Good, complete bodies of music come far and few between, but not this year.

2024 has seen an abundance of records, be it in the form of full-length albums or EPs. From highly anticipated debuts to conceptual records that take listeners into a whole new world, as well as comeback albums that showcase an artist’s evolution, there has been a number of records released during the first half of year — spanning across multiple genres and styles — that have made it onto our radar.

Here are Billboard Philippines‘ picks for the best albums and EPs of 2024 so far.

All Born Screaming – St. Vincent

Annie Clark has yet to release a bad record, but somehow the ‘70s homage of 2021’s Daddy’s Home lacked the trademark edginess she displayed on her previous albums. She retakes the reins on All Born Screaming, producing an LP by herself for the first time and unhinging her musical whims to create a record that contains elements of her best work — baroque pop, industrial noise, dance-y funk, and more. It’s a return to form for a singular artist who keeps changing form. – Jason Caballa, Managing Editor

Lola Amour – Lola Amour

Over the years, Lola Amour have maintained a steady rise in the local indie music scene, having slowly carved themselves a space as mainstays of modern Filipino indie music. Following their unprecedented breakthrough with “Raining In Manila,” their debut album was unexpectedly highly anticipated, and at the same time, a long time coming since their formation. To no surprise, the octet proved that it was absolutely worth the wait.

The album does well in highlighting the brass-driven, funk-pop signature sound that the band has become known for. Alongside “Raining In Manila,” lively tracks like “Umiinit” (It’s Getting Hotter) and “Namimiss Ko Na” (I’m Missing It) showcase just how much the band can get the party going. On the other hand, they generously explore a slower and more ballad-type route with heartfelt pieces like “Lost For Words” and “I’ll Give My Heart.”

It’s fitting how Lola Amour’s first full-length record is eponymously titled. It does a terrific job of encapsulating the very essence of the band, who they were, are, and what they can possibly evolve into. Ultimately, it’s a testament to their journey as one of Filipino indie’s best and brightest acts today. – Mayks Go, Photographer and Writer

Challengers: Original Score – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

It’s rare that a movie score gets the recognition it deserves from the general public, but Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ work on Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers has become part of a larger cultural conversation than any of us expected. Its electronic synth sounds serves as the throbbing pulse of the film, bolstering moments of tension with its rapid beats and moody techno elements. 

The Oscar- and Grammy-winning composers’ techno-laced soundscapes drive the film’s narrative and kinetic action forward with a propulsive rhythm that is clearly club-inspired, going in a different direction from most orchestral film scores that we’re used to hearing. Some may say that this might be one of the best movie scores that we’ve heard in recent years — and they wouldn’t be wrong. — Gabriel Saulog, Writer

Hunger – July XIV

Singer and guitarist Evee Simon has led her own band long before joining the ranks of the more prominent Megumi Acorda and Spacedog Spacecat, so to say that July XIV’s debut album has been long-awaited is an understatement. Granted, some of the songs on Hunger are almost five years old, but listening to all of them packaged together, properly sequenced, and impeccably recorded and mixed is an absolute treat. It’s also refreshing to hear a female voice front a band with loads of dirt and grit, despite whatever counts as “hip” these days. – Jason Caballa

Séance – crwn

Inspired by horror and filled with love, Séance is a perfect display of the musician that crwn — the producer/DJ moniker of SOS drummer King Puentespina — has transformed into over the last decade or so. Eleven years in the making, it showcases his mastery of conjuring the most bewitching mixtures of beats and melodies, further elevated by the inclusion of his collaborators — old and new — including Jason Dhakal, August Wahh, Curtismith, Jolianne, and more. 

With the 12 tracks on the record tastefully diverse in sound and feel, what ultimately makes Séance stand out is its ability to get anyone effortlessly moving along no matter what track playing. It is testament to the magic of crwn’s refined artistry that has continued to captivate audiences both here and abroad, proving that Séance was undeniably worth the wait. — Mayks Go

Awkward Dancer Vs. The Harmless Devil – Awkward Dancer

The Cebu indie scene has experienced a resurgence as of late, with the emergence of such acts as The Sundown, Kubra Kommander, and many others in recent years. Awkward Dancer is a grunge quartet that stands on the noisier side of the spectrum, and their debut album is replete with fuzz-laden guitars, merciless drumming, and tuneful vocals that should satisfy fans of The Stooges, Mudhoney, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and the like. – Jason Caballa

Brat – Charli XCX

Charli XCX has always been a trailblazer within the realm of pop music, but her sixth studio album brat marks her big breakthrough in the eyes of the public. Without compromising her artistry, the hyper-pop phenomenon delivers a non-stop electronic dance record that is as celebratory as it is confessional. It’s uncommon to witness someone open up about her most candid thoughts amidst a series of club anthems, but there’s no one who executes it as seamlessly or as impactful as Charli does. — Gabriel Saulog

Right Place, Wrong Person – RM

If I had to describe RM’s Right Place, Wrong Person in a singular word, it would be ‘uneasy.’ From the synths that feel like they’re closing in on you to the exploratory lyrics that unravel an existential dilemma, the album feels like a rocky and contemplative ride through the inner psyche — an apt reflection of the BTS member’s search for meaning and purpose he let us in on from the very beginning. Before enlisting in the military, RM shared how often he felt adrift and lost in between the many personas he’s presented to the world. Right Place, Wrong Person is the sonic manifestation of that.

