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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Shout to the Top

Happy New Year! Let's hope it's a good one.

Now that the brief Christmas break is over, the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast returns with a special edition featuring music from the 2009 Listeners' Picks poll. Here are the entries voted as the listeners' top picks from the poll we conducted on Facebook throughout the month of December 2009. This year, the poll was facilitated by Kenneth J. Vella.

2009 Top Album:
The Rifffs - Moonstomp

Maltese music fans have been waiting for more than 25 years. It's truly a case of better late than never. Pity it had to come out the same year as the fabulous Stejjer tal-Bandli (tal-Mosta) by No Bling Show, which was the absolute runner-up in this category this year.

2009 Top Single: (tied)
The Rifffs - Champagne Charlie's Ghost
Relikc - Mindwreck

Releasing another single from the Moonstomp album in 2009, The Rifffs managed to land a draw at the top place for this category, along with newcomers Relikc. While the old masters are clearly at the top of their game, the little youngs are obviously highly in tune with the new generation.

2009 Internet Release:
Relikc - Tomorrow

It's quite fitting that this band should grab this category for themselves. Danjeli's Kolla was a close second and could have possibly won if we had been given more than an unofficial release on Facebook by the winner of the 2007 Top Album in the MMI Listeners' Picks poll.

2009 Overseas-based Release: (tied)
Joe Mizzi - Age of Decay [Album]
Airstrip One - Into the Silence [Online release]

Although there were no best selling acts in this category during 2009, I am please to see that Joe Mizzi's most recent album has managed to grab the top place. It is surely remarkable that Airstrip One retain their place at the top of this category for the second year running, even though they must share the title with Joe Mizzi this time around.

2009 Top EP:
Chasing Pandora - Running in Circles

Chasing Pandora more than deserve the top spot in this category this year. Airport Impressions managed to attract a very respectable number of votes as runners-up with their EP Seeing With Eyes Closed. In the end, the beloved Gozitan duo managed to outshine every other EP released in Malta in 2009 by a factor of at least two to every one vote awarded to the other nominees in the same category.

2009 Top Video:
No Bling Show - Lucija u Samwel

The same luck that befell No Bling Show in the Top Album category has fallen on Carrie Haber in this one. Her video for Me Oh My! would most certainly have garnered the largest number of votes (in all categories and not just this!) if it wasn't for No Bling Show's exception short film for Lucija u Samwel. As it is, NBS have clearly raise the bar higher than it has ever been for the local music scene.

There's also an enhanced version of this podcast...coming soon.

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, December 05, 2009

Time To Pretend

December brings with it a bunch of annual occurrences that mark the end of the year. The first of these is the Maltese song festival organized annually by the YTC known as L-Għanja tal-Poplu. A couple of music awards events follow it within just a few days. Meanwhile two of the three public holidays the Maltese enjoy during this month roll around and clearly it's time to share season's greetings.

Last week I was interviewed about the Malta Music Awards by Marlene Galea from SBS Radio in Australia. She actually broadcast my comments over two days. Throughout all this, Kenneth J. Vella was rebuilding the Facebook app that enables Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast listeners to vote for their top picks from 2009. Almost 100 people have already voted in the first few days that the app has been active on Facebook. We're expecting several hundred to vote over the coming weeks; voting is open until the end of the year. The top 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks will be announced during the first podcast for 2010.

So the 191st MMI podcast attempts to capture all this, or at least some of it, since my podcasts tend to become even more eclectic in December. I've wanted to include something by The Areola Treat this year but it's only now that I've managed to come around to it. This is possibly because the band has been too busy touring and gigging to record any new material. So from the debut EP, released last year, I've picked 16, which is more than fit for purpose.

There are a number of performers whose work has been nominated for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, who have released more material than what has ended up on the list receiving your votes. Two such acts are featured next in this week's podcast.

The Myth are nominated in the singles category for Dream and in the music videos category with Animal. Their most recent release is called Thank You and I've selected to included it as the second track on this week's podcast. Similarly, Stefanos is nominated for his guitar instrumentals released online via MySpace. A few weeks ago he sent me an acoustic track called Tears in My Heart and I must admit that I prefer this sound over his electric tracks, and it serves as a very appropriate segue for the songs from L-Għanja tal-Poplu I've picked to play during the rest of this week's podcast.

Antonio Olivari D'Emanuele and Justin Galea have teamed up on a song called Attent, which placed third in this year's YTC song contest. They are both regular listeners of the MMI podcast, so I take great pleasure in not only congratulating them but also in playing their song. I haven't received my copy of the CD album with all this year's songs yet, nor are they freely available online, but I have managed to acquire the winning song in time to include it as the closing track of this week's podcast. The 2009 Għanja tal-Poplu was won by Corazon Mizzi and Walter Micallef, whose duet is called Tal-Aħħar. Maltese songs like this give great hope to the use of our mother tongue in years to come.

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 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, September 26, 2009

Haven’t Met You Yet

I seem to be involved in more new web development projects than I actually have time for right now. Thankfully, some of the people I'm collaborating with know what they're doing, so I have good reasons to believe that it'll all start coming together very soon. This is not to say that I'm not (always!) looking for new collaborators. Quite the opposite, actually.

One of these web development projects involves the Mużika Mod Ieħor poll Facebook app developed by James Attard in 2007. We're now looking to migrate the app to a more permanent server, update it to take advantage of the recent changes in the Facebook API, and look at ways to make it an overall better experience for the Facebook users who choose to install it. If you're interested in getting involved on this app with us just contact me.

Meanwhile I've just released the preliminary list of nominations for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll. I'll be considering further releases until the last week of November. Please let me know if there's anything you think should be on that list but isn't there.

The 181st Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast sees newcomers Droned return to the playlist with a song called Love To Let. This young band sounds very tight and to my ears they have an incredible asset in the voice of singer Tommy Vassallo. Even if this band morphs into something else in the coming months - and I hope not! - Tommy will hopefully be around performing as a singer for many years to come.

