As events in Dusseldorf last night proved, there’s something truly magic about the annual aural violation that is Eurovision – it makes you realise just how monotonous the white-boys-with-guitars live spectacle is when they’re not sharing the stage with someone drawing in sand or, at the very least, a unicycling fairy.
In some subconscious level it must have inspired me to set up the Music Alliance Pact, which strives to identify the best new songs from around the globe and offers them to you for free consumption in a monthly mixtape.
Each of the 36 blogs in MAP has chosen a song by an artist from their own country, and collectively we share the entire lot on all of our sites on the 15th of the month. As Scotland’s representative, it gives me great pleasure to bring you WE SEE LIGHTS.
To download all 36 songs in one file click here
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
We See Lights – My Oh My Oh My
Let’s see if you can guess what We See Lights sound like before you listen to them. The group hosted an event this month called The Twee Jamboree in their native Edinburgh with live music and home baking, while their new Twee Love Pop EP features a song entitled I Hope You Like The Smiths. I think you get the picture. My Oh My Oh My is by far their finest moment to date – it’s an utterly adorable anthem for the lovestruck and has some delightful banjo playing. Check out Bandcamp or iTunes for more of their music.
May 26, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh (tickets)
Pablo Krantz – Et C’est Ainsi Que Tu T’en Vas
Pablo Krantz is a well-established musician and writer born in Buenos Aires. After making a name for himself in the local alternative scene with two great albums, he moved to Paris for several years, where he released an album in which he sings entirely in French. Démonos Cita En Una Autopista (Para Volvernos A Estrellar) is his fifth record, and the first one since he returned to Argentina. A mix between these two stages in Krantz’s career, Et C’est Ainsi Que Tu T’en Vas is a great song to start digging into his work.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Chet Faker – No Diggity
Chet Faker is a new electronic artist on the Melbourne scene. His tie-dye facial hair + wifebeater singlet + smoooooooth cover of a bangin’ 90s anthem has definitely brought him some attention. TOP THIS. No, this isn’t a (total) joke – it’s a sweet 2011 treatment for a song that many people probably didn’t think was worth a revisit.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Lise – Parece Constantina
Parece Constantina is a preview of Qualquer Frágil Fio de Fantasia, the new album from Lise, which is the side-project of multi-instrumentalist Daniel Nunes (drummer of the band Constantina, who played at this year’s SXSW). The name of the song means “sounds like Constantina”, in reference to his main band. Despite being a very experimental post-rock/electronic project, this track dialogues with hip hop through the vocals from members of Zimun and increases the musical spectrum of the genre.
The Guest Bedroom – Tough Luck
Buzzing guitars, thundering drums, impassioned female vocals… Sleater-Kinney and their grrrl-y ilk may be gone, but The Guest Bedroom show they’re not forgotten. For three albums now – up to their most recent, A Year’s Supply Of Rabbit’s Feet – TGB have shown that there’s plenty of life in a genre too many people thought died at the turn of the century and, as songs like Tough Luck show, they know how to make that old music sound as fresh and as vital as ever.
CHILE: Super 45
Megajoy – Rainbow Drama
“Techno sudaka sci-fi from the information age” – that’s how Megajoy (alias for Hector Llanquín) defines his peculiar musical view. Nervous beats, insane samples and a million pop references per second are the raw materials which Megajoy works with. His debut album Avidya (self-released, 2011), available for free download on his website, is a collection of twisted dance songs with a strong sense of humor and a subversive spirit, making this record one of this year’s essentials.
Shanren – Thirty Years
Yunnan folk-rock phenomenon Shanren fuse Yunnan/Guizhou indigenous music with various modern styles to produce a fresh sound as accessible as it is unique. They aim to promote and preserve the combined and diverse heritage of Yunnan and Guizhou’s many ethnic minority groups through their own original compositions and reworkings of local folk melodies.
COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Katamaran – Ella No Es Como Tu
Katamaran is a ska band from Bucaramanga. Their most recent album, Imparable, mixes horns with others styles including rap. This single, Ella No Es Como Tu, is in the Colombian indie chart.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Mescalin, Baby – She’s Near, She’s Near, She’s Here
Mescalin, Baby release their full-length debut, Air Air, on May 23, following up on 2009’s debut EP, No Time For The Old In-Out Love, which earned the quintet both praise and airplay. The retro-orientated rock with splashes of folk on the forthcoming album stands a good chance of repeating the success, and I’m happy to be able to share She’s Near, She’s Near, She’s Here with you as a MAP exclusive.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Ben Howard – Empty Corridors (Live)
Male British singer-songwriters are hardly thin on the ground and yet, even given the crowded market, Ben Howard stands out. A 24-year-old Devon boy with a penchant for surfing, he’s just released an EP on the Mumford-affiliated Communion label and has signed thereafter to Island – he apparently inked the deal because of their history with Nick Drake and John Martyn. And that’s Howard all over: folk-pop with substance and class. On this, a live version of Empty Corridors, he showcases, as a recent New Band of the Day article put it, a “guitar sound that recalls Drake’s complex tunings, while every so often you expect his gently gruff tones to start warbling Martyn’s Bless The Weather”. Marvellous.
Kali Briis – Home Alone
After releasing some EPs, two of them available for free here, Kali Briis is finally bringing out his full-length debut album Homewrecker on May 16. Kali doesn’t care much about borders of genres, feeling equally comfortable in R’n’B, electro, hip-hop or any other style he feels like trying. MAP exclusive Home Alone from the new album is a full-on handmade electro track featuring synths, guitars, bass and drums all played by Kali himself.
Mummypowder – A House
After a few years struggling with the precarious stability of an indie band, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Janne Lehtinen got his mummies together and this month he is finally publishing Mummypowder’s long-awaited fourth album. The first single, A House, is a melodic power-pop ballad with Janne’s vocals upfront accompanied by layers of guitars to build up an intense momentum.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Porco Rosso – 10.000 Lieues À La Ronde
Singing pop in French is not easy, and not every band gives it a try, but some brilliantly succeed, as Porco Rosso show. Formed in 2002, the three members have found their own style – a balance between their influences and their personality. After releasing two EPs (2004, 2006), they dropped their LP, La Vie Sans Moi (“Life Without Me”), last year. You might not understand the lyrics of 10.000 Lieues À La Ronde, but you don’t have to – the rhythm and the vocals are too catchy not to appreciate.
Angela Aux – Smells Like Screen Spirit
Angela Aux is the solo project of Heiner Hendrix aka Flo from last year’s MAP featured L’egojazz. He calls the style of his recently released debut, Whatever You Guess It’s Not, weird Kraut-folk. Smells Like Screen Spirit is a fine mélange of groovy, catchy bass, scratchy sound effects and melancholic vocals. It will fit perfectly with a summer sunset at your local lake when you’re cheerful as well as blue.
May Roosevelt – Dark The Night
May Roosevelt’s sophomore, self-released album harnesses a spectrum of emotions unveiling a dark and reclusive universe defined by motion and dance. Rhythms rich with contemporary elements weaved on theremin sounds, electronic beats and synthesizers coalesce with evocative melodies drawing on Greek traditional musical heritage. Every note is considered and played with care and a sense of craft. The more you listen to it, the more it falls into place and traps you under its spell.
ICELAND: Icelandic Music Maffia
Nolo – Pretty Face
Nolo is a young, very promising band from Reykjavik. They are two 18-year-old guys, Nonnji Lorange and Ivör Björnsson, who had already played together in different bands for some years before they deceided to work together as Nolo. They record all their music with lo-fi equipment in Ivör’s basement, using two guitars (electric and acoustic) and an organ.
Peter Cat Recording Co – Love Demons
Peter Cat Recording Co is one of the newest, freshest young talents to emerge out of the growing Indian indie music scene. The quartet from New Delhi create orchestral soundscapes that throw Neutral Milk Hotel and disco Bollywood in a washing machine with cabaret Tide. Love Demons represents this musical laundry cycle perfectly. The song, one of the highlights of the band’s wholly refreshing debut album Sinema, channels Quincy Jones and Bappi Lahiri for five minutes of an exciting car chase through the crowded streets of Delhi.
Swimming Elephants – Sarah
Swimming Elephants are a collective of young people who write complex arrangements of pop music pieces using simple chords. They are one of the best newcomers in the Indonesian indie scene.
