It's time for the 24th I love Icelandic music contribution to an international initiative, the Music Alliance Pact, aka MAP. I take part in this Blog Alliance since the start in October 2008. On a monthly basis music bloggers from around the globe select a track from their country which is then posted collectively and simultaneously on those blogs - giving each nation's track international exposure.
A trip around the world in 35 songs with a take off in Iceland:
This month I contributed "Skuggasörf", a song of the EP of Bárujárn for Iceland.
The band Bárujárn, Icelandic for corrugated iron, started in the fall of 2008. They play gloomy surf garage rock flavoured with metal or disco. The band members are Oddur on bass, Sindri on guitar, Leifur on drums, and Hekla on theremin. Bárujárn has recorded an EP, that features the song "Skuggasörf", and will record a full album soon.
Video for Skuggasörf on Vimeo
Mompox - Feel Alright
This is one of our favorite tracks from Mompox's debut album, Mompox & The Big Umbrella. The recording process took almost two years and if you listen to the album it's easy to understand why - it contains 16 songs with more than 30 musicians playing all kinds of instruments. The sound is a mixture of American pop from the 50s, with a bit of psychedelic rock and experimental sounds. It's a very eclectic record, so start with Feel Alright and then visit their MySpace for more songs if you like them.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Fishing - OOOO
For a pair of low-key beat-makers from Sydney, Fishing have seen an impressive ascent from small Tumblrs through to Pitchfork's Playlist with barely an official release behind them. Without wanting to reduce them to a fad, Fishing capitalise on the chillwave trend and infuse their summery vibe with an heavy dose of limping glitch-hop. Heard it before? You may have heard something similar, but Fishing really do have the skills that leave the other bros with their blunts and laptops in the dust.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Neon Night Riders - South Travelling
Echoes from bands such as M83, Arab Strap and The Jesus And Mary Chain can be felt in South Travelling by duo Neon Night Riders. The song infuses the synthpop, Britpop and shoegaze influences that are the hallmark of their work. Their first full-length, The Neon Album, is available to download at the band's Last.fm page.
The Love Machine - Be A Path
Once upon a time (that is, their first two EPs), The Love Machine were a fairly generic emo-pop band, albeit one that knew how to bring it live. With the release of their first full-length, Sweater Weather, however, TLM have transformed. They're still a great live band but, for the first time, they're equally great on record. This song captures that growth as well as anything. It's dark, heavy and, best of all, impossible to forget.
CHILE: Super 45
Denver - Lo Que Quieras
With straightforward pop their main goal, the songs of Denver - comprising Mariana Montenegro and Milton Mahan - evoke the sound of bands such as Abba, Electric Light Orchestra and those from the golden years of Motown Records. Their new single, Lo Que Quieras ("What You Want"), is one of the finest songs of the year. It is full of youthful promises and an epic mixture of string arrangements and sweet choirs.
The Fallacy - As I Leave
Up-and-coming post-punk rockers The Fallacy have a unique blend of grungy badassness, noise and harmony that puts them right at the crest of China's post-punk wave, in which PK-14 and Re-tros have already gained a serious fanbase, both local and worldwide. Formed just two years ago in Xinjiang, Henan Province, their songs have a distinctly quelled energy brewing under a thin quilt of funk, punk, nefarious riffs and crooning vocals that are sure to secure many fans from all sorts of musical preferences.
COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Profetas - Baila
Profetas is duo Antombo and Pablo, and new single Baila is a good representation of their fusion sound, which takes in some elements of indie-pop.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Plok - Kleenex Exposition
Following three EPs, Danish math-rock (or, as they call it, mathbeat synthpunk) quartet Plok finally have a full-length debut out titled Sing Us Yr Guillotine Gospel. Through 12 mind-bending trips to places at least one step beyond, they stick it to the Man and the numbed masses. Exclusively for the Music Alliance Pact here's the awesome Kleenex Exposition.
Iiris - Astronaut
Iiris is a young singer-songwriter with ambitious dreams. At the moment she is crafting her debut album with mad scientist, producer and co-writer Sethh. Aspiring to create something special, they have ventured into a secret dimension where pop, rock, innovation, synthesizers, classical piano, electronic soundscapes, catchy melodies, random madness, senseless beauty, zombies, cats and unicorns all become one.
Hi-Horse - 7th Street Ninjas
The sound of Hi-Horse is mostly based on the modern blues guitar of Jani Kamppi, but the band opens up its sound to the most surprising, and danceable, arrangements and textures. Their soon-to-be-released album, Concrete Clouds, is full of imaginative guitar-based pop tunes.
Smooth - Music
When listening to Smooth's music you get the strange impression of finding an old friend, a road companion, because their music draws on our own imagination where it moulds itself, each day, each rainy season, with pleasure or ecstasy. The trio borrows and mixes sounds and rhythms from their forefathers, displayed and put back together with inventiveness, jubilation and sensuality.
