Record Store Day 2010

April 17th is Record Store Day, an occasion for recognising and celebrating the role of (a diminishing number) of record shops in nurturing and championing music that you won't find on TV or commercial radio. I've marked Record Store Day before on Counting The Beat with an episode devoted to the the great, but sadly defunct, Crawlspace Records.

In this episode I'm taking a look at another record shop, this one still in operation, Slow Boat Records in Wellington. By the way, I don't have any association with Slow Boat other than being a customer and fan, but it's a great shop and I make a special effort to visit each time I'm in Wellington.

This is a shop where I can find esoteric alternative releases like Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, a zine published by ex Wendyhouse member Bryce Galloway. The issue I stumbled across on the Slow Boat counter included a CD of experimental musical artists like Galloway's own Mr Pudding covering Madonna songs.

Slow Boat also stocks the vintage NZ 7" singles that I hanker after - singles like Bas Turbert with The Hubcaps singing 'The Way She Handles The Clutch' or The Choir of St Mary's Catheral Auckland singing 'The New Zealand Weather Forecast'.

And, in an age where finding someone who stocks an independent release can seem impossible, Slow Boat are likely to have it. When I was looking for The Eastern's EP Oh, Mystery!, Slow Boat was the only place that had it. It was the same with The Renderers latest album Monsters and Miasmas. You'll find videos from both bands on the video page.

Thank goodness we still have places like Slow Boat records. I urge you to support them and hope your discoveries are as rich as mine.

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Music Alliance Pact April 2010

This month marks seventeen 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 35 countries participating and interest is growing. This month Counting The Beat is pleased to be contributing 'Deep Deep Sea' from The Renderers most recent album Monsters and Miasmas. The album has been released and is available from Last Dog Visible. You'll also find some a video clip for the song on the video page.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
The Renderers - Deep Deep Sea
For two decades the husband and wife duo of Brian and Maryrose Crook have been creating music that brings together a country fragility like that of Bonnie Prince Billy (who they have have played backing band for) with an alternative guitar feedback maelstrom. From their latest album Monsters And Miasmas, the song Deep Deep Sea showcases both elements and is a return to the ocean theme the harbourside-residing band have visited throughout their career.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Ivana Berenstein - Ahora
The songs of young singer-songwriter Ivana Berenstein follow certain traditions from Argentine folk music, bossa nova and bolero, but add modern textures and harmonies to it. Ahora is the first single from her debut album No Te Duermas and has Coiffeur (check out MAP December 2009) as a guest vocalist.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Flight Facilities featuring Giselle Roselli - Crave You (Bxentric remix)
I don't know much about Flight Facilities, and I don't know much about 19-year-old Giselle Roselli either, except now that I've heard this song, I definitely want to know more. According to her MySpace, she has contributed vocals to Flight Facilities and Seekae and recorded her own material, some of which you can listen to on the site. As if that's not cool enough, she has had a song featured on British TV series Skins. How she does it and remains unchampioned by the blogging world, I don't know. But I hope you keep your ears out because we are going to hear more about this girl very soon no doubt.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Maquinado - SP
Maquinado is the side-project of Lucio Maia, guitarist of Nacao Zumbi (probably the most relevant band in Brazil in the '90s that is still active). In this project he works with some artists from the country's new music scene, especially the ones from Sao Paulo, the city where he lives and pays homage to in this song, SP. It is taken from his second album Mundialmente Anonimo - O Magnetico Sangramento Da Existencia, released last month, and features a heavy guitar sound that recalls the time when Lucio was a member of Soufly (the band created by heavy metal singer Max Cavalera when he left Sepultura).

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Old Crowns - Keep Calm
Old Crowns describe their sound as "stoner country", and on this song - like the rest of their recently released debut - it's easy to see why. Twangy vocals and folkie strumming sit comfortably alongside squalls of feedback and fuzzy guitars, with the end result being something that sounds familiar and comfortable and fresh and exciting all at once.

