Monthly Archives: November 2009

#220 times new viking – born again revisited

i woke up this morning with this incessant racket reverberating in my head. i just couldn’t pin it down, except for this dissonant, off-kilter alarm going back and forth, sometimes going a key up, sometimes just getting hazier and noisier than before. well i’m a little more awake now, and i’m pleased to say problem solved. it’s lovely how times new viking‘s “born again revisited”, the title track from their album released earlier this year, just found its way into my waking subconscious, its unabashedly lo-fi vocals hollering in my face, driven by that stubborn riff that stays so stubbornly out of orbit. good morning, noisy world. - dan.

mp3: times new viking – born again revisited

born again revisited is now out on matador records.

#219 jadiid – africa

Sometimes when you first open your eyes, you already hear the song playing. As you lie in bed, listening intently, you play out the events that will unfold today. You’re editing the montage of events that will define your life, at least for today. By the time the first musical interlude passes in “Africa”, you would have finally gotten out of bed, and lived out the moments you imagined. The way you stare at yourself in the mirror as you brush your teeth, it’s slightly different from regular days. The cereal you eat seems to provide nourishment rather than the bland reminder that you attempted a healthier lifestyle. In fact, by the time this song fades out, you would have just left your home, and shut your door.. bristled excitement for what’s in store. Or did you not get out of bed yet?- brian

mp3: jadiid – africa

Hailing from Chicago, Jadiid are independent, releasing their album “It’s OK To Be Anxious” on Amazon and iTunes. Visit their site.

#218 talking heads – cities (alternate version)

according to jerry harrison of the talking heads, a principle that shaped the production of the band’s early albums was that each one should be recorded in a different place, in a different way. this quest for each record to embody an “individual quality of sound” translated to a keen awareness of the personality of space, though always held in ambivalent relation with the cityscape that was both impersonal and sometimes unpredictable. a case in point is their 1979 effort, fear of music, recorded in chris frantz and tina weymouth’s rehearsal loft in long island city. while the band grew to love how things sounded there during rehearsals, it was a location that limited them to recording on sundays when truck noise was kept to a minimum.

it’s no wonder then that a track like “cities” would find its way into fear of music, especially considering the strains of paranoia that drive that album. although the song’s topic of finding that perfect city to live was probably inspired by the group’s own love for the city living, it proves to be a futile quest that only results in a more frantic disorientation. it’s something that’s captured best in the alternate version of the song, which replaces the misleading smooth intro of the album version with a jarring siren among a jumble of many other nervous sounds. and when david byrne says he’s figured out the good and bad points of each city, the balance he’s attempting to strike seems to be an illusive one: his exasperation shows as he intermittently admits “sometimes i’m a little freaked out” and increasing sounds like he really is.

disturbingly, in all its imperfections, the very idea of living in the city even with all its horrors is never challenged, just as the disciplined structure of the song mechanically keeps all these sentiments from straying too far. byrne, for one, never abandons his quest to find himself a city to live in, and never considers any alternatives. for me, as someone who’s lived in a city all his life and who’s never lived anywhere else, i can say i pretty much identify with all of that. - dan.

mp3: talking heads – cities (alternate version)

#217 alan vega – jukebox babe

i listened with some curiosity and much interest the strut retrospective of ZE records, one of the most influential underground new york labels of the 70s and 80s. formed by michel esteban and michael zilkha, who were introduced to each other by john cale, the label was known for bringing together new wave, post-punk, disco and punk in a movement they termed “no wave”. one of the gems in this compilation is alan vega‘s first hit single “jukebox baby”, a minimalist rockabilly number that oozes the understated new york cool. his rambling vocal style, reminiscent of both elvis and lou reed, would go on to characterize the music of suicide, the band he formed with martin rev. that, of course, deserves a story of its own. - dan.

mp3: alan vega – jukebox babe

ZE 30 – ZE records story 1979-2009 is out now on strut records.

