We’ve reached the 15th of August and, as we do the 15th of any month, we celebrate with a brand new edition of the Music Alliance Pact. The worldwide coalition of music bloggers stands ready to offer you another batch of songs, handpicked by the representative of each region. If the number of songs itself has been intimidating you in the past, check out the map podcast put together by Australian blog Who The Bloody Hell Are They? for some highlights. It’ll likely be a little while before the mapcast of August is live, but until then you can check out the July edition featuring Telefly alongside some other great artists.
A few weeks ago I was randomly sent to Korea on a business trip and between work I managed to also catch a few shows. They were all great, but among the bands I’d never seen before Theatre8 impressed the most. Since their video debut years ago I’ve known them as a funny band, and seeing them live during the cassette market at Badabie they were even funnier than I had expected. They connected super well with the audience, had girls screaming, and towards the end made everybody (myself included) sing along to “양화대교”. I knew right then that I had to make them the artist of the month and was very happy when they said yes. Have a listen to the song below, then go pick up the new album in whichever format you prefer–digital, CD, or cassette.
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 full 30-track compilation through Ge.tt here.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
Theatre8 – Yanghwa Bridge
Theatre8 offer light, charming indie rock with a remarkable ability to entertain, whether through music videos or in front of an audience. They just released their second album, featuring Yanghwa Bridge as the title track. Named after a bridge across Seoul’s Han River, the catchy song lends itself to sing-alongs and is bound to stay with you long after you’ve stopped listening.
Pablo Malaurie – Pasto En La Espalda
After psychedelic pop act Mataplantas broke up in 2009, their guitarist and singer Pablo Malaurie started a solo career by releasing a minimalist folk album called El Festival Del Beso. In 2011, he was chosen by Devendra Banhart as the opening act for his Buenos Aires concerts. Pasto En La Espalda is our favorite track from El Beat De La Cuestión, his second effort, where he shows the consolidation of a growing career, which includes extensive touring and collaborations.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Esc – Atomic Shadow
Esc are a Melbourne four-piece making music in the great Australian tradition of depraved pub-rock spliced with post-punk. The band’s latest single, Atomic Shadow, is both menacing and danceable, with a tight rhythm section and harmonies that lighten Max Sheldrake’s terse vocal.
Maur Due & Lichter – Faces
Much like Klangkarussell’s über-hit Sonnentanz, hugely successful in German-speaking countries and the Netherlands, fellow Austrians Maur Due & Lichter produce light, loungy and summery electronic music that works equally well in clubs, hotel pools and urban beach bars. This Night Was Meant To Stay, from which Faces is taken, is a concept album portraying a night out in Vienna.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
EONS – Brothers & Sisters
Arctic Radio, the debut album from Toronto-based musician Matt Cully aka EONS, is aptly named; the melodies are crisp like bitter north winds and his lyrics penetrate past even the warmest of winter gear. There is a warmth, though, a deep passion in the music that holds back the cold, as evidenced in Brothers & Sisters. Cully is joined on vocals by Misha Bower, and both are members of Bruce Peninsula, another Canadian treasure worth exploring.
CHILE: Super 45
Melié – Partir
Melié, who take their name from the French filmmaker Georges Méliès, released their first EP, Compartir, this year. Here, they deliver atmospheric, calm post-rock, highlighting their vocal harmonies and dreamlike melodies, giving birth to a complex but focused sound. Neighbouring Grizzly Bear and Local Natives’ imagery, Melié is one of the most interesting new acts in Chile’s indie-rock scene.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
Schutmaat Trio – You Died In My Future
Despite their name, Schutmaat Trio is actually a quartet, led by Alvin Schutmaat, who experiment with post-rock and refresh the local scene with well-produced and elaborate sounds. You Died In My Future is taken from their album 6:15, released this year as a pay-what-you-want download.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
PRE-Be-UN – X-ray Pop
PRE-Be-UN aka Nicolai Kleinerman Koch (also of Oh No Ono, Choir Of Young Believers and Boom Clap Bachelors) releases his debut solo album Clean Spasms this month. I call it ‘bit-pop Beatles’, with first single Mysteriously In Love already grabbing online attention with its wonderful fusion of the 1960s and 1980s – not least visually. Here’s X-ray Pop, a MAP exclusive download.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera
Chino Sing – Me Voy
Dashed hopes, tropical imagery and fresh reggae beats combine on Chino Sing’s latest song, Me Voy. Chino has made music with a host of local musicians, friends and artists, but now he’s working on his first solo album which will feature a blend of reggae, roots and various Caribbean themes and sounds.
