Dream Sick: Dreamily Slick

By now, even I suspect that I simply add bands to the ANBAD ‘to do’ list based on the ludicrousness of their names.

There is, of course, an element of truth in all half-believable conspiracy theories, but really, while Dream Sick have a name that is stratospherically brilliant, it was their music, hidden behind a nameless link, that caught my attention.

That is rare enough, and the appropriate kudos should be sprinkled on them. But to do it with the visceral brilliance of the name Dream Sick shoved casually up their sleeves? Pride should be swelling their egos to Zeppelin size.

 

How to best address this without hyperbole?

Oh, I give up already: Caravel is dazzling in its downbeat glamour; precious but toughened, like an industrial diamond.

Here’s a song that is milky, nourishing and intimately comforting – all whilst acknowledging the transience of life and the importance of closeness. Yikes.

To recap: they’re called Dream Sick. And they’re lovelier than that name could ever suggest.

MORE: dreamsick.bandcamp.com

Madeaux: Echoes Of The Kitchen Sink

Where now for bass music and dubstep, post-Skrillex’s industry-crow-barring/acceptance into the mainstream?

While the heady gloop and rumble of bass music has been busy soundtracking almost everything of (self) importance recently, those producing it have scrabbled around looking for its next logical progression.

And it turns out that the (il-)logical progression is a return to UK Garage, whose resurgence is as baffling as it is ludicrous.

This, what for the brave souls who continue to make the music that brought about such unforseen U-turns? It transpires that, if they’re anything like Madeaux, they’re still making enormous, slightly jazzy, bass tunes.

Karma in Reverse – which, if we’re being pedantic, makes the song title Amrak – is a subtle nod to evolution in new and old directions, none of which are UK Garage.

Slivers of warm, Inner City Life-esque drum ‘n’ bass appear and vanish, and golden swashes of house synths breeze through.

It’s not blithe kitchen-sinkism, but by throwing a few other ideas into the mix, Madeaux is gently, in his own way, pushing towards the future.

MORE: soundcloud.com/madeaux

Urrrgh: But, What If…

Whilst I am as tired as you are of hearing dull people claim that there is ‘no good music at the moment’, sometimes, in moments of weakness, I wonder if what they really mean – ‘there are no new good and easily-accessible guitar rock bands at the moment‘ – might have a kernel of truth.

What if all guitar rock music as we know it has been done? What if there’s no innovation left to unearth, and the Sonic Youths of this world have exhausted it?

What if the White Stripes were actually guitar rock’s last, glorious lap of honour?

Anyone who observes new music at the moment can see that the home-recorded loner-pop executed on keyboards and samplers and laptops is much more abundant and fascinating than most guitar bands.

15 years ago, Urrrgh may have felt that his only route of expression was through a guitar and a Tascam 4-Track recorder. Not now.

 

__feyend_uh_leyet’s song name might mean something, or it might not. This isn’t important.

The song is a punchy, cheap ‘n’ cheerful, ode to defiant weirdness coupled with the kind of spruced-up melodies that 1980′s-era Pet Shop Boys used to whelp forth, spliced with urgent and fist-raised gut-bustin’ choruses.

And as such, Urrgh has proven he lives in just the right era: a time where mixing all this disparate elements can not only happen, but be made to work. Great.

MORE: urrrgh.tumblr.com

 

MIDWEEK MIXTAPE // 22nd February 2012

The more one accepts one’s role as ‘bemused bystander’ in the ludicrous carnival that is life, the more simple it becomes to spot the kind of intricate patterns and crazy coincidences that form our world.

Thus, when news arrives of Adele getting cut short at her moment of industry-determined glory at the Brit Awards, who else would be behind such a scheme, other than ANBAD’s favourite shameless ASDA-cheese-mongering, Sun-journalist Alex-James-From-Blur?

For once ANBAD doesn’t know who to feel more Schadenfreude towards.

These are troubling times.

MIXTAPE!

FIRST! Could Goodnight And I Wish’s England’s Never Looked So Good be any more jauntily gentle? They are one of those very rare bands who feel as if they have formed organically from a gathering of friends who started playing songs together for fun and simply never stopped. A minor joy to behold.

>> Goodnight and I Wish

SECOND! Holy State are chunky. Not their waistlines, of course – which I am sure are lithe and sinewy – their songs, silly! Spacious and filled with dense RAWKnoise, Dial ‘M’ For Monolith will tick all your boxes, and then tick them again for good measure.

