Monthly Archives: September 2009

#204 jordan martin – the wolf and seven little kids

Jordan Martin

Fairy tales are usually the stories we grew up with, and by the perpetuation of disney, we take for granted that they’re only meant for kids.

Jordan Martin is an individual who knows otherwise, and explored the stories written by the brother’s grimm and translated them into an EP filled with beautiful, simple melodies and instruments.

my favourite track of his EP, grimm’s tales for tiny tots, vol. I, is the slightly melancholic the wolf and seven little kids. Folksy at heart, acoustic guitar and banjo strumming steadily as his closed mic-ed troubadour voice lulls you into the pages of his storybook. Perfect for a bedtime story, or mulling around the house on a serene saturday morning, yet bears continued listening because of the layers of emotions hidden in these simple songs. Martin casually invites you into his worldly interpretations, and you won’t be disappointed. – brian

listen to more of Jordan Martin’s work here.

jordan martin – the wolf and the seven little kids


the observatory – dark folke, (in)visible rooms


if there was any one singaporean band i’d recommend to people, it would be the observatory. while the band’s name conjures images of stargazing, their music manages to cast its eye on both the farthest horizons and the closest held secrets of your heart, a range that the band faithfully and ingeniously reproduces at its live shows. the previous time i caught the band was at invisible room, which was the first time i heard them sound so dark. they played in near darkness, encased by a pentagonal structure around which the audience sat away from the musicians, and facing instead a visual depiction of post-apocalyptic stupor. it was intended as an experience rather than a performative spectacle as most live concerts are, and i found myself drifting in and out of that experience, at times overwhelmed by the music and at others utterly alienated from it.

last weekend, i caught the observatory again, this time at the concluding set for the band’s hexa series of concerts, a self-described “transposition of melancholy” featuring material mainly from their latest album, dark folke. the arrangement was much simpler, with leslie, evan, victor, dharma and vivian seated in a communal round, sharing with the audience a glimpse of the band not just playing for a crowd, but in deep conversation with each other. although the theme was as morose as invisible room, the atmosphere was certainly more familial, and the band’s presence a lot more visible, even while evenly and dimly lit in a somber shade of tungsten. this fit well with the music, which comprised quiet harmonies that were never too peaceful and jarring dissonances that somehow held themselves in place – a journey that made so much more sense as a shared experience. in its own inimitable way, the band also appropriated the music of nick drake and pink floyd, influences that inspired and now are persuaded to participate in what is truly a distinct, observatory sound.

who knows what these dark folke will be up to next, and which new rooms, visible or invisible, they’ll come to inhabit. i can’t wait for the next installation, but i’ll settle nicely for the memories, and the tireless sounds of their latest offering.

mp3: the observatory – invisible room

dark folke is now out, and available from the observatory website. the album was recorded in norway with producer jørgen træen (jaga jazzist) and comes in a lovely hardbound book illustrated by justin bartlett (sun o))), mono).

do also check out mark’s new radio program free music now! with a special feature on the band’s music and it’s many influences in its pilot episode.

#203 girls – hellhole ratrace


sometimes things are best said plain, without the ambiguities of metaphor or the constraining structures of poetry, without even the obligation to be subtle about things or to understate how we really feel. so let me try and say things as plain as i can: i really do like this song. i like how the words say everything. i like its pace, which puts me at ease. i feel it understands me quite well. i think it knows and cares how i feel.

mp3: girls – hellhole ratrace

album by girls is out today on matador and true panther. get it!

