World Music Showcase #5 – Mega Music Blowout

I had this whole list of bands I wanted to talk about eventually, but the news of my immediate promotion (yay!) has meant that I had to leave Indonesia sooner than expected – much sooner. But I still really want you all to know about the awesome music coming out of this country, so I decided to compile them into one big best-of-Indonesia entry. Here are just some of the best bands I’ve found on Indonesia’s exploding music scene:

NIDJI

Likened to Indonesia’s version of Coldplay, this band has the whole alt-rock-pop vibe going for it: a curly, bushy-haired bespectacled nerd singer, interesting videos, the slightest hint of Brit-pop poshness, and an enormous amount of sing-alongability. “Biarlah”is a regular for cover band performers, and “Jangan Lupakan”, romantic and sentimental, is my personal favorite (it’s even partially in English!). They have a MySpace page where you can listen to their hit “Hapus Aku”, and they even have a Wikipedia entry!

LETTO

I discovered Letto by accident through Youtube (well, the “accident” was more like a journey that started with a Wikipedia entry on orangutans and ended with pop music videos, but anyway…). I like Letto’s unusual rhythms and slightly offbeat, slightly cheezy style and piano instrumentation. “Sampai Nanti, Sampai Mati” is the catchiest, I think, and reminds me of a lazy summer afternoon, though I like the guitar solo of “Ruang Rindu”, which, for some reason, always makes me think of Scotland. Check out their website for cheezy photos and not-quite-grammatically-correct English lyrics. What’s not to love?

RAN

This is my favorite of the four bands showcased this week. I bought this CD the same day I left Indonesia, and I haven’t stopped playing it since. I LOVE it. The brand-new band’s jazzy, swingy melodies and the combination of smooth voices and cute English rap make them easy to listen to and easy to enjoy. The video for “Pandangan Pertama” is simple but cute (and gives you a little Bahasa lesson), and Hanya Untukmu” is so catchy it has been stuck in my head for about a week straight now. “Warna Warni Dunia” is the soundtrack for my entire Indonesian experience, and only makes me smile (and want to dance) every time I listen to it. Put on this CD, have some wine, and groove the night away…

MALIQ & D’ESSENTIALS

One day I said to my friends, “Hey guys, there’s this jazzy song I really like but I don’t know how it goes or what it says or who it’s – ” and both of my friends, in unison, shout, “Maliq and D’essentials!” So I immediately escorted myself to the nearest CD shop (read: pirated CD stand…sorry Maliq) and bought it, and sure enough, the first song, “Dia”, was the one that had been going through my head (and radio) all day. Then these same friends told me about a concert that very night, so I escorted myself right over there, too, and was not disappointed. It was actually a concert of four bands in one, and Maliq was definitely the highlight. I like their smooth, jazzy electrofunk, duet voices, and sly lyrics, and had to smile when I looked around the concert and noticed one hundred Indonesians -and me- singing along to “Funk Flow” together and generally getting our collective groove thing on. Check out their MySpace page and new official website (all in Bahasa, sorry) for more info. 🙂 Just try to listen to it without at least tapping a foot or shaking a hip – go on, I dare you!

Other honorable mentions include Glenn Fredly, Radja, Padi, Peterpan, Ungu, D’Masiv, Afgan….and the list goes on and on!

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