(Beware) Greeks (Bearing Riffs)

I still don’t understand the reasoning behind wilful rock anonymity. Far be it from me to dribble my mindless opinions into the ears of nascent rock stars, but isn’t the point of strapping on a guitar and recording a racket to be noticed?

OK, there have been a few occasions where shoving the music front and centre and carefully managing the photographs that appear has worked, creating the desired mystery and drama.

But by its very nature, this can only work for one band at any given time, and right now, it’s Wu Lyf (them again) that have got a secretive stranglehold on the whole anonymous shtick. Everyone else who tries it gets swallowed up in their vacuum.

Enter the excellently grimy Greeks, of whom I could find no photos, besides the usual obtuse out-of-focus group shot (see above) and carefully cropped studio environmental shots. Unless they’re so hideously ugly that we’d all be offended, or are a Wu Lyf side-project, Greeks need to shove it out there and wave it around. Go on, no-one will bite.

A Ghoul! A Spook! is satisfyingly gritty, appealing to the same part of the mind that finds oily, noisy machinery strangely alluring. Its constituent parts form a series of thrilling spikes puncturing a blanket of muddy fuzz that swaddles the song.

This kind of music is like sausage, egg and chips: musical comfort food of the very highest order. It won’t win plaudits for subtlety – although this song is carefully structured – but will be hankered for and enjoyed on a more human level than most bands can muster.

Unless they’ve got a Big Reveal coming, and it turns out this is how Wills and Kate are filling the time before their nuptials, they might be setting themselves up for a fall.  Ignore the masquerade and get stuck into the gut feelings they’ve spilt all over this monstrously tactile and exciting lo-fi buzz-rawk.

MORE: greeksgreeks.tumblr.com

New Years Evil – The Death and Rebirth of Self-Awareness

Yesterday I was interviewed for BBC Introducing Manchester. Live interviews are fun – talking about yourself  is always a pleasant ego-massage – but one question left my mouth flopping hopelessly for answers.

“How do you make sure you don’t write about the same things every day?” is a fair enough question, and after a few agonising seconds of dead air I had to admit that there may be an element of  similarity between posts.

By which, of course, I mean that every post is fundamentally identical: 250 words of enthusiastic jabbering about new music. It’s only the bands that change. As a result I’m now acutely aware of the words I type. Was that right? Have I typed that before? Oh God, I’ve become self-aware.

Having either nicked their name from an early 80s slasher movie, or having dreamt it up in a moment of lucid inspiration, New Years Evil tick all of ANBAD’s band-name requirement boxes (see every single post passim).

Shame is a huge splash of monotone black-fuzz/white-noise, a spasmodic frenzy of strobe-light noise arcing all the way from 1991. Speaking, as we were, of self-awareness, here is a band who seem unflustered by thoughts of their own being, choosing instead to simply get their lust for crunchy, blunt and rattling rock onto record before the moment passes.

As a result, Shame is a song that is unencumbered by any process beyond raw excitement and the thrill of it all. Nothing more is necessary, or desired. Brilliant, green, tangible and alive.

artishardrecords.co.uk

Sir Yes Sir; Palaeontological-Rock, Absence of Excitement

There were a host of interesting people to meet at Unconvention Factory, and not all of them were roly-poly unlikely pop stars having plaster of Paris smeared all over their face.

Manchester has a vacuum. It’s this: strangely, there is no high-profile online hub to give coherency to Manchester’s burgeoning new music scene.

This oversight has been spotted, and, as with all newly discovered niches, is in the process of being quickly filled with as many bad ideas as good ideas.

One of the people I slurred towards at the end of the night was Toby. He had a video camera welded to his arm, was kind enough to appease me with the same hesitant concern that I too reserve for drunken idiots, and was filming the event for Manchester Scenewipe.

They film bands in Manchester. Simple, huh? Anyone who has seen their brilliant video of former ANBAD alumnus Lissiefilmed singing as wonderfully as ever beneath, er, a T-Rex skeleton – will tell y0u that this is one of the Good Ideas.

If anything, the success of Manchester Scenewipe confirms two things: that the old equation of hard work + passion + talent = UNQUALIFIED SUCCESS, even in supposedly gloomy music biz times, and that there is a potential New Music/Palaeontological crossover market that was hitherto untapped.

Regardless of your opinion on such super-niche band markets, for most of us it is undoubtedly an exciting time. Not that Sir Yes Sir would be moved in such ways.

Sir Yes Sir // Not Excited

The wryly named Not Excited is the best treble-heavy, laconic-vocalled buzz-rock song I’ve heard for, ooh, months. Layers of fuzz are slathered on top of one another, the rich murk of the buzzsaw guitars offset by vocals that sit in a separate corner, writing forlorn poetry.