#216 beck – debra

beck

memories came flooding in when i finally got about to digitizing my old beck cds. i remember listening to brian’s copy of odelay over and over again (i think i hogged it for quite a while before i got my own), and trying to perfect my “sissyneck” whistle. i remember disliking sea change immensely, denouncing it as bland and boring, a view i held until someone told me to give it another shot. it’s one of my favorites now, and exists as a reminder for me to never dismiss anything. in terms of expectation, however, i remember most eagerly awaiting the release of midnight vultures in 1999, for the chance to finally listen to the studio version of “debra”, a song he had been playing regularly at his shows for some years already. up to today, i still love this song to bits, from the soppy horns to the pathetically whining bassline and of course beck’s prince falsetto. it definitely doesn’t compare to the improvised genius of the live versions, but it does still force us to take seriously the limits of absurdity that beck often pushes in his music. classic! - dan.

mp3: beck – debra

music alliance pact – november 2009 issue

musicalliancepactmaplogo2

over the 12 months of being part of MAP, we’ve brought you the best of singapore music, from the established veterans (concave scream, force vomit, astreal) to the current flag bearers (i am david sparkle, the fire fight), spanning across genre from electronica (MUON), folk and acoustic (jon chan, inch chua), indiepop (leeson), post-hardcore (a vacant affair), and some good ol’ rock (nuance), faithfully curated by our local music ambassador brian koh. this month, he introduces us to a cool collaborative effort from within the local scene itself – the lard brothers‘ remix of lunarin‘s “ariel”. and if you can’t get enough of singapore music, do visit our pals unpopular radio! enjoy and keep listening.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Entre RÌosFrontera
Finally we get the chance to showcase this great indie-pop band from Buenos Aires on MAP. Entre RÌos is a musical project led by Sebastian Carreras (vocals, keyboards, guitar) that has been around since 1998. Their first albums were recorded with Isol as the main singer, but since her departure in 2005 they’ve featured different guest vocalists live and in the studio. Frontera is a MAP-exclusive premiere from their brand new EP that will be released in a couple of weeks, with Josefina Mac Loughlin on vocals.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Boy & BearMexican Mavis
Sydney singer-songwriter Dave Hosking has taken a slight change of direction with his new outfit Boy & Bear. Releasing his first EP Marmalade Hill late last year, Hosking has decided to abandon the songs from the album (which I was still rather fond of) and start fresh, writing towards a more mature and original sound. Producer of the first EP, Andrew Macken, has proven to be a great collaborator with his intricate and almost narrative-based approach to the arrangement and production.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
The NameCome Out Tonite
If I had to bet which Brazilian band could repeat the success of CSS on foreign lands it would be The Name. Assonance, their new well-produced EP, presents songs that could put them side by side with some of the greatest names of the post-punk revival of the 00s or the major bands of nu-rave scene. Come Out Tonite is here to prove it.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Magneta LaneLove And Greed
Magneta Lane were on the verge of world (well, Canadian) domination a few years ago, and then they suddenly vanished. They’re back now with a new album, Gambling With God, but you wouldn’t know it from the total lack of support the album is getting from both the band and their label. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty outstanding release, and as songs like Love And Greed show, Magneta Lane could still conquer the world… assuming, that is, they want to.

CHILE: Super 45
AstroRaifilter
Alongside electro-poppers Moustache, Astro (AndrÈs Nusser and Octavio Cavieres) is one of those noble bands cultivating the sound of acts such as MGMT or The Knife – just on the verge of the night spectrum of pop – acquiring a good combination of simplicity and a good dose of highly contagious fun for their debut album Le Disc Du Astrou. Following this trail, Raifilter is a song with a very special melody, the result of very intense arrangements as well excellent vocals courtesy of Nusser, who shapes a beach-like tune to give us a perfect excuse to have a neverending sound party.

CHINA: Wooozy
LoudspeakerI Will Be Back
Established in 1999, Loudspeaker is the hardcore pioneer in Shanghai. This song is from the I Will Be Back EP released in September. You can download the whole EP here. Loudspeaker’s new album will be ready at the beginning of 2010.

COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Hety And ZamboProud
Hety And Zambo are a duo with the capacity to get you on your feet and dance. The Kings of Creole, as everyone knows them in the dancehall underground scene, came together six years ago in the island of San Andres with one objective – to create good music with their own rhythms, writings and language.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
The KitesPlay
I stumbled across these guys on a MySpace cruise recently and was immediately charmed by their quite British-sounding pop-rock. The Kites may not be revolutionizing music, but less has been known to do it. Not least when it’s this infectious. Get Play exclusively via MAP and then head to their MySpace page and check out the equally excellent Balloons.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Jeremy WarmsleyDancing With The Enemy
Rather than something new this month, here’s an old favourite from one of my favourite British singer-songwriters, Jeremy Warmsley. It’s from his How We Became album of last year. If you like this, he’s got a free acoustic EP available via his MySpace and he’s also fronting a new band Acres, Acres. Watch out for them.

ESTONIA: Popop
AntoninaItsuyorimo
When Helene Vetik started to write music, she played on the streets to get some pocket money, started a high school punk-band that didn’t last long and sang at cheesy corporate parties. However, it was when she began to record her old songs into lo-fi electro-pop that she teamed up with Zanduro (keyboard) and Mihkel Masso (guitar) to form Antonina.

FINLAND: Glue
Cleaning WomenAcross The Void
From planet Clinus 1 robots CW01, CW03 and CW04 (subbing for CW02 who was lost in action) create industrial avant garde music using a wide array of instruments, some rock lines, a few jazzy beats and a lot of funky grooves. The trio has just released its third album, U, which includes some futuristic tracks that could form the soundtrack of a Philip K Dick novel. One of them is the instrumental Across The Void, a good example of the spooky atmospheric music these hygienic robots make.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Kitsch DeviceIs This Home Now?
Kitsch Device is a group straight out of the Parisian scene who take us on a high. They first started playing as a hobby but they now scour concert rooms in Paris and are always a blast to watch for their style and professionalism. Is This Home Now? carries a folk-rock melody which will make you shake your head and tap the floor with your foot to the beat.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Candelilla#13
Candelilla is a female four-piece based in Munich. Their impulsive sound fits into no existing scheme – it varies from Dresden Dolls to Sonic Youth, from punky grunge to vanguard indie. Straight drums accompany the piano, a whetted guitar accents murky basslines, all highlighted by the staccato voices. #13 is the first single from their debut reasonreasonreasonreason.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Giannis AggelakasVolta Sto Dasos
Psyhi Vathia is the soundtrack for a movie directed by Pantelis Voulgaris. It takes place in 1949 and tells the story of two brothers who fight in two different camps during the Greek civil war. Giannis Aggelakas, who was singer and songwriter of the legendary rock band Trypes, composes an emotionally compelling score drawing on traditional musical heritage. Sad, evocative instrumental melodies rich with contemporary elements coalesce with ethnic nuance that depict the era and echo the film’s mood. Volta Sto Dasos (“Walk In The Woods”) is a marvelous track that reflects the two elements of the movie – pain and hope – through the lament of violin and the serenity of the guitar.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
KimonoBlack
Kimono is an experimental rock trio hailing from Reykjavik and Halifax, Canada. They have released three full-length albums, the last one in collaboration with Icelandic producer Curver (of Ghostigital). Black will be on their upcoming fourth album, Easy Music For Difficult People.

INDIA: Indiecision
PinknoiseDream Dream
Pinknoise is an experimental rock act from Kolkata that takes nu-jazz sensibilities and combines them with angular, guitar-driven rock. Dream Dream comes from a soon-to-be-released live DVD. It’s the quintessential spacious, open jam that frontlady Jayashree Singh orchestrates with this band. With mid-song tempo changes and lazy atmospherics, it’s a fun five minutes through slacker town.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
SantamonicaBobsessed
Santamonica’s album Curiouser And Curiouser was praised by the media as an eclectic mixture of pop, bossa nova, electronic and classic waltz drawing influences from Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and My Bloody Valentine to classic Disney soundtracks.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Band On An IslandBack Disco
The debut release from Kildare’s Band On An Island, The Sound Sweep, revels in the details of hometown life, taking in nights by the campfire, love, drinking, getting into trouble, picking yourself up again and this cute nightclub-themed song featuring the vocals of Claire Prendergast. Combine these myriad of issues with the music – a mix of country, folk, raucous guitar music and heartfelt ballads – and you’ve got the essence of Band On An Island.

