Wu Lyf (Finally) and The Great BBC 6Music Sham

I knew something didn’t add up. The BBC 6Music kerfuffle drags on and on – with more and more music fans, politicians and BBC bigwigs all competing to see who can yelp their opinions the loudest.

And yet, all along, something just didn’t seem right. How could the BBC continue to make slack-jawed idiot-vision programmes like I Believe In Ghosts: Joe Swash and Hotter Than My Daughter, whilst cutting 6Music because of budgetary constraints?

The truth is now pretty much out: the BBC has been toying with 6Music’s fate as part of some tedious, wider, political machination. Now, bear with me here – we’re not in tin-foil-hat-donning Conspiracy Theory territory yet – but think: is the following scenario that implausible?

  1. BBC are pressured by politicians and papers alike for spending license-payer money poorly on ‘underused services’;
  2. Under the auspices of cost-cutting, the BBC axes services with ‘low’ audiences (but high listener devotion);
  3. Audiences froth in concerned frenzy, papers and politicians champion spontaneous public protest;
  4. BBC points out to critics that the ‘wasted’ money is actually providing a much-desired service;
  5. 6Music reinstated, criticism silenced until after forthcoming general election;
  6. BBC directors smoke fatCuban cigars on yacht full of Page 3 girls in Mediterranean.

Well, I think it’s possible. We shall see.

Meanwhile, while vague theories abound, how about Wu Lyf? Now here’s a Mancunian band who have released so little information about who they are and what they do that I’m not honestly sure if the image and mp3 attached to this article is anything to do with them or not.

Wu Lyf // Heavy Pop

There are many theories floating around Manchester about Wu Lyf: that each time they play their gigs, they change their name to put people off the scent; that one day they will burst forth and reveal themselves with a #1 album; that they’re an extravagant scam; that they’re the future of music itself.

I ought to have written about Wu Lyf about 6 months ago when I first fell over them, and have been holding off to try and catch them live. I have repeatedly failed at this.

However, in the rarefied environs of the music blogging world, where blogs identify themselves by madly scrambling to be the first to feature new band X, an exeption can be made for Wu Lyf.

No-one knows much about them, so I feel justified in being so far behind the curve. Notice that this ‘review’ contains no actual review of Wu Lyf. I think they’d like it that way.

Memo and Lies, Lies, Lies

Memo is a big fat LIAR. Let’s not beat around the bush. On his Myspace page, he claims, spuriously, that he was the drummer in Def Leppard, knows ex-Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, and is a tenant of Chuck Norris’.

Claims of such celebrity dalliances are not only perversely 80’s in their outlook, but mere fibs in comparison to the biggest lie he’s managed to propagate: that his output is so prodigious that next time you visit his Myspace page, the songs you loved last time may have all been replaced by new ones.

In a display of real cunning, this claim seems backed up by hard fact: when I listened to lighter-than-air pop shuffle A Minha Son today, the stats read Plays: 0. We are dealing with a dangerous mind here.

Dangerous, but clever. A Minha Son is sharp in execution and gossamer-thin in its design: coolly pretty, distantly alluring and crystalline in poise.

Memo – A Minha Son

It sounds like all the French pop songs you always wanted to like but couldn’t quite – but better. Waif-like, full of love; angular and brilliant.

After all this, ask yourself the question: what is truth? And what is it worth? These are philosophical times, friends. Why even bother caring – let’s just take it all at face value.

And so: Memo is a minor genius, and his vanishing-songs trick will ensure your life is always enriched with a new, obtuse, quirky, song.


Organ Morgan, False Memories and Summer All Year Long

The combination of getting older and being in possession of a mind that is hard-wired to remember even the most minor musical trivia forever has it’s flaws, I can tell you.

An example of the mysteries of the human mind: when an email about Organ Morgan* popped into my inbox, the band that pinged into my head was 1999 very-minor-sensation M. Organ, who (briefly) wrote Money Mark-esque ditties on his Hammond Organ, and then disappeared without trace.

When you can’t find someone on Google, you know that either a) times are hard for that artist, or b) your subconscious has made the memory up to make life that bit more complex. Both situations have their own worrying conclusions, and thus Organ Morgan*‘s E-Z Serv, soft-scoop, grab-bag pop is all the more welcome a distraction.

Organ Morgan – Broken Heart

If Broken Heart is a remix of the Spiritualized song of the same name, then he’s done a fine job of removing all of that version’s heroin-misery and replacing it with dreamy, orange-hued pleasure.

In a time when everyone with a laptop and a pirated copy of Fruity Loops is a producer, here’s a man who really knows what he’s doing, sculpting outrageously lovely songs with the finesse of someone who’s spent their whole life immersed in great songs.

Morgan Organ*‘s dreamy, skittering, summertime songs will inevitably draw comparisons with The Avalanches, but how can that be a bad thing? And apparently, he’s made a 26-track, alphabetically-themed album. This man might be my hero. A warm, golden delight. Expect big things.


