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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Power to the People

It's finally time for all my Mużika Mod Ieħor listeners to vote for their top picks out of all the Maltese releases from 2008. This year's poll is once again being carried out via Facebook. James Attard has reactivated the Facebook app we created last year for yet another round of voting.

The categories remain the same as last year, with the slight difference that singles and EPs are now separate. The volume of releases has increased so much this year that this spilt will undoubtedly be welcome by all. The video section has been retained, even though there are considerably fewer nominations this year in that category.

I have my personal preferences, of course, and if you're one of the first people to vote and/or you listen to my podcast regularly you'll know what they are. Alternatively you can wait until the first podcast of 2009, when the official picks are announced and I compare the public top selections to my own. Voting continues the the second day of the new year and the results will be announced in a special podcast on Saturday 3rd January 2009.

Meanwhile my weekly MMI podcasting series continues regularly until the Christmas holidays. This week's edition open's with the music of an English singer-songwriter of Maltese descent. Victor Chetcuti's dad was Maltese but he was born in the UK to an Irish mother. I'm surprised that it has taken me this long to discover his work. He's been quite active in the last few years and is now on the verge of releasing his third album. From his 2007 CD I've picked a song called Thinking of You. Listeners can rest assured that I will be featuring a track or two from the new album next year.

To announce the 2008 MMI Listener's Picks poll, I wanted to play something from one of last year's top vote recipients. Mathematikal received the most votes in the based-overseas category for their Electrophant EP. Now that they're back in Malta they've been as active as ever, even if they're not nominated in any of this year's categories. Their remix of the Beangrowers' Good Band Bad Name can be heard as the second track on this week's podcast. It also gives me the opportunity to mention that the album from which the original version of that song is taken, Not in a Million Lovers, is among those nominated.

Incidentally, Mathematikal are appearing at the Poxx Bar in Paceville tonight in another evening of The Devil Digs Rave, along with Vinnie Vintage. Having attended a very similar gig last March I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to explore Malta's underground music scene.

The inevitable releases I should have included on the 2008 MMI poll but didn't will now start dropping like flies, of course. The first of these is an EP called Extreme Dancefloor featuring tracks by Melchior Sultana and Kevin Call a.k.a. DJ Nojz. It was release last April, but I only became aware of it a couple of days ago when Melchior contacted me with some other tracks that he recorded more recently. Anyway, this is how it goes every year and I guess by now we've all come to expect this, regardless.

For the rest of this week's podcast I've selected tracks by Melchior Sultana and DJ Nojz. The first is Melchior's The Life I Lived, which is not on the EP I just mentioned. The other, by DJ Nojz, comes from that EP and it's a techno number called Metobo.

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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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Amid the Falling Snow

Having spent about 12 of the last 48 hours traveling on trains between Scarborough and Coventry I can't really say that my body has completely settled down by now. I still hadn't shaken the road off when I woke up this morning to see that a veritable winter wonderland awaited me outside. I expected this to happen because I watched the weather forecast on TV last night but it still made me change my plans for the day. The scene from my bedroom window was beautiful and most peaceful so I didn't want to bother with the real world, until I really can't stay away. On days like this I miss being snow bound. It never really snows that much in Scarborough.

Aside from all the traveling I probably feel this way too because I was invited to visit Malta this weekend as a judge for the Malta Television Awards. Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm not a big fan of award ceremonies. In spite of all this, I couldn't really accept the invitation to go to Malta because travel plans were left for the last minute and I'm not very good at doing things this way. Just to be a good sport, I accepted to vote on the award categories I was asked to anyway. So I'm partly responsible for whoever wins two of the Mermaids in this year's Malta Television Awards.

When it comes to my sense of personal accomplishment and self fulfillment, all this pales in comparison to the joy I derive from producing my weekly music podcast. This week's edition features two tracks from an album released just a few days ago called Jailhouse Voices. The musicians on this album are not Maltese, but the production is by Mop Krayz, who is Maltese...even though this is clearly not his or her real name. The track I selected to open my podcast with is called Gone with the Storm by Virgill & Cons. The other track closes the podcast and it's called Jade Tinted Sky by Keito.

