Zoe Keating (Canada)

You all know I have a thing for cello. I love it, I worship it, I hate myself for giving up playing it and I bow in front of every talented cellist.

I could talk for hours about Zoe Keating, a prodigy from Canada, but Intel's documentary about her "The Avant Cellist" is brilliant enough to shut me up.

Download (read this before): Into the trees, One cello x 16 Natoma
Buy/Visit: official site


Dear Cloud (South Korea)

Dear Cloud (디어 클라우드), a band suggested by the musicologist Lree, was formed in the underground music area of Seoul, Hongdae. They started off experimenting with accoustic sounds minus the drums, just piano, accoustic guitars, bass, vocals... minimalism. However, rock took over, and Dear Cloud developed its rookie sound as we know it now.

The band consists of five members: Nine (vocal), Yong Rin (guitar), Irang (bass), Jeong Ah (keyboard) and Kwang Seok (drums). Nine and Yong Rin went to school together, Irang was studying in UK until asked to become a part of the band, Ron, the original drummer, went to army and was replaced by Kwang Seok.

Most of the songs are written by Yong Rin, and British modern rock (Radiohead, Travis, Coldplay) influences can be heard. “Dear Cloud’s music is powerful, yet not too heavy. Their sounds stand apart from modern Korean pop music, yet appeals to the public with their distinct musical features. Tightly woven adaptations, rich melodies, and shoe-gazing qualities are what set this newcomer group apart from other idol groups that overcrowd the Korean music scene.”

 Recently, Nine debuted as a solo artist, singing OST for her newly released book “Humming & Drawing” entitled 끝의 시작 (Beginning of an End).

P.S. And, no, my choice of MV was not because of the model-turned-actor Kim Jae Wook , why would you think that? [winks]

Download (read this before): Dear Cloud Vol. 1 (2007) , Grey (2008), Take the Air (2010)
Buy: yesasia
Visit: lastfm


Hiatus (UK)

Cyrus Shahrad, aka Hiatus, is a very talented young man, and, since I rarely ever use this adjective, that is saying something. Cyrus is a regular multi-tasker: a journalist, novelist, musician, composer and guide book editor; or, to use his own words, “jobbing journalist, nowhere novelist, misguided musician” and a “friend to sufferers of daytime hallucinations and nostalgia for events that may never have happened”.

Cyrus started making a name for himself somewhere in 2005, during the time he spent in Tehran, Iran, working as a journalist. Whether that year influenced his music or not (though I am of opinion that it did), it certainly inspired his first novel “The White World”, the winner of Daily Telegraph Novel 2007. “Writing is easy,” Cyrus later said. “All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

Cyrus the musician plays in a London underground band, whereas Hiatus the musician is the electronic guru that made me overcome my laziness and make a new blog entry. His music brings out the best of minimalist beats, jazz vocals and Middle East instrumental patterns. I stumbled across Hiatus while watching this inspirational video about Skating in Kabul (found on Chai’s tumblr). His music is, as described in UK music review, “hypnotic, spine tingling, melancholic and ultimatly wonderful”.

As if you could expect anything less from a man who sees “the whole universe in half a kiwi”.

Download: Music for a Film (2010)
Buy: from official siteitunes
Visit: official page


Cécile Corbel (France)

Cécile Corbel is a 31 year old French singer from Brittany with a MA degree in … archeology. First, she started with guitar, but already in her teens Cécile discovered the magic of harp during a concert of Elisa Vellia, a Greek harpist who soon became her teacher.

Now Cécile is known as the red haired Celtic elf telling stories in multiple languages, including French, Breton, Spanish, English, and even Japanese. Her pop-folk Celtic music attracted wider audience once she made it into the soundtrack of Japanese anime The Borrower Arietty (2010), which is how Juhi found it and forwarded her magical songs to me.

Her voice is a bit similar to Enya’s, but I doubt there are many artists whose compositions could even vaguely remind Cécile’s. She is the original.
“My music is often advertised as Celtic. Which is true in a sense considering the fact that the Celtic harp is my instrument, and that I draw much of my inspiration from Celtic art,” says Cécile. “I’d rather consider myself first and foremost as a singer-songwriter of my time. You can always find some Celtic or folk color in my music since they’re part of my identity, of my roots, but it’s not traditional music. It’s present-day music, really.”

