>Today’s New Band – Shark?

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I’m not going to lie. The primary reason I listened to Today’s New Band was because of a lightly-obsessive punctuation fetish. This is a confession of sorts, so here goes: I’m drawn, moth-like, to bands with question marks in their name.

It was once Northern Irish spazz-rockers Therapy?, then marvellous 60’s US fruit-loop garage rockers ? And The Mysterians, and now I’ve tractor-beamed onto today’s super new band, Shark?.

I don’t know why. It’s probably the air of mystery again. What would cause such an exclamation? Is it the last derisive snort of a soon-to-be-devoured, cocky sailor? The unused and alternative title for Jaws? If you too obsess over minor, idiotic details like this, you’ll understand the maddening attraction.

Querying-punctuation marks aside, Shark? is a bit of a grubby thrill. **CLICHÉ ALERT** A shark needs to keep moving forwards to survive (Zing!), but Shark? has shot backwards and found a richly gunky and dirty sound to thrive on. This is superb grimy garage-rock, with the added benefit of 30-odd years’ hindsight.

“I’ve got friends in low places/ I’ve got bones to pick with everyone (but you),” half-threatens I’ve Got Friends. The song chunters and grinds; a wild mechanical blur of fuzzy guitars and stark drumbeats.

If that was a song to be appreciated, then I’m An Animal is one to throw yourself around the bedroom to: the chiming riff pealing insistently, the hi-hats constant, the vocals growling, weary but happy.

As I’m An Animal explodes in a maelstrom of cute overlapping melodies and frenzied drums, you might dwell on the thought that such greatness is often achieved in this kind of simplicity. Songs like these leave nothing else on which to ponder. They’re simple, straightforward and yet convoluted enough to make you wonder. Shark?: scuzzy and pure. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Amy Blue

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After so many weeks on the road in a Nissan Micra which is starting to take on an odour somewhere between ‘unwashed human’ and ‘perhaps that’s where I left that half full tin of own-brand tuna’, it has been aural nectar to hear good music again.
Having not been able to check out new bands for so long, and existing only on the drivel that is served up on any Euro-radio station you care to pick (and there are hundreds, all churning out the same crappy Hits O’ Yesteryear Blend: now I know where Simply Red, The Police and Tony Christie get the bulk of their royalty payments from) I’ve started to wonder whether INXS weren’t, you know, all that bad.
So, with that terrifying thought to chew on, here’s Today’s New Band. They’re Amy Blue, and don’t sound anything like INXS, although if any member decides to go for a masturbatory-asphyxiation death trip, it’ll at least boost their profile a bit rather than finish them off completely.
Any dreadful ex-Yugoslav-radio-induced INXS comparisons are onviously very unfair. Amy Blue are a better band, and whilst I’m not totally certain, I don’t think the singer has had sex with Kylie Minogue. However, if they keep producing great, swirling ‘n’ clattering smash-up rock songs like The Language Of Ghosts, who knows? If Tiny Kylie swooned with happiness at the nicely dipping and droning chorus like I did, she may still end up their eager groupie.
The other songs on their Myspace page are, disappointingly, just 30-second snippets (either that or my Slovenian computer can’t cope with any more than that – a distinct possibility), but there’s enough there to conclude that Amy Blue are a raucous lot with an eagerness for making ear-drilling, quasi-early-My Bloody Valentine drone-noise. Which means they’re just peachy by my estimation. Listen here.

>Today’s New Band – The Humms

>Do you wish you’d formed a band? Do you regret that you didn’t? I sometimes wonder, and run through all the excuses – I didn’t know anyone to club together with, I didn’t play the guitar well enough, I was too shy. The truth is more prosaic: the desire just wasn’t there enough.

There’s always been a nagging suspicion that, while being a rock star probably has its perks, an element of boredom might set at some point. You’re midway through a tour, and you’re playing that drab B-side that’s in the set as filler, or because the drummer really wanted to play it, or because the bassist wrote it and wants a slice of the action – and all you really want to do is be in the half-empty audience yourself, watching, admiring. I don’t know – performing is nearly always better than spectating, isn’t it?

