>Ghosts (No, Not *Those* Ghosts)

Now that the unholy trinity of The Laptop, The Internet and Garage Band allows every man and his dogged devotion to Dubstep to become a band, there’s an increasingly common problem.

Actually, there’s a whole raft of new problems, most of which stem from the astonishingly asinine nature of the majority of these half-hearted efforts which seem to be created purely to allow another sequin-T-shirted goon to boast to his ‘peeps’ in the pub that he’s, like, a musician, yeah?

But I digress. The main problems are the band names themselves. Even though English has over a million words to choose from, the same words keep getting chosen for more than one band, and thus squabbling ensues.

So Ghosts aren’t the same as these Ghosts. Or these Ghosts, these Ghosts or this Ghost. Lawyers: on your marks, get set, SUE! Today’s Ghosts in question are nothing like any of the others, which will at least help you to differentiate between them when confusion arises on iTunes.

Ghosts‘ music is, well, ghostly. No Lake is all thick mist, throbbing murk and swirling sonic fog. Don’t be shocked if you experience both a sudden chill and visions of a dead body lying twisted beneath icy water.

Ghosts are smart enough to extrapolate this sound into songs that have more soul – and Young Ghosts is the result: a rusty two minute pop song. It hisses and pops like a 1900’s wax cylinder discovered in a time capsule, and drone eerily, all the while maintaining a simple pop sensibility.

Ghosts are a band swamped in fuzz, enveloped in age and washed in sepia. They are from another, indefinable age – not tomorrow, today or even yesterday. Their sound is fresh but rotted, pure and dirty like a bloodied wedding dress. Nice.

>Taxi! Taxi! Adios, In The City

Two days after In The City has ended, and almost all traces of its existence have dissipated. The buzz has moved elsewhere, and a only few limp posters remain. Shame. The feeling of being in the sticky armpit of the UK’s new music world was nice while it lasted.

So here’s an affectionate* faux-award-ceremony look back at ITC:

The Sudden Flash Of Common Sense award: When an unnamed BBC Radio One DJ left Mark Ronson’s keynote speech after 5 minutes, because he suddenly realised that he hated Mark Ronson ‘with a passion’

When Hair Reigned Supreme: The giant, all encompassing fringes of Egyptian Hip Hop; the bleached Princess Diana hairdo of the singer from Ou Est Le Swimming Pool; even Mark Ronson’s slicked quiff: The Conference When Hair Got Bigger Than Rock

Sack The Proofreader Award: The slogan “ITC: Everything Else Is Just Noise” is quite zippy, but only if you remember to include the ‘Y’ in ‘Everything’ before you plaster it all over all thousands of posters, T-Shirts and all merchandise

The Man With The Best Anecdote award: Peter Hook, for his story about Bernard Sumner displaying his displeasure at Spandau Ballet by urinating onto them from a balcony as they played a gig in Paris

The Award For The Most Reverb-Drenched Microphones: 19 year-old Swedish twins Taxi! Taxi!, for their unusually echoing warble.

(Male readers – admit it: a very specific mental image was dredged up when you read the words ‘19 year-old Swedish twins’, wasn’t it? Bleach your mind and be reasonable, please.)

Taxi! Taxi! were elfin, brunette, clad in denim dungarees, and grasping spookily at guitars and accordions. Their songs, punctuated by pleas for more reverb directed at the sound technician, were so alien they felt beamed-in from another planet.

If NASA discovered life in a far away solar system and responded by blasting a space ship filled with Patti Smith and Kings Of Convenience records at them, songs like More Childish Than In A Long Time would be beamed back, and songs like All I Think Of would be made after their first confusing visit to Earth.

Taxi! Taxi!‘s songs are barely there – emotions first, noise second, understanding third. Lovely, wispy, dissolving.


Photography by Martina Hoogland Ivanow

>Today’s New Band – Hudson Mohawke

Two brain-fudging mentalism bands in two days? Surely not – that would be unrestrained madness! And yet it’s true: after yesterday’s mind-Boggling (that’s a monstrously weak joke that you’ll ‘get’ after reading the post) band, here swaggers along another, leering contemptuously at your sanity.

So, cower in fear before Today’s New Band, Hudson Mohawke, whose pun-tastic devotion to lame 90’s action-comedies warrants them a place on ANBAD. Hudson Mohawke won’t damage your eyes, like the movie will, but the unrestrained, crazed weirdness of the sounds might worry your eardrums.

ZooO00ooO00oO0m sounds like a computer linked to a radio telescope that’s registering every strange, possibly alien, sound arriving from outer space with a differently pitched bleep. There’s no real order to the bleeping, but it sounds like it may all be connected in some way you just can’t quite understand.

