Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six

Heroes are peculiarly individual. One man’s hero may be another’s whatever. But what happens when you meet your hero? Furthermore, what happens if you not only meet him, but play a one-off, once-in-a-lifetime, special-event gig with him?

Such existential quandaries were manfully shrugged off by Louis Barabbas of Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six when he arranged for his hero, inspiration and high priest of pop peculiarity, John Otway to join the band’s EP launch extravaganza.

Picking a man who bills himself as ‘Rock and Roll’s greatest failure’ as a role model may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth is that heroes choose themselves. Hero-worship was never supposed to be sensible.

Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six’ new EP is a distinct sidestep away from the accepted norm; defiance writ large, clammy and debauched. The parallel with John Otway becomes much clearer on reflection.

There aren’t many bands that would haul their feet along the same dusty path, partly because their ‘jive-smitten cabaret blues’ is a tough sell in a world where brand new dance duos with two songs to their credit get the music industry helplessly excitable.

LB&TBS shun convention: trusting their guts and then spilling them over a thick, clotted glut of rich, dense and lascivious songs. Reeking of booze and heady with lust, there is no quick route into this collection, their sound being so specifically unlike current musical trends. And yet this is the source of their great allure. It might not make sense, but why should it?


Sunglasses: Mercurial Noiseniks; Awkward Comparisons Ahoy!

The World Cup is one week away. One week! I’m so excited about the World Cup that I’m beyond the joyful constant-vibration stage and well into the much darker, more worrying “buy any associated merchandise within grabbing distance” phase.

The best thing about the World Cup – after the football itself – is the crud that surrounds it.

Crud like this tie-in dirge-song, which, astonishingly, is Serbia’s official World Cup anthem. Or maybe more grouchy, neurotic and home-spun crud like this surprisingly risible effort by Mark E. Smith from The Fall. This kind of hit-and-hope tosh clings magnetically to big football tournaments, and in all honesty, the world is a much better, if less tuneful, place for it.

Multi-rhythmic, expansive and arty: Sunglasses won’t be making a desperate football tie-in song any time soon.

Sunglasses // Stand Fast

Perhaps they ought to, because their international, whirling sound reeks of dizzy hustle and bustle. Songs like Stand Fast are so dense and multi-layered that other bands could construct a whole album of songs from the contents.

There’s a strange, and seductive, contrast within their songs: lush, creamy sounds jutting roughly against the lo-fi so-what ethics of the composers. Stand Fast sounds like it was put together hap-hazardly, with all the faders pushed up and all fingers crossed for good luck.

This might ring true if it wasn’t for the fact that all their other songs are just as daringly assembled, and just as successful.

It would of course be hugely glib to make a comparison between Sunglasses and a footballer to round off the whole article, but hey, this is ANBAD, not Time magazine.

So: Sunglasses would be 1994’s surprise top-scorer Gheorghe Hagi: left-footed, mercurial, obscure, brilliant.


1908 – Crazier Than Liam Gallagher. 1908 Will *Eat Your House*

Good old Liam Gallagher. He never lets us down. It was always pretty obvious that behind the mad-fer-it hoolie swagger there was a fruitcake mind. One who will still be prancing around on stage when he’s 70. One who is capable of reforming Oasis as Beady Eye.

1908, though, knocks Liam’s barminess into a cocked hat. 1908 is beyond nuts, beyond any definition of ‘normal’.

Take Music For Harold To Eat Houses By. No, please. It’s frantically, skin-crawlingly, eye-scratchingly INSANE. If you plugged a 3.5 mm jack into Jeffrey Dahmer’s head, and recorded the results – well, just doing those two things would only be one percent as disturbing as Music For Harold To Eat Houses By.

1908 // Music For Harold To Eat Houses By.

I hesitated for a long time before featuring 1908 on ANBAD. I’m fairly sure that a man who is capable of composing a song that describes – in excruciating detail, mind – the methods he will use to eat your house would also find crawling out from under my bed and murdering me in my sleep a fairly simple task.

However, it’s bands like 1908, – the ones that veer suicidally from eye-narrowing intrigue to too-stupid-to-be-reasonable within a heartbeat – that make music interesting. The ones that remind us that there’s something out there other than another Kings of Leon album. The ones that push the boundaries, get forgotten, and don’t reap a handful the rewards that others grab later on, when the world has caught up.

1908 is also a reminder of why I run ANBAD. You may not like it – hell, I don’t know if I do either – but the creative outskirts are truly the most fascinating, the most bold, the most alive. And it’s a reminder of how far Liam really has to go.


Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire; Exclamation Marks Optional

People will tell you that, when writing, never use an exclamation mark if you want humour to be taken seriously. People are stupid.

Because if one band ever cried out for an exclamation mark, it’s Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire. Perhaps agonising over the punctuation of a band’s name is endlessly petty, or, frankly, autistic – or both – but there, I’ve said it: Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire! is just better.

But then if you’re a band that writes songs as frolicking and carefree as Patience, punctuation becomes moot.

Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire // Patience

It’s a truly strange song. Articulate and tangible in its weirdness, Patience rigidly rambles, deviates and tramples over its own vapour streams. Songs that are fully disarming and genuinely affecting are rare; this one, then, is both precious and shiny.

As such, grab the chance to hear a song that seems less fragile and more curious with every listen, and wonder why – as it sounds so easy, so effortless – everyone else isn’t doing it too. Excellent, strange, true.


Parties In Belgrade, Steve Reid, and Joy

Steve Reid died last week.

He was a great drummer – efficient, creative, stylish – who drummed for James Brown, Martha and The Vandellas and Miles Davies. I saw him play when he collaborated with Keiren Hebden (AKA Four Tet) on their series of brilliant experimental albums a few years ago.

The idea watching of one man drumming along to another man fiddling with some knobs and buttons sounds awful, but, against these odds, it was a rare delight.

The music was unconstrained, exciting and half-unplanned, and the purest joy of all was the look of pure excitement on Steve Reid’s face as, sat opposite Keiren Hebden, they competed, egged each other on, and explored the music.

The joy to be found in music makes all the peripheral money/industry stuff seem trivial, and yet if you ever step away from the consumer-only end of things into the industry, it is all you hear people discuss.

Parties In Belgrade? Now that sounds like fun, not a money-making exercise.This feeling of pure enjoyment slops haphazardly all over their music like so much iridescent paint.

Parties In Belgrade // Statues

In Statues, we hear a band who have reconciled themselves with the oft-ignored fact that making music that is deliciously askew – as theirs is – rarely results in vast monetary gain.

What we hear is a group of people who have found what it is to make happiness, not money. As a result, the music is confident, uncompromising and enticing. Statues is a complicated pleasure, but all the best ones are.


Photography by flickr.com/photos/alanbee

Gold Blood, Audio Filthmakers Extraordinaire

The thought of the pristine being smudged is always guiltily satisfying.

Scouting For Girls have been at number one in the pop charts, with a typically limp suggestion of a song for two weeks now. This will not stand. What better way to wreak vengeful havoc than hearing their Auntie-Rock desecrated with a really filthy remix?

My nomination for such audio vandalism is Gold Blood, who seem to have the New Band Holy Triumvirate clutched tightly in their clammy hands: substance, momentum and a damn good name.

In songs like Don’t Waste My Time, the legit-retro stainless style of Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip’s Neon Neon project is slathered with a thick, grubby smear of dirt.

Gold Blood // Don’t Waste My Time

Their sound is rich, compelling, satisfying. Their style is crazed, obtuse and wholly splintered beyond the realms of normality. Their name is… well – just picture a cut on your forearm, oozing blood that shone golden, like millionaire’s mercury. Just picture it.

Sometimes, music has to be its own language, and only the most outré imagery can attempt to describe it: Gold Blood.

Gold Blood are playing at Club NME @ Koko in London on the 23rd of April


INTERVIEW // Golau Glau

This is an interview designed specifically not to eke away at the carefully constructed WALL OF MYSTERY that surrounds the Golau Glau collective.They originally contacted ANBAD with an email consisting of carefully constructed confusion, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Here, they (whoever ‘they’ are) charmingly bat away our quasi-probing questions…

Hi Golau Glau! How are you? Where are you in the world right now? What do you see? And what is good about that place?

We are in GG Towers in the UK, an international HQ for mystique and oompah.

Naturally, we’re all wondering why there’s such secrecy. Is one of you Pete Townshend? (That’s the last identity-probing question, promise)

We are just shy and want it to be about nothing but the music. None of us wrote Baba O’Riley and none of us own credit cards.

I wondered endlessly about your statement, “We like Wales and cats, and whales, but not Cats”. Why does Cats – the musical – specifically, rile you? Is there a terribly traumatic amateur dramatics story to share with us?

If you’ve never heard a nine year old girl or Susan Boyle wail ‘Memory’, you are lucky. The TS Eliot poems are much better, though not his best work.

