Thursday, December 23, 2010

Those Dancing Days - Fuckarias

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Photo by Simon Fernandez.

Those Dancing Days are releasing a second album, so they decided to give away their first single from the album, and it's a brilliant one called Fuckarias. I'm not exactly sure what Fuckarias means, or if the four-letter profanity in it is significant. But the drumming here is insane.

Watch the video after the JUMP

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 10 EPs of 2010

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I've written about my top 50 albums, but what about the less celebrated EP format? Shorter records, usually with 4-6 tracks, it's doesn't just act as a mini album or as a way to temporarily satisfy fans before a band's next album comes out. Some of this year's best releases have been on the extended play format. I had to make the list because many on here are absolutely amazing in their own right.

Find out my top 10 EPs after the JUMP

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 50 Albums of 2010

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For the past few years, I've been sharing my top 10 albums of the year. This year I decided to do the same, but somehow ended up with a shortlist of about 65 albums. This was quite unusual, you see. Usually I'd end up with 20 or less in my shortlist.

So what's different this year then? Well, there's a few reasons that can explain that. First is Spotify.

Well, not just Spotify. The rise of free/affordable music streaming services such as Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Grooveshark presented everyone with an opportunity to listen to almost anything for practically nothing without resorting to illegal mediafire links and torrent files. Spotify has introduced me to countless bands without having to navigate through the mess that is Myspace.

The second reason is the undeniable fact that 2010 has been a good year for music. There's been so many good debut albums this year, from the refreshing noise pop of Sleigh Bells's Treats to the relentless arty punk of Pulled Apart By Horses's self-titled stonker via the soul-crushing Hollow Realm record by post-rockers Talons. Then we've got the second albums, with bands shrugging off the pressure from having such impressive debuts to come out with their own respective leviathans of records this year. Examples of this come from the likes of Foals, Crystal Castles and Rolo Tomassi, all of whom completely ignored everyone's expectations to make more of the same. Instead they crafted subtler, more restrained albums that showcased a new-found sense of maturity and control.

Of course you've also got the 'veterans' (the term is being used loosely here), with the likes of Gorillaz, The Walkmen and Rufus Wainwright coming out with brilliant albums to show they've still got it.

But having so many great albums posed a problem for me when it came to trying to make sense of it all and establish some kind of order as to whether this album is better than that album and if that album should place higher than this other one. Even after going through several stages of painstaking shortlisting, selecting, ordering, re-ordering, and trying to convince myself that I was satisfied with the order, I have to admit that it can still feel a bit arbitrary. Even when I was writing this with the list supposedly finalised, more than once I was tempted to change the ranks.

So when you go through this list, keep this in mind: there is no way to objectively judge which album is better than the other. Even if I was in a slightly different mood/setting the whole top 5 could've been very different. This list is me trying to make sense of a year that's been amazing when it came to musical releases.

With that in mind, enjoy the list and I hope you find something new that you like!


1) Talons - Hollow Realm [SOUNDCLOUD]

This is the most recent release in the top 10 section of this list, after only coming out less than a month ago. This album will unfortunately miss many publications' top album lists simply for the fact that many publications have the worrying tendency to compile their list in November. This is a shame, because this album is devastatingly impressive.

Even if they just filled this album with the tried,tested-and-loved Talons favourites such as Arthropods and Bethlehem, it would've been more than enough to warrant it a place in the top 20. But Talons opted for the more difficult route of crafting completely new songs. This decision proved to be the right one as the whole album works beautifully as either individual songs or as a collective whole. Every song here is an epic journey on just its own, but as a whole album, it effortlessly destroys everything in its path with its apocalyptic violins and powerfull riffs.



2) Sleigh Bells - Treats [SPOTIFY] [YOUTUBE]

A friend of mine described Sleigh Bells as an amalgamation of every single contemporary music genre you can think of. I think of Sleigh Bells as a more fun, raw version of M.I.A.These two descriptions are somewhat accurate, yet terribly insufficient to fully represent the craziness that is their debut album Treats.

It is a remarkably raw and visceral record that's relentless in its approach to drown you in distorted noise. Yet as the music chaotically goes at all directions at once like some kind of quantum sonic attack, Alexis Krauss's voice counters with an almost zen-like calmness. This juxtaposition results in a distortedly raw record that's also incredibly catchy and, god forbid, poppy.


3) Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles II [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

The duo (Alice Glass, Ethan Kath) behind Crystal Castles has quite a disturbing back story, if you cared to investigate. It goes a long way to explaining why their songs are full to the brim of angsty, indiscriminate rage and constant, unrelenting darkness. Crystal Castles brings a rare emotional depth to the dance genre, then twists and distorts it to a point that's beyond any sort of recognition.

The second album, actually titled just Crystal Castles (just like the first album. Confusing, I know), showcased the band's polished restraint and subtlety while still maintaining the bleakness and the fierce nature that made their brilliant debut a one of the best albums of 2008.



4) Foals - Total Life Forever [SPOTIFY]

Another band that went for subtlety and restraint the second time around were the Mercury-nominated Foals, whose debut album Antidotes brought angular guitars and sharp rhythms to the mainstream. Their follow-up, Total Life Forever, relied instead on much of the sparseness and spaces that characterised the beauty of tracks like Spanish Sahara and Alabaster. Even the faster songs are unlike the math/disco/punk songs of Antidotes.

Foals now have a more cohesive groove while at the same time having a more expansive sound unconstrained by the math rock label they were given as a consequence of Antidotes. This is, to use a common phrase, a more mature record than their first.



5) The Cast Of Cheers - Chariot [SOUNDCLOUD] [BANDCAMP]

This is probably the only album in this whole list that you can download legally completely free. Call it post-punk, post-rock, math, or robot rock, as they describe themselves on their Bandcamp. Whatever you like. This is - despite the lack of a price tag - a completely satisfying, fully-formed behemoth of a record.