A few days ago I received a copy of the second CD album released by guitarist Demis. The follow-up to 2007's Ethereal Travel is called Senspiration: From The Senses to The Soul. I've already nominated it in the Top Album category for the 2009 MMI Listener's Picks' poll. This new album is packed with more of the guitar pyrotechnics found on Demis' debut album. Among the flood of semiquavers and demisemiquavers I was delighted to find a song called Alien, featuring guest singer Carrie Haber. That's the track I've selected to include on this week's podcast. I'm now also looking forward to hearing Six.Point.Circle, the band that Demis is now playing with aside from his guitar solo project.

Listening to Marlene Galea's excellent interview with No Bling Show's Jon Mallia last week I realized that a small, but very significant, number of Maltese musicians are bringing the language issue to the fore after years decades festering beneath the surface. In what appears like an effort to democratize their playlist Bay Radio has unleashed an online music repository called Bay Bands. It is through this new online service that I discovered an outstanding song called Jien M'Jien Xej by a duo called M.A.M. Guitarist Miguel Vassallo is heard distinctively on this track, but unfortunately I know very little about M.A.M. because the Bay Bands service doesn't seem to be doing much more than offering musicians (and anyone else) the opportunity to upload material they'd like to hear on the radio but probably never will.

In the fifteen year that they've been around, Rage Against Society have never cared about such things, even if they've regaled us with one of the best loved Maltese punk songs outside the Xtruppaw canon, notoriously championed by the author Ġuzé Stagno. R.A.S. have now released a CD album called 15 Years of Kaos, containing some of the best English-language songs. Punk Is Not A Fashion sounds like a Motorhead tribute but packs a great punch in its lyrics. Given Ray il-Baħri's involvement in various other bands, I'm glad to see that R.A.S. are also gigging quite regularly. They're appearing at Rookies tonight and at Remedy on the 24th of October.

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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Friday, September 25, 2009

So Far, So Good...So What!

I've compiled a list of alternative music from Maltese recording artists released so far in 2009. This is the fourth year that I'll be polling my blog readers and Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast listeners towards establishing the top favourite releases of the year.

The number of new releases is already slightly larger than it has been in any year since 2006, even if, as ever, I have a feeling my list is not complete. Please let me know if you think there are any additional titles I should add to this list before starting the voting via Facebook. The list is not meant to be fully comprehensive - I am selective - but I would like to include as many titles as possible at this stage, so please don't hesitate to contact me if you think I've missed out on your favourite 2009 release. I'm also aware that there are some more releases still to come over the next few weeks. I'll be releasing a final list before the voting starts in late November.

Here's the list so far, with respective categories in square brackets:

  • 8 Ugly - Goodbye [ Single ]
  • Aaron Benjamin - On My Mind [ Single ]
  • Abysmal Torment - Omnicide [ Album ]
  • Airport Impressions - Seeing With Eyes Closed [ EP ]
  • Airstrip One - The Ghost [ Overseas ]
  • Andrew Zammit - When All Is Gone [ Online ]
  • anti- - Tufts [ Album ]
  • Antonio Olivari - Dark Ages [ Album ]
  • Billy Lee - Don't Give Your Heart Away [ Online ]
  • Black Aura - Heavy Breathing [ Video ]
  • Bletchley Park - Fake Smiles [ Online ]
  • Brian Vassallo - In the End [ Video ]
  • Cable 35 - Hygene [ EP ]
  • Cable 35 - Mary [ Video ]
  • Carra - album? [ Overseas ]
  • Carrie Haber - It's Complex [ EP ]
  • Chiara - What If We [ Single ]
  • Chris Enriquez - Closest Thing To Love (Because of You) [ Single ]
  • Christabelle - Flame [ Single ]
  • Claudia Faniello - Wild Flower [ Video ]
  • Clement - 909 Invasion [ Online ]
  • Colourblind - Spectre [ Album ]
  • Corrupted Minds - Why Be Normal [ Online ]
  • Cygna - Kuintaar [ Online ]
  • Daniel Cassar - Around the Day in 80 Worlds [ Online ]
  • Danjeli - Kolla [ Online ]
  • Denny Falzon - This Dance is Forever [ Overseas ]
  • Demis - Senspiration [ Album ]
  • Dolls for Idols - Through the City at Night [ Online ]
  • Doubt - Floating Free [ Online ]
  • Droned - Sky Mines [ Single ]
  • Effetti Kollaterali - 33 RPM [ Online ]
  • Elyk Elymur - Dismantle and Destory [ Album ]
  • Ethnamorte - Shades of Beauty & Madness / Belt is-Seħer [ Overseas]
  • Eve Ransom - Soundtrack To A Smile [ Single ]
  • Explicit - Shame [ Single ]
  • Fire - Thrill Me [ Album ]
  • Forsaken - After the Fall [ Album ]
  • Fraser Gregory - A Garden At The Top Of The Tree [ Overseas ]
  • Freddie Portelli - Tonight [ Single ]
  • Hadrian Mansueto - Catch You [ Video ]
  • Ira Losco - Mixed Beats (The Remix Album) [ Album ]
  • Item - Give Up The Ghost [ Online ]
  • Jean Claude Vancell - Ain't Good Enough [ Single ]
  • Joe Mizzi - Age of Decay [ Overseas ]
  • Jon Lukas Woodenman - Better Man [ Overseas ]
  • Julie Ann Zahra - No One in Heaven [ Single ]
  • Kartridge - Wild Crazy Nights [ Single ]
  • Knockturn Alley - Medusa [ Album ]
  • Krafteknique - Thousand Needles [ Online ]
  • Lappalie - Sydneymoon [ Overseas ]
  • Laura Zarb Cousin - You Bruise Me [ Single ]
  • l urk - didj [ Online ]
  • Lyndsay Pace - Addicted [ Single ]
  • Macropode - Convergence [ Online ]
  • Manwel T - Virtual Dub [ Album ]
  • Manwel T Meets Mind's Eye Dub - At the Temple of Dub [ Album ]
  • Marilyn Mifsud - Where My Head's Been [ Single ]
  • Mark Axiaq - Sleeplessness [ Overseas ]
  • MC Frans - Funky Frans [ Video ]
  • Melchior Sultana - Recognize the Real [ Album ]
  • Milk Mi - Disappear [ Single ]
  • Miriam Christine - Alone Today [ Video ]
  • Muxu - Drop It (Say No No No) [ Single ]
  • Muxu - Gone [ Video ]
  • No Bling Show - Stejjer Mill-Bandli (tal-Mosta) [ Album ]
  • No Bling Show - Lucija u Samwel [ Video ]
  • NV - Envy [ Album ]
  • NV - Reason for Denying [ Single ]
  • Oliver Degabriele's Trio - Asteroid 612 [ Online ]
  • Original Cast Recording - Porn: The Musical [ Album ]
  • Pamela - Whispers [ Album ]
  • Paul Giordimaina - A Letter to Bernie [ Album ]
  • Pete Molinari - "Today, Tomorrow & Forever" [ Overseas ]
  • Plato's Dream Machine - Journey Man [ Single ]
  • ReBorn - Chew My Plasticine [ Online ]
  • Red Electrick - Black 8 / 10 Years Too Late [ Single ]
  • Relikc - Tomorrow [ Online ]
  • Renee Cassar - Live and Learn [ Overseas ]
  • Renee Cassar - Dreary Day [ Video ]
  • Retrophytes - Retrophytes [ EP ]
  • Richard Edward - Basking in Baghdad [ Single ]
  • Salt - Star [ Single ]
  • Sasha and Sam - Lullaby for Two / Nina [ Online ]
  • She2s - Bubblegum [ Video ]
  • Simon Vella - Unspoken: Sounds from Within [ Album ]
  • Skimmed - Your Head Is Too Big For Your Crown [ EP ]
  • Skullcakes - Dive [ EP ]
  • Sonitus - Asphixetamol [ Online ]
  • Stefanos - Little Thoughts / Zero Plus [ Online ]
  • Stimulus Timbre - Flowing in Your Mind [ Online ]
  • SunSatION - Disappear [ Online ]
  • Soundscape Foundation - Savannah [ Online ]
  • Sylvan Borg - Mouse by Day (Hero by Night) [ Single ]
  • Synthact - Aer [ EP ]
  • The Does - My Better Side [ Single ]
  • The Myth - Dream [ Single ]
  • The Myth - Animal [ Video ]
  • The Rifffs - Moonstomp [ Album ]
  • The Rifffs - Champagne Charlie's Ghost [ Single ]
  • Thea Saliba - On the Dancefloor [ Single ]
  • "Thomas Hedley," - In Ecstacy [ Single ]
  • Thy Legion - Sadism Through Holy Intervention [ Online ]
  • TokinToker - Elevator to the Moon [ Online ]
  • Tom Caruana - Rebel Withou Applause [ Overseas ]
  • Totema - Till I Die [ Online ]
  • Tribali - The Elephants of Lanka [ Album ]
  • Twenty-Six Other-Worlds - Incubus [ Online ]
  • U-Bahn - Beautiful Girl [ Single ]
  • Uncharted - Blame Me [ Single ]
  • Various Artists - Malta Eurosong 2009 [ Album ]
  • Various Artists - Malta Hit Song Contest 2009 [ Album ]
  • Various Artists - Tumult and Squak [ Album ]
  • Victims of Creation - Chapter 22 [ Online ]
  • Victor Chetcuti - Together Free [ Overseas ]
  • Victoria Osbourne - Filling Days [ Online ]
  • Wayne Micallef - Open Road [ Single ]
  • X-Vandals - Breach the Silence [ Album ]

