The start of the year heralds reams of ones to watch lists (like this, perhaps?) and new music tips, so you can think of the first Music Alliance Pact compilation of 2013 as a global version of that tradition, all with free samples.
My pick for this month is one of the most hard-working, energetic and fun-to-watch acts in Scotland – The LaFontaines.
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 full 35-track compilation through Ge.tt here.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The LaFontaines – Light Up The Background
You can’t help but wonder if The LaFontaines would be famous by now had they been from, say, Miami and not Motherwell. Combining Kerr Okan’s rap dexterity with a surprisingly accessible rock/pop sound, the band owe much of their reputation and loyal following to their invigorating, electric live performances. Light Up The Background proves beyond doubt The LaFontaines know how to write a knockout chorus – the video, with its freerunning, is a must-see too. They are currently recording their debut album which should hopefully be out this summer.
January 30, Dundee University Union, Dundee (info/tickets)
February 20, The Tunnels, Aberdeen (tickets)
El Festival De Los Viajes – Los Altos
El Festival De Los Viajes is a psychedelic rock band with a sound that has an epic atmosphere and lyrics that play with your imagination. Los Altos is our favorite track from La Reserva De Los Lieros, their third album.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
D.D Dumbo – Tropical Oceans
Oliver Hugh Perry is D.D Dumbo. Perry makes music from his house in Castlemaine, a small rural town 120km from Melbourne. Tropical Oceans is a perfect cue to his unique brand of technicolour lo-fi that spans genres, blues hooks, African folk – and a sound that no one else from anywhere is really making at the moment. Sometimes the best releases never receive as much credit as they deserve, and this is one of them. If music is supposed to make you feel goddamn otherworldly, 2013 is going to be a good year for D.D Dumbo.
Nowhere Train – Ashes
Nowhere Train is a project of seven folk musicians from different bands. After a train tour through the country and a documentary about it, the supergroup’s first album, aptly named Station, recently saw the light of day. It was featured on national television and Austria’s most popular website. Ashes, a song about a perfect moment, was written on tour by globetrotter Ian Fisher (Missouri/Berlin).
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Tulipa Ruiz – Cada Voz
Tulipa Ruiz is one of the major new Brazilian singers and is acclaimed by critics and the public alike. Cada Voz is the track that closes second album Tudo Tanto, available for free download on her website, and has its instrumental performed by the experimental band São Paulo Underground.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
Daniel Romano – Middle Child
Get out yer hankies, ‘cuz this one’s gonna make you ball like a baby. Daniel Romano’s transformation into the reincarnated George Jones is now complete, right down to the leisure suit he wears on the cover of Come Cry With Me, his third solo album in as many years. The former Attack In Black frontman has become an impeccable storyteller, and this tale of an estranged son trying to make sense of the senseless will break your heart by the time he gets to the first chorus.
CHILE: Super 45
Motivado – Ferrer
For lack of a better label, the music of Motivado (Mario Martínez) could be classified as ‘space Latin house’. After the praise he got for Bobby Fischer, his debut EP, Motivado delivered his second EP, Stasi, just as the past year ended and it exceeds what he accomplished on his first work. Yes, this is experimental music, but extremely danceable. Ferrer is one of three tracks on Stasi EP, a free download from the Discos Pegaos netlabel.
Summer Fades Away – Thank You
Summer Fades Away is an instrumental/post-rock band from Changsha. They released their second album We Meet The Last Time, Then Departure through 1724 Records last November, which features more classical elements. Though the band announced they were going on hiatus, fans still hope they could be back soon to make more beautiful music.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
North Fall – Curve
Originally a one-man project by singer-songwriter and guitarist Anders Belling, North Fall turned into a full indie-rock ‘n’ alt-folk band in 2011 and released their first EP late last year, from which Curve is taken. The whole, excellent thing is yours to download on SoundCloud along with seven tracks from Belling’s time as a lone rider.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera
Dkano – El Bolo Bolo
Rapper Dkano mocks the rise and fall of a fictitious dembow artist nicknamed Bolo Bolo, in reference to so many one-hit-wonders that this local genre produces, as opposed to true hip-hop. El Bolo Bolo is taken from Dkano’s upcoming album Señales.
ECUADOR: Plan Arteria
Fabrikante – Chanteoma
Making songs only with the voice is a risk that can produce impressive results. Francisco Valdivieso, better known as Fabrikante, is an artist who uses the flexibility of his voice to create unique compositions based on a powerful beatbox and original vocal loops. Chanteoma is the first single from his debut album, which will be out early this year.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Public Service Broadcasting – If War Should Come
Public Service Broadcasting is the operations name of one J Willgoose Esq and his cohort Wrigglesworth. Imagine the Pet Shop Boys if they were obsessed with the war. They’re an electronic duo from London who use samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material from WW2 and ally them to a variety of beats and backing from krautrock to drum ‘n’ bass. If War Should Come, from The War Room EP, is typical of their approach, with its found voices and sense of looming menace as the broadcaster warns of impending battle.