I picked this latter track because I wanted to mark the memory of Jade Brincat, former keyboard player with Stillborn, Momento Nostri, and Archaic Descent. Jade died on Wednesday 12 November after suffering a cardiac arrest at Mater Dei hospital following severe side-effects to medication she was given to treat a chest infection. I was a little troubled to hear rumours and unfounded gossip that she had died from a drug overdose. I can't believe that people in Malta still jump to such conclusions just because she was a rocker. Her keyboard playing can be heard on a previous edition of the Mużika Mod Ieħor series, when I featured the song Angel by Stillborn. To remember Jade today I've picked a live recording she did with Stillborn at last years rock festival in Marsaxlokk. The song is is called Lost and features Jade keyboard playing quite prominently.

I'm always thrilled to discover new music and young musicians from Malta. This week I discovered two such acts through MySpace. Gilmour Cauchi came to my attention through Nathan Inder's page. You can hear a track by each of them on this week's MMI podcast. Gilmour's tune is called Capri, while Nathan's track is called Herbert's Intro. These two young musicians are clear examples of what some Maltese teenages are up to with their computer driven home studios. It really is fascinating stuff.

In the coming days I'm hoping to launch the 2008 MMI Listeners' Picks poll via Facebook. I'll post a blog entry about that if we manage to get it going before next week's podcast. I'll probably have some more things to say about awards shows too. I'm just biting my tongue for now...but probably not for too long.

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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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Miles Away

I love living in Scarborough. It's a beautiful place to live. The only thing I'd change about it is not the weather but the fact that it's miles away from any good or bad distraction from the peace and quiet we enjoy here. This paradox makes it more rather than less appealing to me. I think about this whenever there's something going on in Malta or New York that I'd like to attend.

The latest thing to trigger this line of thought is tomorrow's launch of the debut CD by Brikkuni. Kontrabanda is being launched at the Liquid Club just outside San Gwann. Like last week's launch of Ġuże' Stagno's new novel Ramon u ż-Żerbinotti, this event is not just an excuse to publicize the work but also a great opportunity to witness the artistic spirit of the work in person. To mark what may turn out to be the album of the year for 2008, the 140th podcast in my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor series opens with Fil-Bar ta' Taħt il-Knisja. This song was featured in an earlier edition of the MMI podcast about two years ago from a rough recording that introduced this band to many who have welcomed them with open arms as a blast of fresh air onto the local music scene.

Following on from last week's podcast, you can hear the music of an English band The Attika State, recommended to me by Andrew Hill. Brothers Martin and Warren Mallia are two of the members in this band. This qualifies their band for inclusion in this weekly podcasting series. I'm not entirely sure how Maltese these two guitarists actually are, but I believe their paternal lineage is most definitely Maltese. Perhaps they'll get in touch and tell me more once they discover that I've included Invincible on this week' podcast.

I was please to see that Alison Ellul (of Ali & Lis fame) has decided to grow up and move away from bubblegum pop and reinvent herself, almost a la Marvic Lewis' transformation into Indigo. Ally is not as radical in her approach but if her debut single Gold Blinds is anything to go by I'm sure that things can only get better. I've decided to nominate this song for this year's list toward the Listeners' Picks poll, which will be (hopefully) launched by this time next week.

It was also a pleasant surprise to hear from Pierre Caruana a few days ago. Pierre and I used to play together in a band called Structure about 25 years ago. Die-hard followers of the local music scene may recall his most recent work as keyboardist with Scar just a few years ago. He has now re-emerged as a solo act under the name of Free Spirit. A Thousand Candles is one of two tracks he has released on his brand new MySpace page. Now that he has reappeared on my radar screen I may even dig up one of the old recordings we did together from all those years ago...not for nostalgic reasons but to air some more of the sounds that emerged from the now-legendary Tigne scene. Those of us who were there know that the Maltese music scene in early 1980s existed in a vortex rather than a vacuum.

