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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Out of Time

Time is my greatest enemy. There's never enough time to do all the things I'd really like to do. I think I live a fairly simple life and yet I'm somehow caught up in doing all sorts of creative things that take more time than anyone can physically handle.

To make things worse, certain things have deadlines or what you could call a shelf-life. This means that all the time in the world can never be enough because they must be over and done with by a certain time on a certain day.

Believe it or not this anxiety is linked to the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. Over the years I've managed to get a handle on the podcast production itself, but when it comes to the annual listeners' picks poll it's still a work-in-progress in terms of turning that into part of the yearly routine. This year I have Kenneth Vella to thank for taking over from James Attard's excellent work on Facebook for 2007 and 2008. We've started afresh, mostly because Facebook is a beastly online utility and the way things work makes it next to impossible to leave things alone and expect them to work without fail.

So, as you get ready to cast your votes for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll I've assembled one final podcast with new tracks that are being added to the list of nominations before the obligatory cut off date. The 190th MMI podcast is packed with brand new tracks, some of which come from acts that are appearing on the nominations list for the very first time.

I am rarely amazed by Maltese pop singers but it's know to happen every now and then. This week I heard Lyndsay Pace's new single and I must say it is very impressive. It is not only an excellent follow-up to Addicted, her collaboration with Errol Sammut, but also an outstanding pop rock song by any measure.

Keeping up the pace we then move on to the new single from Relikc. Mindwreck continues where Tomorrow, the band's debut, left off just a few months ago. Keith Zammit and the rest of the band have a bright future ahead of them on the local rock scene if this is what they sound like so early in their lifespan.

On the way to greatness bands can and do get cocky sometimes. This is what I thought when I first heard Who the Heck is Rek? by Red Electrick. This new single is another fine offering from this popular Maltese band, but they've set their own bar higher than this so hopefully they'll bounce back with more great stuff next year. In spite of my honest thoughts on this new song, I'm sure their many fans will think nothing of my opinion and rock on as if nothing really matters. Perhaps they've got it right too.

Six.Point.Circle is a band that's been around for several months now but I've only very recently managed to get my hands on a recording of one of their songs. Shades of Red is a good showcase for Bianca Caruana's lovely voice and Demis Fenech's agile guitar-work. It's good to hear both of them working outside the comfort zone MMI listeners will have heard them in before. The band provides interesting elements of progressive rock. In time their live work and more studio recordings will show whether this is an exploratory project or something that matures with time.

I've seen the name Bark Bark Disco around a few times this year. I never really knew what to make of it, mostly because I haven't managed to catch them play live during one of my visits to Malta this year. Then, out of the blue, comes a 12-track album entitled Your Mum Says Hello. It's a delightful blend of bedroom pop as you can hear on the track A Song for Lovers or by getting the free download for the whole thing. Morris Woodcock (a.k.a. Ian Schranz from the Beangrowers) obviously had a great time putting these songs together. Listen closely and you'll certainly agree.

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 or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tomorrow's Dream

Very recently I was asked about the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, more than once. Perhaps it's not inappropriate to air my position on this publicly, especially since I've never really done this before. There are very few children (i.e. under 15s) I'm particularly interested in hearing sing or watch perform. Shaheen Jafargholi is one recent notable exception, of course. While I think that it's never to early to start if you have talent or if you'd like to nurture one, I'm also particularly concerned that certain kids are pushed by their parents into this scene for one reason or another. I find this an uncomfortable position to create good music and in most cases the results are quite atrocious.

So, as you can see, I do have limits. To put it simply, brilliant child performers are very rare. Good ones are hard to come by too. A quick browse through seven years of Junior Eurovision Song Contest entries only confirms what I feel about child performers. I'm also aware that this will not necessarily go down well with young wannabes and/or their families. Still, calling a spade a spade is essential.

It's therefore unlikely that I'll be featuring child performers on my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast anytime soon. It's not a Eurovision thing, it's all about personal tastes in music. While I do play the odd track that doesn't really align with my own tastes, I never include anything I wouldn't want to hear more than once or not at all. I always try to balance my own taste with that of my listeners.

The 189th MMI podcast addresses three things listeners have asked for. The first two come right away in the form of two songs from Sasha & Sam. The last time I featured their music on my podcast, listeners reacted positively to them like they've hardly ever done with any other act. People in Malta can catch Sasha & Sam live on two separate gigs in the coming days. On Tuesday 24 November they will opening for Jesse Cook at the City Theatre in Valletta. Then on Friday 27 November they will be at the Black Pearl. They're also about to launch a CD album entitled The Space Within. From it I've selected two songs to open this week's podcast: My Life and Something to Say. The album will be nominated for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, which will open for voting via Facebook in the coming days.

I was quite amused to hear of the Female-fronted Extreme Music Festival (FEM), which is taking place this evening at the Sky Club in Paceville. FEM is a cool idea and if nothing else it shows that rock is no longer a boys' club in Malta. The bands appearing on the bill include Weeping Silence, Oblique Visions, The Imagery, Virginia Queens, Six.Point.Circle, Deluge of Sorrow, Sepia and Indigo. Most of these acts have appeared on previous edition of the MMI podcast. From this FEM line-up I've picked to play a track from Indigo, fronted by Marvic Lewis. Delve is a following track to the Struck album released a couple of years back. It's the sort of thing that gives both females and males great hope for an even better rock scene in Malta than the one that has clearly already developed in recent years.

For some people, electronica seems as far away as you can get from rock on the genre spectrum. Kurt Chircop is one of the more prolific exponents of this type of music in Malta. Recording as l urk, I look forward to including his music on the MMI series from time to time. This time he has really topped himself with a track entitled He Named His Cat "Leo". It also makes for a lovely little interlude in a MMI episode packed with wonderful tracks.

