MaltaMedia Click Here!
Toni Sant's Blog
  A blog from the MaltaMedia Online Network | LATEST BLOG | NEWS | WHAT'S ON | FEATURES | WEATHER | CONTACT TONI SANT

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One Step Closer

I was planning to blog about something else today. I'll save it for another day. I simply couldn't resist commenting on the high drama and the dark play related to the selection process for the Malta Song for Europe.

Malta's song selection for the Eurovision Song Contest is arguably as news worthy as the country's upcoming adoption of the euro monetary system. The non-Maltese jury panel involved in the song selection process has combed through the 228 songs submitted for this year's attempt to follow in the footsteps of the tremendous Lordi.

Unlike previous years, when shortlisted songs were announced by lyricist and composer, this year's songs are simply identified with their singers. Does this mark a move away from the age old tradition of this whole shenanigan being a song contest? Has someone finally managed to convince whoever had the power to resist this change that in many cases it's the singer who makes the song a winner. Can you imagine Abba singing Hard Rock Hallelujah? Or how about Chiara singing Waterloo?

It's good to see that there are a number of alternative names entering Phase 2. I wonder how many of them will make it to the final selection festival. William Mangion is back. This time he wants "to win it for Malta." I thought he said the Eurovision wasn't his bag. What do I know? Mary Spiteri too wanted "to win it for Malta" this year but her song has not made it through the selection process. It would have been good to see her back where she belongs. She will always be the first Maltese singer to bring the possibility of a Maltese win into the nation's psyche.

Apparently there's someone who has been spreading a rumour that Malta wants to send a rock song to Finland next spring. What a load of nonsense. Still, it's great to see Tarcisio Barbara, Konrad Pule and Gianni & Friends back on the Song for Europe circuit. If they make it to the Song for Europe finals we should get a better batch of songs on the next MaltaSong CD release. The one from last year is not doing so well on the Mużika Mod Ieħor: Listeners' Picks for 2006.

I'm also looking forward to hearing the songs from Pamela, Rita Pace, Trilogy, and, of course, the delicious Olivia Lewis (yes, I'm still a fan). If any of these singers don't make it through Phase 2 I won't be surprised. I'll just be disappointed that I'll have to work a little harder to get my hands on MP3s of their songs.

There are several new names on the list of singers for the 35 songs in Phase 2. I like some of the names even though I have no idea who these singers are or if they're singing songs I wouldn't mind playing on my podcast. Among the new names that have attracted my attention, I could mention the following, in no particular: Jean Claude Vancell, Julie Pomorski, Klinsmann Coleiro, Gianella Mazzola, and Tristan B. I must admit that I'm quite keen on hearing their songs.

How did I manage to write all this without mentioning Xtruppaw again? Not yet, my pretty. All in good time.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

When Butterflies Leave

Now that the Mużika Mod Ieħor series is on its second year, there's a slight change in the way each podcast opens. Change is good. It shows that something is alive.

Maltese rock fans were delighted to see Krokus finally play live in Malta this weekend. I couldn't let this historical event pass without a mention. I played something off Hellraiser, the new album, when it came out, so I was keen to pick something different this time. An unplugged version of Screaming in the Night does the job beautifully. Thanks to Kenneth Hall for pointing it out to me on YouTube via MySpace.

Marc Storace is undoubtedly the most successful Maltese rock musician based overseas since the 1970s. Still, he's not the only internationally acclaimed Maltese rocker who has been active for more than three decades. Joe Camilleri may not be as well-known as Storace outside of Australia but he's certainly just as prolific. His band The Black Sorrows have recently returned with a new album called Roarin' Town. Joe Camilleri appeared on this series a couple of months ago with fellow Maltese-Australian artist Bomba. Now you can hear him with his own band on a song called Lonesome Road.

Hellraiser and Roarin' Town are among the 2006 releases you can vote for on the Mużika Mod Ieħor poll, in the overseas-based artist releases category. The voting started last week and it will continue until the end of the year. The other categories are: Maltese Album, Single/EP, and Internet Release for 2006. You can vote for one title from each category, so you can vote up to four times, as long as you pick titles from each of the lists. Your top picks will be announced on my first podcast 2007.

Andre Camilleri is among the Maltese overseas-based artists on the poll. This is because his new band has just released its debut album. The Andre Camilleri Band seems to give the singer the edge he's been looking for for quite some time. You can hear one of his solo songs on an earlier edition in this series but now you can listen to a track from his band's new album entitled Long Black Train. If you like it you can vote for it among your picks for 2006.

