A New Band A Day 2008-2018

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.


 

Midweek Mouthpiece: Guitar Heroes, RIP?

A week or so ago, whilst feeling fruity, I posted this deliberately provocative statement on the ANBAD Twitter feed:

And in many ways, of course, I don’t believe this for a moment. For, as Dave Greenwald from the endlessly excellent Rawkblog noted almost immediately:

He’s possibly/probably right – but a part of me still wonders: if this really is so, why do so many de rigeur bands insist on drowning their guitars in so much reverb?

(OK – so it’s just a phase the bands are going through: but I recently spoke to a glum sound mixer, who, after years of learning how to tease the best sound possible from any band on stage in front of him, is now routinely asked to “just turn the reverb right up”.)

 

I mean, honestly, no-one would mind too much if the bulk of these new bands sounded jangly and fun, like – oh, I don’t know – early-80’s REM.

Style over substance will win over even the most cynical listener who is too scared to listen to anything but peer-approved flavour-of-the-month bands. And, as the brilliant Videotapes by Blouse proves, there is room for both the sound everyone desires and hit songs.

But Blouse, sadly, are in the minority – sometimes I feel overwhelmed by bands who sound agonisingly generic, but greased up with a slick of cool from a fashionable Pro Tools filter. That bands are choosing, en masse, to pick up guitars for reasons other than wanting to slog away and create the best pop songs they possibly can is curious.

Maybe it’s social. In the UK, one (in)famous, and  possibly un-scientific, statistic is often bandied about: that the majority of UK chart successes are now written by privately educated kids from privileged backgrounds. Bands like Keane, Coldplay, and Mumford and Sons do little to dispel the idea that the nice, wealthy white boy has taken over.

It’s hard to see, for instance, how Oasis could fit in now.

 

So have guitars become the uncool option? The choice of the wealthy playing at being rock stars?

I’m not sure, but put it this way: if you want to listen to the really exciting, really new and really, er, real sound of The Kids who struggle to get their voices heard, you won’t turn to a guitar band.

Instead, you’d listen to any of the genuinely thrilling bedroom-produced music made today: a creeping, flooding, ever-mutating, ever-innovating groundswell of head-spinningly innovative music whelped from hooky software on creaking laptops. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a MacBook Pro stamping on the human face, forever.

However, the point is still somewhat moot: for those who need guitars, who long for new guitar music, who must have that six-stringed shimmer in their lives, the pickings are slim – and they’ll still keep searching through the dregs, looking for one final hit. Should we feel sad?

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.

>Today’s New Band – Thomas Tantrum PLUS! 80’s Reminiscing AND Yet More Confusion

>
Pitchfork, the music review website that is both pleasingly with it and, occasionally, maddeningly snobbish all at once, recently published a review of five re-issued versions of New Order‘s albums. It’s a review which, for once, succinctly captures exactly what was so wonderful about them.

In contrast to The Charlatans (see yesterday’s post) who failed to gain heroic status despite years of straining, New Order leapt there instantly without, seemingly, either trying or wanting to be there. I can’t think of many bands who were so delightfully haphazard, arty and contrary, without any of those qualities being excruciatingly embarrassing. The only embarrassment present in New Order‘s case was the sense of awkwardness the band displayed when they suddenly realised they were, for a while, the most excitingly brilliant band in the world.

Unassuming, quiet and haphazard in their approach, they still managed to produce some of the most touching, belligerent and powerfully ecstatic music ever written. No posing, no pondering on how to achieve importance (hi, Bono!), just a heads-down approach to pushing boundaries and having a good time.

If you’re like me, you’ll already be scrolling through iTunes to find Power, Corruption and Lies, but before you take that trip back to 1983, how about Today’s New Band, Thomas Tantrum?

Perhaps reminiscing about one of the greatest ever British bands immediately prior to introducing a new one is a bit unfair, but it doesn’t really matter, ‘cos Thomas Tantrum are great. Moreover, the rigid beats and polymedlodies of their super song Rage Against The Tantrum owe a bit to New Order, so perhaps it’s all a neat circle. Rage Against… made me think of The Popguns a bit, which is enough to make these jaded ears prick up with joy.

Whether they’re veering here and there on Warm Horse, or making the most disorientating pop music of all time on What What What, Thomas Tantrum are a true treat. They pull together the oft-disparate strands of noise rock and sparkly pop with true aplomb, and even find time to inadvertently bait the BNP with the swirling, heady Why The English Are Rubbish. Brilliant. Get confused in a kind of cute, pleasingly disarming way here!

