Hyacinth Girl, Smugness and A Nod From A Rock Star

A thrill coursed through the plush, yet tastful, environs of the ANBAD HQ yesterday, as news arrived of Tom Robinson, BBC 6Music DJ, naming ANBAD as his Website of the Week. As you can expect, much whooping and jigging with delight followed. So if today’s post is buried beneath a thick, gloopy layer of smugness, please accept my apologies.

Tom knows what he’s talking about, though, and shares ANBAD’s belief that finding truly new bands is most usefully achieved by specifically ignoring the hype, as opposed to blindly absorbing it.

So hopefully he’ll like Hyacinth Girl, a new Mancunian band who, excitingly, cite early-90’s bands like Dinosaur Jr. as an influence. This alone sets them apart from the gnashing pack, and they capitalise on this separation with huge slices of crunchy noise.

No Brainer, aptly named, is the simmering reality of a ‘push-all-the-faders-up-and-thrash-it’ attitude. The drums are so pushed to the very front that the drummer is virtually reaching out of the speakers and using your head as a tom-tom.

Hyacinth GirlNo Brainer

It’s a song, an attitude, a statement of intent. Many bands will thrash and thunder, and very few have the poise and grace to make such a racket into a delicate Mandelbrot Set of noise, endlessly growing within itself. Hyacinth Girl are a noisy, loud delight.

Tom Robinson mentioned, truthfully, that a lot of bands on ANBAD disappear without trace. I’m betting Hyacinth Girl don’t.

>Young Fathers, And a failed attempt at not mentioning De La Soul

Some bands entirely define their time, however brief their reign or their time may be. De La Soul was one such band, and Three Feet High And Rising is so 1989 the CD may as well be sold in a day-glo hi-top trainer. The logical culmination of a decade of hip-hop, sampling and E-fuelled peace ‘n’ love, the album, the band and the times are neatly encapsulated in one album.

As soon as their own brilliance put a legal stop to their sample-snaffling practices, audiences’ attention wandered. How many other De La Soul albums do you own? De La Soul, like many before them, were victims of their own success.

One of the interesting aspects of their success was that there was no legion of imitators spawned, no modern adaption of their sound. They so defined a specific moment, that any attempts of imitation would seem instantly dated.

Young Fathers have not copied De La Soul. I imagine that many reviews of their music, like this one, will mention them in the same breath, though. The parallels drawn will not be accusational, but admiring – Young Fathers are a band that have finally captured some of that free-wheeling, open-minded creativity without resorting to brazen copying.

Superpop has the same home-made feel, and the same wide-eyed enthusiasm, but that’s all. The sound is a brilliant, jerky 8-bit-hip-hop-disco melt-up of their own design, so happy and bright that your speakers will leak egg-yellow sunshine. It’s an old-fashioned pop song with an insanely catchy melody appealing to all.


Straight Back On It wrestles with Blaxploitation themes, and emerges victorious with a funked-up blast, neither parody nor cheap copy.

Young Fathers have made music that hasn’t been heard for years – hip-hop that’s fun, colourful, unpretentious, loud and creative. Don’t waste time wondering why no-one else has done it this well for so long, just plug straight in to their technicolour world and enjoy.

>Today’s New Band – Nutrition On Tape

If, after the almost total turnabout in music making and listening habits thanks to the file-sharin’, Myspace-browsin’ power of the internet, you need any further proof that music is evolving so fast we should all be dizzier than that bit in Top Gun where Maverick and Goose go into a flat spin, take a look at Today’s New Band, Nutrition On Tape.

Nutrition On Tape is one of the new breed which creates mind-loopingly complex songs that have not only a pop sensibility and clever production, but also creativity and credibility. These bands are usually one-man operations, and so it’s new technology we have to thank. Computer equipment has finally freed music makers from their music-industry shackles, and left individuals to allow their singular vision to reveal itself, untempered by outside influence.

Thus Nutrition On Tape‘s music is a jabbering, eddying salute to the last 30 years’ pop music. Songs waft in through the window and tickle your ears. Songs like The Sun One is a psychedelic, honeyed wave of orange sound, and Fire Dog Wax Apple lurches from the calmest sun-down slide guitar lilt to jaunty drum ‘n’ twang 60’s pop in a heartbeat. Where Everything Works is a blend of the increasingly ahead-of-their-time Boards Of Canada and a crazed, surf guitar-through-an-acid-house-filter beatstravaganza.