CHILE: Super 45
Los Mil Jinetes - Un Lugar Desconocido
Los Mil Jinetes ("A Thousand Horsemen") is the band of Cristobal Briceno y Andres Zanetta, two guys plus some live assistance. They have released two records from which we can see a clear evolution in their talent when it comes to mixing several influences (folk, indie-rock, bolero and romantic ballads). Fortunately, they do this avoiding soulless pastiche, creating a unique style of colorful melodies and friendly lyrics. Un Lugar Desconocido is taken from their latest downloadable album, Reconoceronte.

CHINA: Wooozy
Kamutang - Whirlpool
At the beginning of 2007, a group of young kids came together through their passion for rock music and formed Kamutang. It is their idea and emotion. Their songs have been compiled into Lighting Of Tomorrow, released by Pilot Records.

COLOMBIA: Colombia Urbana
Lil' Poeta - Nina Estupida
A rude girl from the hood is probably the best way to describe Lil' Poeta, a songwriter from Medellin. With no fear to speak the truth in her songs, Lil' Poeta tries to offer an alternative lyrical sound in a saturated musical world.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Let Me Play Your Guitar - Beauty
At the turn of the last decade, Let Me Play Your Guitar self-released their debut EP Doing Rainbows (get it on Bandcamp) with five 1960s-tinged folk-pop songs. Fronted by brothers Emil and Jeppe Davidsen, LMPYG excites with sweeping yet mellow and intimate pop arrangements from an enchanted land bordering Fleet Foxes and Simon & Garfunkel - one excellent example being the MAP exclusive Beauty.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
David Thomas Broughton - Walking Over You
This month's entry is a song that's five years old because recorded material from David Thomas Broughton is fairly hard to come by. Not that he's lazy, it's just that live performance is more his thing and that's where he's best experienced. Those of us who live in London are lucky because we get most chances to catch his unique shows, which have to be seen to be fully appreciated. My words here are not adequate. That said, he can write great songs too, as this one ably demonstrates.

QueeNNaive - My Soul
QueeNNaive are a lo-fi disco duo formed in 2007 by lead vocalist Sandra Z originally as an anti-pop movement. Now, ironically, with lo-fi becoming more mainstream, QueeNNaive have ended up wrapped in the world of pop music, still remaining somewhere between stand-up comedy and Italo disco. Their ear-cracking mono '80s sound, easygoing lyrics, glam image and crazy performances have become their unique signature.

Kartsy - Round The Roundabout
For more than two decades, Kartsy Hatakka has been the leader of the experimental metal band Waltari, exploring anything from death to symphonic metal. But now it is time to fly solo and Kartsy has put together a new band to record a bunch of pop metal songs for his first solo album which will be released on May 26. Heavy guitar riffs with catchy melodies and sparkling piano in a cross between Foo Fighters and HIM.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Smooth - Friendly Yours
When listening to Smooth's music you get the strange impression of meeting an old friend or a road companion. Their music draws on our own imagination where it moulds itself, each day, each rainy season, with pleasure or ecstasy. The trio borrow and mix sounds and rhythms from their forefathers, which they put back together with inventiveness, jubilation and sensuality. Friendly Yours starts off Smooth's new album The Parade at a wild pace.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Like A Stuntman - MC Sensation
This four-piece from Hamburg is loaded with creativity. Like A Stuntman merges elements of playful ambient, psychedelia and sincere indie to a quite distinctive sound unmatched in Germany. Discreet but nethertheless catchy, MC Sensation is an outstanding song from their album Original Bedouin Culture.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Playground Noise - The Divers
Infusing melancholy with a tense, literate sense of foreboding, Playground Noise strikes the perfect balance between moody, underground noise and melody. Drama and dark dollops of synths, brass and strings swarm beautifully around the vocals, guitars soar into the stratosphere, and intense crescendos linger over delicate, breathy passages. They create a shadowy veil of sadness, shot through with hopeful transcendence. Playground Noise has crafted a statement of intent, one that hopefully suggests a continuingly bold future.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Eliza - Hopeless Case
London-based Eliza Newman Geirsdottir was the lead singer of the all-girl band Bellatrix (Kolrassa Krokridandi) and the rock band Skandinavia. She's a trained opera singer and also plays violin, guitar, ukulele and piano. In 2007, she released her first solo album Empire Fall on Lavaland Records. Hopeless Case is from her second solo album Pie In The Sky, released on the Smekkleysa label last year.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
Bottlesmoker - Free Hugs
Bottlesmoker are an electronica-pop duo with a passion for glockenspiel, keyboard toys and other funny instruments to create humble compositions of simple orchestration. And even if they have not yet released any physical release, they have a fanbase that is growing steadily while the duo keep spreading free music.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Yes Cadets - Rufio
This Belfast quartet make sweet nuggets of danceable indie-pop that worms in your ears and stays there. Rufio is taken from their self-titled debut EP and has hooks galore. By the time the cascading female vocals come in, you'll be sold.

ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Babylon Awaits - Primal
Industrial cyber-metal from the Holy Land introduces biotechnological talons into your nervous system with infectious beats and catchy melodies reminiscent of acts from Information Society to Nine Inch Nails and everything in between.

ITALY: Polaroid
The Record's - Rodolfo
If you agree that a perfect mixtape for the spring should include Vampire Weekend, some Britpop anthems and The Beatles then De Fauna Et Flora, the second album by The Record's, is going to be the bright soundtrack you've been looking for.

NJ - La Sakura
Cherry blossom season is almost over here in Japan. Its beauty is too short for us. But we have one good J-pop song about it called La Sakura by Tokyo duo NJ, who consist of female singer Jun and guitarist Nori. It has an oriental melody and sound texture with a traditional Japanese flavor.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Liber Teran - Lola
Even if Mexican ska gang Los de Abajo were heralded by BBC Radio 3 as the best artist of the Americas, back in 2003, frontman Liber Teran knew it was time to start his own path. With a fistful of pesos, the self-proclaimed gypsy-cowboy recorded his first solo album, Gitano Western, in 2008, clearly following Joe Strummer, David Byrne and Manu Chao's steps with songs that evoked a rootsy and dusty atmosphere. This year, he decided to look for the origins of his own genealogical tree, hiring the horn section of a Sinaloa schoolband trained in polka and teaching them to play Mediterranean, Turkish and Slavic rhythms. Tambora Sound System is a dark collection of nine unza-unza vignettes.

NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam Event Guide
Tree House - Water And Pyramid
Delightfully experimental and blissfully tuneful at the same time, this Amsterdam-based act is just one of numerous Dutch groups that have drawn inspiration from the world around them, added electronic beats and tropical rhythms, rolled them about together, included a freaky live element to the performance and truly made musical art. If Holland needs a new musical direction, let it be this. Watch out for similar music on Cottage Industry Records.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson - To Sit Down Or To Follow, So I Follow
Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson released their self-titled second album earlier this year on How Is Annie Records. It's probably easiest to place them in the post-rock or dream-pop category - long, beautiful and atmospheric tracks with a strong focus on the melodies. On the new album, YPoFH have been working with producer Sjur Lyseid (Little Hands of Asphalt, Monzano), and if you know his own work, it's easy to hear his influence. YPoFH is one of those rare bands who have been around for a long time but still manage to develop their sound.

