Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Personal Musical Highlights of 2013

These are some of the musical things that happened this year and ones i will remember for years to come. Please note that i hardly ever follow/listen to new albums. I'm a very slow listener. Keeping up with new music with the internet around is just impossible.  I'm old, deal with it. 

1. My Bloody Valentine gig in Melbourne (Feb 2013)  

MBV is one of my favorite bands of all time, so seeing them live earlier this year easily made it the best thing that happened this year. It was one of those live performances that had so much expectation on it and yet delivered and not disappoint. They were probably the loudest band i've ever experienced, along with Dinosaur Jr back in Brisbane a few years ago. The show sold out and I had to spend quite a fair amount of money just to be there in attendance. I still keep the cheap, useless earplugs given right before the show started.

2. White Walls

Finding out about these guys was a gift. White Walls play this guitar-tone obsessed indie rock with doom metal leaning. It's like a bunch of metalheads playing Dinosaur Jr songs. One drummer, two guitars, no bass, lots of fuzz and open chords. Their songwriting and musical chops are astounding and they will only get bigger for sure. They are easily one of my favorite current bands now. I was lucky enough to see them in Melbourne when catching MBV and bought their record at Poison City. 

3. Vague (Shows and Recording)

Vague has played more shows this year more than ever. Some of them were the coolest shows i've ever played at. 
  • Playing with screamo outfit Sjanse (SG), Terapiurine, Ssslothhh Spiritualized Mammals and their naked singer in Safe House bistro Bandung. 
  • Sharing the stage with Barefood twice, one at the last POP UP! at Demajors old location (with Individual Distortion as well :D) and the other one at the legendary Superbad at Jaya Pub. 
  • Playing at At America with Marche La Void. No one saw it coming, not even us haha. It was a strange but awesome experience.
  • Participating in the very 1st Thursday Noise at Borneo Beerhouse with Mellon Yellow, Skandal (Jogja) and Morfem. 
  • And of course playing at Waiting Room reunion at Rolling Stone Cafe. Even though the show was a flop (sandwiched between RRRecfest and Joyland), watching Waiting Room playing Fugazi's songs was pretty cool. 
Vague is also recording at the moment for a full-album and 7", coming out next year. If you had told me four years ago that the shitty punk band Jan and I started would even make it this far, I would've called you a liar. But things are going well for us at the moment and I am very very proud of Jan, Gary and myself. Shout out also to our old bassist, Adit.

4. Discovering Amazing Local Talents

Indonesia has always had amazing local talents for sure, but due to the lack of infrastructure, a lot of bands/artists stay obscure and often undeservedly so. Thanks to the internet and social media, words get around very fast these days. Here are some bands/artists that I wanted to highlight this year (they might not release anything in 2013) : 
  • The Kuda is still underrated it's not even funny. I found out about them when randomly browsing YesNoWave catalogue (can't remember if it was in 2012 or 2013). These Bogor quartet plays early (late 70's) midwest style of American hardcore punk and they do it right. They were also featured on Rocket Rain soundtrack compilation this year. 
  • Cotswold from Surabaya, also happen to be our label mate on Tseulfa/Tsefula recordsreleased their EP earlier this year. It showcases their ability to mix post punk with melodic delayed guitar lines. These guys are still very young (early 20's) and already on the path of something good. 
  • Woodcabin, also our label mate on T/T record is consisted of Prabu of Saturday Night Karaoke and the drummer of Cotswold as well. They've demonstrated their unique, raw, no distortion approach on twinkly midwest emo. 
  • WeThePeople from Bandung caught my eye when Vague played with them at Safe House Bistro, Bandung. While their old EP still leaned towards more straight-forward hardcore punk, their newer material has post-hardcore leaning while still retaining the intensity of hardcore. Don't sleep on them! Their full-length is coming out soon through Grimloc Records!  
Worthy mentions : Spiritualized Mammals (Bandung), Sex Sux (Bogor), Moiss (Semarang), Negative Lovers (Jakarta), Cathuspatha (Bandung), Vallendusk (Jakarta), Somnyfera (Bandung), Rabu (Jogjakarta)