Ice Viper staggers around a seedy nite-club, gropes at 80’s synth-funk, touches it inappropriately, and shoves it out into the back alley to slump, confusedly. Still On It thumps and quivers, an acid-drop-soul smooch to woo and unease in equal measure.

Hudson Mohawke is a pop merchant with a huge, bizarro twist. Slick, and cranky, like an alcoholic 80’s soap-hunk. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Phantom Band

***Quasi-Disclaimer: here’s a review I wrote a few months ago, and thought had been accidentally deleted. Turns out it wasn’t. So maybe you’ve already heard of them by now. But it’s not worth taking the risk in case you haven’t, so here it is anyway***

It’s probably just my endlessly facile mind, but the title of the first song I played by Today’s New Band made me snigger like a schoolboy who’s just entertained his classmates with a particularly resonant fart.

I don’t know whether I Like My Hole was intended as a double entedre – the dourly atmospheric gloom contained within would suggest a unequivocal ‘not’ – but I’m not ashamed by any conclusions drawn from such childishness. The ends rarely justify the means – but in this instance, if I hadn’t have raised a Terry-Thomas-esque eyebrow at this song’s moniker, I may never have listened to The Phantom Band.

They’re from Glasgow, and signed to the continually brilliant Chemikal Underground label, two attributes which would usually justify attention ahead of anything that rung my bell. Hey, whatever works for you. They make crafty, multi-faceted songs like Folk Song Oblivion, which, while we’re dwelling on the subject song titles, is a pleasant suggestion in itself.

Folk Song Oblivion is a lovely curio – lovely both in spirit and sound. It’s a song that vibrates with drive, brotherhood and the echos of a dozen great rock songs before it. And then The Howling is a strange half-cousin of a song – a clever rock rustle, coupled with the build-and-release sensibility of dance music, but with the sound of neither.

So, today, we have learnt the power of a name. The Phantom Band are then maybe what you’d expect – a ghostly version of a rock band that could have been average, but have excelled through their otherworldiness. Forlorn, hearty and welcome. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – She’s Hit

>One of the most important, and thus one of the most difficult and enigmatic, jobs of any band is to grab the attention of everyone else. For ‘everyone else‘, read ‘record buying public‘. For ‘record buying public‘, read ‘our tickets out of these drab desk jobs and into rock fantasy land‘.

Anyway – Today’s New Band, She’s Hit, achieved this feat through the most unlikely of sources – a comically mis-read URL. Their Myspace address is www.myspace.com/sheshitglasgow – and if you can’t spot the bowel-movement-from-hell gag in that, the you, sir, are the sort of person who sat at the front of class and tutted loudly to please the teacher when someone farted in class.
So, attention duly grabbed, She’s Hit quickly dispel any Glaswegian scat fetishism worries with their louche, relaxed and dirty sound.
Part One begins with a trapped-CD buzz, slouches into a lo-fi, lo-down, tinny rock slumber, and then drifts into a lovely noise-fuzz-screech. Black Transistor Nightmares is close to being Jesus-and-Mary-Chain-meets-Dick-Dale surf rock, but studded with sinister and creepy noise.
She’s Hit: the sound guitars would make if they could shrug their shoulders and sigh loudly. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Ödland

>Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Today I feel very hungover. There’s a big part of last night that is a blank, and this time I think I really mean it when I say I’m never drinking again. Every time I type a letter, the noise makes me feel violently sick. I’m never drinking again. Never. My friend Steve – it’s his fault. He shouldn’t have bought me all those drinks. I’m never drinking with Steve again, at least.

That’s my excuse for the tardiness of today’s post out of the way, at least. Today’s New Band – now that’s a different, more problematic issue. If the music is too fast, too weird or too noisy, chunder make occur. On the other hand, those parameters could narrow the options down into James Blunt territory. We must tread carefully.

Perfect for my fragile state is Ödland, a French band who make gentle, lovely music that sometimes whirls off to less gentle, but equally lovely places. Using a piano and a sole , lovely, french voice, Ödland tell tales, sweetly, and simply.

This might be the time to point out that my working knowledge of French is minuscule, and so the stories could be about anything at all to be honest – love, loss or even – ooh, I dont know – bird’s eyes.

But listen to Les Yeux de l’Oiseau and tell me that you don’t hear the sound of mourning – a sad, crooked lament. The language barrier is never a problem: the voice tells the story as much as the words would. Even songs sung in English, like The Caterpillar are drenched in alien charm.

Sur Les Murs de Ma Chambre is a similarly weird, bare and intimate song – delicate, pure and, at times, cute as hell.

