Hey Seuss

I thought that I'd mark Easter with a special episode of Counting the Beat. No, it's not songs about bunnies, buns or chocolates, but songs about Jesus. Well, not strictly about Jesus, I've kept away from the Christian rock genre, and in fact many of these songs merely make reference to Jesus rather than being about him.

'Talk to Jesus' from The Brunettes debut album Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks, is intricately crafted slice of melancholic, melodramatic, 60s influenced pop, of the kind the band are so good at. This wouldn't sound out of place on a Lee Heazlewood and Nancy Sinatra album.

Lindon Puffin fronted an indie band with glam ambitions, The Puffins, in the 90s but he's now gone solo modeling himself as a folk/punk troubadour gaining acclamation for his 2007 album Show Pony. Puffin has now put together a band, the Transgressions and has released country rocker 'Jesus Girl' from forthcoming album Vaseline on The Lens. Puffins also made a road movie Figure 8000. I've put the trailer on the video page.

On his 2007 album Songs from a Dictaphone SJD was searching for his place in the world and the song 'Jesus' was not the only to explore questions of spiritual connection on an album that combined the melancholy thoughts of a stay at home suburban dad with great beats.
Cut Off Your Hands seemed to burst from nowhere to the world overnight. Starting off as Shaky hands in 2006 they released a debut E.P. titled Cut Off Your Hands, which they later adopted as the band name. Then they decamped to the UK where they recorded with Bernard Butler of Suede. The band are great at angular post-punk pop songs and the songs 'Girl' and 'Still Fond' are great indie pop tracks but on the album You and I you'll also find the much more introspective song 'In The Name of Jesus Christ' questioning Christian hypocrisy.

Jetty's album Soundtrax for Modern Lovers was originally self released in 1999 but luckily has been re-released by Powertool Records. The band were influenced by all the bands of the glory days of 90s alternative guitar rock, many of whom came from Jetty's home town of Dunedin. The song 'Jesus Speeds' is actually about a guy named Jamie (nicknamed Speedy), a man with mental health issues renowned around Dunedin for walking very quickly and listening to a very loud transistor radio.

If you want sentimental American sounding country/folk then Warren Love is your man. He was robbed a few years ago when his Warren Love Band album missed out on a country music Tui. The stand out track on the album, written by locals Kevin Byrt and Barry Hennessey is 'Autographed Picture of Jesus'.

Tom Bailey was in the huge internationally famous pop band The Thompson Twins before leaving all that behind to make dub in the New Zealand bush as International Observer. Originally on the excellent Round Trip mars compilation Sideways Too and then later on the 2005 album Played Out is 2 Steps at a Time Sweet Jesus.

The only song in this episode without Jesus in the title comes from the early days of the amazing punk/skank/dub group Hallelujah Picassos. Before they made two excellent albums in the early 90s, Hateman in Love and Drinking with Judas, they released a number of cassettes and singles. Their first single (which also appeared on the Pagan Records compilation Postive Vibrations) only just reveals the influence of ska on their later sound. It came out in 1989 and was called 'Clap Your Hands'. Somewhere there is a video for this track, it aired on Radio With Pictures. I would love to hear from anyone who can track it down.

And of course there's no way any collection of New Zealand "Jesus" songs would be complete without Darcy Clay's classic 'Jesus I Was Evil'. The video is posted on the video page.

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See You Round Like A Record Baby

I've always been a vinyl fan, and nowadays, when most of my music acquisitions are digital, I'm finding that when I do pick up music in hard copy the format is more likely than not a record. There are really lovely releases about, and in this episode I highlight I few that I've recently picked up.

The Transistors recently released an 11 track 45rpm 12" LP, Shortwave, on green vinyl with hand printed covers. The band take their influence from 70s punk rock and sound a bit like some of the very early American hardcore groups that were drawing on the same sources. With 11 songs in 21 minutes they don't mess about about - the LP is heaps of fun. On the video page you can see a clip of The Transistors playing a roof top gig in their hometown of Christchurch, a gig that ended in a fine and a facebook protest page. You can also hear a live-to-air rado performance from The Transistors on RDU here.

