Korean post-rock, South American electronica, Beijing trip-hop, the Gallic Nirvana, Scandinavian indie, Greek disco, Romanian soundtrack material, the Netherlands’ answer to Camera Obscura, Singaporean country-rock, an Afrikaans rapper who fancies himself as the new Eminem and a German band called Herpes… it can only mean the next instalment of the Music Alliance Pact, which offers you the best music from around the planet for free when the date strikes 15th.
I’ve picked Glasgow-based trio LIGHTGUIDES to represent Scotland this month and you’ll know why when you get your ears around their feisty rock sound. Turn it up, boys.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
LightGuides – The Lion And The Pocketwatch
It’s the middle of festival season and nothing goes down better than a meaty power-rock anthem, which makes LightGuides the perfect alfresco band for the summer. The Lion And The Pocketwatch has a monster chorus that Biffy Clyro would raise devil horns to, while singer Mark Cowan’s vocals aren’t too dissimilar to Nate Ruess of Fun/The Format fame.
The Kyoto Connection – H.E.A.T.
The 80s are back! At least, that’s what we felt after listening to No Headphones Required, the cc-licensed brand new album by The Kyoto Connection. This amazing band delivers sweet electronic music mixed with Japanese juice and Flashdance-like synth sounds. If you like it, you can download the whole record from their website.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Kimbra – Settle Down
I’ve been following Kiwi-now-Melbournite Kimbra’s work for a year now, most of it in the form of either guest performing with other bands or solo with a guitar work. Only recently I’ve heard her new stuff, produced by Franc Teta. Settle Down opens with cut up beat boxing vocals – a bit too close to Bertie’s style of production for my liking – but is rescued and lifted by the chorus and soared into lush harmonies, that are all part of Kimbra’s own signature sound.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Dead Lover’s Twisted Heart – Where I Am
Where I Am is part of the first full length album of the Brazilian band Dead Lover’s Twisted Heart, released a few weeks ago. Far away from the indie-folk influences that are highlighted in the band’s history, it’s a great pop song which could easily be in any album from She & Him or The Ting Tings.
Forest City Lovers – Pocketful Of Rocks
Over the last few years, Forest City Lovers has morphed from simply being a vehicle for Kat Burns’ acoustic folk into a full band with a knack for writing catchy folk-pop. On their new album, Carriage, Burns is joined by members of The D’Urbervilles, Ohbijou and Born Ruffians, among others. As this track (on which Burns is joined by Ruffians frontman Luke Lalonde) demonstrates, the results are simply magical.
CHILE: Super 45
Maifersoni – La Turbulencia Quiere Hacernos Levantar Hoy
Maifersoni is the musical adventure of young Enrique Elgueta, in which he decides to blend psychedelia and noise in a lo-fi-ish perspective, with a strong pop accent. Taller Deslizante (Gliding Loom) is his first work, released this month on Chilean net label Michita Rex. It captures Panda Bear’s contemplative spirit, Sonic Youth’s fondness for experimentation and Vashti Bunyan’s warmth, creating a resounding weave that – with the likes of El Sueño De La Casa Propia and De Janeiros (both highlighted on earlier editions of MAP) – is giving Chilean pop a new perspective.
Lilysay – Last Party
Lilisay is a Beijing-based trip-hop band, founded by Lilisay and Shang Shao in March 2010. At first the band started as a shoegaze duo, but as time went on they have evolved into a trip-hop/electronica band. After the first gig at D22, Lilisay met Li Wei. Sharing the same taste in music, they decided to collaborate. Last Party is one of their early songs, which reminds a lot of the 80s shoegaze stuff.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Waking Life – Chirango
With The Flaming Lips and The Shins among their influences, Copenhagen based six-piece Waking Life work in uplifting, danceable ways. Here’s first single, Chirango – from their forthcoming debut album Fiction – an upbeat indie-rock song with ukulele, bells, trombone and whatnot that would make you all smiles if it hadn’t been for the rather serious lyrics.
ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Wet Paint – Dead Night
Here’s a wee MAP exclusive. Ace east London scuzzy rock types Wet Paint are back with another album of great tunes and noisy guitars. No word yet of when the album’s going to be released, but here is a track from it. A sneak preview of what’s going to be a fantastic record.
Opium Flirt – Parade In Chimes
Opium Flirt have been playing live, writing and recording music since 2004. Projects have included music for multimedia installations, films and choreographic performances. Parade In Chimes is taken from the new album DejaVoodoo.
Delay Trees – Cassette 2012
Just a little bit over a year ago, MAP featured a song by a Helsinki indie band that shocked the scene with a superb self-released EP. Now signed with an important label, Delay Trees offer the first single off their debut full length, out in September. The dreamy intensity of Cassette 2012 anticipates a new round of tender pop songs that will melt your ears.
