Seeing as the end of 2011 is fast approaching and thoughts are turning to potential albums of the year, I wanted to shine a light on an album that really ought to feature highly on the list of music critics and fans. Diamond Mine by King Creosote & Jon Hopkins is that album and, thanks to their label Domino, you can download a stunning reworked track from it for free below, along with 34 other songs hand-picked by 34 bloggers around the world.
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 35-track compilation via MediaFire.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Bats In The Attic (Unravelled)
Rarely has the word “timeless” been more appropriate for a record. It took seven years for King Creosote and Jon Hopkins to make their first collaborative album, the Mercury Prize-nominated Diamond Mine, and it handsomely captures delicate snapshots of unhurried, everyday life in rural Fife – literally, with the sound of coffee shop chatter, running streams and chirping seagulls. Here’s an exclusive free MAP download of their reworking of album track Bats In The Attic, taken from their Honest Words EP.
January 26, ABC, Glasgow (tickets)
Fútbol – El Asedio De River
El Eternauta is an amazing science fiction comic created by Argentine comic strip writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld with artwork by Francisco Solano López. It was first published from 1957 to 1959. Los Ellos is a tribute compilation to this work and its author, one of 30,000 people who disappeared during the dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983. The album contains 18 original tracks written by independent bands from La Plata and Buenos Aires. El Asedio De River is one of them, an instrumental track from alternative rock trio Fútbol.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Feathers – Cat Burgler
Cat Burgler is a sweet new jam from Brisbane’s Feathers, taken from their forthcoming 12″ Hunter’s Moon, out through Bon Voyage. The song showcases this all-female four-piece’s ability to intertwine whimsy and hooks into irresistible tunes suited for both Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Kassin – Calça De Ginástica
Kassin is a producer who has worked with some of the most creative artists in Brazilian contemporary music. He has also played in some bands and projects and this year he released his first solo album, from which Calça De Ginástica is taken. The electronic pop is combined with funny lyrics in which a man tells of his desires with a girl he knows (such as having sex with her in a paraplegic’s bathroom while wearing his gym clothes).
First Rate People – Someone Else Can Make A Work Of Art
Someone Else Can Make A Work Of Art is a dance song, but only in the way that, say, All My Friends is a dance song. It’s got incredibly catchy beats and a wonderful vocal performance, but it’s held together by a genuine emotional core. It, and the album it comes from, are currently free for download from Bandcamp, so there’s really no reason not to go get it right now.
CHILE: Super 45
Fernando Milagros – Carnaval (feat. Christina Rosenvinge)
San Sebastián, the third album from singer-songwriter Fernando Milagros, is, in simple terms, a masterpiece. Although in his early days as a musician Milagros pointed towards a more contemplative kind of folk (a big reference here would be Nick Drake or the calmer moments of Devendra Banhart), in his newest album he explores South American music, creating denser pieces, darker yet more powerful. Carnaval, the first single from the album, features guest Spanish musician Christina Rosenvinge.
Tong Dang – Don’t Let Me Cry
Tong Dang formed in 2001 in Chengdu. Their name is derived from the Chinese word meaning “Young Gang”. They started off as a melodic nu-metal band and gradually added elements of pop-punk and emo. Tong Dang are known for their explosive performances which features catchy hooks and melodies. Don’t Let Me Cry is taken from their album Far Away, released in 2007.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
WooWoos – Fizzy Lettuce
WooWoos are Nicky, Tasie and Jess, three London girls shaping up to be the new Sugababes – only the Sugababes when they were good, when Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan were in the group, not the three ciphers they’ve got in now. They’re funny, they’re sassy, and their debut single, Fizzy Lettuce, is 90s trip-hop revisited with a solid chorus that suggests there in a substantial musical base below the fizz and pop. We still don’t know what is a Woo Woo, or indeed what is fizzy lettuce, but at least they’re getting us thinking, these sugar-babes with subversive intent.
Ewert And The Two Dragons – Jolene
Ewert And The Two Dragons, consisting of Evert Sundja, Erki Pärnoja, Ivo Etti and Kristjan Kallas, sky-rocketed into the Estonian music scene in autumn 2009 with their debut album The Hills Behind The Hills. 2010 was a busy year for the Dragons: they performed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, including noted festivals such as Tallinn Music Week and Positivus. Their smooth sounds and melodies have been praised both at home and abroad. Their second album, Good Man Down, came out in April and has enjoyed tremendous success.