The Tape Man is a mysterious figure who takes to the stage with his face covered in duct tape. (How is duct tape like The Force? It's dark on one side, light on the other and binds the universe together) His music is instrumental reverb drenched surf guitar. Tape Man (he seems to have dropped "The Mysterious" from his name) has just released a four track 7" EP Songs of the Tape Man that remains true to the sound of his earlier releases although the side A has a dirtier, more distorted sound than we've heard before.

Bratty teen no-wave pop band Moron Says What have followed up an excellent CD EP Pop Up with a split 7" with Finnish band Dinosauruxia single on tasty pink vinyl. The single has one song from Pop Up and two new tracks. Too be honest it sounds like it was recorded in a cardboard box but the band have an infectious catchy charm, reflecting their youth and enthusiasm. If you buy the single from Under The Radar you'll also get the songs as mp3s. There's a good background interview with Moron Says What at Artrocker.

Auckland three-piece Frayden have released a really impressive vinyl LP called Ghost Crash. They play grungy guitar pop that The Herald's Scott Kara described as "dirty and grubby . . . yet deliciously catchy thanks to their love of melody and the fact they're not afraid of a little jangle. "

Body Corporate's album Howlaround has actually been out for quite a while but I realised that I hadn't featured it despite it being one my favourite albums of recent years. Body Corporate have a big textured dual guitar based sound, the kind of all encompassing dynamic soundscape that I love so much. The album is beautifully packaged with detailed artwork that can only be truly appreciated in it's 12" format, and it sounds fantastic, mixed by Dale Cotton (HDU, Toy Love, Collapsing Cities etc) and mastered by Bob Weston of Shellac. For fans of Bailter Space, HDU, Jakob etc this is recommended as a must have kiwi album. There's video for the song 'Bubblegum' on the video page.

In these days of record shop retrenchment it can be difficult to track down vinyl releases but Slow Boat Records in Wellington usually has a good selection and there are a number of websites that have set up vinyl stores - Under The Radar, Cheese on Toast and Smoke CDs.

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Music Alliance Pact March 2010

This month marks sixteen months of Counting The Beat contributions 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. There are now 36 countries participating and interest is growing. This month Counting The Beat is pleased to be contributing 'Seizuretron' from An Emerald City. You'll also find some clips from An Emerald City on the video page.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
An Emerald City - Seizuretron
An Emerald City's first album Circa Scaria is the stuff of legend, being recorded in a cave on a storm-swept coast. Even without that back story their music is memorable for combining a traditional rock line-up with lute, violin, tablas, violin and sitar. Their songs start off quiet then build in scale and grandeur to create huge Eastern-influenced instrumental soundscapes. Surprisingly, Circa Scaria reached the New Zealand top 40. After a few months in Berlin, An Emerald City have released Seizuretron as a taster for their forthcoming second album.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Modular - Femme Fatale
Listening to Modular's music is like a journey back to a time when lounge and space-age pop were present on almost every soundtrack and TV show. This track is their own rendition of the great song Femme Fatale by The Velvet Underground, taken from a recent free EP called Yoga Para Extraterrestres (which you can download from here). Don't miss Requiem Para Robert Moog, another great track from this EP.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Otouto - Astronauts
Exciting new trio Otouto from Melbourne have released a new single called Astronauts on their own artist collective label Two Bright Lakes. You may recognise singer Hazel Brown's voice from Whitley's song Killer. So catchy.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Eddie - Gafieira No Avenida
One of the founders of the mangue beat movement in northeast Brazil in the 90s, Eddie play a mixture of frevo (a kind of folk music usually related to carnival), rock and jazz. Gafieira No Avenida is taken from the band's latest album, Carnaval No Inferno ("Carnival In Hell") and highlights some of Eddie's influences, such as Fela Kuti and Lee Perry.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Yukon Blonde - Rather Be With You
There are all kinds of great power-pop bands from decades past that could be referenced when talking about Yukon Blonde. But you know what? As songs like Rather Be With You show, Yukon Blonde are a lot more than their influences, and it's not hard to imagine that it won't be long before future bands are referencing them as an influence.

