New & Recent Releases Oct 09

I'm long overdue for a run through new and recent releases and I've a got a great collection of songs that range from pop to pomp and a couple with some rough edges too.

Tiddabades are a Wellington band who have made the final 20 of the MTV 42Unheard competition for new and upcoming bands. They've released a self-titled track EP which you can buy through their myspace page. The songs, which have nagging little guitar lines and a vocal style Real Groove magazine described as "the barked, recorded-into-a-computer-mic variety", pretty much follow the same formula but when they hit the mark like they do on 'Colours' they're a lot of fun. Visit the MTV 42unheard competition website to vote.

The Brunettes fourth album has just come out on Lil' Chief Records and although nothing jumps out like 'Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth' did on the last album, Paper Dolls is full of sweet pop songs written, performed and produced by Jonathon Bree with vocals from Heather Mansfield. What gives The Brunettes longevity is that their songs are carefully constructed and have a sense of melancholy that counterpoints all that sugar. If you purchase the album through the Lil' Chief site they'll also throw in The Red Rollerskates EP.

Go to the myspace page of The Gladeyes, a two piece from Auckland and the background image is of Jade Farley and Gwen Norcliffe lying on the floor amongst their favourite albums. I was heartened to see that amongst records by the likes of The Carpenters, Elton John and Van Morrison, there's also a solo album from former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker, the excellent Life in Exile Following Abdication. That album is indicative of the fact that The Gladeyes like a little bit of grit amongst their saccharine sweet folk/pop, also borne out by decision to cover Dunedin punks Die! Die! Die! on their debut album Psychosis of Love. The Gladeyes are labelmates of The Brunettes - Lil' Chief has a strong stable of indie-pop and is one of that handful of labels where if you like one thing you will probably be safe buying anything they out. There is a clip for the song 'Bad Town Blues' by The Gladeyes on the video page and take a look at their blog.

Yet more sweetness from The Sing Songs. I've been a fan of this band for a while, singing their poppy songs with suprising lyrics, like HTML - about writing website code, or Pamphlet Baby (included in the May Music Alliance Pact) - about a woman mourning the child she lost before birth. The Sing Songs have now collected together the songs they've had floating around the internet and recorded and released them as an EP Sing Five Songs. I've especially enjoyed the one song I hadn't previously heard - this one about Facebook - 'Previously We Were Friends'.

Okay, enough sweetness. The Postures claim to have been raised on pies and heavy metal and have recently been touring with the likes of Mountaineater. They make about a million times more noise than The Gladeyes. 'Poor Impulse Control' is a taster of a forthcoming EP. There's a live clip of The Postures on the video page.

Finally is Hamilton outfit Date/Month/Year. I say outfit because they swear black and blue that they're not a band although I don't see what all the fuss is about - what's wrong with being a band. However you can read their lengthy explanation on their blog. Date/Month/Year's fourth self-released album Pot/Kettle/Black is out now. No matter what you call them they're a talented bunch of musicians with a powerful and talented vocalist in Emma Koretz. The album's an eclectic collection of tracks ranging from moody soundscapes to classic pop and huge swelling Pro-tool powered epics. Date/Month/Year say it is a concept album dealing with the mundanity of modern life (or maybe just Hamilton?). I would also recommend going back and checking out their previous album 7Ghosts.

