It's time for the 31st I love Icelandic music/Icelandic Music Maffia 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 36 songs with a take off in Iceland:
This month I contributed the song "Kvaðning" by Skálmöld.
The song "Kvaðning" is featured on the debut album "Baldur", a concept album telling the epic and dramatic tale of the viking Baldur, released last year.
The band signed a deal with Napalm Records for a worldwide release and distribution.
To download all 36 songs in one file click here
Violeta Castillo - La Batalla Del Movimiento
Violeta is a young and promising singer-songwriter from Buenos Aires who just released her first recordings in the form of two EPs, Uno and Otro. La Batalla Del Movimiento is a sweet pop ballad with great arrangements, thanks to her collaboration with a great band called Monoambiente. You can listen to both EPs and buy the MP3s from her Bandcamp page.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Khancoban - Until It Takes You Over
Sure there are big drums and meandering atmospherics that do tab out a few pages of Neon Bible, but Khancoban manage to verge on 'epic' without coming out too overtly pomp. For what it lacks in lyrical diversity, it makes up for in delivery - a steady build that abruptly cuts off after only three minutes. New album Arches Over The Sun drops in July. Until then, this one will be a good excuse to wake up early and mull over my cereal to.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Luísa Maita - Lero-Lero
Lero-Lero is the minimalist samba that opens the debut album from singer Luísa Maita. It's a song that calmly grows, almost without you noticing - her soft voice takes you to a special place in your head and suddenly you're just dancing and singing along with her. This track is also available for free download on Bandcamp.
Dora Alexander - Travelers
Yes, Dora Alexander sound just like a version of Radiohead that ceased to exist somewhere between The Bends and OK Computer. But you know what? It's been about a decade and a half since then, so it's probably safe for someone else to claim that sound. And, as Travelers - both this song and their debut EP of the same name - demonstrates, Dora Alexander are ready to pick up that mantle. Here's hoping they stick with it a little longer than the originators.
CHILE: Super 45
DeMentira - Post-Tbc
Ariel Altamirano, the DJ and producer better known as DeMentira, is the founder of Chilean netlabel Discos Pegaos, specializing in electronic music and abstract beats. The label was responsible for debut albums by Vaskular and Motivado as well the release of Chinpancé EP, first solo effort from DeMentira since his introduction as producer and rapper for the trio Iris in 2006. Post-Tbc is the first single from Chinpancé EP where we find mysterious beats, not dissimilar to dubstep, as well the experimental nature of the wonky sound.
Friend Or Foe - Snorting Clorox
Friend Or Foe are a secretive, occasionally masked rock trio who have been tearing up the Shanghai scene lately with their brand of fun-filled, balls-out rock. Preferring to keep their identities a secret, the band promulgate the myth that they are in fact three illegitimate demons, raised in Heaven: guitarist and vocalist Rabshakeh and often topless drummer Mahanehdan are joined by bassist Bill.
COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Jiggy Drama - Me Vale
Jiggy Drama is a musical phenomenon in Latin America. His 'Nerdside' style has the total attention of radio stations and nightclubs, generating an internet boom with his urban alternative music. His most recent single, Me Vale, is a Cumbia fusion with some Caribbean sounds.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Frederik Teige - You Always Tried To Pull Us Down
He’s been touring with Efterklang since 2007, but thankfully singer, songwriter and guitarist Frederik Teige has also found time to write and record material of his own. The climax so far is his self-released full-length debut Body God - nine songs worth of awesome alternative pop - which you can get for as much as you feel like paying (free is even an option) on Bandcamp.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Holy Other - Touch
A nameless character who works variously in Berlin, Gothenburg and Manchester, Holy Other is a British musician who, like his US counterpart How To Dress Well, has a penchant for taking contemporary R&B and draining it of all passion and all its sexual signifiers. What you're left with is music like Touch: slow, drifting electronica, marked by glitches, with an almost church-like atmosphere that has led some to describe it as "ambient goth", an affecting mix of spectral sonics and ghostly vocals, as un-earthy as it is unearthly.
