>Cousins, and Julian Casablancas’ Tinsel Fetish

Ow, this is hurting my head. Now, on one hand, I love novelty Christmas songs, especially camp, blatant, tinsel-strewn ones from the 70’s. On the other hand, the words ‘Julian Casablancas’ and ‘Christmas Song’ seem so oxymoronic that a pine-scented vortex might open up in space-time if they are sincerely placed next to each other.

And yet, here’s I Wish It Was Christmas Today, a fun seasonal romp, complete – nay, replete – with jingling bells, good old-fashioned excitement and cheerful brevity. Initially, I thought it was a Strokes parody song – here’s a serious band doing a fun song!! Hurr, hurr, geddit? – but then it slowly dawned on me that it was too good and too, well, sincere in its playfulness to be a joke. Gosh.

And speaking of sincere, here’s Nova Scotia’s Cousins, a band whose solemnity firms the groundrock on which a series of bare, stripped-down songs are built. Around Their Waists grunts and growls as it lollops a pretty, bittersweet journey through life and love.

Cousins – Around Their Waists

At first it seems that their songs are too bleached plain – but it quickly dawns that the songs are so for good reason. Cousins make songs that are distant, pure and clear in both intent and direction. Their sound is basic because the most important things in life are too – and we’re left with a feeling of warm introspection. Cosy.

>Today’s New Band – Last Tide

Last week, virtual unknown Speech Debelle won the prestigious-ish Mercury Music Prize, the UK’s annual too-cool-for-school musical bunfight. Mercury prize winners are supposed to be doubly blessed: firstly by winning the £20,000 prize, and secondly by a huge boost in record sales from the positive publicity.

Unfortunately for Speech Debelle, her album got a boost only as far as 65 in the charts, and now it lingers around the high 90s. Poor Speech Debelle. Public rejection is always hard to take. In the early days of the Mercury Prize, winning bands habitually gave the prize money away to charity. I hope Speech Debelle has held onto it.

My vote went to The Horrors, who surprisingly, and boldly, ditched their NME-approved schlock garage rock and became a My Bloody Valentine tribute act, aping their sound, vocals and even the Loveless album cover. In retrospect, that last sentence is quite mean – their new album is actually very good indeed, and they ought to be applauded for their brave sonic leap.

As the years pass, My Bloody Valentine seem to have been more and more ahead of their time. Everyone wants a drop of their woozy sound in their band’s mix these days. Today’s New band, Last Tide, owe a portion of their attractively swooping feel to MBV too.

Take W.Y.C., a rushing, dreamy, rampant splash of from a paintbox full of shades of grey. It’s a great, unexpected, echo-laden song that swirls and drifts madly before extinguishing itself, and even if their other songs can’t quite compete with it for sheer bulk, it’s a lovely mark to leave on a staid rock landscape.

That said, A Traitor In My Mind has plenty of clout, and nearly achieves the same dizzy rushing feel. Last Tide gather together threads of post-rock, shoegaze, psychedelia and weave a concrete-hued cloth. Making drab delightful: Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Yucatan

>Here’s food for thought. (By the way, that sentence will now reveal itself to be pun-tabulous.) So: the world record for eating cow brains is held by Takeru Kobayashi, who ate 57 – nearly 18lbs – in 15 minutes. Oleg Zhornitskiy ate 8lbs of mayonnaise in eight minutes. Don Lerman ate 7 quarter-pound sticks of salted butter in five minutes. There are other, equally heroic, food-shovelling records to be seen here.

Two thoughts immediately spring to mind. Firstly, that their mothers must be so proud. And secondly, I wonder if there is a point – say, after the fifth pound of mayo – where the sheer awfulness of spooning white fatty gloop into your mouth abates, and a strange zen-like bliss overcomes the participant, making every further spoon/cup/bowl-ful a serotonin-fuelled trip to the brain’s pleasure centre.

I assume this is what compels people to keep listening to U2 albums. The thought that doing so was to glimpse bland, ego-fuelled, MOR rock hell disappears, and been replaced by genuine desire to subject themselves to it.

Listening to Today’s New Band, Yucatan, will never be a trial or test. Songs like Un Cyfle are fine-spun cobwebs of gentle sound. Yucatan sing in Welsh, a language that has been long suited to dreamy, lilting melodies. No, most listeners won’t understand it, but that’s missing the point – regardless of your language, you’ll get lost in the soothing swoop of the songs and lyrics.

A Oes Ymateb builds from sparseness and reaches twinkling, shimmering heights. Dau is the beautiful music played at a dead miner’s wake. If Yucatan‘s songs were played at a Competitive Eating contest, all the participants would stop, mid-guzzle, to reflect on life, the universe, and their absurd role in it all. Then they’d carry on, because those hot dogs aren’t going to eat themselves. Listen to Yucatan here!

>Today’s New Band – Karma Vision PLUS! Darts! Beatles! Victory!


