initiated by jason from the scottish music blog the pop cop, the music alliance pact (MAP) is a coming together of music blogs from all over the world sharing their favorite local songs on the 15th of every month. i’m waking up to… is proud to be the singapore representative for this project, so i’d like to take this opportunity to introduce a new contributor to the team (now that makes 2!), brian koh, our local music correspondent who’ll be contributing to MAP every month, on top of a forthcoming column featuring singapore music. look out for it!
AMERICA – I Guess I’m Floating
Mississippi-based Dent May has been recording in various southern states since his formative years in high school. After going to college and refining his sound, he emerged with a new act that made use of his self-proclaimed magnificent ukulele. His pleasant pop arrangements, strong vocals and doo-wop-like vocal harmonies will appeal to anyone hoping to hear some happy music. His debut album is due out in February via Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label. Never underestimate the ukulele.
Mágico Corazón Radiofónico is the first album by Banda de Turistas and it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year. With Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys) in charge of the mixing, this song reprises the beat sound of ancient Argentine rock bands like Los Gatos.
Three long-time Sydney musicians start the funnest band to come out of the city in the past year. You might have known them in previous lives as one part Berkfinger, two parts The Sweats. Combined, they channel an updated retro rock style that somehow manages to both pay homage to Elvis and sound incredibly cool. Not an easy feat, so respect where it is due.
Macaco Bong is an instrumental trio from Cuiabá, considered one of the best live acts in the country. They sound like an original mix of post-rock, alternative metal and free jazz. Their guitarist doesn’t use any pedals or effects, playing his Fender online with overdrive from the amps he uses. The band is part of Espaço Cubo, a collective that works with culture and its social aspects, starting a revolution from the underground.
Their hiccupped vocals and apocalyptic-sounding music makes bringing up Wolf Parade almost inevitable, but Black Hat Brigade make a pretty convincing argument with their self-titled EP – and particularly with Swords – that they don’t necessarily come off any the worse in the comparison.
One of the weirdest and most original bands from Santiago, Fredi Michel are a mix between cumbia, dub and avant pop (via Broadcast). Even though they’ve been playing for years they have only recorded a few songs and some of their friends have made some remixes, such as the one featured here. Fredi Michel have announced they will finally release their debut album next year.
Oliver North Boy Choir are the kind of band that Denmark does spectacularly well. Signed to Danish uber-indie label Crunchy Frog, Camilla Florentz, Mikkel Max Hansen and Ivan Petersen release pieces of ethereal beauty via download only. Oh, and they don’t play live either.
You may not call it a ‘scene’, but there’s only one degree of separation between many of London’s young bands and artists. Jay Jay Pistolet, friend of Mumford & Sons, Derek Meins and no doubt plenty others, is no exception. Not that this is important. Let JJP, who often comes across as a young English version of M Ward, be judged for himself.
Switch is the latest single of the Nuremberg-based quad Mio Myo. It can be seen as a description of their sound – a bit ghosty and spheric, a diversity of electronic and analog instruments, and a voice reminiscent of Thom Yorke. Their songs always deserve a second hearing.
Vicky, previously called Vicky Pollard (named after the Little Britain character), is one of the coolest new Icelandic rock bands. The band started in November 2006 when they accidentally got together and started jamming in their hometown Hafnarfjörður. They produce a sort of poppy metal or heavy pop. In 2008, these four girls and male drummer recorded their debut album Pull Hard, which was released on the Töfrahellirinn label in October.
The brilliantly titled Sunken Foal (think about it…) is also known as Dunk Murphy of Ambulance. After an appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Mary Ann Hobbs, his debut Fallen Arches has just been released on Planet Mu. The album is a textural, ambient, electronic-acoustic and, most of all, beguiling release of leftfield sounds.
Young, talented and stylish, Scarlets play nervous and tight songs heavily influenced by new wave. They’ve just released an EP on Angle Records full of love for The Smiths, The Jam and the sharpest Brit sound. They’re definitely a name to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Bearcat are one of a bunch of new New Zealand bands dabbling in folk influenced indie-pop. Apparently Bearcat is a literal translation of the Latin word for panda, and as well as naming themselves after the endangered mammal, the band have chosen to make pandas the subject of many of their songs too. Bearcat avoid the danger of this resulting in one-line-joke novelty songs by writing catchy and memorable tunes that have every chance of survival.
The Little Hands Of Asphalt is the solo project of Sjur Lyseid, the singer in the Norwegian indie-pop band Monzano. As TLHOA, he makes warm, sensitive folk-inspired songs, often performed with an acoustic guitar as the main instrument. Sjur Lyseid is a great storyteller and his lyrics are always worth listening to. The song we have for you is a Music Alliance Pact exclusive, taken from his forthcoming debut album Leap Years which will be released in March 2009.
After his successful debut album, Ciudad Naufragio, Pelo Madueño returned this year with No Te Salves, an intimate album full of emotions. Based in Spain, Pelo shines as a songwriter and gives us a real insight into the independent scene.
Unready Demo is Nuno Rancho’s first solo work and you can download the other tracks on the EP for free via a link on his MySpace. In 2002, he started playing music in a band called Wheelchair and two years later he formed Kyoto. Today, besides Kyoto, Nuno Rancho still finds time to play and write for TiMaria, an electro-pop trio which has a completely different sound from his other work.
The Pop Cop only ‘discovered’ Dotjr last week and we were so bowled over there was no choice but to fast-track him into this month’s Music Alliance Pact. Dotjr (pronounced dot-jay-are) is the solo project of James Reeves, a 21-year-old native of the Isle of Lewis, and his joyous, soaring music has the kind of ambitious pop sound that radio DJs fall over themselves to play. More Than You Know is epic, swooning and Christmassy. Pretty much perfect then.
Leeson are a five-piece indie-pop band from Singapore who play a revelling cocktail of poppy, dancey tunes that will have your feet tapping and singing along to their infectious melodies.
The Black Skirts is the name used by Castel Prayon and his live band when climbing the digital music charts of Korea. In November the band’s first album, 201, was released. The first song up for promotion was Like Me and people soon heeded the title’s request. For somebody who usually isn’t too keen on being poppy, Castel Prayon sure knew what he was doing when making those songs, and Dog is an excellent example of that.
Richar and Mikel are from Euskadi and sing in Euskera, their own language. Their songs are inspired by The Beach Boys, Burt Bacharach, Jonathan Richman, Mikel Laboa and C86. You can download their last album, Momo Eta Beste Izaki Batzu, from their website. Elurretan love music and want to share their songs with everyone who likes them. Is it possible? I think so.
Francis take the strange blues of The Tallest Man On Earth and add a cabaret atmosphere. Debut single Bad To The Bone sounds like a transgender version of Stevie Ray Vaughn if he/she worked in a travelling eastern European circus and was channelling Tom Waits.