Since this week's podcast turned out as a showcase for overseas-based Maltese artists, I thought it would be fitting to end with something by someone who can be classified in this category. John Galea was born and raised in Norfolk. He is a young singer-songwriter who is currently gigging in London. I came across his music on MySpace not too long ago and I picked his song I'm Not an Angel to introduce him to people who may not have heard him yet. He may not be an angel, but he's no devil either.

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.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I have lots of reasons to celebrate right now. The (way too) early Christmas reminders have nothing to do with this. The rollercoaster is currently on the upturn.

A couple of days ago, my former classmates from St Paul's Missionary College in Rabat (1978-1983) had a reunion. This was the first such event for this group since the end of our school days. I was unable to attended but my beloved Immanuel has blogged about the encounter. I've even received some photos from my old buddy Patrick Farrugia. It seems like a splendid time was had by all.

Meanwhile, this week marks the first anniversary for Mużika Mod Ieħor. The first podcast in this series was recorded and released on the 19th of November 2005. It's still available online, so you can still listen to it. The very first song I played was Xtuppaw's Ġenerazzjoni ta' Meqrudin, so I saw it fit to start this week's podcast with that song again. The version you can hear on my podcast is not the one on the majestic album Is-CD tal-iXtruppaw, but rather the raw demo released through their website in the summer of 2005. What a great anthem!

Incidentally, you can now vote for your favourite Maltese music releases for 2006. Xtuppaw's album is among the nominations, of course. Also among the nominations in the albums category is Winter Mood's fourth, Ordinary Men. This album was released just a few days ago and it captures the sound of what is most possibly Malta's longest running rock band. Founding member Steve Caruana Smith (a.k.a. Is-Serp) quit the band soon after the recording of Ordinary Men. Can't Help Myself, the song I chose to play on this week's podcast, is one of two I like best on this CD. I'll probably play the other one in a future edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor.

Since this week's podcast marks one full year of podcasts in this series, I wanted to maintain some of the spirit of the very first episode. Aside from Xtruppaw, on that first offering, I also played a relatively mellow track after the noisy tune from the Xtrupps: something off the Jason Paul Band CD. I then followed that up with a track from the southern hemisphere: a song written and produced by Adam Bonello, which played widely in Australia and New Zealand. This time I've picked a song by Luke Caruana, who performs as Carra. This Sydney-based singer-songwriter was in Malta for a number of gigs earlier this year, and promoting his debut EP entitled Travelling Solo. You can hear The Sky Speaks to Me off that EP on this week's podcast and if you like Carra's music you can vote for him in the Overseas-based releases category for 2006.

A whole year of Mużika Mod Ieħor podcasts has brought me closer to the music that matters to anyone who cares about Maltese popular culture. I am most grateful to all the bands and recording artists who have sent me their CD and MP3s over the past 12 months. I'm sure there's more to follow in the future. My plan is to continue with this series as long as I can. The number of quality releases for 2006 is simply amazing. The local scene has matured in a way that can only be described as impressive. Now, thanks to the Internet, Maltese musicians are finally finding a larger audience than can appreciate their talents in a broader context than the one we were limited to in previous times.

If it wasn't for the Internet and my weekly podcast, I would probably have completely overlooked someone who deserves great praise. Why Not? is the name of the song from Chris D'Alfonso who released his debut CD Blueprints in 2005. Since then he has gone from strength to strength, even graduating as a medical doctor in the interim. Isn't that impressive? Equally outstanding is the fact that, to my knowledge, Blueprints is the first album by a Maltese artist available for sale on the iTunes Music Store. Although the CD was released last year, Blueprints was released on the iTunes Music Store in April 2006. It therefore qualifies for a nomination in the Internet release from 2006, where you can vote for your personal choice along with titles in the other categories.

The four categories are: Maltese Album, Single/EP, Internet Release and Overseas-based Artist Release for 2006. You can vote for one title from each category, so you can vote up to four times, as long as you pick titles from each of the lists. I should also mention that voting on this poll is free of charge. The final results will be included in the first podcast for 2007 in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series.

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.

Monday, November 13, 2006


And now, a Wired Temples moment. This should also be read as an homage to WT, which managed to bag the third Malta Journalism Awards win for MaltaMedia.

Iris Weihrauch is a student from the University of Vienna, Austria. She is currently writing her dissertation with a focus on language attitudes in Malta. She has developed an online questionnaire and is trying to find Maltese citizens who could help her with my research project by filling it out. It is an anonymous survey and the completion of the questionnaire will take between 10 and 15 minutes. It can either be filled in in Maltese or English.

Click here to start the questionnaire now.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day

Donald Rumsfeld is history, at last. Sadly, so are Jack Palance and Ed Bradley. Meanwhile, life goes on. It has almost been one whole year since I released the first episode of my weekly Maltese music podcast Mużika Mod Iehor. I'll say more about this next week when we enter year two for the series.

