Monthly Archives: July 2009

from the warm heart of africa to málaga

the very best

the straits of gibraltar is the narrowest of waters that separates africa from europe, and while the proposed tunnel bridging the two continents won’t be realized till much later, two acts that have been making the most waves these days give us a glimpse into what that intercontinental trip could look like. the first is the very best, a collaboration between malawian musician esau mwamwaya and london outfit radioclit, which had already whet our appetites last year with their promo mixtape that sampled everyone from vampire weekend to m.i.a. and even michael jackson. i can’t wait to check out their upcoming debut album, especially after hearing “the warm heart of africa”, a song off that album of the same name featuring ezra koenig from vampire weekend. it’s a collaboration that captures the best energies from both parties, brimming with joyous celebration.

that figurative trip across the straits is also attempted by jj, the latest-signed band from sweden’s sincerely yours, home of the equally breezy air france. “from africa to málaga” appears to bear much less of the african influence, although the lightly hopping beats wouldn’t be out of place in a lazy afternoon reggae jam. as the title suggests, this song is more about the trip than the destination, and while i can’t quite tell where the spanish city of málaga features here, the uplifting currents of scandinavian dance-pop are more than assuring of how worthwhile this journey is, offering the perfect way to wind down after dancing through the warm heart of africa.

mp3: the very best – warm heart of africa (ft. ezra koenig)

mp3: jj – from africa to málaga

the very best’s warm heart of africa will be out this fall on green owl, while jj’s n° 2 is now out on sincerely yours.


#194 deleted scenes – fake ids

deleted scenes

just last week i was watching an old ted talk by malcolm gladwell. in that talk, he highlighted the contributions of howard moskowitz to our understanding of variability in consumer preference: there is no perfect spaghetti sauce or coffee out there, just many different sauces and cuppas that suit different tastes. while this seems like a obvious enough point, what it does show is that consumers often don’t know what they want, or at least don’t like to admit what they really like. this was his example: if he were to ask anyone what kind of coffee they liked, the likeliest answer was “a dark, rich, hearty roast”. according to moskowitz’s research, however, only 25-27% of us really like a dark, rich, hearty roast. most of us in fact like milky weak coffee, though far less of us would like to admit it.

i think i can say something similar about what i say about my music preferences and what i really like. here’s the thing: if you asked me, i’d tell you i love music that’s dense, overwhelming and intense. and it’s true, i really do love stuff that tears my heart out and leaves me completely awed. for birdseed shirt, the album released earlier this year by dc band deleted scenes, it doesn’t sound immediately like that kind of music i usually rave about, but it does unassumingly but confidently strike a noble balance between the raw and the pristine, always resisting the temptation to go over-the-top like what i usually say i like. album standout “fake ids” displays just that kind of restraint, and every time things threaten to spill over to excess and indulgence, the band always finds the means to return to that simple, thin melody that quietly but oh so powerfully drives the song.

if i was lazy, i might have listened once and irresponsibly dismissed this as “mediocre” and “not that great”, but i’m glad i took the time to embrace the other sides to my preferences and recognize what truly is an impressively diverse and mature debut effort by an urgent young band raring to go.

mp3: deleted scenes – fake ids

get your copy of birdseed shirt from the what delicate online shop.

#193 gemma hayes – out of our hands (feat. kevin shields)

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There are some songs, that unfairly get your attention because they name drop prominent guest stars in their sleeve notes. This one being Kevin Shields. Yes, THE Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine. I’d never heard of Gemma Hayes prior to noticing “Out Of Our Hands” feature Mr Shields on guitar. But I’m glad I caught wind of this ditty. You instantly notice the guitars, but for some strange ethereal reason, Ms Haye’s melancholy tinged vocals smoke their way as an equally formidable partner to Mr Shield’s neurotic and discordant playing. It’s the perfect recipe to wake up to on a rainy day, and then you realise, it’s out of our hands.. this time. – brian.

mp3: gemma hayes – out of our hands (feat. kevin shields)

For more information about Gemma Hayes, visit her Myspace.