#202 that’s when i reach for my revolver

mission of burma

when i hear the word culture, that’s when i reach for my revolver“, or so goes the poorly translated quote often misatttributed to nazi leader hermann göring or even joseph goebbels. in actual fact it was a line from schlageter, a play staged on hitler’s birthday on the year the nazi party gained power, centered on the life of nazi matyr albert leo schlageter, whose wartime comrade friedrich thiemann ranted on his disillusionment with all the ideological babble on brotherhood, equality, freedom, beauty and dignity, before uttering those iconic words. that jaded sentiment prevails in the mission of burma 1981 classic “that’s when i reach for my revolver”, which speaks of past heroes and discarded dreams, and the formerly cherished restraint and boundaries that must now be crossed, a rousing call to arms against the things of this world that deaden our minds and souls. it’s amazing how much reverence is accorded to this song in subsequent covers by moby and graham coxon, both stepping up with passion and resolve, and in chilling resonance with each other in reporting for duty.

mp3: mission of burma – that’s when i reach for my revolver

mp3: moby – that’s when i reach for my revolver

mp3: graham coxon – that’s when i reach for my revolver

music alliance pact (september 2009 issue)


hi everyone, sorry for the lack of posts this month – it should pick up from now, i promise! anyway, one thing that’s constant is the music alliance pact, which brings you the best music from around the world, handpicked by the best international music blogs. and as always, our local music ambassador brian koh brings us his recommendation of the month, MUON, with his trademark metallic beats and some rather haunting material including sheep that you’d rather not count before you sleep. enjoy!

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Matilda is an electro-pop duo based in Rosario (one of Argentina’s largest cities), consisting of Juan Manuel Godoy and Ignacio Espumado. Vanidad is the opening track from Para Ser Movimiento, their second album, which was recently praised by Mexican pop star Julieta Venegas on her Twitter page. It was released by the Planeta X label in a physical format and as a free Creative Commons licensed download (

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Deep Sea ArcadeDon’t Be Sorry
One of the more exciting new bands to come out of Sydney in the past couple of years, Deep Sea Arcade is blessed with a very captivating frontman in Nic McKenzie, who genuinely loses himself in every song they play. Don’t Be Sorry is the single they’re currently touring but the live shows indicate there’s a lot more to come from this Sydney five piece. One to put on your watchlist.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Cidad„o InstigadoDoido
Acclaimed by critics, Cidad„o Instigado’s third album UHUUU! is probably one of the three best Brazilian records of 2009. Their sound is a mixture of vintage ‘brega’, 70s rock and avant garde. The band is one of the most creative of the contemporary music made in the country and (besides its experimental and complex songs) has a growing fanbase. Doido, which means “crazy”, is a bit reminiscent of John Frusciante’s solo work with lyrics about paranoid hallucinations.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Dan ManganRobots
Robots isn’t a complex song, but it more than makes up for that by being insanely, incredibly catchy. I’d challenge people to hear it and not walk around with the closing chorus (“Robots need love too / They want to be loved by you”) in their head for days afterward… except I’m pretty sure it can’t be done.

CHILE: Super 45
Picnic KibunDrop Your Panties
If we could define Picnic Kibun in just one word, it would be “party”. A party in which a crazy Japanese sings about women getting rid of their underwear, where a couple of electronic musicians start rapping out of the blue and where a bass player with a surfer look makes rock songs. Fiebre Tagad· is the name of their first album and, just like the band, it’s a wild party in which you can dance and get drunk.

CHINA: Wooozy
Tang Qie NongI Want To Go Through Your Body
In the summer of 2008, the experimental duo Tang Qie Nong was founded by Fangqi and Tangguo in Guangzhou. The single I Want To Go Through Your Body from their self-titled EP is about the long-cherished ambition of a person who faces death. He wants to go back to the origins and purity, but you must be careful what you wish for.

COLOMBIA: Columbia Urbana
JhonblackSola Solita
Hailing from Pereira, Jhonblack is seducing women with his sexy music. His offer is based in electric sounds mixed with hip hop, R’n’B and pop music without forgetting his Pacific roots, to which he is adding a little bit of jazz and soul to create fresh and innovative sounds. Sola Solita is one of his most melodic songs and shows why he is known as one of the greatest urban music artists in Colombia.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
SlaraffenlandThat Great Love Sound (The Raveonettes cover)
This year, legendary Danish label Crunchy Frog – the first home of The Raveonettes among others – celebrate their 15th anniversary. To commemorate the landmark they asked 25 Danish non-Crunchy artists to interpret 25 songs by Crunchy artists and released the results on the double album Saluting The Crunchy Frog-a-logue. Here’s Slaraffenland’s excellent cover of The Raveonettes’ That Great Love Sound.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Beth Jeans HoughtonGolden
Beth Jeans Houghton is a glam folk pixie who injects her sweet acoustic songs with a high-grade dose of pure pop. She has killer tunes, energy, a curious taste in wigs and a certain boldness that’s only natural given her Newcastle roots. She rules. She has a new EP coming out this month where “all of of the songs are about a guy who looks like Roger Daltrey circa the deaf, dumb and blind kid days. Apart from I Will Return, which is about Wilson the football floating away from Tom Hanks in Castaway”. Golden isn’t from that EP but it’s still great.