Opening a podcast with the music of the Żiżża Ensemble always sounds good. Funky Licks (for Lonely Chicks) is the second track from this band to be featured on one of my podcasts. Several weeks ago I played their Bonnie & Clyde. They were the supporting act for a live gig by Corkskrew at Luxol last week. Rumour has it that they're preparing to record their debut album. If it's released in 2007 I'm sure it'll be one of next year's highlights.

Aiden Zammit is someone I've know for over two decades. I was a great fan of his since his days with Avatar back in the early 1980s, when he was better known as Aiden Zammit Lupi. I've even had the great pleasure of playing a couple of gigs with him; not to mention including him as the only solo act on the TV series Mill-Garaxx. more than 16 years ago. He is one of the finest musicians and singers to ever come out of Malta. His CV since leaving Malta for Italy in the late eighties is most impressive. I wanted to play his music on my podcast since the very first episode of Mużika Mod Ieħor but I never got around to it. Luckily he just set up a page on MySpace and I caught up with him again. I have fond memories of the time we spent together in Cinecitta' and other haunts around Rome in 1991.

The rest of this week's tracks also come from Maltese people who have some connection or other beyond the Maltese islands. David Agius is a young Australian musician of Maltese descent. He has a pleasant voice and plays a mean guitar. The demo for his song Dance in the Rain is slightly reminiscent of some song off Lenny Kravitz's Mama Said album, but he's clearly someone to watch out for. His music will probably benefit a live treatment by a full band and I'm really looking forward to hearing more from David Agius.

Larissa is the other Maltese singer who has overseas connections. Her username on MySpace is MaltaGirl, which must be at least slightly frustrating for the real MaltaGirl. If you'd like to know more about this young performer, you should check out the audio interview she did with Andre' Bugeja on Central FM in August. Larissa recently started her sophomore year as a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. Last summer she released her debut single in Malta, a pop song called Brand New Start. She wrote the lyrics for this song herself, while the music was composed by UK-based Steve Sparrows. The single has received wide airplay in Malta over since August. The CD contains two remixes by Toby of the same tune. I've chosen to play one of these remixes as the closing track for this week's podcast. Larissa's CD joins the list of nominations for the top 2006 Maltese music releases, which will be opened up for public voting next week.

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.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Forty Two

It's Guy Fawkes' night here in the UK. The fireworks are nowhere as spectacular as the ones you see in the Maltese islands throughout the festa season but they're just as welcome, especially because they're not as noisy.

I was looking at my blog recently and I realized that I've just been too busy to blog about much else other than my podcast. I'll be able to gauge the effect that's had on the overall output of my blog within a few more weeks when I get into end-of-year-review mode along with my colleagues at MaltaMedia.

This week's podcast features some fairly seasoned acts along with a couple of relatively new ones. Rockers International from Mind's Eye Dub is the opening track, which I play as an excuse to mention the upcoming show by The Wailers in Malta on the 11th of November. Mind's Eye Dub where the opened the show for The Wailers when they first appeared in Malta way back in 1992. Back then David Magro used the name for a band rather than his solo studio work, as he has done for the last few years.

The supporting act for The Wailers this time around will be this year's sensational Maltese new band Tribali. From their delightful debut album you can hear the second track called Never Give Up on this week's podcast. Tribali's album is one of the many nominations for the top Maltese music releases for 2006. Voting from you, readers of this blog and/or listeners of my podcast, will start very soon. I'll announce that on this blog as soon as the voting page is available.

The other new acts I mentioned earlier may not have made a big a splash as Tribali during its first year, but you can still hear them on this week's edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor. If I'm not mistaken, The Wait is one of a very few original songs in the repertoire of Bee and Ade, a duo that first appeared on the local scene last year. They're developing nicely on the strength of a style (acoustic guitar and simple vocals) that enjoys wide-spread popularity. Bianca Caruana and Adrian Camilleri are gigging extensively I have no doubt that this will make them sound even better the next time they enter a studio to record another one or tow of their original songs.

Adolf Formosa is someone who has been singing original songs on an acoustic guitar. He recently sent me a whole CD with songs he recorded in recent years. This CD, or a slightly different version of it, may actually make it as a public release sometime next year. The song you can hear from Adolf on this week's podcast is called Geese. I must admit that the raw qualities of the recordings on this CD have grown on me and I have a great appreciation for this sound, which has not been cleaned up and shaved of any follicles that come with pre-digital age home-grown recordings. I never thought I would say this, but Adolf's recordings sound quite refreshing.

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.