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Music Alliance Pact Oct 09

This month sees the eleventh Counting The Beat contribution to an exciting international initiative, the Music Alliance Pact. On a monthly basis music bloggers from around the globe select a track from their own country which is then posted collectively and simultaneously on those blogs - giving each nation's track international exposure. The Music Alliance Pact is ever expanding - this month there are 34 contributors. This month Counting The Beat is pleased to be contributing 'Different Day' from Christchurch band O'Lovely's debut EP Lost Luck. You can see a video for the song on the video page.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
O'Lovely - A Different Day
O'Lovely are from Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island and they have a glistening, ringing guitar sound on this song that reminds me of some great bands from that city's past such as Bailterspace and Loves Ugly Children. The band has morphed from the more poppy The O'Lovelys with singer and keyboardist Laura Lee remaining at the centre of the band. She's joined by Perry Mahoney of Bang Bang Eche, whose guitar gives a darker, noisier feel than the earlier band. A Different Day comes from the five-track Lost Luck EP.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Lipgloss - Land Of Lords
This band from Buenos Aires released their first EP a couple of months ago and Land Of Lords is our favorite song from it. Lipgloss sound like they've been listening to British rock all their life and you sure can feel the influence of bands like The Stone Roses at the end of the song, with the psychedelic guitars and all. If you like it, you can download the entire EP directly from this link.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Cloud Control - Gold Canary
New music from the Blue Mountains! Only it sounds kinda like it originates from somewhere deep in America. Cloud Control always had an earthy, pastoral quality to their music but it sounds all the more temporally appropriate post-Fleet Foxes. Less jangle and more twang. Gold Canary is pulled from their debut album expected early 2010. It has some rootsy backing vocals and yelping, tambourine/handclap percussion, references to family members in the lyrics and then… a synth solo. This song is rad.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Constantina - Sobe Ladeira
There is something special about Constantina that goes beyond their music. The absence of vocals never leaves you with a feeling of emptiness. It's just the opposite. The instrumental songs are so deep and strong that lyrics would limit them to what we can express with words.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
The Balconies - Serious Bedtime
It's almost mind-boggling how good and how talented The Balconies are. They have two incredible lead singers (in brother and sister Jacquie and Steve Neville), both of whom are also astoundingly good songwriters, and they're backed by one of the steadiest drummers I've ever seen. They've barely been around for more than a year but they're generating a whole lot of buzz (their debut has just been released and it's already charting nationally). Songs like Serious Bedtime make it easy to see why.

CHILE: Super 45
Tonossepia - Happy Habibi Te Vez Mas Feliz
Tonossepia (Diego Vergara) is one of the most advanced musicians in the Chilean electronic scene. Constantly evolving in his way of creating music, this year he released his fourth album, Happy Habibi, an effort full of organic textures, warm harmonies and rhythmical variations. By mixing, almost to perfection, IDM and hip hop, Tonossepia has a lot of robot style and rap style.

CHINA: Wooozy
Silkfloss - Mon Amour
Mylène Chan (Muxitu) and Quan Du formed Silkfloss at the start of this year in Beijing. They are electronica, they are trip-hop, they are everything that brings you softness and fills you with love. Mylène also collaborates with many local electronic producers as a vocalist.

COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Jiggy Drama - Contra La Pared
Direct from San Andres Island, Heartan Lever - better known in the artistic scene as Jiggy D - comes loaded with cool rhymes and party beats. Jiggy mixes Antillean dancehall with old-school hip hop and Contra La Pared proves that when something is good, it doesn't have to be forced. The combination of typical Colombian sounds (papayera in this case) makes him the perfect choice to represent the nation in MAP. Jiggy is currently working on his new album, Nerdside.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Sebastian Lind - Stay
A pop natural and excellent singer, 20-year-old Sebastian Lind excites with an enticing mix of singer-songwriter acoustics and crackling electronica. He has just released his first single Stop These Feet, but here's Stay - a strong contender when it comes time to select a second.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
The Voluntary Butler Scheme - The Eiffel Tower And The BT Tower
This month's song comes from the English Midlands courtesy of awesome one-man-band Rob Jones aka The Voluntary Butler Scheme. He's a little scruffy around the edges but he serves up a tasty dish of pure pop. Although probably best experienced live, his debut album At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea (how old-school English is that title?) is full of sprightly tunes, huge hooks and amusing lyrics and is well worth checking out.

I'll Hit Her - Noise In Your Mind
There's not much info about Estonian electro-poppers I'll Hit Her and Googling that name will probably get you some quite disturbing results. Listing Aqua, 2 Unlimited and Joy Division as influences on their MySpace page, that's really as diverse as you can get.

