40 countries, 40 blogs, 40 tracks, in all latitudes and longitudes, in all languages and in all styles: the Music Alliance Pact offers a free monthly selection of the best up-and-coming talent that each nation has to offer.
The number of individual downloads for The Pop Cop’s song choice last month, courtesy of Siobhan Wilson, has already crashed past 20,000, making us very proud indeed. And don’t forget we’re running a competition to find an act to represent Scotland in the 50th anniversary edition, November 2012.
Before then, though, here’s one of the most delightfully addictive singles of the year, by the ever-so-fetching Kitty The Lion, together with the rest of MAP’s global mixtape.
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 compilation through Ge.tt here.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Kitty The Lion – Duck!
There’s cute and then there’s Kitty The Lion cute, and the promo video for Duck! really does take this Glasgow band to unsurpassable levels of adorability. Frontwoman Anna Meldrum seems to set herself a personal challenge of writing songs about subject matters that are as mundane as possible, but first impressions can be deceiving. Closer inspection of her lyrics reveals exceptionally clever wordplay and crafty double entendres. What isn’t ambiguous is Kitty The Lion’s pop heart, with a near-flawless grasp of melody flowing through their indie-folk veins.
Trebian – Modernidad
Trebian is a folk trio from Buenos Aires. Their songs are acoustic-driven with wood percussion and, above it all, the beautiful voice of lead singer Sofía Galarce. Modernidad is a preview from their upcoming second album, which will be released later this year.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Mansion, Alaska – Steps
If a ‘best of’ compilation was made featuring the top American indie tunes of the last four years or so, this track would probably sum them all up. Mansion, Alaska may be channelling a sound similar to Local Natives, Grizzly Bear or even Volcano Choir’s debut at times, but comparisons aside – what an impressive track from this young Melbourne band. Steps is seamless: beautiful harmonies, flowing piano arpeggios, sharp percussion and some dreamy guitar work gravitating around stratosphere level.
B. Fleischmann – I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet
Working in a bookshop and on various musical projects as well as composing scores for TV series, electronica veteran Bernhard Fleischmann is a busy bee. On his new album I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet, he uses his own voice for the first time instead of inviting guest singers. Occasionally he also adds film snippets, such as in the album’s title track.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Abayomy Afrobeat Orquestra – Afrodisíaco
Afrobeat is the sound of the moment in Brazil. Bands such as Bixiga70 and Iconili are presenting the genre to a new generation and in Rio de Janeiro the main representative of this trend is the Abayomy Afrobeat Orquestra. Afrodisíaco is an example of the band’s trippy music.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
The Wilderness Of Manitoba – White Woods
Like their namesake, The Wilderness Of Manitoba is a Canadian national treasure, and one of our best kept secrets. Their lush harmonies, delicate melodies and sparkling arrangements seem to always be attuned to their environment, creating music that sounds like it’s sprung from fertile patches in the Canadian Shield, blooming against all odds. White Woods is taken from their new album, Island Of Echoes, which introduces electric guitars to give their music a whole new pulse and feel.
CHILE: Super 45
Shogún – Unciónextrema
Cristián Heyne, a producer whose output ranges from mainstream (Enrique Iglesias, La Ley) to indie (Javiera Mena, Gepe), has always kept his own musical project, Shogún, under a discrete, hermetic cover. With only a few limited edition records and a handful of shows, he has attained a faithful cult following that has endured the last 15 years. His complete recordings were recently released via iTunes, giving a new life to his previously hard-to-find and unavailable works. Unciónextrema is El Brujo’s opening track.
