>EP Island: Bands Are Like, Soooo, 2009

And so it’s come to pass: we’ve done post-punk and post-rock! Now the logical conclusion to all this posting has come to pass: the Post-Band. So puzzle over EP Island, a ‘recording project’, a ‘non-band band’,

So who’s (not) in this (non) band? Well, blame LL Schulz, Lyn Heinemann and Melanie Covey for all this genre-warping. Tired of band practices, gigging and all the other distractions that fill a musician’s time, they struck on the idea of a band that forms only when they want it to, and only writes and records in this time too.

It’s a clever side-step back to basics – revisting the reason people form bands in the first place: togetherness defined by intense creative bursts. And the results are similarly retrograde – a satisfyingly gnarled sound, the sense of urgency, the spirit of creative outpouring, and, in Broken Social Smoker, a corker of a song.

EP Island – Broken Social Smoker

John Lennon once said that the best songs were written, recorded and released within a week. He was on to something. Broken Social Smoker bears all the hallmarks of sudden craft, quick thinking and melodies from the depths. Perhaps it’s just Christmas cheer, but surely this is a lovely song, from lovely sources, with lovely sentiment.

Having sampled the delights of the post-band, it’s time to pause and reflect on where things will go now. Any pleasures that will be derived from (hopefully) an inundation of quickly-written, recorded and released records might be dampened by rebellious post-post-bands, who try to slick their production up to Duran Duran standards. Who knows?

But this will be the last new (kinda-) band of the year – inevitable End Of Year Lists will appear tomorrow! Celebrate! Or Flee!

>Airship, Weevils, Larvae and Pupae

>Woodworm – as pop music subjects go, they’re one of nature’s more overlooked contributions. But Airship are, if nothing else, altruistic in their plotting to showcase the worth in the little larval critters.

And thus their song Woodworm is appropriately named. Tiny and innocuous, it initially seems harmless, but soon you’ll be aware that it has slyly burrowed its way into your affections. A song of slender beauty.

Airship – Woodworm

If Woodworm is almost quaint in its quiet nature, Kids is a voluted, urgent and clean pop shriek that peaks time and time again in a chorus of eyes-to-the-sky life affirmation. It’s on the upcoming, excellent, Love and Disaster New Manchester Artists EP – of which there will be more in the New Year.

Airship aren’t full of hot air – they are precise in their manufacture of happy, shimmering, introspective songs. Mournful and upbeat. Clever.

Photography by Toria Brightside

>I Come To Shanghai, The Fall, and The Mark E. Smith Fingers/Pies Interface

As well as watching the Worst Band Ever, last week I also finally managed to catch The Fall, the finest grumpy band in the world. Singer Mark E Smith has been puzzling, delighting and be-grumpifying audiences for decades now, armed only with a perculi-ah! singing-ah! style-ah!, an endless supply of black leather zip-up jackets and a band line-up that rotates, frequently, and at his whim alone.

Needless to say, all the worthy praise you’ve ever read about The Fall is true – defiant, odd and thrilling- and make songs that are timeless by virtue of two things: their genuinely weird, outsider status, and the clattering brilliance of the songs themselves. All of this is held together by Smith, cracked ringmaster extraordinaire, the laser focus fuelled by beer, ego and more beer.

All of this has been roundly ignored by I Come To Shanghai, a band whose smoothed-off sound and shimmering brightness is miles away from grimy post-punk nihilism. Pass The Time is a yearning, pretty sigh; lazy, candy-coloured and wrapped up in its own semi-happiness.

Your Lazy Eye is a sky-shooting delight, and the breezy, bright pop couldn’t be further from The Fall’s… wait – or are they? There’s a sneaking suspicion that The Fall is still influencing new bands even now, possibly without either party knowing.

I Came To Shanghai – Lazy Eye

Having hung around for so long, rambling at all and sundry, telling them what to do, that, like the old drunk in the pub, you begin to take some of it in. And in I Come To Shanghai‘s sweet, clanking guitars, off-kilter view and taut drums, The Fall are there, insidious and sneering. The band just don’t realise it yet. This might be a very good thing.

