Listen Up: Bashar Murad Recommends

It’s been nearly a month since Hatari and Bashar Murad brought Klefi/Samed screaming into the daylight. To celebrate the record hitting the streaming services (although I implore you not to forget that the very striking video exists) I thought it would be nice to explore a little bit more music from Palestine, with the help of Bashar himself. But first, stream Klefi/Samed…

Some dudes. Some desert. A flag.

Bashar originally posted the following songs in his instastories, and like some sort of weirdo, I started collecting them in a Spotify playlist. Then, I asked Bashar if he minded me turning them into this post, which he didn’t. Now let’s have the music…

Ghazall – Ashkara

Ghazall come from Nazareth and in the video for Ashkara they’re combining two of my favourite things: prog synths and slightly taking the piss. It is a wind-the-car-window-down song, and you can enjoy the confused stars of the passers by as they wonder who you are and why you are so cool? Autotranslate has failed me on the lyrics – is it about luck? [instagram facebook soundcloud]

DAM – Share’ 20

I’ve been enjoying DAM for a bit now – they’re heavily featured on Spotify’s Palestine Sounds playlist and I thought that they’d be a good addition to my playlist of political electronic music. Bashar recommended Share’ 20, which evokes images of cigarettes and coffee on the titular street, but I also really like Jasadik-Hom which has really powerful lead vocals from Maysa Daw who is spitting uncompromising fire on the subject of owning her body under the dual struggles of occupation and misogyny. [website facebook]

Moody Kablawi – Mali Mal

The ‘only trip hop artist in Palestine’ brings us Mali Mal (Got No Money), whose vibe I appreciated greatly. And THEN, I found out that the song is accompanied by this really interesting video which attempts to show us what the world looks like to Moody because of his nystagmus eye condition. Moody is from Haifa, but says he also owes his sound to Bristol and Berlin. [facebook soundcloud]

ELCONTAINER – Container

ELCONTAINER are a METAL band, you guys. Don’t let the chill bluesy vibe of the first 50 seconds of Container fool you. I am almost getting NWOBHM vibes from their heavy but not ostentatious guitar work, but then there’s also a bit of ska in there? Confusing but highly enjoyable, like the best things in life. If you liked that, try Badaleh. [facebook soundcloud]

Rasha Nahas – The Clown

Theatrical and fabulous, Rasha is like a red velvet curtain with razor-blade tassels. There’s cabaret, there’s poetry, there’s wild rock vibes, there’s violins and there’s a dangerous twinkle in her eye. She comes from Haifa, and now lives and works in Berlin. This video is EXTRAORDINARY, by the way.

If you enjoyed this, I’ve embedded my Spotify playlist here. It’s also got a Bashar song on it.

World Cup 2019: Group F

And we’re back through the groups again. Maybe there’ll be another loop through before the knockout stages, maybe?

Chile: Paz Court – Pajarillo Negro

The first lady of Chilean jazzpop has gone epic! There’s a quite nice video which for some reason we’re not allowed to embed. The song builds from gentle acoustic intro to a martial conclusion, and there’s plenty more where that came from. Her previous album, Veranito de San Juan is an adorable retro-sonic evocation of summer.

Sweden: Kårp – Kuiper Belt

Let’s be honest, when am I not going to pass on a recommendation for some chilly Swedish female-fronted electro indie which has cosmic lyrical themes? Kårp are from Gothenburg and judging from the first album released in April, are well worth keeping an eye on.

Thailand: coconut cream – ทุกๆวันเวลาที่เราเคยมี (pass the time)

This is lovely! Thai indie folk that reminds me of Vashti Bunyan. Cinematic melodies and a very chill vibe. Support them by buying the EPs on Bandcamp.

USA: Sunn O))) and Hildur Guðnadóttir – Between Sleipnir’s Breaths

Even if you’ve not actually listened to them, you might be ambiently aware of Sunn O))) because of their punctuation abuse and general critical acclaim. You’re probably also at least ambiently aware of the hit TV drama Chernobyl. Hildur Guðnadóttir composed the soundtrack for Chernobyl, and worked with the O))) (as no-one calls them) on their most recent album Life Metal. Iceland aren’t playing in the World Cup this summer, but here I am cramming some Icelandic action in with Seattle’s finest and doomiest. Enjoy.

World Cup 2019: Group E

It’s the weekend and several teams have already made it through to the knockout stages. Who will join them? We’ll have to play some football to find out. First though, let’s have some music.