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    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Stuck On You has been offline for the last couple of days because the hosting company forgot to move the files that make up this website during server migration. Other websites I own or manage where involved in this server migration but they seem to be working fine. Now that you're reading this, the situation has been restored.

    I'm in the process of switching the whole site to WordPress. I had already started exploring this before the mess-up with the hosting company. I'm seriously tempted to switch hosting companies, but I've been with this one for more than a decade so I'm used to their ups and downs. Truth be told, I can't imagine any hosting company can offer a much better service than the one I have; even if some of the things that bug me get ironed out I have a feeling that I would have to deal with others. There's a second hosting company I've worked with the last couple of years, so what I'm saying here is based on long practical experience of these things.

    Anyway, it seems that hosting services, WordPress, and website structures are going to dominate my summer. I'm about to attend WordCamp in Cardiff next weekend to immerse myself into the WordPress community, which is incredibly strong and empowering. I'm hoping that it's also very supportive of people like me. I'll let you know how it goes by this time next week, when I should be right in the middle of it all.

    Next week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast will somehow related to this year's Malta Jazz Festival, taking place 16-18 July. This week's MMI podcast, which is the 170th in the series, should appeal greatly to rock fans. The Maltese metal scene has evolved interestingly in the last couple of decades and I'm very pleased to note that the genre has developed in such a way that it is no longer the default mode for guitar bands.

    To warm up our ears to take in this week's selections, I've picked a track from an American CD called Vicious Country by Poppa Chubby and his wife Galea. I was very impressed to see huge posters for Poppa Chubby in Moscow on my recent visit to that city. Bad housewife Galea has been featured on the MMI series a couple of other times, highlighting her Maltese ancestry. Their version of Gene Vincent's Race With the Devil is an excellent updating of this rockabilly classic.

    Facebook users may have seen a post of my wall by Cedric Debono a few days ago announcing a new recording by metal band Item. Give Up The Ghost has the trio performing in top form. If you'd like to see them live, you can catch them along with Knockturn Alley on Friday 17 July at the Liquid Club in Tal-Ballal. Item started recording material for a new album last month and I'm sure their fans in Malta and beyond will be looking forward to this release.

    X-Vandals is yet another Maltese metal band that released an album about three or four weeks ago. I haven't heard the rest of the album (because I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy yet) but from the couple of tracks I've heard on their MySpace page, it's safe to say that Breach the Silence has these veteran rockers at the top of their game. Uprising plays up their activist side and it's an essential part of what endears them to their loyal fans. Thy Legion supported X-Vandals during their 13 June album launch, so I thought it would be most appropriate to close this week's podcast by playing their most recent recording, which is called Sadism Through Holy Intervention.

    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, April 25, 2009

    Beyond Here Lies Nothin’

    Twitter has taken over as my social networking utility of choice. Facebook has been reduced to an alternative email/messaging system and a must-visit for playing Knighthood. MySpace is still alive and essential source for new music. This blog has now entered its 6th year of existence. And that's the current state of things with me and Web 2.0, as we used to call it.