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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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sing the Changes

Change has come...or so it would seem. Hopes are high, and so they should be. Things are looking up, but when things have looked down for so long it's just about time that things start looking up. I don't want to sound cynical and I hate to be as much of a realist as Ralph Nader. Barak Obama will help make the world a better place. He will also inevitably disappoint many who now believe that he holds the key to all the ills of this world. Change and good vibrations on a global scale are now in the air. This can only be good.

On a more personal note, I feel much better now than I've done in quite some time. Things are looking up. It's getting better all the time. Since things are looking up I guess I should just enjoy the upward sensation and ride the wave while it lasts. Something always goes against all hope but with some luck things will still continue to get better.

OK, enough of this belly button gazing philosophical mambo jumbo. On to this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast, which is a real corker. How else would you describe a podcast that starts with a brand new track from The Rifffs? Magic of the Sun is another track they recorded this past summer towards their long-awaited album, which will be out on the 13th of February. I'm glad they're not rushing it. We've waited decades for this album, so a few more months will certainly pass before we know it.

Chasing Pandora will be releasing their third EP on the 17th of November. This is the second EP from Mel and Keith this year. I wonder why they didn't put all eight songs together into one album instead. Perhaps this is a sign that the album as we've known it for the last fifty odd years is on the way out. You hear about the death of the single and the demise of the album all the time if you try to follow industry pundits. Whatever it is, Wide Eyed Beauty is another great offering from Chasing Pandora and the song Anywhere But Here is the one I've picked to play on today's podcast.

The new one from the Rifffs and the upcoming EP from Chasing Pandora will be added to the list of nominations for the 2008 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, which will be opened up for voting within the next week or two. The rest of the material feature on this week's podcast will also be added to the list of nominations. First among these are the new recordings by Adolf, mostly recorded this past summer. Calmly should go down well with both anyone who knows Adolf's songs and those who will be discovering them for the first time. This singer-songwriter is one of the most underrated Maltese musicians. Something tells me he likes it that way; after all, it's all about the songs and little else really matters.

A few weeks ago, I included a track from British band Airstrip One, featuring Andrew Hill, who is half Maltese. Adrian Hill is Andrew's brother, so he too is half Maltese. He plays in a London-based trio called The Greenland Choir. Their songs are quite delightful. I've picked one called You Can See to bring this week's podcast to a peaceful close, until the next one.

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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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Way To Die

Although I know that it's silly to think so, I have the feeling that most of the things happening around me right now have already happened before. I'm not surprised by much and yet it's fairly obvious that this only really make sense (or nonsense) in my head. It's probably just that I have a lot on my mind. Thankfully most of it is quite positive; I've recovered almost completely from last week's acute depression. I have a feeling that something mindblowing is about to happen. If/when that happens it'll probably shake me out of this weird state of mind.

My weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is not spared of all this, of course. The first two tracks on this week's edition come from band that have already appeared on the series earlier this year. Both Shilloo's Tree and Dominoes have new singles. They're called Ride My Horse and Photographs respectively, and now they also appear on this year's list of nominations for the MMI Listeners' Picks poll, which will go live on Facebook within the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile both bands are joining some twenty other bands selected by Hairy Amp to appear at the European Youth Week celebrations in Valletta, playing every evening between tomorrow and next Saturday.

The other two tracks on this week's podcast are from two acts I discovered via MySpace just a few days ago. Malt.Tabulated Sounds sounds like something you'd expect to be released by Pinkpube. It's least not just yet. Someday is a very cool track and it segues quite well into Ethnamorte's Vidro, which I've selected as the closing track for this week's podcast. Ethnamorte is a multicultural London-based band featuring Maltese guitarist Malcolm Callus. They're apprearing live at The Grosvenor, down in Stockwell, London, tomorrow night.

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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