*NB: Organ Morgan is now know as Channel Swimmer: www.channelswimmer.com

>Mike Yes Yes Ersing, and Lunacy – The Spice Of Life!

Everyone has a song that, when heard, will whip them up and away to a moment in their past. Mine is the title track of Spiritualized‘s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, and only the opening space-shuttle bleeps are needed for an involuntarily reliving of heady art college days – the tacky plastic smell of cheap acrylic paint, the groping of strange art concepts and stranger art students.

Now Ladies And Gentlemen… has just been re-released, with the obligatory extra discs of new material, in an exciting black variation of the original’s pill-popping packaging. For once, the extra odds and ends aren’t superfluous, but, through long blasts of a capella gospel choirs and ambient guitar wobbles, fully explain the creative journey of the album.

Similar explanatory evidence might de-tangle the tortured complications of Mike Yes Yes Ersing‘s work. Whether the songs would dreamily evoke days gone by, or simply leave a ribbon of burnt-out synapses is another matter. For Mike Yes Yes Ersing has created a body of work that is nuanced as it is crazed, as utterly creative as it is head-spinning.

His songs are short, razor-sharp and playful in the way that a toddler who’s just found a nailgun is. Some songs, like A Priori Insistence Teething are dreamy, beautiful and ethereal – as angelic as anything you’ll hear all year. Others, like Mood Dependant Retrieval, are close to having been plugged straight into the mind of a schizophrenic.

Mike Yes Yes Ersing – A Priori Insistence Teething

Mike Yes Yes Ersing‘s songs scream to be heard. Menace, lunacy, happiness, desire – it’s all in his waif-like song-slivers. Each delivers a surprise, varying manically from the last. A true, thrilling original.

>Volcanoes: Five Great Bands, One Super Price!

Another day, another splash in the swimming pool of confusion, and all centred around one simple question: who are Volcanoes?

The trad-guitar-band that makes carefully crafted folky guitar jangles like The Room With The Red Door? The scratchy, horn-tinted, aggro-crunch band of Temple? Or the band that makes an entirely unexpected, possibly dubious, semi-rap-rock of Making Progress?

Rule #1 of ANBAD‘s puddled outlook on life is there’s no merit in consistency, and Volcanoes are certainly avid subscribers to this theory. Their attention spans must rival that of a gnat’s, and they’re all the better for it.

Temple is, at the very least, a fascinating, writhing, spasmodic riddle of a song, flitting here and there, gleefully trying new sounds and styles within a single song. It’s ADHD-rock and it’s a thrill-a-minute, literally.

Volcanoes – Temple

Then compare and contrast it with the gonzo rock of Trick of The Light. Then wonder about he band meetings when new songs are debuted. Then dare to imagine the agonies of compiling a coherent setlist.

Don’t believe the people who tell you to play it steady, keep it safe. Yes, you’ll probably get somewhere faster, but the ride will be duller. Volcanoes are having a blast. Go figure.

>Laurel Collective, and The Coldplay Pleasure Principal Denial

Coldplay must have a whole raft of fans who own their records and yet won’t admit it. It’s a shame that so many people can’t live with the reality of preferring slick MOR rock to the Skins/OC prescribed-cool bands; groups whose names are dropped like discarded chewing-gum now, but will be forgotten when drumming the steering wheel along to X+Y on the school run in ten years’ time.

Music is a great truth-bringer in that sense – it’s so intertwined with pleasure that, when really needed, you will always reach for the record that really makes you happy, which is not necessarily the one that will bolster your cool quota. And if that record is by U2, then so be it. But, yes, we’ll all still be sniggering at you.

And so, the rarity of hearing a band that actually try to veer away from the safer Keane-esque route to success is all the more heartening. I’m sure that Laurel Collective have it in them to make a record that would snag that discerning Radio 2 audience, but they deliberately have not. For this they deserve all the plaudits they will surely get.

Take Carrie. The template is the standard rock set-up, but here is proof that it can still be applied in creepy and unusually new ways – still capable of the necessary emotional pull, though without sacrificing creativity and the thrill that fresh sounds bring.

Laurel Collective – Cheap

Or take Cheap: shoving twitchy drums and a wired bassline to the fore is often a recipe for disaster, but here rewards are reaped and heads are turned – or yanked even, such is the ferocity and excitement of Laurel Collective‘s aural onslaught.

New, sharp, aware: Laurel Collective are a joy. And if they do become a middle age/class favourite, it won’t be for want of trying.

Photography by Gareth Jackson

>Kría Brekkan, and Drunken Escapades on Coronation Street

>My flatmate went to see the Arctic Monkeys last week, when they played at the Enormo-dome in Manchester. He walked out of the door at 6pm and returned nine hours later, with a story that defied belief, sanity and most other parameters of human behaviour.

It involved a chance meeting with the band, before proceeding to accompany them tearing things up in a variety of places: backstage (natch), all of the city’s most exclusive bars, a couple of house parties and finally, the pièce de résistance – invading the set of the country’s biggest soap opera, and causing havoc on the fake cobbled streets.

