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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shut Up And Let Me Go

It has already been one week since George Carlin died. His death was announced after I had published my weekly podcast, so it was only this week that I could really pay tribute to this great American artist. Carlin was no ordinary stand-up comedian. He continued in the spirit of Lenny Bruce long after seeing him arrested for obscenity. Carlin was one of the most eloquent artistic voices of reality in America. To my mind, never was the image of the wise fool who helps others see the truth better embodied in American culture, except perhaps by Hunter S. Thompson on his good days.

The 120th podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series opens with the voice of George Carlin just like the first fifteen editions did back in 2005-2006. His wonderful rant against commercial radio and the consumption of bland music comes from his audio book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?. His words and ideas were highly influential in the tone my weekly music podcast took when it first appeared.

The Feast of Avalon by Marco Ellul, better known as Larski, is the first piece of music hear on this week's podcast. I've been hoping to hear more stuff coming out of his studio for quite some time; including a renewed collaboration with Jody Fiteni and Kevin O'Neill. I'm a very patient man and sometimes it helps to keep hoping against all hope. I have a feeling that the inclusion of this track will prompt a response from Larski, which may include an update about more recent recordings.

Offset Collaborations is an interesting project led by Adrian Trevisan. Along with his collaborators Vinnie Skillz (one of the Leguesse brothers), Diane Castillo (also known as the lead singer for Stillborn) and Nik Poland (a finalist in this year's XFM Virtual Rockstar contest). Sweet Lips is the last in a series of tracks released by this group before Trevisan returns to London to study Audiological Science. Hopefully there will be further recordings as acts like Offset Collaborations are excellent ways for Maltese singers to sing songs that aren't the sort produced for the sole purpose of appearing in some song contest or other.

Veteran UK-based Maltese singer Jon Lukas reinvented himself as jon lukas woodenman a few years ago. This year he appears to be at it in full throttle. He has already appeared on a previous MMI podcast this year with his latest tune, but he has now just released a new song called My Time. I particularly like the long outro on this one and I'm sure it will delight the singer's many fans, particularly in some countries in the Middle East, where for a brief time (it is claimed that) he was more popular than The Beatles.

The end of June brings with it the great Glastonbury festival. In recent years I've been delighted to see some Maltese musicians perform at this amazing event. Mandala Malta and Tribali immediately spring to mind in this regard. This year we can add South Central to that list. Tomorrow (June 29) they're appearing in the Dance East at 16:30 and at 19:30 in the Silent Disco. Next month they'll be performing in Holland, France, Italy and Belgium before they return to Japan and more gigs in France after the summer. You can hear Golden Dawn, the single they released earlier this year, as the closing track on this week's podcast.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

If I Was

If I was in Malta today I would most definitely be at Warehouse No.8 in Marsa listening to Danjeli's Kakofonija live. My Facebook friends know this from reading my status message, and my podcast listeners know this from listening to last week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. Danjeli's live concert is as much an historic event for the Maltese music scene as the release of Is-CD tal-iXtruppaw in June 2006 or Claudio Baglioni's version of L-Aħħar Bidwi f'Wied il-Għasel more recently.

It's events like this that make me realize that my weekly podcast is an excellent way to keep in touch with what's going on in the Maltese music scene. This week's edition contains tracks that have either just been released or relate to upcoming gigs. The first song is one that's apparently making a big splash on the local airwaves this summer. Muxu's Beat My Drum is one of the most catch tunes I've heard coming from Malta so far this year. Produced by Jay Omaro it's pop laden R&B track, which cannot be easily dismissed as just another song in this genre. Listen to it closely and I'm sure you'll be singing it over and over in your head for the rest of the day, if not longer.

Former Radio Malta 2 Reggae Club DJ Manwel Tabone has metamorphosed into dub master Manwel T. His mixes and dubs have already appeared on previous edition of the MMI podcast. A few days ago he released a new bunch of tracks and I've selected Umtha Welanga Dub (feat. Mind's Eye Dub), which will surely delight anyone who likes this type of music and probably everyone else who enjoys good music.

