Monthly Archives: October 2009

#210 circulatory system – overjoyed

circulatory system

i hate taking things out of context and i risk doing that here with circulatory system‘s recently released signal morning, which comprises probably more than a million fragments of tunes, sounds and ideas all condensed coherently into a very enjoyable album on the brink of an overflow. it reminds me of what i like so much of the olivia tremor control: a decade into listening to their music, i still here fresh sounds and notice new things i never did before, and i continue expect to do so in future. whatever it is, i’ve chosen just one little slice from signal morning to share with you. it’s not even the most representative or fullest-developed track, but “overjoyed” struck me as one of those moments where so much is packed into so little, and everything’s pushed through at breakneck speeds just for the thrill of it. and yes, if you thought that wasn’t possible, it’s also very beautiful too. – dan.

mp3: circulatory system – overjoyed

signal mornings is now out on cloud recordings. get it!


#209 the flaming lips – convinced of the hex

flaming lips

i first heard this song when it was performed live on the colbert report, following a hilarious interview with wayne coyne. in that short segment, coyne responded ever so respectfully to colbert’s faux right-wing worries about his music, assuming the role of visionary in speaking of his band’s ability to create hopeful, uplifting music. ironically, he proceeded to play this opener for their latest album embryonic, a song that i realized sounded even darker in its studio version. a far cry from the rousing and celebratory anthems the lips have come to be associated with, “convinced of the hex” is an ominous serving of voodoo garage funk, mixed in a muddled stew of psychedelic frenzy. what’s most surprising, however, isn’t how dark the material is, but how utterly catchy and even danceable it is in spite of its darkness. it’s something only the lips are capable of pulling off, this time with a bit more swagger with a thinly-veiled boast in the mantra-like refrain: that’s the difference between us. -dan.

mp3: the flaming lips – convinced of the hex

pop down to the official flaming lips page to get your copy of embryonic

#208 little girls – growing

little girls

the music peaks perfectly to a crisp crackle like how every imperfectly produced song would, and the words get muddled up in a deep swamp like any “dark, brooding record” should. what, however, sets toronto’s little girls apart from the whole slew of lo-fi-post-punk-noise-gaze bands psychocandying the airwaves these days is how the songs insist on sounding grand even when nobody expects them to, embodying the elegance of ugliness described so succinctly some twenty years ago by primal scream: splendor in silver dress, velocity possessed. -dan.

mp3: little girls – growing

little girls’ debut concepts is out now on paper bag records.

#207 the dodos – troll nacht


listening to time to die, the dodos‘ follow up to visiter, has left me rather ambivalent. while the band still does what they do best, driving their songs solidly with a strong percussive focus, they’ve replaced the raw, direct feel of their debut effort for a polished sheen. the former treatment still sits better with me in capturing that arresting live sound, and while some may say the layered approach in time to die brings out a more nuanced side of the band, i feel that the loss of immediacy is often not worth the trade-off. that isn’t to say it never works: in fact it’s given the band the space to explore different song structures that would hardly have fit in visiter. for instance, the longest song in the album, “troll nacht”, also happens to be the most rewarding one with its many twists and turns stretched out elegantly, varying in subtlety and pace. it’s moments like these that i’m tempted to quit rationalizing and admit that sometimes, changes and sacrifices really are worth it. – dan.

mp3: the dodos – troll nacht

time to die is out on frenchkiss records.

music alliance pact – october 2009 issue


well, what do you know? this month marks the 1st year anniversary of MAP, with its original contingent of 12 countries rallied and led by jason from scottish blog the pop cop. we here at i’m waking up to are honored as always to be bringing you the best music from singapore, especially through the recommendations of our local music ambassador brian koh. this month, our treat is the beautiful voice and music of inch chua, whose latest ep the bedroom is available for free download on her website. enjoy!