So Ödland give us two presents: beautiful songs and a lesson for life – that a language barrier only exists if you want it to. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Crocodiles

>Has summer come or is this just a very warm, pleasant dream? Manchester, home of the grey sky, fine drizzle and more grey sky, has been bathing in glorious sunshine for the past few days. My fair skin has celebrated by turning an appropriately fiesta-hued red, but I don’t care. Sun is such a rarity in this part of the world that I’d be happy if I turned purple (and at this rate, that might just happen).

You might not expect a song called I Wanna Kill to be a summery, shimmering blast of jangly garage rock, but it is. Today’s New Band, Crocodiles, find a musical space between The Ronettes and Jesus And Mary Chain, and occupy it with swathes of feedback, echo and in-yer-face lethargy.

Proving that aggressive titles are clearly their forte, Summer Of Hate furthers Crocodiles’ pared-down rock ethos. They can make lines like “Pray that you’ll come round and scratch out my eyes” sound like sleepy, daydreaming wish-fulfilment.

Soft Skull and Screaming Chrome walk different paths around the same noise-rock mountain. The destination is the same too – songs that radiate both danger and warmth. The soundtrack to a relaxing day on the beach or drug-fuelled paranoia, or both. Listen to Crocodiles here!

>Today’s New Band – A Death Cinematic

>There has been an outbreak of bed bugs in the USA. There are ‘regular and persistent’ outbreaks from New York to San Fransisco. They have become impervious to pesticides. They are going top take over the world and parasitically enslave us all. Yes, I’m now itching all over too. No, I won’t sleep too soundly tonight either.

With that in mind, take Today’s New Band, A Death Cinematic, who have a song which sounds like one long, harrowing wail of human horror. It’s called Locust Clouds Have taken To The Horizon. It’s so close to being awful guttural noise that it’s a challenge of sorts to listen to it, albeit a rewarding and thrilling one.

Brilliance Of The First Morning Snow soothes and evaporates, leaving calm; conversely, When I Leave I Wish To Kill The Sun takes the sound of the apocalypse as a starting point and explores the resultant parched, dusty devastation. Guitar feedback wails and stabs and drones until you’ve forgotten what not hearing it sounds like.

The planets are aligning, and the die is cast. Our insect-ridden future awaits. Listen to A Death Cinematic, and await your fate.

>Today’s New Band – Nevada Base

>My girlfriend has a new mobile phone. Now, every morning, its alarm sounds with the Log Song from Ren And Stimpy. The effect that this has is to introduce mild lunacy into your life every morning at 7 am, and there it stays, pinging ludicrously around your mind all day. Try it. You’ll go crazy, you iiiiiiiiidiooot.

So once again, today’s task has been to find a way of sluicing out unwanted noise in my head. Usual tactics failed and so Today’s New Band have more responsibility than usual.

Thankfully, Nevada Base are the required distraction. Actually, that undersells them mightily – they’re a slippery electro-eel. You’ll see.

Therapy keeps the shimmer of electro, but loses the aloofness; building into pummeling psycho-dance. When it mutates into semi-Talking Heads riff-ology at the end, you can’t help but smile. Stitches creeps with feline menace, the sound of sonic decomposition.

Nevada Base are lithe and venomous; smooth but barbed. Their songs creep and crawl to places that you, and I imagine, they, weren’t sure of. Can your skin crawl while you dance? Find out here.

>Today’s New Band – Akira!

>I often wonder how songwriters start. To clarify: where does the aimless strumming of a guitar end and the song begin to form? Perhaps the act of thinking about it negates the ability to understand. I don’t know.

I don’t know where Today’s New Band, Akira, start, either. But I do know that it’s not from the aimless strumming of anything. Their songs are cut from a different cloth, to a rhythm from a different drum. Actually, no – they wouldn’t beat something as prosaic as a drum.

Akira’s songs sound like remixes of other songs they’ve made but don’t want you to hear, and are only willing to expose suggestions of them in the form of crazed noise. ­Lights In The Sky, a near-bewildering array of clattering beats, guitars, chipmunk voices and mechanical buzzes and whistles scrapes itself together to form a snappy rock song. Starting from a quiet standstill, it creeps in steps to pull itself into something out of the ordinary.

You’rereallystarting2pissmeoff is a grab-bag of zappy electronic sounds, demented squawking and shouting – as if someone mashed up a horror film, thrash metal and a drum machine that has gained terrifying sentience. It grunts bassily, breathes heavily, and would scare old ladies to their very cores. End is a gloomy doom-filled march towards the END OF THE WORLD, but with a robot counting out loud whilst you’re doing it.

Akira scan the horizons and invent accordingly. There is madness in their methods. They sight Phillip K. Dick, Chris Morris and Jesus as influences. That makes sense. Listen here!