The year 2023 saw a lot of shifts happening: the rise of scene kids coming from the FYPs and For You pages of yore and the steadily rising of attendees in DIY underground shows all over. In Luzon, newer collectives were formed via embodying the gothic, emoviolence sensibilities of Metro Manila’s newer heavy music units. Over at the Visayas region, genres like hiphop and dream pop are the talk of the town, making both soundscapes and cultures sought for newer heights. And in Mindanao, their scene becomes more and more solidified in terms of dance music and various alternative genres that goes beyond the expectations of a regular Imperial Manila listener.

From Luzon, Visayas to Mindanao, we present to you a yearly tradition that the editorial team would always prepare themselves for; Not just because it’s the task that’s daunting, but it’s the journey and the result of 11 months of scouring the internet and gigs for the best of Filipino music. Here it is, The 20 Filipino Releases of 2023.


Simply put, ‘WHOLE LOTTA LUVSHIT’ is the pop-rap EP that immediately puts Lil JVibe into this current space of inventive local hip hop. From Gem Records Production’s assist in balancing out the 4 tracks’ layered drill and jersey club beats, oodles of pop sample choices that are stitched amazingly well, and Lil JVibe’s ability to keenly blitz through these immense soundscapes is a big testament to his skill as an artist. ‘WHOLE LOTTA LUVSHIT’ is a bold, untethered, and sincere EP that’s just the beginning of Lil JVibe’s ambitious potential as an artist, one that all of us should pay serious attention to. -Louis Pelingen

19. Panjia – all the colors that make you!!!

In the year 2023, you have a ton of shoegaze acts that can easily pass off as imitators of someone and something given the time and algorithm to figure it all out. Staying true to its title, this debut EP “all the colors that make you!!!” is a primer of what you need to know about Panjia; youthful angst in front of computer screen, yearning in a language fitted for the hell week tortured student and loaded with nu-gaze terminology. The solo project surprisingly brings tasteful riffage-writing and overall promise in the young crop of heavy gazers out there locally. It’s Zoomer Shoegaze Bingo and the first recipient of such game is none other than Panjia. -Elijah P.

18. Punebre – Ang Nasa Dako Paroon

‘Ang Nasa Dako Paroon’ is a compelling testament to the raw essence of old-school death metal. With influences echoing ‘90s death metal, Punebre skillfully intertwines a foreboding atmosphere, relentless energy, and concise, impactful lyrics in highlight tracks like ‘Itim.’ The result is a sound that pays homage to the horror genre, revitalized for a new era, with slight nods to Filipino horror filmology, urban mythology, and folk mythology—‘Balete Overdrive’ and ‘Shaken and Rattled’ come to mind. However, Punebre’s most exciting feat that further amplifies excitement for their music is their inventive approach to PR. I vividly recall ordering a copy of their demo CD, which included tracks from ‘Ang Nasa Dako Paroon’, and to my surprise, the package included a meticulously crafted autopsy report. I have since kept that piece of paper and plan to have it framed on my wall. Though I still feel tremendous regret for missing out on their limited release of blood-soaked Punebre shirts earlier this year, there’s always a reason to be excited for Punebre. -Nikolai Dineros

  1. Irrevocable – Generational Curses

Emo and punk band Irrevocable further show their ability to make face melting songs in this new release. They talk more about family influences and touching tributes while letting the songs breathe more resulting in a more engaging and expanded dynamic sound that doesn’t overstay its welcome – in fact, making the listener want more. -Janlor Encarnacion

  1. Oh, Flamingo – Pagtanda

The aging process offers a different perspective even to veteran bands of the music scene. Oh, Flamingo! takes a look at timeless topics such as love and loss but with the added perception of being able to look back. Coupled with the use of our native language, the band is able to process emotions in a more connected way while still being distinctly Flamingo-y. -Janlor Encarnacion

  1. Toots – Jargon State

Toots’ debut depicts an expertly crafted adventure into self-discovery. The earnest vocals display a tenderness that contrasts with the loud-soft contrast of each song – showing a wild journey both lyricism and soundscape. This is an indie-rock/folk EP that deserves multiple listens. -Janlor Encarnacion

  1. Precal Dropouts – Little One, Travel Far

Davao alternative rock and shoegaze crossover outfit Precal Dropouts have indeed traveled far and wide in their long awaited debut EP. The charmed life of Gavin, Jan Mark, Ben, Neilcon and Dee has been incredibly eventful. Singing about their gardens, dinosaurs and tidal waves, their sentimentality has reached from the Manila shores to the third floor of Suazo in their hometown. The project is a welcome gift for all new and old fans of the genre, servicing the classic tropes and new offerings of its sonic choices. Wherever you go, there’s a journey worth taking and that is listening to “Little One, Travel Far”. -Elijah P.

