>ANBAD on Euro-Tour: Vanishing Point


Samuel Johnson – a man who probably displayed more wry and sophisticated intelligence in a single fart than I will in an entire lifetime – once said, “music is the only sensual pleasure without vice,” and if you can find a wiser, more succinct description of music’s thrilling qualities, you’re a liar; or then at least you’re less of a devout, conservative Anglican like Johnson.

It’s reasonable to extrapolate this a little further to include listening to music. Fair enough – the act of listening is usually accompanied by at least one vice, like drinking, taking drugs, indulging in meaningless sex – or in the case of a Motley Crue gig, all three at once, probably with Tommy Lee – but you can see what I’m driving at.
…And speaking of both driving and the guilt-free pleasure that music brings – today I fulfilled a long-held ambition, which was probably brought about by too many teenage viewings of Vanishing Point. It was this simple: to drive a long distance in a 60’s muscle car through a barren, desert-like landscape at life-threatening speeds, carelessly imbibing tons of amphetamines, and all to a great hard rock soundtrack.
In reality there were a few discrepancies from my dream. The car I drove was a baby blue Nissan Micra, not a Dodge Charger, and amphetamines were replaced with antihistamines, but the dry, lifeless scrubland (Andalucia in Spain) and the rock soundtrack (AC/DC, Motorhead) remained, and it was wonderful.
Even though the heat (40 celcius!) melted my senses to the point that conversation, movement and breathing become complicated tasks, I wound down the windows and drank in every minute, and the moment when the manic bass-chunter of Ace Of Spades began was at the very apex of the heat, the hill and at the most remote point of the journey. Perfect.
So: you knew that music was the best thing in your life anyway (or else you wouldn’t be reading/subscribing to a slightly rambling music blog) but every once in a while, that kernel of knowledge is reconfirmed, in the most life-affirming, pulsating way possible. And if anyone driving on the Caceres-Cordoba road yesterday saw someone flash past in a Micra, drumming the steering wheel and wearing a rictus grin, it was me. No apologies.

>ANBAD on Euro-Tour: My Bloody Vigo-Time


We drove to Vigo in search of two very specific things: Pulpo de Gallega, the classic local dish of boiled octopus ‘n’ potato, and our friend Sara, a Vigo native, who we knew from Manchester. What we got was light drizzle, just like in Manchester. Tiresome Mancunian Stone Roses singer Ian Brown said that his town had everything except a beach – well, someone tell Ian that Vigo has both the rain and the sand, so he can stop looking now.

Vigo also has nightlife to frazzle synapses to a petrified crisp. I left my tent by the beach at 8pm on Friday night with the intention of meeting Sara, and fell face-first back onto the inflatable mattress at 12 noon the following day.
We went to club after club, had drink after drink, and met some of the most unusual people, including a Russian pimp, eagerly persuading me to hire a woman that may well have been his mother.
I was always a bit nervous of the prospect of a Spanish-style all-nighter, but it turned out to be a lot easier than expected, due to the sheer amount of chatting, laughing, and moving-on-to-the­-next-bar-ing that is required. Time flies, and all of a sudden you walk out of the final club, gasping, into dazzling sunlight.
And the music? Well from what I can remember, in the club that was a local landmark – an artistic/musical enclave after Franco finally goosestepped his last – there was fairly generic and slightly quiet house music, and a moderately enthusiastic dancefloor. In a bar owned by a slinkily sexy singer from a local Riot Grrrl-type band, there was a bright and varied selection of low-profile indie, as spun by the patron herself, and drunk, sharp-dressed locals lurching about.
In the last bar – well, I’m not totally sure. I remember Common People by Pulp, and swinging a plastic flower along to This Charming Man, but I think I spent a lot of the time talking to a Portuguese doctor, avoiding revellers who were repeatedly stumbling out of the toilet, rubbing their nostrils, and trying to find out what day it was.
In short: Vigo likes good music, good times and is good value if you want to destroy your perception of time. Highly recommended.

