>Today’s New Band – Chinatown

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ANBAD couldn’t exist without the help of YOU, the delightful, handsome and intelligent reader. And, if you’ve never done it, go crazy: join in and let me know of a great band that will enrichen all our lives (or, failing that, just send me a band with a ridiculous name. That usually does the trick).

Some of the emails are from bands themselves but are serpentine in their pretence that actually it’s a fan of the band that’s emailing and not the drummer’s attempts to drum up publicity for a change.

The difference between these emails and those from an actual fan is that the real fans are always, always derangedly crazy in their bare-faced love of the band in question, and feature! a lot!!! of exclamation!! marks!, resisting any attempts of restraint.

Anyway: I got a lovely email from a lovely man – Julian Fargo, whose sleepy solo songs made him new band o’ the day back in January. He is in another band, Chinatown, and wondered, in unutterably polite tones, whether they might be suitable. The deal was sealed when he said he hoped they ‘would have an important place in the French music scene, between Johnny Hallyday and Justice.’ Perfect.

Chinatown, inevitably, sound like neither, which is something of a shame and a relief. But you will be whistling along to the snappy melody of songs like Apprendre a Danser (Vague schoolboy French translation: Learn to Dance), which is more important.

Du Jazz Avec L’Apocalypse is a tempting enough title in itself; and the twisting and bristling chorus is almost a happy side-effect. It drives and dives directly to your heart. (It’s strange, but singing in French seems to instill a certain Gallic cockiness in any song. I wonder if, to foreign ears, English-language songs have a specific ‘feel?)

Chinatown’s songs are brighter, more free and more twinkly than a handful of stolen diamonds. You’ll realise this straight away – their swinging choruses will grab your hand and force you to dance with them, like a pestering uncle at a family wedding. Good stuff. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Julien Fargo PLUS! Repressed late 90’s rock!

>As if further proof were needed that life is full of weird coincidences, just a couple of days after musing on The Only Ones and their reunion gigs, a friend mentioned that he’d gone to see them on Saturday night. And the verdict is: The Only Ones still sound great, but singer Peter Perrett’s voice was shot. He then went on to make several unsubstantiated substance-abuse allegations, which I probably shouldn’t recount.

In fairness, perhaps he had a sore throat, or the mic was at the wrong level, or any number of reasons could account for his croaky voice. But it didn’t matter – the band played the hits, and the fans danced and went home happy. So any lingering cynicism I had about band reunions vapourised. Except then I remembered that Kula Shaker reformed a few years ago, and are troubling venues all over the world again.

This kind of assault on common decency must not stand. Kula Shaker are the second worst band of all time. To banish the resurfaced memory of the woeful quasi-mystic rock nonsense of Tattva and Govinda, here’s Today’s New Band, Julien Fargo, who don’t sing songs in Sanskrit and don’t make ill-informed statements about swastikas. What they actually do is make really good music, which is enough.

L’Homme 100 tetes – which as far as my schoolboy French is aware, means ‘The Man With 100 Heads’ – is just fabulous, a twinkling swoosh through multi-coloured starfields. Wait – sorry about that. I think Kula Shaker’s faux-psychedelia must have leeched into my brain. But it is a beautiful, simple song, built on simple repetition and echoes of sounds, and ends up as a dreamy, woozy soundtrack to whatever you are doing as you listen to it.

Le Jardin de Roses clambers up and up using a genuinely lovely, plinky-ponk melody to find its way to wherever it might end up. Carefree, lively and with just enough world-weariness to make it lovable, it’ll immediately ping an image into your mind. The one that popped into my head was the view from a bar stool in Parisian cafe. I don’t know why. But it was a nice moment.

In these two songs, Julien Fargo – the man, the band – has made two little glimpses of something that’s annoyingly intangible, but special. And so much better than retreading your musical past. Listen to them here!

>All Sorts of Idiocy, Failure and Today’s New (OLD) Band – The Unicorns

>So, two stories to tell today. Firstly, I somehow only remembered at the very last minute that I wouldn’t have time to post anything today, due to innumerable computer/human interface-complications. Panic set in immediately. This is Idiotic Moment Number 2.

The GOOD NEWS, though, was that the consequences of Idiotic Moment Number 2 has been rescued by Idiotic Moment Number 1, which was usefully conceived and executed a few weeks ago, and then stored away for a rainy day like this. I knew this combination of a hoarding instinct and innate stupidity would pay dividends one day.

Idiotic Moment Number 1 began when I was recommended a band, who were so great I immediately began typing the review, before I’d checked small details like, “are they new and/or still functioning as a group?” only to find after writing that neither was indeed the case. This particular band has been around for a few years and split up a while ago. Durrrr.

So I saved it anyway, and now it’s reprinted below for your delectation. Yum. Enjoy the flavour of stupidity.

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Like a few bands we’ve featured recently, Today’s New Band The Unicorns have our ipod generation’s mix-and-match hotchpotch of influences. And sure enough, they metaphorically scroll the clickwheel and skip from one tune to another, all within one song.

Look at their most brilliant song I Was Born A Unicorn. The guitar starts out as an African jangle before veering off into a garage-punk crunch. The vocals are a croon, a yelp and then a drunken sing-along. The drums pound from military to dancefloor to disco. You get the idea. From here to there and then over there too, for good measure.

See also Tuff Ghost – the song has the music you’d hear on a spooky Japanese-only imported SEGA game from 1989. Jellybones is the sound of a dial-up modem remixed into a surprisingly lush and heartfelt song.

If you can’t find what you want in The Unicorns, you must be a James Blunt fan. And as that’s about as overwhelmingly good a recommendation as I could give them, why not listen here?

>Today’s New Band – That’s The Spirit

>The brain consumes 20% of the oxygen a human breathes. At least that’s what Wikipedia says, so you may as well invent your own fact and the chances of it being true are about the same. Anyway – the point is that brains are bewilderingly impressive, and do remarkable things. Issac Newton’s brain, for example, spewed out the three laws of motion and the theory of Universal Gravitation while he was dozing under a tree. Or something.

Meanwhile, us mere mortals, incapable of generating ideas that shape entire societies for hundreds of years, are left with all that brain power punching and flailing in a million different directions at once, only occasionally revealing hitherto unknown abilities. Unfortunately, my special brain-skill appears to be playing crap songs on loop in my head for hours on end. The nadir of this anti-Zen skill consisted of a whole weekend wandering around Barcelona humming, out loud, the chorus from Eddie Murphy and Rick James‘ half-hellish, half-genius 80’s hit ‘My Girl Wants to Party All The Time’, confirming locals’ suspicions that all tourists are idiots.

While I was in France recently, this idiotic superpower kicked in again, but this time – bliss! – it finally picked a good song, Little Patton by ex-New Band of The Day, The Seedy Seeds, and I spent a whole two weeks happily whistling to myself. Perhaps my relentless pursuit of new bands is specifically so that I can push all the crappy old songs out of my head with good new ones. If so, then Today’s New Band is another step in the right direction.

They’re That’s The Spirit, they’re from Canada, and they write songs that are gentle, melodic, mind-massages. Moreover, the songs are fitting for the time of year – when summer is drifting lazily into autumn, and a feeling of mild hopelessness prevails. Always Coming Back is chiming, bright and understated, and Every City has a strange yearning feeling written large; its clanging guitar sounds the pen, and your woozy mind the A4 sheet of notepaper.

That’s The Spirit‘s songs are the ones you’d want to listen to on a drizzly day, as you doze cozily inside, watching the outside world disappear in grey watery nothingness. Listen to their songs here, and drift slowly into a womb-like comfortable slumber.