There’s passion here, too – it’s not Generation by Fucked Up, but hey, what is? Bluntly, Sir Yes Sir are as inventive, balanced and prickly band as you’ll hear all year. FACT.

www.myspace.com/siryessiryessir

Photography by jackbarnes.co.uk

Hunger Anthem, Chad Krueger, Famish and Fuzz

Looking back now, the early 90s Grunge period seems something of an anomaly. Who would have thought that a cluster of hard-edged, anti-commercialists like Nirvana, Mudhoney and Dinosaur Jr. would actually make it, let alone make it big?

But make it big they did, and as a reward, the sludge-rock bands that they opened the door for first overtook them, and then consigned them to history.

It’s a shame that the influence of Dinosaur Jr. et al is not felt more widely, but it’s not, and I think it’s entirely unfair (and, QED, entirely reasonable) to blame Nickleback for this.

Hunger Anthem have ignored the alluring drab meat ‘n’ veg rock path that Chad Krueger has plodded, and instead greedily feasted on the crunchy remains of Grunge’s fuzzier corners.

Hunger Anthem – Desire

Desire is aptly named: ravenous, lusty and direct. Buzzing noise is their tool and simple chainsaw-pop is their goal. It’s slack in execution and taut in intent: guitars chop not with aggression, but impatience.

The band clamber through the bluster and slice to the heart of the song, emerging bloody, triumphant and richer. Quick, sudden, painless – stripped down and lean, Hunger Anthem are a short, sharp reminder of when rock was allowed to be solely about the song, the buzz, the feel.

www.myspace.com/hungeranthem

The NEC – A Vast, Open, All-Enveloping Space. (But Not The One In Birmingham)

Band names: a relentless blizzard of terrible monikers that often get obscured, either by their musical talent, or lack thereof. I mean, the Arctic Monkeys? Oh, please. If they were a Landfill Indie band, they’d be laughed both onto and off the stage.

So, if naming yourself after mythical polar simians is just A-OK, then why not huge, nondescript exhibition centres? Perhaps then, the NEC will just bow to the inevitable, and get together a novelty tour with bands called the MEN and the NIA.

The NEC – It’s Right

It’s Right is a blind, Neanderthal stagger, pulling and clutching as it plummets through a wind-tunnel of noise. It’s also a  short, sharp kidney-punch introduction to their swirling, feedback-laden sound.

Part dizzying white noise, and part disorientating swirl, The NEC aim to confuse and obliterate. This is a noble intention, and one for which we ought all be grateful.

www.myspace.com/thenec

Hyacinth Girl, Smugness and A Nod From A Rock Star

A thrill coursed through the plush, yet tastful, environs of the ANBAD HQ yesterday, as news arrived of Tom Robinson, BBC 6Music DJ, naming ANBAD as his Website of the Week. As you can expect, much whooping and jigging with delight followed. So if today’s post is buried beneath a thick, gloopy layer of smugness, please accept my apologies.

Tom knows what he’s talking about, though, and shares ANBAD’s belief that finding truly new bands is most usefully achieved by specifically ignoring the hype, as opposed to blindly absorbing it.

So hopefully he’ll like Hyacinth Girl, a new Mancunian band who, excitingly, cite early-90’s bands like Dinosaur Jr. as an influence. This alone sets them apart from the gnashing pack, and they capitalise on this separation with huge slices of crunchy noise.

No Brainer, aptly named, is the simmering reality of a ‘push-all-the-faders-up-and-thrash-it’ attitude. The drums are so pushed to the very front that the drummer is virtually reaching out of the speakers and using your head as a tom-tom.

Hyacinth GirlNo Brainer

It’s a song, an attitude, a statement of intent. Many bands will thrash and thunder, and very few have the poise and grace to make such a racket into a delicate Mandelbrot Set of noise, endlessly growing within itself. Hyacinth Girl are a noisy, loud delight.

Tom Robinson mentioned, truthfully, that a lot of bands on ANBAD disappear without trace. I’m betting Hyacinth Girl don’t.

Thunder Buffalo, Hitler and Hip-Wriggling

photo by Jodi Kaufer

You can tell a lot from a name, rightly or wrongly. It’s a very human response – there’s a reason that the man who devastated half the world in the 1930s and 40s changed his name. Even desperately poor Germans couldn’t take Adolf Schicklgruber seriously.

And so what type of music do you think Thunder Buffalo make? Ten points for those of you who correctly guessed ‘grimy rock’, but minus ten points for those of you who thought that predictable song titles like Be-Bop Sing-A-Long means that their songs are dull good ol’ boy rawk.

