UNITED STATES: We Listen For You Teen Mom - I Wanna Go Out Washington DC trio Teen Mom are the type of band that act as a reminder that simple music can pack a punch. Staying away from flash or gimmicks, they focus on a splashy guitar, rattling bass and fast-paced drums to craft Mean Tom, one of the most infectious EPs of 2012.
ARGENTINA: Zonaindie Olga - Dolor De Nuevo Before you ask, Olga is not a solo artist but a band led by Roger Delahaye with Florencia Zavadivker and Luciano Lasca. Together they deliver electronic pop songs that near perfection, so it was hard to pick just one for MAP. Olor De Nuevo is our favorite from their new album, Gracias Tonales, which you can stream and buy from Bandcamp.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They? Sunk Junk - Jr If Sunk Junk represent the calibre of young bands coming out of Oz, no-one can justify not being able to find decent new music ever again. Sunk Junk have only released one home recorded EP, but it's definitely the most impressive thing we've heard all month. The elaborate percussion in Jr only feeds this assertion - weaving its labyrinthine way around intricate guitar lines and a hypnotic croon that could be easily mistaken for Jeff Buckley's ghost. A sprawling track which teeters on the stark side of melody and mania, Jr is definitely a marker of good things to come from this band.
AUSTRIA: Walzerkönig Clara Luzia - Morning Light Morning Light contains some of my favourite lyrics: "We held hands and cried until the morning light". Isn't the idea of sharing one's sadness with someone else just such a beautiful thought? After four successful records in Austria, singer-songwriter Clara Luzia recently released her international debut album The Range, a compilation of songs from her previous albums.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado Metá Metá - Man Feriman Ethno math-rock could be a way to try to explain the sound of Man Feriman, a song from the album MetaL MetaL from Paulistan project Metá Metá. Sung in Yoruba (a West African language), it has elements of African liturgical music, free jazz and alternative rock, with a three-verse lyric that is repeated over the song to create an experimental, dark mantra.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts Elephant Stone - Heavy Moon Montreal "Hindi rockers" Elephant Stone defy easy categorization. Echoes of The Stone Roses, The Kinks, Sloan and Big Star abound, but in the end the band crafts their own unique sound. Their sophomore self-titled LP is due early in 2013, but Elephant Stone have been teasing Canadian fans for the past few weeks with Heavy Moon.
CHILE: Super 45 Protistas - Granada In just a few years, Protistas has become one of the most active bands in the Chilean indie rock scene. They frequently perform in Santiago, with appearances on blogs' multimedia shows and local festivals (Primavera Fauna, Pulsar), along with tours across Chile and Argentina. They have released two albums and an EP since 2009. Their melodies combine the poignancy of Sebadoh with the urgent impact of Guided By Voices, in a style they've named "wild pop" - bittersweet songs with an explosive, intense guitar sound.
CHINA: Wooozy Rainbow Danger Club - The Gathering Of Fools As one of Shanghai's most talented new bands, Rainbow Danger Club has been wowing music fans since 2010. Their theatrical live shows, fantastical lyrics and lush arrangements have drawn comparisons to Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Hector Berlioz. Last month they released their new 12-track Into The Cellar EP.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo Lucrecia Dalt - Conversa Lucrecia Dalt's musical journey has taken her from the city of Pereira to Barcelona, Spain, where she currently lives. With guitar and drum machine she makes introspective music with many layers that stirs the imagination of the listener. She has traveled the road of independence and now with Conversa, from her 2012 album Commotus, she grabs our attention again.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian The Woken Trees - Orders I know December is supposed to be all about lights and happy times, but here's a MAP exclusive track and a band that is almost exactly the opposite. There are six of them, they call themselves The Woken Trees and they've recorded an awesomely bleak and hard-hitting post-punk debut album which is sure to make waves everywhere when released on January 28.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera Juango Dávalos - 6PM Juango Dávalos borrows his musical inspiration from the 80s, but the songs he composes are surprisingly fresh and modern. 6PM is part of his most recent album, Réplica, which is also available as a free download.
ECUADOR: Plan Arteria Swing Original Monks - Tucán Swing Original Monks broke into the musical scene in early 2010. The band offers a proposal that is both visual and aural, feminine and masculine, provocative and subtle. The inventiveness of these musicians extracts the essence of popular music with the picturesque landscapes and absurdities of our society. Swing Original Monks is not a fusion band, it's an infusion band.
ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog Swiss Lips - Carolyn Swiss Lips are a five-piece from Manchester who are more Delphic than Courteeners. Carolyn is part of the city's electronic history rather than its less illustrious trad-rock one. They use the fizzy electro-pop medium to express feelings of longing for better days. "Most of the songs we've written seem to be about looking back on being a teenager and that wide-eyed optimism about the world," they say, which might explain the giddy chorus to Carolyn - "Hey, hey, Carolyn, get into my car/Keep your feet up on the dashboard" - and its memory of illicit abandon.