Cameroon: Reniss – On Dit Quoi

Reniss is FANTASTIC. I especially love her cheekily fun videos, mixing glamorous popstar tropes with domestic scenes, and generous dollops of tongue in cheek camp. If you like this, you’ll love her 2016 absolute BANGER, Dans La Sauce, which will make you access your twerk reflex even if you don’t think you’ve got one.

Canada: Mariel Buckley – Casting Stones

Mariel Buckley has a fantastic blues voice with rich texture and tone, and she makes very intense country music. I don’t always know where I am with country, I’ve never gone full Nashville, but this has a worn down late-night dive bar ambience that is very appealing.

The Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – Arcade

Look. I’ve got to confess that it’s not always easy to research songs for Listen Outside. There are a few countries that pose particular problems, and for whatever reason, I find it hard to find music from the Netherlands that I’m specifically interested in recommending. The stuff I think is in Dutch almost always turns out to be in Flemish and therefore Belgian. So please, accept this in lieu of a proper recommendation.

Arcade handily won the Eurovision Song Contest this year. While I think it’s a very high quality song, it just never made my heartbeat faster. What I love though is when people do deeply disrespectful arms-aloft dance remixes of Eurovision ballads (like this amazing 1944 remix). This is an absolute classic of the genre. I love it.

New Zealand: Miss Pou – Ka Taka Te Po

This should probably officially be Aotearoa, and perhaps at some point in the future it will be? Miss Pou makes acoustic music in te reo Māori that has a deep, stately beauty. She also has this proverb on her bandcamp page:

‘Ahakoa He Iti, He Pounamu’ 

‘Even though it is small, it is precious.’ 

World Cup 2019: Group D

Things get interesting here. Can both my home nations qualify out of this group? Time can only tell.

Argentina: Telescopios – Hypers Haters

Nouveau yacht-rock about sworn enemies becoming friends from the very chill Argentine trio Telescopios. They’re playing at Lollapalooza Argentina this summer – I didn’t even know it was an international francise now.

England: Madonnatron – Goodnight Little Empire

Normally I try to get to UK bands *before* they’ve had airplay on 6Music, but Lauren Laverne played this song on the radio in the time between me selecting it and me writing this post. They’re committed to the glam, esoteric weirdness and that is something I will always recommend.

Japan: Billie Idle –
僕らまだちっぽけな頃の話 (BokePoke)

First off, the band name made me absolutely howl. Then I saw that they had a Youtube channel where they were apparently satirising the backstage videos that idol bands make. Then I found out that some of the gals in the band are actually former idol band members and that Billie Idle has definitely idol band like characteristics. Now I’m not so sure where the idol/idle line is drawn, but I’m having tremendous fun with it all.

Scotland: Slime City – Dial Up Internet Is The Purest Internet

It’s 6pm! It’s only a penny a minute to get online now. Prepare the ritual, let the modem scream and remember to log off and back on every 30 minutes. We used to absolutely put ourselves through it to get onto the internet back in the day, and Slime City are shoutily nostalgic about those golden days of ICQ and messageboards and the first life of the animated gif. As a beautiful bonus, the video and general aesthetic of the single recalls the halcyon days of Personal Computing. Get me back to that putty-coloured wonderland.

World Cup 2019: Group C

The competition is going at a faster rate than I am! Let’s get into Group C before they complete all their 2nd matches.

Australia: imbi the girl – I Used To

For Australia, please meet imbi the girl – she’s from Sydney and do poetic hip-hop with real charm and honesty. She talks about her non-binary femme identity, and how this informs her creativity and drive, in this really interesting interview with Gay Times.

Brazil: The Wax – Awaken In Drear

It’s probably quite obvious, when you look at how disempowering our current times are, that a resurgence in witchcraft was on the cards. The Wax are from São Paulo and describe the experimental synth music they play as witchdub. It’s as occult and atmospheric as you like. Awaken In Drear is their latest single, and you can check out their spooky performance videos on YouTube.

Italy: Romina Falconi – Magari Muori

A single featuring a funeral services company from the woman who brought us “Who’s Afraid of Gender?” . No, I have no idea what is happening here either. Well, I had a quick look at the lyrics and it’s exactly what you’d hope for from Romina: a huge middle finger of the darkest black humour possible over the lightest chartpop imaginable. Never change, delicious weirdo. Also, come back to Sanremo.