#192 atlas sound – walkabout (ft. noah lennox)

Bradford Lennox

what did you want to see, what did you want to be when you grew up? it’s a perfect question posed by a duo still reveling in childlike wonder, both currently making music that touches the oldest of souls. it’s a fairytale collaboration just waiting to be made, taking place under the envelop of bradford cox’s solo atlas sound project, and featuring the buoyant vocals of animal collective’s noah lennox, aka panda bear. the fruit of that partnership is “walkabout”, a track revolving the simplest of loops, built upon a sample of “what am i going to do” by the dovers, and circling playfully around the theme of childhood dreams. it’s a song that hops and skips from one idea to the next, but never deviating far from the central question. the contribution of panda bear is distinct beyond his vocal contributions, especially with the incorporation of field samples that invoke both the faraway and vaguely familiar and which blend perfectly with cox’s signature dreamscapes. this sounds like the meeting of long lost playground buddies, meeting when they’re both grown up and finally ready to make a song to last a lifetime, and for me possibly the best thing i’ve heard all year.

mp3: atlas sound – walkabout (ft. noah lennox)

“walkabout” is featured on atlas sound’s upcoming album logos, out on kranky 20 oct.

#191 the langley schools music project – i’m into something good


i’ve been pretty swamped with stuff the last couple of days, and that’s somehow found its way to making my waking moments full of dread, or at least overwhelmed by the things i need to get done. but this morning, i woke up feeling quite fine, humming this tune in my head, and feeling much better, really. there’s no purer version of the song – “i’m into something good” originally by herman’s hermits – than that captured on a 2-track recorder in 1976 by elementary school music teacher hans fenger, who coordinated the langley schools music project by assembling a 60-strong choir comprising school children aged 9-12. fenger believed more in an organic approach to music rather than focusing on theory, and this preference was quite clear in the raw and quite magical atmosphere present in these recordings. their rendition of “i’m into something good” uplifts me in a way nothing else can, with a wooo-ooo backing vocal that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

mp3: the langley schools music project – i’m into something good

music alliance pact (july 2009 issue)


i’ve always regarded force vomit as the quintessential singaporean band – lots of attitude and brimming with local flavor – so i’m glad our map correspondent brian koh has chosen to feature them for this month’s issue, which includes new additions to the map family, japan and venezuela. enjoy!

AMERICA: I Guess I’m Floating
Spanish PrisonersKiss The Lawn Goodbye
Brooklyn’s Spanish Prisoners, fronted by Leo Maymind, create fractured power-pop in the vein of The New Porno’s Dan Bejar (Destroyer). They’re currently working on a new album but in the meantime they’ve released a free three-song EP – download it here – from which Kiss The Lawn Goodbye is taken.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Mi PequeÒa MuerteLa M˙sica Nueva
Mi PequeÒa Muerte means “my little death” so you’re probably thinking this is not a particularly optimistic band. That was true for Hospital, their 2004 debut album, which was loaded with melancholic indie-rock tunes and moaning vocals. But this is 2009 and believe it or not, the band’s third album is called Un Futuro Brillante (“a brilliant future”). Maybe that was just pure irony, but in this new effort they define themselves with shiny sounds and instruments, including horns and Moog synthesizers.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Boat BeamThe Rain Pauly
So it turns out that Josephine of Sparkadia is now in this gorgeously gentle folky trio in Madrid called Boat Beam, and they seem to be kinda popular (check their MySpace). How crazy is that? I could listen to The Rain Pauly for days.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
NancyKeep Cooler
Five-piece band Nancy have played just a few shows in Brazil and may be more well-known outside the country. They were the first Brazilian band on virtual label RCRD LBL and have been featured on BBC Radio’s Introducing programme, showing their soft indie tunes. Nancy’s members live in different cities and countries so the band’s debut album, Chora Matisse!, was composed on the internet through emails and IM.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Rah RahI’ve Got Faith
When I had to submit my ballot for the Polaris Music Prize (think a Canadian version of the Mercury Prize), the one album that was toughest for me to leave off was Rah Rah’s amazing Going Steady. As I’ve Got Faith shows, the band combine the best elements of Broken Social Scene (with the constant sense they’re just barely keeping everything together) and Arcade Fire (in its epicness), with the end result being a sound that’s all their own.

