This is the first time I’ve ever picked an act to represent Scotland in the Music Alliance Pact who have yet to play their first gig, but there’s no doubting the quality of impassioned indie-rockers Arches. The band (which features former members of Young States, Jocasta Sleeps and Yashin) have spent much of the year squirrelled away recording a bundle of great tracks, the pick of the bunch being Like Fireworks – a Music Alliance Pact exclusive free download.
Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a .zip file of the whole 32-track compilation via MediaFire.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Arches – Like Fireworks (radio edit)
If a band’s ambition is related to the epicness of the music then Arches’ goals must be stadium-sized. Like Fireworks is the sort of song someone with the pedigree and studio budget of Doves or Elbow would release as the first single from a new album, not the first offering from an unsigned Glasgow group. Immerse yourself in its colossal choruses here and on the promo video.
Tomi Lebrero y El Puchero Misterioso – Noche En La Pampa (feat. Lisandro Aristimuño)
This song is from singer, songwriter and bandoneónist player Tomi Lebrero’s third album, Me Arrepiento De Todo. The first time we listened to it, we were amazed by the melancholy of some of his songs, moving away a little bit from the parodic tone that was present in previous albums and soundtracks. Noche En La Pampa features the great Lisandro Aristimuño as a guest vocalist.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
The Baggios – Oh Cigana
The Baggios could be described as the Brazilian version of The White Stripes. It’s the fusion of blues/garage rock from the Detroit duo transposed to the arid feel of Brazil’s hot north-west and its 70s rock. Their debut album is available to download for free via their website.
Cowlick – Can Neu Do It
With a name like Cowlick, you’d expect something twangy. If there’s one thing their newest album, Wires, isn’t, however, it’s country. They bring together everything from drone-pop to hip-hop and, as this track shows, they do it well.
CHILE: Super 45
Mowat – Librando A La Mañana
Mowat is a Chilean musician/producer living in Berlin. After his first work, EP#1 (2008), Mowat is now preparing his debut LP, Anglia, to be released on Cápsula Discos. Experimenting with traditional Chilean folk, the album’s first single, Librando A La Mañana, stands out for its orchestrated arrangements and warm vocals.
48V – Long Men Zhen
48V is an instrumental post-rock project from Chengdu. The band consists of four members and so far they have released two full-length albums. Their first, South, came out back in 2006 and it was followed this year by South II on 1724 Records. It’s a good start if you want to try Chinese post-rock.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Klak Tik – With Ernest & George
A UK resident for the past 10 years, Søren Bonke released Must We Find A Winner – his excellent debut album as Klak Tik – in Britain in 2010, which earlier this year earned him a worldwide release on Danish labels Slow Shark Records and VME. Exclusively for MAP, here’s With Ernest & George, just one marvelous example of Bonke’s orchestral alternative folk.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Oh Minnows – Another Volunteer
Londoner Chris Steele-Nicholson used to be in indie trio Semifinalists. Now he makes music as Oh Minnows, with an album of synth/guitar pop called For Shadows just released on the Young And Lost Club label. The album opener, Another Volunteer, is the kind of plangent affair that gives 80s-referencing indie rock a good name, with its gently insistent drums, lush bed of synths, and vocal pitched nicely. As a recent Guardian New Band of the Day article put it: “Between optimism and despair, between the hope that a loved-one has moved on and a fear that they one day will.”
Possimiste – Behind The Seas
Possimiste is an 18-year-old “uber-experimentalist”-bluebird-singer/songwriter from the wonderland, who likes to destroy the borders of music genres, believing in music and its existence in everything. A mysterious creature, an almost fictional character, who lives in a forest, has bat wings and is always wearing imaginary tinklers in her hair.
Revival Hymns – Path Of Grace
Formed in the so-called Manchester of Finland that is the city of Tampere, Revival Hymns have worked hard in the past year to write and record their debut album, Feathers, which is already available to download on the band’s website. Although clocking at 40 minutes, you will find just seven post-rock songs that go from slow psychedelic notes to big momentums of distortion, noise and epic choruses.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
La Mort De Darius – T.E.U.F
La Mort De Darius come from Strasbourg and are into electro/house. Violence is a keyword to describe their sound, and you can’t do anything but dance to it (at the very least, you’ll shake your hand in the air while listening). Each of their songs could have appeared on Don Rimini’s The Perfect Prescription because of that same “turbine sound” that characterizes the compilation. La Mort De Darius show how good France still is at making electronic music. Listen to their remix of Katy Perry’s E.T. in this brilliant video shot at Dour Festival.
