ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Absurdcus – Puppy Slippers
Absurdcus is the solo project of Transylvanian bass player/multi-instrumentalist Laszlo Demeter. His music has been a continuous work in progress since 2003, when he first started recording bits and pieces under this pseudonym. His music stylistically ranges from alternative rock and funk to electronica and even metal. You can download his debut album here.
The Empire Of The Moon – Transition
The Empire Of The Moon is the new project of Juan Sábato, a former member of Brian Storming, a band that was featured in the first edition of MAP (and, by the way, the grandson of writer Ernesto Sábato). Transition is the first single from The Empire Of The Moon’s just-released debut EP, Saturday Children, for which he wrote all the music, lyrics and beautiful pop arrangements.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Tim Fitz – The Line
Tim Fitz is a 21-year-old producer/instrumentalist/singer from Sydney. He put out his first EP, Infinite Space, in March but his latest release, Beforetime, is definitely a rich picking. Some might hear genre spanning and others will hear indecisiveness, but there’s a great feel to this collection of tracks. The Line is a good example of Fitz’s kaleido-instrumentals. Just as the flouncy percussion gets into the proper swing of things, we get bombarded by drive-high fuzz around the one-minute mark. Fitz’s sound is original, but the way he has put his sounds together is still familiar enough to catch on to.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Nana Rizinni – Nice Figure, Dangerous Heart
It’s almost 2012, but listening to this song from singer/drummer Nana Rizinni can take you back to the 90s with an awesome „sounds like The Breeders feeling”. Nice Figure, Dangerous Heart is from her first album, I Said, which is available to download from her website.
Fevers – Passion Is Dead (Long Live Fashion)
Fevers’ debut full-length (which is currently free via Bandcamp) is a wonderful blend of disco-pop and ambient Stars/Young Galaxy-style space-rock. This song, the title track from the album, falls firmly into the former category. It’s five and a half minutes of a glorious, life-affirming, wave-your-arms-in-the-air anthem, and it sets the stage for one of the best albums of the year.
CHILE: Super 45
Tio Lucho – Ilusión Rebelde
Even though Tio Lucho had an aggressive, non-conformist punk sound when they started, it has developed into a more danceable and, clearly, more passive format. Produced by Chalo González, their new album Innombrable, released through Cazador, has a strong new wave influence. Ilusión Rebelde is its first single.
Mini Train Heart – Just This Feeling
Formed in 2009, Mini Train Heart is a peculiar band based in Wuhan. The band is noted for their unpredictable drumbeats and manic vocals. Also, you can’t easily tell who their influences are. We recommend you just drown in the lo-fi atmosphere and enjoy their uniquely dry humor in how they see this generation.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Anchorless – A Step Too Steep
Comprising members of bands such as Lack, The River Phoenix and The Fashion, indie-rock six-piece Anchorless are currently finishing their debut album, which I assume will be released early-ish next year. Until then dive in, dig and download A Step Too Steep from their six-song eponymous 2010 debut EP, which you can in fact download in full through this link.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Citizens! – True Romance (Populette remix)
This is an exclusive remix of the debut single, True Romance, by a London-based five-piece who have just signed to French electronic/indie label Kitsuné. Their debut album, due early next year, has been produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. The video to the single was directed by LA’s High5Collective, the team behind shorts for The Weeknd and Odd Future. And they believe that „pop is not a dirty word. It’s a holy one”. For Citizens!, pop is something David Bowie did in the 70s – they conflate glam-era Bowie and Bowie in Berlin with some of the tart arrogance of Suede and louche energy of Franz.
Shelton San – Well-Behaved
Noise-rock band Shelton San started rocking the small Estonian indie scene in 2002 and, almost 10 years later, they are stronger than ever, creating massive, raw, hypnotic atmospheres, always polished, but never sterile. In 2006, they received the Estonian Music Award for the best punk/metal artist. Shelton San’s second LP was released on December 12.
Zebra And Snake – Burden
Matti and Tapio, best known as Zebra And Snake, positioned themselves as the next big thing in Finnish electro-pop in 2010 and since then, the duo has been carefully crafting their debut album while playing anywhere from Iceland to Indonesia. Burden, the first single off Healing Music (out in spring 2012), is an epic pop song with a Blood On The Dance Floor beat, analogue electronic hooks and powerful Bowie-esque vocals.
FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Marauders – Galley-Slave
Marauders formed in the late 80s in Strasbourg, and have been making garage rock ever since, before it was cool and re-popularized by The Black Keys. The quartet, who have released two LPs and appeared in various compilations, play short, edgy songs and are pretty awesome live. Galley-Slave is a sweet, soft-rock ballad that deserves some attention.
Kraków Loves Adana – Silver Screen
The Black Forest, a myth. Since Kraków Loves Adana come from Freiburg, we can all speculate whether the forest has its influence or not. Hence, the sound of this duo is outstanding. The voice of Deniz Cicek is remarkably dark and complex, the use of the instruments is deliberate, creating deep and slightly ominous songs. Silver Screen is a MAP exclusive from their upcoming second album, which will be released in early 2012.