Mimicry - Godspeed
Aggressive and arrogant, otherworldly and expressive, Mimicry fuses electroclash with psychedelic techno, ethnic beats and garage rock. Their aim: to produce perfectly mindblowing party music and provoke emotions never felt before.
NT's White Trash - Whistle
The most recognizable Brit in Finnish indie, Nick Triani, put together NT's White Trash with the aim of making some noise, which is captured in the band's debut Mourning Becomes Electric due in May. Whistle is a catchy two-and-a-half minute guitar-pop song, with an uplifting… well, whistling. It is a smooth exception on an album that promises some edgier sounds.
FRANCE: Yet You're Fired
Thomas Kieffer - Summertime
Thomas Kieffer is a talented songwriter, offspring of the Strasbourg rock scene. At 15 years old, he was hugely impressed by bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and started playing in different bands. Today, at 35, his resumé is very impressive: he has opened for legendary artists such as Canned Heat, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Gary Moore, NOFX and Scorpions. He started a solo career two years ago, giving up on hard rock and metal, and should succeed with it and his album Beautiful Hands.
Joasihno - Von
Joasihno's songs benefit a lot from his percussionist skills and his open-mindedness for playful but cautious arrangements. His wanderlust is almost tangible as he sings, although he is deeply rooted in Bavaria. Von is taken from his forthcoming debut We Say: Oh Well which is being released on Kyr Records.
2L8 - Don't Follow Me
2L8's music lurches deftly between emotional intimacy, ambition and experimentation. Their two well-received previous releases (download them for free here) proved they are one of the most creative and compelling acts in the musical underground. They are running a campaign on Pledge Music to help them unleash their forthcoming double album, New Battles, Without Honor And Humanity. The magnificent Don't Follow Me, a Music Alliance Pact exclusive, drips with melancholy. It blends warmth and brooding, existential contemplation with a repetitive but mesmerizing acoustic guitar melody full of subtlety and distinct sonic accents, and swims in gorgeous sheets of trembling, passionate vocals.
ICELAND: Icelandic Music Maffia
Skálmöld - Kvaðning
Skálmöld is a metal band formed in August 2009. The six members had been formerly active in other bands, not all metal. Their music can be described as powerful, melodic and epic Viking metal, along with various folk influences. The lyrics follow the strict rules of traditional Icelandic poetry. Kvaðning is featured on last year's debut record Baldur, a concept album telling the epic and dramatic tale of the viking Baldur.
Pentagram - Tomorrow's Decided
Pentagram is one of India's biggest acts. The band has been around for the better part of the past two decades, creating music that's always been a contemporary, cutting edge reflection of the generation it is part of. The band recently released its fourth studio album Bloodywood, arguably its most evolved work yet. Tomorrow's Decided uses a traditional, folk-based drum beat and surrounds it with quintessential, soaring Pentagram electro-rock goodness to create four of the most intensely exciting minutes you're going to have today.
Gugun Blues Shelter - White Dog
Gugun Blues Shelter is probably one of Indonesia's best exports, with recognition from the blues community in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia. The band have played at international events such as the Belfast Big River Blues and Jazz Festival and Great British R&B Festival. And no big festival in Indonesia would be complete without them.
SertOne - Past Present Future
Reminscent of RJD2, J Dilla and all those fine beat maestros that no doubt inspired him, Liverpool via Portadown's SertOne aka 21-year-old Gareth McAlinden is certainly a producer to watch. This tune contains a unique Belfast sample, twisted brass and a head-nodding beat that makes you sit up and take notice. You can find it on the recent seven-track The View From Above EP through Melted Music.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Gevolt - Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn
Yiddish metal pioneers Gevolt took this 1932 Yiddish musical track (that incidentally was a big hit in Nazi Germany until they figured out it was Yiddish) and made glorious metal out of it. Their sound resembles a happy-go-lucky Rammstein/Linkin Park hybrid with violins. But since a lot of their songs are versions of the old ones my grandmothers sing, they have an unmatched nostalgic beauty. Download their second album Alef Base for free while you still can at their site.