On Sunday I watched the World Darts Final, where two titans of the ultimate mano-a-mano sport, Ray “Barney” van Barneveld and Phil “The Power” Taylor met, yet again. In the dizzying, enjoyably banal world of darts, the fatter, more lairy and drunker you are, the more closely you can associate with the participants; and while I can’t truely lay claim all of those traits, I gave it a good go.
Phil Taylor used to run a pub within spitting distance from my parent’s house, so I have whatever the darts equivalent of ‘affection’ is for him. In the final, Phil, 14 times champion, walked all over van Barneveld. It was a bit embarrassing, really. He won 7-1.
After the game, Barney said that practising for 10 hours (10 hours! Of darts!) a day wasn’t enough to beat The Power. Poor old Ray. Phil’s un-human dominance made me wonder: has there been a musical equivalent? A band that kept on winning, churning out great song after song, album after album?
In Trainspotting, Sick Boy cites David Bowie whilst explaining that no matter how good you are at your peak, you’ll eventually lose it. This is probably true, as anyone who has heard Bowie’s late-80’s albums will testify. Thinking about it, it’s predictably The Beatles who had that magical hit-rate. Even though Let It Be was a bit of a clunker, you could blindly pick any of their albums and still be flabbergasted with enjoyment.
To move from the Best Band Ever™ to Today’s New Band is quite an unkind leap, but there, we’ve done it. That said, Karma Vision (for it is them) is the kind of name that The Beatles would probably approve of. I think they’d probably also approve of the dreamily reverb ‘n’ tambourine combo that is Teeter Totter, a song that sounds like what your 21st-Century brain imagines the 60’s sounded like, against all the rational evidence saying otherwise.
There’s something very un-now about Karma Vision. On one hand, there’s nothing either old or new about guitars and singing, but then here is a viable bridge between the very specific past and today that isn’t twee, schlock or superfluous.
Rabbit Hole Surf is a lovely, floating song that is a bit earnest, a bit jokey, a bit unhinged but always grinning and happy. It’s a song that ought to be played on a Dansette, as you watch the sun go down from a Californian beach. Clichéd description? Yes. Would you care if you were doing just that? No, and that’s probably the point. Listen to Karma Vision here and feel that orange-drenched sky, man!
PS: Don’t forget to leap on the ANBAD Twitter bandwaggon!

>Today’s New Band – Oh! PLUS! Bomber Jackets and Dubious Political Leanings

>Two heart-warming stories in the news today. Firstly, the final solution, as it were, to the question that has kept all of us awake for the last 50 years – did Adolf Hitler have one or two testicles? The answer, according to UK rag The Sun, is – brace yourselves – only one. So now you know. The second story concerns the leak of those right-wing funsters The BNPs secret membership list.

The list has made all of the BNP’s middle-aged xenophobes a bit hot under the collar. Far-Right political parties like the BNP go out of their way to portray themselves as serious concerns. This list has nicely knocked all that into a cocked hat, owing to the revealing notes next to each member’s details – my favourite of which stated that one member wouldn’t be renewing his membership because he objected to being told off for wearing a bomber jacket.

So now we have learned our second lesson of the day: ultra-right-wingers don’t like to be told not to dress like nightclub bouncers. Poor things. A New Band A Day generally steers clear of politics, so you may be asking – what this has to do with rock ‘n’ roll? Well, not a huge amount, frankly. But after doing a quick search of the database, and finding a truly depressing number of members in my hometown, I needed cheering up. Enter Today’s New Band, Oh!

Oh! are from Guadalajara, which is a whole lot of fun to say out loud, and their songs are short, ethereal bursts of creativity. Listening to them sucks you instantly out of your day-to-day routine, to a happy place that feels a bit like a warm, comfortable bed.

Once Upon A Time is minimalist to the point of almost non-existance, a slow repetetive drone that’s somewhere between a distant pealing of a bell and a slowed-down recording of a heartbeat. Little Jerbil Life Form ping-pongs in the unusual way you’d expect of a song with a name like that.

In some ways Oh!’s songs are half-formed, in the nicest way. Songs like Happy Noaniversary pop in from a starting point you don’t hear, and unravelling before an ending they’ll never get to. Their songs are self-contained and you, the suddenly docile listener, bob along with Oh! on their short, light, peaceful journeys. Hold hands with them here, and forget all about everything, softly and gently.

>Christmas Day, Deep Sleep and Today’s New Band – Kaisonia

>I slept really well last night. REALLY well. One of those deep sleeps where it feels like your body is slowly sinking, forever, into a pile of goose feathers and dreams are about marshmallows, bunny rabbits and cotton wool. Hence I woke feeling as relaxed as George Michael behind the wheel of his Range Rover.

I don’t know if my mind just took pity on me, or the deep slumber meant that it wasn’t awake quick enough to being inflicting annoyance on me again, but instead of having the usual dreadful novelty pop hit stuck on repeat in my brain, I awoke with Saint Etienne’s I Was Born On Christmas Day lodged defiantly between my ears.

