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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Space Oddity

MySpace have just changed the interface for the music player that appears on pages where musicians, bands and singers upload their tracks for all to hear. This in itself may appear to be just another attempt to change the way MySpace looks, but there's some bad news in it for people like me. The previous MySpace music player displayed the year for the track you were listening to (if it was entered by the artist) as well as the name of the album of compilation it came from; not to mention better/more space for the accompanying artwork.

I'm hoping (against all odds, probably!) that this will either be rectified soon or better still that artists will start blogging more about the tracks they upload or at least somehow give their listeners further information about the tracks they want us to listen to on their MySpace pages.

I'm not saying all this because I'm turning into a grumpy old man. Well, at least not just yet. The missing information is really useful to people like me who put together podcasts with material that's available mostly only through MySpace. Aside from my podcast, I also have an academic/archival interest in the extra data that comes with tracks uploaded to MySpace.

Thankfully, over the years I've also developed a two-way conversation with many of the artists I feature on my podcast. So, in many cases, the additional info on MySpace is not really something I look out for. Still, there are several acts that I either know very little about or only know what I know about them through MySpace. This became even more obvious to me a couple of days ago, when I started putting together the list of nominations for the 2008 MMI Listeners' Picks.

This week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast features a number of new addition to that list of nominations, which will remain a work in progress until the public voting starts via Facebook in November. Explicit return with a new single called Sunny Again. Stephanie Chetcuti's voice reminds me why I like most, if not all, Maltese rock bands fronted by women. It is so refreshing to hear a Maltese female voice singing to an accompaniment that's anything other than the dime a dozen studio programming productions that grace the so called pop scene. I believe that more people in Malta would like alternative music if they heard it more frequently on radio and TV.

Another thing I'd like to hear more of are Maltese bands or singers doing covers of Maltese songs, even if not in Maltese. Dripht did it with The Rifffs' Dance Music for Depression, but it is far from common. 8 Ugly are preparing to release their debut album entitled Sleeper. Happily it includes a cover of Call Me, originally written by Ronnie Busuttil for his band The Refugees. Comparisons are odious, but I have a feeling that listeners will like 8 Ugly's version, particularly as they have worked closely with Ronnie and others associated with The Refugees.

New releases will keep appearing until voting on the MMI 2008 poll starts, and even beyond. We'll try and catch as many as we can to avoid the same sort of 'oops, too late' disappointments from previous years. Music Street Productions are releasing a CD called Purely Pop Compilation on the 7th of October. I don't have a copy of this CD yet but it features a stellar cast from the local scene: Thea Saliba, Jewls Verse, and Amelia, among others. Those others include a delightful duo I'd never heard of before called Velvet Rain. I like their A Song for You very much, so I've decided to play it half way through the 133rd edition of the MMI podcast.

Speaking of goings-on in Malta, Mancunian band Autokat will be playing live at the Sky Club in Paceville this Friday the 3rd, along with local indie delicacies Areola Treat and Airport Impressions. This English band is attracting quite a bit of attention not just because their music is quite good - as you can hear for yourself from the single Innocence - but also and especially because their drummer is Mike Joyce, who played with The Smiths back in the 1980s. As foreign gigs in Malta go, this is one not to be missed. Sadly I'm stuck in Scarborough this week, even though I've had two solid invitations to come to Malta in recent days. If they're playing one of the local clubs around Manchester I may even catch them on one of my upcoming trips to Salford.

Apparently I'm not the only one who had a hard time with the new MySpace music player. Aaron Benjamin and I have been emailing to and fro about his new song after I told him I couldn't access it on his MySpace page. I'm sure he'll sort it out soon enough, but meanwhile you can hear Break the Silence as the closing track on this week's podcast. Needless to say, this too makes it to the nominations list for the 2008 MMI Listeners' Picks.

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 follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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