The Gar – Love Will Lost Your Love
One of China’s most beloved cult indie bands, The Gar is without equal in both substance and acclaim. Wholly unconcerned with the trappings of stardom, they arrive, play their hearts out and exit stage left, blending seamlessly back into the crowds. On stage, however, the band transports audience members to a sonic wonderland coloured with soaring harmonies and unforgettable lyrics. The Gar just released their new EP, The City Of Burning Identities.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
Ondatrópica – 3 Reyes De La Terapia
This is what we call a supergroup. The union between Colombian musician Mario Galeano, from Frente Cumbiero, and English producer Will Holland, aka Quantic, resulted in Ondatrópica – a musical research project through Colombian tropical sounds. Both Galeano and Quantic, scholars of Colombian and electronic rhythms, were given the task of recreating traditional sounds with vintage equipment and old recording techniques, but searching for its contemporaneity. Proof of this is 3 Reyes de la Terapia (“3 Kings Of Therapy”), featuring Juan Carlos Puello, which was made using a marimba, accordion and beatbox.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Kjartan Bue – Rosen And Danny
Half Norwegian, half Danish and raised in Denmark, Kjartan Bue debuts his five-track alt-country EP Man Riding Backwards on November 15 (I’ve heard it and it’s great). Here’s Rosen And Danny as a MAP exclusive download, and do make sure you also check out the title track and closing ballad Old Woman here – the latter is also up for free download.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera
El Gran Poder De Diosa – Moriviví
A Moriviví is a minuscule tropical plant that has an unusual reaction when touched: it folds up and “dies” then “comes back to life” after several minutes. This song by reggae/Caribbean-influenced band El Gran Poder De Diosa reflects that internal debate between life and death, good and evil, through soothing tunes and clever wordplay.
ECUADOR: Plan Arteria
Clo Sismico – Cassette Pirata
Clo Sismico is a renowned musician, producer and MC. He is founder of two important bands in the local independent music scene, 38 Que No Juega (hip hop) and Punto De Encaje (hardcore). This year Clo Sismico released his second album, Cassette Pirata, which blends rap, funk and Latin music with explosive, direct lyrics.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Nadine Shah – Aching Bones
Straight out of Whitburn comes this singer and pianist-guitarist of Norwegian and Pakistani parentage who actually sounds more like the love child of Nick Cave and Polly Harvey. Shah’s tales of lust and loss, revenge and regret are female takes on Trent Reznor’s industrial blues, her voice redolent of the battle-worn Marianne Faithfull circa Broken English. The title track of her EP is vengefully dark business as usual for Shah as she roars over an insistent clang that provides the rhythm for the song. Her debut album Love Your Dumb And Mad, due early next year, should be a fiery, passionate hoot.
Paperfangs – Everyday
Paperfangs is a dream-pop trio that draws inspiration from old movies, visual arts, geometric shapes, late-night biking trips, vintage girl groups, chamber pop and shoegaze as well as the latest indie gems. A debut album will not be ready until next year, but in the meantime we can enjoy the band’s take on one of the greatest melody makers ever as the trio covers Buddy Holly’s Everyday.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Total Warr – xxx Hate xxx
Total Warr are not complete unknowns in the blogosphere, having been widely praised for their sweet electro-pop. Stereogum premiered xxx HATE xxx back in May and now that the Corbay EP is out, you don’t have any more excuses not to listen to it.
VIMES – UpStairs
It’s getting cold really fast these days so let’s turn to some music which may give us comfort. Cologne newcomers VIMES is a duo with a penchant for vibrant electronic music. The voice of Azhar Syed gives the electronics of Julian Stetter a melancholic and yearning touch, thereby making VIMES recognisable. Live they are accompanied by VJ Till Beutling for a complete audiovisual experience. They are currently recording their debut album.
Circassian – Eastern Patterns
Circassian is a quartet formed in Athens in 2008. Their music demonstrates their traditions and habits, while their philosophy is based on bringing together experimental, neo-psychedelic patterns and forms of atonality along with ethnic melodies drawn from parts of Asia and Northern Africa. They create an eerie yet intimate atmosphere with a distinctive sound. Their second EP, Procrastinational, is available on Bandcamp.
Borko – Born To Be Free
Born To Be Free is Borko’s first single from his long-awaited sophomore album, also named Born To Be Free, released in Iceland this month through Kimi Records and on November 2 through Sound Of A Handshake for the rest of the world. Borko’s first LP, Celebrating Life, was released to rave reviews.
Rock N Roll Mafia – Never Give Up
Indonesia’s finest electro band is back with their new album Prodigal, produced by Widi Puradiredja. Their sound is so fresh, optimistic and definitely danceable.