>Today’s New Band – Curly Hair


Now wait a second. It’s true that wi-fi has proven a bit tough to come by on the road. But I’m not suggesting for a second that the beautiful, proud nations of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Croatia are lacking in up-to-date wireless computing facilities*, even though being able to catch up with what’s happening to ANBAD while I’m zipping around Europe has proven as difficult as finding a radio station not playing mid-90’s Depeche Mode on loop.

Anyway – when I finally managed to check my ANBAD emails again, and browsed through all the bands suggested by you lovely readers, I suddenly realised that if I didn’t act soon, there would be more good bands to review than there are days in the year. So today, while Slovenian wi-fi is briefly a part of my life again, I’m trying to redress the balance and reviewing bands like crazy.
Thus, clutch to your bosom Today’s New Band, Curly Hair, who were suggested to me so long ago, I can only hope that they haven’t toured, become superstars, had number one albums, descended into Coke Hell and split up in the meantime. This is probably not the case if the glut of new, sweet ‘n’ curious songs posted on their Myspage page is anything to go by.
Blow The House Down is a deceptively slender, sugary love-ish song with fly-away organ tinkling and corduroy-trousered backing vocals. The song is a gently-lulling delight, bringing to mind the innocence and charm of an infant school classroom project singing lesson where the lucid suggestions of the pupils have been used to form a special sea-shanty.
And in High Fives, Low Fives and The Bus Song, they continue their single minded attempt to craft – and that’s what they’re doing, possibly with sugar paper and glitter glue – one lovely song after another.
Curly Hair have discovered a rich seam of these charming, cheerful songs, that will have you clapping your hands in glee, or just out of pure admiration. They’re kind enough to share them with us, in a kind of Cute Indie/Lo-Fi Show ‘n’ Tell. Sit quietly at your desk and enjoy.
*And even if I was, I’d hastily add that its absence is wholly compensated for by the vast numbers of truly beautiful people that cram themselves into each town in these countries

>Today’s New Band – Everything Everything

>Last night, I saw Pete And The Pirates* at Moho Live in Manchester. Since I first saw them two years ago, and then again six months ago, they’ve steadily got better – more charming, more interesting, more likely to become the huge success they deserve to be. If their fabulous new songs are anything to go by, their next album will be a corker.

We took a decidedly old-school approach to the gig – blagging our way in for free (“But the band promised we’d be on the guest list”), and smuggling in a hip flask o’ booze for surreptitious topping-up of cola. As we persuasively nudged our way to the front of the crowd (sharp elbows), the difference between a support band and the headliners became a little clearer than before.

Where the support band that we saw (I forget their name, but imagine a swing and a miss at Stone Roses-style Über-confidence and you’re there) tried to fill every moment with noise, P&TP had the confidence to allow ebb and flow, quiet and loud. It lulls the audience in as opposed to battering them with a wall of fudgy noise.

Today’s New Band also have this skill – and it is a skill – so be thankful for Mancunians Everything Everything, whose songs are cute, sharp and unusual.

Suffragette Suffragette is a clicking, polyrhythmic example of their finely-honed approach to songwriting. It weaves and bobs, dashing from choral, harmonising vocal over-indulgence to pared-down calm – which serve to push their superb weirdness to the fore.

Single Photoshop Handsome grabs a wild chorus by the ears and rides it hopefully, wrestling it to fit into their idiosyncratically off-the-wall framework. It yelps, shouts and chirps – but not for the sake of it – and then slips confidently into a huge, pounding, synth finale.

Everything Everything are now getting the radio play they’ve deserved for a while, and this is purely because they’re punchy, innovative and crafty. Lovely. Listen here.

*My amigo Martin said that they sounded like the Strokes had collaborated with 90’s pop-nobodies Eternal, which wins my vote for most ludicrous description of any band, ever.