  1. DJ Love – Budots World

Budots World is a compilation consisting of the dance genre “budots” in its different mutations, variations and traditional production style performed by different producers all over the country. It was an effort to unite all producers locally and thankfully Manila Community Radio were able to make the pioneering producer DJ LOVE’s dreams come true in this project. “Budots World” has a diverse selection and interpretations, resulting into 100 percent organic and pouring in 200 percent bust-a-groove energy. This is a mix that you shouldn’t pass on. -Elijah P.

  1. Promote Violence – Joyful

There are two different listening experiences to Promote Violence’s “Joyful”: one is hearing multiple synth screeches and feedback resulting into a cathartic release; The other is a story of how religious Fundamentalist approaches can break a human into two. Despite all the realistic horrors of one group, PV’s confrontational nature is a sound to behold. After hearing the aggressive, therapeutic vocal delivery and its abrasive electronic/noisy production, this emotional release can potentially open many eyes of those who experienced the same pain of their oppressors. And that is why “Joyful” is a must listen for many, religious or not. It’s one hell of a story to hear and a warning sign to all followers out there. -Elijah P.

  1. Goon Lagoon – Rocket Peace

‘Rocket Peace’ is the project that etched Goon Lagoon’s identity as a full-on grunge band. In this record, the band touches on the chaotic brilliance of their earlier work and painted them on a larger canvas. Marked by in-your-face tracks like ‘Down the Drain’ and ‘Pocket Grease’, Goon Lagoon is shaping up to be one of Elev8 Me L8r’s most intense groups to date. -Nikolai Dineros


ONE CLICK STRAIGHT unleashes a wave of irresistibly catchy indie-pop tunes in their self-titled debut album, hitting the mark with tracks like ‘MRT,’ ‘Dahan-Dahan,’ ‘Synecdoche,’ ‘untitled 02,’ and ‘Hahayaan.’ This eponymous release marks the start of their stylistic evolution, capturing their affection for post-punk while deviating from the genre’s melancholic tendencies. The band’s success is intertwined with the younger generation’s embrace of gothic sensibilities in music and fashion, evident in their adolescent fan base driving a new emo takeover. While some aspects of their songwriting might need ironing out, tackling uplifting music with heavy influences from rock’s more depressive subgenres is already an ambitious feat, which they pulled off with their hits, and their impact on this new wave of show-goers is undeniable. They may be clad in all-black garments and covered in dark eyeliners, but if you happen to go to one of their live shows, you’re in for a party. -Nikoai Dineros

  1. ALYSON – Definitely! Love!

Ateneo’s most charming quintet makes a triumphant return with their album ‘Definitely Love!’ after a long break following the release of their eponymous debut EP. Clad in matching beige suits with their newfound love for the city pop genre, ALYSON shines a light on the rather depressing cityscapes of Metro Manila, showcasing more brass work in a valiant attempt to overpower the seemingly insurmountable cacophonies of car horns and car engines during EDSA’s Friday rush hour traffic. It does not take much to get the idea; just listen to ‘Underpass’! ‘Definitely Love!’ is exactly what its title suggests, and ALYSON perfectly delivers the whole message with all the small bits one would either find cute or cringe-worthy, all packed into one Japan-pressed eight-track album to listen to while stuck in the suffocating hell of city traffic with the knowledge that there’s someone you will come home to. So, no place for cynics here! -Nikolai Dineros

  1. bird. – oshin

When you sleepwalk, you feel like you’re surfboarding across the waves; timing is essential and going with the flow is strategic. Sometimes it’s okay to embrace the fact that bird. made a “surf rock” album for people who wanted to relive those sandy beaches while listening to “Teen Dream” and a little bit of Real Estate. The tracks have rhythm among the bevy of noise. The vocals carry a lot of emotional weight in spite of its husky delivery. Their own brand of dreampop genre is kept sacred and celebrated in their sanctuary. The band has brought it to life from front to back in “oshin”. -Elijah P.

