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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Empire State of Mind

Between the horrific events in Haiti and the banal nonsense emanating from Malta, I find myself considering what may actually be in store for us in 2010. More precisely I'm also thinking what's ahead for me personally as a continue with my AHRC sabbatical, which at the very least will yield a book I've written on Franklin Furnace.

There was a time when I would have gone on to blog about these thoughts at length. For better or worse, my blog has clearly turned into a place to present the show notes for my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. I don't really mind this and I'm sure many of my blog readers wouldn't even have notice this if it wasn't for the fact that I tend to bring it up from time to time. Still, there are times when I wish I still was in the frame of mind to blog about more than my weekly podcast.

The 196th MMI podcast opens with the first music video released in the Maltese music scene for 2010. Harry is a song from Cable 35's EP Hygene. Their youthful energy is infections and if they keep this up I believe that they will strengthen their fan-base considerably this year. While I imagine they have aspirations to reach new followers outside the Maltese Islands, I would love to see them somehow embrace their national identity. That would give them the edge of difference that can make them stand out from the plethora of other guitar-driven bands like them.

One of the few Malta-related releases from 2009 that almost passed me by comes all the way from Switzerland. Marc Storace's old band Tea have released a compilation album of their best loved songs. Guilded Cage, originally off the band's third album Tax Exile from 1976, is possibly one of Marc's most heart-felt belters with an autobiographic bent. The 13 tracks on Reloaded show that this Swiss band should have done even better then they did in their day. In my opinion, the reason they're not better known is not because they weren't any good (quite the contrary, of course!) but because they didn't play up their difference in a rock scene where being different was greatly appreciated. Almost 35 years after they stopped recording and touring, this compilation will undoubtedly introduce them to new fans who will appreciate what was undoubtedly one of Europe's better rock bands in the seventies.

Speaking of Maltese connections to European bands makes me want to play something by Polish ska masters Skambomambo. Regular listeners of the MMI podcast will remember that Skambomambo's singer is Mario Cordina, who was first featured in a special edition in the series in 2007. The band is set to play several gigs around Poland in the coming weeks into February. As it happens I'm visiting Poland later on this year and I'll certainly be looking at their show dates while I'm there. It would be wonderful to see them live, not only because they sound like a fun band to watch but also seeing Mario sing live would certainly be an opportunity I wouldn't want to pass up.

Foreign acts play in Malta from time to time and one such gig is coming up at the MITP in Valletta on Saturday 6 February 2010. It features British singer Adem with new local band Stalko supporting. Sylvan Borg is set to open the show with a new acoustic set. He has just recorded a new song entitled Soft as Stone to promote his first gig for the year. I happen to like his songs, possibly for the same reason that drives radio stations to stay away from them: they sound quite different from anything else on the airwaves these days.

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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