DEAN BLUNT

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I only really blog now when I’m frothing at the mouth about something, so please believe me when I tell you that my heart did backflips when I heard 100, the new song from Dean Blunt.

Here’s the video (because I can’t find it on Soundcloud.)

Yes, that Dean Blunt, who was one half of the amazing and amazingly mysterious Hype Williams.

The same Dean Blunt who thoroughly pranked an oblivious NME when he won an NME award — and then didn’t tell them that the man he’d sent in his place wasn’t, in fact, him.

That Dean Blunt. He’s just released the best song he’s ever written (or its video at least). 100 is almost too gorgeous to bear. It’s like slowly lowering your body into molten chocolate, but better.

Simple, sweet, husky and weirdly intimate, this is simply dripping with nonchalent brilliance. It sounds like a song that someone would write for Roy Orbison, if he was still alive.

PS – If you care about “beef”, the video starts with a half-negative quote from Idris Elba, who’s going to be the next James Bond but it seems that we have to wait for a number of people to come to terms with his skin colour first.

Maybe Idris should send Dean in his place.

GLASTONBURY EMERGING TALENT COMPETITION

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Let’s cut to the chase: of course you want to play at Glastonbury Festival. It’s Glastonbury Festival. You want to play there because you are a human being with eyes, a heart and a brain.

So: enter the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition now. Go on. You only have a few days left, so hop to it, sunshine.

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!

POPOBAWA: NO PHOTO, NO NAMES, NO FAIR

pobawa

Popobawa are one of those pleasing bands that tick every box that make me not want to feature them, and yet, well, here they are, slopped all over ANBAD.

Here’s why they shouldn’t be here:

Popobawa say they make psychedelic rock (anti-tick), didn’t put a link to their music in their email (anti-tick) and when I did find a song online, it is listed as a demo (anti-tick).

And yet… to my ears, Appetite is neither psyche-rock, or a demo: it’s in fact a kind of pretty, sunny, blissed-out guitar pop that has a couple of neat, slo-mo hooks. The song doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously either, which is such a rarity nowadays I actually cracked a tiny, painful grin.

Oh, and the song isn’t really a demo – it is well produced, and good enough for ‘release’, if people actually release songs any more (they don’t).

The band are from Gosport, which I always thought was in Wales. It’s not.

Popobawa didn’t send any photos of themselves either, but a little Googling reveals that they are merely normal human beings which look like you and I. Excellent news. Good stuff.

Melt Mountain – Journey to the Pleasure Centre

meltmountainMelt Mountain posted this nugget of info recently: “autumn / romance / creation / anxiety / music / reading / headache / fun / guilt / pride / chaos / progress / love / impatience”

This is as good an introduction to the band as any.

Something about Melt Mountain makes me happy. I’m not entirely sure what, and maybe that’s a good thing.

 

If I was pushed, the source of the glee-tingle is probably found somewhere between: the rough-n-ready recording, the Gorky’s Zygotic Munki-esque vocals, the naif-insistance of the guitar, and the comfortably dumb guitar solo that unfolds itself into feedback.

There’s a Venn diagram to be drawn before I fully locate the pleasure centre, so while I’m fiddling with my compass, you could do much worse than spinning this song a few times.

MORE: meltmountain.tumblr.com

 

Feminist; Back to the Future

feministmassimoOne of the really pleasant things about running ANBAD is when people get in touch to let me know what they’ve been up to since they were featured on the site.

Often, the story is the same: the band I wrote about broke up a few months afterwards, and usually, another band has been born and died after that, too. Such is the dizzyingly-quick turn-around of a new band’s life-span now.

Anyway, when Massimo got back in touch with me, I was interested to hear what he was up to. He’d written a piece for ANBAD a few years ago about his neck of the woods in London; now he runs a rehearsal studio in Tottenham and makes music as Feminist.

 

I spend so much time wondering what music is these days, and what the point of making music is any more now that we have instant-everything on Spotify, that sometimes I forget that perhaps, I dunno, people make music because it’s nice, and they hope to squeegee a bit of that pleasure onto others.

I guess that’s why Massimo does it, and I guess that’s what plenty of people will take from this dreamy ode to the ether itself.

An aside: Feminist is quite a neat name for an artist. I’m not sure why. The word still seems to shimmer with an electric frisson of controversy, perhaps.

MORE: soundcloud.com/Feminist

THE MUSIC BIZ PENDULUM, AND HOW IT MUST KEEP SWINGING IN THE FAVOUR OF INDEPENDENT ARTISTS

pendulum_summary

ANBAD has, as you may well have noticed, been pushing the grammatical-correctness of its moniker in the latter half of last year.

There’s a full post here, but in short, the whittling-down of regular posts has been due to work constraints (boring/inevitable) and the fact that the new music dam has well and truly burst (a wider problem), and sifting through the vast amount of actually new stuff has become more time consuming than ever.

The inevitable thinkpiece on The Future Of ANBAD is to follow shortly – and – SPOILER – it’ll probably be me musing on the creeping feeling that music blogging and/or the music industry needs to change to keep moving forwards.