ITALY: Polaroid
Annie HallMorning News
It would be too easy to describe the sound of the Annie Hall as a Beatles influence revised through a folk sensibility. But this way you would overlook the simple fact that these songs are truly touching in such an immediate way. Annie Hall just released their second album and are now ready to spend the next months touring the country non-stop, as they usually do.

JAPAN: JPOP Lover
Sebastian XTour Star People
Sebastian X are an impressive Tokyo-based outfit with indie-pop and punkish leanings. Their brilliant debut album Wonderful World was finally released last week. The band, who don’t use guitars, have catchy melodies driven by the cute pop vocal of Manatsu Nagahara.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Pepepe (feat. Cyane)Sleep With You
Here is a track from Pepepe’s latest album, Roba OrgÛn de Plantas y Animales, released on the Poni Republic label. Pepepe is one of the monikers of Pesina Siller, a 21-year-old electronic musician and visual artist who was ranked among the top 50 in Radiohead’s Reckoner remix contest. He’s the kid behind various projects that show the multiple faces to his mystic persona, with sounds that go from dubstep to psychedelic folk. This song is full of clicks, cuts, lots of aleatory processing and a beautiful collaboration with Guadalajara’s vocalist Cyane.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Psychic PowersWellington
Psychic Powers are an international duo – Nik Brinkman is a New Zealander and Alejandro Cohen is from Los Angeles. The two collaborate on songwriting from opposite sides of the world via the internet. This piece of very 80s sounding synth-pop is about Nik’s home town, New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington – bringing together the local and the global in a way that seems purpose made for the Music Alliance Pact. The song has been released on 7″ vinyl by US label Geographic North.

NORWAY: Eardrums
KrÂkes¯lvPrivat Regn
KrÂkes¯lv is a quartet from Bod¯, a town in the north of Norway. They sing in their dialect and their music can be put somewhere between pop, indie and post-rock. The band have received much acclaim for their lyrics and the reviews of their recently released debut, TrÂdn¯sting, have been very positive.

PERU: SoTB
Los ProtonesSwinging Lima
Los Protones are an instrumental band formed in Lima in 2007 who play in a style that combines psychedelia, surf and garage-rock. Their self-titled debut CD was released in February 2009 by the Peruvian label Discos Gordos. It is an album where there are no words, although they’re not necessary – the guitar solos are the universal language and the titles of songs such as El DesvÌo paint pictures that could easily relate to the soundtrack of our experiences.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Casino RoyalCasino Royal Deluxe
Led by Pedro Janela, Casino Royal are a quintet from Figueira da Foz, a town known for its sandy beaches and its casino built in the 19th century. Casino Royal create music that takes us back to a certain living by the post-war European jetset. Would you like your cocktail shaken or stirred?

