The Parish of Little Clifton: Punctuation Infatuation

Now that’s a mouthful of a band-name, eh, pop-pickers? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with The Parish of Little Clifton as your moniker of choice, but it sure isn’t The Ramones, is it?

Petty grievances abound on ANBAD about band names – and they should be largely ignored, of course – although I can’t help thinking that one day, someone is going to attend a The Parish of Little Clifton live performance in the mistaken belief that they’ll be  taking part in a small village’s council meeting.

In many ways, I hope this does happen, as it’ll expose a wholly confused person to some entirely clear, precise music that ought to cut through their mental fug like an industrial laser-beam.

 

Or maybe it wouldn’t: while the crafting of songs like It’s Okay, Roseanne is diamond-cut in execution, the samples used to convey the sound are a pleasantly confusing mis-mash of vocal snippets, obtuse noises and grabbed sound snatches.

Such an approach – voices punctuating the song until they become instruments, with actual instrument sounds relegated to mere framework – leaves us with a thumpingly jolly song which defies the odds and becomes, unexpectedly, a brilliant party tune. Great.

MORE: theparishoflittleclifton.bandcamp.com

Bern And The Brights – A Telepathic Influx Of Cheer

You wait, you hope, and then it appears. Sometimes it feels as though there’s a gap – a hollow – an absence – and waiting for the jigsaw piece to fall back into place is the hardest part.

Bern and The Brights were there when I needed them most. Isn’t it strange how music can do that? How did they know?

The whys, wheres and hows are unimportant – I needed that certain lift, a deft yank from the fug billowing around my mind. Right on cue, Bern and The Brights sidled up, slipped a dainty arm around my shoulders and hugged tight.

The song was Sleepless Aristotle, silky but trembling, and its gentle caress did the trick all right. It glistens with early-morning vim; energised, happy but wistful.

Bern and The Brights // Sleepless Aristotle

Bern and The Brights describe themselves as Danceable Romantic Nerd Rock, but don’t let that put you off. They have a singer with a voice of scuffed antique silk, and musicians who can keep it simple and, most importantly, keep it affecting.

Some songs have the ability to lift crowds to their feet, and others lift spirits when ambition is faltering. Perhaps Sleepless Aristotle can only do it for me. Maybe it’ll perform the same trick for you too.

www.myspace.com/bgroove

Bermuda Bonnie; and Piña Coladas, Elvis Impersonators

It’s rare to find a band that manages to wholly inhabit a different plane to the majority, and even rarer to find one that makes music in that place that’s palatable. Bermuda Bonnie has hula-hooped past these markers with flying colours.

Stepping into Bermuda Bonnie‘s world is to open the door of a musty pop charity-shop, a bewildered plunge into retirement-home kitsch. Normal rules do not apply here.

After ten minutes of listening to songs like Houseboat, an evening of piña coladas, Elvis impersonators and leafing through well-thumbed copies of National Geographic sounds just peachy.

Bermuda Bonnie // Houseboat

If we could listen to the reminiscent dreams of an old lady with senile dementia, we’d hear these lingering, pristine moments of life suddenly bubbling to the surface.

Or they could be the wild, naive dreams of a seven year-old. Such are the inherent quandaries of Bermuda Bonnie‘s songs. These thoughts are cute, longing, lusty and, in a way, as deeply sad as they are intensely happy.

You could be fooled into thinking that Bermuda Bonnie‘s songs are simply an exercise in retro-indulgence. You couldn’t be much further from the truth. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

www.myspace.com/bermudabonnie

Scary Mansion; Peter Hook and Multiple Uses Of The Word ‘Excellent’

Peter Hook has opened a new club in Manchester, FAC251. The opening night on Friday was summed up by friends that went as a resounding ‘Yeah – it’s OK. Nice lighting.’

Not many people, apart from some frighteningly vitriolic bloggers, could really begrudge Peter Hook another go at getting a nightclub right this time. But by trading heavily on the Factory Records days of Madchester, a broad selection of noses have been put out of joint and knives have been sharpened.

“Why do we need another monument to Manchester’s past?” they cry, “The whole city needs to move on!” And, you know, they’re right.