If you were disappointed by Foals's change in direction, then you will no doubt find some consolation in Chariot. Frenetic, flurrying and flamboyant, the guitars fly and loop in all directions, the yelps are muffled to perfection and the drums just go along with all this madness with considerable grace. If you won't buy any of the albums on this list, download this one. After all, what have you got to lose? It's free.


6) Pulled Apart By Horses - Pulled Apart By Horses [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

If you're looking for a more sweaty, fun-filled affair, look no further than Leeds noise-mongerers Pulled Apart By Horses. This album is filled with crowd favourites such as 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat' and 'The Crapsons,' so for the PABH-informed who has been to any of their countless shows, this album brings very few new things to shout about.

The miracle here is how effective the record manages to capture the energy that has seen them repeatedly labeled by various publications as the best live band in Britain. As with their electrifying live shows, this album packs a punch and then some. Fun, sweaty choruses stand alongside loud guitars, drums and basslines to kneecap-shattering effect. Their uber-silly shouts of 'ultimate power!', 'I punched a lion in the throat,' and 'awesome! radical!' pave the way for an unpretentious rock record that'll be the soundtrack of your mental Saturday nights.



7) Bombay Bicycle Club - Flaws [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

When Bombay Bicycle Club announced they were recording a second album, a collective shout of joy was heard. Then came the second announcement that it was going to be an acoustic album. This time around the shouts were a little mixed.

Those worries now seem silly and unnecessary, as the stripped sound of Flaws beautifully emphasizes the quavering qualities of singer Jack Steadman's voice, especially when you hear the brilliantly re-worked Dust On The Ground. The acoustic nature of the album also reveal a more folksy side of the band (especially with the folk family connections one of the band members have). Fans of the first might not be fully convinced with Flaws, but if you're patient enough to give it a go, you're in for a magnificient treat.


8) Olafur Arnalds - ...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of The Darkness [YOUTUBE] [GROOVESHARK]

Olafur Arnalds, for someone who has only recently turned 24, is quite a prolific musician. Having come out with three EPs and two albums, with one of those EPs written specifically for the ballet Dyad 1909, he's also found time to write tracks and play drums for metal bands. In April last year, he attempted to write seven songs in seven days, which resulted in the critically acclaimed Found Songs EP.

Yet it was never about quantity with Arnalds. All his songs are masterfully crafted and poignantly emotional. "...And They Have Escaped..." is no exception. You can't help but be absorbed into Arnalds's world where stories are told without the help of words, and each note is more mournful than the last. Sparse and glacial, every instance of the piano and the string quartet lingers and clings to spine-chilling perfection. One of the most underrated albums this year.


9) Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

Here's an album that proudly and unashamedly showcases its influences. What this record lacks in originality it makes up for in superbly catchy dance tracks. Signed to the insanely hip French label Kitsune Maison, Two Door Cinema Club are masters of the sharply infectious and the fiendishly danceable.

Every song here follows the same prime directive: they're all there to make you move. There are stand-out tracks, like the enthusiastically bouncy I Can Talk and the exuberant 'What You Know,' yet there are absolutely no 'filler' songs on this album. All ten songs here succeed in that shared prime directive. A party album for the Bloc Party-obsessed.


10) 65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

65daysofstatic, as it seems, have been trying hard to shake off the simplified label of post-rock, which is evident in their attempts to incorporate electronica and break-beat into the mix. This is a band that's not afraid to shake things up, even at the risk of alienating some of their fans who have criticised their recent electronic-orientated forays.

It's their loss, as We Were Exploding Anyway is a great collective of beautifully-woven tracks with layers upon layers of guitars, synths, drums and what-have-you. Even the presence of Robert Smith in the frankly brilliant 'Come To Me' does not detract from 65daysofstatic's overall vision here. This is an album that works equally well when you're savouring each sound and when you leave it playing in the background.


11) Grown Ups - More Songs [SPOTIFY] [PUNKNEWS]

12) Caribou - Swim [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
13) Adebisi Shank - This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

14) James Yuill - Movement In A Storm [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]

15) Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology [SPOTIFY]



16) Mimas - Lifejackets [SPOTIFY]
17) Warpaint - The Fool [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
18) Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
19) The Attika State - Measures [SPOTIFY]
20) The Xcerts - Scatterbrain [SPOTIFY]



21) Hjaltalin - Terminal [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
22) Gorillaz - Plastic Beach [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
23) Holy Fuck - Latin [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
24) Yeasayer - Odd Blood [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
25) Everything Everything - Man Alive [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]



26) Vampire Weekend - Contra [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
27) Emeralds - Does It Look Like I’m Here? [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
28) Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
29) The National - High Violet [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
30) Magnetic Man - Magnetic Man [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]



31) Mystery Jets - Serotonin [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
32) Sky Larkin - Kaleide [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
33) Deftones - Diamond Eyes [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
34) Rufus Wainwright - All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
35) Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]



36) The Notes - Wishing Well [BANDCAMP]
37) The Walkmen - Lisbon [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
38) Villagers - Becoming A Jackal [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
39) The Strange Death Of Liberal England - Drown Your Heart Again [SPOTIFY]
40) Antony & The Johnsons - Swanlights [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]



41) Liars - Sisterworld [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
42) The Drums - The Drums [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
43) Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
44) Beach House - Teen Dream [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
45) Glasser - Ring [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]



46) Klaxons - Surfing The Void [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
47) Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
48) Jonsi - Go [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]
49) Islet - Wimmy [SPOTIFY]
50) The New Pornographers - Together [SPOTIFY] [GROOVESHARK]


So there we go. My top 50 of the year. It's been a good year. Let's look forward to 2011, shall we?