While his 2022 offering, Indigo, was a curated trip of his experiences, Right Place, Wrong Person is a compilation of all those conflicted and complex feelings in its rawest form. It speaks volumes of how much deeper RM can dig to share a journey that’s full of ups and downs. — Franchesca Judine Basbas, Digital Editor

Dark Matter – Pearl Jam

As among the few last men standing from the ‘90s Seattle rock explosion, Pearl Jam are in a league of their own, effortlessly selling out tours that never seem to end, and releasing records with nothing left to prove. 2022’s Gigaton was a bit weird even to longtime fans, so many were overjoyed to hear Dark Matter, a relatively straightforward rock record with bare-bones guitar riffs and tons of melodic hooks. It’s not mind-blowing by any means, but it’s their most cohesive and consistently pleasing record since 2009’s Backspacer, and shows that there’s still more left in the tank of this great rock institution. – Jason Caballa

Talaarawan – BINI

The Philippines is in a state of BINI-mania, and it’s all thanks to Talaarawan. The short and sweet EP features some of BINI’s greatest hits so far — “Salamin Salamin,” “Karera,” and of course, “Pantropiko.” Talaarawan is also the first time where we see the BINI girls take a more active role in the songwriting and production aspect of their music, and based on what has happened to the girl group since then, they should keep on going. – Kara Angan, Writer

Only God Was Above Us – Vampire Weekend

While many may associate Vampire Weekend with the youthul, collegiate sound of their earlier records, their latest, Only God Was Above Us, is a welcome evolution for the group. The indie rock band has grown into their boat shoes this time around, with a mature perspective on life and reality that is perfectly accompanied by a charming blend of baroque pop melodies and whimsical rhythms. It’s arguably one of their most cohesive projects to date, and perhaps one of the most polished albums of 2024 so far. — Gabriel Saulog

The Collective — Kim Gordon

With her second solo LP, Kim Gordon makes a case for having the most compelling post-Sonic Youth career out of all of the band’s ex-members so far. She has always had the most vocal charisma out of SY’s singers, and it shows throughout The Collective, even she just speak-sings contemplatively on majority of the tracks. The record’s metallic, industrial-tinged music sounds nothing like her former band but is equally challenging to the ears, and while I haven’t completely gotten over Sonic Youth’s breakup 13 years ago, I’m glad that one of them still creates tunes that tickle my eardrums. – Jason Caballa

Cowboy Carter – Beyoncé

Following the excellence that was 2022’s Renaissance, Beyoncé delivers a worthy follow-up with Cowboy Carter. The critically acclaimed record is more than just a great album, but a cultural touchstone that celebrates the rich history of country music as a whole. As Beyoncé simultaneously honors the past, present, and future of the genre, she explores new sonic territory, merging its sound with her own — redefining it in a myriad of ways to astounding results. — Gabriel Saulog

Atavista — Childish Gambino

This album has quite the backstory. Childish Gambino (also known as Donald Glover) first released the album — then titled 3.15.20 — in 2020. It had no promotion, cover story, or even song names, it was simply a collection of songs (not mastered or mixed) hastily dropped during the early days of the pandemic before disappearing a week later. Since then, fans have been waiting for the album to see the light of day again.

Fast forward to 2024 and we have Atavista, 3.15.20‘s finished and polished version. The album sees Glover showcase a kaleidoscope of talents, ranging between light and dark, sweet and menacing. It’s packed to the brim, overflowing with an array of ideas and sounds. Many suspect this might be Childish Gambino’s last album; while it’s unclear whether that’s true or not, Glover certainly gives us a document to remember. — Franchesca Judine Basbas

Memory Drawers — Memory Drawers

Without a single teaser or announcement, the self-titled debut album of longtime Mow’s crowd favorites Memory Drawers finally came out earlier this year, delighting the fans of their distinctively ambient, synth-laden indie pop. The songs are excellently written, arranged, and recorded, but the record’s biggest revelation is guitarist Kevin Ingco’s remarkable production and mixing. As evidenced by his work on Megumi Acorda’s Silver Fairy and July XIV’s Hunger, he could very well be the local indie rock scene’s next in-demand studio ace. — Jason Caballa