Theremyn_4 - Milnueve84
Theremyn_4 are considered by the public and the critics as one of the most important electronic live acts from Peru in recent times, even with their 10-year career. Based in Lima, their style combines experimental textures, urban life, science fiction and the spectacular visual effects that accompany their concerts. Last year they released their sixth album, Inflamable, which recycles beats of previous works, making something completely new. It is made for the dancefloor so grab your partner and move.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Youthless - Golden Age
Youthless are Sebastiano Ferranti (vocals, bass) and Alex Klimovitsky (vocals, synths and drums), an American and a Brit who made Lisbon their homes. They have played in another band but it is with Youthless and its electro-garage rock sound that they have gathered more media attention and a faithful legion of fans. Telemachy is their debut EP and can be downloaded for free here.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Mono Jacks - Maria
Mono Jacks are an alternative rock band based in Bucharest. The vocals and the lyrics remind me of Snow Patrol or Placebo, and the strong bass lines have something of Interpol's angst. Their roots are clearly in the last decade of indie-rock. Their frontman is a former member of AB4, a great Romanian alternative act in the 90s.

Washington Irving - The Magician
Named after the American author who wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, the music of this Glasgow-based group isn't as bookish as their moniker might suggest. Instead, they deliver irrepressibly wild, rambunctious folk-rock that taps into the raw energy of The Pogues, which explains why Washington Irving's live shows never fail to win them new fans. The band have just finished recording a new EP which will be released this summer.

SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
B-Quartet - A Dull Taste On My Tongue
B-Quartet's music is a graceful concoction of progressive rock and whimsical poetry. Homaging rock greats Radiohead with the odd influence or two, the sextet hold their own in a sea of soundalikes. Fresh out of the oven, A Dull Taste On My Tongue is a cascading spiral of polyrhythms laced with beautiful guitar work and Bani Haykal's ever fleeting vocals until it comes crashing into a momentous clash of instruments before switching back effortlessly into a state of zen. With B-Quartet, there are no compartments, no defined roles of what should or shouldn't be done in music, only what they choose to say, and what we choose to make as simple truth.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Wrestlerish - Bad News
Wrestlerish are a four-piece that blend rock, country and folk as if these genres should have always been one. Bad News, taken from their first full-length album The Rude Mechanical, is a sincere serenade that shows off their creativity. They have the ability to capture the listener after just one listen and are a band that is going to go far. Mark my words.

National Pigeon Unity - Whan
National Pigeon Unity don't just have a fantastic name, they have a fantastic sound to go with it. Mixing post-rock with emo, modern rock with hardcore, pop-punk with grunge - usually all at the same time - their first full-length album Empathy, released in March, has proven strong enough to withstand weeks of repeated listening. Whan is a wonderfully moving, primarily instrumental song on the post-rock side.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
The Eyeshades - In The Basement
I don't know how I stumbled upon The Eyeshades from but I'm glad I did. The band is an odd combination of pop and rock with a little electronica added to the mix. They play a wide assortment of instruments and it's this diversity of sound as well as the (at times) unusual compositional structure that make the band interesting.

My Heart Belongs To Cecilia Winter - Eighteen
In the past two years, this Zurich-based trio gained the reputation of an irresistible live band and stepped up from being a local phenomenon to an international insider tip. The band's catchy yet erratic indie-folk songwriting with a rock 'n' roll heart, combined with their intuition for atmosphere and glamour, soon led to comparisons with Arcade Fire and earned them an ever-growing fanbase. Scott Matthew and Rufus Wainwright like them, concert-goers sway in euphoria and their debut record Our Love Will Cut Through Everything is a masterpiece.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Avi Buffalo - What's In It For?
Having recently watched Avi Buffalo perform for the first time at SXSW, I've since been unable to avoid spinning their material. The young group from the coastlines of California have an eclectic sound and a self-titled debut LP coming out at the end of April. All indications point toward it being quite the treat.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimento
Karma Coma - Si Te Digo
Karma Coma is a musical concept that fuses electronic trends with instruments such as acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, cello and violin. The musical genres explored by the band go from downtempo and electro, passing through breakbeat and big beat, to jungle and drum and bass. And it is all spiced with a big dose of rock 'n' roll, some bossa, Venezuelan folklore and Far and Middle-Eastern sounds.

To download all 35 songs in one file click here