Although sad to have missed such debauchery, the thrill of hearing that rock ‘n’ roll excess is still in abundance filled me with a warm glow.

This same cosy warmth is present in Kría Brekkan’s utterly strange, achingly beautiful songs. Skywinnowing, a deft, dreamy, gorgeous song, chimes with children’s voices, and pulses with the heartbeats of imaginary animals.


Kría Brekkan‘s music is almost non-music – a phrase that ought to have ears pricked in readiness – her records being woven from scraps of human sound, ethereal humming noises and deep guttural hums. Songs such as Uterus Water are carefully patched together to form music that few of us have heard before – choral, angelic, soft.

Bjork, Sigur Rós, Múm, and now Kría BrekkanIceland must be the only country in the world where such off-kilter music is considered the norm. In Kría Brekkan, this cold, remote country has another musical maverick. Wonderful.

Photography by Stefan Sheethouse and Bianca

>Squinancywort – Anonymity Rules

You know what to expect from modern leftfield electronic music by now. Made as a one person/laptop hybrid operation, the creator will hide behind a bank of deliberately obtuse sounds, strange imagery (musical and visual) and a series of curious song and artist names.

So far, so predictable. What makes returning to these seemingly identikit bands worthwhile are the songs – each invariably packed with more original sonic ideas than a lifetime of indie jangling.

They might not make you hum along, or think about poverty, or chew your Subway footlong in time (that’s Coldplay’s job), but if you’re an audio magpie like me and just want to hear something shiny and new, you’ll keep going back and back and back for more.

Squinancywort: see? That’s the spirit. Odd name, anonymous creator, pictures of flora and fauna on the Myspace page. According to the Basic Rules, all these signifiers are to be ignored, so let’s do just that and get to the music, yeah?

An Exultation Of Skylarks, vast, ominous and throbbing, sounds almost random in its composition, but grows in a way that could only be through the interference of a creator (divine or otherwise). Gorgeted Puffleg is a similarly spiralling, all-consuming affair, and is the kind of music that could lull you to sleep or keep you awake depending on your circumstances.

Squinancywort makes sounds that hum, whistle and devour themselves in one relentless forward motion. Success here is defined by the distance the songs put between themselves and normality, and on that basis, Squinancywort is a strange, winningly creative curio.

>Today’s New Band – Nutrition On Tape

If, after the almost total turnabout in music making and listening habits thanks to the file-sharin’, Myspace-browsin’ power of the internet, you need any further proof that music is evolving so fast we should all be dizzier than that bit in Top Gun where Maverick and Goose go into a flat spin, take a look at Today’s New Band, Nutrition On Tape.

Nutrition On Tape is one of the new breed which creates mind-loopingly complex songs that have not only a pop sensibility and clever production, but also creativity and credibility. These bands are usually one-man operations, and so it’s new technology we have to thank. Computer equipment has finally freed music makers from their music-industry shackles, and left individuals to allow their singular vision to reveal itself, untempered by outside influence.

Thus Nutrition On Tape‘s music is a jabbering, eddying salute to the last 30 years’ pop music. Songs waft in through the window and tickle your ears. Songs like The Sun One is a psychedelic, honeyed wave of orange sound, and Fire Dog Wax Apple lurches from the calmest sun-down slide guitar lilt to jaunty drum ‘n’ twang 60’s pop in a heartbeat. Where Everything Works is a blend of the increasingly ahead-of-their-time Boards Of Canada and a crazed, surf guitar-through-an-acid-house-filter beatstravaganza.

Nutrition On Tape: tomorrow today. Clever, bright and alive. Great. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Balún

The laptop has become an instrument in its own right. It’s not enough to have a guitar and the desire to clamber on stage any more – every other band now has a member standing stock still in the shadows at the back, pressing buttons on a laptop, like one half of a Pet Shop Boys tribute act.

This is fine in principle: computerised sounds are more than welcome when a band is enriched in a way unachievable with mere instruments. You’d think that a computer’s endless capacity for minutiae would mean that all bands would now sound massively different to one another; yet the majority of computerised sounds used by bands are still of the tagged-on glitchy sound-effect variety, betraying the ‘techy-mate-of-the-band’ roots of its involvement. Human error, not computer error.

I imagine Today’s New Band use a laptop or two, but Balún‘s seductively foggy sound suggests that they have got the balance right. Balún have realised that technology is only useful if the intent behind that use is carefully measured, and in songs like Minumina have produced small bubbles of quivering delicacy; bubbles ready to burst under the weight of their frivolity.

Minumina is the work of a band that is in control, and yet ready to allow the organic, and strictly un-computerised, element of the accidental evolve their music. This song is like one long, dreamy gasp of satisfaction, and A Surprise is a similarly spontaneous, elated rush of blood.

Balún are tentatively tiptoeing the paper-thin line of balance between creating sounds with the hands via traditional instruments and creating sounds with the mind via the infinite possibilities of the computer. It’s a tough task, but one they’re equal to. Slight delirium awaits. Listen here!

Photo by Jacob Hand (www.jacobhand.com)