Welcome to ANBAD, which is celebrating ten years online in April 2018, and is now “resting.” (I’m still jabbering on about new bands like, oh, I dunno, The Chats, on Twitter.)
However, ANBAD also has over 1200 posts featuring about 1500 artists. Most are buried deep in the blog, rarely seen by human eyes. This seemed a bit unfair, so I randomised the posts and the ones you see below are yanked arbitrarily from the archive for you to explore.
As with anything this old on the internet, some of the music players, hyperlinks, images, formatting – and, frankly, the writing itself – are broken. But even I will begrudgingly admit that randomly looking at ten years of once-new bands is a fascinating glimpse into a very specific time capsule.
I’m as surprised as anyone that this ridiculous and utterly niche music blog has stumbled around online for a decade, surviving all of my attempts to break it, render it defunct, or let it wither on the vine. I’ll post something longer soon, probably around the Official ANBAD 10th Birthday in April; but for now, scroll down and read on – and maybe you’ll find some long-forgotten band from 2009 that you’ll love.
A large, felt-tipped question mark loomed large next to Range Rover on the ANBAD To-Do List for over a week, a stern black reminder that at some point I was going to have to make up my damn mind.
Their name became an exercise in visual embellishment, and were, variably, underlined, circled and adorned with arrows. At one point I crossed them off. Then I decided to listen again – you know, just in case.
What I found was – surely – not the same song. What before left me unmoved now connected with a sharp snap, and the fug of procrastination dissolved. Soda may be a hard song to love, at first, but its lovely qualities, once noticed, are impossible to ignore.
Not unreasonably, for a song with such insistent momentum, it begins with a train’s toot. Increasingly delicate noises and melodies are piled high on top of one another, until the noise is a sweet, swirling mass of sonic barbe à papa.
Thus, having once ignored this song, I’m now in the enviable position of having listened to it a dozen times. It’s a hypnotic, fuzzy-headed, relentless, blissed-out, whited-out, drizzle-soft beautiful song. Underline that.
Today, long-standing Friends of ANBAD, Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six announced that they were done. The band is no more, save a couple of farewell gigs, which will be great, because their gigs are always great.
(This is the band’s best song, by the way, although I’m not sure if Louis ever agreed with me. Anyway, it’s beautiful and heartfelt and it feels true. Statistically none of us will ever make a song this good, so go ahead and listen.)
I first met Louis in about 2010 in the Castle Hotel in Manchester’s then-seedy-now-glitzy Northern Quarter. We’d been set up on a weird kind of man-date by arch-musical-matchmaker Chris Long, who was then running BBC Introducing Manchester.
Louis and the band had just recorded a cover of Relight My Fire for the show. I had no idea what to think about the band off the back of that, but we hit it off immediately; both of us delighted to discover we had similarly bottomless appetites for ale.
Later, in my PR capacity, I tried my hardest to get their songs to stick at levels a little higher than previously. Both parties felt a bit icky about doing this: I felt like I was doing Louis’ job and I cared too much about the band; Louis felt like doing PR was not very “Bedlam Six”. We were both probably right.
In the meantime, the band played all over Europe, had a set of genuinely excited and dedicated fans and released a bunch of albums. It was a running joke in our mutual circle of friends that the band had laboured over creating so many great songs, but the one the audience always clamoured for was one where Louis impersonates a dog. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer band.
But now they’re gone, and they get to keep a ton of amazing stories, memories and friends they made along the way.
In his farewell post, Louis touches on the idea of fame, success, and whether they “made it.”
This is the same conversation we had the first time we met, in 2010. Back then, Louis explained that he wasn’t really sure what “success” means, whether it matters, or whether it should even matter.
It doesn’t matter. The whole band have lived richer lives than 99% of the people they will ever meet. What more could anyone want?
Some final notes on the Bedlam Six:
• Here’s the most important thing: Louis and the band are arch DIY-ers. Everything was done by them: writing, recording, label services, distribution, promotion, gig booking, roadieing, everything. Their approach is pure punk, the real deal, the 360º deed done dirt cheap. If a young band ever ask me how to “do it”, I point them in the Bedlam Six’s direction. Most nascent bands don’t want to accept the hard truths of the Bedlam doctrine, and I don’t blame them. But the Bedlams had the right idea. Who else gets to have 10-year music career in today’s music biz environment?
• I’m genuinely grateful that I got to have a quick ride on the Bedlam machine. My best memories are mainly of drinking in the pub with the band, but the day I spent getting sunburnt in a street of abandoned terraced houses in Toxteth for a Bedlam Six video as part of Louis’ street dance troupe comes close.
