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Saturday, January 06, 2007

You Oughta Know

By the 6th day of the new year I'm usually ready to embark on what's ahead and move on from reminiscing about the previous year. One way to do that is bring you a podcast featuring the Listeners' Picks from Maltese music released in 2006.

The songs selected to top each of the four categories are but a sample of the excellent releases from last year. I've already written about how remarkable I believe things were in this area in 2006. I would not have been surprised if you, my podcast listeners, had voted for 4 different tracks as your top picks for 2006. In some cases the voting was very close.

Chasing Pandora's Feel the Rain EP (Tickety-boo Records) was selected as your favourite single. It was closely followed by Scream Daisy's What They Say/Happy Families, while Larissa's Brand New Start fared quite well too. I was slightly surprised that the comeback single from The Rifffs, Life of Crime, didn't manage to achieve a higher placing in the poll. I am not surprised to see X-Tend's Conclusion at the bottom of the list in the singles/EPs category but I do believe that they deserved a better placing. Perhaps this result has something to do with the generational dynamic related to all things digital.

8 Ugly came out at the top of the Internet releases list. Their Head in the Clouds is a delightful song and I know that a growing number of listeners are discovering this no frills band and its melodic sounds. MySpace is a great way to get music online, but it's not the only source. Chris D'Alfonso's Blueprints, voted in second place, was released on iTunes. Particle Blue's Electro Synth Heroes is available through the Peeled Tracks website, and there are other sources too. Pinkpube is Malta's only net-based label, so it's not surprising that their 10times10: A Pinkpube Compilation Volume 1 (Pinkpube), received a substantial amount of votes. I expect this category to be larger by the end of this year as more musicians explore the benefits associated with Internet releases.

Ignite, Fire's debut CD, was voted the top album for 2006. Is-CD tal-iXtuppaw (Reciprocal Records) came in second with just a handful of votes less than Ignite. I was convinced that Xtruppaw would win the poll in this category, mostly because I strongly believe that their debut album is a true masterpiece. This is not to disregard Fire or their album, of course. They clearly have a great following in Malta and their recent successful appearances at the Battle of the Bands and the Krokus concert at the Old Power Station in Floriana have endeared them to all headbangers and lovers of classic rock. I've chosen to play Home and Dry from Ignite on this week's podcast, mostly because it's written by Joe Mizzi, who was one of the mightiest Maltese rock singers in the 1980s, fronting bands like Stratkast and High 'n Dry.

I'm disappointed to see Subculture's A Lifetime of Disappointments at the bottom of the albums poll because it's a much better collection of songs than that. Still, someone has to be last on the list, even when the list doesn't really have any losers on it. Kemik-Al's The Dark Journal (Butterfly Records), Tribali's debut album (Tickety-boo Records) and Winter Moods' Ordinary Men were among the top vote earners in the albums category. This poll is not about my personal picks but you can say that to some degree my choice of nominations flavors the whole process. We'll see what this year brings...but I'm pretty sure we'll find a number of releases to admire and rave about before this time next year.

Krokus are the listeners' top pick in the overseas-based Maltese artists category. Marc Storace is undoubtedly the closest thing to a rock star Malta has ever produced. Their Hellraiser album is a collection of solid metal in the mold of an age when rock monsters ruled the earth. I'm very pleased to see Sandro Zerafa in the runner-up position in this category for 2006. I believe that if Krokus hadn't released a new album in 2006, this category would have been won by one of the numerous overseas-based Maltese artists who deserve more adulation than they currently enjoy on the local scene. In some cases I'm not sure they'd be happy with that but these things have a life of their own and there are surprising twists around ever corner. I hope to see this category enhanced in 2007.

Speaking of enhancements, this edition of the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is a special edition in that it presents the results of the Listeners' Picks from 2006. This has made me want to make it even more special by presenting it in an enhanced version. I'll be working on that over the next day and I'll post some more information about it as soon as it is available.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

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