    The weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is part of this personal mediascape I've carved out for myself. This week I've even attempted to do something that I don't remember ever doing before: I've somehow managed to squeeze 6 tracks by 6 different acts in the 159th MMI podcast without making it longer than the usual approximate time of 20 minutes.

    As I was preparing the music for the podcast I received an email announcing the release of an album called Manwel T Meets Mind's Eye Dub at the Temple of Dub from the newly establish net-label Dubkey Records. The whole album is available as a free download from Dubkey's website, which was established to spread free roots reggae & dub music. Manwel Tabone and David Magro have appeared in several previous editions of the MMI podcast with some of the tracks that appear on this first Dubkey album, but I've selected Back To My Dub (MANWEL T mix two) because it's a very pleasant way to open up the show.

    Dolls for Idols is a new band surfacing from the Maltese islands. Their debut tracks are well produced and augur for a stellar rise on the local scene. They gigging too, of course, but apparently not extensively enough. Any club owners or event organizers reading this should really check out this band because they sound as good as any other I've heard within their genre in Malta in recent years. The track I've picked for my podcast is called Through the City at Night.

    Another new album comes from one of Malta's best underground electronica producers. Melchior Sultana's latest release published by the Cold Busted label is called Recognize the Real. He doesn't keep his personal website updated but at least there are several recent updates on his MySpace page. From the 18 tracks on this new CD I've selected Mel's collaboration with guitarist Jonathan Ellul entitled Man Flight Passion. Sultana's music is quite broad-ranging and I look forward to his releases. So you can be sure I'll be playing something else from this Maltese musician in an upcoming edition of the MMI podcast. I'll probably also play another track by Jonathan, from his own unrelated (i.e. without Melchior) tracks on MySpace.

    A couple of podcasts ago I introduced you to a Maltese guitarist who seems to split his time between Sydney and Oslo. Mark Axiak is also involved in a duo called Lappalie with singer Milena. I promised I'd come back to this material, so I've picked a haunting song called Sydneymoon to keep my promise. The wealth of Malta-related material of MySpace is simply staggering.

    Brussels-based Kurt Buttigieg is a well known name in the Maltese blogosphere. In fact, he was one of its pioneers under the pseudonym Gybexi. I met him in person when I visited Brussels a couple of years ago and never expected to come across the work he sonic work he has recently published under the name Skullcakes. I must admit that I love the sort of aural explorations that Skullcakes presents through the related MySpace page. You can also hear the track called Neon Wolf Amongst Them as the fifth selection on this week's podcast.

    The last song that I managed to include in this week's podcast comes from Laura Zarb Cousin. This teenage singer told me in an email she wrote me a few days ago that she has just collaborated with composer-producer Toby on a song called You Bruise Me. Laura has a good voice for the type of genre she has picked and it appears that Toby has managed to play up her best qualities too. Laura has a personal page on Facebook but no MySpace presence I could find. Toby hasn't included this song on his own MySpace page, so I feel safe in saying that htis may very well be either a preview of a soon-to-be-released single or just another one of those best kept secrets the Maltese music scene coughs up from time to time. I guess only time can really tell.

    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, March 14, 2009

    It's Alright

    I'm still thinking about whether MySpace has lost the allure it greatly enjoyed over the last couple of years. Following last week's initial thoughts, this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast addresses this issue directly. I'm now asking my podcast listeners, blog readers, and MySpace users at large to chime in with your point of view on all this. To put things into a broader perspective, this comes along the eye-watering rise of Facebook, and the resurgence of Twitter as an alternative social networking utility.

    To open the 155th MMI podcast I chose to dip back to Pinkpube's first release for 2009: Tumult & Squawk. There are several good tracks in this compilation album and this time I've picked Hadrian Mansueto's Un Run. If you'd like to sample what the Maltese electronica scene has to offer you should really download Tumult & Squawk from the Pinkpube website; it's a free download.

    In trawling MySpace for new material to play on my weekly podcast, I discovered that Mario Sammut's page has disappeared from that network. I haven't contacted him to ask why, yet. Perhaps this is because through the relaunched Earth Garden website, I discovered that he is still quite active. The new Earth Garden site has a soundtrack provided by Mario Sammut and you can also hear it as the second selection on week's podcast.

    I'm not sure that MySpace has lost it's original popularity. I say this because I continue to discover new Maltese acts (or musicians with a strong Malta connection) through it quite regularly. The remaining tracks on this week's podcast are precisely examples of this sort of thing.

    Macropode and Clement are two electronica names that I had never seen before this year. Macropode's style is quite minimalist and experimental while Clement tends to be quite industrial and hardcore techno. The tracks I've selected are called Convengence and 909 Invasion respectively. On a purely geeky note I'd like to point out that Clement's tracks look like a stunning spirograph creation as wave files in the Audacity GUI, which I use to produce all my podcasts.

    To bring the 155th MMI podcast to a close I've picked a track called Mersychippi Blues by a defunct Liverpool duo called Mekon Delta. They have performed in Malta, at the Plum Tree Pub in Qawra and you hear (and see) part of that gig on their MySpace page. Ron Cheevers has been living in Malta for the last couple of years or so. When I contacted him recently to ask about his connection with Malta, he told me that moved there after years of cherishing his father's WWII stories. You can probably still catch him at one of his solo gigs in Qawra. If you want to make his day, just ask him to play you some delta blues.

    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, January 03, 2009


    Happy New Year! Let's hope it's a good one.

    Life has already reminded us how cruel it can be: I was very sad indeed to hear of Charles Camilleri's passing at the age of 77 today. Mro Camilleri's death was announced after I had already finished producing the 145th edition of my Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. So I will produce a separate (non-MMI) podcast within the next couple of days to mark his passing. Charles was very kind to me over the decades that we knew each other, and he will always have a special place in my mind as the first person I ever interviewed on the radio at the very start of my broadcasting career almost 25 years ago.

    The Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast returns after a two-week break over the Christmas period. This week's edition features music from the 2008 Listeners' Picks poll, which we carried out on Facebook over the last five or six weeks. 574 people cast their votes on the 2008 poll. This is more than double the number of people who voted the previous year.