>ANBAD on Euro-Tour: Euro-Pop vs The World


Right now, as I write this, I’m sitting in a tent. Right now I’m somewhere on the Northern coast of Spain. Right now, the thick fog has lolloped in off the Atlantic and licked everything with sticky warmth. And right now, the couple in the tent next to me are playing, on their stereo, a variety of songs of their choosing.
This is one of the many dangers of camping, of course – the cobweb-thin tent walls leave you compellingly at the mercy of your neighbours’ noisy wills and this, otherwise likable couple, is their music. I have never been a fan of The Killers, and have studiously, obsessively avoided hearing their music, but now I’m trapped in a hellish mock-rock cell of my own making.
At least, having now been force-fed all their albums, I can truly say that I have a new all-time least favourite song. I don’t know what it’s called, but the chorus drones the same woeful flash of enlightenment over and over – ‘It’s Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll for me’. As a sentiment, this is so incredibly trite and banal all at once that perhaps Brandon Flowers deserves a medal of sorts.
I can think of nothing less ‘Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll’ than exactly and specifically that line – and I speak as someone who once saw Travis live in concert (by mistake – long story). How anyone could maintain any musical credibility after penning a line like that is beyond me, but such is the will-sapping nature of mainstream rock sometimes.
I used to think that music tastes on the continent were a bit safe – and it’s true that U2 (or Ooh-Dos as they’re called here) are horribly omnipotent – but actually I think they’re as bland as they are back home. Music here is just bone-headedly dull in a whole new way. Aside from vast swathes of generic rock, which could simply be foreign language versions of any Kooks B-side, is the wonderful, stupidly-skewed Euro-pop, which continues to delight and madden just as much as ever.
The songs literally all sound the same, and the only distinguishing features are slight variations between the deceptively complex hi-hat/kick-drum/bouncy-bassline slurry, are the manically stupid vocals. I heard two – two separate groups of teenage schoolgirls singing the hook of one offender – “I wanna take you dance, dance, dance in the disco/Oh aye-aye, oh aye-aye/ I wanna take you from Paris to San Francisco/ Oh Aye-aye, oh aye-aye” – the other day.
This song, which I subsequently heard on Crud FM, and is now welded to my brain, is only beaten in the banality stakes by another, which repeats, monstrously, “I wanna take a ride in your discotheque“, until you start weeping blood. (Please note that it is not the Lady Gaga song about disco sticks, but is it’s very own awful, altered beast.) They may have both been written by the same evil genius for all I know.
And the point is? Well, the point is that I’d crawl over hot, Swine-flu-infected shards of glass to listen to those songs back to back for a day – hell, two day – than ever hear that Killers song ever, ever again. Until then, here’s that Euro-disco song, by someone called, unbelievably, Arsenium, to drive you mad, too. And I insist you do listen. Your life will be the better for it.

>ANBAD on Euro-Tour: Cahors Fete de Musique


About this time of year, I keep getting twinges of regret that I’m not at Glastonbury Festival. I’m being stubborn and keep telling myself that I won’t return until the disappearance of the youths who spend hours on their hair and makeup in their tents and then updating their Facebook status to let everyone else know what an AMAZING TIME they’re having, instead of just getting muddy and sweaty and having a good time like the rest of us.

I know I’ll return eventually, but not until the memory of watching a never-ending queue of teenage Peaches Geldofs washing the mud off their designer Wellington Boots under a running tap – and then stepping right back into knee-deep mud, presumably with a view of joining the back of the queue again – has faded.
Still, I managed to find my first festival of then year, in France, and all by mistake, too. I stumbled into Cahors on the Sunday night, expecting little. Most French towns die down to Marie Celeste-type emptiness after 8pm, but on the previous night I’d seen a band playing in the street and wondered if something of interest might be going on.
I was right, and then some: it was the Cahors Fete de Musique – the annual music festival. Somehow, on the previous day’s wander, I’d missed all the huge, yellow, five-foot-high posters advertising the event. ANBAD has its ears to the ground, oh yes.
The old town of Cahors is a beautiful medieval, labyrinthine city, with most buildings older than, say, the whole of the USA. On every tiny street corner there was a band. There was a band in every square, too. And outside the market hall; inside and outside of bars; in the middle of wide roads, shoulder-width narrow passageways – everywhere. And almost all, without exception, were exactly what you’d expect of French rock bands – blander and more inoffensive than, I don’t know, Deep Blue Something.
In fact, if I have brought myself to have hung around to hear the band that was covering Two Princes by The Spin Doctors, I’d have gambled my last centime that Breakfast At Tiffany’s was coming up next. There were so many ‘blands’ it made my head spin – garbled covers of the Rolling Stones (“Street flyin’ man”), A DJ that was playing DJ Otzi megamixes (I never knew there were enough DJ Otzi songs to warrant a megamix), and the main event – a band that sounded like the French Levellers.
I continued walking. The fact that there was a band everywhere meant that quantity was high, even if quality was low; eventually, I wandered down an alleyway, and found a French hip-hop/punk/ska hybrid band that were, in the context of things, pretty good.
The narrow street fairly had sweat running off the narrow, high walls as teens pogoed to the yelpy ‘n’ angry sounds from the MCs, but I stood a little way back, so that they wouldn’t knock my glass of local vin rouge, which in retrospect is awfully middle age/class.
They reaffirmed my faith in live music after the numbness of earlier. French is one of the few languages that suits being rapped perfectly – Welsh is another surprising candidate – and they hauled the crowd into the air again and again, through the strength of their lyricism.
It was a great way to end the night, and try and remember which way out of the maze of streets led back to my tent. So: this band would have been New Band Of The Day, but I’m not brave enough to strike up a conversation with some angry French Hip-hoppers with my basic schoolboy French, so we’ll never know. Instead, here’s some classic-ish French-hop from IAM.