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Silent Strike27
Silent Strike (Ioan Titu) is a 27-year-old electronic music composer and sound designer from Bacau. He is influenced by Aphex Twin, Future Sound Of London, Orbital and opened for Faithless and Bonobo. 27 is a little gem of electronic sounds arranged in an acoustic manner and it was released for his birthday.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The Unwinding HoursKnut
The Unwinding Hours have quietly risen from the ashes of the much-loved Aerogramme and the early evidence suggests they’re going to be every bit as wondrous as their former guise. All the ingredients are there – the gorgeously gentle pacing, the elegant orchestration, Craig B’s yearning vocals. Knut, taken from their self-titled debut album due out early next year on Chemikal Underground, is a MAP exclusive sanctioned by the band and their record label.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
LunarinAriel (File Under Easy Listening remix)
Singapore is a small country, so we’ve formed a rather close-knit bunch of musicians and friends. One such collaboration between friends happens to be The Lard Brothers’ remix of Lunarin’s Ariel. While a relatively new group, The Lard Brothers have been busy making waves spinning as a DJ group and religiously reworking many classic songs by Singaporean bands. Their efforts don’t go unrecognised with this trip-hop laced remix of Ariel by the melodic rock band, Lunarin, perfect for the monsoon season that’s hitting our shores just about now.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Die Heuwels FantastiesOur Heritage
Die Heuwels Fantasties are an Afrikaans group, incorporating elements of many genres, from hip-hop beats, flat out dance beats, to rap and rock sounds. Die Heuwels Fantasties teamed up with The Soweto Gospel Choir, HHP and JR to produce a song for Heritage Day. The song is called Our Heritage and features Pierre Greeff of Die Heuwels Fantasties singing in English. All in all, it’s a song with the message to celebrate our heritage and our unity as South Africans – artfully combining the many different cultural spheres into a feelgood track.

SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
PlaygirlHappy Mania
Female trio Playgirl emerged in September with a retro pop sound from a time when James Bond was still played by Sean Connery. Inspired by The Pipettes, equipped with identical outfits and cute dance moves, Playgirl is currently the most adorable act to come out of Korea.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Madamm÷rnen
There’s very little info online about this mostly all-girl group from Gothenburg. I was struck by the band’s wanton energy and the loose nature of their songs. ÷rnen is a demo so who knows what its final shape may be, but I hope they retain the song’s raw energy.

TURKEY: Reset!
Bon ModChocolate Cheesecake
Chemistry is all there is to a band. After meeting about a year ago, the duo started working together instantly as Bon Mod. They take their love of partying and a reckless attitude to make indie, electro and disco-flavored songs. They are possibly the most exciting new band for the season ahead.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
People Eating PeopleAll The Hospitals
People Eating People is the solo work of Nouela Johnston, previously known for her work with Pacific Northwestern act Mon Frere. Her self-titled debut LP is a blending of Fiona Apple’s emotion with Regina Spektor’s penchant for melody. All The Hospitals is a catchy tune – we’ll see if Johnston can separate herself from the crowded female pack.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimeto Musical
Amigos InvisiblesMentiras
Amigos Invisibles (“Invisible Friends”) has been around the alternative/funk/pop local scene for many years. Their groovy rhythms and funny lyrics, filled with Venezuelan pop culture, made them legends in their country and finally got the attention of music lovers worlwide, touring Latin America, USA and Australia. They signed with David Byrne’s Luaka Pop label in 1996. To celebrate their Latin Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album, I have selected a song from that record, Comercial, called Mentiras.

To download all 34 songs in one file click here

#215 the sweet seranades – mona lee

sweet

you know once i’m onto swedish pop i really can’t stop, especially when there’re singles aplenty to dust off and share. this time, i have a track from the sweet seranades, something that’s been lying around in my collection for almost a year, but which sounds just as good as when i first heard it. “mona lee” introduces the self-pronounced “woodsmen of indiepop” (just look at the promo shot) with a chopping drum beat that clears the way for an intro that could really go anywhere. while i’m tempted to fit in the opening lines of “lisztomania”, what i get instead is a fervent introduction to our lead character by a narrator already sweating (and singing) like xiu xiu’s jamie stewart, dramatic and always peaking. by the chorus, we’re all swept away by the hurricane she brings with her, holding on so desperately amidst the howling voices, and not knowing why we celebrate with such rapturous joy the fleeting passage of a lady we can’t even get close to. perhaps the xiu xiu comparison is apt after all, but with all the sexual frustration of grown men crying subverted by a perversely delirious pop tune. - dan.

mp3: the sweet seranades – mona lee

“mona lee” is the lead single off balcony cigarettes, out now on leon records.