Golau Glau operates as a collective. How does this work How does your co-operative group nature affect the making of your songs?

We are based in GG Towers, which may or may not take physical form. Things happen there, it’s best not to discuss most of it. You get what you’re given.

Will the anonymity mean that there will  be no live performances? If not, is this considered a shame or a relief?

It means there are no live performances planned, until we can have stripy holograms do it for us. It is a relief.

Anonymity leaves you and your music very open to the listener’s  interpretation. It reminded me of the pre-internet days when you’d hear a song once on the radio and then endlessly puzzle about it until it appeared again. Is this part of the reasoning behind your stance?

This is correct. We are shy, but we also miss not knowing everything and the days of proper glamour rather than cheap celebrity.

Do you think that the exposure that the internet brings to bands has some negative aspects as well as the well-publicised positives?

Yes. You’re only new and interesting for a fortnight and there’s too much music out there. Like with television, there was always a lot of rubbish but now it has multiplied.

Finally, where would you like to head – what are your ambitions?

Tokyo DisneySea, Sonar festival, Paula Abdul’s video for Opposites Attract and down the dumper. Vinyl is nice.

Worthless BONUS Question: If you could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would you ask them, and what drink would you buy them?

Most of them are dead, and we’re polite enough to ask those who remain what they’d prefer. Heroes usually disappoint – they’re either lovely and normal or…not. The magic remains in our heads, where it should be.

So: they’re not The Who, they want to go to Japanese theme parks, and dislike Susan Boyle. Which means they could be just about anyone. Why not buy their brilliant songs to see if you can figure it out for yourself?


Son Capson, Tetris, Grand Unification Theories

Just how does a band simply vanish?

Death In Vegas: remember them? Four excellent albums, each largely different to the one prior; each accessible, but uncompromising; arty but not awkward; each tapping into the emotional core of the listener, yet capable of soundtracking a party.

It only took one badly-received album for them to disappear. Well, not quite – it was one badly-received album, some tantalisingly promising but aborted recording sessions with Oasis and the onset of Landfill Indie that cast them into the Great Lost Bands Desert.

Try googling them now – they don’t seem up to much, which is further proof that the Rock Universe operates on broadly different, confusing rules that seem especially so when compared to, say, common sense.

Never mind scientists attempting to find a Unifying Theory for this Universe, how about one that could ally prudent thinking to Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Speaking of which, I have the feeling that Son Capson will resist any attempts to integrate common sense into his songs.

The proof resides in When I Close My Eyes I See Tetris, a song that manically toys with the freshly dismembered remains of folk, acid-rock, acid-house, acid-acid and sea shanties, all the while cackling brightly.

Son Capson // When I Close My Eyes I See Tetris

When I Close My Eyes I See Tetris is the song that The Joker whistles along to whilst soaking in a deep bubble bath. Normality flounders helplessly as the dementedly springy beat squirts technicolor poster paint in every direction.

Son Capson‘s music is a vicious, yet necessary assault on normality, and a blisteringly crazed vindication of intuition and opposition of convention.


>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.

>Wild Palms, Terrorism and Haircuts

A few years ago, a frankly bizarre incident involving avant-garde noise-troubadours Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a confused petrol station clerk, and a crack FBI team who swooped to arrest them. Why was Oklahoma’s finest called into handcuff-clicking action so swiftly? Because the clerk thought they ‘looked unusual’.

On such small sartorial details the security of the free world pivots. And if GY!BE look like terrorists, then I’m surprised that Wild Palms can pop to the cornershop for milk without being bundled into a sensory deprivation cell.

They don’t look like terrorists, you see, just a bit… unusual. Put it this way: if sporting 80’s Liverpudlian scally haircuts and migraine-loud stay-press shirts was a crime, Wild Palms wouldn’t dare get on stage for fear of red laser-sight dots appearing on their foreheads.

Thankfully, this uneasiness of dress translates directly into their music – the punctuation-mocking ……Over…..Time….. is an odd, angular swirl riddled with awkwardness and a chopping guitar sound of real beauty.

Wild Palms – …Over…Time…

The beat insists but never touches the terrors of disco-rock, and shows an appreciation of 80’s Indie without slavishly copying any of it. ….Over….Time…. is a song that could propel the band to deserved renown.

If so, then many more will feel Reason Dazzled battering ears and hearts with its exuberance, all bare popping drums and shrieking guitars; Bleached White will thrill as a lost B52’s b-side covered by The Fall.

Wild Palms: too odd to be arrested, too good to be kept down. Great.