CHILE: Super 45
PedropiedraSol Mayor
Pedro Subercaseaux has been involved with music for almost a decade. Having explored such diverse styles as cumbia, hip-hop, electronica, pop and rock, he has been part of several projects such as Hermanos Brothers, Tropiflaite, Yaia and CHC, gathering a good amount of success along the way. This year Subercaseaux has decided to release his debut solo album, under the moniker Pedropiedra, in which he demonstrates his great ability to craft catchy pop-oriented melodies.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
The WorksLive And Direct (featuring Jams F. Kennedy)
It’s time to bring some urban tunes to all ye faithful readers of the Music Alliance Pact. Enter The Works aka producers Twelve Beats and Terry Tester, whom I stumbled across quite recently and whose intriguing fusion of hip-hop and electronica I haven’t been able to shake off since. Minimalist, yet rich on details. Hardly moving, but always taking you places. Their debut release, Yokohama EP, is out now and streamed in full on their MySpace.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
FriendshipThe Graveyard Shift
Tired of indie bands showing off their ‘African influences’? Well, get ready for one more, although this is done with a lot more bite, distortion and general sense of fun than most.

Neufvoin are an up-and-coming indie band who create beautifully-arranged catchy pop melodies with guitars, synthesizer textures and a few other instruments. Apparently, they also like playing with bots and droids. Robot is taken from their debut Robokop EP, six songs produced by Rubik frontman Artturi Taira that journey many different musical landscapes.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Jessica FichotUn, Deux, Trois (1,2,3)
Born in America to a French father and Chinese mother, chanteuse and songwriter Jessica Fichot was raised in France in a multicultural environment. She is a lot like her hometown of Paris: French at heart, but with a soul that’s truly international. Her multi-ethnic upbringing colors the songs on her debut album.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
BonaparteGigolo Vagabundo
Bonaparte are a Berlin-based artist collective from all across Europe. Their sparkling weird-folk is powered by Balkan pace and electronic rhythms. Outfitted with crazy costumes, they are one of the most exciting German live acts around.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Sudden Weather ChangePrey Mode
Sudden Weather Change are a five-piece rock band from Reykjavik who have been compared to Sonic Youth and Pavement. Prey Mode is taken from their debut album, Stop! Handgrenade In The Name Of Crib-Death ‘nderstand, which came out in April on the Icelandic Kimi Records label and will be released in Europe and America in September.

IRELAND: Nialler9
The Holy Roman ArmyElegy
Ireland has already produced its fair share of amazing records so far this year and we can now add The Holy Roman Army’s album to that list. How The Light Gets In is the brother and sister duo’s debut and it’s filled with ambient and electronic flourishes with an organic heart. Perhaps it’s not a surprise they are a doctor and a psychologist respectively. Elegy is a perfect example of the band’s yearning for something emotional between the city’s streets.

ITALY: Polaroid
Iori’s EyesAnchor
Iori’s Eyes are a boy and a girl from Milan who play gentle pop with a dreamy touch. Their music brings together a folk mood and a post-rock background. Their songs sound as fragile and delicate as little toys, but definitely know how to be surprising and poignant. Iori’s Eyes just released their debut EP, And Everything Fits In The Yellow Whale, and I can’t wait to listen to a proper album.

LITEGhost Dance
LITE are a Tokyo-based instrumental band who play experimental rock with striking, groove-heavy basslines. Formed in 2003, their spirit is similar to Mogwai, 65daysofstatic, Battles, Toe and Envy. In May, LITE visited America for the first time, going out on tour with legendary bass guitarist Mike Watt.

MEXICO: Club Fonograma
Hello Seahorse!Universo 2
Hello Seahorse! is the year’s most acclaimed Mexican indie band. With their third album, Bestia, the trio have made the transition into a multi-dimensional group with a masterwork under their belt. Bestia shines in between ghosts and hazy sonic beauty, in a universe of its own, and proves Hello Seahorse! have total control over their romanticized and passionate, sublime creations.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
UrbantramperSouthern Hemisphere Blues
Urbantramper are a five-piece from Wellington who are part of a loose collective known as Treeninja. The band produce introspective pop songs that reflect an endearing, naive angst about their place in the world. This is a group with a manifesto! They’re currently considering issues of music distribution, copyright and the impact of these on the nature of the relationship between musician and audience. Urbantramper have a strong back catalogue and a new album due in September.