The Saturnettes – Girl Named Sue
The Saturnettes, from Tampere, blend in a refreshing way the 70s glam rock sounds of David Bowie and T. Rex with a touch of new wave and synth-pop. Girl Named Sue is the very catchy first single off their debut album.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
1995 – La Source
Ask someone from France if they like French rap and they will most likely answer ‘no’, but ask if they likes old-school rap and the answer is most likely to be ‘yes’. And that’s what this month’s band is all about: old-school rap, with modern lyrics. 1995 (or “un-double-neuf-cinq”/”un-neuf-neuf-cinq”) is a young rap collective (five MCs, one DJ) hailing from Paris who released an extraordinary, well-received EP, La Source, last June. The EP is a work of art for people disappointed and bored by gangsta-like music, and is almost a miracle for the purists as well, thanks to the return to basics, the flow and the instrumentals. You can buy La Source on Amazon or iTunes.
Jolly Goods – If I Were A Woman
When you listen to Jolly Goods’ second album Walrus, released recently on Staatsakt, you should be prepared for some serious disarray. Their songs, especially their lyrics, bear testament to a deep doubt in the world as it appears to these two sisters; they capture emotions like anger, trepidation and a little bit of hope in an extraordinary way.
Sugar Factory – 440
Sugar Factory have unleashed their luminous, lilting, lovely debut single, the double A-side 440 / Explosions. It’s an insular instrumental experience, casting intrigue in the minute details, an immersive and inevitably cinematic gem rich in fuzzy memories, nostalgia, melody and atmosphere, with woozy accordion that accentuates the underlying emotions, guitars and samples with an otherworldly quality that lingers with you. Listen to 440, a perfect mood piece as the night begins to draw in.
Polka Wars – Horse Hooves
Horse Hooves is an echoey, spacey song made by a collective of young boys influenced by the current fuzzed and mopey music scene. You’ll love their simple interpretation of what we call humble music.
We Cut Corners – Go Easy
Go Easy is a fine example of what to expect from Today I Realised I Could Go Backwards, the debut album from Dublin duo We Cut Corners. Restricting themselves to drums, guitar and voice doesn’t hamper John Duignan and Conall O’Breachain in the construction of their direct songs. Rather, they find new ways to create unique songs from a limited palette. They might Go Easy but they will go far.
Horrible Present – Cloudy Talks
Nicola Donà used to sing in the band Calorifero, now he lives in London and writes music under the moniker Horrible Present. His new songs are more lo-fi, bedroom pop-oriented, ranging from synth-driven experimental tunes to romantic acoustic guitar ballads, but always with a big shining love for melodies. And the love is returned. Expect a debut album in early 2012.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Avec Avec – Kuzuha No Sunday
Avec Avec is one of the most promising young artists to emerge in a burgeoning electronic scene based in the Kansai region. Kuzuha No Sunday stands as one of the best tracks from this fledgling movement, a stuttering beat-driven song reminiscent of Bibio or Cornelius that sounds like a perfect sunny Sunday. The sweetest part comes via that glitchy vocal sample, one of the most joyous sounds to come out of Japan this year.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
Cable 35 – Cow Head
Formed in 2006, Cable 35 have become known for their highly energetic performances and are arguably Malta’s tightest band. The three-piece is made up of singer and guitarist Jeffrey Zerafa, bassist Kriz Zahra and drummer Chris Mallia. Following a couple of EPs, the band released their aptly-titled debut album Louder three months ago and are currently touring Europe to promote it. Louder brings back Bleach-era Nirvana to your ears.
November 28, Pivo Pivo, Glasgow
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Antoine Reverb – You As A Fish
The tradition states that Guadalajara is the quintessential land for Machos and Mariachi in Mexico. But Antoine Reverb (actually a quintet, not a person) doesn’t belong to their time and place. On their splendid second album Everything Is A Foreign Language To Me, the band sets their inner clocks backwards on a swirly Victorian time-travel in a quest to reach the land of the Pet Sounds, rabbit-holing on a twee-gaze mood (reminiscent of Broadcast in the 90s), finally sliding on a spiral that leads to confusing atmospheres that resemble the soundtrack for the Czech vampire film Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders. Antoine Reverb are not only strangers in their own land, but in their own dreams.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Moon & Sun – Hunt (Gavin Russom remix)
Although based in Amsterdam, Moon & Sun is very much an international concept. At its core is artist/musician Monica Tormell, who’s originally from Sweden but who wrote and recorded her debut album, The Wild Things, in Curaçao, the Swedish woods and also back in Amsterdam. That original collection emerged last November, offering bouts of atmospheric and tribal folk. One year on, a number of its tracks have been reworked by a host of international collaborators. This remix by DFA artist and LCD Soundsystem collaborator Gavin Russom draws on the heavily percussive elements to create electronic patterns reminiscent of Swedish peers The Knife and jj.
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
Fabulous/Arabia – The Ballad Of State Highway 1
James Milne (Lawrence Arabia) and Mike Fabulous (The Black Seeds) unveiled their collaboration last month and surprised many fans by presenting an album of nu jazz songs – combining elements of funk, soul and jazz, while quite obviously retaining Lawrence Arabia’s indie-pop influence. Their debut album is a mixed bag, each song exploring a different path. The most obvious reference is British downtempo DJ Mr Scruff, courtesy of Fabulous’ wonderfully unusual instrumental experimentation. Their debut album Unlimited Buffet can be downloaded from Bandcamp.
NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
Bendik – Igjen
Bendik is a lush, ambient electro-pop band signed to the great Trondheim-based label Riot Factory alongside the likes of Scarlet Chives, Dråpe, Angelica’s Elegy and Pelbo. It started as Silje Halstensen’s solo project but has now grown into a trio. They have played at some of the biggest festivals throughout Norway, such as Øyafestivalen, Pstereo and Slottsfjell, and their debut album will be released next year.
Division Mayday – Lugar Seguro
Division Mayday formed in 2008 and their sound ranges from post-punk to electro-pop. A mix of electronic guitars, intimate lyrics, an intense rhythmic base and electronic sequences are the raw materials of their musical proposal.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Rose Blanket – Feel My Way Around
Nothing Ahead Nothing Behind is the third album from Miguel Dias’ project Rose Blanket, recorded between 2008 and 2011. For this double album, he collaborated with several Portuguese musicians and two American vocalists, Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) and Dana Schechter (Bee And Flower). Feel My Way Around features Jennifer Charles.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
East Roots – S.O.S.
East Roots is not a conventional dub/reggae band. As the cardinal points, each member comes with a new direction: drum ‘n’ bass, reggae, ska, dancehall and even trip-hop, you will find it all in their music.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Valotihkuu – Two Shadows
Valotihkuu’s Flutter EP is made up of 15 tracks which collect memories and emotions of a full year, filled up with nostalgia, old vibes, cassette tapes, weird samples and a unique feel that might remind you of Madlib and Monster Rally.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Magus – Riders On Psychedelics
Magus is a new collaboration between Mark Dolmont and Leslie Low, the latter best known for his work with Humpback Oak and The Observatory. Their debut effort is fittingly the first release by Ujikaji Records, a new independent label and distro focusing on experimental music in the region. The album, titled Sun Worshipper, presents a dark and spiritual brew of kraut-inspired psychedelia which makes for an addictively harrowing pilgrimage through the deepest of valleys.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Laurie Levine – Six Winters
Six Winters is the lovely first single and title track of the third album by acclaimed Johannesburg singer-songwriter Laurie Levine. Piano and acoustic-driven, twinkling and atmospheric with an electric tinge, it all makes Laurie’s heady blend of folk coupled with her captivating vocals one that has earned her critical acclaim and a growing audience.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Coedwig – Let Her Go
Street folk artist Neofolk has gotten himself a band member and formed the unit Coedwig. Let Her Go is one of the indie rock numbers on the recently self-released first EP, which also contains a couple of acoustic tracks – a sound that is very popular in Korea at the moment.
Lasers – Solar System
Lasers are a cosmic pop three-piece from Barcelona. Influenced by acts such as Animal Collective, Fuck Buttons, locals Delorean and label mates The Suicide Of Western Culture (featured in September’s MAP), Lasers have learnt to create extraterrestrial atmospheres using “samples, tireless cyclic sounds, breeze melodies” in their music, which can be both obscure and optimistic at a time or, as they call it, “noise and poetry”. Lasers will release their first album Juno through Irregular in December, from which Solar System is taken.
Halina Larsson – Puget Sounds
Halina Larsson is an expat from Sweden who has lived in LA and now resides in Brooklyn. She has a diverse sound and a variety of influences including Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Feist and Elliott Smith. Halina is a trained jazz vocalist who, on her latest Fires & French Horns EP, falls somewhere between indie folk songstress and new soul chanteuse. It’s an odd combination but on certain songs and in certain styles she can pull it off.
laFayette – Heavy Rain (feat. Lena Fennel)
Since their launch in 2009, Basel boys Jascha Dormann and Simon Hauswirth have found their place in the Swiss electronica scene. Musically, laFayette boldly go into the deep end of a pool filled with electronica, hip hop and techno music. Their debut EP Sputnik was released in September.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Saskatchewan – Skinny Dipping
Orlando, Florida’s Saskatchewan are masters of slow-built dream pop, lush vocal harmonies and melodies that are damn near impossible to ignore. Skinny Dipping is their latest single, available for free on Bandcamp. Look out for an album sometime in early 2012.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Carlos Angola – Hasta Mañana
I first saw Carlos Angola at a festival called VirgenFest which was being held in a public square. The atmosphere was magical, it felt like Woodstock. On stage there was this boy with glasses, an acoustic guitar and a great voice. Carlos Angola used to be part of a ska band called Skabiosis, but now he is displaying his talents as a solo artist with his album Rompecabezas which guarantees total relaxation no matter when you listen to it.