Keramick & LoboBrown-Eyed Susan
Producers Jussi Mikkonen and Visa M‰kinen, aka Keramick & Lobo, combine their downbeat electronic layers with a wide array of musicians for a perfect blend of machines and real instruments on their new album The Braille. Nineteen artists, including singers Eeppi Ursin and Teemu Tanner, participate on the duo’s compositions and provide a smooth jazz beat with violins, trumpet, saxophone, percussion and a few other instruments. Brown-Eyed Susan is a dark and intriguing track, a real film noir piece of music.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Caravan PalaceLa Caravane
Three sequence programmers – Charles Delaporte, Arnaud Via and Hugues Payen – with a love of electronic music and swing jazz, together with Toustou, ZoÈ and Chapi make one hell of a band. They will soon be heard at the famous Paris Olympia – proof that Caravan Palace are becoming rather popular.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Me SucceedsMy Main Discipline
This Hamburg-based trio is quite Janus-esque since they combine gentle melodies and preppy non-parallel vocals with a highly energetic synth-bass. That might sounds like normal indie-electro but both pillars stand on their own to create a quite unique sound.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Diafana KrinaAgnos
Diafana Krina is possibly the most brilliant and idiosyncratic band to emerge from Greece in the early 90s. Agnos is taken from Ki Agapi Pali Tha Kalei, an incandescent guitar-oriented album with superb, dark, poetic and heart-bruising lyrics. Long, swelling arrangements are organized cosily around Thanos Anestopoulos’ weathered baritone with blankets of keyboard and jarring bursts of exploding drums. Each song blends pure emotion and is expertly crafted, with an amazingly punchy set of melodies delivered by an extremely tight band. Unfortunately, after six records, Diafana Krina disbanded in June 2009.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
ReykjavÌk!∆ji, PlÌs
ReykjavÌk! is a raw rock band in which most members originate not from ReykjavÌk but Õsafjˆrur, the capital of the Westfjords. This is one of the loudest Icelandic bands, a collective of philosophy majors, shopmongers and social workers, with an exclamation mark partly as a reference to the vast amount of hyperbole Iceland’s capital receives. ∆ji, PlÌs is taken from their second album, The Blood. The song features a surf-rock guitar riff, rhythmic bass, kick-drum percussion and BÛas’ vocals fluctuating between grunting, chanting and falsetto.

INDIA: Indiecision
Swarathma plays honest, unpretentious folk-rock. This hardworking act from Bangalore was recently given the chance to record with renowned British producer John Leckie (The Stone Roses, Radiohead) and play a mini-tour of the UK. Jamba (meaning “pride”) comes from a compilation album produced by Leckie featuring Swarathma and a few other top new Indian acts. Sung entirely in Kannada, the song, like the band, finds its roots in Carnatic music and combines these sensibilities with orchestral pop trappings to create something that’s more a new direction than a middle path.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
KoilAku Lupa Aku Luka
Koil are one of the greatest rock bands in Indonesia, their songs and style influenced by the industrial/darkwave/gothic/metal scene, with lyrics that tell stories about spiritual journeys, nationalism or just personal things which are easy to relate to yet have a deeper meaning.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Nakatomi TowersCut Me Out
This is the first real tune from Belfast-based boy/girl duo Nakatomi Towers and what a cool beast of electro-pop it turns out to be. From the “duh-duh-duh” nonsensical yet catchy chorus to the insistent disco bassline, this is promising stuff for all 2 minutes 47 seconds of its duration.

