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New Occult You: “Red Car”

Let’s start the week with something we dropped the ball on totally. This new song from Occult You (a side-project from one of Japan’s finest music makers today Taquwami) came out nearly two weeks ago, and is a solid groover. It takes cues from a song the Occult You project released a couple years back, the bouncy retro-pop “Cassette Girl (Minami).” He’s building from ideas first expressed their, but now he’s slowed it down a wink and the whole thing sounds more blown out. Listen below.

Elen Never Sleeps And Super VHS Release Split EP, Featuring Taquwami Remixes

Here’s a nice late-summer surprise – Elen Never Sleeps and Super VHS have teamed up to release a new split EP, each artist contributing one new track. Neither of the songs on the White Surrender/Stuck On You release mark big stylistic changes for either act, but both find the pair of Tokyo artists taking baby steps in new directions. Elen Never Sleeps steps out from the dreamy haze he’s inhabited over the majority of his artistic career, letting his voice drift into the open over a minimalist beat, some guitar and the occasional whispy background voice. It’s a daring move that mostly pays off – although some of the higher notes can sound awkward, the majority of the song is sung in a straightforward way that sounds intimate against the bare-bones backdrop. Super VHS, meanwhile, sound more like a garage-rock band than they ever have before on “Stuck On You.” It’s short but does come complete with some whimsical noises in the back, though.

The EP also includes remixes of both songs courtesy of Taquwami, which makes this an even better summer surprise. His remix of “White Surrender” actually sounds more like one expects an Elen Never Sleeps’ song to sound – he muffled the vocals a bit more, and everything comes off as a little hazier. Take out the slowed-down voices scattered about the track and this could have been an Elen original. His reworking of “Stuck On You,” done under the electro-dance moniker Occult You, is more radical – the fuzz gets scrubbed off in favor of Toro-Y-Moi-flavored synth blasts, the entire track transformed from fast rocker to fidgety dance number. Download the EP for free here, or listen below.

Moscow Club Present Japanese Indie-Pop Compilation, Featuring Occult You, Super VHS And OMEGABOY

International Tapes debuted this over the weekend, but in case you missed it here is a reminder: Moscow Club helped to organize the Ç86 compilation, a collection of indie-pop-leaning artists (I mean, check the name of the comp again) that the group put together in time for the Spring. It’s a pretty great introduction to the country’s contemporary indie-pop scene. The compilation features pretty faithful recreation of 80’s indie-pop courtesy of The Moments, It Happens and Lilacs. The tape also gives some room to the producer-fantasies of Occult You and OMEGABOY, as while as a back half bordering on ambient. It’s not perfect – some of the sparse electronic songs drag, while Slow-Marico’s dentist drill of a song makes a pretty good case against noise – but when stuff like Super VHS’ bouncy “Not Too Late” plays this tape seems vital, a great digital object highlighting some exciting artists.

The best songs, though, come courtesy of Moscow Club themselves. Last year, they jumped between straight-ahead indie-pop goodness (“Daisy Miller,” “Bikinikill”) and electro-tinged compositions (“Pacific 724,” “Echo Beach”). Here, they make a truce between the two, decking their twee songs out in Christmas lights and letting them twinkle away. They lack the emotional ooooomph of a “Daisy Miller,” but still sound like a step forward for Moscow Club sonically.

Get it here.

New Taquwami: “Ƒắη†Δ§ỷ”

Sometime last night, Creative-Commons-loving net label Bad Panda Records posted a new song from Taquwami (also known as Occult You) called “Ƒắη†Δ§ỷ” (also known as “Fantasy” just in case Microsoft Word “Insert Symbol” isn’t a language you know). Accompanying the song is a brief interview with Taquwami himself that reveals info ranging from trivial (last meal eaten – udon) to interesting albeit not surprising (check how many time he answers “my bedroom”). One answer, though, sheds some light on what the young Tokyo producer is trying to do with “Ƒắη†Δ§ỷ” – asked what song he wish he wrote, Taquwami answers “I’m God” by Clams Casino. “Ƒắη†Δ§ỷ” ends up being a touch brighter than most of Clams Casinos’ releases, but it’s a track where Taquwami attempts to turn a vocal sample into a spiritual experience, all while laying down a beat that probably sounds way better without a rapper wandering through it. Listen here.

Music Alliance Pact March 2012

This month’s Music Alliance Pact, wherein over 30 blogs from around the world share great music, struck me as especially difficult. I chose one of my favorite artists of the year so far, Occult You a.k.a. Taquwami, but narrowing it down to just one song proved difficult. After a long listening session, I opted for “Psychic Feelings,” which was the tune that hooked its claws into me and made me start declaring this dude as one of the best young artists in the country. Check it…and a treasury of other great tunes…below!

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the whole 38-track compilation here.

JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Occult YouPsychic Feelings
Tokyo artist Occult You loves to explore new sounds, each new release from this moniker and his other alias Taquwami (Google it, totally worth it) sounding like a new artistic swerve. Psychic Feelings is one of the newest tracks from the young producer, an irresistibly funky jam recalling the synth-heavy songs created by Ford & Lopatin and the Beverly Hills Cop theme tune. This is not needless nostalgia, though, rather a great song from a promising contemporary artist.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
YataiansWhat A Man’s Got To Do
Yataians is a Buenos Aires-based band with a rocksteady sound heavily influenced by Jamaican artists from the 60s and 70s, such as The Ethiopians, The Gaylads, The Heptones and The Paragons. It’s also a product of global age, with members from France, Colombia, New Caledonia and, of course, Argentina. This song is from their first album, Ô Tulop, which came out a couple of months ago, courtesy of the independent label Estamos Felices.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Shady LaneDumb Hope
Dumb Hope is the gorgeous lead single of Shady Lane’s forthcoming album, Built Guilt. Once the solo guise under which Sydneysider Jordy Lane put out a diverse range of odds and ends, Shady Lane has grown into a four-piece (officially?) with more hooks, vocals and a nostalgic pop sensibility not unlike fellow New South Welshmen Belles Will Ring.

AUSTRIA: Walzerkönig
With past major label experience, the founding members of what is now Giantree found a new home on an indie label, but without denying that what they are doing is pop in capital letters. Their debut album We All Yell comes with synthesizers and catchy hooks. Communicate, a song about fragile beginnings, was a radio hit in Austria.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
DJ CremosoSay It Ain’t So
In the film Be Kind Rewind, Jack Black and Mos Def produce their own lo-fi version of movies, which they call “sweded” versions. What DJ Cremoso makes is like that, “bregalizing” songs – turning international hits into tecnobrega rhythms (a popular style from northern Brazil). There’s almost always the same beat and silly synths are its trademark, as we can hear in this tecnobrega of Weezer’s 90s hit Say It Ain’t So. DJ Cremoso’s identity is unknown – all he has is a profile on 4shared with his remixes.

CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
Bronx CheerleaderCamelot
Bronx Cheerleader have been a regional treasure in and around their hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, for years now but their new album, Real Punks Don’t Sing About Girls, deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Camelot is a deliciously dirty lo-fi anthem-in-waiting, and one of the stand-out moments on this record, of which there are many.

CHILE: Super 45
Matías Cena & Los FictionsRaíz
Matías Cena used to be a solo artist from the folk scene in Santiago, and he made himself relatively known via an acoustic guitar and MySpace. Gradually, Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst’s influence diverted him to the ensemble format, which has developed into this six-piece that shines in a land not used to country-like rock. Raíz is a taster of Matías Cena & Los Fictions’ second album Arauco Cajún.

CHINA: Wooozy
Modern ChildrenMongolia
Modern Children is a six-piece band based in Hong Kong that formed in 2006. “Colorful” is the best word to describe them. They play music in different styles, from indie-pop to post-rock. Their songs are filled with all kinds of sounds by using a wide range of instruments, from guitars and bass to rainbow bells and erhu. The band released their self-titled debut album in January.

COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
1280 AlmasAntipatriota
1280 Almas is the biggest cult band from Bogotá. More than 18 years of history, six albums and a life of independence on the underground make them local legends. Now, they present a new song called Antipatriota (“Unpatriotic”), a declaration of national nonconformity.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Ring Them BellsWhen I Hear That Whistle Blow
A MAP exclusive, When I Hear That Whistle Blow by Ring Them Bells is only the second great taste of the quartet’s loud combination of 90s noise-rock and 60s psych-pop in circulation. The other, titled Technicolor, is also available for free at the band’s website, and both will most likely be part of Ring Them Bells’ debut album slated for release later this spring.

ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
SubmerseLove You Down
Rob Orme alias Submerse is a 23-year-old DJ and producer from Runcorn, now living in Tokyo, who happens to be making some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful (dance) music anywhere on the planet. Influenced equally by 2000-era UK garage and Japanese pop (J-pop), it combines the skittering rhythms of 2-step with sad female vocals and wan melody to make J-garage. If you thought Rustie was a maximalist, try this ADHD pop. It’s like bubblegum Burial, Orme filling every second of space with infinitesimal bursts, droplets, clicks, spasms and lovelorn cries, dubstep given a sugary coating.

Lack Of EoinsSudden Death Mode
Lack Of Eoins came together in late 2005 and recorded their first demos the following year. In 2008, they won a garage band contest in Estonia and recorded their debut album, which was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. They’re back now with the single Sudden Death Mode, which was released along with three remixes as a free download on the first day of 2012.

