The Itchyworms continue to celebrate their 25th anniversary with the second installment of their holiday-themed album, Christmas Starts When The Bers Begin—out last December 8, 2021 (Wednesday) on all digital music platforms via Sony Music Philippines.
Capturing the spirit of Pinoy Christmas with songs that will surely make its way into classic status, Christmas Starts When The Bers Begin contains two new tracks, “Halo-Halo” and “Meri Xmas 2 U,” and last year’s “Have A Merry Christmas” and “Maligayang Pasko.”
Written and produced by drummer and lead vocalist Jazz Nicolas, “Halo-Halo” is a festive reinforcement of the classic tradition with characteristically Pinoy sensibilities. It’s an upbeat tune that celebrates the Yuletide season in a way that feels home.
According to Jazz, “Halo-Halo” is a metaphorical reference to the various beliefs and traditions of Filipinos about Christmas. “There are people who believe in God, there are people who just shop, and there are people who consider it as a perfect time for receiving gifts. It all happens during Christmas, and it’s a magical feeling for everyone.”
Another new offering, “Meri Xmas 2 U” is a fun and sparkly reimagining of the Pinoy Christmas carols in one rocking shimmy treat. Complete with kundiman-charged guitars, raw percussions and tambourine sounds, and infectious vocal harmonies, the track pays tribute to the street caroling traditions in the country during the pre-pandemic times.
“This is an ode to the kids who knock on doors to sing Christmas songs,” lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jugs Jugueta shares. “They rarely have real instruments with them, but sometimes when they’re lucky, they bring acoustic guitars or makeshift tools. They use cans with stretched plastic on top for the ‘drums’ and flattened tansan as tambourines. While they don’t sing in perfect tune, the happy Christmas vibe that they bring is what gets you and tugs your heartstrings.”
“Meri Xmas 2 U” is written by Jugs Jugueta, and performed by the alt-rock band with their families and friends who sang and played makeshift instruments: Jug’s wife Andie, Chino’s brother Echo, Jazz’s brother Peavey and his fiancé Antonette, and their road manager Gabs.
The 2021 AWIT Awards Winner for Best Musical Arrangement also plans to add more songs every year to complete the Yuletide-themed album. This well-curated process gives them the opportunity to create music at their own pace while giving casual listeners something to uplift their spirits before the year ends.
As Jugs put it, “It is an ever-growing Christmas album. We released two Christmas songs last year, then we added two more this year, and we plan on releasing more Christmas songs every year! And every time we add songs, we also add elements to the album cover. It’s now streaming on Spotify and other digital platforms, but once we have enough Christmas songs, we hope to release it as a physical album on vinyl.”
Christmas Starts When The Bers Begin is part of the band’s celebration of their 25th year in the Philippine music industry, which follows the release of their original track “Eto Na (Ang Maliligayang Araw)” and the six-part series, Worms Upon A Time: An Itchyworms Podcast.
The year-long musical treat commenced with the vinyl pressing of their album, Waiting For The End To Start, which immediately sold out upon its release, the launch of “The Life I Know,” the first of its kind in the Philippine stop-motion animation music video, and the release of “Waiting For The End To Start” music video, which serves as an artistic take on the ‘dystopian future post-pandemic’ life in the Philippines.
The Itchyworms are also set to drop a mockumentary that chronicles their 25 years in the music industry at the end of the year.
“Halo-Halo” and “Meri Xmas 2 U” are out now on all digital music platforms via Sony Music Philippines. Listen to the partial batch of ‘Christmas Starts When The Bers Begin’ here.