Tuo - Walk With Me
It's quite uncommon to see two 16-year-old girls making folk music as relaxed as Tuo do. Tasmin and Oda create soundscapes with soft voices and two acoustic guitars which make you feel like walking barefoot on mossy ground. Walk With Me is a MAP exclusive from their debut album Walk On Silence, recently released on aspiring FlowerStreet Records.
Chris Nemmo - Half Human (feat. Etten)
After experimenting with different electronic dance genres and releasing material in several record labels worldwide, Chris Nemmo has just brought out his sophomore album, The Nautilus Project. It consists of several different aspects of the scene, employing dirty funky basslines, vintage melodies and atmospheric vocals in an effort to simulate a warm analog perception of the disco groove and aesthetics. This is Etten's second collaboration with Chris and she again provides a unique touch. Much of Half Human's seductive allure is owed to her lyrics and passionate vocal performance, which is as technically stunning as it is expressive.
ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Barujarn - Skuggasorf
The band Barujarn, Icelandic for "corrugated iron", started in the fall of 2008. They play gloomy surf garage rock flavoured with metal or disco. The band members are Oddur on bass, Sindri on guitar, Leifur on drums, and Hekla on theremin. Barujarn has recorded an EP that features the song Skuggasorf and will record a full album soon.
Rosemary - Golden Trees
Rosemary is a three-piece post-grunge band from Mumbai. This young act has been making waves in the Indian indie scene over the past couple of years on the back of some major competition victories and regular gigging. Golden Trees is the product of post-Nirvana youthful exuberance. Distortion heavy and moshpit ready, this four-and-a-half minute track is an ode to Seattle '90s. Listen loud.
Komunal - Pasukan Perang Dari Rawa
Pasukan Perang Dari Rawa means "combat troops from the swamp". With heavy distortion, pre-historic barbaric drums stomping, deadly bass, deep vocals and a good attitude they're currently my favorite stoner band.
Groom - A Music Lesson
Groom's finest hour (well 50 minutes) arrived this month in the form of their third album Marriage. It's a slightly sardonic examination of relationships and life set to an earnest indie-pop backing. It's lovely stuff and only five euros from their Bandcamp site where you can also stream it. Go pop!
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
GodWrath - Heart vs. Mind
Vocalists using scream techniques are a dime a dozen but Godwrath boasts a female screamer with more cojones than most of the guys out there, topping their aggressive metal groove with a hardcore edge.
A Classic Education - Gone To Sea
A Classic Education recently described their sound as "night music for lazy afternoons", but I think there's more to it than that. Dreamy and strong at the same time, vibrant and uplifting, Gone To Sea is a lush pop gem, a perfect example of their amazing songwriting skills. It's taken from their new Hey There Stranger EP, out this month on US label Lefse Records (Neon Indian, Dominant Legs).
JAPAN: JPOP Lover
World's End Girlfriend - Les Enfants du Paradis
World's End Girlfriend is the orchestral post-rock and experimental electronica project of Katsuhiko Maeda. He has just launched his own label, Virgin Babylon Records, and released an irregular pop album, Seven Idiots, on September 14.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Chikita Violenta - Roni
This is the story of a Mexican band flirting with a Canadian sound. On their second album The Stars And Suns Sessions (2007), the four-piece settled for some months in a studio on the countryside outside Toronto to make a record guided by Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene). For their third album TRE3S (2010), Chikita Violenta went back to Ontario to explore deeper into that particular sound reigning on the Arts & Crafts label: a maple leaf wall of sound vined with many layers of guitars, bittersweet-abstract choirs and a happy-go-lucky vibe.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Apneu - Daydream
Apneu are lo-fi in their garage-pop approach, but high fidelity isn't essential when you can round off songs so succinctly. At times they employ the basic chord structures and slacker pace of Pavement, focussing on the purity of the melody. At others, they lose themselves in the groove, knocking out energetic garage-rock jams. A hugely entertaining live band in the Amsterdam scene, they're now learning to commit their raw pop harmonies and sense of fun to tape.
NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Sharpie Crows - Fifteen Golden Balls Pt.2
Thumping drums provide the foundation for this fantastic song that starts with the drums, vocals and keyboard before going instrumental, adding post-punk guitar chords and then, remarkably, at around the two-thirds mark, brass (or at least brass samples). The song is so well constructed I keep coming back to it to just listen to how they put it together. Sharpie Crows, from Wellington but currently living in Australia, have two EPs available on their Bandcamp.
Drivan - Hart i Ogat
This month's Norwegian MAP artist may as well be called a Nordic band because half of them are Swedes and the other two are from Finland and Norway. The Norwegian member is Kim Hiorthoy, well known as an electronic musician, graphic designer, illustrator, filmmaker and writer. Unlike his other recordings, Drivan's debut Disko is mostly acoustic and has a very organic sound. It's very much a pop record, but a weird and wonderful one, full of field recordings, strange lo-fi sounds and partial conversations. The vocals are sung in Swedish by Lisa Ostberg, Louise Peterhoff and Kristiina Viiala, who also have taken part in composing the songs together with Hiorthoy. Disko is released on Smalltown Supersound.