    55% of all voters cast their preference in the Top Album category. Ira Losco's Fortune teller received 18.5% of these votes but, as expected, Brikkuni's Kuntrabanda! was selected as the the Top Album for 2008, with 21.3% of the votes in this category. The track I've selected from Kuntrabanda! is the band's excellent version of Danjeli's Iż-Żufjett, which comes across as one of the most amazing Maltese songs ever written.

    Thea Saliba's popularity as the singer for Malta's entry at to the 2005 Junior Eurovision Song Contest helped her achieve a considerable number of votes in the 2008 Top Single category. 58% of all voters cast their preference for Top Single and Thea's Musilicious received 13.5% of these 333 votes. However, popular Christian rock band Salt managed to garner 15.9% of the preferences in this category with Jars of Clay. My personal preference was for The Rifffs Magic of the Sun, but I believe that Salt's Jars of Clay is a very worthy winner of the MMI 2008 Top Single accolade.

    Claudio Baglioni's version of L-Aħħar Bidwi f'Wied il-Għasel attracted 24.7% of the 198 votes cast in the Malta-related Overseas Release category. However, British band Airstrip One (whose Andrew Hill qualifies them in this category through his Maltese parentage) received 30.3% of the votes in this category for their EP Into the Silence. From this EP I've selected Crashing Cars, which is a much heavier offering from this band than most of their other songs. I have a feeling that Andy Hill will be making a splash on the Maltese alternative scene this year.

    291 votes were submitted in the Top Online Release category. Ezzy's Puzzle People is clearly the most supported selection here with 21% of the votes. Still, for the first 3 or 4 weeks, Synthax & Chemicals looked like they could be the winners in this category with their online release Next to Hell. In the end, they only managed to secure 14.1% of all the preferences in this category.

    I'd like to give an honourable mention to the outstanding Gozitan duo Chasing Pandora. I have a feeling that if rather than two EPs they had released an album during 2008 or just one EP they would be among the listeners' top picks. Two and Wide Eyed Beauty together received 23.8% of the overall votes, which is 2.5% more than Brikkuni's album. They clearly have a much deserved group of fans who adore them. The video for their song Memories (from the EP Two) received 3 more votes than The Beangrowers' Not In A Million Lovers, but 4 less than the 60 to Wax's Thoughts. Wax also won the 2008 Virtual Rockstar contest by Malta's XFM. I hope that the following and success they've built over the last year or so propels them into greater things in 2009.

    Back to the 2008 Top EP category, it looked like Baz and Max Cilia (as Spriggan Mist) were set to clinch this title for their Konditions of Change. They ran a vigorous campaign for votes on Facebook but in the end Just Rock by nosnow/noalps gathered 24.6% of the 321 votes in this category. Their song Headset -- which incidentally has a great video to go with it -- brings the podcast to a close. In parting, I should also mention that nosnow/noalps managed to attract the largest number of votes out of all this year's nominations, with 13.6% of the 574 total voters behind them...just 0.4% ahead of Chasing Pandora.

    There's also an enhanced version of this podcast. [coming soon!]

    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, December 06, 2008

    Speak My Language

    It has been quite a week. It is indeed quite appropriate that this was also the week that Scarborough experienced the worse snow storm in all the years I've lived here. Meanwhile, the 2008 MMI Listeners' Picks poll (on Facebook) has already attracted about 250 music lovers within the first seven days. Voting remains open until the 3rd of January, when I'll be featuring the top vote recipients in a special edition of the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast.

    This week's edition of my weekly podcast includes three songs from this year's Għanja tal-Poplu, which took place at the Phoenecia Ballroom last Saturday. Before playing any of these songs, I wanted to share the Maltese-Australian sound of Miss Mary. I came across her page on MySpace just a few days ago and became intrigued by both the sound and the lack of detailed information about Mary. In any case, Up in the Clouds provides an excellent opening for this week's podcast.

    Brikkuni are the winners of the 2008 Għanja tal-Poplu. Their song L-Uffiċċju is not on their recently released Kuntrabanda CD, so some of their (slighly less ardent) fans will not have had an opportunity to hear it yet since L-Għanja tal-Poplu does enjoy the same level of (over)exposure as some other song contests. Drummer Michael Galea informs me that the band will be re-recording this song "properly" and releasing that as a single of sorts very soon. Until then they're currently at the top of the 2008 MMI Listerners' Picks in the album category, where Kuntrabanda has been neck and neck with Ira Losco's Accident Prone throughout most of this past week.

    I've been wanting to include one of Walter Micallef's songs on my podcast since day one. For some odd reason I never got around to it. So I'm overjoyed to finally include his music on this week's podcast. Bix-Xemx Warajja landed him in second place at this year's L-Għanja tal-Poplu. It shows Walter in top form, after about thirty years of participation in this annual song contest organized by the YTC.

    Last year's winner of L-Għanja tal-Poplu was awarded for 'best interpretation' this year. Aside from the song that won her this accolade, Corazon Mizzi has also collaborated with Antonio Olivari at this year's contest and I've decided to include their song Se Ngħaddi 'l Hawn on my podcast. There are several other songs worth a listen from the same contest and perhaps I'll play some of them in future editions of Mużika Mod Ieħor.

    To close up this week's podcast I've included a rough recording of a song called On the Other Side by newcomers The Freuds. I have no qualms with including low-fi recordings like this on my podcast when they give listeners a glimpse of what can come later from the same musicians. All ends being equal, we'll be hearing from The Freuds again in 2009, unless they take their band name too literally.

    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 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, August 16, 2008


    I've just set up a fan page for my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast on Facebook. Within the first twenty four hours, about fifty Facebook users have added the page to their profile. The main goal for this new Facebook page is to serve as an easy way to communicate with all my podcast listeners who are also Facebook users. This is not to say that all the listeners are on Facebook, but I have a feeling that only the very few are not or will not be. This is the second time that the podcast is using Facebook. The first time was late last year when we designed a Facebook app for the 2007 Listeners' Picks. It looks like we'll soon be thinking about the 2008 app and the new fan page should make it much simpler to let people know that they can vote. Better still, I'm also planning to collect nominations on the fan page too. More about that in the coming weeks.