Freddie Portelli returns to the series to close up this week's podcast. The One and Only is one of two singles he released this year. He is currently finishing work on a new album of songs in Maltese to be released next February, when he's also scheduled to return to Australia for a number of shows for his numerous Maltese-Australian fans especially in Melbourne and Sydney. The current single sees him exploring Ska within his distinctive style, featuring his daughter Claudette as backing singer and a scorching guitar solo by Robert Longo.

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 or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009


Something pretty unusual happened this week but for some odd reason I can't really remember what it was. All I remember when it happened is thinking it would be good to include this on my blog. It seems silly to say this here but Twitter has made blogging about moments rather than significant ideas unnecessary Micro-blogging is a far better way to share moments than blogs are. Blogging remains for meaningful events and elaborate ideas...but "meaningful" and "elaborate" are obviously relative.

For me, and hopefully for most of the people who will read this, my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast embodies both a meaningful event and an elaborate idea. Yes, I may be overstating the importance of my podcasts, but I honestly receive far too many appreciative comments to believe that several listeners appreciate the MMI series for what it is.

The 188th podcast in the series features something I've rarely done in previous editions. Ally (that's Alison Ellul) is about to release her third single on Wednesday 18 November. A preview of I Remember is certainly in order, but so is an airing of her previous song Do You Miss Me?, which came to my attention mainly through its well-crafted music video. I'm nominating both tracks for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, soon to be launched for public voting over on Facebook.

Crimean rapper Dimal has managed build himself a respectable following in the Maltese pop scene. He is known generally as the Russian rapper and it's an image that suits him well. His most recent single feature the extraordinary vocal talents of Maddee Dargue who is establishing herself in Malta as a professional cocal and phonetics teacher after years of working in the recording industry in the UK. Her voice most certainly makes Dimal's song Nothing's Gonna Hurt Us worth hearing more than once.

Baz and Max Cilia established the UK-based folky band Spriggan Mist some time ago. I featured their music on previous editions of the MMI podcast and they now return, as a larger band, with a new recording from an album they're planning to release next year. The song is called Indigo Child and features Max's untainted voice front and centre. You will not easily forget this song, even if you're not particularly fond of this style of music.

Simply because deep contrast makes for an interesting series I never shy away from mixing genres, especially extremes from the edges of the spectrum. With a name like Loathe you certainly wouldn't expect another folky band to close this week's podcast would you? Loathe have been on the forefront of the hardcore Maltese metal scene for a number of years now. They are working releasing an album called Despondent By Design, which should be their 4th CD since 2003. They just come off a the Dark Design Tour with fellow metalheads Slab playing in various UK cities and appeared at Rookies with BNI last night for a Friday the 13th gig that undoubtedly went down well with local rockers. Their next gig will take place at Remedy on the 27th of November with Slit sharing the bill. This Resepect is an excellent sampler from the upcoming Loathe album and it's a very fitting way to bring this week's podcast to a close.

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 or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text. This podcast is brought to you by Vodafone.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Love's Dream

I'm in Hungary this weekend attending a conference on youth culture and new media in faith-driven communities under the InYgo banner. I was actually invited to give a keynote address at the start of the conference in Dobogokö yesterday and stayed on to follow the rest of the proceedings and sample what Budapest has to offer on a Saturday afternoon/evening. You can't really get the feel for a place in just one afternoon/evening of course, so perhaps I'll have to come back for some more Hungarian delights some other time. This is a country that has been indirectly ever-present in my life since 1994 for one reason or another.

Before coming to Hungary, I prepared this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast to ensure that I've included as much of the Maltese music released in 2009 as possible on the series before MMI listeners vote for their top picks of the year. This week's edition is packed with material that will be added to the list of nominations for the 2009 MMI Listener's Picks poll, which will go live on Facebook before the end of this month.

Nosnow/noalps recently played a live gig in Linz, Austria, with Red Electrick and Ira Losco. Since they apparently haven't made any new studio recordings since October 2007, they've released a fourth single from their Just Rock EP. Dance All Over You foregrounds Sarah Falzon on vocals making for a different sounding song from this band.

Daniel Cassar is the name of another member of nosnow/noalps, but he's not the one by that name who provides the second track on the 187th MMI podcast. This Daniel Cassar plays guitar with Cyanide and Soundscape Foundation. He has already appeared on a previous edition of the MMI podcast and today he returns with another guitar instrumental. This one's called In the Loop and to my ears is quite reminiscent of The Duritti Column sound produced by Vini Reilly.

Two new EPs released from the Maltese underground electronica scene provide the next two offerings on this week's podcast. The first come's from DJ Lord Vampirick's debut EP entitled Straight Shot To the Edge of the Universe. To commemorate the first 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing I've picked the oddly titled It Happened 1040.00 Year Ago. The other EP is the 39th offering from Pinkpube, so immediately after DLV's number you can hear the title track from Nothing Less From the West by Noize Duqt, which was officially released on the 22nd of October 2009.

From time to time, often quite frequently, my MySpace and Facebook pages are visited by Vince Bongailas who leaves me cryptic breadcrumbs about some new recording or other he's doing. Most recently he's been telling me about his upcoming new album and just a couple of days ago he posted a link to a new collaboration he did on a YouTube video. Recording under the name Ailas I particularly liked his song Kulħadd Għandu l-Art Tiegħu, which he recently released through his MySpace page. I'm not sure if this will be on his new album but I personally think this is one of his more interesting works...and it's the one I'm nominating for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll.

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 or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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