Filipino indie-jazz, hip-hop acts worth checking out as stress relief in time of COVID 19

Rick Olivares

Posted at Mar 29 2020 10:27 PM

Here are some albums we’d like to recommend for local music fans to check out during this time of lockdown where there is a lot of stress, angst and anger not to mention anxiety taking place.

These are recommendations designed to take things down several notches and just have your mind eased up and spirited away by these albums. Look them up online.

’Sequence’ by Lenses (Terno Recordings)

“Sequence”, the debut album from this seven-piece indie jazz pop band (Gilbert Asuque on drums, Jason Conanan on bass, Abby Clutario on keyboards and vocals, Aaron Gonzales on guitars and vocals, Roxy Modesto on saxophone, Lester Sorilla on trumpet, and Darius Mendoza on trombone), is like a ray of sunshine in the OPM landscape. Buoyant, a tad quirky, and an earnestness best sung in the vernacular, Lenses will grab your attention from the opening cut, “Nasanay” all the way to the last track, “Patungo Sayo.”

A wondrous debut by a band that you should listen to.

If you like French bands such as Tahiti 80 or Japanese city pop, the you’ll love Lenses’ music.

“Sequence” is available on compact disc from Terno Recordings and on iTunes and Spotify.

‘Middle of Nowhere’ by Peaceful Gemini (Locked Down Entertainment)

Peaceful Gemini’s brand of sophisti-hip hop takes me back to the those 1990s Hed Kandi releases and Chill Out sessions where artists Nighthawks, Nightmares on Wax, and Urban Species to name a few mixed hip hop with these chill grooves.

Peaceful Gemini lives up to her nom de guerre. When I look at the cover art — a small island with the land mass actually a human head submerged in water — it’s tranquil in spite of the surreal art. Peaceful Gemini asks you to surrender your mind, body, and soul to the music as it spirits you away.

“Middle of Nowhere”, a five-track mini album, is an expression of living life in the present and not in the past or even the future. It’s also an expression of Peaceful Gemini’s femininity and seeking to push the envelope in this new world.

“Middle of Nowhere” is available on compact disc or on Spotify and Bandcamp.

’Small World’ by Gracenote (Universal records)

The third album from this livewire pop rock band finds them at the top of their game. They are a tighter unit and this is evident in the music. Gracenote is a band that writes really good pop yarns that are deep, insightful, melodic, and definitely hummable. And they resonate well with their fans. Small World is their best album to date filled with 16 songs that are sure to send Gracians (the true-blue fans) and the uninitiated into a Gracenote frenzy.

There are the favorites on the album, “Fantasy, “Here I Go Again,” “I’m Done,” and “Paulit-ulit,” but I really like the ukulele-inflected “We’re Not Alone.”

“Small World” is available on all streaming platforms not to mention on compact disc.