>Today’s New Band – Basketball

When I was in France, while the Tour de France was snaking its sweaty, wild-eyed way through the countryside, my tent was pitched high on a hill, which in turn was overlooked by Mont Ventoux. It’s a huge, imposing lump of a mountain, undulating, steep and bereft of trees and other life near the summit. The penultimate stage of the Tour finished on the top of it, where presumably the riders fell straight off their bikes into a huge heap of cramping limbs and destroyed will.

In the next tent was a crazy Norwegian. Most Norwegians are slightly crazy, in a winsome and carefree way, and Thor – that was his name – was no different. He was visiting to see the tour and pootled off each day on his bicycle, returning looking as fresh as a daisy in the evening. Frankly, I wondered if he rode as far as the local bar, and spent the day sipping a Pastis or two, watching Le Tour on Eurosport.

At the end of the day when the cyclists passed through, he returned, puffing at bit as usual. ‘Did you see the Tour?’ I asked him. ‘Yes, yes, it was super nice,’ he replied. Then I asked him where he’d spectated. ‘Oh,’ he said with a sniff and a nod towards the vast mountain, ‘at the top of Ventoux.’

He’d cycled some 100Km, up the mega-hill, to catch the official riders finishing. ‘It got a bit cold up there,’ he said, ‘ so I found some newspapers and stuffed them under my shirt.’ Norwegians are crazy.

Bands that have a similar waft of lunacy about them are the ones worth listening to. They go the extra, mile without even realising. Take today’s New Band, Basketball. They say that they’re from Vancouver/Split/Barcelona. For a band that needs to rehearse, chat and you know, be a band, they aren’t making things easy for themselves.

That fresh lunacy slops freely all over their grubby, bouncy sound, hoovering up ideas and scrabbled bits of sound from here, there and everywhere, and spitting out an all-new, all-cracked hybrid. S.I.E.M.P.R.E gibbers, shudders and wobbles bassily, flipping from one sound to another, an exercise in orchestrated over-productiveness. It’s a thrilling soundsmash, the frequent changes of direction proving an exciting virtue, not a gimmick.

Journey To The End Of The Night incorporates the feel (but not the sound) of the currently fashionable-again Afrobeat feel – possibly by accident, such is Basketball’s free-wheeling direction. It’s no gutter-level stab for prescience, but is appropriately and deftly interpolated into a shimmering, bright and alive song.

Interweaving the sound of many cultures into one new sound is a practice fraught with po-faced, disaster-hued hazards. Basketball avoid this easily. They are a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-faceted motley crew, who’ll tickle your fancy, and leave you bewildered by their cunning. A wild and unexpected treat. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – GOLD PANDA

>Today’s New Band might well garner tons of critical acclaim – and worse, may be burdened with being flavour-of-the-month cool. It’d be a shame, because Gold Panda makes music that deserves to end up in better places than an audio montage on Skins.

Making music from bits and pieces of other things is nothing new, but most attempts just serve to reveal the lack of artistry on the part of the composer, leaving us with ham-fisted cobbled-together mental chewing gum. Gold Panda, however, has got it right.

In Long Vacation, vividly hear a song so infused with the clarity of its own vision that it pulses with life. Here, Gold Panda is sweetly massaging your mind with his sounds and then periodically pricking your attention to make sure you give him your full attention.

Quitters Raga is a fractured song-morsel, taking droning Eastern music and cracking it into bits, before lovingly reassembling it so that it is almost the same as before – but not quite. Like Totally, minimal to the point of almost resembling background noise, fades in from and back to silence so subtly that you won’t realises you’ve just heard something lovely until it has gone.

Gold Panda dips his hands into God’s Black Binliner of Music, pulls out the scraps most people would leave behind, and forces them to coagulate into something smooth, soft and surprising. A bit like a deep-fried Mars Bar. Except that listening to Gold Panda won’t give you heart disease. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Micachu and The Shapes!

>This morning I rang my best friend, who lives in New Zealand. Like passenger jets, inter-continental telecommunication is one of those astonishing human achievements that we all use and all take for granted. Years of human endeavour and ingenuity, from the discovery of electricity until the launch of Sputnik, made it possible for me to yap inanely to the other side of the globe.

