UNITED STATES: We Listen For You KO - Golden Gal KO is the brainchild of Indianapolis singer/guitarist Kristin Newborn. She made a splash in early 2011 as frontwoman on the lone, underappreciated LP from indie-pop outfit Slothpop. Golden Gal finds her working within KO's minimalist, two-piece framework, adding depth through layers of vocal loops. Newborn's vocal prowess has earned her opportunities alongside professional symphonies, but the singular intimacy of KO proves equally intoxicating.
ARGENTINA: Zonaindie Onda Vaga - Tataralí Since their inception in 2008, Onda Vaga have avoided the steps that independent artists usually take in order to be a part of the music industry. It was a wise call. Thanks to word of mouth from a public that follows them whenever they perform, this folk-rock band have become a huge success, both locally and internationally (they made quite an impression at last year's Fuji Rock Festival in Japan). Tataralí is the first single from their recently released third album, Magma Elemental.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They? La Mancha Negra - Belango Twist It's easy to imagine that Belango Twist might have been found inside a dusty shoebox containing a mix of rhythm and blues cassettes somewhere in the Deep South. Surprisingly that's far from the case. Sydney swamp-rockers La Mancha Negra (which loosely translates from Spanish to "The Black Stain") recently delivered their second album. Packed with blues ooze and reverberated hollers, Belango Twist is a tune that's ideal for cruising... and smashing out a few letterboxes on the way.
AUSTRIA: Walzerkönig Robotra - Morninglight 2 Don't let the noisy, distorted lo-fi shell of Robotra songs trick you. This three-piece band from Graz and their pop melodies will catch your attention and make you want to sing along immediately. Morninglight 2 is taken from their full-length debut Tinker, which was mixed and mastered by Wolfgang Möstl (Mile Me Deaf, Sex Jams, Killed By 9V Batteries).
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado Marcelo Jeneci - De Graça In Marcelo Jeneci's new psychedelic/pop-influenced album, the single De Graça is one of the weirdest and greatest songs. Strong influences of the earliest works of Caetano Veloso and Arnaldo Antunes (with whom Jeneci still plays keyboard) can be easily heard, as well as Jeneci's talent for making catchy melodies that create the kind of feeling when everything is just fine and you don't worry about anything.
CANADA: Quick Before It Melts The Dirty Nil - Nicotine The Dirty Nil want to be your dealer, and Nicotine is their gateway drug of choice. Their brand of rock and roll knows no fear, takes no prisoners and shows no mercy. They're brash, they're crass and they're gonna make you love them or die trying.
CHILE: Super 45 Fármacos - Despegarte De Mí Among the new breed of bands helping to renew the Chilean music scene, Fármacos stand out just as much for the many nuances of their sound - in which nods to electronica and pop are present - as their innate ability to create dramatic melodies that are hard to get out of your head. Despegarte De Mí is taken from their 2013 debut album Los Días Más Largos, released through Beast Discos.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian The Liquid - Hang On, To You. Stop! A lauded and prize-winning poet, Nicolaj Stochholm chose poetry over punk back in the 1980s. In 2002 he again acquired a guitar, in 2010 he formed The Liquid, and on November 27 the trio debuts with the great post-punk album Atlas Interplan. It opens with Hang On, To You. Stop!, coming to you here as a MAP exclusive download.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera Charles Lavaigne - The Endless Traveller Song What happens when a folk singer makes a merengue song? The answer can be heard on The Endless Traveller Song, extracted from Charles Lavaigne's latest album The Birdfish. Amidst all the psychedelia and freak folk, this fun, melodious tune stands because it reaffirms Charles' Dominican roots, often lost in translation and his own peculiar identity. Dance off, then hear the rest of the album if you're into crazy musical rides.
ECUADOR: Plan Arteria Mundos - Gorriones The joining of two leading voices of two important local bands (Mamá Vudú and Can Can) gives life to this project that combines music and illustration. Mundos is the epicenter of talented musicians who bring their creativity and imagination into an album of 12 songs. Núcleos Activos Imaginarios is a good example of the evolution of Ecuadorian independent music, with Gorriones closing the album in a sublime way.
ESTONIA: Rada7.ee Kali Briis - Wolfman Kali Briis released new album Say Whaat? this month via the Eesti Pops label. From soul, funk and hip hop to blues, electro and pop, this 24-year-old producer feels comfortable in a wide range of genres and masters his instruments, all recorded in his own home. His 2012 album The Moon Ghost can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp.
FINLAND: Glue Ritual Smoker - Wars (single edit) Guided by blasting bass lines and rock-solid drumming, Helsinki-based band Ritual Smoker experiment with abrasive soundscapes of hypnotic effect. Wars is included in the band's debut album Not To Dominate, But To Serve, out this month.
FRANCE: Yet You're Fired Belle Arché Lou - Lumières Du Littoral Belle Arché Lou is one of those bands that surprises you while digging through vinyl crates in a record store. An unknown but pretty name, an almost poetic feel running through your body while staring at the artwork, and the assurance that this record can be nothing but great. A three-man band hailing from Paris and Geneva, Belle Arché Lou write almost orchestral pieces with unusual instruments: a vibraphone, chimes and a glockenspiel, paired most of the time with an acoustic guitar. Their songs are gorgeous, delicate, happiness-inducing instrumentals.
GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda Michalis Moschoutis - ActI Primarily concerned with contrast, Michalis Moschoutis creates works that lie on the fringes of several genres: heavy processing and live electronics; restrained, unadorned improvisation that brings out the inherent primitivism and ritualism of music; cathartic dark metal; the plainness and intimacy of 16th-17th century lute works; and the subtle fluctuations of minimal drone music. His latest single was recorded inside old churches. Listen to the repetitive yet haunting acoustic melody of ActI and sink away into a dreamy cloud of harmonic beauty.