THIRD! HypeLIFER is one of the many bedroom producers who could never have found a musical output even five years ago, when they would be stymied by lack of resources, distribution and money. But now, they have it all, and we have delicate, intimate electric pop odes like this one. Phew.

 

FOURTH! Tu Fawning create polyrythmic, rolling pop songs that go somewhere. This is very important. Mystically heavy organs and guitars tumble over burbling beats. Delicious.

Hazy Head: Scenario Number Two

Ultra low-fi rock music is usually indicative of one of two creative starting points.

To wit: 1) The Pavement Scenario – a studied, deliberately nuanced tool utilised to convey a particular feeling within a narrowly-defined set of parameters; or 2) The It Was Recorded On My Own In My Bedroom Scenario, where the song was recorded by a someone in their bedroom.

Clowns by Hazy Head is the latter. This also explains why no photographs of Hazy Head exist.

 

This is a song that could not exist in any other state other than the one in which it inhabits here, and thus is the defining, beautiful thing about it.

When it all falls apart right at the end and Clowns collapses over the finishing line under the weight of its own fragility, it’s tempting to blame amateurism, but this would be, of course, grossly unfair, as Hazy Head is actually an artist demonstrating precise control over his art.

Because Clowns is one of those rarities – a bedroom pop song that is a minor joy to behold; all self-taught through small failures and smaller victories. The result is glistening new sounds, exciting slight-returns to old ones, and a sense of feeling that is absent from most shimmery pop songs.

Nice, in the best possible way.

MORE: soundcloud.com/hazyhead

KHBR: Comfort Food

Far be it from me, a person who writes all around his subjects and also runs a blog condemning Bad Cover Versions, to complain about a record review, but something about this review of the new, mainly unwanted album from Britpop Also-Rans™ Cast makes me feel… sad.

If the record was so unworthy of even mentioning the content in the review, why waste your reader’s time writing about it? Who has gained from this transaction?

Sadly, only the author’s sense of self-worth does, whilst the website’s stats receive a (false) boost from rubber-neckers. And this is a situation where we all lose.

What if that 500 words had been used to write anything else? About, I dunno, another new band?

I don’t know for sure, but I get the feeling that KHBR are so named because the participants” initials are KH and BR. That’s fine. It worked for hip-hop behemoths EPMD and RUN-DMC, so why not a slightly effete jangle-dream-pop band too?

 

Cruising The Royale achieves much of what a lot of very now bands are attempting, but failing to do: to re-kindle the warped, drifting, cloudy sound of late 80′s guitar pop.

That so many have failed is an interesting quirk, but not worth considering now, not when a song as ethereal, undulating and echo-laden as this has dropped in our collective lap.

Cruising the Royale hits a number of nails squarely on their heads: lyrics happy to expose themselves, guitar noises picked for lusciousness over fashion, and the now-quaint feeling of honesty pervades.

The musical equivalent of comfort food. Keep spooning it in.

MORE: khbr.bandcamp.com

J£ZUS MILLION: Agony

Jaded observers of the new band whirlwind – also to be heard described as a “shitstorm” by the most jaded of the jaded – will attest to the pressure of being right.

Now people look to music blogs for guidance in which new music is cool, the heat is truly on.

A music blogger is only ever one tip of, say, Viva Brother, away from obscurity.

If you get it wrong, the cool crowd desert you in droves. And the cool crowd, like it or not, make up a huge proportion of music blog readers. Yes, I’m talking about you.

I try to pretend that I am unaffected by this pressure, but I can’t even fool myself convincingly. Thus I occasionally agonise over featuring a new artist, even though to do so is to dabble in the muddy pool of stupidity.

J£ZUS MILLION was an artist who gave me these misgivings, and as such has languished on the ANBAD shall-I-shan’t-I pile (yes, it exists) for a few weeks.


Of course, I wasn’t worried over whether his music was good or not – it’s great – but whether by featuring him on ANBAD, I was nailing my colours to firmly to a particularly cool mast, and that I’d never be able to keep up.

Oh, no matter. That Heat is a song of its time: warm, choppy, luxuriant sounds that pulse and grow and thrum and shimmer with a golden glow. The song may not have existed outside of computer screens at any point, and, for a change, that excites me.

J£ZUS MILLION is very now, and that’s actually important for once. Skrillex fans, please note: there is no ‘drop’ in this song.