And how did my friend and I use this mind-boggling facility, this symbol of the capabilities of the mind at its most creatively brilliant? We talked about women and football, just like we did when we played darts in the pub a decade ago.

But executing well-aimed slaps to the face of towering scientific achievement is an everyday activity to the Me-Generation. Just think, this computer could be being used to find a cure for cancer, but instead you’re using it to read the ramblings of a demented idiot.

Wait! Come back! Because Today’s New Band, Micachu and The Shapes , similarly mock the establishment by whittling creatively unusual songs out of all the instruments they can get their sweaty hands on. There are great tunes to be found here, and then tunes on top of tunes, which fold in on themselves and unfurl to reveal something entirely different but equally brilliant.

Song Just In Case veers all over the place, and you, the shocked listener, will have to concentrate hard to hold on for dear life because you’ll be too busy grinning with happiness at its daring, derring-do and dazzle. Golden Phone isn’t quite as twistingly peculiar, but is a ton more sweet, full of invention and still bizarre enough to scare your grandma.

If Coldplay are as prosaic and dull as stubbing your toe on a lump of rock when digging the garden, then Micachu and The Shapes are the joy experienced when you crack it open and find a huge, multicoloured crystalline arrangement inside. Micachu and The Shapes are a musical middle finger to the safe and the average. You can’t fail to feel the need to clasp them tight to your chest. Listen here!

PS – Something for the weekend, sir? How about this cheeky BRAND NEW! FREE! ANBAD eBook NUMBER 2 to while away those cold springtime evenings?

>Today’s New Band – Screaming Maldini PLUS! Smell!

>Unresearched Glib Pop Music Theory #235680: the act of hearing music has a closer resemblance to the act of smelling than any other sense. Perhaps this seemingly ludicrous claim should be qualified a little. Smell is almost indescribable in any terms other than other smells. Wines, for example, smell of freshly mown lawns, tarmac melting on hot days and hedgerow blossoms.

Melted chocolate smells wonderful because it smells of melted chocolate. It’s self-referential. So is music, cutting, as it does, to the pin-prick centre of your mind/heart/soul – wherever you feel like your most base feelings are housed.

I saw this demonstrated when my 70 year old grandfather, a calm, placid soul if there ever was one, leapt from his chair and danced like a carefree youth on his old orange and yellow living-room carpet, when an old 45 of Mockingbird by Charlie and Inez Foxx was slipped onto the record player. It was like time travel for me – a glimpse of the man he once was – clapping, stamping and hip-swivelling and all. Only a few of our senses can do that, when triggered.

So what will click in you when you hear Today’s New Band, Screaming Maldini? They make the kind of pop-driven tunes that shimmer breezily and also have enough nous to make them several quirky notches above the bland MOR purgatory that such songs can sometimes inhibit.

Secret Sounds is deceptively complex, seemingly a swift jaunt through tinkling pop territory; a closer listen reveals a song that delights in folding in on itself over and over, until compressed into a rough indie diamond. The brass stylings of The Extraordinary casts an eye over its influences that is alternatingly suave and relaxed and then inquisitively scatterbrained. Monkey See Badger Do strikes out from the first squeak of its endearingly wandering melody, and is crazier than a box of frogs.

Orchestral, lush and endlessly inventive, Screaming Maldini stopped worrying about whether they were trying to do too much and just bunged it all in the mix. In doing so, they have hit upon their own magic formula and out has spilled a number of unusual pop songs. Great! Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Dom Coyote PLUS! BANG! AND THE DIRT IS GONE!

>If you’re one of ANBAD‘s many non-UK readers, you may not have experienced the mysterious joys of premiere surface-cleaning product Cillit Bang, and it’s bizarrely seductive Lord, Master and Prophet, the perma-yelling Barry Scott. If you’re none the wiser, initiate yourself into the strangely alluring world of Barry here – and then consider this: without the unusual SEMI-THREATENING SPEAKING-IN-CAPITAL-LETTERS tactic deployed by the quasi-benevolent Barry, Cillit Bang would just be another product on the shelves. Barry has bellowed down the opposition and now Cillit Bang sits amongst the homecare Gods.