NORWAY: Eardrums
SilverdropReal Life
It’s July, it’s summer and it’s time for some fresh and shiny indie-pop from Norwegian six-piece Silverdrop. These are definitely sounds for the sunny days and the band’s new recordings are even more bouncy and energetic than the songs I’ve heard from them before. Silverdrop are currently working on their debut album.

Francois PeglauSpring Lovers Song (Si T˙ Quieres)
Francois Peglau’s songs do not need much explanation, they just happen. They are simple and beautiful – they could be borne from a whistle on a bus or a nice sunny day with friends. Francois moved to London two years ago and Spring Lovers Song (Si T˙ Quieres) is his most recent song.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Andrew ThornME Jane
Andrew Thorn is Jo„o Pedro Coimbra, a Portuguese composer/musician/producer and founder of the extremely successful duo Mesa. Andrew Thorn is Jo„o’s way of exploring his creativity beyond Mesa’s sound. The debut EP, Brutes On The Quiet, was released independently (Mesa is signed to Sony/BMG) on July 13 and ME Jane is the first authorized download by the artist and a MAP exclusive.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Melting CarouselSeveral Other Universes
Melting Carousel are an indie-pop band from Timisoara with an eclectic approach, ranging from alternative pop to jazz.

Maple LeavesEasy Speak
Even though Glasgow’s pedigree of producing twee, folky-pop bands (Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura) is strong, few have been as relentlessly joyous as Maple Leaves. With their dreamy girl-boy vocals and penchant for colouring their songs with flute, piano and acoustic guitar, Maple Leaves are guaranteed to put the spring into anyone’s summer.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Force VomitLiberator
Surfing and punk-rock in the city state of Singapore don’t necessarily go hand in hand due to the lack of any noteworthy waves (both literally and metaphorically). Enter Force Vomit, the antithesis of Singapore’s two shortcomings with their brazen brand of surf-punk that takes the piss out of Singapore’s sanitized idiosyncrasies and semblance of normal life. Sounding like a Dick Dale number cut by switchblades, Liberator should easily find a place in a Tarantino film.

Dringe AughTutelar
Singer-songwriter Dringe Augh offers lovely songs full of lively guitar play. Over the years he has recorded several demos and his first official EP, Individually Wrapped, was released in June. On the new version of Tutelar, Dringe is accompanied by delightful female vocals from Eunjie Song of modern folk duo Sogyumo Acacia Band.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
I was stumbling around the net (MySpace in particular) and came across this band called MAKTHAVERSKAN. I have since learned they are signed to Luxury. Consider this your introduction to the new ‘it’ band from Gothenburg. They are agit-pop combined with post-punk and a little bit of Joan Jett tunefulness.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimeto Musical
Gonzalo TeppaDe Conde A Principal
Gonzalo Teppa is a musician, composer and a breathtaking double-bass player. Born in Barquisimeto, he has wowed audiences in Mexico, Brazil, Spain, USA, Colombia and Bolivia. Downbeat Magazine has selected him as solo artist of the year twice. De Conde A Principal is a version of an original work from Venezuelan composer Aldemaro Romero. It belongs to his latest work, ConTrabajos De Aldemaro.

To download all 26 songs in one file click here

#190 pulp – glory people

pulp is hardcore

it’s been a while since i’ve revisted my pulp collection, and this time, i gave my this is glastonbury album a spin while i drifted into a nap of sorts, awoken at my favorite parts like the irresistibly sexy “party hard”. i was actually going to post something about the album closer, the draining but rewarding “seductive barry” when i decided to read up a little more on that 1998 gig. that was where i realised that not only wasn’t “seductive barry” the last song of the concert, there was in fact a japanese version of the album that had the real last song at the end of the encore. “glory people”, as you would have guessed, is a medley of “glory days” and “common people”, the latter being the crowning glory of the band’s prior glasto triumph in ’95. i can’t help but feel that pulp had taken the easy way out, pandering to the masses by ending with a hit from three years before. yet, i also can’t resist celebrating the ironic beauty it all, to have a stubbornly nostalgic song cut short by a bout of nostalgia itself: if “glory days” romanticized an irretrievable past, “common people” romanticized an unavoidable present, which really must be the most glorious way to end any concert.

mp3: pulp – glory people (live at glastonbury 1998)