2017 has been an overwhelming outpour of brilliant releases; may it be a single, a Full Length Album, an EP, or a Music Video. Our resident reviewer Yanan Melo give us a rundown of his 10 favorite Albums and EPs this year!
Is there any album or EP you think should be a part of this countdown? Share them in this posts’ Comments section!
When Cheats released their debut album, I wasn’t their biggest fan. But Cheats’ sophomore album was such a fun, surprising ride. “Before the Babies” spun my head around as the band delivered a solid, musical experience that doesn’t just prove the band’s musical ingenuity but also sets in stone a legacy that could be within their reach. A symbol of progress and hard work, “Before the Babies” is one of 2017’s best albums.
Get a copy of ‘Before The Babies’ from the band’s official website, cheatsmusic.com
The Strangeness have finally released their debut album; an album that I have been eagerly waiting for. “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky” has the ageless, country-infused classic rock sound that is both perfect for the home and on the road. Listening to it, I felt the nostalgia of classics like Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and others.
The Strangeness has helped our modern time rediscover the greatness of Rock n’ Roll. Especially in an indie scene full of great alternative/punk bands, they have brought something fresh and new to the scene.
8. The Warmth of Your Sun by LUSTBASS
Even though the snow and cold of Winter-drenched Chicago continues to be the bane of my existence, playing LUSTBASS’ “The Warmth of Your Sun” just feels like basking in literal sunlight.
It is a jazzy, groovy record that surprised me. It has such a charming characteristic that kept me hooked from beginning to end. Its danceable, laid-back, and chill ambience caught my heart and took it on the road towards exuberant delight. Additionally, Allan Malabanan has put so much attention to the very veins of the EP’s intricate details that every little layer of sound effectively amplified the musical experience to a whole different level.
Though entirely instrumental, this lyric-less tour de force deserves to be on this list. Who said that you needed lyrics to express emotion?
7. Soully, Yours by Curtismith
Curtismith, once again, blew my mind. I have always been a Curtismith fan ever since his mixtape “Ideal” was released, but never a greater fanboy until I listened to his EP “Soully, Yours”.
As always, Mito Fabie is a master wordsmith who delivers with such precision and skill that you just can’t believe what you’re hearing. He continues to remain distinct as a rapper in spitting out lyrics that actually have substance (unlike most rappers nowadays). His lyrics are so deep and profound that I‘ve literally spent hours upon hours ripping his music apart.
While the production of “Soully, Yours” is easygoing, his lyrics dramatically heighten the magnitude of the stories he narrates. He engages his audience and effectively puts them in his shoes. This makes him one of the greatest rappers on the planet.
Honestly, the industry needs more visionaries and storytellers like Curtismith.
6. Whatever That Was by She’s Only Sixteen
Another of the biggest surprises of the year. I go to YouTube a lot to search for new music. Many times I have stumbled across She’s Only Sixteen videos. And every time I did, I loved every bit of it. The band has so much chemistry and charisma that I just feel enthralled while listening to them.
Now imagine 11 songs, a total of 53 minutes, of that same infectious charisma. That is “Whatever That Was” in a nutshell.
A guaranteed headbanger from start to finish, “Whatever That Was” is a rollercoaster ride that takes you from love to heartbreak and all the way back, full circle, to the love that made everything so magical.
5. Worth by TheSunManager
Intricate, detailed, and precise, April Hernandez is a true artist. I really, really appreciated this album for what it was.
I greatly enjoyed TheSunManager’s self-titled EP that was released back in 2014. And I was hoping for “Worth” to accomplish what was expected of it. To my surprise, “Worth” delivered so much more than what I hoped for.
It exhibited so much emotion, so much reality, that it rattled me to the core. It is a haunting, captivating musing on one’s own life experiences that everybody could relate to. Folks, “Worth” is just pure bliss and I hope that you give it a listen.
