The Martial Arts: A One-Inch Punch Aimed At Early Middle Age

I interviewed Egyptian Hip Hop the other night,and happily, they proved to be thoughtful, intelligent and as excruciatingly talented as they were excruciatingly young.

Being facile of mind though, I spent most of the interview trying to guess exactly just how young they were – and here’s the answer: young enough to make me feel like an unhip uncle meeting nephews at a wedding and attempting to chat about ‘what music you’re into’. [Full results from this interview coming soon.]

Youth isn’t everything, I kept repeating to myself, as I sobbed all the way home. The Martial Arts aren’t young by Egyptian Hip Hop standards. But then again, who is?

True, they stretch the definition of ‘New Band’ somewhat, having been knocking around for a couple years, but when another band strides forth from Glasgow, that hotbed of youthful, tuneful, jangly musical talent, it’s wise to listen.

The Martial Arts – Don’t Want To Talk

The Martial Arts arrive clutching melodies that are dizzyingly contorted and satisfyingly sweet –  a bit like a giant Indie Curly-Wurly.

Don’t Want To Talk is insistent, rousing and yes – youthful: brimming with young confidence, it takes a melancholy subject matter and spins it into a sweet shanty, Liverpudlian, simple and true.

Here is 2’30” of exemption from age, real life, or any other concerns. The Martial Arts‘ trick is to provide respite from a world addicted to youth by using their nagging, charming songs to pull their listeners right back to the younger days. Like, weird, man. Lovely.

Fridge Magnets, Bile and Andy Kane’s Moustache

The churlish part of me fervently hopes that Andy Kane is based on a real person. Sullen Glaswegians Fridge Magnets tell a story that is short and to the point – that boy no-one liked is an idiot, and now hangs around with other unlikeable idiots:

“He never got picked first for 5-a-side… And now he’s 17 and growing a ‘tache/ And hanging around with sophisticated Uni twats”

There’s something refreshing about such ungentle sentiments, and liberating about partisan discussion of someone’s failings. It’s even more fun to hear it all discussed in a broad Glasgow accent, wet with bile and loathing.

Fridge Magnets – Andy Kane

In fact, the gleeful hatred of Andy Kane might even obscure the song itself: an equally unapologetic slab of electro-freakazoid-dance; a mish mash of fluffy guitars and unrepentant keyboard stabs.

In other hands, it would be streamlined and slicked into oblivion and emerge as a generic electro number. Fridge Magnets’ apathy and  nihilism mean it comes out rough, ready and spoiling for a fight. Great.

Photography by Stuart Nixon

>Das Filth, Investments in Nostalgia and Real Estate

These days, everyone’s trying to experience something that no-one else in their peer group has. Backpacking along the gap-year trail though Thailand isn’t enough any more – if you haven’t spent a month harvesting Mangosteens in a remote Vietnamese hamlet, Giles, Ollie and Cassie won’t give you the time of day back in the student’s union.

Here’s the rub: what do these world-weary travellers do after they connected with real people? I’d gamble that the safety of a nice job in the familys’ real estate business was selected during another day of explosive diarrhoea in Laos. These daring interludes are controlled, rationed and carefully defined – undertaken mainly as an investment in nostalgia.

Hats off to the hardy souls who genuinely put everything on hold and lurch head-first into the music world, where filthy toilets, disease and, like, mind-expansion are also the norm. So are Glaswegians Das Filth doing it for traditional rock thrills or as something to boast about when they’re estate agents in three years’ time?

Songs of such blustering belligerence like Pictures In Transit would suggest that they don’t have one eye on the housing market. In fact, both eyes are firmly focused on creating thrilling noise – this song is the grubby thumbprint of a band who are throwing common sense aside: the clattering good-time sound of a bunch of friends who just don’t care.

Das Filth – Pictures In Transit

Pylons, thrashy and grandstanding, has a chorus of real sing/mosh-along beauty; surprising and mutating – from threatening grind into a cluster of splashy hi-hats, demented guitar and FUN.

Crunchy noise is their friend, gnarly riffs are their weapon, and the rest of the world is their target. Das Filth are for real. Maaaan.

>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 – Pooch

>Living out of a rucksack has a myriad of inconveniences – the primary being all those creased clothes – but on the whole, it’s a fairly charmed and streamlined existence. Happiness arrives through lack of possessions; a state of being almost diametrically opposed to usual life.

With the complications stripped away, living an almost care-free existence becomes the norm. It’s a bit like being a child again, except without your mum calling you in for fish fingers and chips at five o’clock.

Perhaps this is why so many people live an on-the-road life – bands, on the whole, love touring (though I bet Bono still wishes his mum would call him and those nice boys The Edge, Adam and The Other One in for tea now and again. Even tiny, monster-ego’d rock superstars need a bit of mothering now and then).