This kind of good fortune only happens once in a while, so I greedily capitalised on it by watching the video over and over again on Youtube, just to cement it in place. It’s a lovely song, without irony or pretence, and is coyly romantic and twee, without plunging into cloyingness. Tim Burgess from The Charlatans is in it too, which just about knocks it into ‘perfect pop song’ territory.

Today’s New Band is a bit of a stark contrast to St. Etienne. Kaisonia, not to be confused with ANBAD alumni Kaiton, makes spacey, drifting music that, as a quick glance at their Myspace page might infer, is particularly intergalactic. If I was being glib (and I am) I’d say that Kaisonia is a bit like the Orb, but more… now.

In fact, if you are stuck in a slight sugar-rush pop buzz at the moment and need to shift your attention before you listen to the same song 15 times in a row (see footnote), Kaisonia might be your first port of call. Their music might well be the audio equivalent of a hot bath and a foot massage.

It’s difficult, and possibly pointless, when reviewing bands like this (see also: Boards of Canada and their ilk), to isolate individual track and comment on them. This sort of lilting, ethereal music doesn’t fit into, and isn’t restrained by, a traditional short-song format. It’s more satisfying to take the string of songs as a whole, and judge the experience as you go along. In this context, Kaisonia are fabulously weird, dream-like and rigidly loose, if you see what I mean.

You’d be daft (and infinitely less ‘chilled, maaaan’) if you didn’t dip your toe into Kaisonia‘s pool. So do so, here. Oh, and judging by their website, that pool might be a molten sulphur lake on Venus. Just so you know.

N.B. Prior to the writing of this post, Joe listened to I Was Born On Christmas Day 15 times in a row. Yikes.

>Today’s New Band – Internet Forver

>Life is constantly full of surprises, which is what makes the whole ‘being alive’ thing so much fun. Here are just two surprise discoveries I have made in the last few days:

  1. That Schindler’s List actually has funny bits. Not just ones that make you smile wryly, and then get back to sobbing uncontrollably, either; but big, guffaw-inducing parts. Not many, granted, but they are there, if look (or drink) hard enough.
  2. Dogs look like deflated dog-shaped balloons if you turn them upside down.

The nicest surprise of all though was to find out that old A.N.B.A.D. favourites Heartbeeps have teamed up with Laura Wolf and spawned a whole new muso-being. Even more happily, both of their respective traits of loopy pop and twinkly lo-fi seem to have melded perfectly into a whole new pop/lo-fi (po-fi?) BEAST.

Warm to the lupine howls of Internet Forever, and find yourself involuntarily thrusting towards the saccharine-sweet buzzy drone of Break Bones. It’s like discovering an old unlabelled TDK C90 and finding a whistling, two-tone indie pop classic amongst the static. 3D nearly reaches Jesus and Mary Chain heights of ear-bothering fuzz and crunch, furnishing itself with a chorus that is both sturdy and chirpy.

So, a happy and disorientating end to a happy and disorientating week on A New Band A Day. Perfect. Listen to the dream-buzz of Internet Forever, and wait for the weekend’s loving embrace.

>Today’s New Band – Syntaks

>Everyone says the worst thing about holidays is coming back home again, facing reality, and then spending a week gently beating your head against the desk, to see if you’ll wake up back next to the pool in France where it was sunny and warm and stress-freaking-free.

However, at A New Band A Day, we don’t buy into this school of thought for a second, and just see the inevitable horrors of returning to The Real World as a really good reason to get re-aquainted with the pub at lunchtime, just in case there’s a chance you can find that elusive back-to-the-holidays magic door there too.

Anyway, here’s what ANBAD listened to whilst on holiday:

  1. M83’s Saturdays = Youth (good for snoozing by aforementioned pool)
  2. Crazy Horses by the Osmonds (a lot)
  3. A French music radio station (107.4 FM, frequency fans) that played both dreadful maudlin squeezebox rubbish and thrillingly phlegmy French hip-hop – and thus provided a sugar-coated turd of a snapshot of the French music scene as a whole.

Thus, the holiday was defined by a collection of Frenchy élan-pop, big-toothed, Mormon moron-o-rock and the sound of a very musically confused culture. It was a big, crunchy baguette of music happiness.

With that in mind, here’s Today’s New Band, Syntaks, who are – SURPRISE! – French! No, of course they’re not really – they’re Danish, STUPID. Syntaks makes music that’s somewhere between the ubiquitous 70’s Kraut, Orb-like soundscapes and the sound that your brain begins to invent while you’re in a sensory deprivation tank. Song Redgrass is a semi-delirious float on orange-tinted clouds and Killgore Lives almost becomes as epically heroic in its loopiness as the great man himself.

So, just a quick band update today, but as of tomorrow, all will be back to normal. Hear all of Syntaks’ music here!

P.S. Thanks for all the many emails and Myspace messages suggesting new bands – they’re always HUGELY appreciated! I’m working my way through them all now, so don’t fret if you’ve heard nothing in reply…