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YOUNG STAR

THE QLE AWARDS
THE OUTSIDER By Erwin Romulo Updated November 28, 2008 12:00 AM

To be honest, I’d rather call it the Anton Ego Awards, after the character of the critic in the animated film Ratatouille. If anything, he’s the best character in the film in the sense that all the presumptions about him were overturned in the film’s climax. He was feared and respected but only because he really knew what he was talking about and — above all — honest. Being obsequious or pandering didn’t influence him but rather just whether he liked what he tasted or not. Even if it was cooked and prepared by a rat. This year so much great music was released locally that a couple of us — namely, music lovers Luis Katigbak and Quark Henares — decided that we should come up with our own Awards. Apologies if we couldn’t think of a better title for it but let the winners be our saving grace. (Note: We certainly didn’t agree on everything but that’s the nature of these things. We did, however, explain why, which if anyone wants to continue arguing about it, just buy us coffee.) 1. ALBUMS OF THE YEAR (Erwin) Ciudad, “Bring Your Friends” This is the Wonder Years soundtrack of our generation. Overlooked and underappreciated, it nonetheless confirms that eerie phenomenon that befalls all great artists. Remember, even during the Summer of Love, Engelbert Humperdink beat the rest on the charts. But nonetheless, Ciudad will never need any more affirmation from me or any pundit. Listen to this album. Music like this will never grow old. (Luis) Drip, “Identity Theft” You will never feel cooler than when you’re listening to Drip. I don’t mean that smug kind of poser-cool that comes with patronizing the band of the moment; I’m talking about that glorious experience when their music creates a world between your ears, dark and dramatic, a nocturnal urban narrative with you as the central character beset by sudden dangers and unexpected pleasures. With scratches and samples, keyboards and beats, and that relentless, yearning, sensual voice, “Identity Theft” delivers seeming contradictions — fierce vulnerability, emotional electronica — and changes your life for the better. (Quark) Taken by Cars, “Endings of a New Kind” From the opening salvo Uh-Oh to the solemn Shapeshifter, “Endings of a New Kind” could end up being a classic among the younger set. Credit must also be given where credit is due: producer Mong Alcaraz really pushed the band to the limits on this record, and when compared to the band’s earlier demos this sounds like it was made by a completely different artist. Taken by Cars has never sounded so good, even compared to their live performances

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THE QLE AWARDS | The Philippine Star >> Lifestyle Features >> Young Star

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today. 2. SONGS OF THE YEAR (Erwin) Ciudad, My Emptiness This is one of the most emotionally affecting ones I’ve ever heard this year. It deals in melancholy (and a genuine one at that — none of this “Take Me to the Other Side” crap) but is never despairing. It’s evidence of a settling maturity in the band’s music and lyrics, but also proves they haven’t lost their sense of humor. It’s got a disco beat but isn’t dance punk: rather, like Itchyworms’ Love Team, this belongs to the canon of possibly perfect pop songs made in this century. (Luis) Up Dharma Down, Unspoken Definites It’s almost impossible to choose a favorite song off “Bipolar” — they are nearly all utterly excellent — but still, Unspoken Definites stands out, in its almost-painful honesty, in the openness of its music, in the way it takes its influences and shapes them into something new. (Quark) Taken by Cars, Weeknight Memoir In High Definition It starts in an ambient, quiet hum that suddenly erupts with Sarah Marco demanding at the top of her voice: “HEART STOPPING-LIAR, ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT JOKE?” Umm, okay, not that great in the lyrics department. However, for me, Weeknight Memoir (In High Definition) is anthemic — the kind of song that makes you scream at the top of your lungs in the midst of traffic or start jumping up and down alone in your room. 3. VIDEOS OF THE YEAR (Erwin) Pedicab, Ang Pusa Mo What else encapsulates best the weirdness and exhilaration of this year’s music but a video wherein members of this band get tortured and beaten by a myriad of femme fatales? (Luis) Up Dharma Down, We Give in Sometimes It’s hard to match the trippy visuals your mind makes up when you listen to this intricate, dreamlike track, but this video does a great job. (Quark) Pedicab, Ang Pusa Mo Fourteen words: Shawn Yao, Tricia Gosingtian, Kim Marvilla, Alodia Gosengfiao, Roni Callanta, Ashley Gosengfiao, Kat Velayo, Dylan, sadomasochism. (Erwin adds: …and RA Rivera. And yes, Shawn Yao will save us all: “Fiction na nga, speculative pa.”) 4. LIVE ACTS OF THE YEAR (Erwin) Itchyworms Excellent musicianship, wicked sense of humor and just brilliant songs. I’m pretty sure that this band’s performances and music kept me from any suicide attempts this year.

