AMERICA: I Guess I’m Floating
The name Janelle Monae might ring a bell – she has guested on several OutKast songs and recently signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy label. After seeing her energetic performance at Bonnaroo a few days ago I can say that she’ll be one to keep a close eye on. Even if Sincerely, Jane doesn’t do much for you, check out some live clips on YouTube to get the whole picture.
Guillermo Beresñak and Pablo Retamero got together in January 2008 in Buenos Aires. From this union came Le Microkosmos, an electronic ensemble in constant search for new musical experiences with synths, programming, instruments, vocals and orchestral sampling. This quest led them to create their own cosmos from each sound, such as this acoustic-electronic ballad taken from their brand new album, Y Vas Donde Sonrisas Te Dan Esos Encapuchados De Un Mundo Nuevo.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
One of Australia’s, if not the world’s, most exciting indie-rock bands, Dappled Cities are back with their third album, Zounds. It was written and recorded after an extensive period of touring their previous offering Granddance, a classic album in the minds of many critics. The Price is a fantastic taster for old and new fans alike, worthy of immediate playlisting.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Júlia Says have just released their second independent EP, Menos é Mais (“Less Is More”), in which the duo go deep inside electronica with some strong influences of dance-rock. The name of the band was taken from a children’s story and it’s a thing that helps us to connect to the fragile melancholy and beauty of Cá.
How awesome is this song? So much so that when I saw them perform it during a soundcheck at a show in Ottawa recently, everyone in the room just watched in stunned silence and then exploded in wild cheers when it was done. To put that in context, that kind of thing never happens. But Sea Dreamer, in all its pounding, pulsing, marching-gleefully-into-the-apocalypse glory, is amazing enough to be the exception.
CHILE: Super 45
Full of aggressive beats, explosive sampling and social protest lyrics, Valentina Fel is the most logical evolution of a riot girl – punk almost in the realm of grime, do-it-yourself attitude with dancehall as a commodity and flamenco-injected defiance. Her long-awaited upcoming debut -to be release in the next few months – promises to be a massive earthquake in the dancefloor that nobody could anticipate.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
A new project by Mattis Jakobsen and Malte Hill of Straight To Your Face, Rock Hard Power Spray guitarist Frederik Valentin and recently joined by bassist Karsten D. Johansen (Strawberry Slaughterhouse), Vomit Supreme have long been an All Scandinavian favorite. Punk aggression spoon with pop hooks and with the mighty Versus Love spearheading their campaign, world domination should be nigh.
ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
I’m A Pilot, the opening track on Fanfarlo’s debut album Reservoir, sets the scene for what’s to follow. It’s a rich, heady brew of heavily orchestrated indie-pop which at times even feels like it’s pulling its punches. It’s the sound of a young band comfortable in their own grandiosity and as Reservoir carefully unfolds, it’s impossible not to be swept along. From now until July 4 you can download the album from the Fanfarlo website for just $1, so you’ve no excuse for not owning it.
What a summer hit song! Cool and sexy! Singer Sara delivers delicious pop melodies over Markku’s electro bits and sounds. This duo from Helsinki are putting the final touches to their debut album, but they have already gained attention around the world, playing in London and Tokyo. Soon TV OFF will take over the world.
For too long Phoenix have been overshadowed by Daft Punk and Air, but no more. Even though Phoenix are four albums into an increasingly fruitful career, 1901 is possibly the most immediate and loveable thing they’ve ever created. An anthem for indie kids, a dancefloor filler for disco dwellers. It’s for everyone really.
High Voltage Humans are a Munich-based electronic duo. The featured song is heavily energetic and balances guitar riffs with synth melodies sounding a bit like 80s space electro. It’s a concrete four-to-the-floor flour-dust explosion.
ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
For A Minor Reflection are a quartet from Reykjavík who play energetic, melodious, instrumental post-rock. They have earned comparisons to Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Óhljóð, which means “discordant noise”, is taken from their 2007 debut album Reistu Þig Við, Sólin Er Komin Á Loft… (“Rise and shine, the sun’s up…”) on Blippr.com. Guitarist Kjartan Holm’s older brother Georg plays bass in Sigur Rós, whom they supported on tour last year.
Taken from It Was Only A Satellite, the debut EP from this Dublin three-piece, Osumi showcases the bleep-assisted electronic edge of their sound before diverting into heady post-rock guitar progressions, while singer Sorcha repeats a mantra atop like a prototype Natasha Khan. Their yearning indie-electronic-pop sound is reminiscent of Lali Puna, Broadcast and The Notwist.
I would have never expected to listen to an Italian band mix diverse sounds such as Anticon and The Postal Service, but when I heard My Awesome Mixtape I just had to change my mind. Infectious melodies and tight grooves, these young kids just seem to be unstoppable.
MEXICO: Club Fonograma
Los Amparito is the mind-blowing, eccentric and absolutely sublime project of Carlos Pensina. He is relatively well known in Mexico’s indie scene for his more electronic act Pepepe, but Los Amparito have enormous potential to break into international boundaries. This sound is like a distorted Mexican mirror of traditional music mashed with its own repetition, flourishing vocals and colorful sequences resulting in something between Animal Collective, Amparo Ochoa and El Guincho.
NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Lisa Crawley is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who stands out from the crowd because of her voice and the playful arrangements of her folk-pop songs. Brother, from her second independently released EP Hello, Goodbye And Everything Inbetween, would be great on the basis of its plinky-plonk piano alone, but it’s the trombone that lifts it to another level.
Firetop Mountain are four boys and a girl from the Oslo area, who play indie-rock with a strong melodic focus. Just last week they released their debut album Indians Aren’t Afraid Of Heights on their own label. Their music is sometimes powerful and energetic – songs you want to jump around to – and other times more laid-back and sensitive. Good songwriting all the way.
Mi Jardín Secreto’s debut album, La Ciencia Y El Arte De La Falsificación, contains 11 songs that flit between new wave, alternative rock and the sound of modern bands. The theme of the lyrics is a mixture of the warmth and coldness of the city of Lima, with characters who have adventures in a place and climate familiar to us all.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
What started as Bruno Miguel’s music project is now a trio with female vocalist Marcela Freitas and multi-instrumentalist Francisco Bernardo. After appearances on various international compilations :papercutz are now signed to Montreal’s Apegenine label, who released their debut album Lylac in February. In April, they were winners of the ‘off the beaten track’ category in The People’s Music Awards in London.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Luna Amara have been around for almost 10 years, during which they’ve managed to create an image and a name for themselves in Romania. From mellow alternative to angry metal sounds, their music is powerful and never fails to deliver its message. Floodmoses is taken from their recently released third album Don’t Let Your Dreams Fall Asleep.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
If Arcade Fire’s Wake Up moved you to your core then get ready to fall in love with Traffic. It has that soaring choral majesty, that sprawling orchestration and The Seventeenth Century clearly possess ambitions that are no less lofty. Having had a listen to the young Glasgow band’s forthcoming In The Place EP, we can say without hesitation that you’re looking at the best new band in Scotland.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
We visit one of Singapore’s finest indie bands of the 90s with Concave Scream. Fiction, taken from their third album Three, hints at the flavors of DJ Shadow, The Cure, U2 and Butler-era Suede. It is a fine tune that could sum up the entire record with its use of ethereal vocals, otherworldly chorus-effected guitar lines and a blistering rhythm section. These days, Concave Scream are pushing the envelope of their musical whimsicality by releasing an instrumental fifth album that can be found on their website.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Post-punk/grunge trio The Plastic Day released their first full-length album, 30 Seconds Between The Dreamer And The Realist, only last month but already they’ve gotten unusually high coverage in Korea-related English language media online. With an intense rock sound paired with English lyrics, there’s no reason why they won’t get even further. I Miss Me Myself might be one of the softer songs on the album, but it’s one that instantly spawns an impulse to hit the repeat button.