    So on to the 127th edition of the MMI podcast. From time to time I feature music by non-Maltese musicians who are performing in the Maltese islands. This week it's Vanessa & the O's who are appearing along with the Beangrowers at the MITP as part of this year's Evenings on Campus. The gig is on Saturday the 23rd of August. If I were in Malta this summer, this is one show I'd most definitely go see and I'd probably be sitting next to Ġużé Stagno because this is the sort of music he's really into.

    Airstrip One should be hitting the Malta too sometime sooner or later. They have a strong connection with Malta through the fact that singer Andrew Hill is half Maltese. They're about to release an album and from it you can hear the song Circles on this week's podcast.

    Speaking of new albums, I've heard (if that's the right word) that Access To have released an album. I looked for info about it on their website, but the domain is simply parked and there's next to nothing on their MySpace page. In any case, I've decided to play Something About You, which may or may not be on the album. If anyone knows (and that goes for any of the band members too, of course) please let me know. I'd gladly play (another) track from the album if I ever manage to get my hands on it.

    In keeping with the celebration I started last week in honour of Pinkpube's 3rd birthday/anniversary, this week's MMI podcast ends with music from the durable record label's catalog. One of the first four EPs they released on their initial launch on 23 August 2005 included one by the elusive X-18. The track I've selected is called Lynsday. I'll most probably continue with the nod to Pinkpube one more week; after all the birthday/anniversary is not until 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. 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, February 16, 2008

    Chasing Pavements

    Apparently Malta is gripped by the political campaigns ahead of next month's general elections. Whatever the eventual outcome I'm not entirely sure there will be a better or a worse off Malta than we've seen in recent years. I'm most amused by the great fuss over relatively so little. Living abroad over the past 3 Maltese general elections has given me a very different perspective on things than what I would have if I had stayed there.

    Oddly enough, I'm flying to Malta on the eve of election day. Many will interpret this as as move towards exercising my right to vote, even though I haven't lived in Malta full-time since 1994. As it happens, I had made my travel plans before the election date was announced, so I can't even say I'm taking advantage of the cheap(er) Air Malta flights for election trips.

    The official purpose of my visit will be to continue my participation in the Erasmus programme and deliver a number of lectures and workshops at the University of Malta. I'm also looking forward to seeing my parents again, of course. I'll certainly spend some quality time with friends (old and new) but most of all I'm very keen to take in as many gigs and unique cultural events as I can in the few days that I'm there.

    Meanwhile, aside from my academic activities, I continue to present my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. I plan to bring the two closer together in the coming months. Mike Bugeja interviewed me about all this a few days ago for an upcoming feature in The Times of Malta. More about that later, as things develop.

    This week it's podcast number 102. It opens with a new song from Uncharted called Another Day. This is their follow-up to last year's debut Song for you. Uncharted is one of the few Maltese bands I know of that has a Facebook profile. There's nothing sensational about that but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

    Through Facebook I also became aware of Airport Impressions, a new acoustic guitar duo comprising Errol Sammut from Stone Joker and Johann Schembri. They've released a couple of songs on MySpace and you can hear Wake Up as the second track on this week's podcast. Johann has also been seen playing with Bernard Bonnici in recent years. Bernard, who is better known as Ben, has released some tracks on his own through his MySpace page. In Memory Of is the one I've chosen to play.

    Starting today, Saturday 16th February, the weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast will also be aired on SydneyOne Radio every Saturday at 4pm, Sydney time. This is the second radio station that has opted to syndicate my MMI podcast. Central FM a Maltese community radio station broadcasting from Attard, picked up the podcast in January last year. Central FM renounced its FM frequency last month and is now only available as a live webcast. By contrast, SydneyOne Radio doesn't even have a website.

    To mark the presence of Mużika Mod Ieħor on the Australian airwaves, I thought it would be appropriate to feature an Australian band with a Maltese connection. The John Smith Quintet is based in Melbourne. There's no John Smith in this band, which is actually a quartet. The Maltese connection comes in the form of drummer Melchior Borg, who I met via MySpace a few days ago. You can hear the funky rock sounds of this band on a track called Gone. An excellent title for the final song selection until 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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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    Saturday, February 09, 2008

    Piece of Me

    Anyone following my Facebook page in recent weeks knows that I've just undergone a colonoscopy at Whitby Hospital. This my third such intervention since 1994 and things have never been as bad as the first time. I'd even go as far as saying that I'm now better than I've ever been. I'm very touched by all the kind words and wishes of good health I've received over the last few weeks. I'm also very grateful to the NHS staff in Whitby who took care of my procedure.

    I've now almost fully recovered from the whole thing. To prove it, I've even gone ahead with producing the 101st podcast in my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor series today. I'm not pushing it. I'm really not. So much so that I'm also giving a lecture to our third year Digital Media students on Monday morning.

    Anyway, the purpose of this blog entry is to tie-in with the 101st MMI podcast. This week it's business as usual with three brand new tracks, one new comer act and an interesting connection between two previously unrelated performers.

    Dominoes is a new trio on the Maltese music scene. They seem to have appeared out of nowhere with their debut song Love Maze, grooves in a T-Rex kinda way. They're now gearing up to appear as one of the supporting acts at the upcoming 22 February launch of the nosnow/noalps EP. More from them all in the coming weeks and months, no doubt.

    Now that we're in the second month of the new year I'm no longer surprised to see new recordings being released on a fairly regular basis. Eve Ransom give us their new song entitled Just the Way I Am, and it's a grungy tune in an early 1990s kinda way.

    If you're looking for a sound like no other look no further than Sky of Yuggoth. This long running project from Joseph Mercieca, the same performer who gave us the trippy sounds of MJ.5, has reemerged with a new release called Three Seals of Masshu. Music doesn't get much darker than this without the lyrical grace of a Leonard Cohen or some sludgy blood-drinking metal monster.

    By contrast, this week's closing track comes from Russian singer Julia Kay who qualifies for an appearance on Mużika Mod Ieħor by virtue of her marital status to the man behind the previous track on podcast number 101. The song I've selected to play comes from the band she used to sing with before she moved to Malta. Luxeterna is the name of the band and the song is called Angel Teardrops. Next time you'll hear the name Julia Kay in relation to music in Malta it will either be as a Eurovision contender or in some delicious electro-gothic combo...and remember, you read about it here first.