Pooch – Today’s New Band – are a bit egg-and-chips-for-tea in some ways. They’re simple, tasty and satisfying, and their songs go straight for the singin’ and dancin’ jugular.

Killing Me is a grubby disco thrash, and leaves boring stuff, like subtlety, to Radiohead. Pooch want you dancing, now, until you collapse in a happy, sweaty heap.

Spade is a more gravelly, grunting version on this theme, bassily shoving their wares under your nose, but demanding you to move, all the same. They perfect this DANCE, NOW! ideology in Fashionista and French Kiss.

There’s no shame in ‘just’ making music to dance to, though people will tell you it’s a dumb, pointless exercise. Don’t listen to them – if being intelligent and worthy was as much fun, then everyone would be doing it already. The rest of us can have our fun cake and eat it. Listen here!

Photograph by Stephen Edgar

>Today’s New Band – Miabeane & The Asthmatic Scene PLUS! Birdwatching!

>Today, I’ve mostly been looking at tits. Great Tits. But also Blue Tits, Robin Red-Breasts and Green Finches. Oh dear. If you subscribe to ANBAD via email, I’m not sure there’s much chance it’ll get through your spam filter.

Still, it’s been an ornithological day, taking a breather from the city, and sitting in a warm conservatory in the countryside. Watching birds zip in and out of your frame of vision to attack a series of nut-distributing cages hanging from a rickety birdtable is so soothing it ought to be available on prescription.

It’s fun to self-diagnose your mood by the choice of music. In the city: albums of in-yer-face noise (Big Black‘s Atomizer) to compliment the pressures of inner city life. In the countryside: stuff that, if not complimenting birdsong, then doesn’t entirely obscure it (Endtroducing by DJ Shadow) to mirror the calm, zen-like inner peace that green hills, old oaks and dribbling streams induces.

By choosing to listen to Today’s New Band, Miabeane & The Asthmatic Scene, then even the most quasi- of philosophers would sum up your mood as ‘cheerful’. The words ‘cutely twee’ and ‘football-obsessives’ don’t often find themselves paired up in describing any band, but then Miabeane & The Asthmatic Scene aren’t any old band.

Their songs bumble and wander, light, free and happy, musing on such uncomplicated issues. Remember Your Shinguards reminisces about childhood football heroes, cut knees and sweet childhood love. Edwin And The Physio is more urgent, but no less cuddly and Jonathan’s Present is short, sweet and the kind of song you’d like your loved one to record for you for Valentine’s day.

La-la-la choruses and guitars that are so carefree that they jangle with palpable happiness punctuate Miabeane & The Asthmatic Scene‘s happy songs. They end this week on such an upbeat note that it must surely mean that Monday will bring a Blackened Doom Metal band, just to restore the cosmic balance. Until then, swoon along with Miabeane & The Asthmatic Scene here!

Photo by Jenny Baker

>Today’s New Band – The Covergirls PLUS! Crystal Ball-Gazing!

>It seems important to hit the ground running in the New Year. Christmas was an inevitable blur of overindulgence and snoozing, without thought of the future or the past. Come the first of January though, and both eyes swivel, panicked and wide, towards the TERRIBLE, INEVITABLE AND RAPIDLY APPROACHING future.

It therefore seems reasonable to have a quick look at the year ahead, and what might snare your attention in it. Predictably, not all of this will be pretty.

Music is all about revivals, whether you like it or not. As a quick example of what might happen in the next 12 months, here’s two people who might benefit from this unlovable trend:

2009 might be the year when we find a group of people brave enough to rekindle The KLF‘s art/noise/stadium house/chaos regime again, and if Pop Incorporated start dumping dead sheep around London, we’ll know it worked. Or maybe it’ll be the year when too-cool-for-school ironic-facial hair supremo Master Shortie ‘goes mainstream’, as if his slick late-08’s-with-a-slant pop sound wasn’t aimed there all along. Who knows.

For us at A New Band A Day, though, the news that ANBAD darlings Art Brut are recording an album with Black Francis from The Pixies sent us into spasms of joy, incredulity and OMGOMGOMGOMG. This surely is the musical meeting of minds that will Win Big, as The Kids say. Time will indeed tell.

To keep our feverish minds distracted whilst we wait for the Best Album Ever, we’ll be featuring a great new band, every day, as usual. So dubious congratulations to The Covergirls, who are the first New Band of 2009!

Yet another band unearthed from the rich seam in the Glasgow Great Bands Pit, The Covergirls’ songs are musical ADHD – in turns scuzzy, twinkly and robotic. Songs like Catch The Tiger and La Casilla de la Muerte stomp aggressively just as unexpectedly as they tiptoe melodically, as if the band’s kid sister has crept into the studio and is cheekily flicking the Fuzz/Clean switch on the guitar amps at random.

