Cheatcode: 8 Songs To Get To Know The Band Called Cheats
In 2013, the gods of music all conspired to bless the Filipinos with a once-in-a-generation indie gem: Cheats. First formed by long-time bandmates Jim Bacarro and Manny Tanglao, the duo later recruited Saab Magalona and Candy Gamos, adding feminine dynamic to their music. The band found a stabler footing with Jason Caballa and Kyle Quismundo on guitars, and Enzo Hermosa on drums.
Cheats’ eponymous debut album was released in July 2015, produced by scene-veteran Ely Buendia. Since then, the band has been making quality alternative rock music that can more than compete in the international scene. They already opened for Beach House, CHVRCHES, The 1975 and a lot more big names in international music festivals. Now, about three studio albums into their career, and dozens of stand-alone singles, the band continues to prove their prowess in waking ears and hearts.
If you haven’t heard Cheats yet, you’re totally missing out! However, if ever you really haven’t yet, you’re in the perfect spot right now because we can get you a cheatcode…
Put on your headphones on, here are 8 songs to get to know the band called Cheats:
Cheats entered the mainstream scene when they released their debut single Accidents. With infectious drumbeats and key riffs, the band has successfully established their name in the alternative rock world. Saab and Candy’s dynamic feminine vocals match so well with Jim’s angsty voice.
Declaring “I was an accident inside your home” in the beginning, the song promises a reflexive memento of youth, chaos, and comfort. In the end, the band shouts and pleads while calling the “animal inside of you”—a statement of feral joy.
The music video encapsulates all these feelings. It features random GoPro-recorded scenes of the band performing in gigs, convenience stores, rooftops, studios and just having fun.
Memorable lyrics: “But my children said / We are your stars / You will never be alone / We will never be alone / Inside your home (inside your home)”
Drunk is also one of the band’s singles from their self-titled debut album. Obviously, it also features a great display of drums and guitars to depict alternative rock. Jim takes the main vocal while Saab and Candy’s background vocals accentuate the feelings of tiredness, regret, and broken youth.
Cheats’ one recurring theme in songs, at least in their debut album, is the feeling of being listlessly in the middle of youth and adulthood. Drunk captures that vividly. It depicts a jobless person, constantly saying that he will change but still falls on his old ways of being drunk. Opening with a the line “Yeah I’ll apply, get off my ass”, it doesn’t get any realer than that.
The music video features the band portraying different personas of youth while riding a taxi. Manny plays as the taxi driver.
Memorable lyrics: “A dreamer reaps what his parents sowed / A dreamer sleeps when he’s left alone / And I’ll bargain once again / I promised all my friends I’ll change / Pretended I was more”
Crumble is a single from the band’s sophomore album, Before the Babies. The song is heavy in electric guitar but it blends perfectly with Saab, Candy and Jim’s vocals. These nuances form something that sounds sublime and cool. The outro of the song which features a kaleidoscope of heavy drums and riffs is glorious.
The message of the song may somehow be vague and could be lost in thousands of translations, but who cares? With Saab, Candy and Jim repetitively yelling “I don’t wanna waste my time in love!”, you will certainly feel it. The music video features an ecstatic Candy Gamos dancing inside a moving LRT wagon, surrounded by weirded out passengers.
Memorable lyrics: “I don’t wanna waste my time in love / I know that I waste my time enough”
Luna, arguably, is the band’s most emotional and stripped song to date. Released in the death anniversary of Saab and Jim’s daughter, the song serves as the couple’s way of honoring their late baby girl. It features a toned-down strumming of guitar and piano, paired with Saab’s mellow vocals. The song evokes poignant yearning, grief and love.
Additionally, the couple also launched the Luna Isabel Magalona-Bacarro Foundation. A project for people who would like to donate funds for the benefits of various charity programs, including Neonatal Intensive Care Units and Breastfeeding Programs.
Memorable Lyrics: “You left without a warning / Now I’m stuck here wanting the past / Still sometimes we’re broken / Laughing feels we’re moving too fast”
Milk was released early 2019 as part of the band’s unofficial EP, Ultramilk. The song is later remastered to be included in their recent album, Houseplants. Featuring new musical shifts from the band such as electronic-pop keys, the song borders to electronic if not for their signature drums and electric guitars. It’s a refreshing output from the band, proving their diversity.
Much like their other songs, Jim, Saab and Candy shares the mic, only this time, Candy exhibits stronger and higher notes. Milk details the hardships of keeping and losing someone. Near the end, Candy belts out a loud “I lost my heart when I kept it from you!”. That’s enough to show how good this song is.
Memorable Lyrics: “I lost my heart when I kept it from you”
Plunder My Heart (feat. Ely Buendia)
Plunder My Heart features the band’s first collaboration. It’s a stand-alone project single. With Ely Buendia lending his vocals to most parts (he basically sings the whole first verse and chorus), the song exhibits a sappy atmosphere. The synth elements, first hinted in Milk, is elevated here. Plunder signifies a shift from genre, from alternative rock to alternative-electronic. Cheats drops the angst of their hollers for more toned-down vocals.
As the song evokes, the lyrics evoke heartbreak, yearning and apologies.
Memorable lyrics: “Plunder my heart / Make it all stop / Time to leave and found a reason”
Cheats rarely make songs in Filipino, but when they do, they seem to give everything. Hakbang is one of their only Filipino songs, featured in their third and recent album, Houseplants. It has every quintessential Cheats elements to it: electric guitar, drums and synths. Saab and Candy’s dynamic vocals shine through the song’s upbeat melody. It sounds like an instant OPM Classic.
The song is a request to a lover, to leave the world and run away. It’s about thinking about the past and wishing to go back. In the quirky black and white music video, Piolo Pascual stars as a man terrorizing a house where the members stay. The band dances around Piolo in the last chorus.
Memorable Lyrics: “Kung iiwanan natin ang mundo / Sa atin ang sa akin at sa’yo”
A Little Longer
A Little Longer is the final track of the band’s recent album, Houseplants. It’s a culmination of the band’s different ponderings in the album. The song starts out a little toned-down, like a wishful and dramatic whispering of a promise. After the second chorus and a guitar riff, Saab and Jim almost yells the phrase “I’ll try to live a little longer” repetitively. You can feel the sincerity, pain and all the other emotions that Houseplants represent. It’s a goosebump moment.
The song is about promising to stay and be alive despite a world that grows colder everyday. Posing questions such as “What comes first, death or haunting?”, the song proves Cheats’ ability to express critical emotions intricately—including dreading existence.
Memorable lyrics: “What comes first / Death or haunting / I’ve barely lived / A life of wanting you / If I could stay, I’d stay my welcome / I’ll face a lifetime of certainty”
If alternative indie rock is your jam, Cheats will surely be a treat for you. In the band’s discography, you will find anything that could fit your emotions.
Xian Oquendo is a free-spirited writer and camera-person from Manila. His passion connects facets of poetry and visuals. Whether inside the cinema or in the groove of the city's streets, he is always in the pursuit of the transcendental.