Music Alliance Pact October 2010

This month marks twenty three 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. This month the MAP welcomes a new contributor for England - The Guardian Music Blog.

This month Counting The Beat is pleased to be contributing 'The Northwest States', by Secret Knives. The song is from Secret Knives first album, available for free download from A Low Hum along with an earlier EP.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Secret Knives - The Northwest States
Secret Knives is the solo bedroom recording project of Ash Smith, who also plays in Over The Atlantic. The Northwest States begins with a pop melody and lyrics about lost love over programmed beats and a nice rumbling bass line. Then the layers of guitar start to build until the song soars into a shimmering shoegaze crescendo. The song is from Secret Knives' new album Affection, available for free download from here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Hamacas Al Rio - Sin Decir
Hamacas Al Rio is a six-piece acoustic pop band led by singer Laura Ciuffo. Sin Decir is one of our favorite tracks from their latest release, Al Final, El Parque, an amazing album dominated by hypnotic chamber music sounds and fine string arrangements, along with more conventional synthesizers and electric guitars.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Bleeding Knees Club - Bad Guys
Bleeding Knees Club only started in March and have already toured Australia's east coast a bunch of times, recorded an EP and secured a label and distribution. Admittedly, BKC trade in a certain brand of music that doesn't require/intentionally avoids precision, planning and cleanliness. Even though you can imagine these guys bashing out an EP within the amount of time it takes some bands to soundcheck, it still suggests potential radness in the near future.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Baiana System - Jah Jah Revolta
Baiana System is a new group from Bahia, a Brazilian state famous for its axé music - a style marked by lyrics full of ambiguous sexual overtones and simple dance rhythms. Their trump card is to raise the Bahian guitar to a new level, combining a typically Brazilian musical manifestation to elements of dub, contemporary electronic, rock and other genres, as observed in Jah Jah Revolta.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
The Wilderness Of Manitoba - Sea Song
To fully appreciate The Wilderness Of Manitoba, you need to be in a calm, relaxed mood. So sit back. Clear your mind. Forget your worries for a moment. Ignore the phone, the internet, your pets, everything. Now start Sea Song and just let the gorgeous vocal harmonies and beautiful folky melodies wash over you. Wasn't that pleasant? Now go and get a copy of their first full-length, When You Left The Fire, because it has 12 more tracks just like that one.

CHILE: Super 45
Dadalú - Gracias
Dadalú's (Daniela Saldías) first steps in music were linked to the punk and hardcore scene. Later, she refined her ideas, got closer to hip-hop and took part in Colectivo Etéreo, Iris and Julia Rose. However, her solo work is strongly influenced by Phil Spector and Mark Ronson's orchestrated pop. Gracias, the first single from her forthcoming debut album Período, to be released by netlabels Ponk and Michita Rex, is the best proof that differences between punk, rap and pop are dwindling.

CHINA: Wooozy
Sun Ye - Strange Planet
With projects in rock, punk and post-rock bands under his belt, Shanghai-based Sun Ye is nowhere near finished with whatever he has planned for his music - fluid, dreamlike melodies that tinkle and slide smoothly in and out of your ears. His unpredictable yet continually enthralling tunes have landed him support slots for both Ólafur Arnalds and Émilie Simon this year. His latest album, Trash Can, was released on the Miniless label.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
The Malpractice - Boss Stallion
October 25 will see the release of The Malpractice aka Johannes Gammelby's (I Am Bones, Beta Satan) solo debut Tectonics on Crunchy Frog, an 11-song strong album of alternative rock aiming at minds, (pop) hearts and feet. Here's the great Boss Stallion and if you dig it, make sure to check out the other album single Oh, The Irony streaming on MySpace.

ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
The Visitors - Hello Moon
Visitors frontman Karl Walsh used to head Factory Records folkies To Hell With Burgundy. The official bio says he has spent the time since the label's demise "writing novels in the French countryside". Hello Moon says different. It speaks of years spent orbiting Bowie's legacy, drifting on the dark side of the Duke before taking a quantum leap into Wayne Coyne's shoes. More years spent Waitin' For A Superman to spin earth backwards, to rewind to a time when we were still wide-eyed about space, glam rock and the power of a good, solid tune.