Pastizal - Apoxon You
Pastizal are an innovative band that almost came out of nowhere. Based in Lima, their music comfortably delves into psychedelia, shoegaze and experimental beats, but essentially rock is at its core. Apoxon You was first included in a free compilation released by Peruvian label Dorog Records.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Triplet - Like It's Going Out Of Fashion
The band Triplet have been around for eight years and have played all over Europe, but they only released their debut album, A Fight For Your Heart, in 2007. Their new EP, Noise, Noise, Noise, is being distributed freely here. Even though they are called Triplet they have four members ñ vocalist Jasmin Jones was our guest in February's MAP with her solo record.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Alternativ Quartet - Insemnari La Intamplare
This month, for the first time, we have a band singing in Romanian. Alternativ Quartet are rather new on the Romanian scene: four young men from a small town - now living, studying and making music in Cluj. They are about to release their debut album, Linistea Astupa Goluri, which is a combination of experimental, post-rock, prog and other styles perfectly mixed. They sing about dreams and monsters, revelations and silence.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Endor - Chapel Doors
Modern technology has made it easier than ever before to make and distribute music. This is most definitely a bad thing. The deserving are being drowned out by a tidal wave of bands and bedroom musicians, and the din of mediocrity is deafening. One of this year's finest albums came out in July and I never even saw it coming. At times it sounds like the missing link between Pavement and REM. It is engrossing, unpretentious and displays a real understanding of how to write a song that people will actually want to hear more than once. The band is Endor, the album is called Endor, and you can buy it here.
SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
Lunarin - Zero Point Red
Lunarin sound bigger than what you would expect for a three-piece band. They've played music for almost 15 years together, although they've only ventured down the path of a grungier, more progressive metal sound in the last five or so years. The culmination of all this is the brazenly self-recorded and produced Duae, which sees them embracing the path they've carved for themselves, with their influences of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Tori Amos firmly etched on their sleeves, like tattoos burned into skin. Lunarin take a familiar sound from the late 90s and with blistering conviction, spit a Molotov of poetic metaphors and bone-crushing riffs, all laced with Linda's "love 'em or leave 'em" vocals to slow crush your skull with.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Dance, You're On Fire - Little War
Dance, You're On Fire make music "for the love of music as a form of art". Their sound is a smooth slice of indie progressive rock mixed in with a slight alternative edge. Their single, Little War, off their new album, shows their ability to write rock songs with catchy hooks and also showcases a new, more polished sound that they have cultivated since the release of their EP. Dance, You're On Fire have all that is needed to succeed - with a catchy name and an even catchier sound, they are certainly a band to keep an eye on.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
The Quip - Custard Pie
The five members of The Quip may all be a little heavy on the drinking, but that hasn't kept them from making some really good music. Their self-released debut EP Almost The Same offers plenty of variety with a psychedelic-grunge-experimental sound base. It came out this summer and was mixed and mastered by Apollo 18 bassist Jelly Boy. With the sound of a djembe setting a haunting mood, Custard Pie is an addictive, largely slow-paced tune with a finale that sees all of the band's rock energy unleashed.
Ed Greene - Love (She Tells Me There's A God Above)
I'm a big fan of the band Ed Greene. In fact, if you were to twist my arm I might say they're the best unsigned band in Sweden. At one time Ed Greene used to be a solo outfit but of late the band has been filled in and fleshed out. They readily admit a history of missteps and false starts but now they're back with an album of 11 new songs. Love (She Tells Me There's A God Above) may be one of the catchiest but there are presumably more where this came from.
Choo Choo - It's A Good Thing
Choo Choo is steam-powered indie-pop from Bern, the capital of Switzerland. The band has just released new track It's A Good Thing from their forthcoming as-yet untitled record which will be released in January. They recorded it in the Svenska Grammofon Studion together with producer Kalle Gustafsson (Jose Gonzalez, Junip, Shout Out Louds, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, El Perro Del Mar, Mando Diao, Jens Lekman and many more). Definitely a big promise for 2011.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Marnie Stern - Transparency Is The New Mystery
Marnie Stern hails from New York City and is a thirty-something female rocker with guitar chops and stellar songwriting skills. After the success of her 2008 release This Is It, I wondered how Stern would build upon it, but her upcoming self-titled LP looks to be just as solid. New single Transparency Is The New Mystery is an awesome jam, from heart-pounding drums and shrilling vocals to the shreddable guitar - Stern's doing edgy rock and roll right.
Kuartzo - No Estas Aqui
Kuartzo is a band from Barquisimeto that started in 1998 playing mostly covers. In 2000, they ventured into writing their own material and recorded Cabalgando Mariposas, their first CD. They put their previous music experiences in the mix, developing the band's original sound of refreshing rock ballads. They are now working on their third album, Victima de la Moda ("Fashion Victim"), from which this song, No Estas Aqui, is taken.