COVER STORY: Ourselves the Elves Sits Us Down For Some Geography Lessons


A friend of mine once told me that there’s something amazing happening right now in the local music scene: a lot of young bands have been popping up recently with their own unique (and sophisticated) sound, and not one of them sound alike. It truly is an exciting time to be a music fan right now. And right smack dab in the center of this trend are Ourselves the Elves. They make music that is a mixture of indie rock and honest-to-goodness alt-country, which immediately piqued my interest back when I first heard of them. Their music, simply put, is beautiful and devoid of pretentiousness, and it is charming without being cloying.

To say that they are wise beyond their years would do the band members a huge disservice because they are clearly smart and talented young people with amazing songwriting chops to boot. That alone makes them worthy of your attention. Comprised of Alyana Cabral, Akira Medina, Paula Castillo, and Ponch Salvador, Ourselves the Elves got their start in college where they sharpened their skills by playing shows and self-releasing a four-song EP.

They have grown a lot since their early days and they are now set to release their new EP “Geography Lessons”. The songs that make up “Geography Lessons” are songs that the band recorded for the award-winning short film “Lisyun Qng Geografia” by Petersen Vargas. And after hearing a couple of songs from the EP, I can honestly say that this is a match made in heaven.

On October 10, the EP as well as the DVD of “Lisyun Qng Geografia” will be released simultaneously. It’s also the perfect time for you to catch the band live in action. If you’re up for some dreamy folk-influenced indie pop, then this is perfectly right up your alley.

And since they’re coming out with a new EP, we’ve decided to make Ourselves the Elves our featured artist for the month of October. Keep an eye out for more features about the band, including our review of the aforementioned EP. In the meantime, you can listen to their latest single, “Longing For”, below.



It’s been a great 2015 for Cheats. Aside from releasing a well-received debut album this year, they have also managed to make a name for themselves on the local gigging circuit with their energetic live shows and they also caught the attention the international festival scene with the announcement that they will be playing at the Laneway festival in Singapore.

For the month of September, we shine the spotlight Cheats and reviewed their brilliant self-titled record. But now that the month is over, we have one more thing left on our agenda. We asked the members of Cheats to curate a special playlist for us filled with some of their favorite songs. For a band with a singular artistic vision like Cheats, some people might find it surprising that their curated playlist is anything but predictable. It’s an eclectic mix of pop hits and indie rock classics, and is a perfect listen for this cloudy Wednesday afternoon.


Candy Gamos – Vocalist

  1. White Stripes – “Blue Orchid”
  2. Kasabian – “Club Foot”
  3. Foo Fighters – “The Pretender”

Jason Caballa – Guitarist

  1. Battles – “Atlas”

Caught these guys live at the Mosaic Festival in 2009 (when they were still a four-piece), and I’m really stoked that I’ll get to see them again. Probably the only math rock band that I really like, and I hate that term.

  1. Savages – “Shut Up”

The best of the post-punk era in one androgynously sexy package: Siouxsie-esque vocals, Daniel Ash guitars, and a rhythm section that has more groove than Joy Division. I’ve never been to Laneway, but I regret not seeing them there in 2014. I eagerly await their next record.

  1. Broken Social Scene feat. Feist – “Almost Crimes”

Cheats now officially has four guitar players (including Jim), and I think we look up to Broken Social Scene because they’ve always made such a large live lineup possible without making any of the instruments clash with each other. We’re rarely at full force nowadays, but we can still make quite a (tuneful) racket nonetheless.

Saab Magalona – Vocalist

  1. Arcade Fire – “Reflektor”

Encapsulates all my worries. When I hear it, my vision turns black and white and everybody’s heads are made of papier mâché.. Just kidding, it’s just a really good song that de-stresses me. The french lines are my favorite.

  1. Justin Bieber – “What Do You Mean?”

Hate all you want, this song is, as the Biebs would say, “dope.” I would go to a club and dance all night as long as this played on loop.

  1. Tennis – “Marathon”

A song to pick me up when I need to re-energize. I could be stuck in EDSA but when this is playing I might as well be on a boat.

Mau Torralba – Guitarist

  1. Tame Impala – “Mind Mischief”

This song is an easy song to trip out to for me. It makes me feel like i’m swimming in a pool of psychedelia.

  1. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under the Bridge”

The first RHCP song I ever learned and memorized on the guitar. This song is one I definitely play on the iPod or on the guitar whenever I feel down emotionally. Sad lyrics mixed with happy chords are always welcome in my book.

  1. Mac DeMarco – “Freaking Out the Neighborhood”

He made the song for his Mom and I thank him for this because now I have a song to dedicate to my Mom too.

Manny Tanglao – Bassist

  1. Real Estate – “Talking Backwards”

One of my favorite driving songs right now. Steady with nice riffs and melodies. Helps calm down the nerves with all the traffic these days.

  1. Warpaint – “Keep It Healthy”

I only started listening to these girls last year and I’ve been a fan ever since.  This is my favorite from their self-titled album of 2013. I love the hauntingly groovy melody and brillant bass and drum work by Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa.

  1. Death Cab for Cutie – “Cath”

This one never gets old and fails to pick my spirits up. Apart from Ben Gibbard’s awesome song writing, Nick Harmer’s bass line here goes down in my top 5 riffs of…forever.

Jim Bacarro – Vocalist/Keyboardist

  1. Slothrust – “Crockpot”

Awesome bass line, killer arrangement and strong lyrics.

  1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Necessary Evil”

So many infectious hooks in this track. This song has been on constant loop.