Eve Ransom have released their second new song for 2008. Paradox is a well-made follow-up for last February's Just The Way I Am. The band's grungy sound is crowned by ex- Scream Daisy guitarist and songwriter Brendan Jackson's voice. I honestly can't imagine a different voice for this band. I have a feeling that this band sound quite good live too. Please write back and let me know if you've seen this band live and agree or disagree with this. They're appearing at the Splash & Fun Park on the 5th of July.

Another upcoming gig that will undoubtedly attract a nice crowd of die-hard metal fans is planned for July 18 at Remedy in Paceville. Norm Rejection will continue their reunion activities leading towards new recordings and , The July 18 gig will be the first time that the band's new bassist - the most prolific Rex - appears in public with Norm Rejection. I'm particularly looking forward to a recording of their new song Kemm Hawn Dwejjaq fil-Pajjiz. Evidently, plus ça change.

Martyrium will be sharing the bill with Norm Rejection at Remedy. This monster black metal band are currently preparing to release their third CD, Awakening the Ancient, which should appear later this summer. You can listen to a preview of the new material on their MySpace page. To close this week's podcast I've selected Eden from Martyrium's 2001 debut CD Withering in in Voluptuous Embrace.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Better Get To Livin'

As the academic year winds to a gradual close I start looking at the best way to organize my summer. As you would expect, my 'to do' list is never-ending. However, for once in recent years I can see myself setting myself enough time to really feel that the summer has not passed me by once September rolls along.

One thing you can certainly continue count on is my weekly podcast. A glut of releases will undoubtedly appear over the coming months. This will not only make for several action packed editions of MMI but also continue to validate my plans to look at working on studying various aspects of Maltese music and music-making in the coming years.

The 118th Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast opens with a song by Miriam Christine. She recently returned to the Malta Hit Song Contest, which I originally mentioned on an earlier edition of my weekly series last February. This TV contest is now approaching its final and Alone Today is one of the 11 songs that have made it to the final. I may actually return to this TV show to play you one more song in the coming weeks. As for the rest of the songs, I'd better not say anything else since I have very little that's useful to say.

Moving swiftly on to the sublime, I'd like to draw your attention to the upcoming live concert of Danjeli's Kakofonija (his most excellent album from 2007, which you can still download for free here) at Warehouse Number 8 in Marsa on Saturday 21 June at 9pm. Joining Danjeli on stage will be several of his recent collaborators, including Jon 'Pen' Mallia (from Sixth Simfoni) as M.C., Mario Vella (from Brikkuni) on vocals, Andrew Alamngo (from Etnika), Jimmy Grima on alto sax, and Michael Galea on drums among others. This event is not to be missed if you're in Malta, especially if you'd like to sample authentic Maltese music for the early 21th century.

From time to time I'm contacted by musicians I've featured on previous editions of my podcast. Brian Vassallo contacted me a few weeks ago to thank me for featuring something from his debut album from way back in 1998 in one of my podcasts. He is now about to release a new album called Angelique Beute. From it you can hear a track called The Eyes of Mercy. He's be releasing another track from this new album before it actually appears later this summer. All should be well received from anyone who likes popular instrumental electronic music.

In last week's podcast I included a song from Ambulanza, the Polish funk band fronted by Mario Cordina. He drew my attention to the fact that one of his other Polish bands, Skambomambo has recently released a CD called Made in Polska. So, to close this week's podcast, I've selected Taxi Driver from this CD. I'm in awe of Mario and how prolific he is in his music activities in and around Szczecin. If you've never heard of him before I recommend that you listen to the special podcast I dedicated to him earlier on in the MMI 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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chant Number 1

To say that students are eager to get their marks at this time of the year is to state the obvious. It is therefore not surprising at all that over 1000 Maltese students have taken to Facebook to pressure the Malta Union of Teachers and the University of Malta Academic Staff Association to end their current trade dispute with the University of Malta. The students rightly claim that this action is unfairly using students’ result to enhance leverage on their cause, justified as that may be.

