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Track Of The Day: Fasano - "All The Voices"

Bob Dylan once said of Roy Orbison: "He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business."  The newest offering from Brooklyn's Fasano conjures up the swinging emotive quality of Orbison, but instead of positioned on the mountain top, one pictures Matty Fasano blurred by a frosted and slightly cracked window; a small glow from his laptop (which he used to record the album) illuminating a suffocating lack of space. It's in this claustrophobic room where Fasano invites the listener to come elbow to elbow with the musician himself and experience sixteen morphing tracks at the workspace of the artist.  Where most albums are: musician on stage / audience in the darkened crowd...The Factory is Fasano at the paino(and guitar)/the listener on the piano bench with him, watching the cuticles of the player go white as the pressure on the keys cause the blood to move aside.  The Factory invites you to not only experience the final artistic document but live in the frustration, execution, and fulfillment of the creative process itself.

The Factory
Blue Tinted Cassette (ltd 100)


One of the most exciting things about music is that it can surprise you.  My roommate was raving about a singer/songwriter and told me I MUST attend her show.  I figured it would be a good excuse to drink some bourbon and get out of the house, but my expectations remained low.  As I sat in a nearly empty bar with several people on the other side of the room with every intention of talking over the music, the wonderful Molly Sullivan began to put on one of the best shows I've seen all year.  This is exactly why we all need to be open to checking out those bands we're not comfortable with...for transcendent moments like this.  A friend, Greg Ward actually got a few seconds of video where I'm lost in my own surprise at the special talent of Sullivan.

A musician like Sullivan makes the music writers' job easy and extremely difficult at the same time.  I can throw out descriptive flourishes to describe her music, but it basically boils down to an amazing voice and an emotional sensitivity in both vocals and melody that makes her special.  There is a sense memory jump to Cocorosie or Sharon Van Etten but at the end of the day, Sullivan is a unique voice.  I fully expect the music of Sullivan to spread ear to ear after a proper recording and release, but until then, listen to some rough recordings/demos and check out a wonderful live video session through the consistently great This Man Is Not Your Father.


Music Alliance Pact (April 2014)

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 full 27-track compilation through here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie The Plasticos - Marfil This band from La Plata usually cites British rock acts such as The Kinks, Blur and The Stone Roses as their main influences. However, this track from The Plasticos' new album, Kilómetros, is one of our favorites because of its grungy sound that reminds us of the new Argentine rock movement from the late 90s. You can listen to the album on Bandcamp.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They? Dianas - Dix There are moments when all you want to do is kiss the guy who invented the internet. Such is the case when one Bandcamp tag after the other, we stumbled upon Dianas, a trio from the distant city of Perth. Dix is a dreamy drone-pop tune with all those floral notes typical of Scottish indie; kind of like what Camera Obscura might have sounded like on a hot summer's night in Western Australia.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado Isaar - Tudo Em Volta De Mim Vira Um Vão Sort of a sad waltz, Tudo Em Volta De Mim Vira Um Vão is taken from Isaar's new album, Todo Calor (roughly translated as "All The Heat"). Originally from Recife, one of Brazil's most prolific cities, Isaar shows her strong influences of local culture such as frevo, maracatu and manguebeat, but also flirts with pop music and other contemporary artists like Siba and Orquestra Contemporânea De Olinda.

CANADA: Quick Before It Melts Zoo Legacy - CRWD Hybrid hip-hop rockers Zoo Legacy are from Ottawa but have a world-conquering sound. Blending indie-rock, R&B, hip-hop and pop, it's impossible to pinpoint which element is the band's focus, and that's exactly what they've intended. Lines blur and genres blend, but Zoo Legacy's gift will always be musical alchemy.

CHILE: Super 45 Niño Cohete - El Bosque Niño Cohete, a band from Concepción, packed Teatro La Cupula at Lollapalooza Chile in March. With an EP and a recently released debut album, Aves De Chile, they're conquering the country with their music. They define their style as "sylvan pop" and new single El Bosque has nice guitar arrangements and a very upbeat melody.

COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo Flaco Flow & Melanina - El Desorden From the Colombian Pacific coast comes hip hop duo Flaco Flow & Melanina who, after 12 years, four albums and tours around the world, are still armed with good rhythm and real, powerful lyrics. They never deny their Latin flavor as you can hear in their salsa song El Desorden.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian Kristian Harting - Kamikaze Having paid his dues in a bunch of more or less under the radar thrash metal and noise-rock bands for the past 15 years, Kristian Harting has finally released a debut solo album. Float is a personal account of emotional and financial turmoil set to bleak and haunting alt-folk that will get you one way or the other. At least if you have a penchant for this type of music. And a soul. Kamikaze is a MAP exclusive download.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera R.E.A.L.I.D.A.D. - Cogiendo Fuego feat. Carolina Camacho We usually don't repeat artists on our MAP submissions, but with this one the team decided to make an exception. Both R.E.A.L.I.D.A.D. and Carolina Camacho have been featured before because they make unique music in their genres. For this track, the fury that fuels rock music and the fierce attitude of rap mix together to defend our people from corruption, softened by Carolina's voice over the chorus. Head to the Bandcamp link above to download Resurgir/Combates Necesarios, the latest EP from R.E.A.L.I.D.A.D.

ECUADOR: Plan Arteria Fernanda Karolys - Vago Desiertos María Fernanda Karolys is one of the most powerful and iconic Ecuadorian female voices. After a strong career that has seen her play with bands such as Pulpo 3, Nortec Collective Presents: Clorofila and Helios Jive, she is ready to present her first solo album and Vago Desiertos is the first single.

ENGLAND: Drowned In Sound Douglas Dare - Swim Radiohead's influence on modern music is enormous, but it's strange how little credit is given to Thom's solo work. The Eraser captivated the imagination of a generation of smart younglings in their bedrooms. Much like London's James Blake, Dorset's Douglas Dare climbed Harrowdown Hill and had the epiphany to use hints of light for shadow-play. It's little wonder this bloop-loving pianist has ended up on Erased Tapes, home to the likes of Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds, who are set to release his debut album Whelm in May.

ESTONIA: d8p - Gather d8p don't try to identify themselves by a niche or genre, but rather focus on creating a certain universal feeling, an atmosphere. Melancholic, longing, melodramatic, yet uplifting and danceable, d8p plays with the fine line between euphoria and sadness while also leaving room for surprises. Utilizing complex percussion, simple melodies and unconventional musical structures, d8p aims to take the listener to a place they find familiar yet full of new possibilities.

FINLAND: Glue Captain Cougar - Rise On their first two albums, five-piece Captain Cougar perfected rootsy Americana-influenced songs, but with their recently released third album, Åkerblomrörelsen, the band has created bold soundscapes embracing post-rock. Lyrically, it is also very ambitious as it is a history-related concept record that tells the story of Finnish evangelical cult leader and sleep-preacher Maria Åkerblom. Rise is a very good example of this bigger sound.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda The Man From Managra - Praise The Lord Aiming to explore the function of songs as a fundamental necessity of musical expression, The Man From Managra - the new project of Coti K. - conjures up music with a thoroughly minimal feel and austere arrangements, using a modified bass and his voice both deftly and as core elements. Check out Praise The Lord, a gripping and subtly beautiful song, based on a motorik rhythm, repeated simple phrases and Σtella's unique contribution.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar Bhumi Svara (Cabrini Asteriska & Puti Chitara) - Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Cabrini Asteriska and Puti Chitara are singer-songwriters who have played together since their childhood. After some shared travels they decided to form a musical project to express their life experiences. This song is a Hindu mantra in Sanskrit, may it bring more peace with you.

IRELAND: Hendicott Writing Extra Fox - Come Together Neil Adams' Extra Fox is one of several current side-projects from Dublin scene heroes The Cast Of Cheers, a smartly bristling bedroom electronica aside. Taking elements of his math-rock mainstay's choppy style, Adams' charmingly skittish beats and soulful melodies nod towards the neon lights of urban Japan. The man himself credits Com Truise and "that feeling like you're inside an 80s video game" with inspiring a new thought process. The album is available on a pay-what-you-want basis on Bandcamp.

ITALY: Polaroid Flying Vaginas - Happiness And Flour You could say that Happiness And Flour by the trio Flying Vaginas sounds nothing new, simply classic indie-rock with a long tradition: The Jesus And Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Clean, Black Tambourine, you name it. Or, to quote some bands from the present: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Crystal Stilts, Girls Names. What makes me particularly happy about this wonderful song is that Flying Vaginas know how to speak the international language really well, and it doesn't happen very often around here. Their great debut EP is also free to download via Bandcamp.

JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies Earthquake Island - Naked Water Earthquake Island is usually a solo project based in Tokyo, but for Naked Water the producer behind the music recruited singer Mocca to perform over a lovely, glowing soundtrack that would sound right at home in a church. Her contributions, though, add even more beauty as her vocals overlap one another and give the entire number a Björk-ish edge.