The NEC – A Vast, Open, All-Enveloping Space. (But Not The One In Birmingham)

Band names: a relentless blizzard of terrible monikers that often get obscured, either by their musical talent, or lack thereof. I mean, the Arctic Monkeys? Oh, please. If they were a Landfill Indie band, they’d be laughed both onto and off the stage.

So, if naming yourself after mythical polar simians is just A-OK, then why not huge, nondescript exhibition centres? Perhaps then, the NEC will just bow to the inevitable, and get together a novelty tour with bands called the MEN and the NIA.

The NEC – It’s Right

It’s Right is a blind, Neanderthal stagger, pulling and clutching as it plummets through a wind-tunnel of noise. It’s also a  short, sharp kidney-punch introduction to their swirling, feedback-laden sound.

Part dizzying white noise, and part disorientating swirl, The NEC aim to confuse and obliterate. This is a noble intention, and one for which we ought all be grateful.

www.myspace.com/thenec

MIDWEEK MOUTHPIECE: New Music – Natural Selection Vs Intelligent Design

Matthew Young runs the excellent Song, By Toad blog, and a similarly-named, similarly excellent record label.

He loves new music, and talking about new music, preferably whilst sharing drinks with you, as I have discovered on many a queasy occasion.

Because of his garrulous and idiosyncratic nature, he gets asked to speak on panels, usually about the “Future of the Music Industry”, which is pretty much the title of every panel at ever music conference, ever.

At The Great Escape, he announced that “Last FM and Pandora are fucking pointless”, and a selection of music/tech people blew a collective gasket. (Matthew later addressed what he said in a more eloquent manner here.)

It doesn’t take too long in Matthew’s company to realise that hyperbole is part of his method of discussion, but such humour does not always translate to all and sundry.

I do agree with a lot of his provocative statement, although maybe in a different way: the non-human element of music discovery sites can be disconcerting or disappointing.

We have not, and (happily) never will, replace the wildly unexpected nature of say, John Peels’ radio show, with an algorithmically-curated creation yet.

Your view on whether this is a good thing will boil down to this choice: maybe you’d have discovered, say, the Swedish band Leanids via an online tool. Would you have preferred to have found them via a trusted human instead?


I don’t use Pandora, but there are elements of Last FM that I think are brilliantly useful: recording my music playing history and linking it to Spotify/This Is My Jam/etc will be useful for evermore, in whichever way music consumption evolves form hereon.

As a player of music, however, I’ve found Last FM only partially useful, and my experience do mirror Matthew’s somewhat: it doesn’t give me quite what I crave. I want wild variety, the unexpected, and weird stuff that tests my boundaries. I understand that the bulk of Last FM’s user base may not want this, however.

But this is why I run A New Band A Day, and why I spend hours trawling through zany PR emails and Soundcloud when I could be getting vitamin D outside in the sunshine.

The Last FM app in Spotify is very useful for the reason Matthew mentioned: “I can’t think of anything better to guide you through Spotify’s featureless wasteland of unlimited availability” – but I prefer Soundrop, the user-sourced ‘radio’ app: which brings us back to the matter of human intervention.

So what is the future? What is the best model to replace these unpredictable humans with something that can appear on a glossy screen instead of a fiddly FM radio?

Now, I do have a (minor) vested interest in Hype Machine, but I think their model is closest to what works for me. I can listen to a selection of songs that a (filtered) human system has put together; I enjoy some, skip some, and despair at others.

But I’m hearing new things all the time, and none of them (on the ‘Popular’ stream, for example) are ‘tailored’ to me beyond the idea that I will probably be at least interested in what’s being thrown up on the screen, because I trust the aggregated list of bloggers to at least screen out the obvious and the dross.

It’s also telling that one of Hype Machine’s main features is a monthly, human-curated radio show.

My art teacher always used to tell me “look for mistakes” when painting: the idea being that the natural leakage of gouache into an area of the painting that it was not intended to was not as undesirable as it might instinctively appear.

Humans make mistakes, have quirks. John Peel had a bewildering hankering for Happy Hardcore (*cough* as do I *cough*), and it’s easy to forget that each of his radio shows, now held aloft as the pinnacle of musical taste, curation and foresight, always – always – contained its fair share of clunkers amongst the gems.

And this exactly was why I, and others religiously listened.

NB: Part of this article was derived from a comment I wrote here.

Tropical Popsicle, Pigeon-Holes and Preachers

I’ve been doing this for too long.

It was confirmed the moment when I posed myself the question “hey – are Tropical Popsicle Trop Pop?”, as if tenuously connecting a band’s name with a micro-niche music genre I’d only really encountered once before is enough to make a question valid.

