this august, singapore celebrated its 45th national day, and is now playing host to the inaugural youth olympic games. however, don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s all we’ve been up to. over the past two weeks, we witnessed two great performances from broken social scene and belle & sebastian. and next weekend from the 20th to 22nd, our very own annual indie rock festival baybeats will get underway at the esplanade. one of the exciting new local bands to be showcased there will be basement in my loft, which our MAP anchorman brian koh tells us more about this month. enjoy!
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Basement In My Loft – I Think I’ll Run
Basement In My Loft have an underground, garage-rock sound with lofty melodies. As a power trio, they deftly walk the line between bittersweet melodies and utter chaos, while delivering an urgency in their music, convinced that one day, all this shall pass. They’ve got big things planned ahead, dropping their debut album at this year’s Baybeats music festival, one of Southeast Asia’s most prestigious indie festivals. Even with the accolades, BIML’s belief in their music and style keeps their integrity intact, with the band taking no shortcuts to making music that matters. – brian.
To download all 36 songs in one file click here
Hacia Dos Veranos with Alasdair MacLean – Draft Morning
Hacia Dos Veranos is one of Zonaindie’s favorite bands, a four-piece instrumental psychedelic trip. This is an amazing Byrds cover from their latest album, with The Clientele frontman Alasdair MacLean as guest vocalist. The song was recently featured on Pitchfork’s Forkcast section.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
DZ – Gebbie St
Brisbane’s DZ have been making waves with their killer live show for a couple of years now, but so far “that song” – the one to take them to the indie masses – has eluded them. I think it’s here, and it’s called Gebbie St. It’s pretty massive, streamlining their raw, beat-heavy guitar jams into a tight, dance-punk number like one of the highlights off the debut albums by DFA 1979 or Liars.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Fusile – Combat Samba
Sort of a Brazilian reaction to Gogol Bordello, Fusile’s debut EP Coconut Revolution is full of energy and great ska/punk songs such as Combat Samba. The EP (available here) has just four songs, but that’s enough to make them one of the most impressive new Brazilian bands.
Gramercy Riffs – Oh Linda!
One listen to It’s Heartbreak, the full-length debut from Gramercy Riffs, and you’ll immediately notice that the band brings together a whole bunch of disparate elements: one moment they’re crooning pre-rock’n’roll style, the next they sound like they’ve just stepped out of the ’50s, the next they’re sounding like an updated version of The Unicorns. Listen to it a few more times and you’ll find they mix all those styles together extremely well. Then listen some more because you’re unlikely to hear many better albums this year.
CHILE: Super 45
Marcos Meza – Danza
Marcos Meza is a pianist and composer from experimental hip hop outfit Como Asesinar A Felipes. His solo work goes in a different direction, closer to the more complex pop melodies of Ryuichi Sakamoto. His debut album, Piezas para Piano y Cuarteto de Cornos, is available for free download here and sees jazz, improvisation and contemporary chamber music share an interesting common space.
Pairs – Oh Ghost
Pairs are basically a drummer, Xiao Zhong, and a guitarist, F. They are from two different places and hemispheres of the Earth. Pairs basically don’t make theirs or any kind of music particularly well. Pretty much like people who have lost their talent. So it’s cool if you hate them. Pairs are basically a misspelling on Paris and/or Pears. They’ve had nothing to do with these two objects. Pairs basically like to take their broadway smash music to various death traps, both North and South, and survived to tell the tale to deaf ears. Pairs just launched their first music video Yangpu Qu – you can check out here.
COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Farina – Hasta El Final
Farina is a young talent and in her blood runs some sparks of Arabic traditions and Latin flavor. Right now she’s promoting her single Hasta El Final (“To The End”), a dancehall/R&B romantic song, which is perfect for the perfect moment.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
King’s Light Infantry – Home
Back in April, King’s Light Infantry released their debut EP, Crops, from which this track is taken. The quintet work in guitar-driven indie-rock where the ever-famous Scandinavian melancholy, pop hooks and the strong, emotional vocal of lead singer/guitarist Mathias Slot play leading roles. Right now they’re recording their first full-length record, slated for release sometime next year.
ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Bear Driver – A Thousand Samurais
Bear Driver are a six-piece from Leeds who have only two singles under their belts, but are already turning the heads of festival organisers, labels and music fans in the UK. Current 7-inch Wolves came out last month, but this track is from their single from last year.
Badass Yuki – Jacques Lacan On CSR!
Badass Yuki is the brainchild of two high-school students (Mart Avi and Paul Sild), who kill time by creating lo-fi-esque tunes. BY’s soundworld is diverse and constantly changing, bouncing somewhere between post-punk, noise or just eclectic pop music with dancey rhythms. BY emerged from nowhere and won a local Soundwave band competition in 2009.
Pintandwefall – Doughnuts
Girl band Pintandwefall celebrated the warmest ever summer in Finland with the release of a free EP available to download on their website. Doughnuts is a delicious treat with a sugared guitar riff, punchy bass line and funny melody. Just 90 seconds of alternative rock for your coffee break.
