The Parish of Little Clifton: Punctuation Infatuation

Now that’s a mouthful of a band-name, eh, pop-pickers? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with The Parish of Little Clifton as your moniker of choice, but it sure isn’t The Ramones, is it?

Petty grievances abound on ANBAD about band names – and they should be largely ignored, of course – although I can’t help thinking that one day, someone is going to attend a The Parish of Little Clifton live performance in the mistaken belief that they’ll be  taking part in a small village’s council meeting.

In many ways, I hope this does happen, as it’ll expose a wholly confused person to some entirely clear, precise music that ought to cut through their mental fug like an industrial laser-beam.


Or maybe it wouldn’t: while the crafting of songs like It’s Okay, Roseanne is diamond-cut in execution, the samples used to convey the sound are a pleasantly confusing mis-mash of vocal snippets, obtuse noises and grabbed sound snatches.

Such an approach – voices punctuating the song until they become instruments, with actual instrument sounds relegated to mere framework – leaves us with a thumpingly jolly song which defies the odds and becomes, unexpectedly, a brilliant party tune. Great.


Gallops, Bill Murray, Oedipus, and Gallops (Again)

In an attempt to further solidify my early descent into middle age, on Saturday night I stayed in and watched the endlessly wonderful Groundhog Day on TV.

The following night, after the Oedipal whirlwind that is Mother’s Day had abated, I flicked on the set, and Groundhog Day was on again; same Hog-time, same Hog-channel.

I couldn’t figure out whether I was more confused or impressed by the thick irony in this example of truly post-modern TV programming.

Listening to new music is often like Groundhog Day, except not as funny and with fewer Bill Murray-esque wearisome, crumpled faces. A refresher: remember when The Strokes were magma-hot? Remember the resultant glut of be-fringed, leather-jacketed copycat bands, and how they managed to drive the last wafts of enjoyment out of that scene’s tail?

Thus the clamour for actually new and exciting music becomes all the greater. Hello, then, Gallops, who fulfil these criteria and more, more, more.

Gallops // Miami Spider

As far as repetition goes, this throbbing, punishing floor-pounder of a song shows that the band knows the value of a big, looping melody. The ethos is pushed to, beyond, and back to, its inevitable conclusion brilliantly.

More: in an attempt to destroy any self-designated kudos from yesterday’s post – here’s a comparison: Gallops sound a bit like Battles crossed with a glittery bedroom pop record released by Shifty Disco circa 2003. Miami Spider is – and I use this word advisedly – awesome.

Black Daniel, and Finally: The Inevitable BBC 6 Music Post

So, I’ve finally sent a slightly embarrassing and uptight email to the BBC complaining about the bizarre (and I suspect, politically motivated) decision to axe of BBC 6Music.

If, like me, you’re a listener (and can put aside the temptation to let it disappear just so Lauren Laverne’s show will vanish as well) and value the station’s admirable adherence to playing something different, why not email them too?

That idea of playing something different is key: it is why you’re reading this blog, why your idea of hell is a U2 concert, and it’s what separates us from them. It’s also why closing BBC 6Music is bizarre: offering less choice is not what the BBC is supposed to do.

BBC 6Music exists to give bands like Black Daniel a break, and an exposure to a much wider audience than the usual Blogospherical constraints.

Black Daniel are an enigma too: a band who are in it for the fun of it, yet make songs like ILoveYouButDon’tTouchMeCosYou’reSick that are too good to be merely a show-off’s cast-offs.

Black Daniel // ILoveYouButDon’tTouchMeCosYou’reSick

The song is a strange hybrid of the nihilism of Mudhoney‘s Touch Me I’m Sick and the tune of The VaselinesJesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam, which is as good a starting point as any.

Appropriately, the song is a scorcher: essentially one long celebration of its own excellent chorus. And for a band that appears to revel in their own reckless, gauche abandon, it’s quite affecting, lovely and even cute. A surprising pleasure.

>King Kayak, Cliff Richard and Christmas Sneers

The Christmas Top 10, in the UK at least, used to be a fun cobbling-together of novelty seasonal songs, re-releases of novelty seasonal songs, and Cliff Richard records; the Christmas Number One slot was genuinely coveted, in a slightly camp way.

Now, since Simon Cowell became the pantomime mogul-dame of music-reality TV, his endless string of recent-wannabes have filled this spot each year with one drab song after another. But now the Internets are fighting back, with an organised campaign to get Rage Against The Machine‘s Killing In The Name Of to the top this year instead.

Wait – is this some sort of obscure joke? Is this Post-Post-Irony? Telling people to buy a song that has “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” as its most memorable line is the pop equivalent of a snake eating its own tail.

Just think of all the money that will be wasted on an internet meme that could be nudged towards new bands instead – bands like King Kayak, who would welcome the cash a lot more readily than Zack de la Rocha.

Thinking about it, King Kayak are well placed most to make a tilt for the Christmas #1 slot – they make breezy songs, benevolently spreading cheer and fun. If they added a few jingling bells and a children’s choir to John, maybe they could do it. It’s bright, carefree and has a pop hook that would mobilise the most reluctant of office party dancefloors.

