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It's been ages since I've shared anything music related here so I'm gonna go ahead and dish out a list of new albums I've been listening to this year. And even though there are more options now more than ever to introduce and drown yourself in fresh tracks (thanks, Spotify), I still tend to stick to those personally recommended by friends or those that I already know.

If you've got any suggestions, please feel free to sound off at the comments section. I have a pretty limited list of artists I listen to so I definitely welcome new ones! 

1. Cigarettes After Sex's self titled album

I can't remember the first time I listened to Cigarette After Sex and which particular track got me hooked, but it has been my go to music on "those particular nights." I know you know what I mean. Haha. I'm not really knowledgeable about music genres and subgenres and I wouldn't know how to classify CAS' music, but I really fell in love with their bittersweet lyrics, slow beats and dream pop sound.

The band's 2012 EP, EP I, was a favorite as well as their rendition of REO Speedwagon's Keep on Loving You. Last year, they released the track K (another favorite), which was later the opening song for their now self titled album. There are 10 songs in total and each one's offering something different, intimate and personal. My other favorites from this album are Sunsetz, Young & Dumb, and Truly.

I was half hoping that they'd include Philippines in their world tour (they've played in Japan, Singapore and Taiwan!!!) that started early this year but sadly, we were not.

2. LANY's self titled debut album

ILYSB (the stripped version) was their first song I ever listened to, and with the track's gorgeous black and white music video, I was in love. It was stuck in my head and I'd listen to the song repeatedly until I can't take it anymore. Haha.

I began to pay attention to their other EPs as well. And I must admit that the band's ~*~aesthetic~*~ was another thing that attracted me to them. But you see, it's really not hard to fall in love with their music. They have a song for every conceivable complication in a relationship you can think of. 4EVER! (from 2015's I Loved You.) sounded like something out of the '80s (it's so damn catchy) and tackles something like a summer love. The line, "I'm too good at leaving love," from Walk Away (from Make Out) is something for the self-destructive. Their 2016 EP, kinda, which was composed of 6 songs, housed my favorite tracks: pink skies and current location. LANY was one of my favorite musical discoveries for 2016 (thanks, Sherlock!) and I could not get enough.

I was really anticipating their first full length album because goodbye 6-track EPs, hello 16 songs of pure LANY goodness! Of course, I streamed the entire album as soon as it dropped on Spotify but I found myself scratching my head after. A lot of the songs sounded like the old tracks from the EPs. There's still a song about California (There were already mentions of the following in other songs before: Hollywood, West Coast, Malibu and Los Angeles.) Surprisingly, there's a track called Tampa but it bears the line, "Stuck in Florida one more night / 5 a.m., catch a Tampa flight / I'm just tryna get back home," which I can safely assume 'back home' meant California. Haha. IDK. Flowers On The Floor sounds like quit. The entire album felt like one extremely long song. Lyrics-wise, some songs are just meh. And there's even this one titled, "Hericane." I mean, come on. Though I found listening to the album a bit dragging, there were a few strong ones that I love: Super Far, 13, The Breakup, and It Was Love.

Don't get me wrong, I love LANY. In fact, I'm seeing them this August in one of their mall shows. It's just that I'm just a little disappointed that I found everything a bit repetitive and basically a hit and miss.

3. G-Dragon's KWON JI YONG

It's not hard to go through GD's entire EP for it only consists of 5 songs, spanning around 18 minutes long. And even though I don't speak or understand Korean (well, save a few phrases, and yes, I had to Google the translated lyrics), this EP was well put together and solid. 

His choice of calling this mini Kwon Ji Yong, his birth name, somehow speaks volumes of how this is sincere and experiential. I was anticipating something like Crooked from the Coup D'etat album but everything was so... unexpected, though there were still evident references to some of his old songs (the whole GOD-DOG from Zutter and "Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay" from Coup D'etat, etc.) GD always projected this cocky, in-your-face, larger-than-life persona but in Kwon Ji Yong, it was so obvious that it was straight up up close and personal.

A lot of his Instagram posts didn't make sense before, I honestly thought he was just throwing around random creative photos since he's an art connoisseur just like T.O.P. The Run Dog Run, the I need somebody, the mask with GOD but the caption is DOG, the The Face of Another, the The Truman Show, the Divina Commedia, among other things. I realized after listening throughout the entire album that he'd been dropping hints about the upcoming songs all this time.

I found this very comprehensive review of Kwon Ji Yong, which I enjoyed reading because it was super insightful and informative. If there's one thing that really wins me over with regards to artists apart from their ability to impart their craft is when I learn something else from them, when they offer something to the table besides their selves, when they let us take a peek in their creative processes and their influences. And in this mini, GD definitely did all of that and more.

The EP felt raw and stripped to the basics, yet it was still G-Dragon to the core. He may at times be problematic and he's definitely not the best singer out there, but Kwon Ji Yong is honest and heartfelt.

4. Incubus' 8

I took me a long while to listen to Incubus' new album (this was released last February) because to be honest, after A Crow Left of the Murder, I began drifting away from their music. I would listen every now and then to new tracks they released from the succeeding albums: Light Grenades and If Not Now, When? but nothing really stuck.

I was still hesitant to dive in when they had Nimble Bastard as the first single from this album and was put off a little when they released a song titled, "Glitterbomb." I read some reviews online and some had given really low scores for 8. I was ready to shelve this album. I was judgmental, I know.

A friend told me to listen to the album because it had some old Incubus soul in it daw. So I did and I was really, really, really surprised. There was so much energy in this new album that I never thought I'd experience again. Of course, it was no S.C.I.E.N.C.E., Make Yourself or Morning View, but you can hear bits and pieces of those past albums in there. One can't really expect a band of 26 years to sound the same as before but 8 was, while not out of this world, indeed a different animal on its own.

Kudos for having No Fun as the first track! What a great mood setter! It's got me clutching at my pearls and almost teary eyed because first song in and it's already hitting me hard. Hahaha. The track When I Became A Man was weird and confusing. LOL. Some of my other favorites were Loneliest, Love in a Time of Surveillance and Throw Out The Map. OH. MY. HEAVENS. Throw Out The Map is just sick! I'm sad that it's the last track because it was the vibe I was waiting for! I was like "What a bad ass song! YESSS!" and also, "Wait. What? It's the last one? NOOO! Don't end!!!" 

Set your inhibitions aside, disregard the reviews -- if you're an Incubus fan, give this record a chance. Chaka Khan, motherfuckers!

Bonus:
New singles I added on my playlist:
1. MISO - Lost
2. Kodaline - Brother
3. John Mayer - You're Gonna Live Forever In Me
4. Coldplay - All I Can Think About is You
5. Lucy Rose - Moirai

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