From the myriad of great music released in the Indonesian music scene last year, there are ten songs that made a great impression on Aldous and Yogha Prasiddhamukti. These songs have their own sense of charm that implores you to repeat them over and over again. Some were released in the beginning of the dismal year of 2020, some were released at the end of it. From captivating electronic tracks of varying beats to the assorted guitar-based music that would always colour the scene, everything passes through our ears.
What’s notable about these songs are they are ones that tend to be overlooked by a majority of year-end lists published. We feel that these songs deserve to be referred to more than honourable mentions.
1. Ecilo – “Motor City Funk”
It’s clear that Ecilo has a great understanding of Detroit techno, especially regarding how it can be applied in varying atmospheres, particularly in chill, semi-outdoor evening sets such as the Sunset People Project parties. This single, released through SPP Records, shows Ecilo’s up-to-date sensibilities as a DJ.
2. toast – “Home Run”
“Home Run” is an indie punk/garage number that is sweet, to the point and teeming with energy, akin to the emo/indie rock sound of the mid-’90s and US hardcore punk of the ’80s. Screaming out lyrics about anxiety and uncertainty atop of clean guitar tones resonates with us in a way that is special. This quartet’s maxi-single justifies our notion that Tangerang is home to many underrated bands that the local scene should direct their attention to more.
3. The Wellington – “It’s So Fine”
The title of the song says it all. “It’s So Fine” is well-executed, well-produced, and instantly catches on at the very first listen. The thick power pop sound a la TeenageFanclub weaves well with its melodic and infectious indie pop tendencies. It is one of our most listened tracks last year, even though it technically came out in 2019 as the first single off their 2020 album Playmaker, but who cares?
4. Vt-00 – “Sabotase“
Through his beloved Future EXP label, electronic stalwart Dissa Kamajaya released the delectable compilation album Ultra Kolosal in 2020. The themes of the compilation revolve around the idea of dehumanisation in the future. Its standout track is “Sabotase”, a midtempo number that presents itself as a neo take on the Agrikulture-esque vibe.
5. Dongker – “Merusak Kesenangan”
Dongker shows us how to have fun in “Merusak Kesenangan”. It is a track that blends simple, effortless three-chord punk with the sensibilities of ’70s garage rock and power pop. Its lyrics are satirical and are sung through a unique vocal style that only leaves the listener begging for more. Kudos to local hardcore/punk label Greedy Dust for unearthing a cool band as Dongker in 2020.
6. Fyahman – “Hussein Club”
The final release of the now-defunct electronic label DEAD Records, who pride themselves in being the label for lost spirits. Fyahman’s debut single still retains the label’s dark and isolating aesthetics while also embracing a bass-y style that is still rather hard to find in Indonesia.
7. Akhda – “Senoparty (Nirmana Remix)“
The title of this single is what landed itself onto this list. Boombaton-style basslines dance along harmonically in this trance banger, perfect for big room parties in Jakarta.
8. Winona Dryver – “Estetika Stroberi”
This spunky south Yogyakartan trio weren’t afraid to generate chaos in the beginning of 2020 through this song. “Estetika Stroberi” is the opening track of their debut mini album that has caught our attention throughout the year. With its loud wall of sound and sharp interplay of guitar pedal effects, Winona Dryver offer us a raw but fresh take on the ’90s alternative/shoegaze sound, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and intrigue at the same time.
9. Mahamboro – “Dialog”
Yogyakarta-based artist Mahamboro released his debut EP Glimpse through Orange Cliff Records. “Dialog” is a track that we feel properly represents the artist as it is clear that he rarely holds back when expressing himself and experimenting with various sounds.
The side project of Tarrkam’s Ape and Meet the Doppelganger’s Denny Aulia offers a unique sonic touch in their music. Their dancey bass hits coupled with abstract guitar and synth sounds remind me of such legends as DEVO and Minutemen, at times even recalling rock a la CAN. So far, “Crazy World of Mad Scientist” is their best take on Devo-core. When else could you experience a complete psychedelia-themed trip from a punk song?
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