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
LipglossLand Of Lords
This band from Buenos Aires released their first EP a couple of months ago and Land Of Lords is our favorite song from it. Lipgloss sound like they’ve been listening to British rock all their life and you sure can feel the influence of bands like The Stone Roses at the end of the song, with the psychedelic guitars and all. If you like it, you can download the entire EP directly from this link.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Cloud ControlGold Canary
New music from the Blue Mountains! Only it sounds kinda like it originates from somewhere deep in America. Cloud Control always had an earthy, pastoral quality to their music but it sounds all the more temporally appropriate post-Fleet Foxes. Less jangle and more twang. Gold Canary is pulled from their debut album expected early 2010. It has some rootsy backing vocals and yelping, tambourine/handclap percussion, references to family members in the lyrics and thenÖ a synth solo. This song is rad.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
ConstantinaSobe Ladeira
There is something special about Constantina that goes beyond their music. The absence of vocals never leaves you with a feeling of emptiness. It’s just the opposite. The instrumental songs are so deep and strong that lyrics would limit them to what we can express with words.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
The BalconiesSerious Bedtime
It’s almost mind-boggling how good and how talented The Balconies are. They have two incredible lead singers (in brother and sister Jacquie and Steve Neville), both of whom are also astoundingly good songwriters, and they’re backed by one of the steadiest drummers I’ve ever seen. They’ve barely been around for more than a year but they’re generating a whole lot of buzz (their debut has just been released and it’s already charting nationally). Songs like Serious Bedtime make it easy to see why.

CHILE: Super 45
TonossepiaHappy Habibi Te Vez Mas Feliz
Tonossepia (Diego Vergara) is one of the most advanced musicians in the Chilean electronic scene. Constantly evolving in his way of creating music, this year he released his fourth album, Happy Habibi, an effort full of organic textures, warm harmonies and rhythmical variations. By mixing, almost to perfection, IDM and hip hop, Tonossepia has a lot of robot style and rap style.

CHINA: Wooozy
SilkflossMon Amour
MylËne Chan (Muxitu) and Quan Du formed Silkfloss at the start of this year in Beijing. They are electronica, they are trip-hop, they are everything that brings you softness and fills you with love. MylËne also collaborates with many local electronic producers as a vocalist.

COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Jiggy DramaContra La Pared
Direct from San Andres Island, Heartan Lever – better known in the artistic scene as Jiggy D – comes loaded with cool rhymes and party beats. Jiggy mixes Antillean dancehall with old-school hip hop and Contra La Pared proves that when something is good, it doesn’t have to be forced. The combination of typical Colombian sounds (papayera in this case) makes him the perfect choice to represent the nation in MAP. Jiggy is currently working on his new album, Nerdside.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Sebastian LindStay
A pop natural and excellent singer, 20-year-old Sebastian Lind excites with an enticing mix of singer-songwriter acoustics and crackling electronica. He has just released his first single Stop These Feet, but here’s Stay – a strong contender when it comes time to select a second.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
The Voluntary Butler SchemeThe Eiffel Tower And The BT Tower
This month’s song comes from the English Midlands courtesy of awesome one-man-band Rob Jones aka The Voluntary Butler Scheme. He’s a little scruffy around the edges but he serves up a tasty dish of pure pop. Although probably best experienced live, his debut album At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea (how old-school English is that title?) is full of sprightly tunes, huge hooks and amusing lyrics and is well worth checking out.

I’ll Hit HerNoise In Your Mind
There’s not much info about Estonian electro-poppers I’ll Hit Her and Googling that name will probably get you some quite disturbing results. Listing Aqua, 2 Unlimited and Joy Division as influences on their MySpace page, that’s really as diverse as you can get.