Signing out

Over and out

Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview with Bottlesmoker: Free Music, Furry Animals, & Fiddling With Toy Instruments

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Photo by Decky Arrizal

Bottlesmoker is an Indonesian electronic pop reminiscent of Holy Fuck, if they were replaced with furry woodland animals (I mentioned this to the band). Their two albums (both available for free download) - Slow Mo Smile and Before Circus Over - exude a cheerful charm and electrical folksiness you'd expect if James Yuill and The Boy Least Likely To combined forces and decided not to sing. Their music is almost begging to be called electronic twee, with their use of toy instruments and customised music-makers facilitating in the creation of their wonderfully unique, brilliantly crafted sound.

The duo have agreed to be interviewed for the blog, and I feel excited to have them here. I'm a massive fan, and you can be a fan too on Facebook HERE. Follow Bottlesmoker on Twitter, along with their two members, Angkuy and Nobie.



J: First of all, why the name Bottlesmoker?

B:Most of the people think the name Bottlesmoker has to do with drugs or anything to do with alcohol. Frankly speaking, Bottlesmoker has no philosophy like that and it has nothing to do with drugs nor alcohol.

When we were cleaning files on our laptop, we had to rename every file differently in each document. While doing that, we often hung out in the room, composing tunes and songs or playing games while smoking. We treated bottled soft drinks as ashtrays. Without any hesitation, we named all the file folders as Bottlesmoker. And smokers we are both.



J: What's the inspiration for using all these toy instruments in your music? And what or who is your inspiration for making music overall?

B: At the beginning we wanted to prove to and for the electro music scene in Indonesia, that making electro music does not need expensive brands or high-tech gadgets. With a bias for toy instruments, nothing was in our way. Inspiration flowed using these toy instruments, and that's how it grew. While we're composing songs, we feel more comfortable with the smell of toys and kids' stuff such as cartoons, robots, toy cars, games and such. So we felt more and more confident composing songs from these toy instruments. We also get musically inspired by people we listen to, like Lullatone, I Am Robot And Proud, Shugo Tokumaro and Tidy Kids.


J: You've already released two great albums, Slow Mo Smile and Before Circus Over. Is there plans for a third album?

B: We will be releasing our third album in 2011, although we haven't decided on a specific date yet. One thing that's for sure though is that we will be releasing an EP in January 2011 as the opening for our third album.


J: To me, your music sounds like the music of the band Holy Fuck as performed by forest animals. What would you describe your sound as?

B:Yeah! Holy Fuck is one of our most favorite bands! We always get ideas from their rooting equipment, they're geniuses.

Okay, we would describe our sound as peaceful, joyful, of prosperity, and sometimes of depression. Everything involves passion and the personal. So it might sound too complicated in hedonistic parties, but it blends well with the kind of atmosphere you'd have in beaches, zoos, parks, rooftops, etc.






Holy Fuck - Lovely Allen (Live)

J: Coming back to forest animals, why do the both of you wear furry animal snow caps at shows?

B: It’s funny! When we got the idea to wear furry animal snow caps, it was because we truly love animals! We love the sound of animals. And we want to create a show that suits us and by wearing them it helps us to be more confident in our musical characters.


J: Who does the art for your album covers, t-shirts, etc? They look brilliant.

B: The best part in the Bottlesmoker experience, are the collaborations! We are glad to collaborate with anyone who is open and free. They are our friends. Every album was designed by different people, including t-shirts too. They are so brilliant! And we will keep doing these collaborations, always!


J: Do the both of you share the same musical interests? Or is Bottlesmoker a result of two divergent tastes combining together?

B:Well, Angkuy's interests lies in punk and metal music. Way back when he used to be in a black metal band and then that turned to a street punk band. In high school Angkuy got introduced to Britpop by his brother. To this day Angkuy still likes Britpop music. As for Nobie, his preference lies with grunge. He'#s a loyal grunge fan. He owns everything that involves grunge. Books, anything. To be honest, how those musical influences create tunes and beats that we have in Bottlesmoker now, only God knows how and why. Hahahaha!


J: Now you seem very proud to be Indonesians. How do you think this shows in your music or your shows?

B: Of course it shows in that it makes us believe in ourselves more. It helps with our self-confidence. The public in our country are starting to notice and observe us, slowly accepting our talents and then supporting us. Knowing this, it affects our music, giving us more confidence to explore.



Photo by Yulius Iskandar

J: Who sings on your cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence? How big an influence has Depeche Mode has on your music?

B: He’s Batman a.k.a Henry Foundation, and he is in Goodnight Electric. Man, Depeche Mode is our roots! Their music is always floating in our mind


J: Any future upcoming collaborations in the pipeline? Possibly with another Southeast Asian musician?

B:Yeah of course! With Space Gambus Experiment from Malaysia, they’re awesome!


J: How did you two first meet? And how long after was Bottlesmoker or its first incarnation formed?

B: In 2003 we were in the same class at campus, and we were studying broadcasting. Since then we've been good friends. Wherever, whenever, it's always the both of us, doing work, doing crazy things together. At the end of 2005, we decided to write songs together and we have been doing almost everything with Bottlesmoker. We are in love. LOL


J: Do any of you play the more conventional instruments (guitars, drums, etc)?

B: Nope


J: Is there a certain philosophy you both live by? If Bottlesmoker had a slogan, what would it be?
B: We just wanna share, share, share and share the music!.. Yeah, we have a slogan, it’s “free + music + share = love”


J: What's the best thing about being in Bottlesmoker?

B: The best thing is when others feel positive listening to our music. People enjoy our music and by going on road tours we meet new friends which creates a healthy family relationship and atmosphere. We love to share!


J: Are there any bands that you'd recommend to people who like the Bottlesmoker sound?

B:Sure! Now we are listening to Everyday Sight, we feel he is a musician which has succeeded in creating great sounds and an atmosphere almost similar to ours.


J: What do you hope to achieve with Bottlesmoker in 5 years time?

