It’s nothing other than a privilege to be able to share a song as spine-tingling as Seven Hundred Birds with you for this month’s free Scottish download on the Music Alliance Pact. The showpiece moment of any Quickbeam set truly is one of the best things you’re likely to hear all year.
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 34-track compilation through Ge.tt here.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Quickbeam – Seven Hundred Birds
Quickbeam play at a volume that requires pin-drop silence from the audience and they’ve got the talent to write songs that demand such reverential obedience. Harmonium and strings shepherd Seven Hundred Birds into beautifully fragile and exquisitely precise spaces, marrying the raw intensity of Low with the melodic emotiveness of Sigur Rós. Cinematic stimulation is provided by the song’s staggeringly ethereal promo video.
September 1, Old Town Jailyard, Stirling (tickets)
Liza Casullo – Rojo Lojojo
After alt-rock band Doris broke up in 2007, most of its members started their own musical projects (Onda Vaga and Valeu!, among others). Singer and guitarist Liza Casullo decided to go solo, but she took some time off to develop her acting career. A couple of months ago she released her first official album, Velvetbonzo. It’s a great record in which a minimalistic acoustic sound blends with psychedelia, garage and folk. Rojo Lojojo is our favorite song, which we also managed to capture on video during one of her shows.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Cogel – Felusine
It’s a guarantee that tidy string sections and pulsating drums will typically heighten melodramatic feelings of bad love and melancholy, but you can’t pass over this glorious track from Sydney’s Cogel. Those violins and cascading treble guitars which duck and weave out of the chorus provide a nice backdrop to the band’s quieter moments and slight Arcade Fire stylings that mesh together so well. If Felusine is a pitch into the musical void, someone needs to sign these guys real soon.
Plaided – Freaks And Geeks
“Would you run run run run run run run to my place and watch Freaks and Geeks all night long?” We totally would! Plaided is an acronym that was inspired by a Girls Rock Camp participant’s band and thus matches the feminist background of Veronika Eberhart and Julia Mitterbauer. The duo will go on a US tour with Grass Widow in September and also record a 7″ record there. Freaks And Geeks is taken from their debut album Playdate, recorded by Wolfgang Möstl (of previous MAP act Mile Me Deaf).
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Iconili – O Rei De Tupanga
The fusion of jazz, experimentalism and African beats is the guideline for Iconili, formed by eight young musicians from Minas Gerais. O Rei De Tupanga is their new single, taken from their forthcoming album.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
Expwy – Warm And Stricken By Lashes
With Little Hand Fighter, Expwy’s fifth album in two years, one-man band Matt LeGroulx sets his sights on the oft-neglected genre of bossa nova, imagining how it might have sounded if, instead of originating in the 50s and 60s, it was borne out of late century indie-rock sensibilities and lo-fi production values.
CHILE: Super 45
The Paintings – Sunrise
Eija-Lynn and Hieronymus are The Paintings. Besides being a couple in real life, the duo revisit the vigor of 70s garage, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and the apathetic rage of The Jesus And Mary Chain. The music speak for itself, though, and this song Sunrise is their newest single.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
Planes (Estudios Universales) – Lonelii
Within the new movement of pop/rock bands in Colombia, Planes (Estudios Universales) feels like a blast of fresh air. The quintet have no borders or limits in their search for folk and electronic sounds. As we wait for their first studio album, enjoy Lonelii.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Alcoholic Faith Mission – Running With Insanity
Released in 2011 in Denmark, Alcoholic Faith Mission’s fourth full-length, Ask Me This, is now available worldwide and thus there are no good reasons not to check out the outfit’s alternative pop. Begin here with the excellent Running With Insanity.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Stealing Sheep – Shut Eye
This all-girl Liverpool trio’s debut album Into The Diamond Sun is more Staves/Warpaint than Atomic Kitten. The fact that one of the members hails from an area with a rich folk tradition seems to have seeped into their music, which has a pagan-ish, medieval quality to it. Elsewhere it is possible to detect influences as varied as The Go-Go’s and The Monkees, The Doors and Talking Heads, and there is a blend of good old-fashioned “played” instruments and electronic drones and effects, but always the folk elements shine through.