INDONESIA: Deathrockstar Tamankota - Cerita Pagi Hari Ini Tamankota (which means "City Park") is a band from Bandung influenced by the British indie-pop scenes of the 80s and 90s. Cerita Pagi Hari Ini ("Story From This Morning") is filled with raw sunshine power.
IRELAND: Harmless Noise Crayonsmith - Chrysalis Chrysalis was released with a video ahead of Crayonsmith's new album Milk Teeth and the title was a hint at the changes in sound. Previously a solo artist working with synths, samples and guitar, Crayonsmith are now a three-piece band. Simple in construction, it's pinned to a driving, purposeful rhythm, as Ciaran Smith's vocal beseeches the listener with endearing fragility. The pattern of melody that colours the wings as this track pulls itself free and beats away is mesmerising; light yet pensive, its transformative powers hint at the unfolding darkness still to come.
ITALY: Polaroid Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! - Golden Age A gigantic electric shock: this is the music of Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! on their second album Forever Young. Fast songs, loud noises, dramatic melodies. You could easily point out names like Sonic Youth or Wavves or Male Bonding or No Age. It doesn't matter. It's the sound of electricity that becomes art and poetry. Read the titles in the playlist: Forever Young, Golden Age, Whirlwind Weekend, Fearless Youth, Rage... this is all we need right now.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies Boe Oakner - Cherenkov In a very short amount of time, Nagano-based Boe Oakner has been making great strides in her musical development. The 17-year-old started this year making lovely instrumentals and now she is working her voice into her songs as well. Cherenkov is an ennui-tinged waltz, featuring kitchen-sink percussion, pretty bell chimes and natural sounds like a rainstorm.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika Aarón Bautista - Iguana Aarón Bautista has enjoyed a long career as a musician in some important bands from Mexico City's underground scene. Now he's going his own way with a solo project. His album doesn't sound very similar to stuff we are used to hearing from Mexico City nowadays. Or maybe it does, but in a very twisted and personal way. The record has a precious, yet punk, attitude, filled with psychedelia, gloomy folk and beautiful production. It almost sounds like something to sing along to while feeling drunk and declining in the middle of whatever scene you might find sophisticated.
PERU: SoTB Piettro - Confesiones Arequipa is a small town in southern Peru, a place where fate strove to unite Gabriel Alvarez, Saul Piettro and Juan Arce, friends who then became Piettro. Their style is a coalescence of trova and crossover rock, and with each of their songs they want to convey a message of love, peace and respect. Piettro is preparing its first album to be released as soon as possible.
POLAND: Łukasz Kuśmierz Weblog XXANAXX - Got U Under XXANAXX is a good example of how to bring together ambitious tunes and not-so-far-away-from-mainstream recognition. Although the band only formed in 2012, this year they have supported Austra and Hurts and played the Selector Festival, amassing a large number of fans in the process. No matter how you describe their music - nu beats or future chillout - one thing is certain, Got U Under is one of the greatest Polish tracks of 2013.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco? The Glockenwise - Leeches One of the coolest new Portuguese rock bands, The Glockenwise released their second album in May, which has the same name as this month's track (check out this fun video for it). They won't disappoint those looking for energy and lots of jumping around, and you can tell they have listened to the fathers of this sound, from The Stooges to the Ramones.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie AJ Dávila y Terror Amor - Ohhh (No Te Encantes) Puerto Rico's best-known garage-rock export Dávila 666 called it quits last year after touring the world in support of their second full-length. Founding member AJ Dávila spent little time mourning the band, instead focusing on his solo debut. The project's guest list quickly ballooned to Supernatural-era Santana levels, and Terror Amor became a who's who of Latin American indie-pop. The album, out in January on Nacional Records, will include collaborations with Mexico's Juan Cirerol and Chile's Alex Anwandter among many others. Ohhh (No Te Encantes) features one of Puerto Rico's most beloved singers and fellow MAP alumni Fofé Abreu on backing vocals, as well as Mexico's Jinmy Vitte (of Los Negretes fame) on acoustic guitar.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise Tony Baboon - Pinecones River Tony Baboon is a tropical one man pop band, with jazz and trip hop influences. The music is made up of a diverse spectrum of carefully thought-out sounds and word combinations that deal with themes such as nature, animals, plants, philosophy, surrealism and utopia.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop Call To Mind - A Family Sketch Call To Mind are based in Glasgow but originally from Ardersier, a former fishing village near Inverness with a population of barely 1,000. The influence of the group's upbringing is keenly felt in their music - song titles are sprinkled with Highland reference points, while their lush, smartly-crafted ambient pop paints truly idyllic imagery. At their majestic best, such as A Family Sketch, they give French darlings M83 a run for their money when it comes to atmospheric euphoria. Debut album The Winter Is White is due out in early 2014 through Olive Grove Records.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie Vassline - Overture To Recomposition Vassline has been one of the finest acts in Korea's hardcore scene since it started. Six years after their third full-length, the band finally returned with Black Silence. It was well worth the wait, showing everyone that Vassline is still at the very top. The instrumental piece Overture To Recomposition features MAP alumni Jambinai with their unique use of traditional Korean instruments in part 1, before Vassline bring out the heavy guns in part 2.
SPAIN: Musikorner Astro One Deep - Sinapsis Astro One Deep is a young Galician, now resident in Barcelona. Taking in influences from hip hop and electronic music, he has spent a long time shut away in his bedroom preparing new offerings. Like the emotions he portrays, his style is dynamic and varied; it draws on multiple genres such as funk, jazz, urban and electronica.