I’d like to sign off with this month’s Music Alliance Pact, the round-the-world monthly magical mystery tour which I founded, organised and edited since October 2008.
I’d also like to say a big thanks to all the MAP blogs who have helped show just how effective we can be when we put our faith in the music we love.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Sorren Maclean – You Shook
Sorren Maclean is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter who I recently came across while doing research for a feature on musicians from Scottish islands. Although Sorren lives in Glasgow, he grew up in Mull and still maintains strong ties with the island. His debut album won’t be out until later in the year but we’ve got an exclusive sneak preview from it. You Shook is typical of Sorren’s sound, driven by melody and harmonies and very easy on the ear.
Verdeoscuro – Allright
This is the musical project of singer-songwriter-producer Diego Acosta. We’ve been following his evolution since the very beginning of our blog, so we’re very fond of the folk-rock vibe, languid guitars and moaning vocals of Verdeoscuro’s songs. This is his newest release after the departure of long-time partner Victoria Boano and it was released by a new netlabel called Fuego Amigo Discos.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Cloud Control – There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight
Sydney’s Cloud Control made a mark in blogging circles with their previous single, the unforgettable Gold Canary. This time I would like to highlight the track There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight, taken from their debut album Bliss Release. From a collection of indie gems, this track is the outstanding crown jewel that caught my attention with its amazing melodies, counter-melodies and lyrics. Bliss Release is truly an album for the 2010 indie-rock fan and I’m glad I got to hear this one early.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Renegado – Meu Canto
Straight from the slums, Renegado presents a concise social screed (the fruits of his work as leader of an NGO focused on social development and appreciation of black culture) by mixing hip hop with Brazilian rhythms. The samba-influenced Meu Canto is an example of that, featuring vocals from Aline Calixto and lyrics that discuss the hardships of poverty and the pleasure of enjoying life. Renegado is preparing for upcoming shows in the United States, Europe and Africa. His debut album, Do Oiapoque a Nova York, is available for streaming via his website.
Hannah Georgas – Bang Bang You’re Dead
Hannah Georgas’ full-length debut, This Is Good, is chock-full of exceptionally good, radio-ready pop-rock. Few of the songs on it are as fun as the slyly naughty Bang Bang You’re Dead, complete with its children’s choir and chorus of “You’re talking shhhh… ’bout me / I’m talking shhhh… ’bout you”. If (or, more likely, when) Georgas breaks through in a big way, it’ll be songs like this one that will help her do it.
CHILE: Super 45
Gepe – Por La Ventana
The long-awaited third record by Gepe will be released this month and is preceded by a suprising first single. Por La Ventana (“Through The Window”) must be his poppiest song yet, but it comes from his personal understanding of what pop music is: the mixture of contradictory traditions converging to produce an easy-to-grasp sound. It may be a little upsetting for his hardcore fans but this isn’t the first time Gepe has bent his own rules, and it certainly won’t be the last.
COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Transporte – Lonely
Transporte are not afraid to experiment. Formed by Diana Navarro (vocals) and Juan Felipe Bastidas (drums, guitars, sequences), the duo mix live sounds with digital synths to create their electronic pop.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
The Wong Boys – Git Ur Wong On
At the start of the year, Frank Ziyanak (The Wong Boys, Death To Frank Ziyanak and much more) launched a new website making a solid portion of his impressive musical output – remixes, full albums, demos and rarities – available for download on a “pay your respect” basis. Among the rarities is this remake of The Wong Boys’ club-banging smash-hit Git Ur Fuk On, aimed at the Asian market as Git Ur Wong On.
ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Archie Bronson Outfit – Shark’s Tooth
One of my favourite albums of the year so far is Archie Bronson Outfit’s Coconut. It’s a beast of an album, full of dirty, greasy, noisy rock thrills. And by that I don’t mean lo-fi – with DFA man Tim Goldsworthy in the chair, it’s pretty high-spec stuff with amped-up guitars, propulsive rhythms and carefully controlled noise explosions. If it sounds rough, it’s meant to be that way. It’s less about the tunes (though they are there), more the dark energy seething underneath the wall of sound. This is an album that you know wants to rock you, but you’re always afraid that it’s going to sneak up on your gyrating body and kick your head in. Exciting.
Picnic – Too Fast
Picnic was formed in 2006 and features Rivo Jarvsoo (guitars, electronics), Andres Soosaar (guitars, other instruments) and Marju Taukar (vocals, keyboard, accordion). Flowing guitars mingle with electronic beats and treats, and the influence of ’90s British shoegaze is not difficult to notice – Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse are all there. The band released their debut album Winter Honey on local label Seksound in February.