They’re not Trop Pop, by the way – this sub-sub-meta-genre is Cold Wave, of course – but let’s not get bogged down in the ludicrous world of pigeon-holing, and prise open a song like The  Beach With No Footprints, where tinny zing!s of noise punctuate the thoughts of a lunatic preacher.

Sounding like a lost 80’s synth power-pop hit slowed to 70% of its original speed, The  Beach With No Footprints has the important knack of supplying just enough sound to keep the listener interested and from flipping onwards to another song.

We’re rewarded with a song that is almost motorik in its relentlessness and insidiously burrows into your mind – and then leaves you with nothing at all. A magic trick to enjoy.

MORE: tropicalpopsicle.bandcamp.com

The Zookeepers: Gazing Into The Void, Laughing

Imagine the internet – all the insanity, all the zillions of disparate thoughts, all the ridiculous fetishes – condensed into song, and you will have an idea of The Zookeepers. Perhaps they’re among the first bunch of real Internet Bands: shaped not by the content, but its buzzing, ever-altering nature.

The Zookeepers craft a shuffle of too-short songs and spun-out ideas, each a statement of sorts. It’s all held together with love and sticky-tape, and songs like Chicken are blistering examples of exhilarating Pop – albeit Pop that’s been smashed up and reassembled with demented genius.

The ZookeepersChicken

Fat Tax hammer its blunt beliefs home with even blunter riffs. Ballin Outrageous spurts blood, horns and splashing cymbals – all manically, all at once.

Sometimes they sound like generic teen-punk, sometimes they use that ridiculous vocoder-autotune effect, sometimes they croon like the whitest, slickest boyband. Often all these feats are achieved in one song.

None of these songs means nothing, though some manage to touch that blank void, before skipping away laughing. Brilliant, in a very real sense.

The lack of a new band yesterday was due to excess sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll*. Apologies.

*Actually, it was an internet problem. But that sounds dull, in all honesty.

>Today’s New Band – Delay Trees!

>’This is it,’ he kept repeating in his child-like voice, ‘this is really it.’ And so with that, Michael Jackson resorted to the oldest trick in the rock book – the LAST EVER TOUR. He’s playing at the Millennium Dome in London for what seems like eternity, milking ever drop of cash from his demented devoted fans. Here’s a video of some of those fans, by the way. See if you can spot the chubby man nearly wetting himself on the front row.

Inevitably, he’ll then do the same thing in every big city worldwide, for the rest of his life, until Vegas comes calling and he can see out his final days in garish non-dignity. Final shows, come backs and yet more final shows are par for the superstar musician course.

It’s easy to sneer at it all, but then I was first in line to see The La’s on their ill-fated ‘comeback’, which was possibly done for tax reasons alone, a few years ago.

Sneering is something that I doubt Today’s New Band, Finland’s Delay Trees, ever do. They seem far too nice to be cynical about anything. As dull as it is to keep highlighting how northern European bands and beautifully bright guitar-pop songs seem to go hand-in-hand, Delay Trees are another lovely example of that rule.

Songs like Tarantula Holding On, sweet and unassuming without being bland, manage to avoid cliché or dullness and engage on a simpler, gentler level. About Brothers takes a well-trodden route of jangling guitars, tinkling percussion and harmonised vocals, but ends up leaving you in a comforted heap of relaxed muscle.

Their songs are brighter and breezier than a children’s TV presenter, and about as threatening, but are so innocently enjoyable that you’ll feel instantly removed from the arch, art/fashion-rock that is the miserable norm. Zen out and listen here!

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

MIDWEEK MIXTAPE // 1st February 2012

A curtailed Midweek Mixtape this week, due to the fact that living out of a rucksack is not conducive to the Peak Music Bloggery™ that we have all come to expect/long for on ANBAD.

So, this week features less poking fun at Blur bassists, and more moving quickly on to the new bands.

Oh, OK then, there’s still room for a picture of Alex James looking foolish.

MIXTAPE:

FIRST! You’d kind-of hope Hernia were a gut-bustin’ Sludge/Doom Metal band, and when Welcome To The Empire begins with a sample of, er, Hitler, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in luck. However, thankfully, it turns out Hernia actually produce lead-heavy craze-drone-trudge-rock, and I’m more than happy with that.


SECOND! Seeing as I’m in Brooklyn, it might be useful to feature a BKNY band: and lo, Town Hall are they. They make the kind of folk music I thought only existed in 15th century Somerset, but what do I know? Breezy, but close.


THIRD! Debt Collector has been on ANBAD, but there’s always a chance of another bite of this particular cherry, and when you produce low-key, lo-fi wobbly misery-pop songs like A=II (The Organics Vs. The Mechanicals), it makes it easy for me to ride slipshod over ANBAD’s “rules”.