Le Galaxie – Midnight Midnight
Dublin-based mischievous visualists Le Galaxie release their debut album Laserdisc Nights II on June 10 after a few years honing their astral night-time music. Midnight Midnight is a perfect indicator of the four-piece band thus far: thumping electro, sci-fi synths, big 80s drum drops and vocals that make you go “woooooooo”. TUNE.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Spawn Of Evil – First Stone
Spawn Of Evil is an iconic death metal band that’s been on the Israeli scene for 13 years. Guitarist Miko Haronian describes First Stone as not “so political as it looks – more reality. Some leaders say ‘Destroy Israel’ all day long and the world is silent… so this is our answer to this – come on, try!” Spawn Of Evil mixes rambunctious gleeful energy release with quality meat and potatoes death metal. They are seeking a label for their latest album, Ecstatic Aggressive Behavior. Check them out.
Quakers And Mormons – New York Town
Maolo and Mancho are from the band My Awesome Mixtape, which was featured in the June 2009 edition of MAP. Now they’ve started a new project, more hip-hop oriented. Think of a sound influenced by Anticon and Antipop Consortium, and mixed with some of the sumptuous TV On The Radio arrangements. Add dark lyrics delivered with an apocalyptical strain and, bang, you have this killer debut album, aptly named Evolvotron.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Aeiou – Vivimos In L.A.
Aeiou’s album Space Hymn is the unexpected joint venture between elfin vocalist Juan Son and Simone Pace (Blonde Redhead’s drummer), with some surprising collaborations with Kelley Deal (The Breeders) and an unnamed, mysterious character. Vivimos In L.A. (“We Live In L.A.”), reflects the city-hopping lifestyle experienced by the members: Simone has lived in Milan, Montreal, Boston and New York; while Juan, born in Guadalajara, has also had L.A. and the Big Apple as homes. Irrespective of the passports, the song and album show touches of ethereal, androgynous space-beauty.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Aux Raus – Oh No, It’s Them!
You can technically get away with calling this Amsterdam duo’s music ‘electro punk’, but whereas most bands courting such a label want to fuse those two elements, Aux Raus come across like a drunken punch-up between them – the wiry punk riffs and roars virtually taunting the techno and gabba-spewing drum machines. And that’s just the start of a series of contrasts which include: songs channelling equal measures of political fury and silliness; that they’re part anonymous anarcho-freaks and part leaders of style cool; and that they’re at their best wreaking havoc in a club with 300 moshing kids but can easily transfer such energy to headlining festivals. This track is from their newly released third album, All Creeping Things Stopped Creeping.
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
Sheep,Dog&Wolf – Not Aquatic
A MAP premiere – former Bandicoot drummer Daniel McBride presents his solo project Sheep,Dog&Wolf, leaving behind his punk roots to weave a complex fusion of Motown, jazz and pop music. After months recording in his bedroom, the 17-year-old multi-instrumentalist’s music resembles a young Sufjan Stevens, layered with strings, horns and percussion, while curious time signatures and his beautifully incandescent voice balance an unusual amalgamation of whimsically flirtatious styles.
NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
Burning God Little – Notes On Being Snowblind
Martin Hartgren aka Burning God Little has been played quite a lot on Norwegian radio lately. Call it chillwave, call it dreampop, bedroom electronic, samplertronica, even shoegaze – whatever it is, it’s great. You can easily hear inspiration from Neon Indian, Washed Out, Panda Bear and Gold Panda, but he’s never a dull copy. He has his own way of mixing heavy backbeat drumbeats, samples and sometimes hauntingly beautiful harmonies and melodies.