I don’t know if there’s a term for the sound of Chuck Morgan. The last post I did on this Gothenburg-based troubadour tried to peg him as “romantic indie-pop”. His new song, The Best Of You, continues that sound but adds even more electronic beeps and blips to the mix.
To download all 24 songs in one file click here.
Kate Miller-Heidke – ‘Walking On A Dream’ cover (mp3)
I’ve never been sure about Kate MH’s album or image. She comes across as a sweet natured girl in interviews with a genuine vocal talents good enough to do opera, definitely sufficient for pop. Yet the way she’s been presented in her own publicity seems slightly contrived, and unfortunately this cover version isn’t helping. I was intrigued when I received this, thinking that she would add her own pop flavour to the track and give herself a chance to change people’s minds, but what she ended up with is a somewhat colourless ballad. Going up against Luke Steele’s singing was never going to be easy, but she could’ve done so much more with it.
Batrider – ‘Ha Ha’
I love Batrider. I know Jonny over at Polaroids of Androids has been anticipating this record probably more than I but it’s finally arrived so yay for that. Cue party music. You can check out the first single off the album over at POA, so I figured I’d throw up something different.
After a handful of listens, ‘Ha Ha’ stands out as my favourite. It contrasts verses of abrasive guitar and vocals dripping with contempt against a sweet, double-tracked refrain lamenting her place as a third wheel. The way she bitterly laughs at herself as she pines for another is crushing but effective. “Stick with me if you want to drown / Ha Ha!”… that’s some self-hate right there. Ouch. Also, the song just sounds rad. The clanging, raw guitar work is ace. Love it. Awaiting an undoubtedly glowing review for the album, Jonny.
whothehell.net presents… UPSTARTS at Spectrum, 34 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Sydney
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WED 17 JUNE – $8
THOUGHT CREATURE [NZ]- ‘Favourite New Machine’ (mp3)
New Zealand three piece Thought Creature plays the upcoming Upstarts @ Spectrum next Wednesday night. They are joined by The Prayer Circle, Royston Vasie and Halal, How Are You? We are giving away two double passes to this night, to win join our mailing list!
Tucker B’s – ‘First Born Son’
Tucker B’s – ‘Wow (A Bear Is Not A Man)’
These guys have been kicking around for over a decade so they know what they’re doing. This is the first album, however, that I’ve devoted suitable attention to. Like any underground Australian act surviving that long, an admirable amount of dedication is required and that totally shines through on this record.
I couldn’t pick just one song, partially because it’s a quality release and partiallybecause one isolated song can’t adequately communicate the reach of their stuff. ‘First Born Son’ is the lead track and opens with a burst of noise before synthesising it into a tight, tense song complete with a double tracked melody about mysterious famalial obligations.
‘Wow (A Bear In Not A Man)’ is full of fragile ivory punctuated by euphoric shards of guitar that almost answer the hope in singer Matt Rudas’s voice, before divulging in the first truly heavy moments of the disc.
Voltaire Twins – D.I.L (mp3)
I’m not really at the forefront of the new electro/indie-nu-rave thing that seems to be happening in Australia and indeed the world at the moment. Frankly some of it makes me sick-up in my mouth just a little bit.
One act that I do find as pleasing as a pack of quick ease and a glass of milk however, is brother-sister duo the Voltaire Twins. It seems that amongst a crowd of mediocrity they’ve not forgotten that melody and actual hooks are important in writing a catchy tune.
The Voltaire Twins’ debut single D.I.L. is set for release sometime soon (apparently the middle of the year) and the three tracks I’ve heard off it certainly put it head and shoulders above some of their ‘shout lyric, play chord, shout lyric’ comrades.