Lar Kaye – Effector
While his main band Adebisi Shank are between things, guitarist Lar Kaye has been at his musical toy box and that bout of activity has resulted in a dizzying five-track solo EP. Effector is a hyperactive child of a song featuring pounding drum crashes, 8-bit melodies, cartoon samples, R&B female vocals and spiralling guitar notes. The sound of one man having a lot of fun and dishing it out for free. Infectious.
Montgomery – Refrigerator
It was very hard to choose just one song from the split EP by Montgomery and ED (available for free download on Bandcamp). Every track captures a perfect moment of acoustic pop, both light and moving, so my advice is to check out both acts. I picked Refrigerator by Montgomery because it’s the best ‘goodnight’ song I’ve heard in a long time. Montgomery is a promising new group from Verona with members from the bands Canadians and Le Man Avec Les Lunettes.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
mus.hiba – Magical Fizzy Drink
Magical Fizzy Drink features vocals courtesy of Yufu Sekka. Thing is, Yufu Sekka is not a real person but rather a character tied to something called Vocaloid software, a singing synthesizer program. Tokyo-based artist mus.hiba uses this program in a way few in Japan have – instead of using the digital singing as a diva stand-in, Yufu Sekka gets turned into an electronic ghost haunting the background of this gorgeous, heady production.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
Brikkuni – Fil-Gallinar Tas-Sultan
Torn between their arty pretensions and a morbid fascination with kitsch, Brikkuni (“scoundrels”) try to have a stab at both. With Fil-Gallinar Tas-Sultan, the band leaves no stone unturned in its determined quest to marry reluctant bedfellows. The lyrics, sung in Maltese, recount a particularly tense day in a chicken coop owned by the titular Sultan. Riffs rise and ebb and rise again, leading to an an epic conclusion underscored by horns, strings and a pulsating bass line, all strung together by an insistent keyboard motif and… a purple chicken struggling to take flight. The song is taken from Brikkuni’s sophomore album Trabokk.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Los Macuanos – Sangre, Bandera, Cruz
Like a reveille amidst times of war against drug trafficking, Tijuana’s Los Macuanos have released what may well be the curfew at the sunset of president Felipe Calderón’s administration, with his six years of futile strategies having left more than 70,000 human losses. Sangre, Bandera, Cruz (translated as “Blood, Flag, Cross”, written with witchcraft-associated symbols) is an ironic testimony that pictures the zeitgeist of Mexico during 2006-2012.
WOLVON – Unicorny
This summer, Dutch bands WOLVON and Neon Rainbows set off on tour through the Balkans, playing in four countries of the former Yugoslavia. Whilst battling the blistering heat, bored/corrupt border police, broken vehicles, stray dogs and their own preconceptions about Southeastern Europe, it was decided they’d release a split 7″ to commemorate the experience. Unicorny is WOLVON’s side of the record, launched during the independent culture festival Incubate last month. This noisy dream-pop trio has made a name for itself while touring the Dutch underground, thanks in part to their maniacal live antics. They’re currently recording their debut full-length, which will be released through Subroutine Records in spring 2013.
Pamela Rodríguez – Re-conozco
Pamela Rodríguez is one of the best female voices in Peru, and recently received a Latin Grammy nomination for her third album Reconocer, which is both fresh and intense with a lot of pop inclination. The truth is that when her music starts to play, something magical happens in the ears of the listener. No matter what style she chooses, the true protagonist of her songs will always be her voice – sweet, free, sincere and perfect. Re-conozco is a beautiful and exciting piano song like few others.