The Capital BeatFeel The Reggae
This is not the kind of song you would expect to hear from a Finnish band, but The Capital Beat phenomenally recreate the warm sounds of Jamaica on their first album, A Greater Fire. This eight-piece combo takes Jamaican music to a new latitude and there is only one condition – feel the reggae and do the ska.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Pascal ComeladeTwo Maniaco Depressive Beatnicks Squabbling Over A Jane Russell Mozarella’s Stereokini
Pascal Comelade is a really special musician. He mixes common instruments with some toys he found in a flea market. This way of working gives his music a unique tone and makes the listener feel the soul of his work. In some ways, his music reminds us of Yann Tiersen – nice piano, accordion and a lot of percussion. Two Maniaco…, with its happy leading saxophone and ringing xylophone, is a track dedicated to a happy life, which makes it a must-hear before beginning a day at work.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Rhytm PoliceGhosttrain
Rhytm Police sound like they live in a metropolis as they reduce music to a strong bass line, synth sounds and sometimes quite snatchy vocals. However, they come from the rather rural Augsburg in western Bavaria. The only way to figure this out is by listening to their songs with German lyrics. But the featured song Ghosttrain shows their international attitude.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
CoinError 687
Coin draw their influences from the Manchester scene of the 80s and American grunge of the 90s. In their third studio album they shift their best qualities into different, equally dazzling guitar-pop shapes, sounding unclenched, enchanting and energetic. Popstitute is a beautifully balanced album filled with tremendously rich highs, unfailingly tuneful music, jagged guitars, drums and bass, which supply the rhythmic pulse and captivating hooks.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
FM BelfastSynthia
FM Belfast was formed in late 2005 by ¡rni R˙nar Hlˆversson (aka ¡rni Pl˙seinn) and LÛa HlÌn Hj·lmt˝sdÛttir. For the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2006, the band expanded into a live act with up to eight (or even more) members. The core of the band is now a quartet with ¡rni Vilhj·lmsson (of Motherfuckers In The House) and ÷rvar fiÛreyjarson Sm·rason (of M˙m). Synthia is taken from their debut album, How To Make Friends, released on the band’s own World Champion Records label last year.

INDIA: Indiecision
Teddy Boy KillTonic
New Delhi’s Teddy Boy Kill represent the new Indian electronica soundscape – instantly international, slick and unrestrained by the need to reflect any inherent Indian-ness. This unsigned act from the country’s capital released their debut album, The Exit Plan, as a free download. Tonic is one of the highlights of the record – an immediately catchy dancefloor anthem that’s as temperate as it is energetic. Get ready to do something stupid.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
The Super Insurgent Group Of Intemperance TalentMoney Making
The Super Insurgent Group Of Intemperance Talent are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in Indonesia. Their straight-to-the-point songs, killer hooks and good attitude has already seen them play some big venues and sell out concerts, which is very rare in Indonesia.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Trophy BoyfriendBlack Ship
Despite the silly moniker, Gregor Ruigrok aka Trophy Boyfriend still managed to impress us with his first self-titled EP. He’s still at the embyronic stages having not played live or formally released anything in Ireland yet, but judging by the electro-indie of Black Ship, we certainly hope he gets out there soon.

ITALY: Polaroid
Play this song and fly back in time, to around the first half of the 90s, when Britpop was full of hope and strength. Well, this is just how Damien* are today. This young and promising band from Pesaro, on the Italian east coast, is able to mix a post-punk background with a more pop attitude. The incredibly catchy Confidants is taken from their second album, out this week on Suiteside.

HenrytennisValencia Raincoats
Another progressive band in the Tokyo music scene, Henrytennis feature instrumental dynamism influenced by post-rock, IDM, jam and progressive rock. Their members come from such outstanding Japanese bands as 4 Bonjour’s Parties, Hula Hooper, Kuruucrew, Oceanlane and Shugo Tokumaru. Their excellent second album R.U.R. is released on November 11.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Shine is the opening track of L’Intent, the most recent record by Radaid. Hailing from Guadalajara, Jalisco, the eight talented musicians produce a peculiar mix of pop and original rhythms. That is why traces of Indian influences echo in Shine, while the vocals are by SofÌa Orozco, who not only wrote the English lyrics but also invented the dialect which has nods to the phrasing of Hindu MCs.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
O’LovelyA Different Day
O’Lovely are from Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island and they have a glistening, ringing guitar sound on this song that reminds me of some great bands from that city’s past such as Bailterspace and Loves Ugly Children. The band has morphed from the more poppy The O’Lovelys with singer and keyboardist Laura Lee remaining at the centre of the band. She’s joined by Perry Mahoney of Bang Bang Eche, whose guitar gives a darker, noisier feel than the earlier band. A Different Day comes from the five-track Lost Luck EP.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Firefly EffectNever By Your Side
Oslo quartet Firefly Effect recently released their brilliant debut album, Everything Is Beautiful And You Are The Reason, on Perfect Pop Records/Soler¯d Records. It is full of charming indie-pop songs with organs, boy/girl harmonies and jangly guitars. They call their style “retro-futuristic sunshine pop” which is a definition of their sound I can agree on. Perfect pop!