Isn’t it? By the sounds of Today’s New Band, The Humms, it’s about a million times better than anything, ever. They’re in thrall to the blitz-to-the-senses that is performing songs like LSD Is Evil, a juddering, quivering mass of foot-stomping excess. Vocals wrench, howl and crackle; guitars strangle nuance and delicacy and replace them with a straight-to-the-point BZZZZZ.

Brown Haired Devil takes a starting point you’ve heard before – and a similar end point too – but winsomely wanders it’s own route in between, all the time assaulting your ears with tinny treble and distortion.

The Humms punch and brawl and get physically violent with Rock ‘n’ Roll. They might win. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Leroy McQueen & The Gussets

>I said that Yesterday’s New Band, Liechtenstein (see below), ‘owes a little to Jesus and Mary Chain‘; this wasn’t a criticism, but I suppose it could be interpreted as such. A large proportion of bands are eager to distance themselves, sonically, from the past, as if this in itself is innovation. It isn’t – and it often results in bands that might well tick the ‘new’ box, but is a million miles from the one marked ‘fun’.

Grabbing a bunch of sounds or attitudes or ideas from the past isn’t to be frowned upon. It makes sense if you want to have a good time, all the time. Today’s New Band, Leroy McQueen & The Gussets has a great name and a sound you’ll know and feel happy slipping into, like an old pair of slippers.

Leroy McQueen & The Gussets make a land grab for the grimy, punchy fuzz-blizzard of The MC5 and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, and then proceeds to wring as much enjoyment out of the straight-into-the vein excitement as possible. Boomtown City is so heavy with crunchy sound that it may collapse in on itself and form a rock ‘n’ roll black hole.

It’s not ‘new’ – even Shakespeare wrote lyrics about wanting to go out and party all night – but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a big, friendly slap in the face from a leather-coated, tobacco-and-booze-smelling hand, and I’ll find it hard to believe if you don’t want to go out all night long after listening to it. RAWK! Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Liechtenstein

>It says much for the depths of resolve in the human psyche that, even when presented with an entirely stressful situation – like, say, moving house – it’s approached with delightfully optimistic naivety. “Surely this time, it’ll all be one, smooth, graceful procedure,” you muse, gingerly lifting the first of many boxes.

So, by the end of the process, how did I end up exhausted, aching, soaked through with rain, and sitting in a strange pub with a shellshocked look on my face? Having blanked out the preceding 48 traumatic hours, even I can’t answer that question. Sat in the pub, finally facing the light at the end of the tunnel, the Pub Jukebox God found time to play one final sick joke.

As the white stress-noise in my ears abated, it was gradually replaced by one that actually made my laugh at the sheer cruelty of it all. That noise was Katie Melua‘s cover of What A Wonderful World, a version so will-sappingly horrible that all who hear it must surely respond with the question, “But is it really?”

Today’s New Band actually is wonderful, and charming, and gutsy to boot. They’re Liechtenstein, and are probably already more exciting than their namesake country.

While Roses In The Park owes a little to Jesus and Mary Chain, it’s no generic copy – instead it uses the sparseness of the production to hoist the very lovable vocals high and to the fore. As a result, a throwaway chorus becomes a fine, sweet harmony to sit alongside the guitar’s rumbling chime. Apathy summons up enough interest to craft a gentle, lilting song; tranquilised, calm and detached. Stalking Skills sashays with the slink and guile that only women really posses.

Liechtenstein are strangely timeless, winningly female, pleasingly self-believing and have the coolly disconnected nature you’d hope for in a bunch of talented, attractive women. Great – listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Male Bonding

>Some bands, as we know, make records that are documentation of their live shows, and others perform live shows that are attempts at recreating their records. Neither is inferior – just an indicator of the band’s core ethos. So are Today’s New Band better live or on record?