Cats On FireA Few Empty Waves
Many argue that Cats On Fire are the best indie-pop band in Finland at the moment. This bold statement may easily be true thanks to well-crafted pop songs with a melancholic and dreamy twist, solid lyrics and distinctive vocals. This month, Cats On Fire release their third album All Blackshirts To Me. It is their best yet. So good, in fact, that the band can afford a terrific outtake like A Few Empty Waves.

FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Rhum For PaulineI Can Reach The Top
Rhum For Pauline are an indie-pop band formed in Nantes in 2009 who released their first mini-album, Miami, in 2010, and their first EP, Can Reach The Top, in January. Their upbeat songs are incredibly enjoyable, the kind you like immediately after the first listen, the kind you’ll put on repeat for days. Be sure to check out the very cool video for I Can Reach The Top, directed by The Incredible Kids.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Juli KapelleTreiber
Juli Kapelle is a collective from lovely Aschaffenburg, built around mastermind Achim “AS” Sauer. They are guitar-driven, reminiscent of a laid-back and bit krauty Dire Straits. All in all, music for a sophisticated afternoon.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Playground NoiseThis World
Playground Noise’s new single, Swinging Lowdown, is a delicate combination of finely arranged brooding melancholy and redemption. The two indie-pop songs infuse soaring guitars with a tense, literate sense of foreboding, adding strings and brass to strike the perfect balance between moody, underground noise and melody. They are built on restraint, tinged by poignancy and wrapped up in poetic human emotion that sticks with you long after the final note. Their sophomore album is set to be released later this year.

ICELAND: Rjóminn
1860For You, Forever
For You, Forever is the third single from 1860’s self-released debut album Sagan. Drawing inspiration from bands such as Fanfarlo and The Avett Brothers, the song has a modern folkish vibe to it, with small-town sentiments featuring heavily in the lyrics. The song was recently included in the short documentary Íslander by Grasshopper Films.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
Bromocorah means “repeat offender”. They’re a thrash metal recidivist and I don’t think they’ll be changing their way of life any time soon.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Young WonderTumbling Backwards
Ian Ring and Rachel Koeman recently teamed up as a producer/vocal duo under the name Young Wonder. Their sound is hard to define as any one genre but is recognisable by its big beats, euphoric synth rushes, pitched vocal samples and emotive lead vocals from Koeman. Yet another excellent new Irish band to watch. A debut EP drops on April 14.

ITALY: Polaroid
Man On WireA Thousand Legs
The name of the band is a reference to Philippe Petit, the French acrobat who walked on a rope between the Twin Towers, but their sound is definitely Americana. Man On Wire play that kind of warm and emotional folk-rock that you can find in certain songs by Arcade Fire, Wilco or The National. Their debut album is a rope from the music to your heart. And they are walking on it.

MALTA: Stagedive Malta
The ShhSo Over
The Shh’s music emerges, in secret, from a place in between the city of Paris and the island of Malta. Their debut EP, The Burning Love, evokes surf-rock sounds with warm Summer Of Love-esque vocal melodies.

MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Descartes a KantConvince Me
Descartes a Kant is about to release their sophomore album Il Visore Lunatique, a lovingly crafted treat of madness from this exquisite riot grrrl band. While their music speaks for itself, Descartes a Kant has brought to the surface a collection of fears and obsessions through very tight and twisted imagery filled with schizoid violent punk episodes, cabaret, electronic glimpses and a disturbing cheerleading attitude embraced in a well-accomplished match between roughness, eroticism and femininity.

NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
Kim JanssenTors
Singer-songwriter Kim Janssen has had plenty of international experiences to date. He has recorded and performed around the world with The Black Atlantic (a previous MAP tip), he has followed his parents around Asia as a youngster, and even experienced English boarding school life. It’s the latter that most influences his lush and gentle new album Ancient Crime. He describes it as “a concept album that takes place in an old idyllic school, in a remote village in north-west England during the winter”. Like traditional folk, it’s a mixture of history, myth, memories, old and new verses. Along the way he’s aided by Marla Hansen’s Oriel Quartet and a 100-piece choir, resulting in ambitious, delightful arrangements.

NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
The AvalancheThrow Away The Rest
The Avalanche play noisy pop with both feet firmly planted in a classic shoegaze tradition. Catchy melodies hidden beneath endless layers of distorted guitar, driving drums and fuzz bass paired with the wonderful sound of dying synths throws the listener back and forth between waves of delicious pop and dirty noise. Their debut album will be released this autumn.