Emergency BlanketNext Passenger
The music of Emergency Blanket is fully charged with life and energy, taking influences from rock classics from the 60s, 70s and 90s to achieve a vintage yet fresh and original sound. Emergency Blanket recently released their debut album, Combi + Nation, which includes songs in Spanish, English and even a combination of both languages. Next Passenger has taken them to the final of The People’s Music Awards and you can vote for the band here.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Real Combo LisbonenseOh!
Real Combo Lisbonense (Lisbon Real Combo) play music that takes us back to a time when everyone would dress up to dance to the sounds of an orchestra or a small ensemble. RCL is the band you would expect to hear in the casino lounge of an Ian Fleming novel. They remade some Portuguese and international popular classics of 50s and 60s and have become one of the pleasant surprises in the Portuguese indie scene this year. Shall we dance?

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Vive La NoizBird Song
Vive la Noiz could be seen as the usual alternative/indie band. Two girls and two boys starting a band in the finest DIY ethic. However, their eclectic influences and pure, melodic sound label them as post-everything because you can find anything there, genre-free. Dark Clouds And Silver Linings is regarded as one of this year’s most interesting EPs.

MeursaultA Small Stretch Of Land
Edinburgh six-piece Meursault’s otherworldly, experimental folk seems almost tailor-made for the music blogging cognoscenti. But as A Small Stretch Of Land shows, Meursault (pronounced “mer-so”) also know when less is more, stripping the song to just acoustic guitar and vocal with crushingly beautiful effect. It’s no surprise Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison described A Small Stretch Of Land as “one of my favourite songs of last year, or indeed any year”. You can buy Meursault’s album, Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues, and other releases here.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Inch Chua Devotion In Reality
Like the wet leaves after a thunderstorm, Devotions In Reality bring a melancholic hope to past hurts, as the first step after grief into a new light. Inch Chua is more well known in Singapore as the little dynamo of a frontwoman with rock stalwarts Allura. Taking time off to record her solo EP, she brings to the forefront another facet of her versatility, especially on this number that is best described as a cross between Lisa Ekdahl and Stars.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Ameen HarronTechicoloured Oblivion
Ameen Harron is a force to be reckoned with in the South African music scene. He is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, and one of the country’s up-and-coming producers, who has worked with a range of the best local musicians, garnering national and international attention. Technicoloured Oblivion shows not only his skills as a producer but as an artist. He has strong ties to hip hop, which is evident as his combination of hip hop, punk and electro creates his own distinctive sound. The song has an almost soulful feel to it and wouldn’t be out of place on the international charts. Ameen Harron is set to take over. Watch out.

Julia HartKorean Girl’s Winter
Always delightful guitar-pop act Julia Hart decided it had been too many years since the release of their last album in 2007 and consequently released a digital single with a couple of new songs for people to hear last month. One of them, Korean Girl’s Winter, shows Julia Hart at their loveliest and is a perfect indie-pop piece well suited for repeated play hours on end.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Leaving Mornington CrescentSeventeen
From the sound of Seventeen, Leaving Mornington Crescent have ventured into new territory. Unlike the sunny 60s-inspired indie-pop of April Song from their Cloudberry split CD, Seventeen is a rather heavy, shoegaze number with buzzing and churning guitars and a solid backbeat. Still the vocals retain the cheeriness of April Song with a chorus of “I’m seventeen on the inside, the only difference is…”.

