Monthly Archives: August 2009

#198 – grizzly bear – while you wait for the others

grizzly bear

i’m tired. i should be sleeping, really, and i will be very soon. but i thought i’d share with you the tune that’s been haunting me for the last few days, since i’ve been obsessively listening to grizzly bear‘s veckatimest. it’s an album that grows and keeps growing. i started off not being very impressed by it, probably because everything seemed to sound the same at first listen. but each time i revisit this record, the songs which bleed so much into each other start taking shape and i begin to see the gems hidden in each beneath the recurring melodies. it’s a very uplifting experience indeed, enough to keep me awake for a few more moments.

mp3: grizzly bear – while you wait for the others

music alliance pact (august 2009 issue)


oh boy is MAP growing! now featuring the music of 31 different countries, it has a larger representation than NATO as founder and organizer jason from scotland notes. this month, our local music ambassador brian koh brings to us an offering by jonathan chan, the prolific lead singer of plain sunset. it’s the simplest of songs, and one of the loveliest too. enjoy!

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Baby ScreamUps And Downs
Baby Scream is a musical project led by Juan Mazzola, with the ocassional collaboration of friends such as Cristian Basualdo, Sebasti·n Rubin and even Gilby Clarke’s bassist Muddy Stardust. Mazzola writes pop songs with a strong influence from classics like The Byrds, The Beatles and The Replacements. This beautiful acoustic ballad was taken from the album with the same name, released last year in the US by Recording Records.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
The Frowning CloudsTime Wastin’ Woman
Geelong boys The Frowning Clouds are so 60s and very fun. Lead vocalist Nick (a dead ringer for George Harrison) and his poncho-wielding counterpart Zack rotate between singing and rhythm guitar duties. The coarse vocals of Zack lend backbone to Time Wastin’ Woman, oozing with the sounds of the Stones’ early catalogue.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Copacabana ClubJust Do It
They’re pretty, uber-cool and hyped. Justin Timberlake likes them. Channel Fox uses their song in a commercial. Do you want more or is that enough to make you see that Copacabana Club are a band to pay attention to? Last year the five-piece band (two women and three men) released their first EP, King Of The Night, from which Just Do It is taken. It’s dance and kinda new-rave style make people think about CSS, but it’s better to listen and judge for yourself.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Centretown CripplersEat The Bee
Centretown Cripplers are a seven-piece. I only mention this because they’re a garage rock band, and bands in that genre typically have a much more minimalistic approach to line-ups. As Eat The Bee shows, however, in this case size doesn’t matter. Centretown Cripplers are loud, raucous, primal… and awesome.

CHILE: Super 45
MostroMoha Moha
Mostro, one of the cornerstones of the Chilean indie music scene, are Carlos and Jaime Reinoso, two mutant brothers who deliver an intense and creative musical experience. Playing, in their own words, “evil pop” with a guitar, drum and small keyboard, they attack you (yes, literally attack you) with a mix of minimal electronica and raw, intense rock that simply knocks you down, just like American duo High Places were when both bands recently shared a stage. Moha Moha, taken from their second LP Consumido Por P·jaros (“Eaten By Birds”) is a small appetizer of their genius insanity while we await their third album.

CHINA: Wooozy
SonnetA Nice Song
Sonnet are a disco/indie rock band from Shanghai. As one of the few third rock generation in Shanghai, they’ve just independently released their second demo S-File. One of the band members is now helping the SOMA indie label host live shows at the Dream Factory venue in their native city.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Jong PangLiar Liar
Jong Pang aka Anders Rhedin released his lauded debut solo album Bright White Light just last year and already he’s got the follow-up ready and out. It’s titled Love and it is a magnificent alternative pop-rock effort from which I’m happy to present irresistible first single Liar Liar.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
The xxCrystalised
Although they went to the same school as Four Tet and Burial, don’t go making too many assumptions about The xx, a group of four teenagers from South London currently making waves in the UK ahead of the release of their debut album later this month. They may share similar influences (dub, R’n’B) but they take their songs in another direction with magnificently minimal production, all of which is done by themselves.