Jamaica: Diana King ft Princess Erika – L’Amour Illimité

When she spoke her truth on her FB page in 2013, Diana King became Jamaica’s only out musician. The legacy of British colonialism in the Caribbean meant that Jamaica had been left with restrictive laws and prejudice towards their LGBT citizens. In this lovely music video, Diana King and guest vocalist Princess Erika celebrate unlimited love in all its forms, out in public in Kingston. Diana’s career is going super well, and she’s also been posting on her Facebook page about the World Cup. Up the Reggae Girls!

World Cup 2019: Group B

We had such a good time with Group A that we’re back for more! Group B is sure to give us some thrills, so here’s various sorts of experimental music to give you accompanying chills.

China: Sabiwa – Xin de Shijian

It was all going so well with this one – but it turns out that Sabiwa is from Taiwan rather than PRC and…. it’s complicated. She’s signed to a label called ‘Chinabot’ and comes up tagged ‘china’ on Bandcamp and Spotify. I’m aware of the issue, but I think it’s worth posting the recommendation.

Starting off with a very nicely recorded set of unidentifiable wet sounds, Xin de Shijian develops into intense rattling bass and esoteric synthy noises. Sabiwa is an experimental audio-visual musician who is currently working in Berlin and at the time of writing was enjoying a lovely trip to Iceland, allowing me to dream of a worldwide hipster musician exchange program.

Germany: Panik Pop ft Nusja – Still

If you ever wondered what was exactly halfway between euphoric house and an ASMR guided meditation, then here we go. I don’t think you need to know very much about him, except that he started creating 140 bpm techno on a computer when he was 16. If you want to see him play the whole album on his keyboard, you can do that here.

South Africa: Toya Delazy – gQoma

She says that ‘gQoma’ means ‘it bangs’. Yes, this song bangs. We’ve heard from Toya before – her song Nu High represented South Africa back in 2016 – but here she is with something a bit more uncompromising and afropunk. I like Toya. YEAH.

Spain: Cora Novoa – State of Mind

Let’s all enjoy some pounding Galician techno from Cora Novoa. There’s some form of necromancy going on in the award-winning video and I think I like it. If you’re intrigued by Cora’s work, you might also enjoy this Chicks On Speed remix she did, oh and there’s this mind-bending odyssey on bandcamp too. DANCE.

World Cup 2019: Group A

What could be better than a themed post? What could be better than the return of GAME ON! It’s the Women’s World Cup. Let’s look at the countries in Group A. Also, probably because of the mood I’m in, I’ve ended up selecting four dreamily blissed out songs from female artists. Don’t worry. We’ll rock out soon.

France: Laetitia B – REGARDE

The hosts got off to a swashbuckling start against South Korea in the opening fixture, but maybe we should slow it down a little from that feverish tempo. There’s not much on the web about Laetitia B but the sweetly melodic REGARDE stopped me in my tracks, and I thought you ought to hear it.

Norway: Ulrikke – Cry

Football-wise, Norway are a formidable prospect even without the best footballer in the world, Ada Hedeberg. Ulrikke has had one go at MGP in 2017 with Places and she did Stjernekamp in 2018, so I am not crazy to think she might be back at some point. Anyway, here’s her most recent single Cry. If you like a bit of talk-singing and also a selection of the coldest burns (“I’ll be making money off this song about you and me”) then this is the bad gal for you.

Nigeria: Lady Donli – Cash

The Super Falcons came into the tournament joyful and looking sharp, and even though the first game didn’t go their way, I hope they can turn it round so I can share some Lagos sounds. Lady Donli is from Abuja and her developed from delicate early poetry experiments to blissful party soul with a sharp satirical undercurrent.

South Korea: Universe Mongae – loveistheonlyanswer

I bet you thought you’d be getting a blast of K-Pop. Not a chance. You’re getting a blast of slightly weird off-kilter indie K-electropop. (If you want some K-Pop I would say that the extraordinary BlackPink are my absolute faves). Universe Mongae makes dreamy pop music in her bedroom studio – in fact the whole thing is quite bedroom-oriented. Her EPs are Room: Day and Room: Night. The whole thing is lovely, particularly This Night. I look forward to hearing more.

A Summer Blast of Baltic Chill

Hello! There have been a series of interesting new releases from the Baltic nations this week. Let’s run through them.

