It’s the 15th of the month, and that means another post brought to you by the Music Alliance Pact. This month we welcome Ja Ja Ja as the new Swedish blog whereas we say goodbye to Estonia. With 37 countries represented by as many songs, in addition to the Korean song of the month I’d like to recommend taking special notice of the song from Greece – Electric Litany are responsible for one of my own personal all time favorite MAP songs and I’m very happy to see them make a return.
If in addition to Korean Indie you also read other English language blogs and magazines occasionally covering Korean indie music, or follow Korean Indie on Pinterest, you could hardly have missed that Wagwak are taking their music out into the world. I’ve been keeping an eye on them since Brian Hough called them “one of the biggest ‘buzzes’ around Seoul” and compared their rise to relative fame to that of Apollo 18, but even so it took me quite a while to reach out to them myself. Very much enjoying Wagwak’s new EP and learning that they were headed to my neighborhoods I felt like I had no choice but to finally make my move. Thus we’re now able to happily offer “Arabian Sunset” to the world from what may become one of the first Korean bands to get an international breakthrough. Check out their Bandcamp for more!
Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the whole 37-track compilation through Ge.tt here.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
Wagwak – Arabian Night
Loud indie-folk duo Wagwak have been around for a few years and made themselves a name at home. They recently left Korea to travel through Europe, playing gigs where they can, and having sung in English all along they’re well prepared to bring their sound to an international audience. Before moving from their native Seoul, Wagwak released EP The Way To Drive Into The Arabian Sunset, opening with the slightly psychedelic Arabian Night.
Los Coming Soon – No Way
This is one of our favorite releases from 2012. We Are Family is Los Coming Soon’s first album, in which they deploy 10 great songs filled with electronic textures and a soft, minimalist funky-disco base, all played with real instruments (no programming whatsoever). It was hard to pick one song for MAP, but we think No Way is representative of the whole record (you can buy it here).
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Runner – Flaws
Flaws is an understated instrumental track that drives the emotive dream-pop at the heart of Runner. These guys originate from the west coast of Australia but their sound would sit perfectly with any shoegaze stoner melody coming out of 90s Melbourne. Flaws builds beautifully to a crescendo layered with harmony and a wall of hazy guitars.
Ogris Debris – Sexy Chair
This electronic duo is best known for their onomatopoetic track Miezekatze, a club and radio hit in 2010. Mixing such diverse genres as house, funk and soul, the tongue-in-cheek track Sexy Chair is taken from the Affine Records compilation What A Fine Mess We Made. The most recent Ogris Debris release, The Way feat. Ken Hayakawa (listen on Soundcloud), has a more Arabesque vibe to it.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
BNegão & Seletores de Frequência – Essa é Pra Tocar No Baile
It took almost 10 years for BNegão & Seletores de Frequência to release their second album, but now their music is even more influenced by black music and rhythms such as Afrobeat, soul and samba rock. Essa é Pra Tocar No Baile is one of the breakthrough tracks of the record.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
Digits – Where Do You Belong?
My heart melts every time I hear Alt Altman – the one-man techno R&B band known as Digits – purr: “It’s just a broken heart/but you ain’t had a broken heart/like this,” on Where Do You Belong? A song this catchy and infectious should come with warning labels: “May induce repeated listens and become lodged in your head for weeks at a time.”
CHILE: Super 45
La Big Rabia – Nos Gusta Que Sea Así
Music abounds during times of crisis, and La Big Rabia is one of the symptoms of this social unrest we are living with in Chile. Their EP, La Bestia, and their shows begin with a disruptive speech made through a loudspeaker by singer Sebastián Orellana, a sort of tired and furious crooner. After this, a retro rock disposition is unleashed on songs like Para Todos Los Hijos De Puta, with its chorus: “Todos contra los poderosos / Todos contra los que tengan sed de poder” (“Everybody against the powerful ones / Everybody against those thirsty for power”).
Glow Curve – Brain Washer
Glow Curve formed in Beijing in 2011 and are influenced by post-rock and electronic music. The quartet absorb and explore new elements to blend complex instrumental sounds from contrasting emotions – manic or quiet, warm or cold.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
Zalama Crew – No Hay Marcha Atrás
Zalama Crew is a collective based in Cali, a city very close to the Colombian Pacific coast. An excellent example of what is happening in these lands, their project mixes hip-hop, urban and world music. No Hay Marcha Atrás (“There’s No Turning Back”) is taken from their first album Zalama Lekum, which fuses African rhythm with electronic sounds.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Kúra – Anchor
With the amazing vocal of Fanney Ósk Þórisdóttir as a general highlight, Danish/Icelandic trio Kúra’s debut Halfway To The Moon is a dark, melancholic and rather enticing affair mixing electronica, trip hop, dub and (indie) rock. Here’s single Anchor, co-produced by acclaimed DJ and producer Buda (Lulu Rouge) and accompanied by this beautiful video by Kristian Touborg and Jesper Dalgaard.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Josephine – Pray That I Move
Manchester’s Josephine Oniyama is not another soul girl, even though some early breathless accounts of her work and voice are of the “you won’t believe this isn’t a classic lost R&B or blues recording” variety. Actually, as Pray That I Move shows, Josephine’s vocal delivery and idiosyncratic lyrical vision have more in common with Morrissey than Mahalia Jackson. She’s already made a big stir on the regional scene with Elbow’s Guy Garvey and singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt among her champions. Her debut album, Portrait, is out on October 8.