B: To tour in Europe and America and stay in Iceland. And getting signed by our favorite labels, Morr music and Fatcat Records.

Bottlesmoker - Slow Mo Smile (Taken from their first album Slow Mo Smile)

Signing out

Over and out

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fran & Josh - Better Off Alone (Alice Deejay Cover) / Days Like These

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I've known Fran & Josh for quite a while now, but I've not really featured them here for a while now. So I thought I'd give you a taste.

This cover has been part of their live set for quite a while, and they do seem to enjoy covering it. When I saw them at The Well in Leeds, this song actually started a circle pit, which is quite an impressive achievement for an acoustic duo known for their mix of flamenco, ska, folk, funk, dance, and everything else in between and out of it.

They've been rightly described as "a glorious cacophony of melodic bliss," a description which transcends any attempt to classify them into a specific genre. This is quite handy, because you can't really put your finger on what type of music they actually play. All I know is, their live performances are always a joy to behold, and their skills on the acoustic guitar are never less than formidable.





This is one of their original songs (unquestionably my favourite), that's been in their arsenal for quite a while now, but seemingly continuously updated to reflect their ever-rising talent, and their musical interests. But what always stays in every new version of 'Days Like These' is that sense of overwhelming joy, of appreciating moments you can easily take for granted.

Signing out

Over and out

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Tall Ships - There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here

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Tall Ships has so far been the eternal tour support band, playing before the likes of Tubelord, Minus The Bear, Maps & Atlases, and soon 65daysofstatic, while repeatedly selling out their self-titled debut EP (now in its third pressing, and available on sale at Big Scary Monsters). But I say unto you, this new release will make them into worthy headliners fit to conquer worlds.

This second EP has been widely-anticipated by many, and rightly so. Every song here is absolutely breath-taking.

Opener Plate Tectonics uses geological analogies to express itself, which is a repeating theme in the whole EP, in that Science or scientific terms are used as analogical tools for emotions. This song talks of treacherous terrains and lonely landscapes, and is where Tall Ships definitely can apply the label 'math pop' most appropriately.

Chemistry (available for download/streaming HERE) starts off with a slightly slowed-down maths-y guitar fare, and morphs into a debut-EP-era Tall Ships beauty of a song.

The third track is definitely my personal favourite. Ode (or Ode To Ancestors) is a love song for biologists (not that I'm one). Hey, someone's got to fill that niche. With its lyrics about natural selection and ancestral traits to explain someone's perfection, it's no typical romantic fare.

The penultimate track, Snow, is a heart-wrenching eulogy accompanied by beautiful melodies and mournful vocals that builds up to a truly satisfying climax. Then the whole experience suddenly slows down as we come into Bearandblitz, an under-2-minutes outro that sounds like your heart regretting this record coming to its end.

But don't worry, you can always press play again from the start.

The EP will be out on 25th October 2010 and is available for pre-order at Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits.

If I had to give this EP a rating, I would give it 9 Jack Sparrows out of 10.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Free Downloads 4.0

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My favourite way to apologise for not having posted for so long is by bribing you with free downloads. So here you go, you cheap, cheap bastards.

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The Attika State - Genesis and Catastrophe / Leave Your Dignity At The Door

This particular download is a massive one, because it features 15 tracks from the same artist. The Attika State have recently released their new album, 'Measures', for which I'm still waiting to turn up in my mailbox. In the meantime, I've downloaded 'Genesis and Catastrophe' and 'Leave Your Dignity At The Door' for a grand total of 0.00 pounds. They're both wonderful pop punk records with their own share of rockin' choruses, catchy hooks and riffs, and a voice that's not actually annoying (a feature I find to be pretty common in pop punk bands).

http://theattikastate.bandcamp.com

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Vessels - Ornafives

The drummer from Lost From Atlas once said to us that Vessels is the best band in the world. Though I respectfully disagree (it's actually Tubelord) there's a lot to be admired with Vessel's brand of post-rock. Here we have a song that's been part of their live set for a while now which has recently just been recorded. Subscribe to their mailing list on their website to get the track for free.

http://vesselsband.com

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Mimas - Applications / Le Moustache

I'm going to Brainwash V Festival next week in Leeds, and one of the bands I'm most looking forward to is another outfit from Big Scary Monsters. Mimas, who will be releasing Lifejackets through BSM on October 25th, have made 2 songs from the upcoming album downloadable for free. You can get the links for both at Alter The Press!

http://www.alterthepress.com/2010/10/free-mimas-songs.html

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Chickenhawk - Scorpieau

Chickenhawk is a vicious beast. Scorpieau is a vicious beast of a song. Download it.

http://chickenhawk.bandcamp.com/

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Codes In The Clouds - Fractures / Don't Go Awash In The Digital Landscape

Codes In The Clouds are releasing a remix album of their brilliant album, Paper Canyon, as the aptly-titled Paper Canyon Recycled. You can download two full tracks (the others are excerpts) from the original release on their bandcamp, and also two tracks from the remix album.

http://codesintheclouds.bandcamp.com/album/paper-canyon

http://codesintheclouds.bandcamp.com/album/paper-canyon-recycled

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As a bonus, here's a video of cats in a band, and a cat being chased by a dog... in a car chase scene!








Signing out

Over and out

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Free Track: Kytes - Oh, Don Piano!

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I've never really been so excited about a band with only three tracks heard than I am with Kytes. I think it's no secret, that if math (rock, core, etc) is a kind of food, I'd be the morbidly-obese kid living on his couch with stacks of pizza boxes from Tubelord's, mountainous piles of cans of carbonated Foals, and packs of Rolo Tomassi potato crisps surrounding him.

And Kytes will definitely not help me to reduce said over-consumption of said musical genre, especially since they just gave away their new track, Oh, Don Piano! for a bargain price of zero pounds and zero pennies. And oh, what a track it is.