  1. Noa Mal – Suspended Animation

Noa Mal continues her multiple-release streak with her recent four releases that reflect Noa Mal’s diversion in darting varied sonic palettes and songwriting themes. However, out of the four projects, ‘Suspended Animation’ remains supreme. A pivot towards languid, softer soundscapes saturates Noa Mal’s expressions of feeling blue as she replaces a lot of her usual grunge elements with drum machines, hazy synths, and tranquil pianos. It leads to ‘Suspended Animation’ ending up as Noa Mal’s refreshing projects to date, where within suspended stillness, the disillusioned numbness becomes more noticeable and upfront. -Louis Pelingen

  1. Jason Dhakal – BEING

The three years of growth after Jason Dhakal’s debut project have allowed him to compile his confidence in his sophomore album ‘BEING’, where the development in his artistic presence finally allows him to find comfort and joy in his poised self. That sense of grace manifests further with Lustbass’ set of warm, luxuriant production with beds of pianos and horns that complement the well-composed low-end instrumentation. An improvement on all fronts and so much more, ‘BEING’ represents Jason Dhakal’s newfound embrace of his growth, now able to be an inviting romantic in his alluring aura. -Louis Pelingen

5. Gibraltar – Promo Release

Hardcore veterans of GIBRALTAR are ending 2023 on an explosive note with their Promo 2023 release under Still Ill Records, arguably one of the best labels in the Philippines today, and a series of live shows across the country to promote the said release. Promo 2023 opens up with ‘Novena’, a haunting prayer vigil reminiscent of Bystorm’s opener to their ‘sumalangitnawa’ (also under Still Ill Records) aptly titled ‘Unang Pagbasa’, before dropping fire after fire with intense ferocity. There’s no breathing room from here on out, as GIBRALTAR clobbers you with some of the most extreme hardcore tracks this year, including ‘The Strongest Weapon’, ‘Jagannath’ and ‘Hissing Cross’, so you best have said your prayers at ‘Novena’. The closest you’ll get to a break is ‘Rondalla’, but the record’s almost through at that point. -Nikolai Dineros

  1. Kindred – Subset

‘Subset’ is the debut mixtape from the boyband Kindred that spills forth numerous rays of color ever since they put out their lead single last year. Despite the different musical flair and origin points of Kindred’s members, ‘subset’ is an impressive body of work that taps all of their brimming light into a single colorful holistic wavelength, deeply immersing their styles of OPM, R&B, and Hip-Hop into one jubilant package. Helped further by Kindred’s embrace of their connections and influences from past and present, ‘subset’ carves out the exciting routes OPM can lead into the future, a future that’s joyous to see for eccentric artists like Kindred thrive even more. -Louis Pelingen

  1. The General Strike – s/t

The General Strike’s debut album has everything you need to hear in a local blues album – harmonicas, anthems about the current struggles from all sectors and a powerful vocal presence that’s exceeded expectations beyond the seas, mountains and streets. Stories of a blue-collar worker’s strife are delivered truthfully, the necessary action of calling for justice, farmer’s rights and land reform using the local tongue will stand as an eternal symbol of equality and worker’s rights. -Janlor Encarnacion

  1. Limbs – Everything Under Heaven

Limbs unleashes a colossal musical journey that transcends their screamo roots in this full-length release, ‘Everything Under Heaven’. This Manila-based hardcore band skillfully navigates punk’s diverse umbrella, blending electronic fusions harmoniously with the album’s kaiju motif. Beyond its musical intricacies, ‘Everything Under Heaven’ addresses mass injustices in the Philippines, shedding light on human rights violations and state-induced terror in rural areas. With contributions from artists like Jem Gallardo of Pry fame and rap duo switchbxtch, ‘Everything Under Heaven’ stands as an enormous, politically charged work urging listeners to confront uncomfortable truths and join the movement for change. -Nikolai Dineros

  1. The Purest Blue – All is True

‘All Is True’ explores nostalgia’s encompassing feelings, one compressed in a dollhouse one could barely make out in their nostalgic childhood. The Purest Blue builds her own experience of this reminiscing journey through painted layers of shoegaze and dream pop foundations with mixing assistance from Jared Lim that makes the compositions crisp and bright overall.

‘All Is True’ is also poignant in musing through The Purest Blue’s reflection of her past, feeling all the torrent of joyous highs and painful lows from those moments yet finding the truth within to pave her peaceful path that keeps those memories with her late father resonate even stronger. It’s easy to write off nostalgia through a rose-colored lens, but ‘All Is True’ shatters that through a closer look at warm and melancholic moments of love and loss that will eventually lead the way to a moving conclusion where the memories from people will be cherished closer than ever, a good luck charm as we embrace a tender kindness in our lives. -Louis Pelingen

Thank you so much for supporting TFL throughout the year 2023, folks! Stay tuned for more updates on reviews, shows and many more!



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