Aside from the politics of what the lecturers want and/or deserve and how they go about getting it, the most interesting element in all this for me is the use of Facebook to put pressure on the university and the lecturers to take the results out of their negotiations. This use of Facebook goes far beyond the trivial nonsense associated with vampires, zombies, flirting, showing off and a hundred and one other time wasting uses of this popular social networking online utility.

This is the best use of Facebook by a pressure group of this sort that I've seen so far from Malta. If there are other examples you know about, please bring them to my attention; you can also contact me directly on Facebook if you prefer. I recently wrote the first draft of a chapter about youth culture and the media for a forthcoming book about media in Malta, and I may include examples like this in it to show how the Internet provides new means of communication for young Maltese people.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Too Old to Rock 'n Roll

I'm swamped in marking final assessments for this academic year. The weekend is a welcome break but the rest of my life tends to catch up with me whenever I'm not fully engaged with work at the office. News of change (supposedly real change, or so I've been told) tends to be like the proverbial water off a duck's back with me these days, be it Barack Obama's tough road to the White House or Joseph Muscat's not as tough road to Castille Place.

As ever, my weekly podcasts keep me sane. For the 117th edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor I've chosen to present a couple of live recordings I discovered in recent days. The first of these comes from The Free Blues Club in Szczecin, Poland. As MMI regular listeners may recall, Polish funk band Ambulanza is fronted by Maltese music maverick Mario Cordina. The live version of Telefon is a prelude to the forthcoming album from the band, expected later this year.

Keeping it live, the next track on this week's podcast comes from a television show from last December that featured the song All About You by Grimaud. As with the song from Ambulanza, you can also watch this video clip via YouTube, along with other rare footage from Grimaud's long career as a singer.

Going back down under to see what Maltese musicians are up to we find that Andre Camilleri & the Broken Hearts have just released their second album. Australian is out on CD soon but you can already download all the the tracks for free from the official website. Stuck in Melbourne is the track I've selected to include as a sample from this album for my podcast listeners.

The rest of this week's podcast features material from two musicians who appeal to niche markets within the local underground music scene. They've both been working on their respective albums. Elyk Elymur's Dismantle & Destory should be out this summer but meanwhile you can listen to There and Back to determine whether the album is something you should be looking forward to.

The CD Maġija Sewda by Saħħar is out next week. It will be launched at the Elements Rock Cafe in Paceville on Friday the 13th. Did you expect it to be on any other day? Nsejjaħ il-Mejtin is available as a rough mix through MySpace and since I don't have a preview copy of the CD I can only share that with anyone who may be interested in this dark release.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

The Weight

Überbloglord Sandro Vella is organizing a dinner for Maltese bloggers, observers, and their friends. It's at the San Remo Restaurant in Mosta next Friday. The venue was recommended/selected by fellow bloglord Jacques René Zammit. This is the first such gathering since MaltaMedia started channeling the Maltese blogosphere.

The menu (reasonably priced €13 per person - not including drinks) includes all sorts of meat dishes, rabbit, fish and poultry. I'm a vegetarian, so I'm not attending...but that shouldn't stop you. There's a salad on offer too.

We will undoubtedly hear more about this get together after it happens, if not before. Would you expect otherwise from bloggers?

To book your seat at the bloggers' dinner table just email


Monday, June 02, 2008

Who Do You Love?

The Originator is dead. With a nickname like that it's hard to find anyone more significant to what we now call rock music than Bo Diddley. When someone of this caliber dies we can only really appreciate how rare it is to find musicians as influential as this: from Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away and Elvis Presley's His Latest Flame all the way to The White Stripes, with U2, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths, Patti Smith, The Doors, The Who, the Rolling Stones and so many others in between.

In memory of Bo Diddley (1928-2008)