This track has more urgency than their previous two, almost veering into punk and hardcore territory, yet still abundant with that rythmically insane, awesomely angular guitars and typically atypical math dissonance. If I had to make a band+ band comparison, it'd be a bit like if The James Cleaver Quintet had a baby with Grown Ups and then that baby grew up and had another baby with Tubelord.

I expect great things when their next EP, "Ursa Major, The Great Bear" comes out on 30/10/10.

Download this song for free HERE or HERE.

Also download their brilliant, two-track first EP HERE.

Signing out

Over and out

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review: Hebiimetaru - Legion Of Metaru / Interview: Arif Sablee of Hebiimetaru

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Hebiimetaru is a Brunei-based band who describe themselves as Melodic Thrash/Groove Metal, with five members in its line-up. For a full introduction, check out my previous article on them HERE, where you can listen to the brilliant track 'The Wheel Of Life' from this album.

Hebiimetaru might take their name from a Japanese transliteration of Heavy Metal, but their musical influences come from somewhere else altogether (I've discussed their influences in the previous article). Inspired from this wealth of metal's many genres and subgenres, they've managed to mesh those influences into a technically impressive, tightly-crafted collection of songs to please lovers of heavy and extreme music.

The whole experience starts with In The Darkest Abyss, a piano-led track reminiscent of the theme of The Exorcist. Then the record takes it up a few notches with lightning-fast drumming, heavy riffs, deafening solos, guttural screaming and dark lyrics. This is where Hebiimetaru excels particularly well.

Tracks like My Legion, and The Wheel Of Time showcase the band's technical ability and a flair for crafting a sound reminding you of all the metal bands you love but still come out with a musical experience distinct from all those bands. The band name, Hebiimetaru, is definitely quite apt, because this record will appeal to most heavy metal fans regardless of sub-genre preferences. This is an assured, confident debut from the headbangers.

Hebiimetaru is definitely one of the bands leading the charge in the Brunei metal revival after the genre having been sidelined by the sudden boom of indie and alternative bands. I've also interviewed the vocalist, Arif Sablee. Here's what he has to say.


J: (Sub-)Genre-wise, what would you say Hebiimetaru is?

A: Genre-wise, we agreed that we generally have a groove metal sound going on but we also like to emphasize that we are quite melodic too. It's quite difficult to distinguish what we really are. But I can safely say that we have a mix of Thrash, Melodic death and Power metal influence in our music.


J: If you had to describe Hebiimetaru in three words, how would you?

A: If I had to describe Hebiimetaru in three words, it would be energetic, chaotic and melodic.


J: Were there any Bruneian bands that inspired you to be in your own band? Non-Bruneian bands?

A: Back in the early 2000's there were a number of local bands I looked up to and inspired me to be in my own band. They were bands like Wan Long Kok, Senjakala, H8, 13th Project, Inchpin, Draconaeon and Saprosoul. Those were the good old days haha. With Non-Bruneian bands there were tons, but i would pin-point Sepultura and Metallica as my major source of inspiration.


J: What do you think of the local scene in terms of mainstream acceptance? Do you think there's enough support from the authorities? How about the metal scene in particular?

A: I am very impressed with the mainstream acceptance of local music. These are evident by the number of local songs being played in radios, award shows and competitions dedicated to local acts, album launches, music video premiers, facebook groups...the list just goes on. I think authorities have been a lot more supportive than in the past though I do wish they could be a little more open minded especially when it comes to metal. The metal scene however remains fairly underground with only a few metal bands being able to reach mainstream status. There aren't that many metal gigs in the Brunei-Muara district sadly.


J: What was your first gig like? How is that gig different to if you do a gig now?

A: My first gig was nerve wrecking really, I did not talk much and was a little self-conscious but eventually i thought to myself "forget what other people might think, just have fun". Positive thinking really helped my performance and the band as a whole. If we were to do a gig now, I'd say that we're much more confident in what we do and definitely a lot more experienced but keeping in mind that we're still here to enjoy ourselves.


J: How much work did you put on the album? How does it feel to have an album out there for people to listen to?

A: We put a lot of work into our album, well Hafiz and Aziiz did most of the work, they we working hard with song writing and recording/mixing and with getting things perfect. I was responsible for the lyrics and vocal recordings so I'd say they deserve most of the credit. Overall i think we spent a good 6-7 months working on the album. Once the album was out, we felt that we have accomplished something great and we felt relieved that all our hard work is starting to pay off.


J: How long do you think it will be till we can have a true music 'industry,' in which musicians can earn a living making music?

A: I'm really bad at predictions, but if I had to give it a shot, with the way the local music scene is heading, I would probably say in 5 years time.


J: How do you think the newly-established BeaT Berhad will affect the local scene?

A: I actually just found out about BeaT Berhad and I really find it interesting. With BeaT handling the copyright issues, we can safely distribute our music anywhere for those of us who worry about those kind of stuff.


J: What do you think the local music scene needs right now in order for it to flourish?

A: The local music scene needs more support and enthusiasm from everyone I would think. We need to put ourselves on the map, we need to get noticed, we need to let people know "hey! we exist, we've got awesome diverse talented artists here! come check us out"


You can grab the album for BND 10.00 now by contacting the band on their Facebook. They are currently working on their second album.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tall Ships - Chemistry

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Tall Ships - Chemistry

Download the song for free from [NME.COM]

I love Tall Ships. I'm really not sure where to place them, but I've heard the term post-Foalsian indie used *cough*NME*cough*. Every song from their debut self-titled EP seems to have a place of their own in the musical order of things.

Their new song, Chemistry, is taken from their upcoming second EP smartly titled 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here'. To be honest, it took me several listens to 'get' this track. I almost gave up. Then it struck me. I finally 'got' it. I understood the slow, angular start, the repeated mantra 'there is nothing but chemistry here' becomes beautifully clear (to quote one of the lyrics).

