Every time Sinosikat take the stage at local gig bars, people can’t help but stare. And who can blame them? You’d be blind not to notice frontwoman Kat Agarrado, a petite lady with huge doe eyes, a full mouth, and miles of endless dark hair.

But when the band starts playing, letting loose a bold “orgy of jazz, soul, funk, rock, and sexy groovy beats”, that’s when spectators really sit up and pay attention.

Sinosikat, whose present lineup is also their original one includes Kat Agarrado, Reli de Vera, Nikki Cabardo and Allen Umali, first started making music in 2004. With their Pinoy soul-stamped arrangements matched beat by groovy beat by Kat’s powerful pipes, singles like“Turning My Safety Off” and “So Blue” introduced them as a refreshing departure from the steady stream of straight pop-rock that filled local alternative radio back then.

When Sinosikat released their eponymous debut album in 2007, it became clear that this band was no one-trick pony. Their first record went on to earn them a number of awards, including Vocalist of the Year at the 2007 NU 107 Rock Awards. In 2008, the band took home three honors at the 21st Awit AwardsBest World/Alternative MusicBest Jazz Recording, and People’s Choice Award for Favorite Group.

Sinosikat followed up their debut with the cheekily titled 2nd Album in 2009. Like its predecessor, the album was critically acclaimed, with the track “Mr. Musikero (Pwede Ba)” winning Best Jazz Recording and Best Arrangement at the 23rd Awit Awards.

Hit play on the videos below and let Sinosikat’s brand of sexy soul lure you in.
Revel in Sinosikat’s deliciously groovy sound orgy at the first-ever Manila Music Festival on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City
For many Pinays with mighty pipes, the goal is to hit recording jackpot in the US. Get signed, release an album, conquer Billboard’s charts—all in the land of milk and honey.

Here’s one Pinay who begs to differ: meet June Marieezy, the Stateside-born Cebuana who is thrilled to be making a name for herself as a soul and hip-hop songstress right here in the Philippines.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, June jetted off to Manila in 2008 and has been in an ongoing love affair with the Philippines since. Finding herself smack-dab in the middle of Manila’s gritty gray landscape obviously did wonders for her creativity: she enrolled in a music production course and has been throwing herself into musical projects, showing no signs of slowing down.

After a stint doing vocals for alternative band Good Morning High Fives, June eventually found her musical groove by mixing soul, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and rock. This fusion of styles is the sound that is taking her to different stages and places, including theMalasimbo Music & Arts Festival 2012 held in Puerto Galera.

June recently released the EP Heavy Eyes, an urban soul gem under local independent label Deeper Manila. Although she travels back and forth between Dallas and Manila, think of Heavy Eyes as her love letter to our madcap culture, which she is discovering—and loving—more and more with each day she spends here.

Hit play on the videos below to sample some of June’s songs, including her super chill toast to the warm weather months,“Summertime”.

Savor June Marieezy’s smooth and sexy neo-soul jams at the Manila Music Festival on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City. Oh, and have we mentioned that she’s hot?
Today’s bands can learn a thing or ten on resilience from Razorback. After five full-length albums, a number of lineup changes, and a staggering 22 years in the business, Razorback is still here, still at it, still making noise like it was 1995.

Since its humble Led Zeppelin- and Black Sabbath-covering beginnings in 1990, Razorback—now made up of vocalist Kevin Roy, guitarist Tirso Ripoll, bassist Louie Talan, drummer Brian Velasco, and guitarist Manuel Legarda (also of 90s rock contemporaries Wolfgang)—has gone on to take its place in the hallowed halls of OPM as one of the country’s most enduring rock acts.

Razorback started their recording success with the release of debut album Hebigat Sounds Volume One in 1995, which spawned“Giyang”, a track that still gets sing-alongs and head bangs whenever it is played. In 1997, they released the follow-up Beggar’s Moon, which includes the hits “Ikot ng Mundo” and “Payaso”.

The year 1998 saw Razorback put out another album, Star. The music video for the single “Voodoo, Who Do?” was hailed Rock Video of the Year at the 1999 NU 107 Rock Awards. Two more full-length albums followed: Razorback in 2002 and Three Minutes of Glory in 2011.

Razorback counts among its crew some of the most revered performers in Pinoy rock: Roy, Ripoll, and Talan have all been honored with Rock Awards. Legarda, who joined the band in 2003, has himself bagged two Guitarist of the Year plums with Wolfgang.

No wonder the rock stalwarts were chosen to open for MetallicaRage Against the MachineSilverchair, and Bon Jovi during these international rock stars’ Manila pitstops.