Thunder Buffalo Be-Bop Sing-A-Long

Fact: while Thunder Buffalo chew up stubborn guitar riffs, clobbering drums and fuzzy vocals like countless other bands, the resulting songs bely a deft touch and blaze with a hip-wriggling sexuality that few can match.

It’s not throwback rock: Black Cat Rising is the sound of a band who know their sonic palette and their sound’s structure – and start bending it into more interesting places.

Riffs are taken to repetitive extremes – just a bar too long here, a drumbeat too many there – and a strangely hypnotic drone-garage hybrid emerges. A surprising, yet homely band. Test accepted conventions and enjoy.

(Purchase their songs here)

White Fang – Sweat, Crunch and Rockin’ Soul

White Fang: Colourful hats

A New Year, a new agenda. So here’s the first new band of the new year – and they’re a band with an agenda, though they’d never admit to it. White Fang‘s songs, their image, their approach to music – it could all be paraphrased in a single, 20-foot-high flaming Hollywood-hills sign spelling out the word ‘WHATEVER’.

Crunchy back-to-basics Garage Rock collides with irrational hatred in Portland Sucks, a song so replete with juddering chords that the raw brilliance of the song itself may be lost to the delicate, the nervous, or residents of Portland.

White Fang – Portland Sucks

What specifically drives White Fang to hate Portland so much is open to debate, or at least masked by layers and layers of EQ’d fuzz, and so it should be. Not knowing is always part of the fun.

We Came To Destroy You burdens itself with intent, and over-delivers. Free-wheeling, thunderous, and aggressive to the point of leering, it’s a song that takes no prisoners – but never meant to in the first place.

An aural sock to the jaw and a poke in the eye, White Fangs‘s songs are drenched in sweat, wide-eyed optimism and teenage belligerence. You know, like a real rock band’s songs should be. Brilliantly noisy, and noisily brilliant.

>I Was A King, Attempts At Miserablism and Fjords

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Norway: a country of intense natural beauty, endless sunshine and the highest standards of living in the world. No wonder that I Was A King make music that’s so happy the songs themselves are fit to burst, right?

Well, kind of. I get the feeling that I Was A King are a little… well, bored of all the good times, and are trying out this whole ‘miserable’ thing, you know – to see what it’s like. Naturally they partly fail, but that’s no bad thing, resulting, as it does, in songs that throb with bliss and only tinged with sadness.

A pop song with ‘hit’ writ large all over it, Norman Bleik‘s melody is a lightly trodden dance straight into Teenage Fanclub territory – hence the name – and it’s chiming, charming and purer than mountain water. Norman Bleik isn’t the first song to press Byrds-y wistfulness into My Bloody Valentine‘s warm blizzard of noise, but it is the first for a long time to do so this successfully.

I Was A King – Norman Bleik

Best Wishes mines the same rich vein of dreamy, fuzzy melody, a songs whose saccharine stylings are tempered with washes of well-measured blissed-out Shoegaze guitars.

I Was A King meld icy Scandinavian sweetness, duvet-cosy feedback and (whisper it) Britpop choruses to form their own musical fjord. Cleverer than you’ll initially give it credit for, sadder than you’d dare hope, and drenched with sunny yearning. Delightful.

PS: They’re playing at the Ja Ja Ja Scandi-showcase in London in a week’s time. Don’t miss them.

Photography By Silje Andersen

>Today’s New Band – Frozen Bears

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When I typed Today’s New Band’s name into Google, one of the search results was a question on Answers.com from an anonymous poster – “Can a bear’s tail break when frozen?” If the internet has proven anything, it’s that humanity’s capacity for mindlessness can always find a new, stupider low.

Assuming if you’re not kept awake at night by this kind of idiotic query, you’ll love Frozen Bears. Even if you are now pondering the brittle nature of massive mammals’ tails, try to distract your mind momentarily from such tribulations with Frozen Bears’ garage-psyche-crunch-rock punch to the face that is all pleasure and no pain.

Like Tuesday’s new band, Nutrition On Tape (see below), they grab at all the best sounds from years ago, churn them up and cough out songs that laugh at the past and greedily eye the future. The bullish insistence of They Don’t Need You will reach up your trouser leg and grab your attention with delicious echo-stretched guitar howls, riffs from a dark, warm place and drums that fall apart.

Speaking of which, The Hoax features a drumbeat that is so broken that an entirely separate rhythm develops. Perfectly, just as your rattled mind begins to appreciate this, another monster riff begins, and it’s all you can do to hold on for the ride.

Dirty, chewy and grimy, Frozen Bears are here to shake you awake with thrills of their own crafting. If you were wondering, the answer given to the earlier question was: “If its cold enough anything can break.” And thus the world can now get back to whatever mundane business it was doing before such wild theories were pondered. So listen here!