5. Independent Record Labels

The record labels that i will mention mostly have been around longer than a year, but they have put out releases this year that are worth mentioning. 
  • Anoa Records has probably been the most talked about record label this year. Their first release was Barefood's Sullen EP who did really well, sales-wise that it got them to Rolling Stone's top 10 list. Their second release, Seaside's Undone came out just a while ago and it will probably be a top seller as well. 
  • Sonic Funeral Records is a Jogjakarta-based label (even though the owner works in Jakarta now) and has been responsible for these releases : Wicked Suffer 7", Asangata tapes, Avhath 7", and Southern Beach Terror LP that just came out. Komunal 12", Rabu tapes and Vague's first full length will be out next year!
  • Elevation Records put out Semak Belukar 7" which has gotten rave reviews; Aurette and The Polska Seeking Carnival (Jogja) in 12" and tapes format; Roman Catholic Skulls; the legendary Sajama Cut's Osaka Journal re-issue in 12" format.
Others worth mentioning : Bronze Medal Records for Marcel Thee's solo album debut, Sigmun's single and Roman Catholic Skulls. Orange Cliff Records (Bandung) for Sigmun's lathe cut series, and upcoming Jirapah 7" and Polka Wars 7". Grimloc Records (Bandung) is the label that responsible for Homicide's Godzkilla Necronometry Reissue 12" that basically sold out 300 copies in a few hours. It was unheard of for a local release. They also put out the phenomenon (sorry :p) Ssslothhh's first album. 

6. Cafe Mondo (Kemang, Jakarta)

A three-floor cafe partly owned by Shun, a Japanese who's quite fluent in Indonesian and happens to love music. Cafe Mondo utilizes the top floor as a record store called High Fidelity. The vibe there is warmer and more friendly compared to say Monka Magic (I still go there); in my opinion a record store should be ran this way.

The basement area was often used for noise/vinyl release party/DJ gig and i always had a blast there due to its home-like environment. It's basically like hanging out with your buddies at a friend's basement.

 It wasn't until a few weeks ago that the space started to be utilized for full-band music gigs. The last two weeks of December proved to be busy for Cafe Mondo as bands blasted loud music downstairs and music lovers going up and down the stairs, alternating between watching the bands and hanging out outside by the parking lot. 

Cafe Mondo is an amazing place for music and hopefully it will be around for years to come.

7. Clatter 

Clatter is a side project that I started with a bunch of friends back in 2012. Poetra was no longer active with his solo project, Aksi dan Reaksi. Sarin has been inactive and Dilla wasn't doing anything musically. Arka was only playing occasionally for his band Arcasenal (now DRNKS) so I thought why not get everyone together and just play music.

Clatter played two shows in 2012 and that was it. Practices were far and far in-between due to lack of shows, musical goals and personal commitments. It was a miracle when Studiorama contacted us and asked us to play on the first day of RRRecfest, curated by them. We didn't (and still don't) have any recordings whatsoever nor internet presence. I will be forever grateful to Studiorama gang for this gig. It turned out to be one of the best gigs we've played so far. 

It will take a lot of hard work and commitment to really keep this project up and running but things are looking bright. We might finally record something in 2014. Wait for it!

8. Jirapah 
Like Vague, Jirapah also has played a lot of shows this year. I wish i could remember them all to pick out favorites. There were also other cool things happened for us this year. The ones on the top of my head :
  • Keuken food festival in Bandung. It was out first venture playing outside of Jakarta. Bandung was a bit cold (weather and crowd-wise) but the experience of playing in a unused train station hall was something else. 
  • Opening for Ruins Alone at Rossi Musik. It was our loudest/noisiest set yet. 
  • RRRecfest #3. Between the rain, technical hiccups and amazing line-up, we managed to have fun. 
  • Studiorama! The video for Sol is probably one of my favorite things Jirapah did this year. The actual showcase of the show was amazing also as we got to share the stage with the unbelievable Space System and Kracoon. Massive thanks and love for the hard-working and talented crews of Studiorama. 
  • The song Crowns got featured in Rocket Rain soundtrack. The music video, done by the movie director, Anggun Priambodo himself shows bits and parts of a traditional Sundanese wedding and it's just beautiful to watch. 
  • Being featured on Malaysian based website, The Wknd among with other great Indonesian bands such as White Shoes and The Couples Company, Sigmun, Morfem, etc. Jirapah played 3 songs : Summer, Foxes and Apes. The audio is just amazing and crisp. Everything sounded good.  Big props to The Wknd crew! 
I could on and on about music but i think i should stop here. 2013 has been an amazing year and i feel truly blessed. 


  1. 2013 was a blast. Rock on 2014!

    PS: Clatter, Jirapah, and Vague need more physical releases! :p

  2. Raka, sorry baru liat. Heheh semoga tiga-tiganya bisa rilis taun ini ;)