• Louis thinks “Youth” is the band’s best LP, and he’s probably right. Here’s an album commentary I recorded with him for a project I later abandoned: a track-by-track dissection of the album. It’s (honestly) more interesting than it sounds, especially if you’re interested in what the musicians actually think about making and playing songs off a new album:
• Via Louis, I was introduced to artists I’d never have found otherwise, like Walk and TE Yates. It helped that Louis signed these artists to his label, Debt Records, and it’s notable that he works just as hard for his signed artists as he does for the Bedlam Six.
Blur’s musical output never hinted of days to come when certain band members would be reduced to flogging ASDA cheese – in effect, pouring molten cheese-shame onto the great John Peel himself.
Sigh. At least they both look happy about it.
FIRST! Red Cosmos may have made one of the most wilfully obtuse, uncool and angular records of the year in St Alban’s Colour Explosion, which begins with Byrds-y psyche, re-routes via folky noodling, and finishes in a throbbing choral swirl-house.
Anarchic, and so crazy it really shouldn’t work, but wholeheartedly does. Great.
SECOND! Sirens, Camp Stag‘s new single, is one of those quiet-loud songs that suddenly mutates into a middle eight that you think you already know, but, apparently, don’t. Now that’s a good sign.
THIRD! Hot from the “meant to write about this in January” pile are Violas, a Cardiff band with so much energy, curious noises must come to them fully formed. Their songs are fun, pop riddles. Wish I’d written about them when I meant to:
FOURTH! Andrew Butler has made the kind of star-struck, star-crossed, lush ‘n’ quiet folk music that most guitar pluckers dream of making, but never get close to. Lovely:
Now, I like Liam Gallagher. He’s one of the last proper rock stars – not despicably pious like Bono, not a bit wet like Chris Martin. He was a rock star who drank, swore, hit people – often his own brother – and sneered at all before him (ie us, who paid money to watch exactly this).
But there’s a logical problem here. On one hand, I would like to meet Liam, but then this anti-rock ‘n’ roll meet-your-hero promo makes me not want to meet him in any way. What is one to do when faced with a conundrum like this?
In the end, my concerns were decided for me, fiscally. “I’m not in it for the money,” Liam said of his fashion line – and I, for one, believe him. The £675 that some of his coats cost is just to cover the overheads, right?
No Flash are a Manchester band, just like Liam’s was. They sing rock ‘n’ roll, like Liam did. In songs like Officer, they sing of their misdemeanours. Perhaps they have a lot in common. If they do, then in Officer they’ve gone to lengths to disguise it – this song has the urgency, vim and youth that Liam hasn’t displayed for a decade.
Magic In The Moonlight, despite having a Toploader-scented title, has howling guitars, a near-charming melody, and ambition to spare.
No Flash are the kind of band you hope will succeed because they connect directly to a section of the public that want the visceral thrills of primal rock ‘n’ roll. And as far as I’m aware, have no clothing range lined up for the immediate future. Phew.
Having intended to spend my time at The Great Escape in one fashion (ice cream on the delightful beach, beers in the delightful pubs, bands in the delightful venues), I ended up spending it slightly differently: missing all the bands I intended to see, studiously avoiding all cone-holstered gelato desserts, and accidentally DJing at the excellent Recommender-run Blogger Meet Up.
Planning what to do at a music festival is foolish in the extreme, and going with the flow is the only real course of action.
Besides, if I’d followed a plan, I’d never have caught the bewildering, fascinating, confusing Seward, a band who have so little web presence, that I’ve been reduced to posting this incomplete video of the band as proof that they even exist at all.
—-video will BRB—
Instead of describing what a remarkable band Seward actually are, or how they achieve remarkableness, maybe it’s best to describe the moment that their drummer – a man rapt at the array of gentle, subtle noises a drumkit can make – wound up a toy tin robot and let it dance on his snare drum as he continued playing with a string of rusted cowbells.
There are many bands who approach music like Seward. They are all, without exception, shit. They are all indulgent, self-centred, and unkind to their audience.
Seward are the exact opposite: their timing is perfect, their noises are specific and considered, and their purpose may not be defined, but it is rational. The band is lost in the beauty of noise-making, and the path it beats into human consciousness.
Entering it gives you not only the chance to play at Glastonbury, but a big hefty wedge of #cash #money via the PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize.
Also, I’m one of the judges, so if you enter a song with a pun in the title and/or a reference to 90s pop-house chart hits, you’re in with a chance.