MALTA: Stagedive Malta Blue Star - Shake It Baby One of the many projects involving Andre Camilleri, the only record ever made by Blue Star is a five-track EP recorded in 1998. Camilleri spent many years busking on the streets of Berlin and Valletta. While in Malta, Andre put together a five-piece band which included Ian Schranz and Mark Sansone from Beangrowers, resulting in a number of well-received gigs and a self-titled EP. Andre is now based in Australia, his output remains prolific and we've lost count of his numerous recordings.

MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika Ponce - El Muerto Leonardo Kin Ponce's interest in the paranormal was expressed in his music while in his previous bands Timmy & The Monsters and Ghostcatcher. Now he has been working on Ponce, a solo project based on pure Spanish vocals and some IDM elements. His first single El Muerto follows that line and it has been released with some remixes that emphasize the dark, daily aspects of one of the most fearful ideas of existence: death.

PERU: SoTB Bondage - Un Video De Los Dos From Trujillo, a beautiful city in northern Peru, comes one of the most interesting and provocative rock bands in the country. Bondage was formed by Juan Carlos Paredes, who created his style from punk and garage-rock. Un Video De Los Dos is taken from his first album released last year, which has a lot of sensuality and distorted guitars.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco? Sequin - Naive Sequin is the solo project of Ana Miró, an extremely talented vocalist who gives new meaning to the blips and bleeps of early 80s electronic music and has a sound reminiscent of the debut albums by Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. However, Sequin, who recently opened for Warpaint in Lisbon, will also be loved by those who are into more recent bands such as Ladytron. Naive is taken from her album Penelope, out on April 21.

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie Necronazis - Peligro De Muerte Necronazis are a fixture in Puerto Rico's punk scene and although not as active in recent times, the band makes sure they play a few shows every year for their faithful fans. The group's different line-ups read as a genealogical tree of the local scene, including long-standing members Giancarlo Cervoni and Sergio Narváez, both former members of Dávila 666. To honor this seminal band, new independent label Discos Diaspora launch Antología on April 19, a limited edition tape compiling Necronazis' recorded output in its entirety.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise Theory Of Mind - I Felt The Sun Cluj-based band Theory Of Mind has built up a large fanbase in just a few months. A dream-pop group with psychedelic and experimental influences, they have shaken the foundations of Romanian music - for good.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop Fatherson - James Fatherson are idols to many in Scotland and, having just released their debut album I Am An Island, now is the perfect time for the rest of world to catch on. Their music is more accomplished and rewarding than you might expect from a rock band in their early 20s. There are no unfocused thrashy rackets here, just considered creativity and a very intelligent approach to dynamics and song structure. MAP exclusive download James has all the crescendos, singalong verses and punch-the-air choruses you could ever wish for.

SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK Saram12saram - Raindrop, Cloud, Typhoon And The Sun Saram12saram had been teasing with alluring electronic tunes on SoundCloud a year before the release of the duo's debut EP. Raindrop, Cloud, Typhoon And The Sun finally came out at the end of 2013 and a few weeks ago it became available on vinyl. The title track puts the esoteric female vocals first, while the music produces an ambient dreamscape that leaves you wanting more.

SPAIN: Musikorner HUIAS - Dealer HUIAS is a duet from northern Spain formed by María Lastra and Alejandro Santana. In 2012 they released their first EP in which they mixed guitar arpeggios with electronic arrangements, keeping folk tradition in mind, but now they are comfortable in the dark side. Their music is mysterious, dreamy but dark. Dealer is the first single from their forthcoming debut album.

UNITED STATES: We Listen For You The Deloreans - As Long As It's You On their fantastic new single, As Long As It's You, The Deloreans find themselves crafting a slow driving tune with multiple small flourishes coloring the entire sound-space. The vocals are confident and overflowing with emotion as drum kicks and a grandiose chorus keep elevating the constantly evolving song.

REVIEW: Sisyphus - Sisyphus

Sisyphus - Sisyphus
Label - Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise
Release Date - March 18, 2014

I assume that most listeners who stumbled across Sisyphus’s new self-titled LP decided to give it a listen thanks to a prior relationship with the music of either singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens or electronic musician Son Lux.  Not that the 3rd member of the group, rapper Serengeti, is any less accomplished (quite the contrary), but being the most prolific, creative, and whimsical (whimsy is Geti’s artistic mojo) rapper on the planet over the last decade hasn’t netted Geti near the financial windfall (or at least the touring opportunities) that have allowed artists like Sufjan and Son Lux to make music their first and only profession.  Maybe it’s because of this that the album still feels like a Serengeti vehicle even though it is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word.  This could also be because I’ve been huge Serengeti fan for the last 5 years and am not as intimately familiar with the work of Stevens and Son Lux, but the fact that Serengeti has been such a creative force (he’s released over 25 projects since 2005) and has so little to show for it is off putting to me and I’m sure it’s off putting to Stevens and Son Lux as well. 