Minttu & Olli – Corduroy Boy
Minttu & Olli are a graceful couple homebrewing sweet pop songs. With great vocal harmonies, a gentle folky spirit and smooth melodica sounds, the duo is a Nordic version of She & Him that could have easily been featured in the soundtrack of (500) Days of Summer.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
The Lemon Queen – Sailing In A Wild Love
The Lemon Queen hails from Angers, east of France, where the music scene is flourishing at the moment, with everyone trying to play their cards right. The band makes a difference with their psychedelic pop-rock sound, reminiscent of Klaxons, a comparison particularly true on Sailing In A Wild Love. With catchy melodies and an undeniable energy, this quartet should be followed very closely.
Sandy Bird – Revoke
Little is known about this band from Berlin which formed in 2008 and have already experienced some member changes. Revoke is taken from their Bambaloo EP. Expect to hear more of this promising post-rock act soon.
Electric Litany – Sad Part
Bleak and broody music has never been quite so thrilling. Sad Part is an elaborately orchestrated, inherently dark, minimalist, piano dirge, like a sad dream scented with rain, with searingly compelling lyrical imagery, eerie vocals full of intuitive swells and fades, pauses that embrace some of the pious silence of a prayer and tremolo guitars that do an excellent job of creating a beguiling atmosphere. Electric Litany’s highly anticipated sophomore album is set to be released later this year.
Útidúr – Grasping For Air
This latest track from the ambitious chamber-pop 10-piece sees them entering almost disco-like realms. A new album should see the light of day in the coming months but those who want to get to know this joyous collective better should check out the band’s 2010 debut album This Mess We’ve Made.
Marcel Thee – Endless Heart
After more than 10 years channeling his creativity with the indie-rock band Sajama Cut, Marcel Thee is now the only original member left. Here he pursues his passion for lo-fi, layered sounds, gospel music and poetry. If you love W.B. Yeats, the album is a tribute to him.
No Spill Blood – Good Company
Formed from members of Adebisi Shank, Elk, Magic Pockets and Hands Up Who Wants To Die, No Spill Blood’s first EP is released this month on Sargent House, home to Fang Island, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Les Butcherettes. If you’re familiar with any of the bands mentioned then it won’t surprise you to hear that No Spill Blood play it fast and furious, running on the noxious interplay between drums, effect-laden synth, low-end bass fuzz and bellowed vocals.
Cosmetic – La Fine Del Giorno
Cosmetic may sing in Italian but I’m sure their songs will speak to you anyway. Their rough and nervous shoegaze sound often drifts towards more muscular music as it makes way for an explosion of guitars. When I saw them live the first name that came to my mind was Dinosaur Jr. The motto on their Facebook page – “Noise and melodies that fight to get the better of each other” – pretty much sums up Cosmetic.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Cuushe – I Dreamt About Silence
Tokyo artist Cuushe last brought out an album three years ago, and it turns out she spent the stretch of time after it was released building her own world. I Dreamt About Silence sees her stretched-out vocals covered in hazy synths, every sound wrapping around one another to create a glowing track you want to be enveloped by. Cuushe shows the best way to escape the rush of the modern world is to construct your own dreamy universe.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
Bark Bark Disco – Let’s Do This
Bark Bark Disco is a lo-fi pop band fronted by former inventor Morris Woodcock (great-grandson of Manfred von Richthofen aka The Red Baron). Their songs have a raw immediacy with catchiness befitting a Broadway musical. Let’s Do This is from their latest EP of the same name.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Sonido Gallo Negro – Leticia
Chicha is a psychedelic mixture of cumbia with rock ‘n’ roll elements, originating in Peru during the 70s. Mexico City’s Sonido Gallo Negro have unearthed the genre and hybridized it with local surf and rockabilly. Supplemented by the spooky visuals of design wizard Dr Alderete, their live shows are an intoxicating display of collective hypnosis. Throughout July 2012, this song and 13 more will be available for free download from Red Bull Panamérika as part of our fourth birthday compilation.
EARTH CONTROL – Mijn Nieuwe Steekkar
Art-school punks Bert and Marcel met at Groningen’s local venue Vera. Every week they formed a brand new band, recorded an album and played one show. But with EARTH CONTROL, things didn’t go exactly as planned; the duo decided to continue under this capitalized moniker. Though barely audible due to their lo-fi production and sub-par electronic equipment, EARTH CONTROL sing in their native Dutch tongue. Their sardonic lyrics deal with everyday subjects such as cell phones, sweaters or, in this case, the online purchase of a new trolley.
