Mon 20 Feb 2012
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
Grass Cannons – Wendy’s
If hissing noise and warm melodies are your buzz then Auckland four-piece Grass Cannons should be on your radar. They’ve just released their debut EP Vet Dream, containing five darting guitar songs that each take a different path but ultimately lead to the same satisfactory conclusion. While a noisy mess rides heavy throughout their music and kidnaps a bit of their style, within each song there are several minutes of genius song structure that highlights their ability to write amazing pop-influenced punk music. Deerhunter, The Clean and Grooms come to mind when describing their sound, but Grass Cannons seem good enough to leave those influences out of the equation.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
That Ghost – Morning Now
Californian lo-fi bedroom artist That Ghost has been making music since before he could drive a car. His sound has grown and changed as much as he has from tween state to young adulthood. OK, he was never a tween but a pure artist whose latest EP Rosalind is a gem. Check out the slow-burning ‘Morning Now’, like, right now.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Obedient Wives Club – Fragments
The first release by 60s indie-pop distributors Happy Teardrop Music is the debut self-titled EP by Obedient Wives Club, and what a hit it’s been with all physical copies selling out within a month. The band, cheekily named after a controversial Muslim organisation of the same name, plays a delightful blend of girly noise-pop – or what they helpfully term “Spectorgaze”. Fragments indulges its Jesus And Mary Chain obsession with generous doses of saccharine melodies and interstellar fuzz.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Brodsky – Death Note
Brodsky plays beautifully-orchestrated romantic folk with flowery melodies, youthful vocals and sad eyes that might remind you of Beirut or Jens Lekman. Nowadays, it’s truly a blessing to find such an artist in Russia.
Black Twig – Lake Song
Noise, pop, fuzz, sound experiments. Black Twig is one of the hottest bands in the Finnish indie scene at the moment with their just-released debut album, Paper Trees. In their own words, Black Twig’s sound has echoes of modern fuzzed-out pop experiments as well as of 60s garage-rock gems, sometimes developing a sensibility for hypnotic, repetitive drones.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
MDS – Insomnia
DJ duo MDS released their first album in July last year, full of remixes of songs from some of the best artists in Seoul’s indie scene. In January, they released a digital single with a couple of songs of their own, showing that they’re also capable of crafting great pieces of music themselves. ‘Insomnia’ is a smooth electronica track that lends itself very well as a soundtrack to a walk just about anywhere.
Spring/Summer – Tonight
Spring/Summer come from Bandung and are the freshest breed of (what we Indonesians call) Britpop revivalism. With a twist of The Smiths, Joy Division and Blueboy and a bit of attitude, they make tasty, raw music. They probably won’t be the next big thing, but their music provides enjoyable reminiscing of teenage years spent looking for second-hand Smiths CDs at the local thrift store.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Wild Combination – Great Expectations
Wild Combination’s sound itches and twists in an effort to etch itself across indie’s sonic history. It shouldn’t worry so much. The Essex trio responsible know how to channel the best of recent backbeat melancholia (Foals, The Postal Service) and that’s more than enough. This demo version of ‘Great Expectations’ – mixed specially for MAP – clips along, the addition of a swarth of dreamy synths tying it just to the right side of funky.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Sun Glitters – They Don’t Want To Let You Know (Sumsun Remix)
Victor Ferreira aka Sun Glitters, born to Portuguese parents in Luxembourg, has been praised by The Guardian, FADER and Pitchfork. For this reason, his newest release, High EP, which came out on January 30, was highly anticipated. On it, Victor continues his voyage through a dreamy electronic world. This track is a remix of one of the songs on the EP.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Cracbooms – @soleil
Cracbooms are more than a band. They are a group of friends who sing about how sweet and simple life is when surrounded by your loved ones, when there are pretty girls around and the sun shines above your head. Their lyrics are filled with humor and casualness, and are written with an unsettling easiness. As for their sound, it’s a mix between the guitars of Two Door Cinema Club and pop à la Young Michelin. I think they’ve found the perfect combination.
Squalloscope – Domino
Anna Kohlweis has released three albums as Paper Bird, however these days she prefers her new alias Squalloscope. Goodbyes in bus terminals, long train rides, sitting on planes and bottles of wine have influenced her upcoming album Soft Invasions. Domino is a singer-songwriter take on R’n’B combined with postmodern lyrics: “I’m a copy of a copy of a copy of a woman, you’re the copy of a copy of a copy of a guy.”