Astrid SwanUnrelated
Earlier this year singer Astrid Swan dumped the piano (and along with it, the dramatically adorned songs) and took the guitar to compose simple, but sincere and personal pop songs that she recorded with a new band, The Drunk Lovers, for her soon-to-be released third album Better Than Wages. There we can find this synth-pop gem about erroneous encounters.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Mama’s MuleGlobe Trotter
The Mule and Venom met during a studio session in 2007 and they immediatly clicked. For about a year, they kept seeing each other every now and then between concerts, studio sessions, taking the dog out, vacations and soccer games. Meanwhile, Jessy Rakotomanga and Sylvain Moreau pledged allegiance to the secret society. January 2009: tadaaaam. First demo. Three tracks. Viagra for your ears. Just listen.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Timid TigerAre You Gonna Go My Way (feat. Ludacris & The Notorious B.I.G.)
Perhaps Timid Tiger are globally more famous for their remixes than for their regular songs. And hell yeah, this Lenny Kravitz cover does indeed kick ass. So enjoy it – but don’t forget that this band from Cologne is creative and inspired in their own work, both on record and live.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
After a two-year period of experimentation in the studio, Film are releasing their third album. Persona is a dizzyingly beautiful set of delicate atmospheric songs with cinematic aesthetics and a detailed production. It signifies a different, more inviting musical direction that is influenced by the compositions of Vangelis Papathanasiou and summons lush combined voices, pop melodies, electronics, sparse strings and brasses. An album that is best taken from start to finish, where the songs will uncover its manifold delights, endear and impress.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Agent FrescoAbove These City Lights
Agent Fresco formed in early 2008 with the goal of competing in the M˙sÌktilraunir contest, a sort of Battle of the Bands, which they subsequently won. The quartet write complex songs with lots of rhythm changes and received the Brightest Hope (Best Newcomer) Award at the 2008 Icelandic Music Awards. The band, who released a five-song EP called Lightbulb Universe last December, are currently working on their debut album.

INDIA: Indiecision
Sridhar/ThayilBring Me Rain
The project of theatre actor and singer Suman Sridhar and poet Jeet Thayil, Sridhar/Thayil’s lyrical pop takes thematic Indian music sensibilities and combines them with an urban swagger in the vein of early Bjˆrk and, occasionally, Tom Waits. Bring Me Rain is a perfect example of their dirty-sexy feel, taking traditional Indian sounds and cooking up something that could work equally well at a nu-jazz club or a grimy bar. Sridhar/Thayil have been around since 2007 and they’re currently working on releasing their debut album.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
The Wispy HummersMy Love
The Wispy Hummers is a singer-songwriter who is much influenced by The Zombies, Bright Eyes, Destroyer, Death Cab For Cutie and, above all, Bob Dylan. She has released two EPs, both recorded at home, creating a signature lo-fi quality that makes the songs more honest, heartfelt and nostalgic.

IRELAND: Nialler9
The Dying SecondsThe Ladder Drops
“To some people electronic music is impersonal. It’s just an orgy of numbers, dancing together and doing as they’re told. But have you ever wondered what would happen if you took apart the machine and tried to replace the motherboard with a human heart?” The Dying Seconds’ own description says it better than I could. This is taken from their 2009 EP Some Grand Romantic Gesture. Lovely stuff. Download their album here.

ITALY: Polaroid
Fitness ForeverVacanze a Settembre
It’s August, everyone down here is on holiday and Fitness Forever are the perfect soundtrack, with their glamorous sound inspired by Burt Bacharach, Armando Trovajoli and classic 60s lounge-pop. They recently released their first album on the Spanish label Elefant Records and played a joyful set at the Indietracks Festival in the UK, making Derbyshire feel warm like a Mediterranean spot.

NuitoNeKoMaJiN vs
Nuito are a post-rock experimental trio who formed in Kyoto in 2004. With tapping guitar, slap bass and hard drum, Nuito rapidly change beat and rhythm while they play, and make an immediate impression. Their experimental attitude is not about musical destruction or collaboration, but reconstruction.