ECUADOR: Plan Arteria
Jodamassa – Canto Popular
From Cuenca comes Jodamassa, a trio that has made experimental rock with a strong Latin American identity during its seven-year existence. The single Canto Popular is taken from second album El Centro En El Sur, released in February 2012.
ENGLAND: Drowned In Sound
Pale Seas – Evil Is Always One Step Behind
Southampton is quite an unexceptional small British city, with a big port and a musical heritage which peaked with the birth of one-of-the-ones-that-isn’t-Chris-Martin from Coldplay. This could soon change with the hypnotic swash of Dandy Warholian psychedelia, Glasvegas-ish 60s-gaze and the brooding Verve-esque dark-rock of Southampton’s Pale Seas. Fans of Low, shimmering tambourines and shadowy English misery should paddle over this way.
Blood Pavilion – Purrveyor
Blood Pavilion is the electronic outfit of Jarmo Nuutre, one half of doom metal duo Talbot (a band you should already know – they have toured the world and just played at Roskilde, and they’re awesome). Purrveyor is taken from Blood Pavilion’s new album released on August 1. As you maybe already guessed from the name of the track, Jarmo does have a cat at home and it really happened to be useful to produce that sound sample used in Purrveyor.
Anna & Miki – Universal Mind
Anna and Miki sing beautiful acoustic songs with a little Eastern influence. The couple found much inspiration for their debut album while traveling in Nepal, soon after they start playing together. The record was released in May and Universal Mind is part of it.
Cut Off – Prisons Burned
Cut Off is a fastcore/powerviolence act from Athens. Their debut album Sick Of This Life is a relentless burst of outrage with speedy, sharp guitar riffs, schizophrenic drumming and scorching, throaty, rebellious screams and vocals.
Far Travel Music – Not About You
Far Travel Music are a Mumbai-based, four-piece alternative rock and experimental band fronted by producer Arjun Kanungo. Their first release Not About You draws from progressive rock with a lot of meaty middle-end and then segues into a dubstep-style breakdown that takes the song into completely new sonic territory. The fusion of electronica and rock usually makes most wary, but Far Travel Music do the style justice.
Sajama Cut – These Are Wounded Things
Sajama Cut have been praised by music critics as well as Time magazine, and were handpicked by MGMT to open their concert in Jakarta. These Are Wounded Things is a downloadable bonus track from the vinyl re-release of the group’s second album, The Osaka Journals. It has a lo-fi sensibility with a simple, beautifully-arranged melody.
IRELAND: Harmless Noise
Idiot Songs – Jung Trickster
Idiot Songs, the collaboration between Pearse McGloughlin and Justin Grounds, is a contemporary interpretation of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and hears the duo craft a musical concept around the Russian novel, with its tale of moral and social dilemma. Created for the most part while Grounds and McGloughlin were living in Ireland and Canada respectively, electronic beats are used to give pace and tension, while the use of classical arrangements of piano and violin give a timelessness that harks back to the chamber music of the novel’s setting. If you like Jung Trickster check out the exceptional video for Villages Of Ether.
M+A – When
Young duo M+A define their music as “playful, sophisticated dance pop” and I could not imagine a better description. Maybe I would just point out that “sophisticated” does not prevent the sweat when you see them live. Phoenix glam meets Hot Chip beats. The first taster of their second album These Days (out in September on Monotreme Records) is When and it’s the perfect soundtrack for the heart of summer.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Yoshino Yoshikawa – I Feel You, I Love You
Yoshino Yoshikawa deals in high-definition pop music, the sort of stuff that does not try to engage in any subtleties. He does it very well, as evidenced on I Feel You, I Love You. The song is a bouncy electric number featuring a big, joyful chorus. Yoshikawa sings with just the slightest touch of vocal manipulation, which never distracts but rather adds to the sparking vibe this track goes for. It is joy delivered without any hint of irony.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Tino El Pingüino – Lo Juro, Mi Ex Novia Era Un X-Men
Mexico City’s Tino El Pingüino has been labeled one of the most promising new voices in the country’s hip hop scene. His 2013 debut album Tu Antihéroe Favorito shows him as a master wordsmith, always witty in his rhymes, a vast palette of flows and a unique approach to universal subjects with cruel irony, never exaggerated. Lo Juro, Mi Ex Novia Era Un X-Men (“I swear it, my ex-girlfriend was an X-Men”) has a straightforward funky beat with Tino floating on top effortlessly, just oozing style.