Love Boat - You Know I Really Want You
These guys from Sardinia are probably more known around Europe than in Italy. That's how bad this country has gotten. Anyway, they have a new album on the German label Alien Snatch and a 7" EP on Shit Music For Shit People. This song comes from the latter's B-side. Grab everything and start to dance a wild garage party - this is good rock 'n' roll.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Toy Selectah - No Pasma feat. Isa GT
In the last decade, Cumbia has become the 'lingua franca' to fill Latin-oriented dancefloors worldwide. Its saucy rhythms and nasty grooves easily adapt to many other musical forms: from techno to reggae, passing through favela-funk or dubstep. With a career spanning 15 years (and dreadlocks nearly that long), Toy Selectah has earned respect as a Cumbia-lord, trading the genre and cross-pollinating it with his constant travels and after-hours gigs. His Mex Machine EP out on Diplo's Mad Decent label is an infectious state of affairs. On No Pasma, the Colombia-born, London-dwelling singer Isa GT throws some cocksure chants on a perfect groundshaking Cumbia.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Death Letters - Your Heart Is Upside Down
It's nice to see a bit of international buzz building for a young Dutch band. This duo aren't even legal to enjoy a good piss-up in Texas, which is where they headed last year to record an album with Chris 'Frenchie' Smith (Jet, The Dandy Warhols, Smog) and where they returned to for SXSW last month. The resulting album, Post-Historic, isn't the band's first effort but it's markedly different from their self-titled debut. Here they leave behind their original blues-rock trappings and fire through Glassjaw post-hardcore, Biffy Clyro post-grunge and ...Trail Of Dead post-rock 'n' roll. That may be a lot of 'posts' but they make an incredibly energetic yet refined racket on stage.
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
Ghost Wave - Sunsetter
Ghost Wave hits you like a motorik wall of noise, with its hypnotic waves of reverb guitar, mechanical drums and atmospherics. Matt Paul's project started after his solo electronic act Street Beat gave way to this united front, with drummer Eammon Logan, guitarist Rikki Sutton and bassist Alex Grant. Live they're enigmatic with tightly wound, ravaged Clean-style hooks and perfectly warped pop songs. Their debut EP was released earlier this month on Arch Hill.
NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
Beatbully - Bølleboogie
Beatbully is an offspring of the Norwegian skweee label Dødpop. Skweee is a genre of Nordic heritage, based on classic hip hop beats with heavy influence of modern electronica. Although mainly composed for a live audience, Beatbully invites skweee to your living room as well. This winter, he released Kosmisk Regn ("Cosmic Rain"), the first solo album in Dødpop's history. Bølleboogie has an irresistible beat that leaves no one behind on the dancefloor, and the juicy melody won't release you till its over. It's a three-minute piece of bliss that will make even your grandmother dance.
Kuraka - Fuego Negro
Kuraka is a rock group that spawned from the collaboration of renowned musicians of local bands such as Emergency Blanket, Zen, M.A.S.A.C.R.E. and Inyectores. The diversity of styles seemed an obstacle to assemble their ideas, but the bonds of friendship led to them making something interesting. In 2009, they released a few singles that whetted the appetite for their debut album Fuego Negro, which came out in August 2010 on Mundane Records. Take a listen to the great song that gives the album its name.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
They're Heading West - My Case Is A Different One
They're Heading West are three singers/composers (João Correia, Francisca Cortesão, Mariana Ricardo) and a drummer (Sérgio Nascimento) who decided to get together and play songs from their bands and solo projects. They only have one set of songs, recorded live at a national radio station, which is not yet available commercially. The song featured this month is, therefore, a MAP exclusive as a free download.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Parachute Pulse - Hopscptch
Parachute Pulse is the brand new project of Ana Roman. Her debut album, Kingdom, is a collection of cinematic sounds, moods and emotions. The album is available for free download on her label's page, Asiluum. Hopscptch is a collaboration with Res Es of Semiosis, who were featured in the Music Alliance Pact back in May 2009.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Sebastian Dangerfield - You Played Your Part, Singer!