The Capital Beat - Feel The Reggae
This is not the kind of song you would expect to hear from a Finnish band, but The Capital Beat phenomenally recreate the warm sounds of Jamaica on their first album, A Greater Fire. This eight-piece combo takes Jamaican music to a new latitude and there is only one condition - feel the reggae and do the ska.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Pascal Comelade - Two Maniaco Depressive Beatnicks Squabbling Over A Jane Russell Mozarella's Stereokini
Pascal Comelade is a really special musician. He mixes common instruments with some toys he found in a flea market. This way of working gives his music a unique tone and makes the listener feel the soul of his work. In some ways, his music reminds us of Yann Tiersen - nice piano, accordion and a lot of percussion. Two Maniaco..., with its happy leading saxophone and ringing xylophone, is a track dedicated to a happy life, which makes it a must-hear before beginning a day at work.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Rhytm Police - Ghosttrain
Rhytm Police sound like they live in a metropolis as they reduce music to a strong bass line, synth sounds and sometimes quite snatchy vocals. However, they come from the rather rural Augsburg in western Bavaria. The only way to figure this out is by listening to their songs with German lyrics. But the featured song Ghosttrain shows their international attitude.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Coin - Error 687
Coin draw their influences from the Manchester scene of the 80s and American grunge of the 90s. In their third studio album they shift their best qualities into different, equally dazzling guitar-pop shapes, sounding unclenched, enchanting and energetic. Popstitute is a beautifully balanced album filled with tremendously rich highs, unfailingly tuneful music, jagged guitars, drums and bass, which supply the rhythmic pulse and captivating hooks.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
FM Belfast - Synthia
FM Belfast was formed in late 2005 by Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (aka Árni Plúseinn) and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir. For the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2006, the band expanded into a live act with up to eight (or even more) members. The core of the band is now a quartet with Árni Vilhjálmsson (of Motherfuckers In The House) and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (of Múm). Synthia is taken from their debut album, How To Make Friends, released on the band's own World Champion Records label last year.

INDIA: Indiecision
Teddy Boy Kill - Tonic
New Delhi's Teddy Boy Kill represent the new Indian electronica soundscape - instantly international, slick and unrestrained by the need to reflect any inherent Indian-ness. This unsigned act from the country's capital released their debut album, The Exit Plan, as a free download. Tonic is one of the highlights of the record - an immediately catchy dancefloor anthem that's as temperate as it is energetic. Get ready to do something stupid.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
The Super Insurgent Group Of Intemperance Talent - Money Making
The Super Insurgent Group Of Intemperance Talent are the greatest rock 'n' roll band in Indonesia. Their straight-to-the-point songs, killer hooks and good attitude has already seen them play some big venues and sell out concerts, which is very rare in Indonesia.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Trophy Boyfriend - Black Ship
Despite the silly moniker, Gregor Ruigrok aka Trophy Boyfriend still managed to impress us with his first self-titled EP. He's still at the embyronic stages having not played live or formally released anything in Ireland yet, but judging by the electro-indie of Black Ship, we certainly hope he gets out there soon.

ITALY: Polaroid
Damien* - Confidants
Play this song and fly back in time, to around the first half of the 90s, when Britpop was full of hope and strength. Well, this is just how Damien* are today. This young and promising band from Pesaro, on the Italian east coast, is able to mix a post-punk background with a more pop attitude. The incredibly catchy Confidants is taken from their second album, out this week on Suiteside.

Henrytennis - Valencia Raincoats
Another progressive band in the Tokyo music scene, Henrytennis feature instrumental dynamism influenced by post-rock, IDM, jam and progressive rock. Their members come from such outstanding Japanese bands as 4 Bonjour's Parties, Hula Hooper, Kuruucrew, Oceanlane and Shugo Tokumaru. Their excellent second album R.U.R. is released on November 11.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Radaid - Shine
Shine is the opening track of L'Intent, the most recent record by Radaid. Hailing from Guadalajara, Jalisco, the eight talented musicians produce a peculiar mix of pop and original rhythms. That is why traces of Indian influences echo in Shine, while the vocals are by Sofía Orozco, who not only wrote the English lyrics but also invented the dialect which has nods to the phrasing of Hindu MCs.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Firefly Effect - Never By Your Side
Oslo quartet Firefly Effect recently released their brilliant debut album, Everything Is Beautiful And You Are The Reason, on Perfect Pop Records/Solerød Records. It is full of charming indie-pop songs with organs, boy/girl harmonies and jangly guitars. They call their style "retro-futuristic sunshine pop" which is a definition of their sound I can agree on. Perfect pop!