Starting in Estonia, long-running faves Frankie Animal are back with Playful. It’s in the same vein as their ultra-cool Eesti Laul entry (Can’t Keep Calling) Misty, but with a positive, sunshiney air instead of the damp misery of a heart getting kicked in down a subway.

Moving south to Latvia, we’re keeping the sun-drenched, stretched-out vibe going with Like You – a collaboration between retrowave synth revivalists Kasetes and beautifully be-mulletted experimental art/music/concepts icon MNTHA.

[MNTHA bandcamp] [Kasetes bandcamp]

This week’s most troubling Baltic new release is the return of Lolita Zero. Not content with bringing watermelon smashing, protruberant aubergine-coloured horns and Jurijus’ stealth falsetto to the Lithuanian Eurovision Selection Marathon, Lolita now returns with a deeply credible electro sad-banger. I’m so pleased and so confused.

Also, note that Borderline Queen is exactly 3 minutes long, so please join me in shaking your fists at the Eurovision gods who didn’t allow this in the 2019 Lithuanian Beige Tune Rammy.



EuroNoize: The Contenders

If you follow my main twitter account you’ll have heard me banging on ceaselessly about EuroNoize. This is a wildly alternative alternative to Eurovision, held in London’s Scala on May 23rd. You should DEFINITELY ATTEND. DEFINITELY ATTEND.

Here’s a quick page of links to music for the competing artists, because lord knows some of this shit is too niche for Spotify.

Czech Republic – Johnny The Horse [wobbly noir punk]

Estonia – Winny Puuh [going strong after 2013’s Eesti Laul disappointment, but making no more sense to be honest]

France – Hassan K [proggy and weird surf-metal which you can dance to]

Germany – Felix Kubin [epic found sound film scores, is going to be challenged by 3 minute rule]

Greece – The Callas [unsettling guitar pop with a culty vibe]

Ireland – Sissy [breezy punks aligned with the forces of good]

Italy – tab_ularasa [compelling solo demonic psych]

Norway – Golden Core [energetic, riffy stoner metal]

Russia – Asian Women On The Telephone [agitating noises, drones, big on extreme visuals and shouting]

Serbia – E-P-P [destroying capitalism by subverting the form of the advertising jingle]

Switzerland – Maraudeur [beeeeeatz and noises with disturbing rhythmic shifts]

ESC 2019: Top Ten of Top Tens, Pt 5

Last year, Eurovision was full of memes. We had yeah yeah fire, Moldovan bedroom farce, Eugent clapping, and the whole thing was won by a heady memetic froth of maneki neko and chicken noises.

This year, who will generate the most meme power?

Top Ten Songs with Meme Potential

  1. Hatrið mun sigra – Hatari (Iceland): They’ve been memeing their way around since as long as they’ve been a band, and their Eurovision campaign has been dense with giffable moments and carefully constructed reaction pic moments. Look at them go. Woah.
  2. Spirit In The Sky – Keiino (Norway): Tom. Hugo’s. Wig. We can only pray sincerely that they bring the wigs to the big stage because that would set the whole confection of ridiculousness. And that Fred gets some antlers too.
  3. Say Na Na Na – Serhat (San Marino): Is Serhat himself 100% meme at this point?
  4. Friend of a Friend – Lake Malawi (Czech Republic): From ‘she was my neeeeeybaaah’ to ‘only a friend’ to the infinite cascade of ‘friend of a friend of a friend of a friend’ to the instagram themed official vid, they know their meme.
  5. Telemoveis – Conan Osiris (Portugal): You glue the spoons to your face.
  6. Bigger than Us – Michael Rice (UK): Not only is wee Ricey participating in his own rice-based memefication, but the call and response of bigger (BIGGER) is quite memey. I also have to report having seen the ‘It’s Coming Home’ meme being used.
  7. Zero Gravity – Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia): ok so she might be ditching the spikey high frock and the dementor, but I am sure they’ll produce something eye-popping and mind-bending.
  8. Look Away – Darude (Finland): He’s already a meme. He’s extremely online.
  9. Soldi – Mahmood (Italy): Come va? clap clap
  10. Palie Sie – Tulia (Poland): Their common press shot expression of stoic rage is memeworthy alone.

NOTABLE ABSENCES: Replay, She Got Me and Chameleon. Fuego was only Fuego because of the staging and the memetic value of the fabulous Eleni.