    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, January 19, 2008

    That's How People Grow Up

    The balancing act of working on regular tasks and spending time on Facebook (which was the subject of a troubling article in The Guardian a few days ago) is something that I'm sure I share with many of my blog readers. I'd like to think that Facebook is not a distraction from everyday life but an integral part of whatever it is that I do from day to day. Taking my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast as an example of this, I can now clearly see/say that Facebook is an essential part of letting people know that the podcast is available, while keeping in touch with people who have all sorts of contributions to make to the series.

    This week's podcast is number 98 in the series, which means that in a couple of weeks time we'll be celebrating the 100th edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor. Since next week's podcast will feature my pick of music from the 2008 Malta Song for Europe festival, I wanted to pack as much new music as possible into this week's podcast because we won't really have a regular edition for another three weeks.

    Dimension-Al has launched his 2008 activities with a remix for the band The Secret Meeting for their track Into the Future. Aldo Lombardi has clearly established himself as a force to be reckoned with and I have a feeling we'll be hearing from him again this year on my weekly series. The same goes for Ivan Filletti who will hopefully release his long awaited second album. A few months ago he released a single that I've been meaning to play on my podcast for sometime. I Keep Standing shows Filletti has what it takes to follow-up on Somedays, his debut album from 2005.

    From time to time I look for music websites other than MySpace for new Maltese music. One of these sources is One of the acts I found on is called LeftPlay, but the two songs they have on this site seem to go back a couple of years, so I'm not sure if they're still active. In any case, they sound quite good and the track I've selected to play is called Breathe. All I know about the people in LeftPlay is that they're called Andie and Daniela, but I'd really like to know more. Please contact me if you can help me out with this.

    The final two tracks on this week's podcast come from two newcomers on the local music scene. The first of these is Charlie, a teenage British-Maltese Pop/R&B singer who is looking for a musical future in the UK. Judging from Crazy Life and some other things she has been up to recently I have a strong feeling that we'll be hearing more from her in the coming months and years.

    Rhythmic Havoc is the other new act on this week's podcast. This interesting Hip-Hop combo has its roots in extreme metal. I'm not particularly crazy about the vocals on their tracks, but the music and the production are very good indeed. I'd love to hear them do a song with a guest vocalist (and there are quite a few of them in Malta) because I'm sure that their production skills will be appreciated even more.

    I'm now off to consider this year's Malta Song for Europe. I must admit that on first listen I'm not too thrilled about this year's offerings. I most definitely don't see a Eurovision winner in any of them...but stranger things have happened on that scene in recent years, so I'm not willing to make any grand statements just yet. More in next week's podcast, of course.

    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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    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Saving My Face

    The Mużika Mod Ieħor 2007 Listeners' Picks poll is open for your votes. In the first couple of days since we launched it, it has already attracted a good number of people. Although I'll be very pleased if we get over 200 people voting on this poll, I'm secretly hoping that we can come close to the seemingly impossible 1000 unique user mark.

    James Attard has developed an exclusive application for Facebook to ensure that voting is done in a way that's much more fair and visible than what we had last year in the first attempt at holding this annual poll. Any compliments about the technical aspects and how well this Facebook app works should go directly to James. I take full responsibility for anything else...especially the titles included (or not) on the lists in each category. The final results, of course, are up to you and the other MMI podcast listeners. So please make sure to invite all your Facebook friends to vote too.

    It gives me great satisfaction to say that the MMI 2007 poll does not involve some convoluted jury nor is there any money making scheme from SMS voting. Taking full advantage of the power of the Internet we've placed the emphasis on the people who really matter to any musician: the listeners, or, to call them by their proper name, the fans. If you're a Facebook user you can vote. That's it. No gimmicks, no scams.

    There are five categories this year. 'Online Music Videos' joins 'Albums', 'Singles + EPS', 'Internet Releases', and the 'Maltese Based Overseas' categories. James has also provided links for each of the video as they currently appear on YouTube.

    The total number of titles nominated this year is 112, with 26 albums, 22 online releases, 19 overseas-based, 13 videos, and 32 singles/EPs. Nominations were gathered between September 14 and November 26, based mostly on tracks played on my weekly podcasts. However, I have also included several recommendations by my podcast listeners.

    Have you voted yet?

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    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    In A Moment

    Starting on Monday, listeners of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast will be able to vote for their top picks from the 2007 Maltese music releases. This year, the voting will take place on Facebook. White Crimson bassist James Attard has developed an exclusive Facebook application for the MMI 2007 poll. Voting through Facebook enables us to take into consideration a technical issue that bothered us last year, with regards to controlling multiple votes from the same person/s. This year it's one vote per category for every registered Facebook user. This should minimize, if not eliminate, unfair multiple voting.

    The 92nd podcast in the MMI series opens with another track from Jewls Verse's album Taking It Easy. This time I've selected Fallen Angel, which is truly a highlight on this collection by Lino Busuttil, aka Ozzylino. I've already featured two tracks from this album on the series and it is indeed one of the best 2007 CD releases from Malta. Whether my listeners agree or not is still to be seen as the voting progresses.

    I'm pleased to report that Mystic Diversions have released a new album. I'm particularly interested in this Italian band since the Aidan Zammit here is the same Aidan Zammit Lupi that many who follow the Maltese music scene know and love so well. The new album is called Wave a Little Light. From this album you can hear one of Aidan's compositions on this week's podcast; it is entitled Soledad Sensual. Naturally, this album is nominated on the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks in the Overseas-based Maltese musicians category.

    I don't always manage to get copies of all the CDs released in Malta. Many musicians and singers are kind enough to send me a copy of their releases though the postal service. I'm very grateful to them. One new CD I'd really like to get my hands on is Niki Gravino's new album The Politics of Doublebeds, due to be released at the end of this month. I heard a track from it on his MySpace page, but for this week's podcast I chose to play Fingers one of the three tracks on his 2004 EP Vitamins & Eye Cream. The new album is nominated for the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, even though I haven't heard it. That's a rare occurrence but there are some things we know are worthy, no matter what. Franco Tartaglia plays guitar in Niki Gravino's band, and as Tartaglia is already nominated on the 2007 MMI poll for his tracks on MySpace there's surely no harm in having him indirectly nominated again for Gravino's album.

