“Love Team” by Itchyworms | This is a hard one. It was either this or “Beer”, which is witty and all, but I ended up choosing the song that captures the Filipino’s needy relationship with showbiz – with being entertained, with escaping it all. (The video for this one is a definite time capsule: Kimerald, back when Kim looked like Kim.) The Itchyworms’ Noontime Show, a self-declared riff on our love affair with the entertainment industry, turned ten years old last year, and its comments still remain potent to this day – or perhaps because not much has changed. (Not even Jugs Jugueta joining the cast of It’s Showtime – also itself a riff on the noontime show his band parodied – has dulled anything.) I also think it’s one of the best Filipino albums ever, not because of its subject, but because of how it approached it: with a biting yet ultimately kind-hearted attitude, sharp in its humor but accessible in its sensibilities. The opening to “Love Team” still powers many a cheesy internal moment. I know I do this with Shalla, and she’s been my girlfriend for almost four years. That’s powerful. [NB]
In the past few years we’ve seen more relatively out-of-mainstream acts perform in Manila. Gone, it seems, are the times when the only foreign artists who would stop here are 60s and 70s bands targeting baby boomers, or the obviously big pop acts. Now we’ve had visits from Grimes, the xx and Tegan and Sara. We’ve had the Wanderland Festival last April, an attempt at bringing summer festival culture to the Philippines (albeit with half of the line-up being Aussie acts with, likely, a very small following). And, of course, there were the bigger acts, like Joss Stone at Malasimbo (which has been going on for a while and has been, so far, mostly under the radar) and, last month, the Killers.
“After All This Time” by Itchyworms | I guess I’m a bit confused after listening to this, the new Itchyworms single. (Side note: I know it’s been out for a while, maybe a couple of weeks, but I’m still trying to stumble upon local releases earlier.) Anyway, I say that not because it’s a straightforward love song – they’ve done that with “Buwan” – but because, well, it’s a straightforward love song. I guess I’m used to hearing the band’s trademark wit and way around words. Or maybe it’s because it’s an English song. But hey, it’s heartfelt, and it’s a good sing-along, something they’ve always done well. Also, a new Itchyworms song! I thought we’d not hear from them for a while, not after Jugs joining It’s Showtime, the irony being it was the very thing he was skewering on their genius of an album, Noontime Show. (Well, also, this, from that album’s rerelease. Hah.)