Grita Lobos – Mr Danger
Grita Lobos is a musician who hides behind an Ethiopian mask, his sound influenced by New Order and Depeche Mode in mesmerizing electronic songs that suggest dark stories. Mr Danger is taken from his debut self-titled album which features vocals from actress and singer Anahí de Cárdenas.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Micro Audio Waves – Cartoon Real
Micro Audio Waves, who made history in 2004 by becoming the first Portuguese band to have a John Peel session, have released four albums and a fifth is due soon. Cartoon Real is a MAP exclusive free download, taken from their Zoetrope concept album, developed with choreographer Rui Horta and released with a DVD featuring one of their unique multimedia and performance live shows.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie
El Medio – Hasta Caer
El Medio is the solo project of Leonardo Balasques (Oscilador 4, Balún). Since 2004, Balasques has used this outlet to release very personal songs about life, friendships and love. Using his bedroom (and subsequently his living room) as a recording studio, Leo has crafted an expansive discography that experiments with the confrontation of synths and traditional instruments to create a folk/pop hybrid that warms the heart and stimulates the brain. El Medio has just released the album No Le Tengas Miedo Al Amor, on which you’ll find Hasta Caer, featuring strings by Balún’s Angélica Negrón and an unexpected, yet much welcomed, dose of blistering guitar noise and distortion.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Subcarpa?i – Underground Folclor
Subcarpa?i is an explosive mixture of old and new. It’s an eclectic combination that brings together melancholy Romanian folk songs, Romanian unity songs, traditional instruments and the rhythms of trip-hop, dubstep, hip-hop and dancehall.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Lomovolokno – 22
On this short preview from his upcoming album, beatmaker Lomovolokno moves to the next level of romantic harmonies, leaving us excited for a full-length release. He is one of those people who needs time and space to make music, so you need to wait patiently. But when the tracks are finally out, there is nothing as beautiful to compare.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Holy Esque – Rose
There’s a tangible buzz about the Glasgow music scene right now and part of that has to do with the emergence of Holy Esque. There’s a dark magic about their sound. The rasping, quivering vocals of Pat Hynes calls to mind The Undertones or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, while the squalls of guitar elicit comparisons with Joy Division or Glasvegas. The anthemic Rose, a MAP exclusive free download, is taken from their excellent debut EP.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Kiat – Riding Past Draco (feat. Klose)
Exciting times are looming in the urban jungle of Singapore as audio-visual super-collective Syndicate turns up the heat, dropping influential honcho Kiat’s new album like an A-bomb of intricate beats and samples that warp you into the inner workings of string theory. Featuring stellar collaborations with artists such as Vandetta, Klose, Digital and Isaac Aiesili, the album – titled The Inner Galaxy – decisively proclaims that electronic music from Singapore has come of age and is a force to be reckoned with. Evolution never happened this fast.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Fire Through The Window – Hey!
Meet Fire Through The Window. They have the ability to take a simple melody, add their very own quirky styling and turn it into something truly infectious and endearing, all while maintaining a fun pop sensibility. That is wholly true with their song Hey! – it is fun, funky and best shows off the band.
Stand Up Against Heart Crime – I Can’t Stand Myself Sober
Stand Up Against Heart Crime are five desolate souls whose lives have been touched by unease and unhappiness, five romantics who create the soundtrack of a loser who has grown up through the years. They are from Barcelona, and they have played in one of the most important festivals in Spain, Sónar. I Can’t Stand Myself Sober is a pitiful fable of lack of self-esteem.
SWEDEN: Ja Ja Ja
Hanna – Lioness
Hanna is Gothenburg-based Hanna Göransson, formerly known as Hanna Lovisa and one half of Cat5. As Hanna, she has teamed up with acclaimed Swedish producer Dan Lissvik (of Studio) and Canada’s Young Galaxy to record her new EP Lioness, where feisty pop á la a certain Robyn meets Lissvik’s characteristic grooves. The Lioness EP is out now via Sunshower Records and a first full-length is in the works.
Marochine – Braunvieh Express
Marochine is an instrumental band from Lucerne which alternates its style skilfully between jazz and noise to create beautiful soundscapes. They have released a four-song EP that can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp.
Soaked – Groove On
Soaked is a synth-pop band based in Istanbul. They formed in 2003 but their first EP only came out in 2010. With the success of it they recorded the Aftermath album at the end of 2011. In their own words, they describe themselves as “not only a musical ensemble but also a creative artistic platform, determined to provide the quality performance and art that Turkish audiences crave”. It might sound pretty pretentious but it sure is true.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Poolside – Slow Down
New-to-the-scene DJ duo Poolside, from Los Angeles, couldn’t have found a better way to jump into the public consciousness than funky superjam Slow Down. Sounding like a sublime mix of Sebastien Tellier and LCD Soundsystem, the track glows and shimmers in every way – and now it’s perfectly positioned to dominate summer mixtapes across the world.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Tomates Fritos – Eterna Soledad
Tomates Fritos returns to the Music Alliance Pact after first appearing in July 2010. This time they have released their fourth studio album, Hotel Miramar (free to download on Bandcamp), in which they dare to show a “purest” side to the band – a slight departure from the folk sound that featured in previous records.