Tallinn Daggers - Island Phi Ley
Tallinn Daggers is an electronic pop duo from Tallinn that consists of Ardo Kivi and Joosep Volk. Since they united in 2009 they have released one digital EP, The Last Escape, and a handful of singles. They are known for their very energetic live shows and listener-friendly habit of giving away their music.

Big Wave Riders - Big Sound
Formed just before the summer, Big Wave Riders aim to be the next big thing in Finnish indie music. While they ready their debut EP, we can enjoy a taste of their first recordings with Big Sound's fast tropical beat and early 80s garage vibe.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Hutchinson - Oh My Lover
Hutchinson is an electro-rock duo featuring Olivier Deniaud and Eric Tanguy, who make their music in the very creative city of Nantes. It's a hobby that doesn't stop them being rather good. You might have had a hard time guessing they were French.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
MIT - Pudong
German band of the moment is definitely MIT. With the advanced electronica of their second album Nanonotes, which was produced by Simian Mobile Disco member Jas Shaw, and especially with the video to Pudong, they have hit the spot in Germany's blogosphere. MIT may rightly be seen as a concept for taking Kraftwerk's legacy into the future.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
go.quiet - Everyone I Ever Met
go.quiet is the project of Christina Kassesian and ?ousework. Everyone I Ever Met, the primary result of their collaboration, is soothing, compelling, heartbreaking, mysterious and gloomy. An enticing dip into melancholy that urges you to lean closer to the speakers to fully feel everything that is being played and sung. There's a beauty in the melody that conjures up a cinematic romanticism with the soft-spoken, whispered, gentle vocals to amplify this emotion.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Captain Fufanu - Lava
Captain Fufanu are two youngsters and probably the brightest hope of the Icelandic electronic music scene. Hrafnkell Flóki Einarsson and Guðlaugur Halldór Einarsson (sons of a different Einar, so not brothers) aka Kaktus and Gulli played their first gig at the age of 16 in 2008. The duo mix dub, techno, house and experimental electronica. The song Lava is unreleased.

INDIA: Indiecision
Kaav - Daya
Kaav is an alt-prog trio from Kochi. The band's expansive, instrumental soundscapes are based in an understanding of local Carnatic music, with the trappings of a more alternative Oceansize - think a dosa-eating Explosions In The Sky. Daya is taken from a recently-released eponymous three-track EP, which we highly recommend you download here for free.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
Ghaust - Sleep And Release
With only two members, Ghaust, who hail from Jakarta, build an instrumental trip crossing through different genres, where post-rock/shoegaze influences and crushing sludge/doom tempo collide with hardcore punk and heavy rock. Sleep And Release explores a cumulative void, expressing emotions that can only be conveyed with music.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Sacred Animals - Chosen Seed
Sacred Animals is a solo project of Darragh Nolan. His debut release is the lush four-track EP Welcome Home and serves as a perfect introduction to his fanciful and feral, wild like nature ballads. The music recalls Radiohead, Bon Iver and Guillemots without ever really sounding too much like any of them.

ISRAEL: Metal Israel
ACE And The Deck - Mr. Grieves (Pixies cover)
ACE And The Deck take the Pixies' Mr. Grieves, stir it up with reggae, shake it up with psychobilly, throw in some surf punk and cut it with a generous helping of arak. Their debut album is a veritable musical arsenal taking the best from all genres, and hits the market on December 13.

ITALY: Polaroid
Havah - The Competition Dies
Michele Camorani was a member of La Quiete, one of the most important screamo hardcore bands of the past decade. This is his new solo project, and the sound is very different. Imagine a Blank Dogs song locked up in a dark basement all alone for 20 years - that's how obscure and cursed Havah's music can be. Sometimes, suddenly, pop melodies come to the surface, but soon they're buried into the noise once again. It's definitely worth downloading Havah's first album for free via his MySpace.

