Euro 2012, the biggest sporting event of the summer that isn’t the Olympics began this past weekend with matches in Poland and Ukraine. The soccer-mad members of the Paste team take this occasion seriously, and some may find it difficult to stay focused on putting together the magazine. That said, in celebrating all the exuberance and drama of this tournament, we also wanted to celebrate all the amazing music found in each of the 16 countries taking part in the tournament. Obviously, these aren’t the only examples of great music from these respective countries (feel free to tell us your favorites), but we wanted to at least give you a jumping-off point for further musical exploration. Happy travels.
Speaking of footballers with actual musical ties, Slaven Bilic, who managed the Croatian National Team through this year and recently transferred to Lokomotiv Moscow, is also a member of alternative rock group Rawbau. Their biggest hit, “Vatreno Ludilo” (“Fiery Madness”), was written for the Croatian national team’s 2008 Euro campaign.
Baruni are one of the most popular and long-standing acts to come out of Croatia, touring the world with their addictive, folk-tinged pop hits. Their name translates to “Barons” in Croatian, and with the regal vocal delivery of Danijel Banic, it’s easy to hear why.
An institution in their native Czech Republic, Tata Bojs have been recording and performing together since the late 1980s. Their ever-growing stack of material includes everything from straightforward garage-rock to colorful B-52s-style New Wave.
Late last year, Irglová, one half of the Oscar-winning folk duo The Swell Season, released her first solo record following the group’s hiatus. The album’s title, Anar, is the Persian word for “pomegranate,” and much like the said fruit, Irglová’s music burns bright at its core and is high in nutritional content.
Ticha dohoda was one of the most influential groups in the development of a Czech indie-rock scene in the 1990s. After a seven-year hiatus, members of the group reunited again as 2Wings, creating even more memorable music, like this lovely little jangle-pop salute to American DJ Alan Freed.
This no-frills Copenhagen quartet (who all perform with the surname “Attack”) loves leathern, denim, ping-pong and ‘60s garage rock. The results are chomping guitars, soul-influenced vocals and good vibes all around.
Andreas Asingh is one third of electropop outfit Small, but neither the name nor the genre of his previous projects is an accurate predictor of what he’s doing with SLOWOLF, bending genres and collaborating with Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan on one track, even. His debut single, “See U In My Dreams,” is a fever dream of jarring beats, unsettling production and Asingh’s strangely calming vocals. The video for said song is also sort of terrifying. Warning: strobes.
Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children
If we were to take an informal poll and ask our readers how much they knew about Greenland (other than it being an ever-shrinking island near the North Pole), we’d probably get a rather wide range of responses. But said island is worth watching for tons of great music, notably the warm, haunting folk of ukulele-toting Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children, songs that would sound as at home on a rusty old jukebox on Route 66 as anywhere in Denmark. Singer-songwriter Howe Gelb of Giant Sand made a guest appearance on her most recent album.
I know, I know. We already included Michael Kiwanuka on our list of 10 International Acts to Watch in 2012. Let’s give someone else a chance, shall we? But a lot’s happened for Kiwanuka since we last checked in: he topped the BBC’s Sound of 2012 list, recorded with The Black Keys and will hit the U.S. this summer in a big way with a new album and a tour, including a stop at Lollapalooza.
Ebony Bones has been a staple for the past several years, winning fans the world over with her powerful voice and colorful person. But what Bones, née Ebony Thomas, does extremely well is serve as a musical Model U.N.—she’s recorded with artists ranging from Yoko Ono to Cee-Lo Green to National Symphony Orchestra of India and appeared on a brilliantly catchy track from Folila, Amadou and Mariam’s 2012 release.
Vasco da Gama
Sharing a name with an iconic explorer and a Brazilian soccer team makes you rather difficult to Google, but like their namesake, Liverpudlian quartet Vasco da Gama are crossing new borders and exploring the bridges between sounds. Inspired by the Chicago “math-rock” sound (Shellac, Big Black, etc.) and the hurried multi-culti jams of Vampire Weekend and the like. Catchy.