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(Luis) Yosha When a band gets me on my feet, screaming like a cheerleader for a type of music I don’t even usually like, then I know they’ve got something special going on. Drawing from soul and jazz, Yosha brings the groove, the virtuosity, and the sheer joy of music-making, straight to their lucky, lucky audiences. (Quark) Sandwich Though their latest album isn’t their best, Sandwich still gives their proverbial 110 percent every time they perform. Also, as of late they’ve toned down the improvising and have instead focused on delivering solid performances, occasionally revisiting old favorites such as Freestyle Analog and Cheese Factor Set to 9. 5. BEST NEW ARTISTS (Erwin) Intolerant and Loss Of Control Just because they’re metal and they don’t give a f**k. (Luis) Ang Bandang Shirley They’re not rock gods or avant-garde experimentalists — they’re the people that you meet, when you’re walking down the street, each day. Except that they have an enormous talent for impeccable pop tunes and quirky-heartfelt lyrics. And enormous appetites as well. (Quark) Taken by Cars A lot of people accuse Taken by Cars of ripping off Bloc Party. I say they’re better than Bloc Party. “Endings of a New Kind” is the kind of debut that feels like it was made after years of meshing and collaborating as artists, and individually the instrumentalists have that perfect balance of standing out yet sounding completely organic. 6. COMEBACK OF THE YEAR (By Erwin Romulo) Marcus Adoro with “Markus Highway.” Whoever would’ve thought that Marcus had it in him to make such inventive, winsome pop music? The sojourn from the music scene has certainly made his songwriting talents come to fruition. The first bona-fide Pinoy surf album. Another band is Afterimage. Just because Wency actually dared. He failed (miserably), but what an attempt! And that video where he keeps jumping is funny in a macabre sorta way. 7. ALBUM COVERS (Erwin) Up Dharma Down, “Bipolar” Not as genuinely complex and dazzling as the band’s music contained within, but it sure does a neat job of inviting us into it. (Luis) Ang Bandang Shirley, “Themesongs” C’mon. That Pepper Roxas cover is all sorts of adorable.

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(Quark) Up Dharma Down, “Bipolar” 8. ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Erwin) Up Dharma Down Surely if any artists this year dominated it would be none other than the Eraserheads. But apart from them, it would surely be Up Dharma Down, who’s just released their newest album “Bipolar.” Just for the fact that it that they seemed to be the only artist not to be swallowed up by the Eheads reunion and make an impact. Also, for the fact that the band is still constantly pursuing myriad ways of conveying and expressing the conflicting forces of human desire, but without resort to cliché is admirable. Impressive. (Quark) Cuidad It seems that Ciudad has always had an identity crisis of sorts. Their first album, “Hello! How Are You, Mico The Happy Bear” had that major-label-trying-to-turn-a-unique-artist-into-pop-fodder feel to it. The second, “‘Is That Ciudad?’ ‘Yes, Son, It’s Me’” saw the band exploring new musical directions and maturing as artists. The third release, “It’s Like A Magic,” can’t really be considered an album because it was mostly a hodgepodge of updated outtakes and old songs throughout their then-11 year history. The fourth album, “Bring Your Friends,” is Ciudad coming full circle, with the band finally accepting that they can never be pop sensations and unknowingly fulfilling their destiny as one of the most brilliant and unique bands in the country.

View previous articles of this column.

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