Captain Cougar – Engagement Song
For their second album, Captain Cougar came up with a history-related concept album telling the story of two people growing up on the heels of the Finnish independence and civil war in the early 20th century and emigrating for the never-to-be-found hope and glory of the American land. The cinematic music enhances the melancholy of the story with dense atmospherics and layers of instruments underneath the beautiful voice of Eva Louhivuouri, who acts as the narrator thanks to a collection of soft pop melodies. Early in the story, Engagement Song gives a break to the hard-working people in the rural community.
L’egojazz – Ovatime
Jazz and sampling are the foundations L’egojazz is built on. These guys from the Bavarian Chiemgau draw their inspiration from many different genres such as electro, indie and drum and bass, and merge them to form an eclectic, improvisational sound. Ovatime is a piece of impulsive music with a funky touch that goes directly into your dancing shoes. The song is a Music Alliance Pact exclusive which shows their electronic side best.
Sleepin Pillow – Silicone
Sleepin Pillow’s philosophy is based on bringing together experimental, psychedelic rock along with Greek and Eastern traditional music. They create eerie yet familiar soundscapes while achieving a distinctive sound of their own to form an enveloping whole, with each overlapping texture or shifting tempo plunging the listener further into the darkness. Their album Superman’s Blues is rewarding, thoughtful and challenging. It is an ambitious work of power, emotional depth and feeling, with vocals submerged under a claustrophobic blanket of guitars battling with drums.
ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Who Knew – Sharpen The Knife
Who Knew is a six-piece indie power-pop band that produces catchy melodies and groovy beats. The band was formed by lead singer Armann Ingvi Armannson and backing vocalist and guitar player Baldur Helgi Snorrason in 2006. Sharpen The Knife is taken from debut album Bits And Pieces Of A Major Spectacle, which will be released in Europe on the German 101berlin label on May 21.
White Shoes & The Couples Company – Kampus Kemarau
White Shoes & The Couples Company’s music make Indonesians feel proud. Heavily influenced by old Indonesian movies and ’60s ballads, they spread the warm feeling of their vibrant, vintage pop tunes all around the world, even if most of the lyrics are in Bahasa Indonesia.
Kill Krinkle Club – Airport
Justin Cummins and Elena Bergman are an Irish-Swedish duo who released a promising EP back in 2008. They’ve recently been recording material for their debut album in September (each track will be accompanied by a video) and Airport is one of the first missives available from it, showcasing Kill Krinkle Club’s unique electronic/synth-pop sound.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Desert – Letter Of Marque
The evocative mastery of classic dark power metal act Desert exports a majestically melodic, edgy onslaught laced with influences from Judas Priest to Deep Purple. They’ve shared the stage with Sabaton and Draconian and show formidable talent and promise.
Vermillion Sands – Miss My Gun
A single out on Fat Possum, an EP on Sacred Bones and now the debut album on Alien Snatch Records – Vermillion Sands may be from Italy but they really talk the international language of rock ‘n’ roll. Their songs are raw and catchy as hell. You could say they play garage pop with a folk vibe, but you just have to let yourself go and wildly dance. Anna Barattin’s twangy voice will hypnotize you.
JAPAN: JPOP Lover
Tim & Puma Mimi – Aquarium
Tim & Puma Mimi is indie electro-pop group that consists of Tim (aka Christian Fischer) from Switzerland and Mimi (aka Michiko Hanawa) from Tokyo. They met in the Netherlands at a party in 2003. They are far away from each other but are connected via the internet, using Skype to record their tracks to deliver sweet and frisky tunes.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Carla Morrison – Buena Malicia
Carla Morrison is a beautiful voice in Mexico’s new music scene. Emerging from Baja California in 2009, Carla has touched audiences with just a piano, a guitar and her voice, which seems to melt down every soul that dares to listen to it live. Sweet and haunting, her sound is engaging but, more than anything, it’s moving. Buena Malicia is taken from her first EP titled Aprendiendo a Aprender. Carla is recording a follow-up with fellow singer (and fan) Natalia Lafourcade, which will go by the name Mientras Tu Dormias.
NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam Event Guide
Zea – Song For Electricity
Zea’s music draws influence from all over the world, and this entry especially is a mish-mash number inspired by an Ethiopian track taken from a recent tour through the country. Tribal beats with fast-paced indie-pop guitars merge with high-pitched electronics to create a messy, “wonderfully bonkers” pop number. File Zea in your collection with other eclectic, world-pop big-wigs MIA, Vampire Weekend and Animal Collective.
NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Bandicoot – Silence Is Golden
Take teenage angst and energy, pounding drums, speedy riffs, frenetic lead guitar, a hyper vocalist who spits her lyrics rather than sings, songs that duck and dive rather than take a linear path from go to whoa, turn up the treble and approach the whole thing with the aim of having fun. That’s Bandicoot. Silence Is Golden is from their second EP Jurassic Warfare and it ticks all those boxes. Jurassic Warfare, along with free 2009 EP Happy Talking are available from Muzai Records.