Tim Neuhaus – As Life Found You
Tim Neuhaus sounds fresh and ageless despite having already released six albums. His smart pop songs are driven by elaborated rhythms and his soft but catchy voice, which create a very warm feeling of melancholia. A trained percussionist, he was part of the famous Blue Man Group and accompanied rapper Clueso for several years. Meanwhile, he always wrote and recorded his own songs, with As Life Found You being maybe the best from his latest release, The Cabinet.
Plastic Flowers – White Walls Painted Black
Plastic Flowers builds levees of emotion with subtle sonic shifts, washed-out electronic textures and layers of instrumentation that blur together sublimely and turns hushed beats and lightly scratched guitars into overwhelmingly lush sound offerings. The single, White Walls Painted Black, off his forthcoming debut album, flows with some artful embroidery and shines exquisitely.
ICELAND: Icelandic Music Maffia
Coral – The Underwhelmer
Rock band Coral have been playing together since 2000, effectively starting their career in 2002 with the release of their nameless low-budget EP commonly referred to as The Yellow Album by listeners. Since then Coral have been unleashing their raw brand of rock ‘n’ roll on audiences, experimenting with classical, jazz and rock influences within a rock-quartet format. Last month they released their second album, Leopard Songs, on the Record Records label, from which The Underwhelmer is taken.
Cupumanik – Grunge Harga Mati
Grunge Harga Mati is roughly translated as “you can’t take grunge from me without killing me”. You might grin but the band won’t stop making music and will embark on their first Canadian tour later this year, spreading their rock music.
Last Days Of 1984 – River’s Edge
▲L▲ST D∆YS OF 1984▲▲ (to give Darren Moloney and Brian Rice’s band its full name) are only on debut single status but a slot at the Berlin Festival is already lined up. It’s easy to hear why. River’s Edge is an Animal Collective-esque romp down the beach, conjuring up sunny climes and good vibes with a sound described by the band themselves as “beach house”.
Gazebo Penguins – Il Tram Delle 6
Gazebo Penguins are one of the best punk hardcore bands you will find in this country, on stage and on record. Their new album is named Legna, which in Italian could mean “wood” and also “bashing”, but in a groovy way, or something like that. They’re heavy and uplifting. The album is available for free download.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Möscow Çlub – Bikinikill
The name implies ties to chilly Russia, but Möscow Çlub hails from Tokyo and they love the summer sun. Bikinikill finds the indie-pop quartet at their most seasonally appropriate, all jaunty guitars and warm bells while the vocals melt into the surrounding sounds. Like similarly ocean-centric artists Best Coast and Beach Fossils, Möscow Çlub turns simple melodies into irresistible beach-blanket pop. Thank goodness there is a little summer left to savour.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
The Areola Treat – Nothing There
Formed in 2006, The Areola Treat are inspired by cult classics, 70s horror movies and awkward Japanese bands. With screeching guitars, resounding feedback, feisty punk beats and definite munchy punk vocals, they are almost reminiscent of X-Ray Spex. Nothing There is from their debut album Pleasure Machines, released earlier this year.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Klezmerson – Zuntik
For the past decade, Klezmerson have been fusing traditional Jewish culture sounds with some Mexican roots like charanga and huapango dressed up with rock and jazz. Their third album, Siete, was recently released by John Zorn’s label Tzadik. Zuntik (“Sunday” in Yiddish) is a clever and saucy piece that portrays pretty much what this seven-piece ensemble is all about. Among Klezmer-based melodies, gypsy scales and garbled guitar episodes with heavy drums, it features the voice of Hazan Moshe Mendelson, a cantor who leads the prayers in almost all the ceremonies of the Ashkenazi community in Mexico City.
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
@Peace – @Peace
@Peace is a collaboration between Auckland hip-hop artists Lui Tuiasau, Tom Scott, Christoph El Truento, Hayden Dick and Brandon Haru. The group have been getting praise for their discerning take on life in New Zealand’s largest metropolis, delivering a realist’s viewpoint referencing pop culture, politics and poverty and the challenges facing an ageing Generation Y. The group’s debut self-titled album was released in July and can be downloaded from Bandcamp.