Download (read this before): Song Book Vol. 1 (2006), Song Book Vol. 2 (2009), Kari-gurashi (2010)
Buy: amazon
Visit: official site


Russian Red (Spain)

Lourdes Hernández, aka Russian Red, is an indie folk singer and songwriter from Madrid. Her musical career started with Brian Hunt, but the duo broke up before the release of her first album, “I Love your Glasses”.

It seems only natural to Lourdes to be singing in English, since she has always listened to music in this lingua franca. However, singing in English while calling herself Lourdes was a no-no. While searching for a perfect lipstick and an inspirational name, she came across her colour. Russian Red.
"I had a band without a name some time ago. Since then, I was haunted by an obsession: to find the ideal artistic name.One day, I fell in love with this colour that a girl was wearing. I pronounced its name, and now it is my pseudonym."

Musically, she reminds me of Feist and Regina Spector, voices filled with childlike innocence and summer breeze.

Download (read this before): I Love Your Glasses (2008)
Buy: amazon
Visit: official site


Niños Mutantes (Spain)

Yesterday I passed my Spanish exam with merit, and what better way to celebrate than blasting Spanish indie at full volume?

Niños Mutantes is a Spanish indie band from Granada formed in 1994. The name Mutant Children comes from an art exhibition in Berlin that deeply moved the newly formed band (the horrors of Chernobyl, remember?)

Initially, the band consisted of 3 members: Miguel Haro (bass, vocals), Nani Castañeda (drums) and Juan Alberto Martínez (guitar vocals). Nani and Miguel were already known in the Granada indie music scene by being part of the band Mama Baker. Juan started to attend Mama Baker rehearsals and to lend a hand where lyrics were concerned. Finally, instead of making Juan a part of Mama Baker, guys decided to form a parallel trio. Sometime after the release of their debut album, the boys went a step forward in sound by including keyboards, thus the fourth member, Rafael Torres found his way into Mutants, while Nani and Miguel left Mama Baker. Rafael didn’t stay for long, though, and was replaced by Andrés López (guitar, vocals).

Now, the boys have matured, leaving their punk selves behind to become a bit quieter, a bit deeper and a lot more interesting, in my opinion. Juan Alberto even published a book of poems! I love their new album “Las Noches de Insomnio” (Nights of Insomnia) more than the previous ones put together, especially the songs “Mi mala memoria” (My bad memory), “Quiéreme como soy” (Love me the way I am) and “Mi niño no quiere dormir” (My child doesn't want to sleep).
Here is the video for “Las Noches de Insomnio”.

Download (read this before): El Sol de Invierno (2002), Otoño en Agosto (2000), Mano, Parque, Paseo (1998),
Buy: amazon
Visit: official site


Mich Gerber (Switzerland)

Mich or Michael Gerber was born in 1957 in a musical family of violinist and organist. His musical career began early, but only as a student he realized that bass is his thing, so to say. After the important, nirvana-like realization, he joined Bern Symphony Orchestra, and in his leisure time played around with different music styles, like, punk, rock and improvisation. At some point, he left the serious business and hit the road. Travelling through different continents gave him the fuel he needed to work on his solo project he released once back in Switzerland in 1997. Shortly after his return, he run into the talented drummer Gert Stäuble & they started performing together.

Once the word got out about him, Michael started collaborating with different artists, like, electronics guru Oli Kluster, Egyptian oud player Ahmad El Sawy, Indian flautist Sujav Bobade and singers Imogen Heap and Bajka. A beautifully colourful blur of world music, in other words.

In his work, Michael put layers upon layers of melodies, like painters put colours. He is the definition of modern bass, the bass orchestra. His music style is hard to describe, there is a bit of jazz, electronics, fusion, acoustics, ambient and even classical. I can imagine the headache shop clerks get when they have to “put” him under some label in the shelves :D

Download (read this before): discography
Buy: amazon
Visit: official site

P.S. My exam session is about to start, so there will be no music in my room for two long weeks... Keep your fingers crossed, will you? ^^