Hotel Mexico - Its Twinkle
Hotel Mexico are not from Mexico, but are a glo-fi and chill electro band hailing from Kyoto. Its Twinkle is taken from the recently released His Jewelled Letter Box EP and is full of radiant guitar melodies, ambient bells, airy synths and more reverb than any respectable song has the right to use.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Hello Seahorse! - Un Año Quebrado
Once a twee-pop band, Mexico City's Hello Seahorse! morphed into a gloomy sounding beast on their third album, Bestia. Now they've delved deeper into their tormented souls and came out with their fourth album in four years, Lejos. No Tan Lejos. Produced by the legendary Money Mark in Los Angeles and by local wizard Yamil Rezc, the 11 songs lay a rich forest of synths where Lo Blondo's banshee-like voice soars with operatic tropes. Say "Hola!" to this seamonster.

NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Space Siren - This Radar
Amsterdam quartet Space Siren have strong indie-rock pedigree behind them. Featuring members who previously made up the noisy, melancholic band Seesaw, who released a number of great albums on the reliable Transformed Dreams label early in the 2000s, Space Siren carry the torch on wonderfully. Thick layers of guitar distortion hark back to an era when Sonic Youth ruled the independent underground. The percussion drives every song. And, somehow, amidst the haze of overdrive, there's room for the strong, moody vocals of Gwendolien.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Dunderhonning - Støv
Dunderhonning is a young quartet from Harstad in the north of Norway. They have just released their debut full-length album on Guano Recordings, Sakte Ut Av Fokus, where they play warm, poetic, dreamy and powerful pop/rock. They sing in their native language and dialect, which suits the songs and their expression well. People who have heard and loved the music of Kråkesølv may find these two close to each other in style. Their album is high on my list of the best Norwegian albums this year. Highly recommended.

LongPlayer - Chica A Go-Go
It's time to welcome the debut of LongPlayer, a powerful quartet that formed in Lima in 2009 and is led by experienced Pipe Villarán. Their first single, Chica A Go-Go, carries a pleasant melancholy and is full of crunchy guitars and surprise trumpet appearances. Their self-titled debut album, which comes out on October 21, promises to deliver a classic rock lesson and will undoubtedly be one of the best of the year.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Noiserv - 06:00am - Mr. Carousel
Since his first presence in MAP a year ago, Noiserv (aka David Santos) has played internationally, recently in Scotland and Slovenia, and has shared the stage with Bill Callahan, Camera Obscura, Damon & Naomi, Perry Blake and The Swell among others. In July, he released a new EP, A Day In The Day Of The Days - a musical diary of one fictional day.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Minus - Ha?deu
Minus is Daniel Stanciu, a young man from Bucharest who combines massive mountains of bass with glitchy, twinkling Game Boy melodies and a healthy dose of synth funk. The EP from which Ha?deu was taken can be listen to and downloaded on Minus' page at Local Records.

Bear Bones - Oil & Lacquer
Islay-born singer Ben Harrison's thick brogue and some inspired bursts of accordion make eight-strong Bear Bones an unmistakably Scottish proposition and Oil & Lacquer a heavenly way to spend four minutes. Fans of Belle & Sebastian won't be disappointed. Since it's exactly two years since the Music Alliance Pact was launched, as a bonus you can also download a free anniversary compilation here which contains mostly exclusive and rare tracks contributed by 23 previous MAP artists from Scotland.

SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
Typewriter - Cry So Well (The Suntan Mix)
Ten years and three line-up changes later, Typewriter have finally released their labor of love, Indian Head Massage. Their debut album is chock full of well-crafted power-pop tunes and guitar riffs, whimsical lyrics and one of the most dynamic rhythm sections in the country. As a live four-piece, Typewriter shed all inhibitions to deliver a spine-tingling dose of forgotten melodies to awaken the senses, but on record they take the time to flesh out the minute details that make each song stand out.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Goldfish - Fort Knox
Hailing from Cape Town, Goldfish is made up of Dominic Peters and David Poole, who are one of the hottest jazz/electro duos this side of the equator. A mix of "funky riffs, acid jazz melodies and instantly catchy dance floor songs" is what they are about and Fort Knox is the epitome of their unique sound. This duo have made their mark in the dance scene and world domination is in sight.