Caudillismo y Pedigree – Mi Perro Poodle Tiene Pulgas Negras
Mi Perro Poodle Tiene Pulgas Negras exudes creativity both in its hypnotizing, pleasant melody and its lyrics. The minimalism mixes with nostalgia to tell a strange story – the pains and habits of a dog called Poodle. The lyrics seem to make no sense, but in fact the use of metaphors explain and criticize the current society and some dark extracts of Peruvian life.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Soulbizness – Victimless Crime
Rodrigo Gomes and Filipe Campos are Soulbizness, a duo deeply influenced by funk, soul and electronic dance music. They won the first music contest in which they participated, in 2007. In 2008, they released their first EP, Collectables, and soon had a single on a major TV series. 2nd Shake is their second EP, released this last April, and Victimless Crime is one of its four tracks.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Discoballs – Watch Out!
“From now on, no one is safe, nothing is for sure,” announced Discoballs – a 100% live electronic group from Bucharest – at the beginning of 2008. They were very well received by the public because such a project was missing from the music scene and because they are really good at what they’re doing – playing constantly with sound and managing to make incredible music every time they’re on stage. Here’s one of the few tracks they’ve recorded.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Great Empty – Intro (Pattern & The Essence)
Great Empty are an experimental, instrumental band. One of the most beautiful aspects of their music is the raw simplicity that lies at the heart of all their tunes. There is no need for grand opuses, or pitch-perfect production quality. I think flaw is their gift to the realm of music, to ache and bleed out the last vestiges of honest emotion beyond the limits of control. It is heartfelt music, something that’s worth remembering and listening to.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Megan C – I Got It
Megan C is a triple threat – a model, classically-trained vocalist and gifted actress. She teamed up with producer extraordinaire Ameen Harron for the song I Got It. It is a blend of slick, uptempo beats combined with MIA-esque rap, hip hop flavour and just a touch of electro to make a surefire dancefloor hit. Megan C is a force to reckoned with, keep an eye out for more from her.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Vidulgi OoyoO – Goodnight Shining
Vidulgi OoyoO (literally “Pigeon Milk”) is one of Korea’s finest shoegaze bands. They recently put out a split album with Chicago’s bliss.city.east and it is scheduled for release in Europe and the US later this month. They wanted to apply their own textures to electronica, post-rock, psychedelic blues and more, and the result sounds better than ever. Goodnight Shining is an outstanding instrumental piece that’ll make you want to stay in Vidulgi OoyoO’s world of droning goodness for as long as possible.
SPAIN: Oscuro Magazine
Barbo – Exilio En Yokohama
Barcelona indie band Barbo created Matagigantes, an alternative rock album full of three-minute pop songs. Exilio En Yokohama speaks of the search for a personal retreat when you see everything around sink. Musically, they try to recover the fighting spirit of early U2, especially with the drum beat and guitar delays.
Big Fox – Saturday
Big Fox (aka Charlotta Perers) accomplishes her sound mostly by herself playing all the instruments, and doing the production/arranging of the songs. You would think that Saturday would be an uptempo pop song about partying, but instead is a slightly melancholy (yet positive) song about being home alone on a Saturday night. Charlotta admits to being influenced by Feist, Regina Spektor, Frida Hyvonen, Jenny Wilson and Ane Brun but her sound stands out on its own at the same time.
Bonaparte – L’etat C’est Moi
Bonaparte is a multicultural music project based in Berlin. However, the band leader, Tobias Jundt aka Signorino TJ, is a Swiss musician and producer who has gathered members from Germany, France, USA, New Zealand, Mexico, Panama, Austria and Brazil. Together they’re putting on an unforgettable show. At the beginning of their energetic and witty live shows everyone is dressed like circus animals. At the end, almost everyone is naked. Bonaparte’s music is contagious as hell and will get you in the end. Their second long-player, My Horse Likes You, comes out on June 4.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Sleigh Bells – Tell ‘Em
All it took was a killer P-Funk sample to make Sleigh Bells the hottest new band of 2010. Their debut album, Treats, is hitting shelves in early June on M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. label and Tell ‘Em is the first official track we’ve tasted. It’s like crack-sprinkled Andes thin mints. Absolutely delicious, intimidatingly addictive.
Famasloop – Vaca Lechera
Famasloop is a young band with a new approach to music, combining fresh, innovative rhythms with a marketing campaign full of multimedia elements that match their energy. They go from pop to rock and indie, and claim to make music not from genres but from the heart. Vaca Lechera is taken from Casa 4, a release that includes 10 new songs, 12 remixes and four videos.
To download all 34 songs in one file click here