>The ANBAD New Band Clearing House Opens Its Doors

>Anyone who’s ever been in the unfortunate position to have had some oik in a shiny suit bombarding them with Management-Speak will know that ‘added value’ is where it’s at right now in the lexicon of Management Bullshit.

Make the customer pay more by giving them even more than they bargained for and everyone’s happy, right? Except of course, the customer, who’s been diddled out of more cash than they wanted.

At ANBAD, our idea of added value is to throw more bands at you and to make them stick – for free! So here’s another Great ANBAD Band Clear Out – where three great new bands are pumped into your open, willing gullets, all for the price of one! Open wide…

Airport City Express are another Belgian band who continue to prove that their country isn’t just the butt of ‘name three famous Belgians’ jokes and Tintin, and instead produce the sort of easy-going rock that Soulwax and Phoenix used to. Smooth and fuzzy. Listen here!

The Little Philistines: Zipping between the good UK indie of the 90s and deceptive tunefulness with cunning aplomb, The Little Philistines have, in Another Song, a signature tune with a chorus that goes on for miles. Listen here!

Guess what? Slow Drum Hum are another of our most Aptly Named Bands…Ever! Creeping, slow and ready to pounce, with thoughtful menace, their songs hum, drone and click like evil radio static from outer space. Cower here!

>Unwise and Unaware: ANBAD Goes A-Wandering



As a valued ANBAD reader/subscriber/twitterer/etc, you’ll be all too painfully aware of the dubious joys of doing things the hard way. We’ve brought you all sorts of bands over the last 18 months or so – some of which have been wonderful, some of which have vigorously divided opinion and some of which have just been plain awkward.

But the beauty of these huge discrepancies in quality is that occasionally a band sneaks through that shouldn’t really have, catching me and you, the listeners, off guard – revealing a new exciting paths to wander down. Removing consistency of thought seems to have some advantages after all.

So: I’ve decided to apply this unwise approach to a wider remit. Having, erm, ditched my job, home and life in Manchester and thrown a sleeping bag, a rucksack and my hopes and dreams (yuk) into a car, I’m off to travel around Europe for ooh, until the money runs out.

Hopefully, along the way, I’ll drop into gigs, Euro-music festivals and the like and, via the magic of wi-fi, be able to let you know whether France really is all about Jonny Halliday or Justice.

Don’t be alarmed though – ANBAD will continue (almost) as normal – there will inevitably be fewer posts per week, so the A New Band A Day moniker, which has always been a bit shaky, won’t totally apply, but there will be new bands and features as always, throughout the week.

If there’s no new band today – why not have an explore through the exciting, bulging and overwhelming ANBAD Archive (just situated to your right)? There are so many bands in there, it’ll keep you busy until the cows have come home, gone to bed and have woken up again the next day.

So: Happy Holidays to all, and here’s to the exciting prospect of writing to you all from the Continent.

Take it sleazy,

Joe Sparrow, ANBAD

***If you’re a new band, please still get in touch as per usual, but please be aware that the regularity of which I can check my email is dependant on free wi-fi in bars, and whether I’m then too busy drinking the local beer to check.***