This is the crux of this Sisyphus ‘super-group’, Stevens and Son Lux saying “How can we frame a pop album around Serengeti’s unique talents and make it click for listeners in a way his past work hadn’t been able too?”  The group got off to an uneven start with the s/s/s EP from 2012, a 4 song, long-distance collaboration that was weird enough to be interesting, but sounded like a multi-genre sound collage on which each artist worked separately and then jammed a bunch of ill-fitting pieces together.  While s/s/s wasn’t a outright failure, it was still hard to imagine that its better named follow-up Sisyphus would turn out to be an album of the year contender.  Originally conceived as an EP, the trio’s in person sessions at Son Lux’s wife’s parents’ Indianapolis home spawned so much great material that a full length album was born out of necessity.  As a whole, it is at once playful, melancholy, scary, and uplifting and never feels contrived.  The album itself, as well as the individual songs, are dynamic in nature.  Standouts like “Calm it Down”, “Rhythm of Devotion”, and “Alcohol” seem simple and repetitive initially, but morph into completely different shapes at their halfway points. 

“Calm it Down” kicks of the album and is perhaps the best example of the group’s chemistry.  It’s the type of song that people who aren’t familiar with Serengeti might write off as dumbed down, corny, or childish but it’s really a manifestation of Geti’s brilliant alter ego Kenny Dennis.  He’s not actually rapping as Kenny Dennis, but the common sense/simple advice mantra of “When you feel…You need to calm it down” is a perfect representation of the style and sense of humor that Geti displays on all of his Kenny Dennis records.  Serengeti fans will love the stripped down 1st half of the song that captures the KDz essence, but it’s the song’s melodic 2nd half that really sets the table for the album’s vibe.  It smoothly transitions to a reflective verse sung by Stevens backed by some great atmospheric production from Son Lux before Geti repeats the same verse over a solo piano to close the song.  It’s an amazing moment that leaves you wondering, “Did Sufjan write that verse or did Serengeti?” and “How did they come up with that idea?”  Nothing feels forced.  When the album transitions from “Calm it Down” to a reworking of a Sufjan one-off solo song from an old hard drive entitled “Take Me”, it feels natural, even if the song doesn’t involve Geti or Son Lux (that I know of).

While “Calm it Down” is a great song to kick off the project, it’s still a little too quirky to qualify as a pop song.  “Rhythm of Devotion” on the other hand is the type of song that is simply too big for its britches.  If it was forced into top 40 playlists for a week or so I think it could have legitimate staying power.  Son Lux’s funky alternating groove sets the table, but the interplay between Geti’s rage/repetitions of devotion and Sufjan’s silky smooth pleas to “be your man” make the song an infectious romp with heart that’s impossible to hate and hard to get sick of.  “Booty Call” and “Lion’s Share” are also quality pop songs that feature Serengeti’s rapping prominently.  Serengeti’s clever sexual wordplay on “Booty Call” and ability to make a dance song out of a tale of two bank robbers on “Lion’s Share” are prime examples of his ingenuity as an artist. 

All three artists had a blast making this album together and you can feel it in the albums overall vibe.  While it’s a fun listen for the most part, they also have a serious side and allow it to really come out on the last 3 songs.  While “Calm It Down” sounds like it could have fit on a Kenny Dennis album, “Dishes In The Sink” is more similar to an offering from one of Serengeti’s recent albums like Saal or Family and Friends.  The emotional deadpan and descriptive detail that he displays on these types of tracks is funny, sad, and insightful all at the same time.  You’re never quite sure what events/relationships inspire these songs, but they always seems to come from a place of truth even if they’re completely fictional.  Sufjan Stevens complements both sides of Serengeti throughout Sisyphus, especially on “Hardly Hanging On”, a direct continuation of “Dishes In The Sink”.  It often sounds like Serengeti or Sufjan wrote pieces that the other either added onto or was able to view through a different lens and offer his own take.  Because of their willingness to try to grasp the others perspective and work together in person, tracks that might sound completely unrelated out of context stack together as if each song is an answer to the previous song's question.