King Kayak – John

Imagine if it happened. King Kayak, number one. A band succeeding from nowhere with a great song, an amazing story and bundles of talent. You could make a primetime reality TV show out of that.

Photo courtesy of Salford Advertiser

>Das Filth, Investments in Nostalgia and Real Estate

These days, everyone’s trying to experience something that no-one else in their peer group has. Backpacking along the gap-year trail though Thailand isn’t enough any more – if you haven’t spent a month harvesting Mangosteens in a remote Vietnamese hamlet, Giles, Ollie and Cassie won’t give you the time of day back in the student’s union.

Here’s the rub: what do these world-weary travellers do after they connected with real people? I’d gamble that the safety of a nice job in the familys’ real estate business was selected during another day of explosive diarrhoea in Laos. These daring interludes are controlled, rationed and carefully defined – undertaken mainly as an investment in nostalgia.

Hats off to the hardy souls who genuinely put everything on hold and lurch head-first into the music world, where filthy toilets, disease and, like, mind-expansion are also the norm. So are Glaswegians Das Filth doing it for traditional rock thrills or as something to boast about when they’re estate agents in three years’ time?

Songs of such blustering belligerence like Pictures In Transit would suggest that they don’t have one eye on the housing market. In fact, both eyes are firmly focused on creating thrilling noise – this song is the grubby thumbprint of a band who are throwing common sense aside: the clattering good-time sound of a bunch of friends who just don’t care.

Das Filth – Pictures In Transit

Pylons, thrashy and grandstanding, has a chorus of real sing/mosh-along beauty; surprising and mutating – from threatening grind into a cluster of splashy hi-hats, demented guitar and FUN.

Crunchy noise is their friend, gnarly riffs are their weapon, and the rest of the world is their target. Das Filth are for real. Maaaan.

>Stained Glass Heroes, Baby Cannibalism and Rap-Rock

Think your life’s crappy? Pah. I’ve just read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which, as far as I can tell, was nothing more than a literary exercise on the author’s part to redefine the word ‘bleak’.

In The Road, McCarthy takes the meaning to whole new levels of shuddering misery from whence the word itself can now only be written in a special ink made from a mixture of the ground bones from your recently deceased cat, and orphans’ tears.

So, all you struggling writers looking for work, and new bands (who are on the road in a very different manner), read the book and take heart. Life looks better when you haven’t had to cannibalise babies for food yet.

Stained Glass HeroesInsects is pretty menacing and post-apocalyptic itself, albeit with more of an exoskeletal slant. The guitars grind mechanically, the vocals are crooned through the last remaining walkie-talkie, and the chorus is a relentless insectoid scuttle. It’s a rather brilliant, rather camp, lurching monster of a song with a hook that you’ll hum robotically for aeons.

Stained Glass Heroes – Insects

Dashing quickly from Schlock-rock to edge-of-reason drumbeat fiasco, Turkish Wedding shakes with lunatic precision, drawing all around it into a wild, circular, rhythmical shimmy.

Uncomfortably close in name to dreadful US Rap-Rock (urgh) outfit Gym Class Heroes they may be; but if Stained Glass Heroes are the musical accompaniment to the apocalypse, I for one will enjoy my senseless killing and pillaging rampage just that little bit more. Sharpen your butcherin’ knives and listen here!

>Lost Knives – Or, How To Be Superceded By The Lure Of A Kebab

This post ought to have featured last week, when Manchester’s In The City New Music Conference was relevant, current and new. I wanted to see Lost Knives quite badly, but was ‘held up watching another band’.

A quick glance at the schedule would reveal that I was at the Dutch Uncles gig, but a delve into the truth would expose that I had holed up in a kebab shop and was shoving dubious spicy meat into my idiot face.

I wished I’d seen them, especially when, the next day, talk of their performance was a drizzle of positive chatter. My guilt was compounded when one the band then sent me an email asking if I’d seen them play.

So this review is part praise, part apology, and part admission of dumb servitude to a base need for cheap meat. Lost Knives are a good band, who will succeed regardless of any shabby chuntering on a new music blog.

If they do make it, it will have been their songs that drove them there. Tracks like Cold Morning are rumbustious enough to please the indie purists and to shake the rest from their slumber. A foot stomper in the very truest sense, Lost Knives throw big chord changes, clobbering drums and gritted-teeth vocals in, and get skyscraping rock in return.

Laden with end-of-world doom and shoot-to-the-moon ambition, it’s a song as wide-eyed as it is jittering with aggro. Lost Knives are less spicy, but more meaty than any amount of grilled, skewered meat. Praise indeed.

>Today’s New Band – Ace Bushy Striptease

For someone who specialises in listening to new music, it turns out I don’t know very much about, er, new music. Example: it took me this long to realise that MGMT are American, and not French as I’d assumed. I initially thought I was confusing them French bands like Justice, or MSTRKRFT, until reading that MSTRKRFT are Canadian, which just confirms that I’m an idiot who knows nothing.

