It's time for the 34th 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 32 songs with a take off in Iceland:
This month I contributed the song "Undraland" (Wonderland) by Valdimar.
To download all 32 songs in one file click here
Laika - Corazón
Laika is a soft-rock band featuring Leticia Monge (vocals, guitar), Micaela Hattori (guitar), Leonardo Fucci (bass) and Roberto Fighetti (drums). They've just released their self-titled debut album and we think it's great, with really funny lyrics written in an almost scientific poetry. Corazón is one of our favourite songs and it was included in the soundtrack of Plan V, a web sitcom about the lesbian scene of Buenos Aires that we also recommend.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Guerre - Millenium Blues
Guerre is the best thing to happen to Oz music since the Australian cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. If you've not heard his ghostly take on lo-fi R&B then now is the perfect time to get into it because his official debut EP, Darker My Love, and a remix companion are available for free on his label's Bandcamp page. A good point of comparison would be blog sensation How To Dress Well, although there's enough uniqueness and authenticity here to keep you hitting repeat (plus I actually heard of Guerre first, so points for that). Highly recommended.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Criolo - Mariô
Criolo is a rapper who released an acclaimed album this year, Nó Na Orelha. In this song he pushes African beats above his rhymes and shows why he is part of a new scene of creative MCs in Brazil, such as Emicida, Renegado and RAPadura.
Patrick Canning & The Suffering Mothers - The Howl
The first influences listed on Patrick Canning's MySpace are Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, so it should come as no surprise that his music is dark and gloomy. Still, as a song like The Howl shows, just like his influences Canning has a way of making even dark and gloomy sound surprisingly engaging.
CHILE: Super 45
MKRNI - Humedad
Hailing from completely different backgrounds, ranging from experimental folk music to visual arts, the three members of MKRNI (pronounced "makaroni") come together to produce a distinctive sound that combines Latin American rhythms and post-punk influences, whose roots can be traced back to bands like ESG. Formed in 2008, the trio released an album through independent label Madhaus Records and are currently touring America, Europe and Brazil. Their latest single, Humedad, is a sample of their forthcoming and long-awaited second album.
Fan Shiqi - Dreamland
Fan Shiqi is an emerging, talented singer-songwriter. Professionally trained in classical piano and influenced by jazz, Fan exhibits the peaceful urban scene with her refreshing voice and showcases the delicacy and confidence of this modern female with her smooth lyrics. Fan's debut album Dreamland, released on the Peaceful Music label, is a collection of her jazz-flavored songs spanning four years.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Highway Child - Love Love Love (I'm Gonna Take It Out On You)
Fueled on a combo of Fernet Branca and a profound love for rock as it was cut 40-50 years ago, Highway Child have been personal favorites since I first caught one of their always awesome live performances a few years back. Three albums in, they keep impressing with their ability to make the musical heritage their own instead of just robbing the historical cradle. Their 2011 album Highway Child, from which this track is taken, expertly fuses their classic hard rock debut On The Old Kings Road (2008) and 60s psychedelia sophomore effort Sanctuary Come (2009).
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Gross Magic - We're Awake Tonight
Sam McGarrigle is Gross Magic, a one-man band from Brighton who comes across like a UK Ariel Pink, all static-drenched pop with echoes of everything from glam to grunge, delivered in a fabulously fey, high, camp voice. We're Awake Tonight manages to condense 35 years of rock and pop into three glorious minutes: T.Rex's iridescent boogie, ELO's Mr Blue Sky - it's all here. As a recent Guardian New Band of the Day column put it: "It's really hard to find actual precedents for the sound blend he's achieved here: ELO meets glam, then fed through a hypnagogic filter. Not so much shock of the new as shock of the 'ooh!'."
Laulan Sinule - Masina Sees
Laulan Sinule is a tongue-in-cheek project by Taavi Tulev, who here leaves behind his usual deep electronics and makes pure Estonian electro-pop with analog synths. For months he managed to stay anonymous with this new project, but is now gigging around Estonia - in concerts this music really comes alive even more.
Astrid Swan - Box Elder (Pavement cover)
Astrid Swan was meant to be the princess of Finnish pop but she always seemed to be too stubborn to accept the impositions of the music biz. With her third album, Better Than Wages, she fully embraced the indie sounds with a full album of straightforward guitar-pop. Astrid has taken another turn in her career and in August she will release a Pavement covers album with the attractive title of Hits (Pavement For Girls).