July 26-27, The Wickerman Festival, Dumfries & Galloway (tickets)
The Fundamics – Role Of The Soul
Guitars, Rhodes piano, Hammond organ, dub vibes and rap merge to create some of the grooviest music. The Fundamics combine 70s funk and soul with straightforward 90s hip-hop plus the addition of some up-and-coming rappers. Role Of The Soul is an instrumental track from the band’s forthcoming album We All Have Our Roots.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Spiders Everywhere – Swing Loops
Spiders Everywhere are a young band who released their appropriately titled The First EP last May. With a sense of rhythm as precocious as it is unique, some catchy melodies and soft vocals, this is just what we’d like to hear more often on the French indie-pop scene.
Fraktus – Pogomania
Maybe Fraktus found the best way to jump on the bandwagon of krautrock and neo New German Wave: Say you were one of the most influential bands of that time and a founder of techno but were forgotten about; create a brilliant mockumentary in the style of This Is Spinal Tap and record a “comeback” album. Fraktus’ Millenium Edition is in both senses contemporary. The influence of producer Erobique is clearly audible: deconstruction of common patterns, reconstruction to catchy and danceable songs which oscillate between all mentioned electronic music styles.
Victory Collapse – She Is More An Idea Than A Girl
Whether Victory Collapse experiment with different tones, volumes or styles, they’re always exuding an intensity that never fails to astound. Their debut album Convenience Has Poisoned Our Souls is an exciting mix of audacious post-punk stammering, noisy punk-funk sound and a barrage of buzzing, stinging guitars, chunky bass lines and clockwork beats littered with passionate, sharp vocals held together by such disparate art-rock tendencies as saxophone bits and cowbells with spastic, jagged grooves that are powerful enough to inspire a sea of awkward punk-rock dances.
Rumah Sakit – Bernyanyi Menunggu
Rumah Sakit helped shaped the foundation of Indonesia’s indie-pop scene. The band are back after a very long hiatus with a new album that sparked an all-night party on its release date of 12/12/12. If you love Blueboy you’ll probably love this music too.
IRELAND: Harmless Noise
mynameisjOhn – Don’t Mind Me feat. God Knows
Irish hip hop grew steadily more promising in 2012, and not just in the densely-populated urban areas. The internet having pretty much quashed the pervading sense of isolation that separated more remote artists from sharing their work, some of the most exciting sounds came from outside Dublin. Releasing two EPs last year, producer mynameisjOhn is setting out pathways from his base in Ennis, rural County Clare. Collaborating with Shannon MC God Knows, whose delivery exacerbates the keen sense of neglect in Don’t Mind Me, with its strains of sad string samples, it fits a certain disenfranchised mood in austerity-hobbled Ireland.
Paisley Reich – Margot
Their name makes me think of a parallel universe, where history took a weird and ultrasnob turn. These young kids from Rome really know how to mix psychedelia, shoegaze and indie-pop. From Deerhunter to C86, from Syd Barrett to Captured Tracks, Paisley Reich seem to have listened to a lot of different records. I wonder what will ever stop them. Download a free EP from their Bandcamp and expect beautiful things from them in the future.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
OKLobby – Fireworks
2012 saw a surge in the number of bedroom-based producers in Japan, as SoundCloud and Bandcamp became flooded with new EPs and albums from artists working from the comfort of their homes. Tokyo-based OKLobby popped up at the end of the year, and his skittery Fireworks (off the recently released Resort album, get it at the link above) ended up as one of the finest home-produced tracks of the last 12 months.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Dapuntobeat – Necesito Cambiar feat. Javiera Mena
Disco-funk has been the trademark sound of this Mexico City band for more than a decade, spawning international festivals, an inclusion on the FIFA 11 soundtrack and three – very slowly cooked – albums. Always in need of a female voice to be the cherry on top of their dancey instrumentals, Necesito Cambiar sees the all-male quintet join forces with Chilean indie-pop princess Javiera Mena, whom they have backed whenever she tours Mexico.
Herrek – Rain
There’s an array of awesome Dutch underground bands planning to release new material in 2013 and that’s why we’re kicking off the year with an exclusive track from Herrek’s upcoming album Waktu Dulu, to be released via Snowstar Records on February 15. Herrek revolves around Gerrit van der Scheer (known as a member of the now-defunct but still legendary post-noise bands Bonne Aparte and Adept) and has seen some different incarnations over the past year. Finding inspiration in childhood years spent in a small, secluded village in Papua, Indonesia, Gerrit (pronounced Herrek by the Papuans) has now delivered a hypnotic and somewhat dark record, lamenting monsoons whilst combining tribal clapping, lulling guitars and mesmerising vocals.