I suppose the knowledge of nationality helps further mentally establish a band’s sound – Daft Punk couldn’t really be any other nationality than French, just as Nickleback couldn’t be any more rootin’ tootin’ American if they tried. Wait, they’re Canadian too. Crap.

Today’s New Band are from Birmingham, UK. I’ve double-checked, and that’s definitely correct. So, if my half-formed theory is right, do Ace Bushy Striptease sound British? Well, yes, I suppose so. But no more than they sound Mexican, Japanese or Slovakian. Theory abandoned.

Ace Bushy Striptease have one of the most, er… evocative names featured on ANBAD for a long time. A good name is all-important, and the band members must have known they were half-way to success when they came up with that one.

Luckily, they have the tunes to complete the equation. Iluvya would be a heartbreaking rejection song – “I don’t care what you say, I love ya anyway” – in any other hands, but here it becomes a fun, carefree blast.

Knockabout songs like Mervyn and Isaac Find A CD and the so crazy-it’s-crazy remix-magedddon that is Ace Bushy Exceedddrrrr show Ace Bushy Striptease to be a band that don’t take themselves too seriously. This is an admirable trait, but one that could become grating if it wasn’t tempered with occasional glimpses of substance.

This they do in Heartbreaks In The Snow – an actually affecting song. It’s a delight; a sad, lonely, cold and sweet song. Ace Bushy Striptease are a band brimming with youth, fun coming out of their eyeballs and an ear for a great tune. Expect great things – listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Apples

>So, I’m nearly home. As of Monday, the (possibly unique) ANBAD Travelogue/New Band Review Service will be replaced by the simple daily proffering of New Bands, just like in the good ol’ days. In some ways, it’s a shame – writing about bands whilst in a tent pitched on the hill overlooking Karlovac was fun, but tiring. For those who’d like to emulate this attempt, a word of advice: finding wi-fi in eastern Europe is an ‘interesting challenge’.

Conversely, getting back to the metaphorical new band roots is just what’s needed. A three-month, self-indulgent trip around Europe, however, is just what you need if you desire navel-gazing time.

The best band to soundtrack this kind of activity is New Order, a band who I consider one of my favourites almost by default – because, well, it’s New Order. However, my readiness to constantly return to their songs, looking for brilliance, and always finding it, suggests that they connect in some other, more mysterious way.

Now isn’t the time to wonder why, merely to love them for what they are – the producers of the most casually written classic songs ever. The feeling that they have stumbled onto thrilling pop brilliance by accident is always one wonky keyboard stab or clunky lyric away. Perhaps it’s the truth.

Today’s New Band, Apples, like New Order, have a penchant for keyboard-driven jangly pop, and are similarly eager to utilise instruments oft-regarded as uncool. Listen out for the saxophone break in the gloriously chipper song Reason 45 for proof, and then feel your stomach flip next to your heart with pleasure as the dreamiest of choruses bursts: heartfelt, delicious, bitter-sweet, bright.

Just like New Order, Apples’ words, sounds and drive are uncool, unusual and without a definitive plan, and all the better for it. Reason 45 is as good a song as you’ll hear this month, and maybe the next one, too. Whisper it – but it’s an almost perfect pop song. It’s so delightful, so enraptured by the sweet joy of a melody and so enthralled with the simple pleasure of being alive that I can hardly take it. Drown yourself in sunlight, here!

>Today’s New Band – Bleech

>ALERT – ANOTHER ART BRUT ARTICLE: those who despise irreverent indie-obsessed scrap-pop look away now. There was an interview with everyone’s favourite rabble-rousing, love-’em-or-hate-’em rock troubadours Art Brut in the NME recently.

Their new album is make-or-break, it said. The band is in fine spirits, is still knocking out fine tunes and is still largely ignored in their home country, it said. Five long years have passed since they first sang about wanting to be on Top Of The Pops, it said. The article was positive and sympathetic, but there was a suggestion that The ‘Brut’s life cycle might be reaching its natural conclusion.

I’m not sure – I chatted with the (very friendly) band at a gig recently and they seemed positive, though a little bit weary. To be honest, the gig itself was similar – highly enjoyable, ace tunes, and more energy than a thousand Scouting For Girls gigs – but I detected a wobble for the first time from their usual Über-confident, diffident, deliberately contrary nature.

Like Art Brut, Today’s New Band, Bleech, have a palpable affinity with 90’s Britpop. The very idea is so deeply unfashionable that Bleech might have found a path to prominence. Surely the britpop revival will dawn any time now.

Is It True That Boys Don’t Cry is clearly deep-fried Britpop. Even the most fervent denier can hear it. The song is by a shoutier Salad, an emphatic Echobelly, a punchier Powder. If this song had been released in 1995, £500,000 contracts would have been shoved under their noses.

Flowerhands reveals a band who know that songs need to have catchy choruses and sing-a-long verses. These twin ideas were the twin tenets of Britpop’s musical make-up. Maybe Bleech are 15 years too late, or maybe they’ve arrived at just the right time, with the melodies that have been missed for so long. Listen here!