Emergency Blanket - Next Passenger
The music of Emergency Blanket is fully charged with life and energy, taking influences from rock classics from the 60s, 70s and 90s to achieve a vintage yet fresh and original sound. Emergency Blanket recently released their debut album, Combi + Nation, which includes songs in Spanish, English and even a combination of both languages. Next Passenger has taken them to the final of The People's Music Awards and you can vote for the band here.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Real Combo Lisbonense - Oh!
Real Combo Lisbonense (Lisbon Real Combo) play music that takes us back to a time when everyone would dress up to dance to the sounds of an orchestra or a small ensemble. RCL is the band you would expect to hear in the casino lounge of an Ian Fleming novel. They remade some Portuguese and international popular classics of 50s and 60s and have become one of the pleasant surprises in the Portuguese indie scene this year. Shall we dance?

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Vive La Noiz - Bird Song
Vive la Noiz could be seen as the usual alternative/indie band. Two girls and two boys starting a band in the finest DIY ethic. However, their eclectic influences and pure, melodic sound label them as post-everything because you can find anything there, genre-free. Dark Clouds And Silver Linings is regarded as one of this year's most interesting EPs.

Meursault - A Small Stretch Of Land
Edinburgh six-piece Meursault's otherworldly, experimental folk seems almost tailor-made for the music blogging cognoscenti. But as A Small Stretch Of Land shows, Meursault (pronounced "mer-so") also know when less is more, stripping the song to just acoustic guitar and vocal with crushingly beautiful effect. It's no surprise Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison described A Small Stretch Of Land as "one of my favourite songs of last year, or indeed any year". You can buy Meursault's album, Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues, and other releases here.

SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
Inch Chua - Devotion In Reality
Like the wet leaves after a thunderstorm, Devotions In Reality bring a melancholic hope to past hurts, as the first step after grief into a new light. Inch Chua is more well known in Singapore as the little dynamo of a frontwoman with rock stalwarts Allura. Taking time off to record her solo EP, she brings to the forefront another facet of her versatility, especially on this number that is best described as a cross between Lisa Ekdahl and Stars.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Ameen Harron - Techicoloured Oblivion
Ameen Harron is a force to be reckoned with in the South African music scene. He is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, and one of the country's up-and-coming producers, who has worked with a range of the best local musicians, garnering national and international attention. Technicoloured Oblivion shows not only his skills as a producer but as an artist. He has strong ties to hip hop, which is evident as his combination of hip hop, punk and electro creates his own distinctive sound. The song has an almost soulful feel to it and wouldn't be out of place on the international charts. Ameen Harron is set to take over. Watch out.

Julia Hart - Korean Girl's Winter
Always delightful guitar-pop act Julia Hart decided it had been too many years since the release of their last album in 2007 and consequently released a digital single with a couple of new songs for people to hear last month. One of them, Korean Girl's Winter, shows Julia Hart at their loveliest and is a perfect indie-pop piece well suited for repeated play hours on end.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Leaving Mornington Crescent - Seventeen
From the sound of Seventeen, Leaving Mornington Crescent have ventured into new territory. Unlike the sunny 60s-inspired indie-pop of April Song from their Cloudberry split CD, Seventeen is a rather heavy, shoegaze number with buzzing and churning guitars and a solid backbeat. Still the vocals retain the cheeriness of April Song with a chorus of "I'm seventeen on the inside, the only difference is...".

TURKEY: Reset!
Kim Ki O - Serbest Kalp Dusmesi
Kim Ki O's songs are self-written, self-played and self-sung in the name of self-pleasure and self-impulsion. Kim Ki O, which is the Turkish expression for "who is that anyway?", is a name chosen for its phonetic beauty. The duo like to play with synthesizers and drum machines but do not to use computers in their music, preferring to create all the action live with enthusiasm and tension. The two members of the gang are former high school buddies who had been out of touch for years. Now they are back, clasped together, making great things.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
That Ghost - The Red Bow
That Ghost is the musical moniker of one crazy kid from the coast of California. Ryan Schmale, a youthful 19-year-old, creates lo-fi pop that evokes the warmth of bedroom recordings. He has a new EP on the way titled Get It And Get Out that IGIF will certainly be writing more about in the near future.