Dolores Delirio – A Cualquier Lugar
Dolores Delirio formed in 1994. Throughout their career, the sound of the band has shifted from 80s darkwave to gothic rock to hard rock and now simply rock. A Cualquier Lugar is from their first album Cero. This is an essential song in Peruvian rock history.
POLAND: Łukasz Kuśmierz Weblog
kIRk – Pies Zdechł
In kIRk’s music it’s all about the meeting of electronic and acoustic, mixing free jazz trumpet sounds, frightening beats, vocal samples and sometimes scratches, with plenty of scope for improvisation. Although the trio have been around for a decade, they are gathering praise from listeners all over the world now. Pies Zdechł is kIRk’s first single from Zła Krew, the follow-up album of the critically acclaimed Msza Święta w Brąswałdzie.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Anarchicks – Restraining Order
Anarchicks are four women (Playgirl, Synthetique Red, Katari and JD) full of energy with different musical tastes and experiences. Following on from their Look What You Made Me Do EP, released in 2012, their debut album Really?! is out this month. From this record, we are privileged to share their first single, Restraining Order. Whether you like CSS, Sleater-Kinney or Pat Benatar, there is something for you in Anarchicks’ grrreat music.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie
Fofé y Los Fetiches – Barquito De Papel
José Luis Abreu aka Fofé is a seasoned veteran of the Puerto Rican music scene. El Manjar De Los Dioses and Circo are two of the most recognized rock ventures in part thanks to his iconic voice and powerful stage presence. When Fofé announced he was forming a brand new band expectations were high. On Christmas Day, Fofé and Los Fetiches presented themselves at seminal music venue La Respuesta and unleashed their debut album Lujo Eterno, which opens with Barquito De Papel. Taking elements from New Wave and La Movida Madrileña, their sound is polished but playful and totally danceable.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Kaleidonescu – Upperfields
We welcome 2013 with a MAP exclusive download of a brand new project on the Romanian market. Kaleidonescu manage to bring us exactly the kind of music we were missing. If you’re into electronic, neopsychedelic and the like then you will surely want to keep your ears on this band. Make sure you check out the video, it definitely matches the sound.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Muc J – lagrng.pnts
Diligently following traditions, Muc J creates lounge-friendly abstract hip hop with wonky jazz elements. Dmitry Fedorov, from Saint-Petersburg, has an enviable flair for melody and turns his inner world towards to the listener. It’s a nice example of an album that is better than the sum of its tracks.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
Jowall – Night Night
Jowall is a member of creative collective Byul.org, the Korean artist featured in April 2012’s MAP, but he did most of the work himself before releasing his second solo album Clean & Clear earlier this month. It hosts a variety of styles ranging from post-punk to dirty folktronica. Taken from the record is Night Night, with its convincing melody line and a warm, fuzzy sound.
Brunetto – License To Beat
Brunetto is from Sevilla but currently lives in Barcelona. We could call him a true electronic explorer as he doesn’t hesitate to discover a new world in the music he makes through layers of sounds, chosen fearlessly. Brunetto has remixed some well-known electronic acts such as The Suicide Of Western Culture (featured in September 2011’s MAP) and is set to release his fourth album later this year.
SWEDEN: Ja Ja Ja
Simian Ghost – Autumn Slowmo (For The Dejected Realist)
Stockholm-based three-piece Simian Ghost is no stranger to the average lover of Swedish music – or any music for that matter – as last year saw them go from talented to fully-fledged, very much thanks to their magnificent second album Youth. To crown 2012, they released a limited time free EP for Christmas called Autumn Slowmo (For The Dejected Realist), and we’ve been given the go-ahead to share its truly epic title track once more.
The Fridge – Pilot
On their new album Draw The Plot, The Fridge create a fragile sketch of indie-pop meets chamber folk from horns, piano, guitars, bass, percussion, chimes, choral music and different electronic equipment. They offer an intimate yet powerful album.
Böbrek Soundsystem – Mantarların İçinde (Üzüntüden Uzakta)
Böbrek Soundsystem is an incognito producer/DJ who likes to combine incongruous Turkish sounds from trash movies, forgotten arabesque songs and anonymous Anatolian stuff with all kinds of improbability. Until we saw him live recently, we thought he was fooling around with us, but his show delivered an outstanding, ear-bleeding performance. Superbly creepy but catchy as hell.
UNITED STATES: We Listen For You
Dragon Inn 3 – Rocket Launcher
Dragon Inn 3 is the side-project of Philip Dickey (Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin). The music plays like Beach House if the band existed right when the disco era was melting away. Bubbling synths, glamorous productions and smooth vocals create a soundtrack for the more introspective moments on and off the dance floor.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
12″ Ninjazz – Caracas
12″ Ninjazz is a hip hop trio formed by Dantes, DDA and DJ Threz. Their first album Boombap Mercenaries was released for free download in August 2012 and by the end of the year was listed as one of the best in the country. Boombap Mercenaries was mixed and mastered by musician Pedro Laprea in collaboration with well-known producers of the underground scene.