FRANCE: Yet You're Fired
Hold Your Horses! - We Dear Are A Desert
Hold Your Horses! come from Paris and, like many others acts from the capital, they are into acoustic folk-pop. They may already be known to you thanks to an original video in which they reinterpret the history of art. Their first EP, Sorry! Household, (an anagram of Hold Your Horses!), released in May, can be bought on iTunes.
soft.nerd - Always The Good Times
soft.nerd really are into analogue synths. In their 80s-driven tracks and remixes it is the driving force which makes room for the guitar sounds and Christian Bachmann's catchy vocals to float free in subtropical spheres. After rebuilding as a three-piece, soft.nerd recently released the album Sound Sound Sound, available via Bandcamp, from which Always The Good Times is taken.
A Victim Of Society - You're Gonna Hate Me
A Victim Of Society delves into the darker side of human nature and delivers eerie, uncannily alluring melodies with raspy vocals buried beneath noise and distortion-drenched filters. His music is a plaintive, lo-fi mixture of nostalgia wrapped up in deeply ingrained noir sensibilities. You're Gonna Hate Me's rough and tumble groove coated in sheets of echo and shadow will leave you bewildered and enthralled in equal measures.
ICELAND: Icelandic Music Maffia
Valdimar - Undraland
Valdimar is a fresh force within the Icelandic music scene. The band's music spans the whole emotional spectrum, from intimate ballads to powerful, energetic rock. Valdimar colours its music with heavy brass, guitar and keyboard textures. They were nominated in the brightest hope category at the Icelandic Music Awards. Undraland is the title track of their debut album, released at the end of 2010 on the Geimsteinn label.
Burgerkill - House Of Greed
Burgerkill are one of the biggest and longest running metal bands in Indonesia. They have just released a new album, Venomous, which is heavy as hell.
Little Green Cars - My Love Took Me Down To The River (To Silence Me)
Having first been impressed by Little Green Cars in 2008, it's with great pleasure that a mere three years later, the band consisting of 18-year olds have come good on that spark of promise they initially showed. Now a tight, talented and focused unit, their sound falls between Local Natives-style folk and Arcade Fire-style rock. Their debut single The John Wayne is out this month through UK label Young And Lost Club, and this separate new track showcases another impressive side to them.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Hammercult - Stealer Of Souls
Hammercult is an extreme thrash metal band formed in late 2010 by alumni of Israel's finest metal bands. Following their debut show in December, Hammercult stormed stages all across Israel, smashing into the local scene and garnering a tremendous amount of fans in a minimal amount of time. They also won the right to represent Israel in the 2011 international Wacken Metal Battle competition to be held this August in Germany. Late July will mark the release of their debut EP, Rise Of The Hammer, and their first full-length release is in the works.
Giorgio Tuma - New Fabled Stories
Sometimes, in the middle of the summer, a sweet melody that brings back memories of Brian Wilson, Stereolab and flamboyant Italian soundtracks from the 60s (think Piccioni, Rota, Umiliani) is really all you need. Add a touch of bossa nova and a smoke of jazz and you'll have In The Morning We'll Meet, the brilliant new album by Giorgio Tuma, out now on the legendary Spanish label Elefant Records.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Candy - El Entierro
Coffin kids, you know them. Gloomy faces, an obscure way to dress and a strange glow of life that strains to endure all their gray and decaying surroundings. But wait a minute? Are we describing a slow and pitiful goth band? Maybe this approach to Mexico City's Candy is erroneous and stereotypical. Candy have all the bittersweetness, frenzy and pomp that a power-goth trio could ask for. Produced by the experienced Joselo Rangel (from Mexican super-band Café Tacvba), El Entierro ("The Burial") is the ravenous radio-friendly single that heralds a great sophomore album for Candy.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
The Black Atlantic - Walked On Wood
The Black Atlantic is a folk-pop band based in Groningen, but they undeniably have international ambitions - no wonder given how easily their heavily melodic and lulling acoustic tracks fit in alongside the new Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes albums. The core of the project is singer-songwriter Geert van der Velde, who formed the band back in 2008 to record debut album Reverence For Fallen Trees. It has been freely available online for the past two years, although this spring it was also given a physical release in more European territories with added bonus tracks, one of which you can hear here. The band rarely takes itself off the road long enough to record new material, but a new single then EP are on the way.