Las Amigas De Nadie – Clones De Pan
Rock was not invented only for men. Las Amigas De Nadie are a band of five girls aged between 23 and 26. They’re nice, but they aren’t going to be smiling at the world looking for sympathy. Their only mission is to create music as they go, sometimes mixing up punk rock with hip-hop. Capsula is their first LP and is available for free from their website – listen to Clones De Pan and soak up its essence.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Dear Telephone – The Door Was White
Dear Telephone, named after Peter Greenaway’s Dear Phone, are a quartet. One of their members is also in Peixe:Avião (featured in August 2010’s MAP) and both bands belong to a new indie label called PAD. Dear Telephone create an electro-acoustic sound and last month released their debut six-track EP, Birth of A Robot.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
The MOOoD – Stay Right
“Spread The MOOoD!” is their motto and you will understand why after listening to one of their songs. With an electric and infectious Brit/indie sound enriched by the unique timbre of the voice, The MOOoD makes you wanna hear more of their music with every song you listen to. After five years of making themselves known on the Romanian indie scene, the guys released their very-much-awaited-by-the-fans debut album, which starts like this.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Motorama – Ghost
Motorama is a new-wave, twee-pop band from Rostov inspired by Scandinavian music and romance of the 80s. Their musical mood is closely related to the visual part, full of northern nature, military aesthetics and clippings from 50-year-old magazines.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
The Psalms – Johnny Mnemonic
Fiercely upfront and dizzyingly discordant, The Psalms have been shaking things up in the music scene here, with growing expectations on their upcoming debut album. The band’s Ishmael’s Wishlist EP offers a raw glimpse of things to come, with its arresting spiral of chaotic rock delivered at breakneck speeds. All donations through the EP’s digital download on Bandcamp will benefit Acres, a Singaporean organization promoting active community involvement in animal protection.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
MacGyver Knife – Stumble
Stemming from a high school band and after almost a decade of jamming in a garage, MacGyver Knife was born in 2008. They recently released their debut album Sewing Legends, with Stumble as their first single. It is a song that changed their sound as a band, establishing their more edgy indie approach, one that is evident throughout their debut offering and is a refreshing take on the local music scene.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Jiyeon Kim – Dear May
Jiyeon Kim may be one of the most interesting artists in Korea right now. She records sounds from her environment, mixes them with synthetic sounds on the computer and uses her own voice to explore the musical spectrum further. Still on a journey to find her musical direction, once she’s found her style she’ll look into releasing an EP, but has yet to decide whether to do it by herself or through a label. Dear May started out as a short memo on a friend’s blog but turned into beautiful, tranquil and very captivating song.
Lenticular Clouds – Hermanos Humanos
Lenticular Clouds is more than a just project, it’s a trip through the biggest secrets of modern physics as Albert Zaragoza Gas, the man behind the music, defines it. Listening to the album as a whole certainly is almost a magical experience, but we’re pretty sure there are scientific explanations for all those ethereal sounds that navigate through the deep yet bright seas of aether pop and chillwave. Hermanos Humanos, the second song on the album, is the perfect tune for chilling outdoors, thinking of what we are and where we come from.
Octanone – None
Lucien Montandon, known for his drum skills with ALT F4, takes his first steps as an electro live act under the name of Octanone. He is a born beat junkie who plays with a drum pad, Loop Station and Kaoss effects. None (which comes with a superb video) is available as a free appetizer. We’re looking forward to his debut EP which will be released in September.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Holiday Shores – Spells
IGIF has loved on Holiday Shores for a long time and nothing makes our love swell like a new release. The band are preparing to bring out their sophomore album New Masses For Squaw Peak and lead single Spells is a track I haven’t stopped spinning since first hearing it in June. It slowly pulls you in with a driving bass line and fetching guitar riff before exploding in a flurry of keys and percussion.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Brew Army – Down To Hell
Army Brew is one of the leading exponents of hard rock in Venezuela. With just one listen to their music you can hear right away influences from bands like Pantera and Ozzy Osbourne. They are about to finish their first album, which includes Down To Hell as the first single.