4. Of Sound Mind and Memory by Reese Lansangan
“Of Sound Mind and Memory” is a beautifully poignant expression of the war within the soul. It is narrated by such a haunting voice that immaculately reflects the brokenness of a fathomless tale. The whole story is explored through the laid-back ambience of Reese Lansangan’s own musical prowess. While listening to it, you do feel the emotion, the hurt, all the scars and wounds inflicted upon such a soul. And when the minute glimmers of light are felt you realise, along with Reese, that there is always room for optimism.
The EP is a piece of art that is thematically distinct from her debut “Arigato, Internet!” while remaining a true Reese Lansangan work in essence. Ruminating on themes such as death, existence, pain, memory, and torment, “Of Sound Mind and Memory” is a Reese Lansangan that we have never seen before.
3. Simula by Munimuni
I love how Munimuni describes their music as “makata pop”. The lyrics are incredibly poetic and imaginative. I also love their rock-inspired, folk-infused sound that remains timeless and engaging.
Deep and insightful, Munimuni’s “Simula” is a piece worth pondering and indulging to the final note. They are a unique addition to the many bands that we have in Manila, and I’d encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open to this great band because there is no way they’re disappearing from the scene anytime soon. Trust me, they’ve got a bright future waiting for them.
2. Remuda Triangle by Pedicab
No words can express what this album really is. Conceived through pure creativity and quirky chaos, “Remuda Triangle” will find its way into the hearts of listeners. And as the ethereal and magical tale of love and loss is narrated, Pedicab’s eccentricity, life, and vitality will be as captivating as never before. If you haven’t listened to this masterpiece yet, do yourself a favour and grab a copy right now!
But! Also, listen to…
1. Traces by The Ransom Collective
I cannot help but encourage everyone I know (and don’t know) to give this album a listen. The Ransom Collective’s “Traces” is a musical marvel that doesn’t just successfully impress you, but leaves you with a great sense of awe and wonder. From start to finish, the album is a foot-tapping, head-bopping, tear-jerking, heart-breaking, and awe-inspiring work of art that has brought something so new, so real, and so beautiful to the Manila indie scene.
The band members themselves are wonders to behold. Ransom’s vocals are absolutely charming; Muriel never fails to add so much emotion through her violin; Lily’s piano has such a gorgeous ambience; Halili remains honest and real with the bass; Peck’s percussion brings a layer of detail that magnifies the album’s grandeur; Claudio is always precise, professional, and passionate with every beat. In summary, The Ransom Collective is more than just a group of people who just happen to know how to play some instruments. They are true musicians at heart who care about their craft and the artistry that their work entails.
What also is worth commending is how they seem to synchronise so well with each other. They work well together as a plurality – a collective. Their individual sounds just blend so well with each other! I guess it was destiny itself who brought these wonderful artists together.
There are so many layers to this album – so many different ways to interpret it – that the replay button will never be given a chance to breathe (in my case, at least). The lyrics are so carefully developed, flawlessly written, and breathtakingly delivered that I can’t turn my ears and eyes away. In exploring what may be the deepest parts of being human, there is so much to unpack, so much to discover, and so much to ponder.
And the music, oh, the music! Adventurous, impacting, exciting, and emotional, “Traces” is perfect for your upcoming summer road trip and, at the same time, apt for the gloomiest skies and melancholic backdrops.
For the millionth time, “Traces” is a musical marvel that has so much potential to be the next instant classic. It is one of the best of 2017, and if not, the best album of 2017. Listen to it and go on an adventure that you’ll never regret.
Alright, folks, that is my list of the top ten indie albums/EPs of 2017. This just makes me even more ecstatic for 2018 and all the new masterpieces that we’ll be given a chance to listen to. I hope you all have a blast this new year! Mabuhay!
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Yanan Melo is a Filipino writer, artist, musician, and producer. Hailing from Chicago, he continues to reach his audiences in the Philippines through social media and other means. He hopes to inspire others to use their gifts and talents, especially creatively, as to not put them to waste.
Melo has always been a music buff and is deeply in love with the Filipino indie music scene. This is why he chose to write for Indie Manila which is a community that he believes could make an impact locally and internationally through promoting the creative and artistic prowess of the Filipino.