ANBAD is running through the best new bands of the year. For explanation of why and how, click here. For the Top Ten, try here (10-6) and here (5-3) and for the great bands that just missed out, here (15-11).
And so, for the second time in three years, ANBAD’s New Band of the Year is from the Iberian peninsula: after Youthless won me over with their pristine clatter-pop in 2010, here, from the stridently different city of Barcelona comes Seward, defiantly obtuse, thrillingly inventive and stubbornly odd.
And here’s an equally odd disclaimer: You may not love Seward from the very start. I worry that I’m building up expectations of a complex band that need approaching carefully. But bear with me.
They’re fascinatingly unlikely winners, for all sorts of reasons, but chiefly for a reason I outlined in my original post: they make the type of music I never enjoy – and yet, here they are, labelled as the best new band of 2012.
So what is about them that allowed them to ride slipshod over my preconceptions? And why are they the best of the year?
Well, this is what ANBAD said about Seward when I first saw them, and it hopefully explains their charm:
“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.”
As you can gather, there is something about Seward that can only be fully understood by seeing them live.
And this is heavily and deliberately encouraged: their web presence is vanishingly small, so you will be lucky to find a video of them (though there is a rare one in my original post).
So, you’ll need to hunt the band down, and see and feel them for yourself. And that’s kind of the point of Seward – they are reality in the face of virtual reality. But more of that in a while.
If you can’t see them live, why not listen to this *World Exclusive* first stream of their brilliant, gently sprawling new song Sesame:
—-Sesame will BRB—
(Sesame was recorded in one and only live studio take in Barcelona and mixed and mastered by Matt Pence at The Echo Lab in Denton, Texas, BTW)
I understand Seward will be divisive. You may think, at first listen, that their music is too outré for you. But you’ll immediately recognise that Seward are rare.
There is life in Seward’s music, a humanity that most bands find near-impossible to weave into their music. Sesame, for example, is gorgeous – truly gorgeous – when it allows itself to momentarily blossom; if, of course, you have wholeheartedly bought into the song.
Seward are boldly serious in an age of wimpy irony: they mean it, and are not afraid of holding this honesty up for their audience. They tease their audiences’ understanding of their intent, slathering terrifically complex, often fun, often simply abstract, songs over the top of their honesty.
Another snippet from my first post on them:
“There are many bands who approach music like Seward do. 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.”
I can’t add much to that, other than acknowledge this one, quite lovely truth: whenever people have asked me this year who is the best new band at the moment, I tell them that it’s Seward.
They’re the band who, in 2012, have left the biggest impression and have impressed me most with the breadth of their ambition and vision. You may not love Seward from the very start, but many of life’s greatest pleasure take work, and patience, and a clear mind. Dig deep in Seward. Find time to spread your fingers into every crevice.
VIDEO // Seward – Grandma Sleeping With Book
—–video will BRB—
Totally deserved. Congrats to Seward and a big hug from Rotterdam!
Overrated and presumptuous band. Some good ideas, but bad execution.
And not too much “new”. Almost four years on the road…
I like them!, will come to London again?
Not really. The singer’s voice it’s a copy paste, sounds a plagiarism.
I prefer 2:54, Rats On Rafts, Death Grips, Chvrches, Diana and others.
Phew, some differing opinions here!
Not to be unexpected, though: Seward are by their nature, divisive.
Lanski – glad you like them too!
Johana – understand what you mean re: “new” – though newness isn’t necessarily defined by the time of existence, but a host of things, including how widespread well-known they are (not so much), how exposed they are online (hardly at all) and, from my point of view, whether they are new to me (this is a blog after all).
John – fairly sure they will be returning to London in the new year :)
Kyle – some good bands you listed there, but I prefer Seward. Horses for courses…
I don’t want to write them off based only on one piece, but its not what I go to music for. Especially when speaking of music I want to listen intently to rather than have on in the background. Also most bands are bands you should see live to truly appreciate. I will say I’m interested to know more about them though.
I feel refreshed at listening to this! The ambient interplay of electronic and acoustic elements ~ the vocals are even kind of mediaeval in style … like an old De Prez composition.
I don’t hear a lot of compositional logic on a first listen but respect that a musicians work is usually best when there’s room to grow with it .. meaning it’s not obvious and immediately gratifying in that way…. unless it wants to be a mega-hit which I doubt this track will ever be.
3 thumbs up.
I’m very happy to see that Seward is the ANBAD’S BEST NEW BANDS OF 2012!! They really worth it. I was in Barcelona in the beging of the band (2010)and that time was incredible!!
Seward in live is a real and fantastic journey, enriches the senses!
SEWARD – Live at Momo’s Kemia Bar (London) | Enchanted Tunes