Go-yo - The Blue Devil
Singer-songwriter Go-yo writes songs about cynical self-consolation. After debuting with a self-titled single offering lo-fi piano pieces last year, he has begun a venture into the realm of trip-hop and electronica with the recent release of first full-length album I Came Alone. While songs such as Let The Little Bird Fly maintains Go-yo's original, melancholic piano sound, The Blue Devil creates an atmosphere similar to that built by Air's score for The Virgin Suicides.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Mother Of The Forest - Bränna Broar
This suddenly prolific artist has just released another EP, this time with guests such as Mattias Alkberg and Magnus Ekelund. Vocals are processed and distant in the mix, adding to both the spookiness of the tracks and the prominence of the staccato electronic bursts that punctuate and enliven each song.

The Legendary Lightness - Airplane
The Legendary Lightness is the side-project of the two drummers from Swiss indie outfits Schnitzer and Gabardine. The singer-songwriter duo hail from Zurich and has just released a splendid single called Airplane. It's an airy piece of music, providing you with the musical layer for daydreaming. Airplane will be featured on an EP which will be sold at concerts and is limited to 100 copies. Their debut album is scheduled for release this winter.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Twin Shadow - Yellow Balloon
The description for this artist should be short and sweet: spin the track, buy the album and become very happy. Twin Shadow, the one-man project of Brooklynite George Lewis Jr, is full of smooth synths, dark vocals and compositions operating under the influence of 1980s music but not cheaply ripping it off like loads of chillwave acts. Simplicity and melody merge seamlessly in Yellow Balloon, like many of the tracks on debut LP Forget.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimento
Los Mentas - El Kiosko
Los Mentas is a rockabilly band with a new and nostalgic proposal and a strong dose of punk-rock flavor. Other influences like tango and swing can also be found in their work. Richard "Chicha" Blanco, Carlos Aray, Hector "Lukas" Paredes and Juan Olmedillo are Los Mentas, and El Kiosko is included on their debut album.

To download all 35 songs in one file click here


Roger Shepherd from Flying Nun

A little while ago I got the chance to have a chat with Roger Shepherd, founder and owner of New Zealand's iconic Flying Nun record label. Having formed the label in 1982 Shepherd was at the helm until he sold it 1999. In the new century Flying Nun lost it's spirit and direction as it shifted through a range of corporate owners but in late 2009 Shepherd bought back the label and has embarked on a mission to not only release a wealth of long lost gems from the vaults but also to sign and release new material.

The first releases on Flying Nun since Shepherd took over again, Grayson Gilmour's No Constellation and Die! Die! Die!'s Form. The third release, just out is a new solo album from Robert Scott of the The Bats and The Clean, Ends Run Together.

I also spoke with Shepherd about his plans for re-releasing Flying Nun's back catalogue. While even well known acts like The Bats have classic material that is unreleased there is a wealth EPs from lesser-known acts. While some of this material, like the two 1983 EPs by Marie and The Atom, has a fairly niche audience it would be good to have it available in some form.

There are also a number of Dunedin bands who released material that was significant in the development of New Zealand music throughout the eighties and beyond which at present can't be heard.

After I turned off the recorder Roger and I kept on chatting and we discussed the possibility of previously unreleased material emerging. In a Counting The Beat exclusive this podcast includes a song from the 3Ds David Mitchell, recorded in the lead up to their Fying Nun EP Swarthy Songs for Swabs - a portastudio recording called Some Thing.

There are videos from Robert Scott, Die! Die! Die! and Grayson Gilmour on the video page.

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