New Zealand's Counting the Beat post of the international Music Alliance Pact December 2009 (I'm catching up).
You can download 33 songs, from 33 bands, from around the world and I recommend out of those songs these 17 tracks:
Signer - +Kicks And Kicks
Bevan Smith is the musician who records as Signer. Smith started out as an indie-guitar fan but gave that up for psychedelic electronica and synths. His latest album, Next We Bring You The Fire, has a more ambient sound than earlier records, toning down some of the more leftfield noise elements. +Kicks And Kicks isn't that typical of the album - it's poppier and more rhythmic - but gives a good introduction to Signer's ability to create music which is accessible but slightly unsettling.
The Property Line - The Start
The Property Line have only been around a few months but they've been building quite a local following with their brand of psychedelia-tinged country-rock. Their EP (which is available for free download on their site) is pretty strong, and nowhere is it stronger than on The Start, in which the band infuses a little Sufjan into their sound, with absolutely stunning results.
Today - Before Ending
Before Ending is taken from Today's debut album which was released last year. They are searching for hope and happiness by watching everyone's love life as a third person. You won't feel lonely after listening to their songs. The band's new album, Live The Life, will be out soon.
Miss Muffin - Bways 'n' Gyals
What happens if you put together Juan Valdez and Bob Marley? Well, the answer to this experiment can be given by Isabella Escobar aka Miss Muffin, the known name for this promising talent of Colombian reggae. Originating from Antioquia, with Caribbean blood, Miss Muffin has released Hear This, an album that explores in a curious manner the various possibilities of reggae.
Malcolm Lincoln - Me Iz Loaded With Zoul
Malcolm Lincoln has been active only for about a month so there's not much of a biography yet. The band is the brainchild of Robin Juhkental, who is joined by Madis Kubu aka Fretless Rämbu for live shows. Five more songs are downloadable here.
Rex Willer - My Girl
Rex Willer is a five-piece indie band who recorded the excellent Inner Moray Scenes EP at their home studio earlier this year. Influenced by My Morning Jacket, Steely Dan and Death Cab For Cutie, they are driven by groovy bass lines and old-school keyboard sounds, without forgetting good guitar licks. Let yourself be caught by the irresistible melody of My Girl while Rex Willer finishes some new material due out early next year.
Michael Wookey - Songs About Snow
At the age of 15, Michael Wookey was given a portable pump organ which belonged to his grandfather, who was an organist during World War II. This instrument inspired Michael to write some songs and start collecting obscure instruments. Now 26, he has released three albums and by using a portable studio, he has recorded in various sheds, basements and meat lockers. He now lives in the red light district of Paris. The French describe his music as folk baroque.
2-L8 - Excuse Me, But I Just Have To Explode (Part II)
2-L8's second release - He & She, Angry Enough To Keep Loving In The Dark Ages (download it for free here) - is a masterpiece of avant-garde music that truly haunts the mind. It's a passionate experience, leading the listener into excruciating catharsis - you look into the eyes of two lovers and see nothing but painful regret. It's exhilarating and rare to hear such florid arrangements based on sharp stringed instruments and theremin, trembling, frantically passionate vocals, desperate and bleak lyrics coupled with a sense of hope and all of them laced with uncompromising experimentation, true emotional resonance and weight. A total seductive triumph.
Morðingjarnir - Manvisa
Punk-rock trio Morðingjarnir ("The Murderers") play fast and sharp three-to-four chord songs, often with some dark humour. Atli, Haukur and Helgi are influenced by Dead Kennedys and local punk heroes Fræbbblarnir. Manvisa is a song featured on their third album, Flóttinn Mikli, with guest vocals from Kata of the band Mammút.
The Mavyns - Greener Than The Sea
The Mavyns (pronounced "May-wins") are a rock act from Mumbai. Their music is a particularly refreshing take on the new British post-punk revival. Powered by piano-driven melodies and a charming disposition, the recently-formed quartet already look set for greater things. Greener Than The Sea makes no bones about its Beatles affectations culminating in a dizzying guitar romp. This live recording from an excellent recent set in the city is a definite sign of a career path that looks to be going only one way - up!
Tika & The Dissidents - Waltz Muram
Known as the diva from the indie scene in Indonesia, Tika has a beautiful voice and smart lyrics with influences ranging from swing and lounge music mashed with eclectic orchestration. I chose her and her band this month because I also want to promote Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of the country.
O Emperor - Po
After an impressive appearance on Irish TV and some blog love from The Torture Garden, Cork band O Emperor are definitely on the 'ones to watch' list. Especially, though, after repeated plays of their debut single, Po, an unassuming number that reveals itself on multiple listens thanks to its snaking ephemeral guitar lick and a vocal that lodges in your brain for 24 hours at a time.
Sonic Attack Blaster - 20000Volt
Sonic Attack Blaster, an alternative band from Tokyo's underground scene, call their music 'samurai rock'. Their songs actually have Japanese retro melody lines that give them an early-90s feel. Interesting and really rather weird. Their new album will be released in January.
The Very Sexuals - Bowie Eyes
Hallo from Holland! This is our first submission and we're happy to introduce The Very Sexuals. Starting out as a project between three or four other bands, this act have come together to produce an impressive, emotive and totally free album which has left listeners in dreamy shoegaze heaven since its release earlier this year. Be sure to download Bowie Eyes and look out for album number two in 2010.
Noiserv - Melody Pops
Noiserv is one-man band David Santos, a very talented multi-instrumentalist from Lisbon. His self-released 2008 debut LP, One Hundred Miles From Thoughtlessness, was highly acclaimed by the mainstream Portuguese press. In May, Noiserv released a single through the Scottish label Autumn Ferment Records.
Oh My Melodies - I Like It All
Oh My Melodies is the US-based solo project of Jiyoung Lee, vocalist of I Love JH. She now offers home-recorded electronic pop with sweet lyrics on the recently released EP So Lazy, which can be downloaded here. I Like It All is a catchy tune with a bit of synth that makes doing the chores seem like the most delightful task.
Symfoniorkestern - Tänd Eld På Dig Själv (För Det Du Tror På)
Wow, it was a no-brainer this month. Symfoniorkestern are a uniquely Swedish group. They are like an indie-rock band but with a grab-bag of unusual orchestration, lyrics in Swedish and lovely harmonies. The new EP, Tänd Eld På Dig Själv (För Det Du Tror På), is available here for free in its awesome, spellbinding entirety. The band spent a year and a half recording it - I only wish I could somehow give this review the same amount of care.