Like any product now, music is branded and sold to us like bathroom cleaner. Like Cillit Bang, some bands need a huge advertising pushes to really ram themselves home in the public consciousness. This practice is usually the preserve of average bands who otherwise wouldn’t really justify the money the record company has desperately thrown at them – hello Keane, Pigeon Detectives and our old buddies The Kooks.

Today’s New Band won’t need a gimmick, shouty and rictus-grinning or otherwise. Dom Coyote‘s name is pleasingly Pun-tabulous, and gains the usual ANBAD bonus marks reserved for such occasions, but it doesn’t need to be capitalised upon, because it’s his gently aggressive music that will poke you in the eye and ruffle your hair.

Dom Coyote’s sound is spooling and loose, but then tight and focused. One for the Passenger, disjointed and coherent all at the same time, rolls and rolls and rolls onwards so organically and so easily that you could imagine it happily freewheeling for ever. Under The Thumb echoes, languid, but also bristles crisply, a precise balance between paranoid dub and sprightly reggae-folk. Melodies Of Sleep narrates a kind of happy hopelessness, soothing and anxious.

At their best, Dom Coyote‘s songs sound so crunchy, so tactile, you’ll want to get your fingers involved with the sounds, a bit like an aural Rubik’s Cube. It’s as if the songs were recorded as densely as possible, and then were stripped down to the bare bones, so that only the really mouth-watering noises were left. Yum. Get stuck into his songs here!

>Today’s New Band – The Trees PLUS! SEX, PAEDOPHILES and the DECAY OF BRITISH LIFE!

>In the mornings, whilst I’m shoveling yoghurt, museli and toast into my flapping mouth, I need to watch TV to to kick-start my addled brain. The only real option outside of the dull and worthy news channels is GMTV, which is the televisual equivalent of reading the Daily Mail whilst eating a full ENGLISH breakfast and complaining loudly about IMMIGRANTS and IT WASN’T LIKE THIS IN THE OLD DAYS.

This morning I wasn’t able to perform my usual trick of phasing out all the moronic elements of GMTV, treating it purely as a mass of moving colours and shapes, and was forced to look elsewhere, in fear that I’d start worrying that a PAEDOPHILE IS ON EVERY STREET CORNER OH WHAT HAS THE WORLD COME TO.

I landed in desperation on an infomercial for a compilation of ‘Midnight Soul’ songs that featured tight harmonies and even tighter trouser crotches. The gist of the infomercial was, “Buy this nine-CD collection for only £39.99 and you are guaranteed SEX”

This is a decent selling point, I suppose, though one of the collection’s featured artists was someone called Keith Sweat, which, unless you like spending sweaty intimate time with crooning men called Keith, is about as anti-sexy a name as there is. Today’s New Band won’t guarantee you sex. Let’s make this absolutely clear now. They are The Trees, and they are from Basildon.

Neither of those details reek of imminent sexual gratification, but then again, would you want them to? The Trees are also another recession-friendly band (see yesterday’s post), accessible to all and ready to jump into a Transit Van and tour the country. Their music is both comforting and sharpening, like a mug of cocoa laced with ground-up caffeine tablets.

Stop Talking, after warming up, pummels you into submission, drums relentlessly splashing and pounding. The song occasionally stops to ponder whether to cross the perilous line into late 80’s baggy. Fortunately it never does, and we are all winners because of this. It sounds like lazy thrash. Good.

Dirty Money is a straight-up, excitable Riff-O-Rama, which all makes their song Odd One Out, the, er, odd one out, being folksy, dreamy and soft as a pile of goose down. The Trees are a band to end a tumultuous week on ANBAD with appropriate and disparate tumultuousness. Listen to them here!

PS – Oh, and next week, we’re proud, in every sense of the word, to welcome a brand new writer on ANBAD, who’ll be thrilling you with another New Band Perspective. More info, tantalisingly, next week…

>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 – Ghetto Mullet – PLUS! Morris Dancing and Charlatans

>There was a girl who I met at art college. Her name was Laura, and she managed to be both swaggeringly masculine (her haircut, her demeanour, her clothes) and sweetly feminine (big coy brown eyes, cute cheekbones and pink lips) all at once. One of the things that I remember the most is that she told me that her favourite band of all time – of all time – was The Charlatans.

