Maltese Additions…

Although I generally eschew domestic responsibilities/activities of all sorts, there’s some housekeeping to be done before I begin my “actual” post tonight.

1. Gee whiz, Eric and I sure do love to write about music, y’all!  Is it because we’re terribly pretentious and dreadfully pompous people?  No, sillies!  Reference our About Us section to sweeten our sarcasm with sincerity.

2. If you read our About Us section and can still stomach us, be our fans.  For realz.

3. Also, as much as we love love love writing, our day jobs sometimes get in the way of us doing all we would like to do (and knowing all we would like to know).  We value your knowledge, and also your writing abilities.  Send us guest submissions at — we are great editors, promise!

Now, onto this evening’s post.

Well, the great thing about having weeks dedicated to music of other countries (re: Dutch Week, Malta Mayhem…) is that often, we’ll hear back from musicians and music lovers in those countries with glorious recommendations,  picking up what we have missed.

So, although Malta Mayhem is over and done, it lives on in our hearts and our ears!  And I have two more bands to share with you, thanks to a lovely email from a Maltese music connoisseur extraordinaire.  Yes, I did make that title up myself. The first is a band I had previously considered reviewing…but Brikkuni beat them out.  Maybe only because Brikkuni’s myspace page is better-looking, I’m not sure.  Packed with interesting sounds and instruments, Hunter’s Palace must be named experimental.  With such an emphasis on guitar motifs and a percussive feel, melody definitely isn’t the main focus here.  Hunter’s Palace achieves something very similar to what Sigur Ros achieves, but through very different means–atmosphere; the listener can’t be half-hearted, as they must immerse themselves in the musical experience or they probably won’t be very interested in what’s going on.  This may or may not be what my grandma calls “noise.”

To be quite honest, I don’t really listen to much electronic music; it isn’t really my style.  I’m more indie-folk, I think.  But when I heard Mathematikal (and passed them on to my little sister, who is into some electronic music, and by that I mean, she really likes Crystal Castles), I agreed that they were definitely worth mentioning and experiencing on our little indie blog here.  They’re electrosynth all the way, with plenty of beats and changes and voice distortions to go around.  I asked my sister whether she got an 80’s vibe from it, because I kind of do, but she doesn’t–she said she gets a strobe lights vibe.  I’m not sure what that means, but I’m gonna go with it.  If you check out their myspace, I especially recommend “The Mathematimix,” which reminds me of Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds at some points (and to me is a good thing, soooo is Eric going to kick me off the blog for that?), and in the middle, there’s a little Michael Jackson remix (I’m still in mourning).  I also really enjoy PonyPonyRunRun_HeyYouRMX–the beat, the layers, and the vox are a pretty awesome combo.

Well folks, if you were still yearning for a bit more from Malta, here you go!  If nothing else, these two great bands are a bit different from mine and Eric’s usual taste, which you better not be sick of yet, and so isn’t it always nice to have something fresh and exciting?  Answer: yes.  Enjoy!

Malta Week, Mondays, and Surprises!

Welcome to Monday, guys!  (fyi, “Welcome to Monday” is a song by the folk group “The Owls”.  I will review them eventually, but in anticipation, you may check out their myspace.) Thanks for joining us for Malta Mayhem!  This week we discovered that Maltese music really does have very distinct qualities, from reggae/ska to more electronic/grunge.  If it wasn’t your thing, we forgive you, and you have the rest of The Indie Handbook to look forward to.   Actually, you have something *specifically* very special to look forward to this week, and because it is Eric’s news, I am going to let him tell you when he posts next.  No, he is not pregnant.  Let’s just say, he’s going to a show tonight, and he may or may not be having a conversation with a person there.  I’ll leave it at that.

So, to wrap up Malta Mayhem, we have created a Youtube mix for you.  It includes nosnow/noalps, the  Beangrowers, Brikkuni, and Danjeli–there’s a little somethin’ for everyone, y’all!  Sorry you have to click on the link (I know, soooo difficult, right?) but the embedding is just not working out for me.

Also, just because it’s Monday and I’m pretty excited about the possibility of playlists, here’s one to help you get through (the rest) of your Monday. Not particularly work appropriate, depending, of course, on your place of employment. Also, I prefer it on shuffle.

They make reggae in Iowa?

I’ve been learning some interesting things about Malta this week. Yes, I’ve learned about demographics and language and whatever, but I am thinking of more important things here, namely the musical culture. I have learned, for instance, that there seems to be a surprisingly high concentration of reggae and ska acts on this island. (If any of our Maltese friends can explain this to me, I would love to know why. Geographically, Malta is a wee bit removed from Jamaica. Then again, I recently learned that someone I know is a particular fan of a reggae band from Iowa, so I suppose it can come from anywhere. Also, props to The Riffs for a legitimately entertaining ska version of “Smoke on the Water”.) I’ve got one of those reggae influenced Maltese acts for you in this post, as well as one which is less than reggae-ish.

Peklectrick is a project featuring Patrick Galea (formerly guitarist for Dripht, a band which also included two current members of nosnow/noalps [there’s that pesky incestuous streak again]). It would be unfair to call this straight-up reggae. Yes, the reggae-style guitar upstroke patterns are there, but add a bit of overdrive to soften the attack and Peklectrick begins to lean more in the direction of ska. And with Patrick’s half sung, half spoken vocals, he demonstrates once again something we have been telling you all week: the music of Malta deserves your attention. Check out “Reclaiming Space” on his MySpace page.