TURKEY: Reset!
Kim Ki OSerbest Kalp Dusmesi
Kim Ki O’s songs are self-written, self-played and self-sung in the name of self-pleasure and self-impulsion. Kim Ki O, which is the Turkish expression for “who is that anyway?”, is a name chosen for its phonetic beauty. The duo like to play with synthesizers and drum machines but do not to use computers in their music, preferring to create all the action live with enthusiasm and tension. The two members of the gang are former high school buddies who had been out of touch for years. Now they are back, clasped together, making great things.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
That GhostThe Red Bow
That Ghost is the musical moniker of one crazy kid from the coast of California. Ryan Schmale, a youthful 19-year-old, creates lo-fi pop that evokes the warmth of bedroom recordings. He has a new EP on the way titled Get It And Get Out that IGIF will certainly be writing more about in the near future.

VENEZUELA: Deaf Indie Elephants
Ulises HadjisLunes
The warm voice of Ulises Hadjis and his guitar are suddenly interrupted by a theremin, a trumpet from a gypsy story and a dialogue between Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and Zulu. These are some of the big surprises you’ll find in his debut album, Presente, which without doubt was one of the best debuts of 2008. His original indie-pop contains lyrics as melancholic as Bon Iver’s or Elliott Smith’s and a musical diversity that in its best moments resembles Beirut or Neutral Milk Hotel. On a Sunday morning this album will be your best company.

To download all 34 songs in one file click here

#206 sonic youth – thunderclap for bobby pyn

sonic youth

bobby pyn was the earlier name of darby crash, who fronted the germs in the late 70s. the punk band disbanded in 1980 when darby overdosed on heroin as part of a suicide pact, days after performing his last gig with the band during which he delivered his farewell to the sold-out crowd: “we did this show so you new people could see what it was like when we were around. you’re not going to see it again”. explosive but shortlived, the legacy of the germs is resuscitated ironically by one of the longest lasting post-punk bands living today – sonic youth with their inevitably titled 16th studio album the eternal. “thunderclap for bobby pyn” is a tribute to this memorably fleeting moment in noise meditation, delivered curiously late but with all the urgency typical of SY’s more punkish fare. teenagers they no longer are, but kim, thurston, lee and steve show they still have what it takes to start a riot, even if they’re riding on the shoulders of past revolutions. – dan.

mp3: sonic youth – thunderclap for bobby pyn

the eternal is now out on matador. get it!

keeping it peel!

john peel

it will be john peel’s 5th death anniversary in a couple of weeks’ time, but there’s no reason why we can’t commemorate it earlier, like we’ve done here in singapore with the annual keeping it peel. held last night at the cosy prince of wales pub, three local acts put up their darndest best shows that would’ve made peel proud. opening band midnight marvel could have sounded tighter, but that was really secondary to the snarling riot grrrl vibes it projected reminiscent of sleater-kinney. next up was clearly a crowd favorite, the surf/garage rock & roll outfit we gang. i love how unpretentious this band was, who aptly describe their sound as “very catchy pop music played by working adults”. frontman adrian was in his element, and in the course of the night i’ve heard his onstage theatrics compared to the likes of brett anderson and jarvis cocker. what i loved best was how fun the whole set was, and the unmissable chemistry between adrian and his second vocalist shefali.

the closing band was perhaps the most anticipated – the debut gig by newly formed local superheroes shelves, comprising members of 90’s local indie greats suchness and livonia, as well as our very own brian, who also plays for leeson (as pub owner malcolm sportingly points out). the band’s sound was straightforward enough, almost as if the last decade didn’t even happen, but oh how wonderful they sounded and how many memories it brought me of the 90’s local scene i grew up loving so much. great music doesn’t have to embrace the most fashionable trends – it happens when you’re truest to who you are. and no john peel day would have been complete without a rendition of “teenage kicks”, which shelves duly obliges in delivering and closing the night with, reminding all of us of that simple truth: teenage dreams, so hard to beat. – dan.

mp3: the undertones – teenage kicks.