2L8 – Let It Go
A collective led by K the Clown and comprised of talented Greek musicians, 2L8 is a bold and electrifying project that has come to be categorized by their radical stylistic shifts between albums. New Battles, Without Honor And Humanity is packed with feverous instrumental intensity and florid arrangements based on bursting guitars, pounding drums, subtle and luminous climaxes, dramatic strings and brass, hypnotically simple melodies, inner monologues and trembling, frantically passionate vocals, desperate and bleak lyrics about resistance, equity, freedom, love and equality coupled with a sense of hope.
Low Roar – Friends Make Garbage, Good Friends Take It Out
Low Roar is the personal project of Ryan Karazija who, almost two years ago, moved from San Francisco to Reykjavík to follow the love of his life. His self-titled debut chronicles the challenges of starting anew in a foreign land and the struggles to acclimatize, find work and support his family in the Icelandic winter. Friends Make Garbage, Good Friends Take It Out, one of the highlights of the album, is a haunting, emotive and slightly melancholic song with a melody that will undoubtedly keep playing in your head long after the song is over.
Stars And Rabbit – Worth It
Stars And Rabbit are probably one of this country’s most promising indie acts. The duo mix some soul from Joan Baez, the cuteness of Lisa Mitchell and the playful touch of Björk to produce catchy, beautiful pop songs.
Come On Live Long – Elephants And Time
Formed last year, Come On Live Long have picked up a steady pace in no time as evident on the release of their latest EP entitled Mender. They make far-reaching alternative songs with considerable melodies, synths and a strong singular sound. Production by Nouveaunoise electronic maestro Conor Gaffney helps too. Ones to watch.
Distanti – Astronomie
Distanti sing in Italian, but even if you don’t speak our old and praiseworthy language, I’m sure you’ll understand – in fact, you will totally feel the way Distanti tear up their post-punk sound. Visceral. Urgent. Clever. They just released a new EP, Mamba Nero, which you can get at To Lose La Track. And try to catch Distanti live, they’re amazing.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Love And Hates – Party Trash
Love And Hates is a collaboration between Yuppa and Moe, two of the best indie artists in Japan today, from HNC and Miila And The Geeks respectively. Love And Hates finds them teaming up to make rap music with indie-pop touches, or kindergarten hip-hop as they dubbed it. Party Trash, with its cutesy chopped-and-screwed intro and solid structure, is not a lame dorm-room joke but rather a fun, appreciative stab at the genre. UGK they are not, but they still feel like a blast.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta
nosnow/noalps – Far Into The Night (Without You)
nosnow/noalps began its journey over mountainous terrain in early 2007 with their poppy indie-rock seasoned with punk, reggae and ska. Soon after, the quartet hit the live circuit with an energy and force comparable to an avalanche at a Swiss ski resort. The band’s first EP, Just Rock, came out in 2008 and they released their debut album, Romantikpolitik, this August.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
3Ball MTY – Ritmo Alterado
The city of Monterrey, in northern Mexico, is struggling in a war against drug-mafias: despite the violent context, a new musical genre is rising thanks to 3Ball MTY. Led by veteran electro-cumbia DJ Toy Selectah and a crew of skillful producers in their early 20s, the collective have created a new sound by merging polka, reggaeton and acid-tribal-techno. But the most peculiar thing about this trend is the style of dancing – like dodging bullets – while wearing ultra-long pointy boots. Curious? Just google ‘Pointy Mexican Boots’.
NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Spoelstra – Pallets
An alternative to the schmaltz of typical Christmas sounds, enjoy a dose of Spoelstra. He’s a collaborator with Dutch experimental label Narrominded, which specialises in all sorts of fantastic non-profitable sounds, from full-on noise rock to electronic warbles. And Spoelstra is a perfect fit, as he’s proven capable of both. His latest album Pallets was released earlier in the year. Packaged as a cassette and a book about everything you can imagine about pallets, it showcases a full rack of effects and a wonky mind. Part chip tune, part drunken country improv, part toy noise, this uneasiness is how Santa feels come Boxing Day.
NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
The Eversons – I’m A Conservative
Fronted by Mark Turner (ex-Little Pictures) and with Chris Young (Insurgents, No Aloha), Tim Shann and Blair Everson, The Eversons have a crisp, clear garage-rock vibe that strongly recalls Art Brut and American college rock with its undeniable catchiness and the immediate satisfaction this brings. With classic guitar riffs and day-in-the-life-style lyrics, their debut five-song EP is instantly likeable. This is one of those bands that doesn’t muck around, delivering a top-class release very early in their career, which makes us excited about future things to come from them.
NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
Sunturns – Hallelujah (Christmas Is Here!)
Sunturns can perhaps be labeled an indie supergroup – or not just an indie super group, but a Christmas indie supergroup. It’s something as rare as a full-time Christmas band and is comprised of some of the best musicians from the Oslo indie scene, with members from bands such as mylittlepony, Monzano and The Little Hands of Asphalt. They sing about both the nice and the more melancholic sides of Christmas. Their debut album, cleverly titled Christmas, is out now.