That might depend on your idea of ‘better’, of course. Male Bonding make records that are a delicate balance between generic thrash (headbanging live gigs) and obtuse guitar weirdness (chin-stroking live gigs), and in doing so, create music that lives in its own space that is better than both.

Pumpkin shoots a dart to the centre of the male desire for rowdy singing, with a bludgeoning chorus that’s a cross between a football crowd celebrating a goal and cute 60’s surf-pop, all drowned in the white noise of a battle between guitar and cymbals.

Years Not Long is a headlong rush into similar territory; raw, powerful and jumpy sounds are caressed by lyricism that’s both gentle in intent and brutal in execution.

Male Bonding have an appropriate name. They love noise, energy and VICTORY. Their songs are just that. They don’t need to be anything else. Great. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The New Daisy Godzilla

>I’ve battled with my brain’s inability to mull over a good song before. It’s testimony to a bad song‘s raison d’etre that the exact thing that you hate about it – the dreadful catchy melody – is the one thing that the song-processing bit of your mind latches onto, limpet-like.

Events in the petty soap-opera battle between my subconscious and musically bewildered conscious self have taken an interesting turn – yesterday I had a mixture – a mash-up, if you will – of two songs playing on my internal jukebox. And not any old mash-up, either.

This time, the full majesty of Ray Parker Jnr‘s Ghostbusters theme and the ludicrous repetitiveness of Count and Sinden‘s awesome Hit Me On My Beeper blended together to create a brand new hit.

In a music culture where the number of people who have also heard the same song of you is considered to be in inverse proportion to your Cool Status, perhaps brain-remixing is the only true way of remaining ahead of the pack.

So take Today’s New Band, The New Daisy Godzilla, and squish crazy, mazy songs like Birds Are A Good Idea with anything you like to make a brand new one. Even if you don’t, you’ll find that The New Daisy Godzilla are livelier than a hyperactive teenager, and ten times as noisy.

Dancing In The Graveyard jolts into life, and thrusts at you unashamedly, the band drunk and frisky with their own animation. 2Souls1City is a love song for those who love violently unexpected seismic shifts – jerking with barely-restrained energy, a blur of wild drumming and liberally applied effect-pedal guitar screeching.

Invite The New Daisy Godzilla into your life. They’ll hump your leg, run around the room a hundred times, and then exit, leaving you breathless. Great! Listen here.

>Today’s New Band – Mazes PLUS! Pub-Sharing With Andy Rourke

>So there’s this guy who drinks in my local pub. He’s in his 40s, and is always dressed in expensive, new, young-ish clothes. He looks like someone – a retired rock star maybe, but not the lead singer or guitarist. I don’t know, someone, like, say, Andy Rourke, from The Smiths.

You can probably now see where this is going, but I couldn’t, and eyeballed him over my pint for a good six months before the cogs in my head finally clicked into place and the little voice piped up, “Look, idiot, it’s Andy Rourke from The Smiths, sitting next to you in the pub.”

Thus, my new claim to fame: I’ve been sitting in the pub with a member of one of my very most favourite bands for months, but didn’t even realise.

And now I do, how do I act next time I see him? Tentative approach for autograph? Awkward chat about bassline composition? Or just the usual nod of neighbourly recognition, and then go back to the usual pub conversations of how all these foreigners are coming over here and stealing our jobs?*

*For those of you who aren’t sure: this is a joke.

Today’s New Band don’t sound like The Smiths, which is good, all things considered. They’re Mazes, and they make lazy, crunchy rock that’s fuzzy enough to scour out your mind and leave you feeling… refreshed.

Bowie Knives, lolloping and kind, is a confident, slow song that is reminiscent of a comforting lie-in after a good night out. Vampire Jive is a quick stab (maybe ‘bite’ is more appropriate) of buzzy pop rock, which seemingly consists of just one chorus after another.

