Yes, it's been some time since I last did something like this. Credit busy schedules, getting old, the crazy sprouting of releases online, but hey, at least it's not as late as my 2011 round-up.
And if anyone who has ever followed (yes, all ten of you) this shtick of mine all these years, you would have noticed that I changed "Best of..." to "Favorite," because with all those great online releases, it's kind of difficult to keep track of everything. And to make things easier I've decided to say "fuck it" as far as identifying which are full-length albums and which are EPs. Yes, this list will have no rhyme nor reason this time around, the governing principle being "whatever."
Well, this comes out real late, but as I've said in the past, it is never too late to praise great music. Here are my favorite local albums of the past year, and as you'll find out if you read this to the end, this will mark the first time one artist went number one for the second time (my past number ones in chronological order: Pan, Joey Ayala, Agaw Agimat, Itchyworms, Up Dharma Down, Radioactive Sago Project, Pasta Groove, Rico Blanco, Outerhope, Loonie and Tarsius). As it has been said in the past, this is just my own list; the best list will always be YOUR own list...
15 » THE PHARM
Pharmer's Guide to Higher Ground
The art-rap collective introduces itself with their potent wordplay and exquisite beats fortified with hooks. Art-rap that inspires to make both your mind and body sway.
14 » BAGETSAFONIK
A livelier and more potent follow-up to Travelogue. Would have chosen to use the song "Asterisk" but looking for a good video proved to be difficult...
13 » GLOC-9
MKNM: Mga Kuwento ng Makata
Just in case anybody was still wondering who rules Pinoy Hip-hop...
12 » HIDDEN NIKKI
Oftentimes, a well-meaning college band dares trod the pop-soul-jazz-fusion path but ends up being significantly inferior P.O.T.-Sino Sikat-Up Dharma Down clones. But Hidden Nikki sidesteps it by replacing the horrible attempts at that irreplaceable Karl Roy swagger with pure musicality and a dash of indie-pop. There's a slight likelihood that if you give them a few years more to mature they might be the Philippines' answer to Tahiti 80.
11 » JUNE MARIEEZZY
Songs for Outsiders
Great soul music done in contrasting ways.
10 » IBARRA
Death & Rebirth
If this list was the NBA and album #1 is the MVP, meet your Most Improved Player. The band formerly known as Hardboiled Eggz regroups with a new name and, most importantly, a renewed musical direction that's a million times better. The best local heavy rock release.
09 » CIUDAD
Follow the Leader
The local indie darlings return with a new album that's the same package of rich instrumental and vocal melodies framing pop nuggets, this time with more of what's being explained in one word as "maturity."
08 » PEDICAB
Kaya Mo Ba Mag-Sando?
It certainly lacks some of the catchiness and recall from the best tracks from their previous Shinji, Ilabas Mo na ang Helicopter, but certainly more solid top-to-bottom.
07 » KAMIKAZEE
Nothing revolutionary here, just simple, fun, energetic pop-rock fun delivered the best way. And if memory serves me right, no triumvirate of singles in the recent past are as potent and interconnected as "Halik," "Tagpuan" and "Huling Sayaw."
06 » RICO BLANCO
We already know how powerful Rico Blanco is as a songwriter and as an artist, and you'll find it in this album in spades. Only this time, he reversed the process that was partly to credit for Your Universe; after assembling an army of virtuoso players on his first album, for his second he decided to summon the army of musical ideas that assembled on his head. So to say that this album is on a totally higher level than his previous album is missing the forest for the trees.
05 » EARTHMOVER
ENCOUNTERS WITH A YETI
The (instrumental post-rock) revolution will not be televised.
04 » DONG ABAY
Dong Abay returns with a fantasy concept science fiction-inspired album paying tribute to our National Hero dealt with an artistic sensibility worthy of Kraftwerk or David Byrne.
03 » PASTA GROOVE PRESENTS: THE VENUS FLYTRAP COLLECTIVE
After his hip-hop heavy effort as Il Primitivo, Paolo "Pasta Groove" Garcia returns with a more soul-based odyssey centered on female voices and indigenous musical sensibilities. And if you thought the soul-electronica-whatever sound is already so potent downloaded when he made it available for free, wait 'til you get your hand on its vinyl release slated for this year...
02 » ANG BANDANG SHIRLEY
Tama na ang Drama
This album is another illustration that you can be straightforward in your lyricism while still being highly artful. While many thought that an album such as Themesongs will be difficult to surpass, let alone match, Shirley returns four years later to prove us wrong.
01 » UP DHARMA DOWN
On the surfa, it's easy to believe the early pronouncements that this will be UDD's "pop" album. More than that, the band successfully manages to use the best musical elements from the past that they can apply from the past to lead us, like any great and legacy-cementing third album should do, to what we should expect from them in store for the exciting future. Ultimately, they are the now.
Have someone in mind that should have been on this list? Shout it out on the comments section below!