VENEZUELA: Deaf Indie Elephants
Ulises Hadjis - Lunes
The warm voice of Ulises Hadjis and his guitar are suddenly interrupted by a theremin, a trumpet from a gypsy story and a dialogue between Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Zulu. These are some of the big surprises you'll find in his debut album, Presente, which without doubt was one of the best debuts of 2008. His original indie-pop contains lyrics as melancholic as Bon Iver's or Elliott Smith's and a musical diversity that in its best moments resembles Beirut or Neutral Milk Hotel. On a Sunday morning this album will be your best company.

To download all 34 songs in one file click here


Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive (FMA) is a fantastic project initiated by one my favourite radio stations in the world, WFMU, a freeform non-commercial station from New York. The Free Music Archive is a curated on-line collection of music that is free and legal to listen to and download. The music in the collection reflects the wide-ranging and left-field approach of WFMU and the other stations that are contributing. Being a US initiative there's not a lot of New Zealand music on there, but there is a bit. I've been following the FMA since it was started trying to keep track of any kiwi contributions. If you know of any I've missed I'd love to hear from you.

Many of the recordings on the FMA are live-to-air performances. The Veils played a four track set live on Seattle radio station KEXP in July of this year. One of these songs 'The House She Lived In' has been submitted to the FMA but you can also hear sets from The Veils recorded live at KEXP in 2004 and 2007 on the KEXP site.

KEXP also submitted a track to the FMA from Christchurch dance-punkers Bang Bang Eche who performed a set for the station at 2008's CMJ music expo. You can hear that whole set here (mp3).

Another freeform radio station KDVS in Davis, California has a great feature called Phoning It In. The idea is they get hold of a musician on the phone who then plays a live set down the line. Some of these sets have been contributed to the FMA but of particular interest to NZ music fans is a 2005 performance from David Kilgour where he plays solo and Clean material across the phone line from Dunedin to California. Hear the entire set here on the FMA.

FMA originators WFMU often broadcast alternative music festivals like All Tomorrow's Parties and Primavera, in Spain. The Bats performed at the latter in 2009 and their set was one that WFMU broadcast. The entire set is available on the FMA.

One of the great things about WFMU and the FMA is that they provide exposure to very experimental music and artists. One New Zealand experimental musician who has made it to the FMA is Stefan Neville, who performs as Pumice. Pumice is featured in a duet with US experimental artist Mudboy, who played a live to air at WFMU on the same show as Pumice. You can stream the entire Pumice performance on the WFMU archives.

Bruce Russell of the Dead C is another experimental kiwi musician featured on the FMA. His contribution is a recorded rather than live work. His album 21st Century Field Hollers and Prison Songs is an audio collage made entirely from samples taken from the Midnight Crossroads Tape Recorder Blues, an earlier album he recorded with Ralf Wehowsky. russell describes the album as "a tribute to the spirit of the blues, viewed through a prism of 21st century cultural criticism".

Please use he comments to let me know of any other NZ acts who appear on the FMA. In the mean-time I'll keep trawling this amazing resource and I'll hopefully bring you another kiwi update soon.

UPDATE: A day after I posted this a live set from The Mint Chicks was added to the Free Music Archive.

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CTB meets EMJ

Einstein Music Journal is one of my favourite New Zealand music websites. There are some other good kiwi music related sites I follow like Cheese On Toast, Under The Radar and Real Groove. What makes EMJ stand out from those others is that it is a music blog, unlike the others which are all commercial in nature - selling music, tickets, advertising gigs etc.

Einstein Music Journal is run by Aucklanders Nick Fulton and Sarah Gooding. Their blog showcases indie and alternative music from New Zealand and around the world.

Recently Nick and Sarah visited Waiheke Island and i asked them along to the radio station where we recorded a live episode of Counting The Beat. I asked Nick and Sarah to select some of their current kiwi favourites.

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