclosure. I’m sure the song I listened to second most was something by CHVRCHES, also last year. No real singles stood out for me this year, but I made a playlist of the ones I liked and it’s on Spotify. Featuring stuff by the guys on the top 10 albums list along with Wye Oak, Courtney Barnett, Movement, Little Dragon, Grouper, Yumi Zouma and more.

MUSIC VIDEOS OF THE YEAR

Locally, this video for Peso Movement by King Palisoc is just so great. The concept is simple and brilliant, and when you start getting tired of it King and editor Maui Mauricio do things that make you go “woooooahhhhhh”


On the flipside there’s also video by Keith Deligero for Bombo Pluta Ova. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SO AMAZING. And the name of the song is “God-Damned Bomb”, hahahaha. This reminds me of the late 80s Mowelfund experimental films by people like Tad Ermitanio and Noel Lim. If they were, you know, on heroin.

Stateside: this video for Flying Lotus’ “Never Catch Me” is beautiful and affecting

What is it about kids dancing this year? Here’s another one. The best music videos are the ones that make you like a song you otherwise never liked. That was the case this year, with Sia’s “Chandeliers”.

There is no bigger example of “the video made me like the song” than my favorite vid this year: DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What” video by DANIELS. What. Exactly.

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE YEAR
I’d say Interpol was a disappointment, but they haven’t had a decent album in ten years. Can I say Weezer was a disappointment because they actually put out a good album for once? Haha.

BEST LIVE BAND
I went to Bootleg Theater once and told the bouncer: “how much for Perfect Pussy?” He told me, “$20. That’s a pretty good deal.” We both had a laugh, but he was more right than he knew. Perfect Pussy the band was the performance equivalent of a heart attack.


Interpol may have a sucky new album, but they’re still so amazing live. I saw them in Governor’s Ball, along with The Strokes, who drove everyone mad when they did Reptilia. I was able to catch a little of that crazinesss on video.

And of course, one of the best experiences of the year and an awesome band nonetheless was CHVRCHES. I’m almost getting over #CHVRCHESmanila. Almost.