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
Sleepy Age - Décor
In 2009, Christchurch's Sleepy Age began their life as a guitar band, reworking the finer points of Britpop and 90s American indie rock. But in 2011, they've completely upended their sound, releasing the synth-heavy, European disco-inspired single Décor (see video). It's a bold move, and at a time when they would be excused for making gloomy rock music, Sleepy Age has turned misery into delicious synth-pop. The band is currently escaping a string of crippling earthquakes in their home town and touring Europe and the UK - dates are available on their website.
José Arbulú - Salta
José Arbulú, a member of the well-known band Cementerio Club and considered by many people in his native country to be one of its most talented contemporary composers, returns to the music scene with his new solo production, Salta: Espíritu Azul, the first of a trilogy of records called SALTA. In this new stage, Arbulú tries to capture thoughts and feelings about all that happens to us and affects us in our tired routine of life.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
You Can't Win, Charlie Brown - Over The Sun, Under The Water
They are six, most of them from Lisbon, who have/had other projects, such as David Santos (Noiserv), a previous MAP pick. Their debut album, Chromatic, released in May, prompted influential French magazine Les Inrocks to call their music "sublime". If you are a fan of Fleet Foxes and Animal Collective, you will love You Can't Win, Charlie Brown too.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Algebra - Moloz
Algebra come from Bucharest and just released their first album - a mix of post-rock, post-punk, noise and influences from several other genres translated into short instrumental tracks. You can find their entire album as a free download on Bandcamp.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
The Patience - Space Farewell
Novosibirsk-based trio The Patience have been searching for their proper sound since 2007. They released debut EP Sun Is Always Pt.1 this year, offering a massive wall of sound based on traditions of shoegaze and pop music. Space Farewell mixes the energy of live performance with the lead singer's beautiful voice to make it one of the best Russian tracks you'll hear these days.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The Barents Sea - O' Brother Of Mine
Every once in a while you come across a band like The Barents Sea who have an indefinable essence that makes your ears prick up. One spin of O' Brother Of Mine will confirm how capable the Perth band are when it comes to constructing punch-the-air, epic guitar riffs... but you'll probably play it over and over again just to make sure. Feel free to discover how they sounded before they developed into a harmonious blend of indie and post-rock by downloading their charming bedroom-recorded 2009 mini-album Bear Island for free here.
SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
In Each Hand A Cutlass - A Universe Made Of Strings
Outlaws, stargazers and free riders - that's the sense of freedom apparent in the debut album of In Each Hand A Cutlass. The masterpiece is called A Universe Made Of Strings, and while allusions to string theory and parallel dimensions are in order, no-one can deny the sprawling ambition that the group have laboured to achieve. Swirling with different time signatures, musical styles and rapturous energy, In Each Hand A Cutlass prove that genres are for the common man and that genius lies in the outliers.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
SiwaRainbow - We Are All Alone
Siwa is a female singer-songwriter, Rainbow99 is a guitarist and electronica producer. Together they have formed the unit SiwaRainbow, creating a mellow sound where Rainbow99 provides the atmosphere and Siwa adds melody and lyrics. The duo's second album, We Are All Alone, was released in June. The title track opens with an epic synth-heavy intro that extends into total bliss.
EdredóN - Bautismo
EdredóN is a five-piece formed in the working class district of Carabanchel, Madrid. Their unique sound can be described as a cosmic mixture of psychedelia and several other genres not so easily found in Spanish indie music, such as Kraut, ambient, house or pop noir. Bizarre as it seems, this risky blend is present throughout their self-titled debut album released in 2010. Bautismo, with lyrics in French, is their particular approach to Serge Gainsbourg's élégance.
Dead Bunny - I Don't Know You
Dead Bunny don't invent the wheel anew, but from time to time that's bracing news, with hipster bands popping up all over the place. They play sweaty rock 'n' roll right from the heart, without frills and straight to the point.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
CSLSX - Keep Shining On
This band, by way of Philadelphia, are plenty young with plenty of talent. CSLSX have released a handful of tracks in the past few months, slowly showcasing their music abilities. Keep Shining On is the best yet, a perfect summer jam with stunning production value.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Vel France - Galaxia
Vel France is one of the newest talents to come out of eastern Venezuela, a region characterized by alternative rock bands, but this time bringing a more melodious voice than has been heard in recent years. Since debuting at a festival called VirgenFest, Vel France has captivated audiences with syrupy lyrics and nice guitar riffs. Galaxia, her first single, contains a lot of that and has been played on radio nationwide.