Vigri – Animals
‘Animals’ is from Vigri’s debut album Pink Boats. The band decided to travel around many of the small churches in Iceland’s countryside to record the song, but the end result is from what they recorded in the Flatey island church.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Wooden Constructions – Full Brother
There’s been a buzz brewing for Amsterdam’s Wooden Constructions for a year or two already, their edgy live performances stealing the limelight from a host of international indie wannabes along the way. Well, it’s all set to reach boiling point when they finally unleash their debut album People Now People in spring. A barrage of taut dance grooves, minimalistic riffage and unsettling narratives, they provide a contemporary glimpse of post-punk at its maniacal best. Check out first single ‘Full Brother’ for a taster of their danceable gloom, making the bold promise that the intensity of their live shows will carry over onto tape.
Novedades Carminha – Pesetas
Novedades Carminha are a garage-rock three-piece from Santiago de Compostela, and they’re starting to be the talk of the town. Their songs are energy-packed and irreverent, making fun of everyday topics but vindicating them at the same time. Their lyrics hold true punk spirit. ‘Pesetas’, taken from their first album Jódete y Baila, released in early 2011, is a true jewel of dirty Spanish rock.
Bokomolech – Talk About Fires
Nine years is a long time to wait, but new album Mass Vulture finds Bokomolech embracing and sifting through the finer moments of their past over the course of 10 outstanding songs. The record is once again exceptionally crafted and gorgeously composed, richly textured and potently rhythmic, instilled with instrumental mastery and consistent music ideas, powerfully expressive vocals, remarkable melodic turns, lovely harmonic noises, sleek and slippery riffs. They have created a sparse and thrilling work of strikingly expansive ambition with the arresting delicacy of the quieter, dreamier tunes capable of ripping up your emotions.
Kids – My Sincerest Apologies
Electronic pop duo Kids are shockingly good. Sure there a few cheesy moments in the single ‘My Sincerest Apologies’ but it gives the song a bit of fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
Storm The Bastille – Circle Robotics
You never know quite what to expect when listening to a song by Storm The Bastille. Their schizophrenic and mildly cacophonic music is unpredictable, strange and full of surprising twists. The only constant is the great energy the band possess. It’s fast, energetic, melodic and a bit dark with a sense of impending doom that creeps up close.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Cloudy Busey – Up To You (If You Love Me)
Cloudy Busey takes many cues from house music on ‘Up To You (If You Love Me)’, yet this long-burning song never feels exuberant. Rather, the Osaka-based Busey inverts the sounds of a club into something apt for a shadowy alleyway. The beat pounds on relentlessly, but the spacey synths and singing evoke the loneliness of long, solitary walks home early in the morning set against neon lights. If nights out tend to bring you down, here is the jam for you.
Wooden Peak – Pills Start Work
The two guys behind Wooden Peak are getting famous for their gigs where they occupy a whole stage while just sitting on their stools, carefully watching each other. Although their set-up with guitar and drums seems quite like a garage band, their singing and acoustic play triggers very different emotions – calm and dizziness, homeliness and wanderlust. ‘Pills Start Work’ is a great MAP exclusive which slightly resembles early Whitest Boy Alive. The album Lumen has just been released on the lovely label Analogsoul.
The Ringo Jets – Collar
The Ringo Jets, consisting of two guitarists and a drummer, is a rock ‘n’ roll band inspired by 60s garage music and blues rock. They made a big splash in Istanbul indie circles with their Limited Lunchpack EP, which you can download for free from Bandcamp. After signing with Aisha Records, they’re planning to release their debut album by the end of the year.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
Julián Mayorga – ¿Cómo Llorar Al Revés o Regresar Al Asfalto o…?
‘¿Cómo Llorar Al Revés o Regresar Al Asfalto o Espantar Mi Propio Cuerpo Inerte o Desaparecer y Volver a Aparecer?’ – this is the complete title of this piece by singer-songwriter Julián Mayorga, born in Ibagué. It’s an interesting, poetic union between pop and folk that hides, in what he calls La Pequeña Orquesta Sintética (synths and computers), the deep and very personal landscapes that his soft voice creates.
Los Zapping – Cine Mudo
Los Zapping began toying with music when they were still in school, but their garage-rock soon won a place in Lima nights and an authentic touch of freshness was about to be born. Their first EP, released in 2007, was considered the best of that year. ‘Teoría De La Televisión y La Radio’ was released in 2011, an album that reaffirms the strength and talent of this band.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Spleen United – Bright Cities Keep Me Awake
“We are still wild animals,” Spleen United proclaim on ‘Bright Cities Keep Me Awake’, from their long-awaited and impressive third full-length, School Of Euphoria. It’s a sentiment carrying truth and one somewhat defining for principal songwriter and frontman Bjarke Niemann’s lyrical appendage to the dark, synthesized rock reminiscing 90s electro, house and (euro)dance. It makes School Of Euphoria a rather despondent, while immensely awesome, listen.