Pilotocopiloto – Infante
Pilotocopiloto is an instrumental rock duo consisting of Carlos Freyre and Juan Pablo Aragon. Their music can be described as a powerful fusion of guitar and drums, with their interest in experimentation allowing them to dabble in minimalist ambient sounds and psychedelic effects. This mixture fills their instrumental songs with freshness. They recently released their self-titled debut album which is just as well because Infante definitely makes you want more.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Norton – Two Points
Norton is a band from a city in the center of Portugal with a considerable fanbase and three albums to their name. Their latest one, Layers Of Love United, is a turning point for the band after their lead singer left and was replaced by one of the members who used to be on backing vocals. They have toured Europe and have had quite favorable international reviews.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Blue Nipple Boy – Bear Comes Naked
Blue Nipple Boy are actually four boys from Bucharest, ready to conquer the music scene with an indie/alternative approach. Although new to it, they are rapidly increasing their fanbase with each single. And how could people not like the smooth rhythms, catchy lyrics and good vibes their songs have? The guys are working on their first album, but till then, I give you their freshly released third single, Bear Comes Naked, which will soon have a video as well.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Monster Cat – Mannequins
It intertwines like a ball of yarn unraveling as feline claws playfully pounce upon their five-track debut EP Mannequins. The guilty party is collectively known as Monster Cat, who at first mention do not hint at their psycho-folk-rock tendencies. Yet, as you sink deeper into their depravity, it starts to make perfect sense. Mannequins is a bold debut that bares all and holds nothing back, along with all the vulnerability of a gentle kitten. You can download their EP for free via their website during the month of May and pledge your allegiance.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
The Pretty Blue Guns – Shed Your Skin
The Pretty Blue Guns are four best friends who love making a noise. With their second album, Shed Your Skin, they abandoned any expectations people might have had and the result is a record that is deeply personal and shows the band’s growth. The first single, Shed Your Skin, is an introspective look at life and people around them aptly showing off their self-described sound – a mix of “blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country, soul – all put together in a little wooden box, doused in gasoline, set alight”.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Paryumchiakdan – A Night Of Wine
Paryumchiakdan, which translates as “The Infamous Orchestra”, was formed three years ago with the vision of making music based on 70s punk-rock with an East Asian pop sound, playing it as if they were a 60s garage rock band. The sound has changed a bit since, but the members still cite GO!GO!7188 and Korean psychedelic musicians of the 70s such as Kim Jung Mi as influences. The band recently self-released their first EP, A Night Of Wine, and the title track has an awesome modern retro sound that invites foot-tapping.
El Estudiante Larry – Mejor Que Yo
Formed in Murcia, a city renowned for its hot indie music scene, El Estudiante Larry is frontman Larry Sandoval and fellow musicians Víctor, Seka and Porras. After releasing three CD-Rs (available for free download), they collaborated with #Fo – side-project of Klaus & Kinski’s Álex Martínez – to release a split EP, Gulag Split, which can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp. El Estudiante Larry songs can be made from psychedelic beats, a classic indie sound or even a Nashville rock taste, which is the case with Mejor Que Yo, the last but not least track on the EP.
Masquer – Happiness
Super lo-fi indie-rock that reminds one of 1/3 Cure, 1/3 Siouxsie Sioux and 1/3 Madonna. Count me in! Masquer is the new side-project of Kiki from Lowood/Idora and Pelle of Idora. The new song is called Happiness and continues to play to the band’s strengths – mainly its 80s retro indie-rock sound and the spellbinding vocals of Kiki. Lyrically, its anti-establishment lyrics and chorus of “I’ll never conform” would be a perfect addition to the soundtracks of any John Hughes films from that period.
We Love Machines – Carpentizer (feat. Orlando Menthol)
The two Swiss guys from We Love Machines nailed our attention a year ago. They caused a big stir with Ed Banger-influenced sounds that totally hit it. Now they’ve released their debut, which is actually full of hits and some surprises. One of them is the Balkan-esque electro tune Carpentizer which features another Swiss electronic genius, Orlando Menthol, and some Swiss-German singing parts.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Auditorium – Sunday
Auditorium (formerly Field) is the work of Spencer Berger, whose debut album Be Brave was released in January. Berger specializes in ‘glam-folk’, whereby theatrical, multi-layered vocal harmonies shine throughout the album, telling stories of love, nature, cities and people in a remarkably engaging way. Auditorium is beginning to make waves in LA and beyond – get on board now before your friends are barking at you about it in a few months.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
La Abuela Disco – 4.30
La Abuela Disco is an alternative rock, post-grunge and electronic-influenced band formed in Acarigua (Portuguesa) in mid-2009. In late April, they finally released their first studio album Polvo Lunar, a name that fits perfectly with its sound. It can be downloaded for free at the band’s website.