    Looking into 2008 there are several new album releases in the pipeline. One of them comes from a band called Colourblind. This band has been around for about 10 years but the upcoming album is their first full-length CD. Any band that sticks together for so long is worth a listen, and you can do this through Paper Planes 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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    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    From the Morning

    My weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is a personal time piece and calendar. It marks the weekend for me. It also marks the time of the year, especially towards the last few months of the year when I start preparing a list of nominations for the Listeners' Picks. The list is almost finalized and it will be released within the next week or two.

    This week's podcast in the 91st in the series. It opens with Song for You from new band Uncharted. The recording captures some of the raw qualities this band undoubtedly exhibits during their gigs. Apparently it was recorded by former band member Cyprian Cassar, who was recently featured on MMI within his DJ duo Tanishia and their Everything But the Girl remix. Incidentally, there's also a YouTube video to go with this debut release from Uncharted.

    The rest of the acts that I've picked for this week's podcast have already appeared on previous editions in this series. The first is Brian James who recently released an EP on the Belgian label Aesthetik Records entitled Micromekanik. From it I've picked a track called Flambe in Paradise and the EP goes onto the list of nominations for the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks.

    The next track is from The Vagabond Project, Gavin Borg's current incarnation, which first appeared on the MMI series just a few months ago. What merits a reappearance so soon is the fact that Shine is now available as a download for pay on Facebook. To my knowledge, this is the first Maltese download you can buy through Facebook. If there are others, especially predating this one, please let me know. Otherwise, take this as one for the Maltese record books thanks to Gavin.

    MySpace continues to be the main source for new music on the MMI podcast series. A few days ago I was very pleased to receive a friend request for a new page from Hagen Ebejer, whose work I had previously included on MMI. He appears to be in the process of releasing a new collection of ambient tracks under the title Endless Stories. There's nothing official from Pinkpube about this yet, so I'm not sure whether it'll be a Pinkpube release. In any case, as MySpace tracks they're still eligible for a Listeners' Picks nomination. As so it shall be.

    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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    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    You Can Make Me Dance, Sing, Or Anything

    Something I found out about today made me want to post a quick blog entry to mention it along with something else I should have blogged about a few days ago. I was amazed to read today about the fact that Maltese Foreign Minister Michael Frendo participated in a joint virtual press conference in Second Life, together with the Foreign Ministers of the UK and the Maldives. I wonder if Minister Frendo is a Second Life user beyond this PR stunt intiated by the Maldivians at the Maldives Virtual Embassy on Diplomacy Island in Second Life. Now that's certainly something that should feature on one of the various Maltese politics-related blogs that have surfaced recently, in light of the upcoming general elections. I am particularly surprised I've read nothing about it on The Malta Chronicle, yet. Second Life? What's that?

    The other thing was just to bring online (as a PDF) something I wrote for a magazine that's not available online. My article Facebook Value (10 things about Facebook) appeared on last Sunday's edition of FM, the magazine that comes with one of the Maltese English language Sunday papers. As an article it's not that special, but what I'm pleased about is how many people have been in touch with me about it and/or joined Facebook after reading it. Have a look at it and please feel free to either leave your comments below or get in touch with me on Facebook.

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    Saturday, July 28, 2007

    Hold On

    I've finally managed to find the time to blog a couple of times during the past week about things that are not directly related to my weekly podcast. Oddly enough this summer I don't think I'll be giving my weekly podcast a break, like I did last year, but things could change over the coming week. So this blog entry will simply cherish the fact that we can enjoy the 76th edition of the Mużika Mod Ieħor series.

    One band I've been looking forward to include on my podcast for quite a while is The Areola Treat. I missed a gig they gave at Naasha's during my last visit to Malta but at least they're finally offering us some of their recordings on their MySpace page. The one I've selected to open the podcast with is a called Disco Party. From these recordings I get the feeling that The Areola Treat is a joyful live band, so I look forward to the next opportunity for catching one of their shows.

    Facebook is one Web 2.0 community I never thought I'd warm up to as much as I have. It's very different from MySpace but I'm glad to see some music related activity on this social network. jon lukas and I exchanged messages this week and he is offering a song called Mysty as a free download through his Facebook page. Collaborating with his son Ashley as WOODENMAN, Jon was among the very first Maltese people to explore the power of the internet as new way to handle music distribution.

    Operating on a different circle, David Magro is another early Maltese adopter of the internet as a music distribution network. You probably know him as Mind's Eye Dub. Reggae DJ turned remixer Manwel Tabone alerted me to MED's new release in an Instant Message this week. The track is called Trod On Dub and it's always a pleasure to include new material from MED on the podcast.

    Through my expeditions on YouTube I discovered that Malta's XFM is collaborating on a new talent contest with The Alley called Virtual Rock Star. I'm not sure why they've selected this name for this contest because I haven't been able to find much information on the Web about it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that every band or singer has sent in a video for the contest, which XFM has uploaded to YouTube. In any case, I've chosen to feature two of these acts on this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor.

    The first is called ReActor and their song is called Dismissed. Apparently this band has been around for a couple of years but I've only ever heard of them this month. Aside from their video on YouTube they have a MySpace page, which includes a brief history of the band and some details about the current line-up. The other band is called Cynic Pictures. They contacted me via my MySpace page and that prompted me to include their song Aim High as the closing selection for this week's podcast. More than anything else I find the song title most titillating as this was the motto of St Elizabeth Primary School in Sliema, which I attended in the early 1970s.

    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.

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    Friday, July 27, 2007


    I've been playing about on the Simpsonize Me website. There's also a Simpsons avatar maker on the official Simpsons' movie website. Here's what I've come up with so far. Apparently, this is what I'd look like if I were to appear in The Simpsons.

    I'm now also using a slightly modified close-up of my 2-D Simpsonized avatar on my Facebook and MySpace profiles.

    In case you haven't noticed, summer's here...and so is The Simpsons Movie.

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