Danjeli is not a reggae act. Really, it’s nothing like reggae, or like anything else we’ve featured on the Indie Handbook thus far. Danjeli is Daniel Schembri. With a list of influences ranging from Aphex Twin and Autechre to Luciano Berio and Iannis Xenakis, one thing is clear: Danjeli is a DJ after my own heart. His MySpace lists IDM among the genres attributable to Danjeli’s music. That is not to say it is nearly as cerebral as Autechre or, say, Venetian Snares but there is still plenty to love. Take “Festin Unfinished”, for example. At first glance, it’s got a music boxy, children at play sort of sound. But as the drums kick in and the music builds something of a Yann Tiersen feel begins to emerge (think Amelie). If you only listen to one of his tracks, listen to this one.

A Musical Stew That Shouldn’t Work

“A musical stew that shouldn’t work” is the way Brikkuni decribes its music on myspace, and when you hear it, you’ll definitely understand.

[oh p.s. yes we usually do Follow An Indie Band Wednesday highlights but because 5 days is barely enough to cover a country, we are going to put them off this week.  don’t worry, faithful friends, we will be back w/highlights next week.  we may even surprise you with highlights from this week…sometime later.]

I had been wondering about the Maltese language–what is Maltese, what does it sound like?  Well, I think this is it.  (No, seriously, I think this is it, but I’m American and only studied French and don’t really remember much, so maybe it isn’t, but I think it is, isn’t it?  What?)  It always feels a little cheesy listening to music from other countries when I can’t understand the language–like I’m trying too hard to be cool, or something.  I also place a lot of value in lyrics, as in, they better be genius, so to lose that comprehension feels like losing a major element of what makes this particular art (music. with lyrics. not the movie.) meaningful.  However, I’m currently listening to Brikkuni and really digging them, despite the lack of lyrics to help me understand.

There are different kinds of indie, and this particular kind is the kind that is so crazy that somehow it works.  The first song posted on their myspace, “Willie Vassallo,” is completely devoid of lyrics anyway, and sounds like what would happen if John Wayne fought Arcade Fire in one of those old westerns that my dad watches.  During their second song, we are all introduced to Mario’s vox, which are intensely full of character.  Many characters, actually.  He sings, he whispers, he growls, he ba-ba-ba’s, and he shouts…and it’s wonderful.  During “Kollox Suggettiv,” you wonder if Brikkuni has gleaned some stylistic elements from Bizet’s Carmen, especially with the clarinet motifs, the sudden tempo changes, and the “oompa oompa” throughout the entire song.

Yes, it is as bizarre as it sounds.  It also happens to be quite brilliant.  Dig it, Malta!

We’re Having A Quaint Affair With Malta…

This week we are, anyway.  And I am here to give you our second Malta Week post!  So get excited.  Before I talk about the Beangrowers, though, I’m going to give you a few facts about Malta.  In case you are wondering.

1. Malta is located off the coast of Sicily, in the Mediterranean…they are an archipelago!  I love that word, btw.
2. They are newly independent, as they have only been a Republic since the 70’s.
3. Yes, Maltese is a language.  I know, I didn’t know that either.
4. I have never met anyone from Malta.  That is a fact.  Not a  very relevant fact, but whatever.
5. Malta has its own Wiki page (duh, who doesn’t?  Oh wait, The Indie Handbook doesn’t…) so if you want any more facts, I suggest you read it.  It’s not that hard, people.  But only after you read our Malta Week posts.

Tonight we are featuring the Beangrowers!  When I heard the name “Beangrowers,” I thought their music would be cutesy twee, like wannabe Belle & Sebastian…I think this has something to do with Jack & the Beanstalk…but anyway, their music is definitely not twee.  In fact, the Beangrowers may be one of the sexiest bands we have reviewed so far.  The Beangrowers are a trio with a female singer, which is probably one of many reasons that their sound triggers thoughts of Stars or the Raveonettes, although their sound has a bit more grunge than either and Alison Galea’s voice is a bit stronger and more sinewy.  If you like sexy, synthy indie rock that’s a bit rough around the edges…well then, check them out.  And if not, then don’t worry, we’ve got a couple more days of Maltese music!

Even though “Not In A Million Lovers” is their big-deal single, I like “You Are You Are” better, and so that is the video I’m posting.  (You’ll also notice even their lyrics are very bow-chicka-bow-wow)  For more, check out their myspace or official website!

I hear it’s nice in the winter time

If you’ve been with us for a while, you remember Dutch Week, which went over surprisingly well with you people. Since then, Kristin and I have been dying to do another theme week. We considered taking on the Netherlands again because there is still so much incredible music we haven’t addressed yet, but instead, we are heading south to a place with a surprising amount of great music being created by a population of just over 400,000. That’s right, I’ve been promising this for a few weeks now, and here it is. It is time for MALTA MAYHEM!

We’re going to get things going with my favorite Maltese band (of the ones I have managed to preview thus far). Welcome to the world of nosnow/noalps. This is a band with more than a minor funky streak, just check out the video for “Headset” below. Drawing on equal parts rock, funk, and ska, with boy/girl vocals and some nice guitar work, nosnow/noalps remind me of something like a spiffed up version of CSS and even the art school sound of the Ting Tings (both of which you ought to check out if, for some reason, you didn’t the moment you first heard “Music is my hot, hot sex” on that iPod advert two years ago). There are songs streaming on their MySpace and Facebook pages (we’re on Facebook, too). Check out for other information and stuff not available on either of those other pages.

One last bit of news completely unrelated to Malta Mayhem. Indie Handbook favorites The Joy Formidable released their new single, “Whirring” on 7″ vinyl today (if you are a fan of TIH on Facebook, you already know this). The single includes an alternate version of “Whirring” in Welsh. Visit our Facebook page to see a video for the Welsh version, or just Google it. Of course, it’s too late to pre-order the single and have your name entered into the drawing for the Joy Formidable golden ticket, but I’m sure they will still sell you the record anyway.