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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 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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