With so much raw talent in one band, really, how can you expect them to just pack up and fade away?

Hit play on the videos below for a glimpse of Razorback’s generation-defying rock chops:
Bang your heads to Razorback at the first-ever Manila Music Festival, happening on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City
What do you get when hard rock icons Queso, Pinoy soul revivalists Sinosikat, local metal lords Skychurch, and funk-powered four-piece Enemies of Saturn meet at a rager, get along, and end up spending the night together?

The resulting enfant terrible is WilaBaliw, a hard-hitting, ear-splitting, convention-defying supergroup.

The project was dreamed up by bandleader Ian Tayao back when he was still with his former band, Queso. The rock rogue envisioned a group that would throw itself into delivering not just a solid musical performance, but a rollercoaster ride of a show.

In 2010, the pieces of this vision fell into place and WilaBaliw was born, with Tayao on vocals, erstwhile Queso and Skychurch drummer Robert dela Cruz pounding the kit, Francis Magat of Sinosikat and Sound fame on bass, and Enemies of Saturn axeman and blues prodigy Louis Isok on guitars.

WilaBaliw builds on the musical strengths of each of its members, with shades of rock, metal, funk, and reggae coloring their output. And with stage veteran Ian Tayao’s unmatched bravado rounding out the package, a WilaBaliw performance is guaranteed to be one crazy flurry of lights and sounds.

The four-piece released their self-titled debut on the auspicious date of October 10, 2010, to much acclaim from both peers in the rock industry and Queso’s long-time fans.

Hit play on the videos below for a peek into WilaBaliw’s sonic experimentations:
Witness the explosive WilaBaliw at the first-ever Manila Music Festival, happening on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City
Last week, we announced the Manila Music Festival Indie Rock Band Competition, where the victor gets to make Philippine music history by opening the first-ever Manila Music Festival.

After screening all the entries that poured in, we now present to you the five acts that made it through to the finals!

Bands like Urbandub and Sheila and the Insects have established Cebu as a breeding ground for budding rock talent, and alt-rock group Bethany is poised to join their ranks. The four lads of Bethany (three of them are brothers) look to arena greats U2, Muse, and Coldplay for influence. From their gripping melodies, stadium-sized arrangements, and electric stage presence, you can tell that they’ve learned well.
When you hear Ivan Theory’s jangly guitar jams, it’s hard to believe that the group actually used to be a power metal band! The four-piece takes elements of indie-pop, rock, blues, and jazz, and mixes them together to create an amiable sonic blend that serves perfectly well as lazy weekend listening. They’ve put out a five-song EP called Inspire, with some of its tracks enjoying airplay on local alternative radio stations.
Alternative four-piece The Nameless Heroes broke into the gig circuit in 2007 while the members were still in their teens. Their youth didn’t stop them from drawing comparisons to the Arctic Monkeys, with their classic rock streaks, punk-rock cacophony, and the vocalist’s Alex Turner-recalling stylings. The band has enjoyed modest success: their single “Room 306” has aired on MTV Philippines, while “Do What You Wanna Do” has landed on local radio station charts.
Remember pop-punk pranksters Kiko Machine? After taking in a steady diet of Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, and Kylie Minogue, three of its members regrouped to form The Discoball. They’ve even coined the term “hypno-dance-rock” to describe their uncanny combo of electronica, disco, and punk. Count on The Discoball’s tight live performances to bring out the foot-tapping, head-bopping, shoulder-shimmying secret dancer in you.
Yolanda Moon is a pretty new band. How new? Let’s put it this way: they started a Facebook fan page just last month! Despite their relative inexperience, the group’s rich textures, silky arrangements, and introspective tone, which hearken back to 60s R&B and soul, have already made discerning music lovers sit up and take notice. Names like Ray Lamontagne and Mayer Hawthorne have been bandied around in discussions on Yolanda Moon, and rightly so.
Vote for any of these five fantastic acts via the Manila Music Festival Facebook voting page from April 17-24. The band with the highest number of votes at the end of the voting period (April 24, 2012 22:00 local time) gets to be the first-ever festival opener!

The winner will be announced on April 25, 2012.

Go ahead, show some love for your indie pick! Click here to start voting!
“Bastusan na!”

Not a lot of bands can get away with having this as a slogan. It’s rude, it’s harsh, it’s nasty, and how would all those conservative ears react? But they get away with it, because, well, that’s how their music sounds!

The band in question needs no introduction. They’re Kjwan, one of the biggest—and loudest—rock acts in the Philippines.