MEXICO: Club Fonograma
Selma OxorAbrazame Demonio
Selma Oxor are the vindication of a youth spent having fun exploring rock, techno and pop, an all-in-one distorted vision that according to their MySpace sounds like “a cow giving birth”. From their self-titled debut album comes Abrazame Demonio, a moment of useless exertion perhaps, but it’s one of the few perfect songs we’ll get to hear this year. It effectively transforms noisy punk into some kind of urban uprising.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Sora ShimaHello Big Sky (Radio 909 remix)
Sora Shima are a four-piece instrumental group from Hamilton who specialise in the kind of start quiet, end apocalyptic epics that you hear from the likes of Explosions In The Sky or fellow countrymen Jakob. Hello Big Sky is from their third EP, Destroy Electronica. You’ll find links to free downloads of the previous two releases on their MySpace. The five tracks on Destroy Electronica see the band experiment more with the form, adding variety but losing none of the power.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Casa Murilo19th Floor
Casa Murilo are the perfect band to present on a global project like MAP. They are based in Norway, originally from England and started making music together in Brazil. Two Englishmen, Chris Winfield and Dan Hesketh, met, lived and worked in Brazil for two years. They fell in love with two Norwegian girls. They moved to Oslo and started a band, Casa Murilo, with two Norwegian friends. They are currently in the studio recording their debut EP, The Waldemar Thranes Debacle.

Serpentina SateliteNothing To Say
Serpentina Satelite formed at the end of 2003 in Lima. Their sound oscillates among calm, violence and ecstasy, in the spirit of space-rock and Krautrock. Their second record Nothing To Say, released on the Trip In Time label, is an extended five-track epic in which Serpentina Satelite bring us a turbulent and more powerful, rough sound. For the title track Nothing To Say, you better fasten your seatbelts – this is a high energy rock ‘n’ roll freak-out!

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
÷lgaIt’s Alright
÷lga formed in 2001, as a quartet, from the ashes of another band. In 2003, they won an alternative rock contest and were invited by an indie label to release their first EP, ÷, in 2004. Their cello player left the band and their sound, as a trio, became more rock oriented. Their first LP, What Is, was released in early 2005. In 2007, they started recording their new record, La Resistance, which will be released in September. It’s Alright is the first single and it is, at this time, only free and legally downloadable through the Music Alliance Pact.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
The :EgocentricsMystic Initiation
Loose jams, goosebumps, trance and therapy. These are the reasons why the three-piece instrumental band formed in Timisoara in early 2007. Combining stoner-rock vibes, 60s psychedelic, 70s rock ‘n’ roll with hints of old prog rock and post-metal – along with colourful, hypnotising visuals in a live setting – the band take an almost shamanic approach to music, acting like an intermediary between the listener and that mysterious and far away realm behind your eyelids.

My Cousin I Bid You FarewellWhat We Are Eating Tonight
If this song is anything to go by, My Cousin I Bid You Farewell are cooking up something rather tasty. As a statement of intent for a band who have been around for less than a year, it reveals the scale of the ambition from within. It is big and it is clever. The Kate Bush-style piano melody, the brooding guitars and Jonathan Sellarís haunting vocals – which resemble Win Butlerís – propel What We Are Eating Tonight into an anthem for the restless. Cracking song, cracking band.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Jonathan ChanWater Line
Taking a step back from the catchy power-punk of his band Plainsunset, Jonathan Chan comes forward with a more intimate and soulful musical offering with his EP, Pencil Tracings. An illustrator in his own right, Jonathan perhaps did not find it uncomfortable to show a more earnest, intricate side to his music. With Water Line, he seems right at home sketching out a brief outline of the world going by, with a guitar in hand and a somber voice, singing of life’s constant love.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
LANIn The City
Head-bopping, dance-inducing beats are what LAN are about. LAN (Local Area Network) are the live representation of two DJs (CodecVSTheSound). The band formed in late 2008 and are made up of Gerald and Raffael (who are Codec and TheSound) on synths, percussion, vocals and samplers with Chris Slabber on drums. They call their music a mix of anything from 70s funk to booty bass all dropped over the latest electro tunes. With their song In The City showcasing their many influences and what they have to offer, their new material is sure to set the dancefloors alight.

