We’ve finally reached the end of the group stages, and wow, what a journey it’s been – some moments of inspiration mixed with a fair amount of mediocrity, own goals, some terrible play acting, tantrums, general childish behavior and the occasional disciplinary issue. But hey, enough of the writing and editorial process behind the earthings! World Cup of Music – it’s time to glimpse inside the indie and alternative scenes in the countries in Group H. [AW]
We’ll start off in Colombia, where well known rock musicians such as Juanes have often taken center stage (in addition to Shakira, obviously), but my search is for those alternative bands that get less attention. Maybe El Otro Grupo fit into that category, and they certainly make a good noise, but there’s also bands like the Emergence, Oh La’Ville, Mid Blue, V for Volume and Los Chimpandolpos. My Colombian representative is a post rock band who released an album very recently – great instrumental noise from Montaña. This is “Fuji”.
I’ve really enjoyed doing my research into some of the less well known countries music scenes, and in hindsight maybe I should have been less rigid in my genre decision for the group stages – but I wanted to compare apples with apples. Senegal has less of a tradition of indie rock type bands, but there are so many amazing musicians from Baaba Maal to Youssou N’Dour. So my Senegalese representative is something slightly different: Jahseen is part of a new wave of artists who are influenced by more traditional sounds, but then take it in a different direction. I really like this.
On to Poland, where there are more well known bands such as Muchy and the particularly excellent Putski, and projects such as Kurws have made an impression too. I’ve been listening to a wide variety of sounds from alternative rock outfit Sloth to be the more ambient strains of Nanook of the North, but my choice to represent Poland is an indie band with dark folk influences, slightly gothic style vocals and an intense rich sound. This is By the Spirits, from the mystic woods of the Lower Silesia and ancient Ślęża mountains.
Last but definitely not least, Japan, and first a mention to the brilliant Polysics who, complete with orange jumpsuits, I saw perform a few years back – they were great live. But this is definitely a country I can barely scratch the surface on in a few words – try Stereopony, the Pillows, the UK-based Bo Ningen, and I see that Esprit ‘D’Air have been making an impression with a European tour recently. In a more post rock style I’m a huge fan of Mono, then there’s Downy, December and a huge array of sounds, whilst there’s also more alternative bands such as the Josephs – and I was so close to choosing Falsettos because I really like what I’ve heard from them too. But my Japanese representative is a classical/post rock influenced musician named Katsuhiko Madea who has a project called World End’s Girlfriend, and I love this because it fuses together classical, rock and maybe some Japanese influences too:. Listen, watch and enjoy “Plein Soleil”
Group Winner: Japan
The earthings! World Cup of Music will return next week as we move away from the group stages and into the head to head stage of the competition, where 16 singer songwriters will literally knock each other out in an attempt to get their country through to the prestigious quarter finals.