CHILE: Super 45
Inverness - Nubes
Inverness has its heart divided between Santiago and England. The band flirts a lot with shoegaze revivalism but succeeds in avoiding a lame emulation of the sound, instead delivering a rich, lyrical world full of dreamy scenes. Their second album Illuminaciones was inspired by the far-away landscapes of southern Chile and received massive critical acceptance last year. The band faces the challenge of doing it again for the release of their next album this year.

CHINA: Wooozy
PB33 - Dance With Me
Formed in 2005, PB33 independently released their first album Disco Boys & Girls Night Out. It's about youth, happiness, love, life, friendship and party. They are a band with a punk attitude. Are you ready for them?

COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
ChocQuibTown - En Circulo (Sa Rissa)
ChocQuibTown is the most successful urban fusion group in Colombia with two Latin Grammy nominations. The band try to mix hip hop music with native sounds of the Pacific coast. Their new album Oro has just been released.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
The Bronson Brothers - Ancient Land
Pop, decadence, France and the 1960s are keywords when it comes to Clyde and Ted Bronson's musical universe. The excellent Ancient Land is taken from the duo's freshly-released debut album The Melody Bronson, the title a nod to the 1971 concept album Histoire De Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg, who is also found among The Bronson Brothers' influences.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Stairs To Korea - All Of Your Friends
The awesome one-man band and king of the offbeat tweets, Stairs To Korea is a battery of lo-fi electronic effects, good tunes, wry lyrics and ace guitar solos. And behind his bushy beard there's a reluctant rock god edging his way out. His new single All Of Your Friends, on the excellent Brainlove Records, is another in the gradual drip-feed of fine releases which should eventually see him with one of the best singles compilations of 2012.

Honey Power - Get Country
This light, fresh and melodic indie tune from four-piece Honey Power carries a real country vibe and, as an early taste of the Tartu-based band's long-anticipated second album, demonstrates good taste and an impeccable arrangement.

Flannelmouth - Sharp Paper
Sharp Paper gently opens Flannelmouth's second album and leads the Helsinki indie band into a collection of intense and diverse pop songs, with intelligent arrangements and a good sense of melody, underlined by the dominant voice of vocalist Tuomo Kuusi. Rather than limiting themselves to the classic four or five-piece band template, Flannelmouth draw their songs with a diverse palette including subtle sounds of ukulele, pedal steel and a variety of other instruments to build an addictive romanticism.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Saycet - Easy
Saycet is a French electronic artist made famous by his album One Day At Home in 2006. Pierre Lefeuvre, the man behind Saycet, is a daydream music specialist. His songs carry the listener away in a cocoon universe where nothing can hurt you and every little noise is a delight.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Kissogram - Rubber And Meat
The death of German indie labels continues. This month Berlin-based Louisville closed its doors, leaving a bunch of the most influential and significant German bands on their own. One of these is Kissogram, whose last album Rubber And Meat got a lot of positive reviews. To bid a fond farewell to Louisville, we are able to present its title track exclusively. Thanks for all the music!

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Electric Litany - February
Preferring patience and restraint over explosive blasts of atmospheric wailing, Electric Litany slowly build up tunes that glimmer with hauntingly melodic ideas and climax with rhythms that capture the traditional musical heritage of Eastern European countries. Their debut album, How To Be A Child & Win The War, offers a sonically cinematic experience that will leave you feeling both elated and emotionally drained. Gorgeous sounds are pulled from within the deepest recesses of the human soul, while vocals full of intuitive swells and fades rise over piano, synths and tremolo guitars. A work of mesmerising beauty, like a tender touch on a sad day.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Sometime - Heart Of Spades
Sometime, a band formed by Icelandic music veterans, puts catchy dance-infused songs on the menu. Ingredients are the strong voice of frontwoman Diva De La Rosa plus the inventive drums of TheDanni, flavoured by turntable whizzkid DJ Moonshine and manipulated by Oculus. You can taste it while listening to the single Heart Of Spades from the album Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