Mazes‘ songs scratch a particular itch that I didn’t know I had. Their songs give you a rush of happy warmth. Yum yum yum. Recommended. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Pop Fosters

>After musing on Monday about the difficulties of finding band members with a similar musical outlook, here’s an example of a band who, I think, fell happily together in a flash. They’re Pop Fosters, they’re Today’s New Band, and their initial conversation went something like this:

Sara Pop Fosters:Want to form a band in which thrashing sounds from the drums and guitar form the limits of our complications?”

Richie Pop Fosters: “Well… I can play the guitar REALLY LOUD and can YELP with the best of them…”

Sara Pop Fosters: “Let’s ROCK, sunshine”

And lo, the band was born. Listening to them is to hear the music that every rock band member secretly wants to make – yes, even Thom Yorke – but doesn’t dare to. Primal, base, no-frills: dress it up how you want, but songs like Your Music Is Shit will pull you down to their level and club you into normality.

Utilising the age-old techniques of splashy drums, raw guitars and even rawer vocals, Your Music Is Shit is Pop Fosters’ perfect calling card – a short, sharp, buzzy shock, pulling you back to what rock music is really about: noise, fun and not caring about what YOU think.

Songs Myopic and Self Health use the same trick in different ways, and to the same thrilling , crunchy effect. I remember Keane – the very blandest of bands, remember – getting excited because they had hooked up a keyboard to a Wah-Wah pedal. For them, this was progress.

Pop Fosters deride this as frippery and pretence. They are an antidote to the arrogance of bands who think that thoughtfulness=progress. Switch off and listen here!

>WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and The Unicorns!

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What Happened Next?
In some ways it’d be just hunky-dory to have picked out, on A New Band A Day, the bands that go on too be become the Next Big Thing; it may also, of course, result in having the knowledge that we introduced you to, say, the ‘New Keane‘ on our conscience.
That kind of dubious distinction is best left to your local ‘alternative’ radio station, with their suspiciously close collaborations with PR companies, professional ‘tastemakers’ and the ‘Ones To Watch’ page of the NME.
We try and bring you the scraps, the mongrels – the bands who might never be cool enough to be huge, but make music you won’t want to miss. So, as such, most of the bands we feature don’t manage to get to the stage where they can record their difficult second album with Mark Ronson, but such is life.

Occasionally, though, we nearly get it right. Here are two bands that actually went on to bigger and better things after being featured on ANBAD. There is a strong possibility that these two events are not linked in any way.

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART

‘Yum Yum’ was the cut and thrust of our slightly soporific review of TPOBPAH back in July last year. Namedropping Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Kurt Cobain all in one review was always going to be an indicator of real quality, and so it proved.

They’ve just released their eponymous debut, and even hoity-toity Pitchfork went a bit weak at the knees for them too. They’re now squeezing their woozy, warm and close songs into millions of lives, everywhere. Good for them.

THE UNICORNS/ISLANDS
The Unicorns were featured as part of the Great ANBAD Fuck-Up of November 2008 and as such, their What Happened Next featurette ought perhaps to be named ‘What Happened Prior To What Never Happened Next’. This is because The Unicorns had already split, and due to an administrative error* I hadn’t noticed this.

But, ever resourceful, the dissolved Unicorns had split and reformed as the super Islands, who are no minor success – they’re great, are signed to Rough Trade and are touring all over the world.

*pure, unadulterated idiocy
The moral to this tale? Sometimes, despite ourselves, we pick out bands that have mass appeal. This is probably a good thing, and a long, successful and respected career in A&R awaits. Until then, we’ll keep on grinding through the day-glo hell that is Myspace and find you the best, most interesting new bands every day!
PS: If you feel like delving back into ANBAD’s murky past and seeing if there’s any great bands you might have missed, check out the Archive. And for edited highlights, have a butcher’s at the ANBAD eBook here!
POBPAH Photo: Annie Powers