FINLAND: Glue Murmansk - Mercury Helsinki band Murmansk play loud noise-rock built from powerful guitars and upfront bass and drum beats. Their songs are notable for their propensity for melody and the energetic performance of vocalist Laura Soininen. Mercury is part of the band's recently released third full-length album Rüütli.
FRANCE: Yet You're Fired Lescop - La Forêt Mathieu Lescop, singer for the rock band Asyl, recently started a solo project and released an eponymous album in October under the name Lescop. Heavily influenced by the French (Étienne Daho, Daniel Darc) and British (Joy Division, New Order) coldwave and new-wave, he achieved much success in France with his single La Forêt, and consequently is the most talked-about artist in the country.
GERMANY: Coltran Binoculers - Monsters Binoculers is an artist you might easily overlook, given the reserved attitude of Nadja Ruedebusch. But you would miss some of the most thoughtful folk music Germany can currently offer. This is the kind of thing you might like to hear on a foggy winter's day or a sparkling spring afternoon when you lay down in the grass for the first time that year. Binoculers' third album, There Is Not Enough Space In The Dark, has just been released.
GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda Manolis Aggelakis - Apoleipein o Theos Antonion Manolis Aggelakis' fourth album, O Anthropos Vomva ("The Bomb Man"), is yet another sensational landmark on his long, well-traveled path. Guitars, tightly tied drums, dirty electronic sounds and noises gently form otherworldly landscapes. Along with his distinctive voice and disarming performance, the lyrical themes portray an authentic troubadour recording signs of difficult times with a gloomy nostalgia for bygone eras. Apoleipein o Theos Antonion ("The God Abandons Antony") is a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy.
ICELAND: Rjóminn Pojke - Black Eye Sindri Már Sigfússon, singer and songwriter for bands such as Seabear and Sin Fang, has recently been exploring his electronic side through a side-project titled Pojke. So far he has released two songs as Pojke on his SoundCloud page which can be downloaded and remixed freely.
INDONESIA: Deathrockstar Funny Little Dream - Be With You This is the latest single from Funny Little Dream, aka Ganesh and Peppy, whose cute indie-pop songs have received a great response from fans around the world.
IRELAND: Harmless Noise Windings - This Is A Conversation A five-piece band from Limerick, Windings released This Is A Conversation as a single in September. Introduced with a clean guitar and racy keys, the light pop intentions go slightly awry when Steve Ryan starts belting out the vocals, repeating nine lines of lyrics in chorus-like bursts. There comes a mighty bass riff that lays down the heavy element, and a few light taps of cymbal domes mark time for the band to gather up and go all-out towards a hugely satisfying rock crescendo.
ITALY: Polaroid Life & Limb - Before The Flame And The Flood Andrea Mangia comes from Lecce; Mike McGuire comes from New York. They have both released solo albums on the prestigious German label Morr Music, which is how they met in 2006 and started collaborating. They are now releasing their self-titled third album, and it is gorgeous as always: uplifting electronic sounds full of lush synths, fat downtempo beats and ultrasweet melodies. If you like M83 or The Postal Service, you'll be carried away by Life & Limb.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies HNC - I Will Make You Sad HNC (short for Hazel Nuts Chocolate) has been in the Japanese music scene for more than a decade, originally operating as a hyperactive pop maker. Now, though, she is making music grounded in reality, shaped by actually living through the ups and downs of time. I Will Make You Sad is a sparse meditation on inevitable disappointment, HNC and her music sounding melancholy but all the while aware that she is the one who is going to let someone down.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta Claire Tonna - Age Of No Age Singer-songwriter Claire Tonna is known for her profound, exceptional voice and awe-inspiring performances. Tonna's innovative acoustic debut studio album The Port, which contains collaborations with acclaimed writer Maria Mar, gets its first international release in New Zealand this month.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika Verano Peligroso - Culpable Verano Peligroso (translated as "Dangerous Summer") is the boy-girl pet project of an omnivorous studio-rat and a gorgeous radio presenter for a Mexico City indie-rock station. They just released their debut EP on which Culpable stands as a naive call-and-response song that, in contrast to its twee-pop sound, tells a story about a crime of passion. This pair really spend their time in a peculiar way!
NETHERLANDS: Subbacultcha! Kleinindustrie - Repetition Kleinindustrie emerged from out of nowhere in 2010, wowing live audiences and winning two big music competitions in Utrecht, the band's hometown. After this sudden burst to the surface, the band shrouded itself in a veil of mystery. Although some said they emigrated to Norway to live off the prize money, 2011 turned out to be the quiet before the storm. Since February 2012, Kleinindustrie has released three EPs and toured all over the Netherlands. Repetition stems from their latest release, Hit It!, which meanders loosely between no-wave and straightforward noise-rock. With a relentless drummer, menacing singer and a bass player and guitarist in one, Kleinindustrie have created a huge sound that's naturally fit for repetition.
PERU: SoTB Sergio Cubas - Ruteando Ruteando is taken from Sergio Cubas' debut album Revolución Caliente. For this album, Sergio performs a mix of different musical styles such as dub, lounge, jazz and reggae linked to various Peruvian influences such as Afro-Peruvian music and Festejo. Revolución Caliente (listen on SoundCloud) features 11 songs that are an invitation to relax.