That familiar euphoric climax Tall Ships seemingly never fail to deliver song after song comes here just as you'd expect, complete with its simple yet cleverly devastating lyrics, and its orgy of audible, intimate pleasures.

Download the song for free from [NME.COM]

You can stream the brilliant debut EP by them on [THE LINE OF BEST FIT]

Signing out

Over and out

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review: Tubelord - Tezcatlipoca EP

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I've so far spent my weekend (heck, everyday is the weekend right now) listening to some of my favourite records of the year, from the amazing debut album by These Monsters to the brilliant EP by The James Cleaver Quintet. But none has captured my attention more than Tubelord's new EP, the impossibly-spelled Tezcatlipoca.

We are treated to four tracks from a band whose expansion from a trio to a quartet has translated to a new musical direction. One is a demo recording of a song many might have heard before from their recent tours ('De2' or Desquared), which has the most familiar Tubelord sound you'd expect after spending some hours with their 'pop album for rock kids' debut, 'Our First American Friends.' Everything else points to what can be a very interesting second effort of an album.

The record switches from gentle murmurs to pop epics via big riffs and intense climaxes with almost no effort at all. Arbor, Ratchet and Bazel are all distinctly different from each other. Ratchet even has trumpets (!).

We always knew Tubelord is a band that musically can go anywhere at any given time. Some fans will be irritated at this change of direction, but this beast of a band cannot be contained and restrained with genres, subgenres and classifications. They're absolutely unique, and that's why they're one of my favourite bands of all time.

Download one of the tracks 'Ratchet' for free from their last.fm profile HERE.


Signing out

Over and out

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Free Downloads: Series 2

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Here's my second installment of free (completely legal) free downloads that I think are worth your downloading bandwidth.

When I do this, it's usually because I'm lacking content (or lazy). So you know, if you think there's anything worth sharing, hit me up at mujahidjohar@gmail.com

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http://kytes.bandcamp.com/

Kytes's debut EP is a monster. Part math rock, part post-punk, part insanity, this two-track effort makes Kytes one of the new bands you should definitely keep an eye on in the near future.

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http://meberob.bandcamp.com/

Meberob is a frustrated frontman who went solo, as he chronicled in one of the songs. The witty, tongue-in-cheek self-referencing humour in that song 'To Do List' is typical of the four-track EP 'Party For Two.' It's a delightful mix of wit, catchy tunes, and post-punk folk.

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http://www.last.fm/music/Tubelord

You can download two tracks from Tubelord's newest EP, Tezcatlip┼Źca, from their last.fm page. Titled 'Ratchet' and 'De2' (De-squared), the new EP seems to herald a new musical direction for the quartet.

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http://rcrdlbl.com/artists/The_Drums/track/Down_By_The_Water

The Drums are indie pop rock perfection. The band have a knack for creating unashamedly catchy, pop songs. Down By The Water is by no means a new song from them, but it's one of their best.

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http://humanfly.bandcamp.com/

I am absolutely in love with the Leeds music scene. This track from prog-rock riffmeisters, Humanfly, is one of the reasons why.

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https://fan.musicglue.com/sale/promoproducts.aspx?productid=ee754b32-0404-4266-9fd7-8d4bcfdf9208

For a band called Arrows of Love, they're not what you would call romantics. If you're a fan of Arctic Monkeys, then check Arrows of Love's EP 'Burn This Town' out. You won't be disappointed.

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http://codesintheclouds.bandcamp.com/

Codes In The Clouds have been endlessly compared to Explosions In The Sky and 65daysofstatic, and the comparisons aren't unjustified. Yet they have a distinct style of their own, crafting songs that build up to climaxes that can only be described as epic.

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https://fan.musicglue.com/sale/promoproducts.aspx?productid=064cd1fe-e4ea-47ea-a8be-9ceb52c05561

The Xcerts claim that they play 'distorted pop.' I claim they play satisfyingly delicious alternative pop rock.

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We Are The Dead by Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Does It Offend You, Yeah? is giving away the track, 'We Are The Dead' from their upcoming album, 'Don't Say We Didn't Warn You.' Click on the arrow on the right of the embedded soundcloud file to download.

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http://fractionsofone.com/pakistan/

Okay, this one isn't free. BUT (and this is a very big but) it's for a very good cause. For five british pounds, you can have 13 tracks from 13 of the best (mostly) British bands. And all proceeds will go to helping the victims of the Pakistan floods. Spare a fiver if you can. That's less than 50p a track, and what's more, it's going to charity.

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That's it for now. You can check out the previous FREE DOWNLOADS post by clicking HERE.


Signing out

Over and out

Monday, August 16, 2010

Interview with Adi Rani: Projectunes, BeAT, & Manchester United

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Adi Rani is a pop musician, producer and co-founder of record label Projectunes. I'm honoured to have interviewed a person who is one of the leading names in Brunei pop right now, while taking under his wings upcoming talents such as Juju Junaidi, Feez Madea and Aziz Harun.

Citing influences such as Pharell Williams, Paolo Nutini and Timbaland, Adi has produced and performed with many such as Lo Ryder and Wilma Moshek (which I have covered HERE), stamping his own brand of acoustic pop with a passion.

- What's your role in BeAT (Brunei Authors & Composers Association)? What excites you most about it's establishment?

I’m one of the pre-selected directors for Brunei’s first royalty collection agency. What excites me the most will be how this will help the local music scene as to give authors & composers the respect & rights to their written/published materials. For the first time ever, they will be receiving royalties for their work.

- How do you think BeAT will help the music scene in Brunei?

Since BeAT will be enforcing royalties/rights for both local & international authors/composers, those who has been licensed under BeAT Berhad will hopefully start playing local composition as this will help both Brunei’s economy (as money will be paid back to local composers) and also make people more aware on how Brunei have the same quality as what they have overseas.