I Love My Neighbours – Swedish Babe
Everyone has neighbors. You can hate them or love them… but one thing is for sure: it’s impossible not to love these crazy Neighbours. Presented as a big step between Bloc Party and Nirvana, I Love My Neighbours is a very good acidulated pop/rock band. Instigated by an omnipresent battery and swaying bass riffs, the three boys swing between pop songs and true aggressiveness. A schizophrenia materialized by the guitar riffs and the melodic and tortured voice of the singer. A noted French magazine called Les Inrocks wrote about them: “These Parisians enter by the large door of the new English scene, dance and pop, with a full bag with catapults provided by Nirvana”. Prepare yourself to apply the “Bang Bang Theory”, because there’s gonna be rock ‘n’ roll.
Herpes – Keine Experimente
Herpes may be the most ‘German’ band ever posted on the MAP. Their straightforward electropunk with pseudo-political lyrics draw the line from infamous Superpunk to the stepsons of Kraftwerk, like Trio or DAF. Hence, their label has to be Tapete Records, and yeah, of course they live in Berlin. Keine Experimente is the single from their recently released album Das Kommt Vom Kussen.
Mikael Delta – She’s A Boy
Mikael Delta began his career as a member of the band Stereo Nova. He is one of the most prolific and influential musicians in Greece in the past decade. His latest album, Tech Me Away, is made of thrillingly danceable sounds and references to techno music scene, disco and electronica.This is music that hits the head, heart and hips all at once. You can dance to almost anything here. She’s A Boy demonstrates Delta’s talent for building simple, clattering dance beats and riffs into audio addictions. But what takes you by surprise is Etten’s marvellous voice, which pops up like a primary color and paints absolutely stellar pictures.
ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Cosmic Call – Owls
Cosmic Call is a five-piece indie-rock band from Akranes, a small town on the West Coast of Iceland. Band members are singer/guitarist Sigurmon, Fjolnir on guitar, synthesizer and backing vocals, Begga on bass and backing vocals, drummer Petur and Asa on violin and synthesizer. They are inspired by Arcade Fire, The Cure, The Pixies, Joy Division and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They have recorded one EP so far, which was released last July. Owls is a track from this limited, hand-sewn edition of 1000 copies made by the band and family members.
Sir Dandy – Jakarta Motor City
Sir Dandy or Dandy Ramdhani or Acong is the vocalist of one of the most obscure garage bands in Indonesia, Teenage Death Star, known for their quirky style on stage. This is his latest project, recording ballads using only his guitar and sunglasses on his garage-band software. This song tells us the story about the motorcycle flood in Jakarta.
Bingo – Cold Without You
Bingo is a 21 year-old producer from Dublin who makes luscious tracks with nods to dubstep, garage and UK funk. His music recalls the likes of Mount Kimbie, James Blake and Burial. If you find yourself in Dublin on a Saturday night, be sure to check the listings to see if Float, Bingo’s new club night, is taking place in either Twisted Pepper or Tripod. You’ll find the likes of the vocal-twisting Cold Without You coming out of the speakers.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Ghost Bike – Ghost Writer
Jerusalem”s Ghost Bike will take you on an ambient trip-hop via the vehicle of dub-influenced electronica, spinning your mind in sonic circles with aural tales of dark, intense emotion. Diverse musical elements like Middle Eastern chants and beats mix with spooky haunted house effects and everything in between to create this sonic tapestry. Some Hollywood producer in need of a soundtrack should pick this stuff up.
Movie Star Junkies – The Wallnut Tree
It’s summer, a damned hot summer. I wanted to sail away on an ocean wave but it’s all covered in spilt oil. I don’t care. My beloved surfboard won’t let me down. I put the new Movie Star Junkies record on (wild guys, you should see them live) and drink the last drop of rum. A toast to the Birthday Party and the Gun Club. Everything is perfect now. C’mon, let’s put out to sea. Goodbye.
JAPAN: JPOP Lover
Sputniko! – Google Song
Sputniko! (Hiromi Ozaki) is an experimental electro-pop female musician based in London. Since 2007, Sputniko! has shown music, performances and films exploring intersections between technology and popular culture. In 2009, she published the DVD Parakonpe 3000, a collection of eccentric music videos talking about the quirky ways in which we engage with technology, such as Google-searching your crush’s name or desiring to become a cyborg to eliminate periods.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Orlando – Solo Dios Sabe
Orlando is a singer from Tijuana with an organic approach to his compositions. He creates memorable pop choruses that rely on acoustic progressions and just released his first formal LP titled Capullo. This is the first single from the record, under production and arrangements from his collaborator El Poeta and additional mixing by the much respected composer Murcof (also from Tijuana). Solo Dios Sabe is a song that ideally represents Orlando’s soft acoustic sound and its blend with slight electronic details.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Bird On The Wire – Strange Days
Although formed in the harsh winter of 2010, when their first burst of song material emerged, Amsterdam trio Bird On The Wire write laid-back indie-pop that’s perfect for a sweltering summer. Simple, sweet and ever so slightly melancholic, the soft, lulling vocal harmonies of Rosa, Thijs and Nina remind of Camera Obscura, balancing the folk sounds of the ’60s with contemporary lo-fi pop.
NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
The Body Lyre – Pig
The Body Lyre is a multi-instrumental duo putting together an album, Escape Songs, song by song over the 12 months of 2010. Each month a new track is completed and put online for download here. At the end of the year the album will be released on vinyl. The music is guitar based and reverb heavy, with a touch of surf, a pinch of country and a sprinkling of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra.
KooKooo Kitchen – Sweet Caress
KooKooo Kitchen is one of Oslo’s more interesting new bands. In front are Eva and Marianne, constantly fighting for attention with their vocals and guitars, sometimes nice and harmonic, the next second as rough and edgy as it can get. The girls are backed by Henning and Brox on bass and drums. The combination of their sharp, ringing guitar sound, the heavy use of toms and the in-your-face attitude of the vocals reminds me of the early days of Siouxsie And The Banshees. KooKooo Kitchen has a lot of the energy of The Banshees, but the music is filled with lovely pop harmonies. As they say themselves, “Dirt under their nails, and nail polish to cover the mess”. A video is currently in the making for their song Bedsheet. Keep an eye on their MySpace page for details.
Kinder – Encuentro Inesperado
Kinder is based on experimentation to create its sound. It has only an EP titled Mini-EP, on which each song is the result of the combination of different rhythms, electronic sequences and some playful samples. These features give Kinder, in several of its songs, a curious relationship to a childlike theme; this line achieves its balance when its sound gets into the instrumental environments. It’s probably this style that predominates in its first LP, ready for release sometime this year.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Madame Godard – Atlas 1977
The quintet Madame Godard have (on MySpace) one of the best covers of The Clash’s Spanish Bombs that you will ever hear. They produce a sound that is a mix of world music, folk and pop but always humorous. After almost 10 years of hiatus, they have released their first LP, Galapagos, this year, which has been acclaimed by the Portuguese critics and audience.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Identitate – Alone
Alone. Sleepless nights and lonely early mornings when the lights go down and the dawn breaks. The music is rising in loops, choruses that add up to this beautiful and minimal psychedelia. Identitate is a Romanian artist currently splitting his life between London and Timisoara. His third album called Who I Am And What I Want features songs originally meant to be soundtracks for short films and it can be downloaded from here.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Cheating Sons – The Last Queen
Look at some Singaporean cliches and you’ll be faced with an urban cityscape with sterile modern amenities. But scratch the surface and you’ll remember that we were once a humble fishing village that actually remembered how to relax. Cheating Sons sounds like a band that is in the process of retracing those roots, turning over every leaf and scribbling notes in the margins of journals. To say they’re updating a nostalgic country-rock sound would be downplaying the creativity behind the band’s songwriting. While they’re still recording their debut album, they were nice enough to share this demo with us because everyone back home is so excited about the music these boys are making.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Jack Parow – Onder Draai Die Duiwel Joints
Move over Eminem. Jack Parow has arrived. He’s white. He raps. Oh and yes, he’s Afrikaans. Jack Parow truly is original; he is in fact the “original donker dodgy Afrikaans rapper”. His lyrics are brash, brazen and funny and his song Onder Draai Die Duiwel Joints showcases his unique style. He has caused quite a stir in the music scene, locally and internationally alike. He’s set to take over the world. Watch out!
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Glittering Blackness, Fall – 3
After playing together for a few years, post-rock act Glittering Blackness, Fall took it in their own hands to release an untitled EP – their first – at the beginning of this year. One of the septet’s members is a graphic artist, ensuring interesting imagery to go with their captivating music. The song simply called 3 builds up beautifully during the first half before a strong finale where the listener will wish for it never to come to an end. The whole EP is available for download from last.fm.
The Telepathics – 23:59
This little nugget of Italian/Swedish electro disco from The Telepathics is a certain cure for the end of summer blues. The duo is comprised of Cristiano and Isabella. The song is not quite as sunny as their sun-drenched faces, yet still it brightened my day considerably.
Alvin Zealot – Bricks Over Bricks
If it comes to name a current common denominator in the Swiss rock music scene there is no getting around Alvin Zealot – four young guys from Lucerne who made a highly addictive and unpretentious rock ‘n’ roll-record. Tears Of St Lawrence sounds bold and experienced at the same time. Quite an effort for a debut by four teens.
Tomates Fritos – Perdoname
Tomates Fritos was born in Puerto La Cruz, east of Venezuela and since the beginning, in 1997, the group has created four LPs and been part of important music festivals like Festival Nuevas Bandas (1998) and Cool Summer Music Festival (2002). Their music comes from mixing Spanish pop-rock with classic rock from the 60s and 70s, developing a unique sound, flooded with energy that has captivated tons of fans. This song, Perdoname, has been played very often in radio stations all over the country and is on their latest CD, Hombre Bala.
To download all 33 songs in one file click here