Sebastian Dangerfield are a four-piece from Edinburgh who are little-known even in their home city. But that shouldn't be the case for much longer if the band continue to show such an accomplished grasp of Americana-tinged folk-rock amplified with a healthy dose of scuzzy-pop zest and various stringed instruments. The wonderfully-named You Played Your Part, Singer! is taken from their new EP, The Sound Of The Old Machines, which you can find on Bandcamp.
SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
DJ Koflow - Make Your Hands Clap, Toes Clap
DJ Koflow is one of Singapore's most celebrated DJs. His claim to fame started when he won the national DMC Championship in 2003, and he continued to skyrocket by receiving many honourable mentions in local and international media. He dropped his debut album The Turntable Instrumentalist despite a heavy production and performance schedule, with the record speaking volumes of his myriad influences. Jazz, hip hop, funk and soul all seamlessly flow together in the hands of one of the country's brightest mix masters.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Battle Beyond The Stars - The Desert
Philip Kramer, aka Battle Beyond The Stars, is a Cape Town-based DJ and producer. He is best known for his unique blend of electro, French house and unusual tracks that no DJ in their right mind would play in public. He recently released an EP entitled Memory which gave his awaiting fans a concrete collection of songs. With his new offering The Desert, he injects his signature sound to create a shimmering, synth-infused song that shows off his immense talent with its subtly.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Neon Bunny - Long-D
Yoojin Lim is the sole member of Neon Bunny, who debuted with an album called Seoulight in late March. Having been a session keyboardist for successful power-pop act The Black Skirts - the very first South Korean MAP contribution - her own sound is on the electro side, influenced by Ladyhawke and Phoenix. Long-D is a semi-catchy track with something of a retro sound.
Disco Las Palmeras! - La Casa Cuartel
Disco Las Palmeras! are a three-piece band from Galicia, hometown of related acts such as Franc3s, Mequetrefe or Triángulo de Amor Bizarro and cradle of the new Spanish noise wave. La Casa Cuartel opens their debut album, Nihil Obstat, released earlier this year. The song is about a terrorist strike on a police station and features hypnotic drums and suffocating guitar riffs that recall exactly the same feelings the lyrics talk about: fear and anxiety.
Summer Heart - Please Stay
It's almost spring which means summer is still a while away. But we can dream, can't we? That's where this song from Malmö-based band Summer Heart comes in. It's called Please Stay, but with its Beach Boys harmonies, groovy beat and summer feeling, it may as well be the band's coup d'état.
Pamela Méndez - Bubble Bubble
Bubble Bubble is the first single from Pamela Ménedez's critically-acclaimed debut album I Will Be Loved, released in February. The Bern resident, whose father is Mexican, belongs to a new breed of female singer-songwriters popping up in nearly every Swiss town. Heidi Happy, Sophie Hunger, Lena Fennell and Lea Lu are others to check out.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Supreme Cuts - Amnesia
Chicago's Supreme Cuts describe their sound as "future R&B" - a perfect name for the sample and bass-heavy slow grooves they weave into their songs. Amnesia is perhaps their most supreme cut, a ridiculously addictive head trip that could soundtrack a nightclub as easily as it could an R Kelly video from the 90s.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Unos Infames - Pagando Es Que Se Puede
You could say that Unos Infames is just another rock band. But no. To hear and see them live you will realize that their strength on stage belongs to a mega band. Unos Infames, who formed in Barcelona, Anzoátegui, is made up of experienced musicians who fuse some blues influences with controversial lyrics. They are currently recording their debut album.