POLAND: Łukasz Kuśmierz Weblog
KAMP! – Cairo
It’s no exaggeration to say that KAMP! is the most popular band in Poland without an album to their name (although their debut record is due in November). Their elegant pop songs and fantastic live shows, which has included SXSW in Texas, have created a great buzz around this trio. Cairo was originally released as a single on Portuguese label Discotexas.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
The Weatherman – Proper Goodbye
Alexandre Monteiro (aka The Weatherman), after his presence on MAP in January 2009, is back with a new single which opens the way for his new album, Weatherman. A more intimate and autobiographical set of pure pop songs than his previous two albums, it’s a sort of trip to outer space with plenty of time to think about life, where one can be viewed but can’t view the observers.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie
Fantasmes – Redness Moon
Mario Negron and Dario Morales have been working together in psychedelic ensemble Fantasmes since 2007. For their third release, Redness Moon, Fantasmes required a space where they could compose, rehearse and record at their own pace, free from external pressures. And so a house in Santurce – San Juan’s vibrant arts mecca – became Casa Fantasmes, where the duo worked tirelessly for months. The outstanding result of these sessions is their first release for New York indie label Last Bummer Records – a trippy, sci-fi, end-of-days dystopian video for first single Redness Moon was directed by Danilo Parra and is well worth your time.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Manfellow – Why
Manfellow are an alternative rock band founded in Bucharest in 2011. They are known for their energetic and extravagant live performances and their fusion of many genres, including post-rock, progressive rock, alternative rock and electronic music. In December, they will represent Romania at The Global Battle Of Bands world final in London.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Anton Malinen – Rain Song
After his successful debut Cape Of Good Hope, Anton Malinen from Saint Petersburg has released several songs through social networks. His impressive guitar and piano-based folk music continues to charm an online audience, but if Anton wants nothing more than some nice green tea for his songs, let it be the best supply for a few years at least!
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Galactica – Saul’s Tighs
In a little-known recess in Singapore’s music scene, there existed a group of science fiction aficionados with a common love for the space odyssey Battlestar Galactica. They went on to write some dreamily-inspired shoegaze with titles such as Saul’s Tighs and Gaius Is Crying… Again, referencing series characters Colonel Saul Tigh and Dr Gaius Baltar. While the concept is an inside joke, the music is anything but. Their songcraft and taste in melodies evoke an immense sense of loss in the immeasurable vastness of space. It takes you back to the heyday of science fiction when the music was sprawling and searching, as opposed to present-day equivalents of over-budgeted pyrotechnics.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
404 – Water
Two-piece band 404 comes from the most interesting part of Korea’s indie music scene. Not looking to put a label to their music, they say it’s simply “what a guitar/drum two-piece band would sound like in Korea in the year 2012”. They recently released their first album, aptly titled 1, featuring their take on post-punk, modern rock, noise, folk-pop and a hint of blues in a surprisingly coherent mix. Water progresses playfully in a way that makes it impossible to sit entirely still while listening.
Wilhelm & The Dancing Animals – Elephant
Wilhelm & The Dancing Animals are from Pamplona, home town of a new wave of indie bands. Their sound can be described as folk with punk/rock influences and the animal kingdom is a feature that is often repeated in their work. They’re certainly a band to follow, as we can tell from listening to their first album.
SWEDEN: Ja Ja Ja
Thus:Owls – White Night
Thus:Owls is a Swedish/Canadian five-piece led by singer and composer Erika Angell. Together they craft carefully arranged, moving and melancholic pop with cinematic elements that’s just simply beautiful. Their widely and rightfully praised sophomore album Harbours is out now via Avalanche (North America) and Hoob Records (Sweden), and will be released in the rest of Europe next year on Kytopia.
Monotales – It’s Alright
Velvet Underground, country, Americana, college-indie-rock, hair metal… you name it, Monotales have got it. They’ve just released their sophomore album Hidden Thrills. Anything other than a lot of fun would have been a disappointment. And we looked anything other than disappointed after hearing it for the first time.
Surrender! – Conflicted
Surrender! is one of the newest, emerging electronic music producers in the Turkish dance scene. Conflicted is one of his older tracks, but we are already excited about the upcoming album which will definitely be worth checking out.
UNITED STATES: We Listen For You
The Cairo Gang – Everybody Knows
The Cairo Gang make drifting seem like the only way to go about life. Their music hovers slightly above, moving at its own pace and coming down in a soft swoop at all the right moments. Hailing from Kentucky, The Cairo Gang bring warmth and introspection to the harshest country winters.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Sincrónica – EsCupido
Sincrónica is a power trio formed in Caracas in 2001 when they participated in a college rock festival. Between 2002 and 2010 they recorded several EPs, before finally releasing their first album, Todo Lo Que No Sabes, in 2011. From this, we present the simple song EsCupido, which is also being included in the video game Rock Band.