If the liberating democracy of the internet has open the floodgates, well, great – but the danger is that this vast increase in noise is frightening off bloggers/radio producers/’tastemakers’/etc because the size of the gate-keeping task is so great.

My fear is that this overload means these grass-roots filters find it impossible to resist the temptation of drifting back to the safe simplicity of the old industry; where a quasi-old boy network chooses bands, packages them, informs tastemakers that they are the Next Big Thing, and waits for these apparently independant, ‘new industry’ tastmakers to give them their seal of approval.

This would be bad for a few reasons: it would erase some of the progress of the new independent/DIY music industry model and hand some power back to the old music industry model for one final hurrah; and it would shackle the influence of the people at the new grassroots, who try to highlight new musicians free of external influence.

After all, what is the point of an open and liberated music business model if the people who are writing about new music are effectively just doing as they are told by the old business model?

How does this help showcase artists that are looking to the future, doing it for themselves and ploughing their own furrow? We will all lose – big – if these voices are snuffed out, or restricted to niche coverage.

Maybe now that we’re reaching the inevitable input/output overload of music tastemakers, the Hype Machine is about to cement its position as the only independent, online new-music resource of real use.

Maybe now is the time that the indexing, aggregation and smart sorting of that individual human filtration becomes essential as opposed to merely really useful. (NB: Insert standard ‘I am affiliated with hypem.com disclaimer here.)

My wish for 2014 is that the music business pendulum keeps swinging in the beneficial direction of the independant, the individual and the intruiged. In the meantime – happy new year, pop-pickers.

ANBAD’S TOP 5 BANDS OF 2013

Painted Zeros, possibly celebrating their #1 spot on this list, yesterday

Painted Zeros, possibly celebrating getting the #1 spot on this list, yesterday

Of course, it does look like the cynicism has finally taken over and that I’m making a very pointed gesture by releasing the ANBAD Best-Of-2013 list on the final day of the year.

Actually, like much of the latter half of the year, I was simply too busy to get it online during December’s pre-Christmas LISTAMAGEDDON period. Maybe it makes more sense this way.

Maybe you’re already reading the 2,014 Bands You Have To Listen To In 2014 blog posts, and this is hopelessly late. I dunno.

Either way, this ANBAD End Of Year List is as haphazard as ever, with scant regard given to size of band, influence, buzz, etc. These are just the 10 songs that have got stuck in my head this year, and thus are the Best 5 Bands Of The Year. It’s as good a system as any, right?

There are only five this year. There were 15 last year. This is not because there are ten fewer great bands, but because there is no point in me complaining about the noise outstripping the signal in the new music world if I’m contributing to this unfortunate state of affairs too.

(Last years much more comprehensive lists, featuring the marvellous Seward, Straw Bear and many more, are here, BTW.)

If you’ve been paying attention over the year (and I hope someone has been, because I have been all over the shop), then most of these will not be a surprise. One of them, for the first time, wasn’t even featured on ANBAD. Heady times, friends.

Here’s the top five – please rearrange as you see fit.

5) Champagne Jerry / Business Pony - here’s the inevitable last-minute addition, and it’s the only one that I didn’t get around to writing about on ANBAD.

Many people will blanche at the fact that Champagne Jerry’s ouvre is jokey, throwaway hip-hop-pop, but if a joke is funny, a joke is funny.

And Business Pony is not only good pop music that it makes me smile each time, but the production is, indeed, ‘tight’ (and occasionally by Ad Rock, who performs and collaborates with Champagne Jerry – see below.)

In a world where so much music is po-faced, narcissistic and, frankly, a boooooringggg rehash of guitar music from just over 20 years ago, here’s a reminder that pop music can be light-hearted and inventive, in the way that the songs the Beastie Boys used to bury in the second half of their LPs are. Hate it all you want, because Champagne Jerry is ace.

 

4) Bridie Jackson and The Arbour / Scarecrow / Original ANBAD post - I’ve been banging the drum for Bridie for so long that I was positive this song was reviewed in 2012.

Actually, it came out in the early days of January and it’s testimony to both the song (written by Louis Barabbas of the Bedlam Six) and Bridie & the Arbour’s performance of it that it’s been hovering in my mind like a friendly shadow all year.

 

The song is simply gorgeous.

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour went on to win the Glastonbury festival Emerging Talent Competition, played a brilliant, big gig there, and had this song played all over big BBC radio shows. It feels good to back a winning horse now and then, so please excuse any smugness in the above paragraphs.

3) Pincers / A Sociopath To FameOriginal ANBAD post - This is what I wrote when I first heard Pincers‘ A Sociopath to Fame, and my thoughts and responses haven’t changed at all:

it plays out like a series of dreamy vignettes or a scattering of half-memories, both sonically and lyrically… a gorgeous-sounding song: like all the most immediate recordings, some instruments sound like they’re being played just behind you, and other sounds feel like they’ve been beamed in from another solar system. At one point, I swear the 90s-era internet log-on noise creeps into the mix.

The lyrics – an element that I’ll freely admit to generally ignoring – are a series of remarkably confident statements. (Read them here.)