- What's next after BeAT? Do you have anything planned?

The official launching of BeAT Berhad will be sometime after Hari Raya, so stay tune as will keep everyone posted via Facebook (BeAT Berhad) and the soon-to-be launched official website.

- Tell us about Projectunes. You've got some exciting names in the label. What kind of qualities do you look for when looking to sign someone?

Projectunes Records is an Independent music label started by me (Adi Rani) & Diana Latip back in 2000. Our first hit single was Diana’s “Don’t Wanna (featuring Reza_” which has earned recognition in the Kristal FM international chart & Kristal’s listeners choice award for Best English Song & Best Group/Duo.

We are proud of our repertoire of artists namely NJ, Juju, Spade, Ali Morphine, Khairy, Aziz Harun, Nafee (producer), Diana & myself. We all have different approaches to music so this what makes us more distinctive in the music scene.

Being different & with raw talent is what we usually work for, not those who just want fame, as according to my personal belief, it won't get you anywhere.

- Do you have any new or upcoming releases we should be excited about?

We’ve received tremendous support from the fans after the release of Khairy’s “Hanya Kamu” and now we’re excited to be releasing a new upcoming artists Aziz Harun & Yean (winner of Who’s Got Talent Season 2). Both of them definitely bring something different to the table so everyone should be excited as we were producing their very first single.

- As a producer, who did you enjoy working with most? What's a typical session when collaborating with someone?

I probably enjoyed most of my producing session with Nafee. We try to say whatever we can that will help make the best possible sound and music. Most of the time it's just us both getting into each other's headand making fun of each other's creations, and then there are those that lead to great tunes. Nafee is undoubtedly one of the best in the business and we’re at Projectunes are so proud to have us be the home of his music.

- When did you start learning to play and make music? When did you start thinking you can be a producer?

I was in primary school when I learned my first guitar chords - thanks to my oldest brother - and in 2000 I was then approached by Diana to do a remix of her new single. And the rest we can call it history.

- Who would you like to collaborate with?

I know it’s a long shot but I would love to work with JT, Usher & Jason Mraz (I would like to put MJ but that’s just over shooting it). hahaha

- Who are your idols? Who was the person that made you think "I want to make music"?

My parents, though they’re not musically inclined but they’re the one that always believed in what I can do and proud of what I have achieved be it in music & career.

- What do you listen to in the car? How about your workout music?

50% of the time, both my daughters screaming for formula and the rest is just what the missus usually decides to burn onto the CD. She has a really great taste in music, no wonder she decides to marry one.

Workout? Is that a trick question? haha

- the Projectunes line-up (you especially) did brilliantly in the 2010 VIMAs. How did it feel to receive regional recognition? How do you think it has helped you and Projectunes?

Honestly I wasn’t expecting to win anything during VIMA. I was invited to perform and that itself is an achivement for myself and our artists. Winning the crystal award is just icing to an already delicious cheese cake.

- Are you a gadget freak? What are you favourites?

I am totally a gadget freak. I have a never-ending wishlist of gadgets. Currently I have my iPhone, Macbook Pro & Lumix GF1 to satisfy my lust. Haha

My birthday is coming soon… (12-core Mac Pro anyone?)

- This has nothing to do with music, but I gather that you're a Manchester United fan. What do you think of their prospects this season?

Have you been stalking me? Hahaha

I have a feeling this will be an MU season. Last season was bad with loads of injuries in defence but watching them in pre-season games in USA, Mexico & Ireland, I must say MU is the team to beat.

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You can find Projectunes's official website here, and Adi Rani's profiles on various social networking sites.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Like This. You Should Too

4 comments

Oh look, what's in my inbox. A song by Leeds sound-merchants Bearfoot Beware. Why if I remember correctly, I saw them supporting the wonderful Two Door Cinema Club about a year ago. Ah yes, they did. Now I remember perfectly. Isaid that they sound like as if "Anti-Flag had wild, wild... urm... flirtations with Youves and resulted in this monster."


What's this fresh meat they've sent my way?


I better press play...







The Love Life of Trevor Bennett by bearfootbeware


I'm liking this. I'm really, really liking this.


For some reason I can't put my finger on, this reminds me strangely of The Cure. That is, if The Cure was being covered by Los Campesinos! Yes, I like my band+band comparisons, but in this case, this is honestly the first thought that came to my head.



The boys of Bearfoot Beware probably didn't intend for that, but I can tell you what they want to do. They want to make you jump around, move your body and embarrass yourself to the sounds of their poppy, bouncy, mathsy tunes. And by Odin, I think I might have freaked out the barista when she served me my mocha latte. It looks like I might have to find another cafe to 'write my screenplay' in. If that semi-real anecdote didn't make it clear, I love this song.


It just goes straight into the pit from the first second, and stays till the last. I don't know who Trevor Bennett is, but his romantic life (or lack of) does make for a wonderfully catchy song.


My mocha latte is getting cold. And the barista is looking at me weird again. I better go.


Signing out


Over and out

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Turn

15 comments
Go on and check me out! I'm on BruneiTweet's ProjekBrunei.com. On the frontpage no less.


And this song shows how pleased I am with myself for actually appearing on a website other than my own. I'm so pleased I might go buy myself a cookie.


Signing out

Over and out

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Free Downloads

4 comments
Since I haven't updated substantially yet, I figure I'll do a mini one. This is going to be a list full of bands you might want to check out, and all the downloads are completely free and legit. Some of these are new, some have been around for a while.