Satellite Stories – Anti-Lover
Indie quartet Satellite Stories have delivered several party songs over the last couple of years to become one of Finland’s most promising acts. Anti-Lover is the first single from their debut album Phrases To Break The Ice which will be released this autumn. It is three minutes of energetic guitar-based, dance-oriented indie-pop.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
The Aerial – Clarity
The Aerial are one of France’s top up-and-coming bands. Hailing from Nancy, they released their first EP in April, in which each of their songs show a different influence, all while staying very danceable. In just four songs, they manage to sound like The Rapture, Foals and Foster The People. Clarity is their most electro-pop oriented song and is supported by a killer beat and an impeccable production. Don’t miss unreleased single Running on YouTube.
Camera – Ausland
Let’s continue our little series of new Kraut with Berlin trio Camera. Although they connect to the old Kraut by playing with Michael Rother and Dieter Moebius, their music sounds refreshing. First single Ausland keeps the typical meandering melodies and synths but brings back rock to Krautrock. Their debut album, due out this month, incorporates many more influences and will, of course, be released on Bureau B.
The Last Drive – Child Of The Sky
The Last Drive are regarded as one of the most important and influential bands of the Greek underground music scene. They were formed 30 years ago and, through their explosive live performances and unique sound, became rapidly popular. After their dynamic comeback in 2007 (they split up in 1995), they released Heavy Liquid, a crafted mix of intense, raw rock ‘n’ roll songs, blurred melodies, addictive fuzz guitar riffs and almost primitive drums that unites disparate musical elements into blasts of noisy cohesion and howling passion. Right before the recording of their new LP, they have just unleashed News From Nowhere, an imprint of the difficult times we’re living.
Jónas Sigurðsson – Þyrnigerðið
This is the first single from Jónas Sigurðsson’s upcoming third album, Þar Sem Himinn Ber Við Haf (“Where The Sky Touches The Sea”). Jónas, who is widely considered one of the most inventive musicians in Iceland, reinvents himself yet again by introducing electronic influences to his otherwise soulful, folksy and rhythmic sound. If you like what you hear you should really check out his first two albums.
Awl – Albertine
Awl is Joan Lumanauw (The Wispy Hummers) and Mickey (Tenderpaw) creating noises and melodies for the world to dance to. You might think of The Raveonettes or Best Coast but if you listen carefully you’ll find something of their own.
Orquesta – Kokomo (feat. Jape, Kathi Burke & Katie Kim)
His recent acceptance into the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy is yet another reason to pay attention to Dublin producer Orquesta. Previously, he shot to attention with this gorgeous cover of The Beach Boys holiday anthem Kokomo. Featuring the vocal talents of Irish stalwarts Jape and Katie Kim, the song is a modern tropical uplift.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Greeen Linez – Palm Coast Freeway
Greeen Linez take a lot of inspiration from City Pop, a style of music that was popular in Japan during the late 80s and early 90s. Palm Coast Freeway captures this luxurious sound quite well, the elegant synths and bass suitable for both a dance club and a bank lobby. Palm Coast Freeway is on the album Things That Fade, which features even more modern takes on the City Pop sound.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
Hey Sus! – The Press
Mike and Andrew write tunes under the name Hey Sus! They try to create surfy indie-pop-folk with hip hop beats, provided by Thom. They recently released a split EP on cassette with Clandestines, titled Summer Camp For Pale Young Boys, from which The Press is taken.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Soul Compas – Por Insurgentes
Soul Compas is a rap group formed by Eric El Niño, Konceptos and Milio Boogie, three well-known MCs from the Mexican rap scene. With the influence of Native Tongues, G-funk and post-Dilla movements, they have created Al Compás Del Soul, a humorous and fresh album that can be downloaded for free on their website. Por Insurgentes is one of their most interesting tracks. Aside from those swell samples, they’ve pictured an imaginary trip on one of the most important avenues of Mexico City, Insurgentes, which happens to be the longest road that crosses the city north to south, and shows most of its contradictions and emblematic places.
Herzchenschmerzchen – Tic Tac
Herzchenschmerzchen, a word written in German and difficult to pronounce, is the name of Maria Jose Jordan’s solo project. This young woman reveals her indie-folk interests in her self-titled debut EP. Get ready to open a Pandora’s Box of musical gems such as the sweet Tic Tac.