INDIA: Indiecision
The Circus - FOPS
The Circus are an alternative rock act from New Delhi. The band's music is Incubus-inspired, effects-driven fuzz that makes no bones about what it is and where it finds its roots. FOPS (an abbreviation of Full On Party Scene) comes from soon-to-be-released debut album From Space. It's wholesome, angular alternative music executed without much fuss. Turn it up, get your party started.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
Sajama Cut - Paintings/Pantings
Sajama Cut are praised for their lyrics and unusual songs arrangements, with influences ranging from Echo & The Bunnymen, The Beach Boys, Guided By Voices, R.E.M. and tons of obscure singer-songwriters. Paintings/Pantings comes from their new album Manimals, a record which has a varied approach in songwriting, with most of the lyrics taken from Marcel Thee's journal.

IRELAND: Nialler9
The Cast Of Cheers - Derp
The Cast Of Cheers came from nowhere last month and quickly became Nialler9's favourite new band. Their downloadable album (get it for free here) is a fully-formed 33-minute blast of post-punk, looping post-rock, tightly-wound songs with echoes of Battles, Foals and Death From Above 1979.

ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Orphaned Land - Sapari
Orphaned Land's latest album The Never Ending Way Of ORWarriOR is a sonic tapestry that flies a completely different path than the usual Western metal fare of Europe and the States, though there are common threads. The influence of acts such as Paradise Lost, Iron Maiden and The Beatles are evident, but Orphaned Land weave elements together that run the gamut from blacker-than-black demonic intensity to let-the-sunshine-in hippie flamboyance. The band categorizes itself as Middle Eastern progressive metal with dreams of instilling peace through their music.

ITALY: Polaroid
Heike Has The Giggles - Robot
Before you ask, the name comes from a character in an English grammar book the band used to read at high school. Heike Has The Giggles are three young kids who play sharp and dry rock 'n' roll in the vein of PJ Harvey and early Gossip. They just released Sh!, their forceful debut album, and you can't listen to it without starting to dance and play air guitar.

Omodaka - Kyoteizinc (Video Mix)
Known as an electro/techno artist, Soichi Terada teamed up with a few visual directors and has started the collaborative music project Omodaka. Omodaka's sound is characterized by the seamless mixture of Japanese traditional Geisha songs and electro music. Omodaka will appear live at the Japan Nite showcase at this month's SXSW and will also go on tour the US with Red Bacteria Vacuum and Okamoto's.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Los Macuanos - Pueblo Muerto (feat. Scout Klas)
Is there such a thing as ethno-dubstep? London's urban soundscape has been well charted by dubstep - how about Tijuana's? Los Macuanos are a duo formed by Moises "Moih" Horta and Moises Lopez, and this is their nu-electronic post-nortec mix of blurry Mexican folkloric crumbs with cyclic dubstep. Pueblo Muerto was recorded by Moih and gloomy artist Scout Klas (from Sweden via Vietnam) in his recent visit to the Red Bull Music Academy in London. The song portraits the hypnotic fumes spreading from ghost town Tijuana to the whole stratosphere.

NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam Event Guide
The Stutters - Starlight Love
Top musicians as well as first-class artists, this three-piece group have it all going for them in 2010: new songs, more gigs, screaming fans and some very fancy dancing. After the critically-acclaimed first EP back in 2008, their 2010 release Viva La Stutters has got a lot of people excited. First listens see the trio go for a slightly heavier feel than their previous singles but they still stay true to their indie-rock sensibilities, keeping it very rock 'n' roll and danceable. Make sure you catch them on their European tour scheduled for early June - we'll be at the front!

NORWAY: Eardrums
Solvor Vermeer - Final Hour
Three years ago, I stumbled upon Solvor Vermeer's music. I was amazed by the delicate and fragile beauty she managed to create with only her voice and the piano as her tools. Since then, Vermeer has developed her sound. She has a rare gift for composing and can make something really complex become catchy and accessible. On her upcoming four-track debut EP, her sound is richer and more orchestrated, with her musician friends having added strings, horns, layered vocals, glockenspiel, etc. The EP will be released this spring on her own Bloksberg Music label in partnership with UK-based Lazy Acre Records.