While I've talked mostly about the songwriting talents of Serengeti and Sufjan Stevens throughout this review, Son Lux's amazing work behind the boards is not to be understated.   As a producer it seems there's nothing that Son Lux can't do and the full range of his talent is on display throughout Sisyphus.  The album's two best songs "Rhythm of Devotion" and "Alcohol" are perhaps the best examples of the power and range of his production.  "Rhythm of Devotion" shows his ability to craft Daft Punk-esque dynamic anthems and my favorite song of 2014 "Alcohol" features a subtly shifting industrial beat that is just getting interesting when Serengeti's stunning verses about hereditary addiction are wrapping up.  While I may get the impression that Serengeti's unique talents are the fulcrum for the music that Sisyphus makes, this is an album that defies any genre classification.  If anything it feels like the discovery of a new genre, an album that truly sounds different from anything else out there from an era where most everything sounds like a distorted copy of a copy.

Music Video: Sharon Van Etten - "Taking Chances"

Almost a month ago, we gave Sharon Van Etten our coveted Track of the Day post for "Taking Chances" -- her newest, slow-roller of a track off the forthcoming "Are We There." Today, we bring you the same track, but this time with visual accompaniment where the illustrious songstress has her tarot read to trippy results.  Enjoy below:


Track of the Day: Holydrug Couple - "Motorcycle Ride/Black Owl Jam Revisited"

Santiago based Holydrug Couple makes music that you're just as apt to find among 70s Latin American psych rock pioneers Aguaturbia as you are on the streets of Sydney or Brooklyn in 2014. Perhaps its the undeterred, balls out and incredibly textured music that Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra make. Noctuary, out last year on Sacred Bones, is one of the great oversights of 2013's year end lists. "Motorcycle Ride/Black Owl Jam Revisited," which we highlight today, is a B-side to a 2012 7" the group put out on Chile's BYMRECORDS which has just arrived stateside. More than that, it's a microcosm of what the group does well -- merging noise and melody with psychedelic vogue and expert musicianship.


Track Of The Day: The Deloreans - "As Long As It's You"

BAND PITCH: The Deloreans

LISTEN IF YOU LIKE: ummmmmmm....the music producing of Joe Meek, 70s guitars, late 50s crooners, The know what....

LISTEN IF YOU LIKE: The Deloreans.

Nobody is making music like The Deloreans.  In a music journalism world where every review/post drops BAND 1 mixed in with BAND 2...The Deloreans are one of the exceptions to the current rule. On their fantastic new single, "As Long As It's You", the band finds themselves crafting a slow driving tune with multiple small flourishes coloring the entire sound-space.  The vocals are confident and overflowing with emotion as drum kicks and a grandiose chorus keep elevating the constantly evolving song.  The song has bridges of synths that remind one of Twin Peaks and swinging verses that glow with bright melodies.  It's a dark comedy of a love song that builds and builds and builds until the 2:50 mark when everything explodes, revealing the unmatched talents of The Deloreans.  A more memorable and exciting moment in music can not be found in 2014.  


Track Of The Day: Dylan Shearer - Meadow Mines (fort polio)

The music of Dylan Shearer is a constant reminder that subdued emotion is an underrated form of expression.  It's not that Shearer doesn't attempt to elevate his songs with a punch, rather, he explores the lightness of sound.  Each note is a wisp; an airy movement building upon gentleness to allow the listener to settle in, get comfortable, and crawl inside effortless songwriting.

On "Meadow Mines (fort polio)", Shearer croons at the pace of a slowing train wheel, chugging along, stuttering here and there to make sure you're still paying attention.  We're no longer dealing with our known perception of time, no, Shearer has his own schedule as a songwriter and is fully comfortable with freezing moments and letting the clock turn back before moving forward.  Even in its simplicity, "Meadow Mines (fort polio)", is a complicated song that has pockets of hidden craftsmanship.  It's in these non-flashy moments that Shearer shines as a unique songwriter who takes turns between the artistic tools of ease and complication to form special pieces of relaxed sound.


Track of the Day: The Pass - "Be Easy"

Our friends The Pass are back at it again. If you've been following them recently, you might have noticed and outpouring of 7"s that the band will be releasing, 1 per month over the first four months of this year. You can get those here, by the way. "Be Easy" is the B side from "The Same" single. 

One of my favorite tracks from The Pass "Criminal" comes from their debut Burst. Amid the hyper dance tracks on the album, "Criminal" begins as a sort of cool-down song before building into the strongest chorus on the record. "Be Easy" follows in a similar vein with a vocal melange that a smooth riff pulls into an electro composition. Rather than building, The Pass foil expectation by pulling back, using the chorus to underscore the emotive qualities of the song with the plaintive cry "I want to live forever."