ITALY: Polaroid
Giardini di MirÚLa Vampa 02
Giardini di MirÚ is the one of the most important bands in the Italian indie scene. Formed in 1998, notable acts they have toured with include Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Karate, and they have been remixed by Styrofoam and Dntel among others. Their new album is an amazing soundtrack for Il Fuoco, a silent movie from 1915 directed by Giovanni Pastrone. La Vampa 02 (“The Fire”) is the second part of the central chapter, when the two lovers surrender to passion and their love burns away.

The latest offering from the Tokyo underground scene is nhhmbase (pronounced “ne-han base”). Formed in 2004, they have complex music frameworks with irregular beats and dramatic code which makes their sound innovative and pop. They have already opened for many foreign acts such as Deerhoof, Tyondai Braxton (Battles) and The Eternals in Japan.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Menuda CoincidenciaSin Enganche
Hailing from Monterrey, Menuda Coincidencia is a ‘rap en EspaÒol’ trio that made feature appearances on records from some of the genre’s top figures – such as Bocafloja and Akil Ammar – before a long overdue but excellent debut EP, Ai Con Permisito. Lead single Sin Enganche is full of crazy and juicy, jumpy jazz hooks with playful swing samples that sustain an existentialist manifesto, ambiguous yet intelligently expressed by its two MCs.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Jordan ReyneThe Proximity Of Death (Blue Eyed Boy)
The Proximity Of Death is taken from Jordan Reyne’s fifth album How The Dead Live. A musician who has combined folk, electronica, soundscapes and industrial, Reyne has gained a strong following in the darkwave scene. How The Dead Live is her most contemplative work. The album was commissioned by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and was written in an artist in residence programme. The album fictionalises the life of an actual pioneer woman Susannah Hawes adding history as a character. Reyne has announced this will be her last album.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Sirkus Bj¯verHeavy Metal
The song is called Heavy Metal, but it’s as far away from heavy and metal as you can get. This is nice, happy and friendly pop music with a big heart. The members of the duo, Vegard Markhus and Bj¯rnar Sangolt, grew up as neighbours in a forest in western Norway. They held regular circus shows for their families as kids and called their performances “Sirkus Bj¯ver”. Now, 15 years later, the two have become neighbours in Bergen, and the old circus is revitalized as a band.

The sound of Plug-Plug falls outside any conventional tag. Some people call them garage, others hardcore – the truth is that when you hear any description it is never enough. Plug-Plug makes acid songs which sometimes sound melancholic, but this band from Lima is more than a style, they’re a mixture of sensations.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
IconoclastsAnything Will Do
Iconoclasts are a six-piece from Lisbon with Diogo and Pipa singing and screaming (not at the same time), Pedro doing freaky dances while playing bass, Ricardo hammering away on the drums like his life depends on it, Vitor playing guitar while pounding on every effects pedal imaginable, and SÈrgio doing the same with every annoying thing he lays his hands on. They have a debut EP freely downloadable from here.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Sunday PeopleWin Your Face Back
The story of this particular band is not what you might call ordinary. It all started in the bedroom of very young Abu Dhabi-born brothers Sultan and Hasan. As they grew older, the bedroom became a recording studio where their dreams, influences and ideas were born. Two actors/musicians joined them later – Cristi Rigman (drums) and Ana Ularu (vocals) – and they found their sound: a mixture of riot, love and intensity.