Crocodile – Mental Home
Crocodile came about from an encounter between Jeremy, electric guitar player of Parisian rock band Louis de Lights, and Helene, singer of the mysterious electro collective Stupeflip. About 15 songs emerged from Crocodile’s stomach in less than a year. Do not let yourself be deceived – behind a sweet voice and catchy melodies hides a ferocious animal whose bite will leave marks that will get under your skin.
Hans Unstern – Paris
Catch Hans Unstern if you can. Uncommon is an able word to describe the work of this artist, who combines complex songwriting with sensitive German lyrics. He never crosses the fine line between brilliance and kitsch, maybe due to the slightly achy atmosphere he creates on the album Kratz Dich Raus from which Paris is the first single.
Musica Ficta – The Cell
Musica Ficta’s music is a treasure that deserves plundering. Even if they haven’t any official release, they are known for their astounding live performances. Apollo Retsos’ undeniably affecting vocals soar over orchestral pop arrangements, lush strings, drums and chiming guitars. As a matter of fact, an effervescent explosion of emotion will drift out of your stereo as you are listening to this live recording of The Cell, an enchantingly theatrical, profoundly beautiful and incredibly addictive song. I’m eagerly awaiting their debut album.
ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Pascal Pinon – Djoflasnaran
Teenage quartet Pascal Pinon – named after two-headed Mexican freak Pasqual Pinon – released their eponymous debut last year. An album full of simple pop-folk songs in Icelandic and English, written by Asthildur and Jofridur. At the moment, the 16-year-old girls are recording a second album to be released on Morr Music. This label will also re-release their debut album, containing this song, Djoflasnaran (“Devil’s Snare”), a reference to Harry Potter.
The Bicycle Days – Circles
The Bicycle Days is an alternative rock quintet from Bangalore. The band’s music infuses samples and ambient guitar sounds into contemporary alternative rock. Think a slowed down, less self-involved Mute Math. Circles draws on progressive rock influences like Tool and The Mars Volta to create a submersive fluidity that’s as languid as it is involving. Turn up the volume to 11, or just leave it at four and let the music create your pictures.
Sarasvati – Oh I Never Know
Risa Saraswati is a new, aspiring singer-songwriter who is pursuing a solo career using her Sanskrit name, Sarasvati (???????). Such divine passion towards knowledge, art and music is conveyed through songs and lyrics. In her spiritual journey and quest for perfection, Risa shares her eternal experience of pursuing happiness with you.
Adebisi Shank – International Dreambeat
Taken from their second album This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank, International Dreambeat is the sound of pure rainbow rock. You can just see the confetti, the parades and crazy Japanese manga characters. Look out for the band’s second album released on August 20 through Richter Collective in Ireland, BSM Records in UK and in October on Parabolica Records in Japan. Guests include Conor O’Brien from Villagers, who provides vocals on Europa, while Jape plays synths on the last track, Century City.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Acropolis – Divine Cycle
Acropolis is an extreme melodic metal act from Israel. They blend aggressive metal grooves with brilliantly structured songs and melodies. Their debut release, The Aftermath, became a top seller on indie distribution website CD Baby and, incidentally, was very big in Japan.
Colapesce – La Guerra Fredda
For the first time I’ve selected a MAP song sung in Italian. I like the way it mixes our folk tradition and pop influences. La Guerra Fredda (“The Cold War”) is about girls on the beaches, boys dancing and grinning, the fate on some provincial road one night, long time ago. Colapesce is a young and talented songwriter from Sicily. You can download his new EP for free here. Check out Albanopower as well, Colapesce’s other band.
JAPAN: JPOP Lover
Matryoshka – Monotonous Purgatory
Matryoshka was formed in 2006 by Sen (track maker) and Calu (vocals). Their subtle yet profound strings, unreal rhythms, melancholic female vocals, cool and alluring piano mix with a hundred noises to create their massive sound.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Rey Pila – No. 114
Rey Pila is the new project of Diego Solorzano (Los Dynamite), who has created a homonymous album that refines his aesthetic intentions while adding some singalong choruses with mountains of synth and guitars that are so very 80s, so ‘Rock en tu idioma’.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Palmbomen – Myself
Translated as “Palm Trees”, Palmbomen is the Netherlands’ answer to the chillwave phenomenon that’s sweeping through another indie summer. Although we’re still a bit antsy about a genre identifier that, at least to us, signifies a bunch of kids buying fourth-hand DX7s and deciding it’s okay to like Simply Red, Palmbomen has made a hefty dent on the Amsterdam live scene in only a few months of activity. The vibe is unsurprisingly tropical from the off – throbbing bass, rumbling percussion and synth-heavy. The music isn’t trapped in a languid haze, however. The melodies hook you instantly while the vocals are playful and, perhaps unexpectedly, not utterly buried in a cathedral full of reverb. Essentially, it’s just great electronic pop.
NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Mild America – Coriander & Heaven
The title track from an EP (available here) of songs melding pop with alt-country, the aim of the band is to create a sound which is “nostalgic and celebratory, bitter and hopeful”. Coriander & Heaven perfectly encapsulates that approach with lyrics about a blue jay hitting a glass door and flapping with one wing on the ground. The arrangement goes from a slow vocal and percussion intro, bringing in mournful slide guitar, shifting to a martial beat before quietening to a whisper and then ending in a majestic squall of guitar.
Silje Nes – The Card House
When I first heard Silje Nes four years ago, I instantly fell in love with her fragile but strong music. Now she’s a critically acclaimed artist on the fine FatCat label, preparing the release of her second album Opticks. Nes is one of those artists who plays around with lots of sounds and instruments, some which she can play and some she can’t. The result is often stunningly beautiful – somewhere between pop and experimental – but definitely accessible and catchy. The album will be released on September 13 but her single, Crystals, is available now. The song we have for you here is a MAP exclusive from the new album. Thank you, FatCat!
Maku – Cuantas Piedras
Maku is a project led by Michael Dawson. Talking about his debut is almost like talking about a box of surprises. Maku’s music uses reggae as its base and also blends jazz and tropical sounds. Cuantas Piedras is the opening track from Maku’s self-titled album, which is available to download free from here and contains 11 songs, nine of which were recorded with the help of Francois Peglau.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Peixe : Aviao – No Jogo da Quimera
Peixe : Aviao (translated as “Fish : Airplane”) are a quintet from the oldest ciy of Portugal, Braga. Their first recording was an EP, in 2008, and their Radiohead influence was already clear. In 2009, they released their first LP, which confirmed them as one of the most interesting new bands, singing in Portuguese. No Jogo da Quimera is from their 2010 record, Madrugada.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Bogdan – Phase Transition
Bogdan makes the transition from experimental productions to dance music, and makes it seems like child’s play. His artistic development is noticeable both in his own productions and the hallucinating club nights he manages to kick off. In June 2010, Bogdan lit the fuse for local Romanian sound with another change in style – a cosmic techno hybrid. 4/4 dancing with a disco heart, it’s an album that tells a story about dancing in zero gravity. The new EP, Human Thermodynamics, can be downloaded from the Local Records website.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Dems – Jarndyce vs Jarndyce
Dems is a truly exciting newcomer to the Scottish music scene. London-raised but Edinburgh based, Dan Moss has just two songs to his name at the time of writing and no live appearances on the horizon. What we do know is that he’s a man whose talent is matched by his ideas. Jarndyce vs Jarndyce is a classy, clever and thoroughly accessible piece of electro-pop, like a more edgy Postal Service.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Popskarr – Tonight
Popskarr’s sound has been described as “deep but dancey, but new wavey, but all in all it still kinda bangs out your sound system”. Their song Tonight shows off their electronic, nu-disco sound with just a splash of pop thrown in for good measure.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Kinzli & The kiloWatts – Oahu
Hailing from South Korea but now residing in London, Kinzli is currently preparing for the UK release of her second full-length album, Down Up Down, on September 6. Her music offers an eclectic mix of genres, from gypspy rhythms to jazz, and in a recent review her vocals were likened to Regina Spektor. Oahu is a warm and breezy ukulele tune where her impressive lyrical skills has her declaring true love for her favourite canoe.
Skatan – Teritory
Skaten is not just another random Swedish band of unknown quantity and quality. This project by Simone Andersson Wingfors has been written about on various Swedish blogs for well over a year (me here) despite the fact that the songs have only been demos on MySpace. Taken as a whole, the debut record We Are All Children With Different Titles could be called piano-pop. But if you dig deeper into each song you hear elements of more serious music, be it classical, jazz, gypsy, or circus cabaret. Territory combines many of these elements in one song. The bass is as full as you’d expect from a hip hop track, the scattershot drums pulse and ricochet, and Simone’s voice will give your tweeters (and your emotions) a workout.
We Loyal – Distant Heart
We Loyal from Basel play highly addictive dark-wave synth-pop with detours to indietronic. Their influences range from TV On The Radio to Joy Division and The Notwist. Even so, their Obstacles EP proves they are capable of more than reciting their role models.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Wise Blood – STRT SRNS
Christopher Laufman aka Wise Blood makes the kind of music that might come out of a lo-fi Panda Bear & Jack White collab session. STRT SRNS is straight off his debut EP, +, which you can pick up for free at his Bandcamp page.
Desorden Publico – Espiritual
Desorden Publico is one of the oldest ska bands in Venezuela. Formed in Caracas in the mid-80s, this nine-member team has been famous for their powerful live performances and has the reputation of being a solid, influent and respected icon for the genre. Their music is full of Latin vibes and honest lyrics inspired from social problems. Espiritual is taken from the Desorden LP.