The Charlatans are a strange lot. They’re one of those bands that nearly attained greatness, but never quite got there. From their baggy roots, through their middle (and best) stage as 60’s-ish rockers, to the soul-y rock that they make now, they’ve always nearly been the best, but not quite. I can’t imagine anyone ever placing them as their favourite band, and yet I knew someone who told me that they were.

This just goes to demonstrate again that taste is subjective, and is one of the main reasons I love writing about new bands. I genuinely hope that not all of bands on ANBAD are liked by you ANBAD readers, but I do hope that the ones that you do like make a real connection.

So with that in mind, maybe you’ll like Today’s New Band, Ghetto Mullet, and maybe you won’t. But we hope you’ll listen to them all the same, so that you can find out.

When they’re not conjuring up images of business-at-the-front-party-at-the-back hairdos, Ghetto Mullet make similarly business-at-the-front-party-at-the-back instrumental hip-hop. It’s a sound that you’ll know almost straight away whether you ‘get’ it or not – you could either find it to be the kind of music that is perfect for a certain mood, or you could find that no mood you ever have will fit. Who knows.

Ghetto Mullet are great music to listen to as you concentrate on something else. That is meant as a compliment. To my ears, Rampant Thought is complicatedly twitchy and involving, yet nicely disassociated from the need for direct, concentrated thought. Arriving in Obscurity exists in a fug of scratches, radio fuzz and tape hiss, and similarly Feel It, probably Ghetto Mullet‘s most arresting song, thunders along with samples of radio bleeps, and what might be the sound of someone thumping a dustbin.

Today’s Lesson: Just ‘cos you don’t like the sound of it doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t love it. A bit like Morris Dancing, only less humiliating, and with fewer bells, sticks and hankies. Ghetto Mullet: possible Morris Dancers for the 21st Century! Listen here!

>Jealousy, Insanity, San Francisco and Today’s New Band – Tartufi

>I’m jealous of Today’s New Band. They’re from San Francisco. I spent a month in San Francisco a couple of years ago and I’d happily give my eye teeth to go back to there RIGHT NOW. San Francisco is one of those cities where all of the things you’ve heard, and all of the things you haven’t heard about it are true, and very visible. I was repeatedly told that it was ‘very European’, but it wasn’t in the slightest.

It wasn’t even American. It was its own, eye-rattlingly strange, determinedly varied world, packed full of crazies, stoners and professional ‘characters’. I loved it, and walked around, mouth open at the shining brilliance of EVERYTHING I gawped at. It was all I could do from chaining myself to something very large so that I couldn’t be deported when my visa expired.

Tartufi are Today’s New Band. They were the band whose songs were playing in my addled mind while I was stumbling through Haight, Chinatown or the Mission, except I didn’t know it yet. Much like you’d hope from a San Franciscan band, their music is a strange mix of prog sensibilities and indie lo-fi practice. I’m aware that that sounds like a match-up specifically invented by someone who is out to spoil your fun, but it fits nicely, and Tartufi sound ace.

Mourning’s Wake, the title of which fulfils A New Band A Day’s Weekly Pun Quotient in one fell swoop, clinks and clanks like the sound of a miniature xylophone falling down the stairs of a doll’s house. It has that welcome Blue Monday-esque trick of not introducing vocals until at least halfway through the song, then dashes here and there like an (admittedly oxymoronic) well-rehearsed jam. Ebeneezer You Are Rotten further demonstrates their impatience, flipping from noise-rock to tinkling nursery rhyme and back again without care for your nervous fragility, before soaring stratospherically, all echoey guitars squeals and mad cymbal splashes.

Tartufi sound like they’d be a great band to see play live – and if you live in the US, you might be able to find out, as they’re touring RIGHT NOW! Everyone else should visit their Myspace page and experience the audio equivalent of jumping in seven directions at once.