The XcertsCrisis In The Slow Lane
The Xcerts are the real deal – a rock band who come fully formed with an album of songs to believe in and a pop sensibility that will, at the very least, have you air-drumming to their choruses. Crisis In The Slow Lane perfectly sums up what they and their debut album In The Cold Wind We Smile are all about – every dial is set to ‘epic’ as it gradually builds to a soaring conclusion. If you’re a fan of Biffy Clyro, or good music in general, you’ll love The Xcerts.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
MUONCylons Dream Of Electric Sheep
Can cold, heartless, surgical machines ever have souls? Well, experimental dark electronica group MUON thinks they can. If the computer is dreaming inside, it dreams in ones and zeros, harsh squelches and inane beeps, each a little exegesis looking for proof of life. MUON have put together a creepy Frankenstein of deeply resonating drum loops, bleating sheep and what could pass as the theme from the Zelda videogame.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Jax PanikTalking To Myself
A crazy, outrageous mix of electro-pop and a dash of rock ‘n’ roll is what Jax Panik’s music is all about. He started out as an ‘online only’ artist but the success generated from his activity soon led to a full-length album release. The album was named Cigarettes And Cinnamon from which Talking To Myself is taken. The song artfully showcases Jax’s winning formula which consists of catchy beats, meticulous production and lyrics that reveal a slightly dark edge upon closer listen. With a new album out in March, Jax Panik is set to become an even bigger hit, both locally and abroad.

Plastic PeopleB/W Picture
Folk-rock duo Plastic People has been around for many years, all the while successfully trying out various musical directions. On their most recent album Snap, released in July, the selection of songs is more diverse than ever with modern folk, some rock tracks, a bit of psyche-pop and C86-inspired twee. Choosing just one song when they’re all amazing in their own way proved a difficult task, but it had to be done so here’s the captivating slow-paced rock piece B/W Picture that inspired the snap-shot theme of the album.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Vikta FÂglarWalk Along
Vikta FÂglar literally means “folded bird” in English. Loosely, I think it translates into the term origami. Musically, the band combines elements of the Swedish folk tradition with some classical and even experimental noise – such as when the cymbals come crashing in towards the end of Walk Along.

TURKEY: Reset!
SolardipParalyze Me
Solardip is an electro-indie three-piece formed in Istanbul. After a couple of years successfully performing on the local scene, the band has just released their first EP, Dip Inside, and are about to make a big comeback with their new sound and concept. Solardip, often compared to The Presets, offers laser-like synths, danceable tunes and arousing vocals.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Holiday ShoresPhones Don’t Feud
Holiday Shores, Twosyllable Records’ latest discovery, continue to diversify the label’s output by creating equally messy and melodic indie rock that’s about as addictive as anything else of the same vein coming out this year. Their new album Columbus’d The Whim is available for consumption – sink your teeth in before the hipsters do.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimeto Musical
Nana CadaviecoNo Hay
Nana Cadavieco is a young Venezuelan singer full of energy and hype, which she reflects in each and every one of her performances. ExposÈ, her latest record, is undeniably influenced by rock, pop, indie and disco-punk and a few world music and electronic elements. Nana says of the song, No Hay: “It portrays a human reality, very close to Latin America. The message I want to send with it is the process I went through with my new CD. After all, I still smile, albeit with a little sarcasm.”

To download all 33 songs in one file click here

#201 dirty projectors – two doves

dirty projectors

the twists and turns of dirty projectorsbitte orca are nothing short of exhilarating, even when things get more sparse and minimal right in the middle of the album with a duet between amber coffman and an equally expressive string quartet. operatic without the distance usually associated with it, “two doves” is a platter of articulated loves both romantic and true, intensely adoring even in the face of daily failures, and emotively expansive amidst a sea of unspoken restraint. written when “the planets are aligning, for an afternoon that’s never ending“, it skips and hops and twirls with charm and poise, with remarkable ease and in perfect balance.

mp3: dirty projectors – two doves

#200 the beach boys – sloop john b (a capella)


the most prized record in my collection is my beach boys’ smile vinyl bootleg, but my favorite has to be one of the first cds i ever bought – pet sounds, remastered in 1990 in glorious mono. the album itself needs no further introduction, but i remember listening to the cd for the very first time and vividly recall the magic that filled my ears. i also remember the group’s pristine cover of the 1927 classic “sloop john b” being the standout track for me after the first listen, with its a capella break keeping me enthralled listen after listen. today as i passed by aquarium drunkard, i stumbled upon the full a capella version of the song, which was one of its recordings done in 1965, i believe. this version invokes the same magic of the finished work but in its utterly purest form, which for me will be a real treat to savor for a long time to come.

mp3: the beach boys – sloop john b (a capella)