Nutrition On Tape: tomorrow today. Clever, bright and alive. Great. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Hudson Mohawke

Two brain-fudging mentalism bands in two days? Surely not – that would be unrestrained madness! And yet it’s true: after yesterday’s mind-Boggling (that’s a monstrously weak joke that you’ll ‘get’ after reading the post) band, here swaggers along another, leering contemptuously at your sanity.

So, cower in fear before Today’s New Band, Hudson Mohawke, whose pun-tastic devotion to lame 90’s action-comedies warrants them a place on ANBAD. Hudson Mohawke won’t damage your eyes, like the movie will, but the unrestrained, crazed weirdness of the sounds might worry your eardrums.

ZooO00ooO00oO0m sounds like a computer linked to a radio telescope that’s registering every strange, possibly alien, sound arriving from outer space with a differently pitched bleep. There’s no real order to the bleeping, but it sounds like it may all be connected in some way you just can’t quite understand.

Ice Viper staggers around a seedy nite-club, gropes at 80’s synth-funk, touches it inappropriately, and shoves it out into the back alley to slump, confusedly. Still On It thumps and quivers, an acid-drop-soul smooch to woo and unease in equal measure.

Hudson Mohawke is a pop merchant with a huge, bizarro twist. Slick, and cranky, like an alcoholic 80’s soap-hunk. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Last Tide

Last week, virtual unknown Speech Debelle won the prestigious-ish Mercury Music Prize, the UK’s annual too-cool-for-school musical bunfight. Mercury prize winners are supposed to be doubly blessed: firstly by winning the £20,000 prize, and secondly by a huge boost in record sales from the positive publicity.

Unfortunately for Speech Debelle, her album got a boost only as far as 65 in the charts, and now it lingers around the high 90s. Poor Speech Debelle. Public rejection is always hard to take. In the early days of the Mercury Prize, winning bands habitually gave the prize money away to charity. I hope Speech Debelle has held onto it.

My vote went to The Horrors, who surprisingly, and boldly, ditched their NME-approved schlock garage rock and became a My Bloody Valentine tribute act, aping their sound, vocals and even the Loveless album cover. In retrospect, that last sentence is quite mean – their new album is actually very good indeed, and they ought to be applauded for their brave sonic leap.

As the years pass, My Bloody Valentine seem to have been more and more ahead of their time. Everyone wants a drop of their woozy sound in their band’s mix these days. Today’s New band, Last Tide, owe a portion of their attractively swooping feel to MBV too.

Take W.Y.C., a rushing, dreamy, rampant splash of from a paintbox full of shades of grey. It’s a great, unexpected, echo-laden song that swirls and drifts madly before extinguishing itself, and even if their other songs can’t quite compete with it for sheer bulk, it’s a lovely mark to leave on a staid rock landscape.

That said, A Traitor In My Mind has plenty of clout, and nearly achieves the same dizzy rushing feel. Last Tide gather together threads of post-rock, shoegaze, psychedelia and weave a concrete-hued cloth. Making drab delightful: Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Crashing Humous

>I watched 20 minutes of The Da Vinci Code movie. The book was stupefyingly bad and guess what – a clunker of a book became a clunker of a movie, too. It seems commendably perverse when you consider how many good books are butchered into poor movies.

Anyway, I watched it all the same, knowing I’d hate it. Experiencing something in the knowledge that it will be unpleasant in order to see just how bad it is must be a trait unique to humans. It would certainly explain Phil Collins’ career.

I didn’t think I’d like Today’s New Band, Crashing Humous. The jokey name, the seemingly-ironic synths, the semi-serious rapping all pointed towards a student time-filling joke band. Inevitably, I liked them.

Bus Dance Feat. Dave and In Town flit with in-jokes, stabs at humour and musical parody. That these attempts didn’t always work doesn’t matter – their songs are a swift glimpse into the lives of a bunch of mates who want to have a band, and have made one. It’s their angle, their song, their lives – warts and all.

Songs pass in tight bleeps, washes of sound and whispers, and in Uphill Mountain, Crashing Humous have a song that nearly exceeds the tight boundaries imposed on it. Listen here!

>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!