MORE: facebook.com/jezusmillion

MIDWEEK MIXTAPE // 15th February 2012

As if to prove how we’re all idiots, the question is no longer “Hey, remember Myspace?”, but “Hey, remember how we were wrong about Myspace’s demise?”

The news that Myspace has added a million users in a month is a statistic to be taken with a pinch of salt (how many of those are people who have forgotten their old log-in details, I wonder?), but there’s no denying that Myspace is not the hell-hole it once was.

If, like me, you haven’t visited Myspace for a clear 12-month period, it’s worth logging in again, if only to see how things have changed, and to smirk at the memory of everyone’s favourite grumpy media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, selling Myspace for less than 10% of the $600M he paid for it.

Alex James, no stranger to blowing money on ludicrous purchases, pours schadenfreude-flavoured cheese.

MIXTAPE:

FIRST! Side projects abound in today’s fractured musical world, and, lo, Chiapa is the mind-bogglingly lo-fi offshoot from one half of ANBAD favourites Youthless. Singer Alex has abandoned his usual gonzo noizenik clatter for an ultra-slender, minimalist ethic. Sounds, words and melody all tumble into white, lowest-of-the-lo-fi noise, and meld into one heartfelt fuzz.

 

SECOND! Cave Birds are all doom and gloom until they drop an enormous, pummelling chorus into Some Lightening, and suddenly, all is well once more: an overblown, glam-grunge meisterwerk.

 

THIRD! Alvin and Lyle have, in The Good Feeling, made a song that is slotted in a deep groove that is either entirely sleazy, or entirely innocent, depending on your point of view.

 

FOURTH! Natasha Haws makes stripped-down yet endlessly epic songs that are as close and breathy as they are widescreen and distant. Big/small. Clever.

 

The Fucked Up Beat: Songs For Lovers

Valentine’s Day calls for one of two musical reactions: drippy accession to the whole thing by playing love songs all day, or by listening to something wholly inappropriate.

The latter seems to be harder to come by in the new music world – bands are now so eagle-eyed that every calendar date is an opportunity for a quickly dashed-off tie-in. The Valentines song! The Anti-valentines song! All readily available for easy embedding into your music blog!

I don’t believe The Fucked Up Beat created their song Paranoia especially for such an occasion as this. If they did, it was a masterpiece of forethought and planning.

 

Paranoia, and its sister songs on the equally cheerful  Paranoia​/​Erosion​/​Rust​/​Funerals​/​Death EP, are formed from found sounds, field recordings and a melody from what sounds, to these ears, like a rhythmically-thumbed harmonium.

As an ode to love it’s pretty much useless, but as a reminder that life is frighteningly finite and that we should pretty much all get on with enjoying it, it’s flawless.

There are songs that hypnotise through sheer endurance and persistence - and Paranoia is one of them. Creepy, cold, but curiously tender.

MORE: thefuckedupbeat.bandcamp.com

Pandreas, and How To Get Ahead In The Music Industry

Here’s a thing: everyone in the music industry, even those vaguely connected to it, simply loves music.

They’ll tell you this without waiting for you to ask – glance at the Facebook profile of any Music PR’s work experience assistant, and allow the proclamations wash over your dazzled eyes.

“I LOVE music,” it’ll say. “Music is my life,” it’ll babble on. “Life without music wouldn’t be worth living,” they hyperbolise.

This may all sound very grand and vital, but actually, it’s the equivalent of the dullards who write “I enjoy having fun” in the ‘Likes’ column of a dating website.

Because here’s the rub: everyone enjoys, loves, craves music. Music is a basic, deep-seated, brain-tickler and the enjoyment of it is precisely what it is to be human. Hell, even dogs like music.

So when these people tell you such things, take them with a pinch of salt. What they really love is being associated with the music industry – the power, the organisation of events, the don’t-disturb-me-I’m-so-busy melodrama of it all.

If they really loved music more than anything else, they’d be making music, not yapping about it. Pandreas loves music. I can tell because he’s made some in his bedroom. And it’s really good.

Pandreas is Norwegian, and thus the sense of melody embedded within Sirkel Sag is as innate as you’d expect.

Sirkel Sag is cobbled together out of sound-snippets and samples, and has the endearingly rough-and-ready feel of a collage: occasionally all the slivers of noise threaten to jog out of sync, and then they all whip back into shape again and bloom into a glorious chorus.

The song drips with love and care and affection for life, for the world, for music itself. Ignore what you’re told: this is what loving music sounds like.

MORE: soundcloud.com/andreaskr