Mr. Graceless – Mr. Li
Mr. Graceless is a Beijing-based indie-rock trio. They try to keep a low profile, moving forward step by step. They are tepid and unassuming, and have a clear-cut stand on what to love and what to hate. The love, pain, fantasy and fervor of youth are the best tags for their music. They prefer beautiful melodies and independent attitude. Mr. Graceless is touring around China with their debut release The Tree Ever Green.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Uvilov – De Tantos Universos Paralelos
“Playing dreampop since 2005,” is the slogan of this pioneering band. ‘De Tantos Universos Paralelos’ is the gigantic overture to their new album El Desprendimiento, which promises to be an overload of feedback and chaos restrained under a structure. Uvilov might be intending to picture a party where the mankind of tomorrow is invited only if its conscience allows it to.
CHILE: Super 45
Survey Team – Valdivia De Viña
A couple of years ago, Survey Team was just a frail bedroom duo with singer Carla Bolgeri adding colorful and sweet melodies to folk-guitar patterns created by her bandmate, Francisco Marín. They’ve certainly changed. Today, they are a powerful quintet with sounds that shock and hit with electric sensuality. ‘Valdivia De Viña’ is a summer première, soon to be included in their debut album Suriname, which validates Survey Team as a pop delicacy from the current Chilean pop wave and a highly versatile band by successfully flirting with reggae.
Cosmo – Cazador
Cosmo is an indie-pop band which features members or former members of other groups that are well-known to the Buenos Aires independent music scene (Pablo de Caro from Mataplantas, Ayar Sava from Interama, Pablo Font from Les Mentettes and Andrés Ravioli from Mompox and Brian Storming, among others). A couple of months ago they released their self-titled first album, with songs that combine vintage synthesized sounds and beats with acoustic instruments and fine arrangements. You can download the whole album for free.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
Danjeli – Midnight Carpet Ride
Besides being a maverick club DJ and an accomplished musician in his own right, Danjeli is also a member of the renegade Maltese folk band Brikkuni. This year he released another solo album, KontroNatura, available for free download from Complex Sound Sagacity.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Graveola e o Lixo Polifônico – Insensatez: A Mulher Que Fez
Graveola e o Lixo Polifônico is a creative band that experiments with MPB (mainstream Brazilian pop music) and makes organic mashups, appropriating themes of bands from various genres to create new works. Their new record is available for download from their website.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Mcklopedia – Guardián
Mcklopedia is a young man who, back in 2001, identified with a genre and took it as his philosophy and way of life. He explicitly shows the reality of the world’s great cities, the everyday stories that come to a close in households every night. Superlirical, his debut album, seeks to represent a new concept in urban music, combining soul, reggae, funk and hip hop.
Amity Beach – Jake’s Version Of Paradise
Seeing as Amity Beach a) only have a three-song EP to their name and b) look like they’re probably still in high school, I might be jumping the gun on praising them. Still, listening to this track (along with the other two), it’s hard not to be excited. They’ve got a great ear for catchy pop and I’d be surprised – not to mention a little disappointed – if this doesn’t lead to some great things.
Heike Has The Giggles – Breakfast
On their sophomore album, Crowd Surfing, the young Heike Has The Giggles pin down even more precisely the range of their influences – from the lighter Nineties pop-punk full of fun to the stronger Noughties punk funk à la Gossip. And damn, they are very good at mixing these. ‘Breakfast’ is the new album’s first single.
Redahan – Ru In Daejeon
If I could, I would pick the entire Loud Mouth collective as Ireland’s MAP representatives this month. They are a coterie of producers, rappers, musicians and DJs who have released three volumes of freely downloadable new music taking in electronica, rap and post-dubstep. Redahan is one producer at the heart of the collective and his evocative and expansive ‘Ru In Daejeon’ is indicative of the collective’s scope and vision.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Methadone Skies – Vs. Evil
Methadone Skies are a bunch of young guys from Timisoara playing the music they themselves like to listen to – psychedelic, progressive, stoner, post-rock, ambient or just noise – most of the time jamming in the studio with excellent results. Keep your ears opened for them as they’re about to release their new album, Enter The Void.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Craig_FS – Grass Stain (feat. Rachel Tesfaye)
‘Grass Stain’ is a musical head-turner – an 8.5-minute electro/house fusion with an outstanding soulful female guest vocal that takes you on a trip of a lifetime labelled bliss-euphoria-bliss. Craig_FS has been been making and uploading songs to Soundcloud for the past year, and the potential is certainly there for him to follow in the mainstream footsteps of compatriot Calvin Harris.
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 36-track compilation here.