The Manila-based group has been unstoppable since the members got together in 2003, pounding eardrums with their unforgiving sound, most notably in the foot-stomping first single “Daliri”. Over the years, Kjwan—whose current lineup consists of Marc AbayaBoogie RomeroKelley Mangahas, and Inky de Dios—have become a favorite among head-banging, hard-rocking Pinoys everywhere.

After Kjwan’s self-titled debut in 2004 came two more albums that saw them improving on and adding softer elements to their rock formula: 2 Step Marv (2006) and 13 Seconds to Love (2009).

In 2007, Kjwan snagged the grand prize at the first IKON ASEAN music competition in Malaysia, where they beat out 30 other Southeast Asian acts in the group category. With an international triumph under their belt, Kjwan was granted the Ani ng Dangalaward by the Office of the President and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and were honored as anInternational Awardee at the 21st Awit Awards. Oh, and they also have a slew of NU Rock AwardsMTV Pilipinas Video Music Awards, and MYX Music Awards to their name.

Kjwan is set to release new material in three four-song installments in 2012, beginning with Kjwan IV: Volume One, which was launched earlier this year.

Press play on the videos below for a hit of Kjwan’s brand of rock.
and here's the music video of their current single, Walang Kaso, of their new release
Rock out as Kjwan wrecks the stage at the first-ever Manila Music Festival, happening on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City.
When we hear the words “international DJ”, the image that most likely comes to mind is that of a fair-haired, tight-shirted Caucasian male lording over the decks as a sea of sweat-drenched clubbers sways below him. The imagined DJ in question would possibly be American, but most likely European.

As his name suggests, Shinichi Osawa is no white boy. But he sure could give his light-skinned, blue-eyed peers a run for their money.

Shinichi Osawa is one of the most prolific electronic superstars to come out of the Eastern hemisphere. This DJ/producer/remixer started out as the leader of the acid-jazz collective Mondo Grosso in Japan. When the group disbanded, he worked as a producer for a number of Japanese pop, jazz and R&B acts. He eventually resurrected the Mondo Grosso name, releasing two albums to worldwide critical acclaim.

But his biggest break came when he dropped the jazz as well as the Mondo Grosso moniker and did an about-face with the electro-house album The One in 2007. It featured his infectious, party-starting cover of The Chemical Brothers’ “Star Guitar” with Au Revoir Simone on vocals.

London-based dance label Southern Fried Records later picked The One up for European release, firmly planting the prodigious Asian on the global electronica map.

Since then, Shinichi has shared the stage with no less than Fatboy SlimPete TongErol Alkan2manydjs, and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. He has also reworked tracks by Snow PatrolJamiroquaiKings of ConvenienceLa RouxBasement JaxxVan SheBoys NoizeFelix da Housecat, and Digitalism, stamping their singles with his glitch-infused, guitar-suffused electro-house goodness.

Hit play on the videos below for a Shinichi Osawa original, a cover, and a remix:

See Shinichi Osawa wave the flag for Asian house music at the first-ever Manila Music Festival on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City.
Afrika Bambaataa
Jay-ZQueen LatifahA Tribe Called QuestBeastie Boys, Rage Against the MachineThe Chemical Brothers—all these hip-hop, rock, and electronic greats bow down to a certain music legend named Afrika Bambaataa

Who’s he, you ask? Bam has "only" been christened one of the three “Godfathers of Hip-Hop”, an honor he shares with fellow breakbeat pioneers DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. He is widely revered in hip-hop circles as a foremost figure of the movement when it sprung from the Bronx, New York in the late 70s and early 80s. 

Other monikers frequently attached to his name are “The Amen Ra of Universal Hip-Hop Culture”“Father of the Electro-Funk Sound”, and “Master of Records”.

Singles like “Planet Rock”“Looking for the Perfect Beat”, and “Renegades of Funk” have been covered, sampled, remixed, and referenced by everyone from Paul Oakenfold to LL Cool J—just goes to show how seminal and far-reaching his sound is. Hit play on the videos after the jump for an Afrika Bambaataa primer.
Besides being a hitmaker, Bam is an advocate of hip-hop as a vehicle for social change. A life-changing trip to Africa turned this erstwhile gang leader into the founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, a collective of socially awakened DJs, rappers, break dancers, and graffiti artists that counts KRS-OnePublic EnemyDe La Soul, and Jungle Brothers among its brethren.

In 1990, Life magazine heralded Bam one of the “Most Important Americans of the 20th Century”. In 2007, he was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, putting him firmly in place as one of the leading lights of hip-hop.

Pay homage to hip-hop visionary Afrika Bambaataa as he shares the stage with groundbreaking international and local acts at the first-ever Manila Music Festival, happening on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City.

Afrika Bambaataa
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