POLAND: Łukasz Kuśmierz Weblog
Fair Weather Friends – Fortune Player
As MAP’s first ambassador for Poland, I bring you some catchy electro-pop from Fair Weather Friends. Fortune Player was used in an official commercial for this summer’s Heineken Open’er Festival (and Coke Live Festival) and caused some internet buzz thanks to its goofy video. You may have heard dozens of pop songs based on synth hooks on MAP but what you might not realise is that this singer is white, with Michał Maślak originally from guitar band Searching For Calm.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
PAPERCUTZ – Where Beasts Die
PAPERCUTZ returns to MAP with an exclusive track. Where Beasts Die is from their new album, The Blur Between Us. Bruno Miguel’s impressive project has paved its way with hard work, gathering a considerable fanbase outside Portugal. They were recently selected for the Red Bull Music Academy, which will take place in New York next year.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie
Pasajero – En La Playa
Daniel Vicente brings a delicate blend of pop, rock and electronic flourishes to his art and music project, Pasajero. His most recent EP boasts three layered tracks that highlight this idiosyncratic mix of influences, ranging from local acts like Superaquello to international names such as The Postal Service. En La Playa is a powerful tune featuring guest vocals by Carolina Martinez. With a dreamy pop quality that reminds us of waves slowly crashing at the beach at dusk, the song also addresses Puerto Rico’s current state of affairs and the alarming apathy that seems to have taken over its inhabitants. A great lead-off track for a “political dream-pop” playlist.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Changing Skins – Perfect Foes
Changing Skins is an eclectic Bucharest-based band who rock the thin line between alternative and electronic music. They plan to release their debut album in October. NME recently posted a live video of their song Baby on their website.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Cream Child – With The Wind
School Skulls is not just another sweet summer record with soft beats – it’s a great balance of good and evil, happy and melancholy, that results in tunes inspired by Russian folklore, candy, death and marvelous melodies like With The Wind.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
MUON – Aqua Assault
The muon is an elementary particle similar to an electron. MUON is also a musical entity that exists in Singapore, whether as one person (Nick Chan) or more (currently, Jordan, Ren and Adam). Despite its varying states of existence, MUON’s music is rather akin to its sub-atomic namesake with its deconstruction of pedantic structures, but also as intelligent, intense and cryptic aural and visual forms. Always exciting and always new, MUON has been forged in its singularity, and their craft emerges through parallel universes.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
Lang Lee – Hahaha
Lang Lee could be likened to a Korean Daniel Johnston, but with her own crazy and quirky, sometimes delightfully whimsical, storytelling ranging from teaching Yoda enough Japanese to be able to order green tea to love stories inspired by Kurt Vonnegut. Hahaha is an example of the latter and comes fresh off her just-released first album Yon Yonson.
Pajarita – Animals (ASIMO Remix)
Pajarita began in March 2012 as the musical project of Norah Alexandra Vega and her ukelele and, a few months on, she’s already about to release her first album via Discosdelrollo. Pajarita’s style can be described as lo-fi pop, dreamy and awesomely catchy for its simpleness and discretion. Animals (ASIMO Remix), though, might be the exception that confirms the rule about her music.
SWEDEN: Ja Ja Ja
Picture – True
Picture, aka David Kyhlberg from the enigmatic duo Sail A Whale, makes elusive, trance-inducing electronic pop that’s nothing short of amazing. True, the title track and first single from his debut EP, is no exception. This is probably as close to The Tough Alliance as you can get in 2012. The EP is out now on one of our favourite labels, Cascine.
Biggles – Let A New World Begin
Sven Rüf aka Biggles from Zurich is a singer-songwriter with a special talent for making music that sounds simultaneously humorous and fragile. His songs always come with a decent dose of mischief, which is why we love him so much. His fifth long-player Cloudspeaker is released this month, guaranteeing pop music without boundaries.
Adult Monkey – Supermarket
Adult Monkey is one of the cutest groups in Istanbul. They nestle all kinds of genres, especially chillwave, ambient lo-fi stuff. Besides being a band, Adult Monkey also contains illustrations and animations. In fact, Adult Monkey is a whole life portfolio for the two cartoonists who put together the band. Supermarket, their newest release, is a knockout track for the hot hot HOT summer.
UNITED STATES: We Listen For You
Houndmouth – Penitentiary
Louisville, Kentucky’s Houndmouth writes music that I like to call “recession rock”. Their music echoes the dirt roads of back-country counties during the night, the discarded bar stools in the back lot of an abandoned whisky joint, or the overall beauty that can sometimes be found in despair. Houndmouth, while young, bring the similar sounds of The Band back into contemporary rotation.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Los Polaroid – El Blues De Sus Piernas (Chicago Blues)
Los Polaroid formed in Maracaibo in 2010 with the idea of creating a musical proposal inspired by genres like jazz and blues. So far they have released two EPs and are currently on a tour that will take them around the country.