Chariot, by The Cast Of Cheers

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The Cast Of Cheers is an Irish post-punk outfit who finds as much inspiration in the end of the world as they do in the game Half-Life 2 while reading Haruki Murakami. If that doesn't sound excellent enough, maybe you should check out their debut album Chariot, which they have made available for free here:


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The James Cleaver Quintet wants you to be ferocious. Their EP, Ten Stages Of A Make-Up, is a chaotic yet catchy masterpiece by a band whose idea of a music festival would consist of Slayer and Pantera playing back to back sets for three days straight. Download free track, The Shame, here:


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Fran & Josh, whose music has been labelled from flamenco ska to folk funk via blue grass drum and bass, has been described by XYZ magazine as "a glorious cacophony of melodic bliss." Their first EP is poised to come out in Spring, and you can download one of their most loved songs, Days Like These, here:


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I've seen Hounds support Does It Offend You, Yeah?, and their brand of electro punk rock really appealed to me. If you check out the link here, you can download some of their songs completely free:


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Hassle Records have put up a Summer 2010 sampler for free download. It includes tracks from Alkaline Trio, Rolo Tomassi, Trash Talk, We Are The Ocean, Fireworks, FACT, 65daysofstatic, Cancer Bats and fun. Hassle has been releasing some of my favourite records, namely both Tubelord's and Blakfish's (RIP) debut album, so definitely check out the sampler if you like your music to have a heavy, unpredictable edge to it.


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Cerumentric is a solo effort from Filipino Erick A. Fabian Sr. who calls his music as biotronic jamtronic rock, which to me definitely fits the bill. Recently nominated in the AVIMA 2010, Fabian Sr. is one of the leading figures of the South East Asian electronic movement. Download his single, Bleeding Into My Dreams, here:


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The Monopolist is probably excited about The Strokes having come back from their self-imposed hiatus. You can hear it in their songs. They definitely owe it to the Americans. They owe it to Kings of Leon and they owe it to Arctic Monkeys. So if you even remotely like any of these bands, you should check out their two acoustic songs, Second Best and Moving In Time, and also their covers of The Strokes, Kings of Leon and Coldplay, here:


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noumenon's EP has the title Party Mathematics. Rather conveniently, it is quite a self-explanatory moniker. They're here to party while playing some math. It's that simple. And it's very, very good. What's more, you can name your price when downloading their EP, be it £0.00 or £1,000,000. Just download it here:


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So happy downloading and keep discovering new music! Of course I always have my usual roster of Brunei musicians here with free MP3s. You just have to click HERE for that.

Signing out

Over and out

Note: I will update this list as I find (or get reminded of) more notable free downloads in the future.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mid-Week Excursion

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Have you finished listening to that cover of The Strokes by my fave Brunei band right now, The Monopolist? Click on it. Okay, let's move on.

I've had a very long week. A very, very long week.

But that long week was extremely good. Amazing, even. Many times it was insane.

I went to London for a succession of gigs that left me in such a mangled state this Monday morning that right after my two-hour lecture (during which I struggled to stay awake) I fell onto my bed like a piece of brick being thrown down the KLCC.

So, what was I up to that left me in such pitiful conditions?

First, observe this video of Crystal Castles live. I was there, holding that camera trying my hardest not to fall down and get stampeded over a crowd in full adulation of Alice Glass. Yes, it was so deliciously violent I almost lost my shoe several times.

The next day, I went to see Japandroids, supported by Tellison and Yuck. Truth be told, this was the weakest of the three gigs I went to. But this is like saying the elephant is smaller than a whale and the Empire State building, or that Batman Begins is not as good as The Dark Knight. Dammit, it's still so, so good.

Here are some videos for your (and my) enjoyment.

Tellison ripping it up with a new song from their (yet-to-be-recorded) second album.

Japandroids, also with a new song

Then came Trood's T-Time, which congregated four awesome bands starting with the letter T in a small pub venue in Kingston. It was like a more awesome version of Sesame Street.

This video down here is a playlist. Click on the arrows on the side to cycle through videos from that night.


And now I'm back in York again!

Next gig to look forward to? Well, it's Evolution Festival in Newcastle, which is this weekend. Should be amazing.

Rage Against The Machine tickets should come this week too. So many things to look forward to! Not to mention my last paper of the year in three weeks!

Then I'm off to Brunei. I'm excited to finally get to see all these awesome Brunei bands I've been listening to from 3,000 miles away.

Fun fun fun.

Signing out

Over and out

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

formspring.me

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Ask me anything http://formspring.me/mujahidjohar

Early Weekend Break

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Hi guys,

I'm going to London tomorrow, so I won't be updating until at least the weekend. So hopefully by then I'll have a band of the week to be featured.

Signing out

Over and out

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The BruNews Flash (11/05/10)

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I haven't done any of these, but here's some news in the Brunei music world for you.
Karacoma recently unveiled the album cover and the full track list for their upcoming album, titled 'Shattered Dreams'. You can view the pictures HERE.

The Monopolist was recently approached with a contract proposal. Other than Hazwan saying it might not be the right time yet for them, I haven't got any further details as to whether this is going forward or not. They've also made their recent acoustic session with Pelangi FM available to download. Highlights include a great cover of The Strokes' Someday, and acoustic versions of their own songs, Moving In Time and Second Best.

About a week ago, Voize.My announced the winners of AVIMA 2010 via Facebook, with the site calling it “World’s 1st Online Music Awards Festival," with tongue firmly in cheek of course. Although not quite as successful as VIMA 10, Brunei still managed to bag a few noteworthy awards. You can view the full list of winners HERE.

All Klubai Organisation will be holding a free 'Meet the Fans' event on 30th May, so be there or be square.

On 15th May, the band Epic Frequency will be debuting their single 'Shades of Gray', while alt rockers Nation of Hydroge recently had their radio debut of their single 'Pemusnah', with a gig being planned on June 6th at the National Stadium. Local and regional favourites D'Hask collaborated with Adeb of P2F fame on the track 'Pergilah,' which enjoyed its radio debut on Saturday.

That's it for today!

If you have any news you'd like to share, e-mail me at mujahidjohar@gmail.com or add me on Facebook.

Signing out

Over and out