Audio Atlas is our monthly series exploring different music from around the world. This month we're looking at the tropical nation of Thailand, nestled between mountains and oceans, the South-East Asian country is famed for ancient temples, luscious landscapes and really drunk tourists.

Mainstream Thai music has tended to blend popular Western genres with traditional folk to create something new. String is arguably the most popular of these amalgams, originally crossbreeding American R&B, country-western and surf-rock, which had arrived via soldiers during the war in Vietnam, with more classical elements. It was immensely popular, and soon the term String came to encompass Western-influenced music on the whole, and the genre began cherrypicking elements from disco, British beat, and garage rock. Big names include, but are definitely not limited to, the sublimely subtly named Big Ass, Christina Aguilar (no relation) and Bird McIntyre. Another widespread genre with similar roots is Phleng Phuea Chiwit, a kind of protest music steeped in the tones of Bob Dylan and Bob Marley – it's a kind of modern folk.

Luk Thung is potentially the favourite genre of Thailand. The songs tend to focus on the working poor, telling tales of adversity and insurmountable odds for those in poverty – a lot of comparisons have been drawn between Luk Thung and Americana. As the 20th century wore on, the style also felt the influence of Western music, especially soundtracks of Cowboy films, but it wasn't until Pumpuang Duangjan strutted into the spotlight in the '80s that it became massive. Pumpuang meshed String with Luk Thung to make a danceable version of the folk genre, called Electronic Luk Thung and though shed died from lupus in 1992, her legacy has survived, and today it is becoming increasingly powerful and pop-centric, which unfortunately draws focus away from the folkier aspects.

Abuse The Youth have been heralding the new wave of indie-rock. The Bangkok trio have been around since the halcyon days of '6, churning out tunes that appeal to the legions of metalheads (heavy metal is an intense subculture in Thailand) and people with a poppier preference. They've garnered scores of awards and become fast favourites amongst the youth of the country.Palmy is another heavyweight on the Thai indie scene. She creates happy-go-lucky guitar-pop full of earworm riffs, the way many American 90s post-grunge rockers did – her voice hints at Alanis Morissette. It seems like contemporary guitar-based music in Thailand is a microcosm of the age when American Pie was the shit and Puddle Of Mudd were still something worth mentioning.

This is Joey Boy. Best guess is that he's Thailands answer to The Offspring. It looks like a steamrollered Fred Durst is dressed as a dinosaur and rapping in the breakdown of 'Fun Fun Fun', just adding that dash of surreality that the track sorely needed.

From the looks of things, though Thailand has a horde of folk genres (pretty much one per region) and some legendary classical styles which bear resemblance to the Gamelan of Bali, the pop music of today is centred on the genres of America and Europe. Rock is a big deal, and like J-Rock, it's overblown and wildly melodramatic, laced with syrupy emotional waffle and emo haircuts. There are some gems nestled between commercial rubbish, and acts like Palmy and Abuse The Youth, despite being a bit derivative, are alright, but the best music (read: Luk Thung) often takes more notice of Thailands cultural roots and builds on homegrown influences, rather than replicating the worst parts of Americas rock history.