Pipe Villaran - Sinnerman
When members of the band Los Fuckin Sombreros went their separate ways, Pipe Villaran began to compose new songs, preparing for what would be his new project, called Long Player. His style is still rock 'n' roll, to which he has devoted his whole life, influenced by classic rock and some blues touches. Sinnerman is a preview of the direction his new band will take when their debut record is launched in May.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Peltzer - A Story To Tell Me
Peltzer used to be Rui Gaio's one-man band. Today, there are more members but they continue with their electronic sound and cite the new wave movement, Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips as their influences. They have released tracks digitally and on three Portuguese compilations. A Story To Tell Me, from their new Outdated EP, is an exclusive MAP download.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Hot Casandra - Chroma
Hot Casandra is a new project behind which we can find Paul Ballo (the drummer of last month's featured band, Kumm). It's a personal playground, where no compromises will be made and everything will sound as wanted. The first song, Chroma, is a dark electro track with beautiful, haunting vocals.

Admiral Fallow - Squealing Pigs
It's hard to say what Admiral Fallow's greatest strength is. It could be the luscious melodies which burst out of their songs, or the thick Scottish brogue that defines Louis Abbott's strikingly unhurried delivery, or perhaps it's the fact they have the sort of craft and invention their peers could only dream of. MAP exclusive download Squealing Pigs whisks through the speakers with a bundle of verve and is taken from the band's forthcoming debut album Boots Met My Face, which at times sounds a lot like Elbow.

SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
Sidd & His Self-Esteem - Occupation
I've been informed that the frontman of Sidd & His Self-Esteem is a nervous individual, so much so that it inspired the naming of the band. Well, if Sidd finds his solace in the sheer gregariousness of his other band members, then this must surely be a case of strength in numbers. All inhibitions seemingly fall away as they deliver brilliantly on this stellar Led Zeppelin-esque track, with confidence swelling in each instrument and the vocals deliberate and full of conviction. Occupation pays homage to lo-fi garage rock, with the mix perfectly balanced for your ears to take in everything.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Will Mono - Seks Vir Plesier
What Will Mono does when making music is slightly different to most - he collaborates with other artists by adding their vocals to his music. In this case Will Mono worked with Jan Joknie and Seks Vir Plesier was born. It is Afrikaans electro-pop at its best. Draw conclusions where you will with regards to the content but as for the song as a whole, it's catchy electro genius.

3rd Line Butterfly - Nine Days
3rd Line Butterfly has been one of the most loved Korean indie-rock bands since 2002, when their music became known through drama series Ruler Of Your Own World. Following the release of their third album in 2004, the band went on a long hiatus, returning only late last year. Earlier this month, their out-of-print albums were re-released in remastered versions, but Nine Days is a beautiful, melancholic Americana-style folk track from new EP Nine Days Or A Million.

SPAIN: Oscuro Magazine
The Closers - Come Down
The Closers are an industrial rock band from Zaragoza similar to Nine Inch Nails or Filter. Their first work was called The End and is a preview of four songs from their forthcoming debut album. It is a very catchy and addictive work that could make a real impact beyond our borders. Come Down has touches of Primal Scream, but the powerful guitars and killer choruses are more like the best works of Trent Reznor.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Holy Family - Whatever There's To Know
Holy Family is an electronica trio from Goteborg. The fuzzy beats and glowering vocals on their song Meathooks remind me of some of the heavy industrial music from the late 80s and early 90s, while the lighter, more accessible sounds on Whatever There's To Know hint at a band that could expand their sound and possibly cross over.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Javelin - Vibrationz
Javelin are an eclectic duo currently residing in Brooklyn by way of Providence, Rhode Island. Their electronic jams have been turning heads for quite some time, yet their upcoming LP, No Mas, and tour dates with Yeasayer will catapult this funky duo to the forefront of independent acclaim.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimento
Los Paranoias - No Sueltes Al Murcielago
Los Paranoias have a sound that resembles the 80s post-punk and 60s Britpop scenes. No Sueltes Al Murcielago is the second single from their album Aqui Fue, which was inspired by the troubled times our country is going through. The song is a happy rock 'n' roll tune with a contagious rhythm - a symbol of Venezuelan optimism.

To download all 36 songs in one file click here