I Am GenkoBobblehead Sphynx
I Am Genko is a live electronica act from Lima consisting of one person and some machines. They all get along pretty well. Bobblehead Sphynx, from Awkward Teenage Years EP, is a really fun, exciting song – a succession of catchy beats that take us back to our youth or childhood.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
A JigsawThe Strangest Friend
A Jigsaw, named after a dEUS song, are from Coimbra and have already won an honorable mention in the 2009 International Songwriting Contest. The Strangest Friend is the first single from their third album, Drunken Sailors & Happy Pirates. They have received enthusiastic reviews in Les Inrockuptibles (France) and Heaven Magazine (Holland) and will gather many more fans after this month’s MAP.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Lights Out!Origin
Lights Out! are a bunch of high school kids from Cluj (the heart of Transylvania). In the past two years, since existing as a band, they have kept growing, managing to make a name for themselves among Romania’s alternative/indie bands. The start of this year found them in the studio, recording their first material – Patience EP – which is about to come out. With the smooth combination of psychedelia, dreamy guitars and indie sounds, topped with Teo’s amazing voice, Lights Out! could be one of the best musical products Romania has to offer.

RUSSIA: Big Echo
Human TetrisSilver Tears
Moscow-based post-bunk band Human Tetris have just finished their debut LP, Happy Way In The Maze Of Rebirth, and a European tour that covered Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and France. As cold and raw as the Russian winter, Silver Tears cuts right to the bone.

Mike NisbetNot Long
Originally from Oban, Mike Nisbet possesses an enchanting backstory that could give Justin Vernon a run for his money. Living a genuine nomadic existence, acoustic guitar in hand, this wandering troubadour has a Dylan-esque timeless quality to his songwriting, a voice that soothes and shatters hearts, and a gorgeous debut album, Vagrant, that could/should earn this remarkable 23-year-old talent devotees in any continent, any generation, any decade.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
ShelvesStar Alright
The much-anticipated debut album by Shelves was released this month on both vinyl and digital, resurrecting not just the choicest cuts of Britpop and college rock, but the very essence of the 90s Singapore scene. Yet the record sounds anything but dated, with its clever balance of crisp melodies and generous distortion pointing the way forward for indie rock today. That vision is epitomised in Star Alright, a song that rides above the crackle and feedback to poke fun at the studded-leather ironies of pop stardom.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Sterling EQBach’s Kittens At Play
Sterling Electric Quartet, affectionately known as Sterling EQ, burst on to the scene with their genre-defying musical style and sensational live performance. What started out in 2007 exploded into a musical phenomenon that has continued to take the South African entertainment industry by storm. Bach’s Kittens At Play shows off their eclectic stylings and versatile influences. It takes you on a lovely journey. With a twist. Simply delightful.

SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
No ControlTime
Noise-rock band No Control started out making loud punk explosions, but have since learned the importance of harmony. Influenced by Sonic Youth and with some post-rock and shoegaze thrown into the mix, their first studio-recorded release will be out this month, but already we can savor the captivating sound of Time.

SPAIN: Musikorner
KokoshcaLa Fuerza
If there’s a band that can show off the creation of a hymn for those Spaniards who usually party like there’s no tomorrow, that band is Kokoshca. They are a three-piece from Pamplona and they have already released five records (some demos, a live album and EPs). Heirs of the biggest Spanish pop bands of the 60s but with an irreverent, garage spirit, Kokoshca have recently re-released their well-known single, La Fuerza, via Elefant Records, an indie-pop institution in Spain.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Fucking Werewolf AssoKeep My Adresse To Yourself, Cause We Need Secrets
Honestly, I think I’m mainly posting this for the shock value. Both the band’s name and their odd amalgam of genres are, to say the least, unusual. Have you ever wondered what 8bit electronica and punk might sound like as a mash-up? Well, wonder no more. Here’s a new song from Fucking Werewolf Asso.

Castling Queen’s SideRise And Fail
The starting point for six-piece Castling Queen’s Side was an Arcade Fire gig in Zurich in 2005. There they got to know each other and decided to form an indie band. Now, seven years later, they have their debut record Cinema ready with 11 splendid songs full of depth, melancholy and catchy crankiness.

The Away DaysDressing Room
The Away Days carries influences from Northern music sounds and actually presents an unfamiliar style for us in this terrain, which is indie-rock. What distinguishes them from other bands in Turkey may be their desire and aim to make themselves known in Europe. While The Away Days is preparing to release their first EP in a couple of months, we can also see the band perform in various festivals during the summer. Dressing Room has an exceptional unity of quality structure, lyrics and music that can’t be ignored.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Hundred WatersMe & Anodyne
There’s not really much you can say about Hundred Waters that will do justice to their brand of experimental dream-pop. You’ve really just got to hear it for yourself. Me & Anodyne is from Hundred Waters’ self-titled debut, an early album-of-the-year contender.

VENEZUELA: Música y Más
BuenaparteCon Lucy In The Sky
Buenaparte formed in mid-2010 and released their debut album, La Caída De Lucy, in 2011. Third single Con Lucy In The Sky is a love song with lyrics inviting us to get lost with the person we desire.