  1. Fickle Friends – “For You”

Nothing beats a great melody. Amazing guitar parts with a great vocal especially in the chorus.

Enzo Hermosa – Drummer

  1. Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”
  2. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Disarm”
  3. Foo Fighters – “Generator”

ALBUM REVIEW: Cheats – “Cheats” (2015)

Cheats Album Cover

Just as soon as the opening chords of Cheats’ “Crash” kicks in, you start to get the sense that the band’s self-titled debut record is all kinds of special. “Crash” has ‘indie rock classic’ written all over it, with its catchy melodies, brilliant guitar-work and choruses worthy of sing-alongs. By the time vocalists Candy Gamos and Saab Magalona-Bacarro sing the lines “By the way you’re going down”, you’ll be shouting along with them. It pretty much sets the tone for the proceedings, and is a great way to open the record.

The following tracks, “Newspaper Girl” and “Headfoam”, tone things down a bit and pushes the collective’s penchant for melodies and arrangement to the forefront before going back to the upbeat indie rock hinted at on the first track with songs like “Eye”, “Acumen” and “Sleepist”. With these three songs, the band took the Broken Social Scene comparisons and ran with it, making something that sounds familiar completely their own. And that’s what I love most about Cheats: the songs are earnest and sincere. None of it is a put on, and it shows especially when you watch them perform these songs live.

“Sleepist” is followed by the aptly-titled “Summer”, with its breezy instrumentation and beautiful harmonies. It is probably one of my favorite tracks from the record, and has been a personal favorite since I heard them play this song live. While I have rambled on and on about the band’s talent in crafting gorgeous melodies and harmonies, “Triple Horn” shows that the band’s instrumentalists aren’t anything to sneer at either. Jim Bacarro, Ernest Aguila, Mau Torralba, Manny Tanglao, and Enzo Hermosa are great musicians and to hear them play music together is, for lack of a better term, awe-inspiring.

The record ends with the band’s two recent singles: “Accidents” and “Again, Professor Manny?” In a way, Cheats’ self-titled debut ended the same way it began… with some catchy indie rock that is something I am admittedly a fan of. As far as debut records go, it’s not only one of the best I’ve heard this year but it’s also the perfect calling card for a band like Cheats because of how consistent it is. Aside from being great songwriters and musicians, Cheats also have a clear vision of what they want to do musically.

Watch them at one of their shows and buy a copy of the record. I promise you will not be disappointed.


Tagaytay Art Beat: Redefining Your Cultural Experience

Tagaytay Art Beat hi-res poster

Put your warm coat on and experience the fuzzy festival feels as Docdef Productions and Museo Orlina team up for an Art and Music Night. Dubbed Tagaytay Art Beat, the much-anticipated mini festival opens its doors to the public on September 19, Saturday with a unique smorgasbord of emerging independent music acts and an art exhibit featuring young and upcoming artists.

Museo Orlina, situated at the lush, evergreen district of Tagaytay City, will host the festivity’s entire run. The 4-story modern building is home to an art gallery, a museum, an amphitheater, an interactive display system, a sculpture garden, and a rooftop deck with overlooking view of Taal Volcano. The countryside scenery and the museum’s state-of-the-art facilities will serve as fun-filled nest for festival aficionados, art and music geeks, travel buffs, foodies, and partygoers who are looking for diversion from the bustling urban noise of Metropolitan Manila.

Art and Music Fest

As part of its initiative to champion the diversity of independent local music, DocDef will be staging a concert featuring an eclectic lineup of performers. From headline-ready favorites (Autotelic, Bullet Dumas, Farewell Fair Weather, The Ransom Collective) to sensual jazz-soul crooners (Jensen and the Flips, Sud, Miles Experience and BannaHarbera), from accomplished young singer-songwriters (Anj Florendo, Paolo Mallari, Niki Colet and Reese Lansangan) to indie upstarts (Austin, Dayaw, Fools and Foes, Tom’s Story), Tagaytay Art Beat gives you a full-fledged quality music experience that goes beyond form and style.

There will be an art exhibit by young and talented artists, from various local schools and universities: Archie Geotina, Ayka Go, Erica ng, Jessica De Leon, Ku Romillo, Jason Sto. Domingo, Lee Caces, Ivana Tyler, Lyka Orhel, Miggy Antonio, Monica Castillo, Rae Toledo and Tammy dela Fuente. Alongside the music performances would be live mural paintings by DocDef resident artists Cinos and Mr. S.

Festival attendees who want access to the art space vicinity showcasing Ramon Orlina’s globally acclaimed masterpieces will only need to pay an additional P100. His masterful collection of glass sculptures combined with pieces made from bronze, wood, and jewelry not only warrants attention, but a well-deserved tribute.

Tagaytay Art Beat starts at 4pm. Php 250 gets you in with one free drink!

TICKETS ARE LIMITED so we highly encourage everyone to buy tickets in advance to ensure entrance to the event. Walk-ins are no longer allowed. Tickets will no longer be available at the venue. For ticket inquiries, contact Ning Orlina at 09178285108 or visit this link: for information on where to purchase tickets.

FILM REVEW: Love & Mercy (2014)

Paul Dano

The story of Brian Wilson is already the stuff of legend, which makes a biopic about the genius songwriter next to inevitable. It’s been a long time coming, but we now finally have a proper Brian Wilson biopic in the form of “Love & Mercy”. With the use of alternating timelines, the story of “Love & Mercy” focuses on two important parts of Wilsons life: first is the creation of the band’s masterpiece, “Pet Sounds”, and the second timeline focuses on Wilson’s time with the psychotherapist Eugene Landy who proved to be a negative influence on the musician.

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