Gris Volta – You Go Behind The Truth
Formed at the beginning of 2008, Gris Volta have too many influences to place the band into one genre – you can find anything from indie-rock to jazz themes and experimental music in their songs. Their debut record Monochrome is without doubt one of the best Peruvian albums released this year.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Julie & The Carjackers – Mr Williams
One year ago, Julie & The Carjackers released their debut EP. Now the first album by João Correia (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Bruno Pernadas (guitar), with the help of some friends (none of them called Julie), is available. Parasol has been warmly welcomed by Portuguese press and blogs as a surprising and refreshing debut in the local indie scene.
RUSSIA: Big Echo
Arktor – Pier ft. Didjelirium
Just like the original story by Philip K. Dick, Arktor’s album Retreat Syndrome recreates the atmosphere of madness and insanity, combining truth and despair with the skills of his mate, jazz pianist Ilz. Pier is recorded with a special guest, Shanghai rapper Didjelirium.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Café Disco – Terra Nova
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Terra Nova by Glasgow-based newcomers Café Disco. It was on a shaky YouTube clip filmed in June 2011 during one of the band’s earliest gigs. „Contains the peachiest guitar riff I’ve heard in ages” is how I described the song on my blog back then – and that verdict hasn’t changed with this studio recording, which was funded by The Pop Cop for the sole purpose of giving it away through the Music Alliance Pact, together with this rather fun promo video.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Sonicbrat – Bed Of Forty Winks
Sonicbrat is the enduring moniker of sound artist Darren Ng, whose work is characterised by an intricate tapestry of field recordings and found sounds, strung together by subtly processed acoustic instrumentation with a classical bent. Gentle, stirring and complex, Ng’s music is the sort that invites itself into and comfortably inhabits one’s imagination. His latest release, Hana, is his musing on the life of a flowering plant and is available as a free download on the Totokoko label.
SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
The Frown – The National (Yesterday’s Pupil remix)
The Frown makes a curious mixture of folk and electronica. With their song The National, Yesterday’s Pupil’s remix adds a special touch to it, with a heady mix of soaring strings and orchestration, low tempo colliding beats, dark and menacing basslines and the fragile yet commanding vocals of Eve Rakow. Ethereal and enigmatic, it’s one of the year’s most exciting songs.
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Kim Mok In – Scene
Kim Mok In started out as the guitarist of playful lo-fi folk quartet Cabinet Singalongs over a decade ago. This month he released his first solo album, Song Of Musician’s-self, with an updated sound and better production that still shouldn’t leave any old fan disappointed. Scene is a song about the Korean music scene which finds Kim Mok In’s voice and guitar accompanied by a sturdy piano.
Doble Pletina – Cruzo Los Dedos
Doble Pletina, a five-piece from Barcelona, were born from the ashes of Abrevadero (a one-of-a-kind cover band that would play songs of almost any genre). Thanks to their simple yet carefully crafted melodies and everyday life-inspired emotional lyrics – as in their latest single Cruzo Los Dedos – they have broken into the city’s local independent scene. They are, basically, what we would expect from a good indie-pop band.
Let’s Say We Did – Galaxies
If your idea of Swedish music is something exotic like Lykki Li, First Aid Kit, Little Dragon and/or Jens Lekman, the music of Let’s Say We Did might surprise you. On the whole, the new record hews closer to Big Star meets Wilco dad-rock than the drum and bass electronica music coming out of Sweden of late. Sebastian Fors is one of the main men behind the band. He has been contributing to the Swedish music scene for a few years in multiple projects. Let’s Say We Did’s new self-titled album, though, is some of the best stuff I’ve heard from him.
Alejandro Jiménez – Die Fragestellung In Frage Stellen
Alejandro Jiménez is actually more poetry slam than singer-songwriting. He also had the honour of playing in the most famous theater in Switzerland for cabaret artists. On his second record, Nabelschau, he recorded 11 songs which have one thing in common: they’re raw and personal.
Toz Ve Toz – Kara Mamba
Founded in November 2007, Toz Ve Toz make experimental songs that combine elements of jazz, surf, punk and Turkish classical music. The trio use guitar, synthesizer, drums, harmonica and bağlama – a Turkish instrument with three double strings. They have released two albums – the first featured music for a theatre play called Sahici İnsanlar Plastik Ölümler („Real People Plastic Deaths”) in 2009; the second is a home recording called Ev/Home. Their third album will be released from their own record label soon.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Gracie – Sisters
Philadelphia’s Gracie is an intriguing project to say the least. There is bedroom pop and garage rock, but the vibes coming from Gracie match more of a bomb shelter banger sound. Haunting, effervescent, glitchy, mesmerizing echoes, and driving beats that propel your ears forward straight through tangles of sonic cobwebs. Can’t wait to snag this unique release via Small Plates soon.