Riffs, clobbered drums and sweetly cooed vocals all meet in the middle, hoping to reconcile, but just end up having a spectacularly colourful and enjoyable brawl. As a consequence, songs like Say It Don’t Spray It features one of the most violently choppy riffs heard for ages, and the band thrashes around to keep up.

Then, finally, in an attempt to lever more praise from us Pun-Lovers at ANBAD (but probably not), they even bung in a corker of a song title in the form of Slouching Digger Paper Waggon. The Covergirls are a jolting, fun and thrillingly noisy start top the year. Got cobwebs? Blow them away here!

>Today’s New Band – DANANANANAYKROYD! A Glaswegian Triple Bill!

>Wowsers – today’s band has it all. That is, all that makes us excited and tingly here at A New Band A Day. Firstly, today’s band is the third in the Fabulous Glasgow Triple Bill, hot on the heels of the wonderful ERRORS and super Q Without U. And then, secondly, and almost more groin-pulsingly exciting, is the Super Fantastico Name that they have – pretty much a prerequisite for getting on ANBAD, such are our soaring levels of idiocy.

So then, here’s today’s New Band – DANANANANAYKROYD! Let their name roll over your tongue a few times, because it’s a whole truck-load of lot of fun to say it out loud. In many ways, it’s the perfect band name, appealing to those who like mildly novelty names (like us) and people who like dressing up as the Blues Brothers at any given fancy dress party. It may appeal to other people too, but we don’t have that wide a variety of friends, so we aren’t in a position to judge.

Anyway, DANANANANAYKROYD‘s music is great. Considering they’re from Glasgow, where, by the sound of it, crafting great pop songs is taught in Infant School, this is no great surprise. They yell, grind and crunch their way through a bunch of swift and sneaky songs – check out British Knights (MC Hammer’s trainer of choice, fact fans) for a burst of super, howl-at-Button-Moon rock. Cleaning Each Other follows a pleasingly similar path of yell-blast loud guitars-thrash drums, and yet keeps the all-important melody churning through it all.

Glasgow 3 Rest of World 0. Check out their Myspace page here!

>Today’s New Band – ERRORS

>Oh, bugger it. We had the hat-trick of dinosaur-themed bands the other week, and it should be clear to you regular readers by now that we love gimmicks just about above anything else here at A New Band A Day. So, after yesterday’s super Glaswegian Scrabble-fiends* Q Without U, we’re going for broke and pumping two more Glasgow bands at you, today and tomorrow. Glasgow, similarly to issues we’ve expounded limply about Wales before, must have something special in the water (no jokes about Tennants Super, please) as the city is churning out superb bands left, right and centre at the moment.

So, Today’s New Gimmickly-Induced Band is ERRORS. If I was mildly cretinous, I’d make a poor joke about how there is nothing erroneous about their music, because it’s fantastic. Unfortunately, I am that cretinous – there is nothing erroneous about their music – they sound exciting, inventive and are so pleasingly non-Razorlight/Kooks/etc that I almost did a backflip listening to them. To be slightly glib, they sound a bit like A.N.B.A.D. favourite PixelH8 coupled with the gloriously noisy Battles. You honestly have to hear Salut France, a song with all the skippy beats, gorgeous melodies and bleepy poking you’ll ever need. Focussed and sharp, but without falling into that awful laptop featurlessness like most electro-noise bands.

You could dance to them, you could strut around town to them, and if you were pretentious, you could stroke your chin to them. Whatever you do, just listen, because they’re SUPER.

Listen to them, quick! Myspace here. More Glaswegian bands tomorrow!

*possibly true

>Today’s New Band – Q Without U


As anyone who has spent time stuck in a caravan on a rainy week in Wales will know, Scrabble is the kind of game that only people with giant intellects can really play. All the rest of us just take part, and grind our teeth with frustration as our opponent beats your last move of “dog” with “onomatopoeic”, or similar.

That said, these insufferable people are directly responsible for the invention of the video game, allowing us mouth-breathers to be victorious at something, so perhaps they can be spared from utter hatred. Either way, Scrabble champs would take a situation where they were faced with the dreaded “Q” tile in their stride. They’ve memorised the list of all words spelt using Q without U, you see. Yes, there are 24 of them. No, you won’t know what they mean, or ever need to use them. Or know how to.

For those of us with social lives, the only instance of Q without U that will be of any importance is Today’s New Band. From Glasgow, like just about every other band of any interest, Q Without U meld super-tuneful guitar rock with whizzy synths into punchy pop songs that, like in ace tune The Deficit Model, tread on the right side of traditional rock without descending into Runrig hell. So, melodic, but not drab, and not taking the easy route. Songs like Our Luck Is A Prostitute are quirky enough, with its soaring chorus, to soar a bit before floating gently back to earth.

Oh, and they say that they’re “Like the shit bits of your favourite band”, which is a good enough starting point for me.

Listen to their songs on their Myspace page here!