>Today’s New Band – The Complete Adventurer

>How do you like to end your week? In a rush of activity, clearing your desk/mind before the weekend? Or do you choose to take it easy on yourself from lunchtime onwards? Those Friday afternoons are a great bit of reflection time, and whilst a nostalgic glance backwards is a pleasant indulgence at the best of times, on a Friday, when winding down is the name of the game, it seems to fit that much better.

If you can identify with that, then Today’s New Band might be just right for you, for now. I suppose in some ways, the fun of listening to The Complete Adventurer‘s songs like How Much Does a Polar Bear Weigh is nearly 50% nostalgia. Not that they sound old-fashioned – it’s just that, as a band, their ethos seems to have rushed in from another time. It might be the Pavement-y nature of the half-spoken lyrics, or the enjoyment derived from the knowledge that a guitar can make big, bowel-loosening crunchy noises, and not just the tight jangle that is de riguer, but whatever it is they’re doing, it seems worlds away from the norm.

The Complete Adventurer are pleasingly different because they have had the audacity to look a bit beyond Blondie and U2 when deciding their influences. The Meat And The Milk That Raised It, is, like its title suggests, pretty feral, the expansive guitars and thrashing drums battling with shouty vocals for attention, and yet attaining just the right balance.

If that description makes The Complete Adventurer sound like some awful thrash or two-bit punk band, I apologise. They aren’t. They’re strangely controlled, engaging and dynamic, but coupled with the need for shouty insanity. This is a good thing, right? Right. Listen to them here!

>Today’s New Band – Spazzys

>Women often get left behind in rock ‘n’ roll bands. Usually relegated to the status of either doe-eyed ‘n’ slutty hanger-on or occasionally bunged the token role of bassist (because it’s ‘easy’ and ‘not as strenuous as drumming’), women are severely underrepresented, with only the fearsome Courtney Love a household name.

I suppose one of the joys of hearing a woman-centric band is that, at a very basic level, they are simply a break from the masculine norm. As a male listener, it’s a happy change to hear women singing about the same things as men – sex, having a good time all the time, etc – but from a different perspective. I presume (but may be wrong) that women enjoy hearing the same things for the same reasons.

It’s therefore always a bit of a thrill to hear an all-female band, and Today’s New Band, Spazzys are that bit of a thrilla triple-pronged Australian one at that. On their Myspace page, they list a bewildering assortment of female movie and TV characters as ‘influences’ – some are cutesy, and some are obscure, but all of them could kick your arse.

Spazzys are more than ‘just a break from the masculine norm’ though. They have sex, sazz and guile – “When the show is over, drive off down the street and when it gets dark, slip into the back seat,” they sing on Zatopeks, a buzzy song full of hooks and big, dumb, satisfying chord changes. Like their other songs, it’s a heady mix of 60’s Shirelles pop and 80’s girl-punk – a neat link between two different eras.

I Want a Divorce is a straight-up punk thrash, and while the title is a request, it’s actually a statement of intent. “I’m taking everything you own”, they yelp, and then have the temerity to nick Tammy Wynnette’s D.I.V.O.R.C.E. refrain too. Great. Listen to Spazzys here!

>Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Today’s New Band

>So after frothing at the mouth a bit yesterday over Band Of The Day Indica Ritual, here’s hoping for something a little less mentalistic and more soothing today. And that’s exactly what Today’s New Band, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, are. In many ways, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin are perfect A New Band A Day fodder – in so much that they fulfil all these precise and extensive A.N.B.A.D. criteria:

a) The band has great tunes; and, for bonus marks,
b) The band has needlessly complicated/amusing/pun-laden name.

Obviously a) is the most important parameter, but SSLYBY (much easier to type) don’t disappoint on either count. Oregon Girl is one of those Byrds-y, 80’s-Indie-y, Teenage Fanclub-y songs that sounds like it’s a breeze to write, but isn’t. It’s a fantastic, fleet-footed dash of a song that touches all four corners of Jangly Summer Rock, and then goes around again on an excited lap of honour.

In fact, SSLYBY are so relentlessly upbeat that they make a song titled Think I Wanna Die sound like exactly the sort of song you’d want to listen to whilst driving a convertible down Highway 1 to Big Sur. Best of all might be the soaring Glue Girls, which is a happy, swift spin of fun.

SSLYBY are from a town called Springfield. Insert your own half-hearted Simpsons reference here. Then when you’re done, listen to their super summer songs, right here!