Earth Mk. II – Together
Earth Mk. II mastermind Hugo van der Poel spent years playing in bands with childhood pal and local neopsych beacon Jacco Gardner. Now at the helms of his own project, van der Poel has enlisted Gardner to produce his Excelsior Recordings debut, Music For Mammals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, classic 1960s influences such as The Zombies and Syd Barrett form the basis of Earth Mk. II’s sound. Yet, as album cut Together reveals, van der Poel also incorporates enough non-60s influences (e.g. Nirvana, White Fence) to carve out his own niche within the world of melodic neopsychedelia.
Space Bee – Yeah Yeah
Formed in 2001, the music of Space Bee is eclectic – from Arabic scales and psychedelia to a classic rock sound that uses violins. Yeah Yeah is a powerful part of It’s Alive! Vol. 1, the rock band’s most recent album, available for free on Bandcamp.
POLAND: Łukasz Kuśmierz Weblog
Łagodna Pianka – Lody Huśtawkowe
What is your childhood memory? For Łagodna Pianka, it’s first love, swinging on a seesaw and eating ice creams, as you can hear in Lody Huśtawkowe. The pop-rock band from Rzeszów spent two years practising in a garage before they felt ready to play their tunes in front of an audience.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Peixe : Avião – Avesso
Peixe : Avião, first featured in August 2010’s Music Alliance Pact, have had three years of intense touring followed by the recording of their new album, due out in September. A turning point in the band’s sound is indicated by Avesso (meaning “inside out”), the first single from it which is backed with a beautiful video. Peixe : Avião is one of the most sucessful indie bands in Portugal and their intense, intricate sound has earned them a large following.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie
Las Abejas – Guys & Gals
Almost two years after dropping their debut EP, the members of Las Abejas have become some of Puerto Rico’s most vital musicians within the local independent scene, participating in numerous projects including ones featured in past editions of MAP. All that experience is evident in their second release, the impressive Lazy Views. Guys & Gals is an exquisite surprise of a song that gives in to the band’s most bizarre and experimental impulses. Few other tracks this year will come close to its maniacal energy.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Steaua de Mare – Doamne Ce Greșeală Am
Steaua de Mare is a Bucharest-based band whose sound is a hybrid of prog, dub, psychedelic rock and contemporary gypsy music (manele). The instrumental group released their self-titled debut album in May through Future Nuggets/Ambassador’s Reception.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Mast. – Romance
Mast. is Liam Rutherford, a young man who describes his music as “1-piece pop from Glasgow”. So hot out of the box is debut song Romance that this recording was completed five days before MAP’s publication date. The opening minute is a feat of mesmerism as the hypnotic, repetitive lyrics of “We’ve healed all of this, all of this, almost all of it” are delivered over a dreamy math-rock texture. While that genre often produces technical, abstract results, Romance instead makes an extraordinary shift in gear. An exhilarating chorus bursts into play, Liam’s singing – about the theme of change – becomes even more spirited, and the song’s emotional conclusion is strikingly tender.
La Presa – Todo El Amor
Formed by three friends, all originally from Madrid but now living all over Spain, La Presa are inspired by OBK, Yurena, Putilatex and Dioni (of Camela). The result is exceptionally danceable music which is both direct and simple.
UNITED STATES: We Listen For You
Shark? – AOK
Brooklyn’s Shark? is a pure rock and roll band that brings intensity and a sharpness of craft to each of their songs. On AOK, the band displays a knack for writing catchy hooks and grooves that can push the song forward second after second. A gutsy breakdown in the middle section adds an artful element to the already interesting track and makes Shark? a band to watch closely.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Lavu Duban – Zapatero Siciliano
Lavu Duban formed in San Cristóbal, Táchira, in 2008 but it wasn’t until January 2013 that the rock and roll group managed to make their debut album, which they are promoting with shows around the country.