POLAND: Łukasz Kuśmierz Weblog Afro Kolektyw - Czasem Pada Śnieg w Styczniu (Zakazane Warzywo) Afro Kolektyw is one of Poland's most distinguished bands, with a music career spanning nearly 14 years, from organic hip hop, jazz and funk origins to electronic elements in more recent tunes. Although Afro Kolektyw have never been tied to only one style, their latest album, Piosenki Po Polsku, shocked listeners. With songwriting inspired by 80s Polish pop and sarcastic lyrics, this journey seems to be Afro's most risky and ambitious one yet.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco? A Jigsaw - Let It Snow! A Jigsaw, who were on the Music Alliance Pact in March 2012 with their fantastic song The Strangest Friend, have been kind enough to let us share their exquisite cover of the classic Let It Snow!, which was on a very limited edition benefit CD for a children's hospital in Coimbra. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to them and all of you.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie Alegría Rampante - Hotel Puercoespín When Puerto Rico's indie darlings Superaquello disbanded in 2011, they left behind four remarkable LPs and a disappointed fanbase not ready to miss them. A year later, fans can breathe easier thanks to vocalist, composer and dramatist Eduardo Alegría, who has emerged with a new musical project - Alegría Rampante. Eduardo and his group of skilled collaborators from the local indie scene have quietly built an arsenal of melodic earworms to be released over the next few months as the digital singles collection Se Nos Fue La Mano. Hotel Puercoespín is the second song from the cycle, an upbeat baroque pop-rocker full of Eduardo's trademark playful lyrics and sincere delivery. Alegría Rampante is Latin Alternative's best kept secret - but not for long, so get in first.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise Stonebox - Welcome To My World Stonebox are an alternative band from Bucharest with 90s rock influences, in particular grunge. Thanks to their mesmerizing live performances and energy they have played at the major festivals in Romania and gathered an impressive number of fans.
RUSSIA: Big Echo Astrocowboys - We Give Blood Using a Soviet LEL DR-8 drum machine, cheap synthesizer and jangly guitar, Astrocowboys from Saint Petersburg create their familiar, yet distinctive sound. Their deep, sweet-sounding lo-fi album Olympic has an unusual combination of influences from New Order-esque synthpop to old school hip hop and early electro.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop Three Blind Wolves - Parade Three Blind Wolves may be from Glasgow, but it's the American Deep South that resonates most emphatically in their music. They are a little bit country, a little bit hillbilly rock 'n' roll, yet their versatility means they're equally at home in indie and folk circles. Their new album Sing Hallelujah For The Old Machine comes out in April, with the coil-sprung standout track Parade released as a single in October (alongside this promo video), but here it is as an exclusive free download.
SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To... .gif - Diatribe .gif embodies the illusion of data passing off as real-life moving images by giving us an electronic amalgamation of observatory life with shades of melancholy, hope and resolution. While usually accompanied by ukulele, Weish finds the embrace of warm textures courtesy of Din, with synthesizers and beat arrangements assembling base emotions into the soul of a machine.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie Sasquatch - Mannequin Sasquatch emerged this year with a retro synth sound reminiscent of the very best of K-pop of the 80s and the 90s, bound to charm even those with no knowledge of Korean music prior to Gangnam Style. Debut album Utopia was released last month, with lead track Mannequin and its addictive harmonies and melody lines serving as the perfect introduction to the band.
SPAIN: Musikorner NITCH - Bon Dia, Capità NITCH are a three-piece rock/shoegaze act based in Barcelona. They started in 2007 and so far they have played in almost every (cool) venue in town and supported important underground local bands. Now it's their turn to be in the spotlight, and this month they played at the Primavera Club festival, Primavera Sound's little brother.
SWEDEN: Ja Ja Ja VED - Din Egen Spegelbild VED is a five-piece project from southern Sweden inspired by old film scores, obscure audio recordings, progressive rock and folk music. A collection of their experimental, epic creations was recently released through the ever-reliable label Adrian Recordings, and Din Egen Spegelbild (translated as "Your Own Reflection") is the latest track to be shared from VED's self-titled album.
SWITZERLAND: 78s Mama Rosin - Sorry Ti Monde The Cajun/folk/garage trio released their new album Bye Bye Bayou in October, which was produced by Jon Spencer from the legendary Blues Explosion. Cyril, Robin and Xavier from Mama Rosin are consistently entertaining on stage and entirely passionate about their art. Plus they are good at a party!
TURKEY: WEARTBEAT Meriva - Hepberaberyalnız Meriva formed with five close friends in 2007. They get their musical inspiration from people's struggle to win back their self-esteem and therefore reflect urban life complications in their alternative rock sound, which is often danceable and catchy. Meriva hope to progress their career with the release of their debut album in 2013.
VENEZUELA: Música y Más Planeador - Al Diablo Planeador returns to the Music Alliance Pact, this time with a track from Barcelona 10C, certainly one of the best albums released this year in Venezuela. Its deeper lyrics and more elaborate melodies reflect the musical maturity of the band.