>Today’s New Band – Envelopes

>I watched a BBC4 documentary about Britpop the other day. It’ll be on Youtube if you look for it. There’s loads of documentaries about Britpop, possibly because it was such a recent popular period in music, and possibly because it’s all very simple to explain: UK bands get bored by grunge, look back to the 60’s, make great songs, get coke bloat and collapse in on themselves.

However, it ended with One Very Important Thought: that trailblazing Britpop wonders like Suede, Blur and Pulp ultimately didn’t affect music much at all – the bands that traded in inane, emotion-lite songs with huge, soft choruses, like Oasis and the Verve have spawned the similar big bands of today – I’m waggling my finger at you, Coldplay and Snow Patrol.

The point is that the early 90’s were a fertile time for actually new, interesting music, before giving way back to cruddy average music. And so when I listened to Today’s New Band, Sweden’s Envelopes, I immediately thought of the early 90’s. Possibly because their fabulous song Sister In Love somehow straddles the late 80’s and early 90’s, whilst luckily missing Shoegaze altogether – no mean feat. “Is your sister in love?” chants the chorus, joyously pinging from person to person in the party, kissing each on the cheek.

The chorus is so much fun, they don’t waste much time on verses and get there as soon as possible, and Freejazz, similarly, is a big, fun-tastic romp through a delirous chorus. Party even is as cheeky enough to interpolate some of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, and guess what – it works. Brilliant. If only all music could stop and deviate from here. Listen to their great songs right here!

>Today’s New Band – Record Hop

>I always thought that being called ‘pretentious’ would be one of the worst labels you could pin to a band, with the image Über-punchable, po-faced, saint-wannabe Bono popping readily to mind. So when ‘unpretentious’ was the first word that I leant towards when describing today’s new band, Record Hop, I was sure that I was on safe, appreciative ground.

But think about it – ‘unpretentious’ would be unfair: the word smacks of earnest trad-rock lumps who, you know, maaan, ‘just make music we like, and if anyone else likes it, well, that’s a bonus, yeah?’.

Well, Record Hop aren’t anything like that. They say that 80’s/90’s underground rock is their thing, and it sounds like it too, crunchy guitars and drums that aren’t influenced by either disco or New Wave. They make songs that pick from “exciting”, “heartfelt” and “scrappy” as their points of reference. Listen to Giant Babies on their Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/recordhop) to hear all three colliding at once on a sweaty dancefloor.

Record Hop sound like they were designed to play your, and only your, favourite local venue and become the band you tell everyone about in the hope they become much bigger. With songs like Giant Babies and Last Second, there’s a good chance they will. They aren’t pretentious, but are thoughtful; they’re not unpretentious either but are happily shooting forward outside of the mainstream. Good for them.

P.S. Steve Albini engineered their last sessions, and I know that for some people this fact will make the difference between listening and not listening.