It’s given a hefty leg-up to some of the best bands about, too: old ANBAD faves Bridie Jackson and the Arbour were hugely deserved winners a couple of years ago.
Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis regards the Emerging Talent competition as a hugely important part of Glastonbury’s remit, saying: “The Emerging Talent Competition is always an incredible way for us to find fresh talent from across the musical spectrum.
“In fact, eight of the acts that entered in 2014 ended up with slots at Glastonbury 2014. I can’t wait to hear who we discover this year.”
Hey, what more encouragement do you need? Enter here, the deadline is Monday the 26th January!
Today I had the strangest feeling. I doesn’t happen often, and I’m at an age and time in life where I don’t trust the zingy acid feeling under the skin that feelings induce.
But there it was – and the feeling was Christ, this band are really good. Blogging about so many bands means that a New Band Thick Skin is formed pretty quickly, and as most new bands fall in the centre of the Quality Bell-Curve, I enjoy them and then move on to the next one.
Only a few are at the very extreme edges – bands that surprise with their musical eloquence and pierce the fog of banality. B-Lock And The Girl are one of those bands.
There’s so much that excites me about this band, this song, this moment, that I feel like I’m going to burst. As far as songs recorded in a garage/cheap demo studio go, this one is brilliant – in two and a half minutes they cram in enough invention, new ideas and moments of QUIET/loud shock to elevate them way beyond the majority.
Every great song has a moment that forces a strangled ‘Yes!’ from the listener, and Tired Of The Sick Hype has one too – about a minute and half in: a break, a stutter, and then the song rushes off to the climax you hoped for.
Good bands, good films, good books give pleasure because of the satisfaction of them enfolding the exact way you wanted them to, or in the exact opposite way. B-Lock And The Girl‘s songs do this, too.
Their Myspace page has had 500 views. Their Twitter feed has three followers. Have I managed to stumble on something special here, against all the odds? Find out for yourself:
For better or worse, I discover most of my new bands via the internet, not live gigs.
A lot of people would tell you that this is counter-intuitive, but then a lot of people also buy Nickleback records, so feel free to treat their remarks with as much or little contempt as you like.
However, I’ll never deny that lurking around in the recesses of a murky venue is a great way to discover ace new bands. (It’s also a great way to watch, as I did recently, a terminally average band spend 45 minutes setting up two synthesizers before playing a gig of devastating averageness.)
The New Lines are a band that set up quickly, performed a shambolically riveting set, and then left the stage to mingle with the crowd. That’s the way to do it.
The New Lines were playing a venue called 285 Kent in Brooklyn, a venue so basic in construction that one whole wall is simply a swathe of fabric strung from the ceiling, and where the toilets have no locks, but, unexpectedly, plenty of toilet paper.
In this fittingly shambolic setting, they played a series of focussed, mesmeric and disorientating songs: weird but not outré, formless but practised, sincere but not overly serious.
Their songs, like La Réciproté, were warm, organic and charming, unlike so many of those by their contemporaries.
The last song they played petered out because they “are still working on it.” I applauded louder for this very reason. Great.
>SIX MONTHS ON – NEW BANDS, ANXIETY AND A GREATLY INCREASED WPM SPEED
So we made it this far. Writing about the titular New Band A Day was always going to be a gamble. The bit of us that still mourned the guiding hand of John Peel and the other bit that gets all twitchy when it hears Scouting For Girls on the radio again came together and rolled the dice, blindly, and frankly, hopefully.
The hope was that there were enough good new bands emerging at a fast enough rate to write about only the best ones; and moreover, the prospect that writing about these bands, every day, without fail, wouldn’t drive even a moderately sane person to drink, desperation, or at the very least, to suffer from some, like, really bad headaches, man.
And despite the wholehearted efforts of general personal idiocy, the best efforts of my hopeless ISP [name removed on lawyer’s advice] and that feeling of panic that sets in when searching for bands and only finding duff Kooks-a-likes, the concept of A New Band A Day worked. And now it’s six months(-ish) later. Yikes.
So what’s in the book? The bands are arranged under loose headings, most of which have come from their tags from the website and may not actually have much to do with them at all. So pick any section you like and go with it. It’ll kill a lunchtime, at least.Some of the bands contained within you’ll like, some you’ll hate, and some of them will make you do what the kids call a ‘WTF’, apparently. But rest assured – none of them are anything like Razorlight.
I hope you enjoy it. If you do, feel free to email it to whoever you like! It’s free, like ‘free beer’.