Friday, November 28, 2008

THE QLE AWARDS - This Is Our Truth Tell Us Yours

The QLE Awards are being held this December 10! :D Click on the image for a bigger version.

So Erwin's QLE article finally came out in the Star today (pages N-1 and N-3 in the print version). However, aside from publishing it later than the Bulletin and Inquirer installments, they also published the wrong version. (Erwin revised his when he realized it would come out a week later than ours.) Also, the pictures they used in the print version were wrong too: there are a lot of bands pictured that were not mentioned in the QLEs at all. (They were, however, NU107 Rock Awards nominees, which means that E's editors confused us with the NU Rock Awards, which is kind of deliciously ironic in a way).

So anyway! On Erwin's request, I post here his revised QLE article in full, along with Quark's uncensored intro (the Inquirer cut some of the best bits out of Quark's intro, in our opinion). Let's start with Quark:

Uncensored Intro by Quark Henares

Here come the cranky old men, sourgraping about how the underappreciated geniuses of our time aren’t paid any attention.

You know what I’m talking about—people who blog about how blablabla should’ve won and how blearghiebleargh got the nom simply because they ladidad. But let’s face it—awards based on numbers aren’t exactly the most reliable ones, and I know for a fact that 90% of text votes for a certain band in this year’s Rock Awards came from only two cellphone numbers.

It just so happened that during one party Erwin Romulo, Luis Katigbak and I were sitting around and pointing out people who were really talented yet never seemed to get any loving from the RA. In other words, we were old man sourgraping. We decided to do something about it, and agreed to collectively write small tributes to our favorites this year. Hence, the QLE Awards—the most clever name we could come up with because we write for a living and are filled to the brim with creativity. Most of you might not agree with our choices, but you know what they say about opinions and assholes. It just so happened these assholes write for broadsheets as well.

Before I begin, I’d just like to clarify that I love the NU Rock Awards. Hell, I’ve even written two and directed one. But controversy is always great, so why not use that to highlight and point towards some of the artists who have truly touched us this year?

And now, Erwin's revised version of the QLE Awards article...

by Erwin Romulo

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 his reviews but only whether he liked what he tasted or not—no matter if it was cooked and prepared by a rat.

It’s the role of the media to call it as they see it (or in this case, hear it). That’s our role and it’s no surprise that we court opprobrium whenever we do express our dissatisfaction at the state-of-affairs. Despite this, we are there to report and, in the case of columnists, to offer opinions on the goings-on regardless of whether or not we’re expected or invited to them. Just as the newsmakers or performers do their bit by making news, we’re there to gather what we can for our readers. In particular, rock n’ roll has a great tradition of journalists going to great lengths to get their stories, writing it as they see it. Some, including Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Jon Savage and our very own Jingle staff led by the venerable Ces Rodriguez, are as known and as vital to the genre as the musicians themselves.

This year, there was so much great music released locally that a couple of us—namely, music lovers Luis Katigbak and Quark Henares—decided that we should make up our own awards to point out the stuff that was regrettably overlooked by others. Let me offer apologies that we couldn’t think of a better title for it but let the winners be our saving grace. In any case, we did this for nothing more than love of music—and only that. No, we certainly didn’t agree on everything but that’s how these things go, especially with how opinionated we all are. What’s important is that we explain to you our choices and not just dish them out with no one the wiser. But then again, anyone who still wants to argue can buy each of us coffee and we’ll gladly discuss. After all, this is our truth; what’s yours?


Ciudad - Bring Your Friends
This is the Wonder Years soundtrack of our generation. Criminally overlooked and under-appreciated, it nonetheless confirms that unfortunate phenomenon that befalls all great artists. Remember, even during the Summer of Love, Engelbert Humperdinck beat The Beatles at 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. [Erwin]

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. [Luis]

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 in 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 today. [Quark]


Ciudad - “My Emptiness”
This is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally affecting ones I've heard all year. It deals in a genuine melancholy (and 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. Despite its somber sentiment, it’s offset by a disco beat—you’d feel silly shedding tears to that. (You will anyway.) Like the Itchyworms' “Love Team,” it belongs to the canon of possibly perfect pop songs made in this century. [Erwin]

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. [Luis]

Taken by Cars - “Weeknight Memoir (In High Definition)”
It starts in an ambient, quiet hum that suddenly erupts in Sarah Marco demanding at the top of her voice―"HEART STOPPING-LIAR, ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT JOKE?" Umm, ok, 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. [Quark]


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? [Erwin]

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. [Luis]

Pedicab - “Ang Pusa Mo”
16 words: Shawn Yao, Tricia Gosingtian, Kim Marvilla, Alodia Gosengfiao, Ashley Gosengfiao, Roni Callanta, Kat Velayo, Dylan, sadomasochism. [Quark]

…and RA Rivera. And yes, Shawn “Fiction na nga, speculative pa!” Yao will save us all. [Erwin]


Excellent musicianship, wicked sense of humor and just brilliant songs. I'd like to personally credit this band’s performances and music from dissuading me from putting my head into the oven this past trying year. Or a plastic bag. [Erwin]

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. [Luis]

Though their latest album isn't their best, Sandwich still gives their proverbial 110% 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." It’s ironic how The Eraserheads Reunion seemed to remind Raimund Marasigan how much he loves this band, because his recent performances have a fire and vigor in them that seemed to be absent for a while. [Quark]


Intolerant AND Loss Of Control
Just because they're metal, better than almost all of the bands on the charts at the moment and that, frankly, they don't give a fuck. [Erwin]

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. [Luis]

Taken by Cars
A lot of people accuse Taken by Cars of ripping Bloc Party off. 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. [Quark]


Markus Highway
Whoever would've thought that Marcus Adoro 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. [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. [Erwin and Quark]

Ang Bandang Shirley - Themesongs
C'mon. That Pepper Roxas cover is all sorts of adorable. [Luis]


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've just released their newest album Bipolar. Just for the fact that they seemed to be the only artist to still make an impact and not be swallowed up by the Eheads reunion. Also, 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. [Erwin and Luis]

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. This new 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. [Quark]