SunkyeolI’ll Write When I’m There
Kyoungmo Kim of Especially When has a new band and their name is Sunkyeol. Equipped with great melodies and a bit of experimentation that leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling, Sunkyeol are currently looking for a label to release their first single. I’ll Write When I’m There was co-written and recorded with Joe Hollick of Wolf People in a joint project that never took off.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Erik de VahlRunning
Erik de Vahl describes his new record as “the straightest pop songs I’ve ever done but also some more experimental pieces”. You can hear both influences on the single song Running. It has a Memphis slow jam feel with instrumentation that reminds me of a classic Ann Peebles track, but it’s layered in such a way with so many found sounds and samples that it does sound truly experimental.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Happy FamilyCups
Baltimore’s Happy Family, sandwiched somewhere between Panda Bear and Atlas Sound, are the latest in a group of like-minded lo-fi psych-pop outfits (Memory Cassette, Neon Indian, Washed Out) to be picking up buzz around the blogosphere. Cups is one of my favorite jams of the summer, taken from the recently-released Sound Farm EP which you can grab as a free download here.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimeto Musical
Mr. Swing & The Bongo ClanMi Camino
Mr. Swing & The Bongo Clan are a new band that gathers nine talented musicians from the Conservatory of the City of Barquisimeto, the same place where the famous music director Gustavo Dudamel came from. After almost 10 years of work, these guys released their debut album Ska*Jazz Venezolano, merging two musical genres with a wonderful result. Mi Camino shows the real soul of this band.

To download all 31 songs in one file click here

#197 the low anthem – charlie darwin

low anthem

i’ve been listening again and again to the low anthem‘s oh my god, charlie darwin, the band’s independently released album that’s finally gotten a wider distribution on nonesuch, and i can’t understand how i can be so drawn to a genre and style so far removed from what i can identify with. covering a broad range of americana, blues and folk, the band communicates in a manner that transcends the cultural boundaries that so often limit these music types. i suspect part of the answer has to be the versatile vocals of ben knox miller, who tackles both the rollicking, rowdier tunes and the softer, more delicate ballads with equal relish, invoking on different occasions the influences of dylan (“champion angel”) and tom waits (“the horizon is a beltway”), and together with the band recalling the more recent sublime harmonies of the fleet foxes. in the title track, which also opens the album, the voices are simply magical, with the sparse instrumentation giving the most room for the words to fill every corner of your room until it’s really all around you, like the cold and shapeless water and the lifeless life painted in the song’s mournful chorus.

mp3: the low anthem – charlie darwin

oh my god, charlie darwin is now out on nonesuch records, handpainted on hardcover just like the original independent release.

#196 kings of convenience – i don’t know what i can save you from


Whenever my heart’s in knots, i always seem to revisit this one song by folksy acoustic duo, kings of convenience, who comprise of Erlend Øye and Erik Glambek Bøe from Bergen, Norway. Now, KOC might be considered “mainstream” to uppity indie farts, but i see no reason not to feature what i consider a modern day Simon & Garfunkel, where there’s no need for music critic upmanship because the duo simply creates universal music (in the English language). “I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From”, so perfectly describes the soft, lingering tensions of past loves, and where we are now. I think it’s not so much the time that’s passed between two people, but more, how nothing’s really changed after all these years. – brian

mp3: kings of convenience – i don’t know what i can save you from

#195 yo la tengo – sugarcube

yo la tengo

there are things that words cannot express: the frantic urgency of the opening salvo, the comforting consistency of the sheet of drone that washes through most of the song, the surprising early but beautifully timed solo, and what must be sound at the end of your heart beating as one. these devices, however, work tirelessly to keep the words afloat, words that weigh so heavily in promising so much with little else but an earnest effort to please: try to be more assured/ try to be more right there/ try to be less uptight/ try to be more aware. on their own, these resolutions sound hopelessly futile; you could always try, i guess. but swallowed as a whole, it sounds just about right, sweetened but still retaining its original flavor, and always worth a shot.

mp3: yo la tengo – sugarcube