Sociopath is almost so sparse at times that I worried it would just fall apart, and at that exact moment, it would swell and re-build into a glorious kaleidoscopic flurry of melody… Wonderful.

 

2) Ezra Furman / My Zero / Original ANBAD post - Yes, yes, Ezra is a bit of an old hand.

But he’s technically a new band, kind of, so who gives a shit – especially when My Zero was as good a song as I heard all year. Hell, it even made it’s way onto the BBC 6 Music playlist for a week or two.

 

Maybe I’m getting soft, or maybe I’m less strict than I used to be when it comes to technicalities.

But this song deserves to be at #2 simply because, even today, occasionally a near-perfect guitar pop song comes along, and this is a near-perfect pop song. Brilliant.

1) Painted Zeros / Call Back / Original ANBAD post  - I love that Painted Zeros’ Katie misspelt her own artist name and instead of correcting it, just decided to stick with it, and I simply love Call Back.

 

Yes, it’s gorgeous.

No, it’s not a ground-breaking or bleeding edge song, but it is very now in a more important way: the self-released output of a single artist (and occasional collaborator Andy) that eschews a whole host of tedious, short-termist traits that many of today’s new bands can’t resist.

Thus, in quiet and understated way, Painted Zeros avoids not the lust for buzz-friendliness by dodging flavour-of-the-week drum samples, by not mining whichever bunch of late80s/early-90s bands are de rigueur today (are Pop Will Eat Itself hip again yet?), and by not worrying about production values more than songwriting.

Hence, Call Back is merely a song that is lush, charming, disposable, sweet, lusty, gentle and hooky as hell.

The breathy “Oh well…” chorus has been lodged in my head since I heard it. And, while there’s a hundred more, that’s a good enough reason for me to name it the best new-band song I’ve heard this year.

The follow-up EP, Svalbard was just as good. I hope that Painted Zeros gets the wider attention she/they deserve in 2014, because I have a niggling feeling that there’s a lot more to come.

And that’s it. Hello, 2014!

TRIOLIAN: Sneakin’ Out The Inbox

triolianSeeing as all I write about at the moment is how I don’t have time to write, I may as well bore you thoroughly and fill you in on how I’m dealing with the problem outlined previously.

It’s a mother-of-invention-type solution, in so much that I now just blog about the first decent band I find in my inbox (when I have time to go through my emails).

Actually, it took me longer to delete the hundreds of emails that needed culling to reach the actual new bands than it did to go through a few bands and strike lucky on a decent one.

Yo, Triolian: Napoleon said that the primary quality he looked for in his generals was ‘luck’. Maybe it was just your day.

 

Truth be told, I rarely latch onto the hi-hats-’n’-disco-drums-’n’-choppy-guitars thing any more; I now not only feel like I’ve heard it before, but have began to wonder if there is some devious VST-plugin that simply arranges and writes these songs at the push of a button.

However, Triolian’s In My Head is so darn catchy, with a chorus that’s as brash and as dumb as a roomful of Flavor Of Love contestants, that… well, I dunno. It snagged my weary attention. At the moment, that’s the best possible manner of identification.

MORE: triolianband.com

Terriers: Terrifying

terriersI could take no more, and began to wade though my inbox, on a ruthless, near-vengeful, slash ‘n’ burn mission.

It was, as always, a liberating experience.

Interestingly, it appears that I did not open a single email in October. All those thousands of emails, slaughtered needlessly.

It pains me to do that – but if the music world has decided it wants to rotate at eye-watering speed, it feels like a safe bet that half of the new bands in October have split up by now anyway. Or at least, they will email me next month with their new EP.

Anyway, just as I trained my laser-guided Delete-button finger onto November, I tripped immediately over Terriers. Phew. My new-bandy sense was clearly tingling at the right moment.

 

Terriers have released For You on Bad Panda records. That’s pretty much all you need to know in terms of a guarantee of quality. I’m sure I have covered more Bad Panda releases than any other label.

I must buy them a drink sometime. in the meantime, enjoy Terriers’ spook-tastic, clattering, old-school-house-paced tune. This would sound good on the dancefloor at the start or end of the night – high praise indeed.

MORE: facebook.com/terriersdublin 

Sean O’Neill – Trumpet Voluntary

seanoneillThere have been few – very few – solo singer-songwriters on ANBAD over the last 5 or so years.

It’s nothing personal, moody guys and gals with acoustic guitars. It just turned out that way.

So it’s hats off to Sean O’Neill for bucking that trend, with a song so muted, ambient and gentle that it took a gently-tooted trumpet to shake me from the hypnotic state into which I’d been lulled.

A Good Dream is a song so aptly titled that my eyebrow lazily rose in appreciation.

 

So delicate, understated and careful is the construction of this song that the songs finale – consisting of what sounds like octuple-tracked vocals – provide a feeling more rousing and uplifting than a clumsy Dubstep drop ever could.

Though, frankly, I’d be interested in hearing that particular mix of A Good Dream – for science, of course.

MOREhttps://soundcloud.com/hosc08-1