Gazing back obscures the genuinely exciting bands percolating through Manchester now, and even now, a lazy media continue to waste time rooting out tenuous links between the latest Bright Young Manc Band and Those Glorious Hacienda Days.

If I was Delphic and facing my thousandth question about New Order’s influence, I’d be pissed off too.

But there’s still a real need to celebrate that period. Factory is still a bona-fide example of how to upset the current order and – most importantly – do things differently.

And while music execs, in between casting worried glances at their bank accounts, are now falling over themselves to sign artists who play it safe whilst spinning PR-lies about creativity and newness, it’s worth reminding all and sundry that it’s still possible to take a different route.

So how do Scary Mansion fit into all this? They don’t really. Well, they do – a song as soft, accommodating and down-right beautiful as No Law would slide, welcome and slender, into any situation you care to mention.

Scary Mansion – No Law

No Law is as exhilarating as an unexpected, drunken kiss with a stranger in the centre of a nightclub. You’ll similarly mourn its passing, and feel the need to tell all your friends. The song rides, swift and fleet, on the froth its own breathless enthusiasm, skimming, reaching, alive and in love.

No, Scary Mansion do fit into all this: they have made a song that bucks the trend – overtly beautiful, endlessly uplifting and without any cynicism whatsoever. Now that’s how to be different. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

www.myspace.com/scarymansion

Photography by Victoria Jacob

>The Narrator: Deader than Disco

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Today’s band is from the ‘Wait – Haven’t They Already Split Up?’ file, because, indeed, The Narrator have already split up. Months ago, in fact. So they’re not so much of a new band as a an ex-new band, which might indeed make them post-new. I don’t really know. Such are the perils of genre-defiance.

But old-new bands can still be new, even when they’re dead – ask any teenager who discovered their dad’s copy of The Stooges and inquisitively popped it into their CD player. I missed The Narrator the first time around, and so did you, probably. This is not a good enough reason to miss out on their lovely, sloping music.

Son Of The Son Of The Kiss Of Death, exuberant and alive, delights in its own skew-whiff angularity. The guitars might be tuned, or they might be slightly out of tune, or they might, indeed, be slightly in tune. It doesn’t matter – there’s something happening in this song, and you’ll want to be part of it too. Delicious, relentless, carefree, whatever. Son Of The Son… is so fresh it still has that new car smell.

The Narrator – Son Of The Son Of The Kiss Of Death

You, like me, will wish you’d heard them a few years ago, and when So The End, sad and jittery, suddenly lurches from so-so guitar strum into a a beautiful, rousing chorus, you’ll realise you’ve found a fitting point of closure to mourn their passing. This is the beauty of making music: The Narrator are still with us. Revel in the band as much as the sentiment.

Photo by Clayton Hauck – www.everyoneisfamous.com

>Today’s New Band – Dutch Uncles PLUS! In The City Day 1!

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Here are notes from yesterday’s ‘action’ at the In The City music conference, the UK’s premiere unsigned band shindig:

  1. Mark Ronson: silent, bored, ubiquitous skinny trousers ‘n’ scarf combo, giant quiff
  2. Steve Lamacq: patient, friendly and his voice is even more delightful in real life
  3. Huw Stephens: see Steve Lamacq
  4. Assorted PRs, A&R people and managers: busy, busy, busy, and ‘can you print my name more clearly on this AAA Pass please, people won’t be able to see who I am’
  5. No free bar/buffet: a travesty

I shamefully collared Steve Lamacq and Huw Stephens and stammered incoherently about how much in liked their radio shows whilst pressing my email address into their hands. They nodded good-naturedly before slowly backing away.

The bands there were a real, friendly delight – untainted by an industry which sometimes seems geared to grind any fun out of a job that ought to be pure fun. As I spoke to them, I sucked in as much of their enthusiasm as possible, and hoped they’d find what they were looking for in the murk of rock ‘n’ roll.

There are literally* a million bands at ITC, and like any music festival, you can only scratch the surface of what’s on show. But Today’s New Band emerged from the haze, and they’re a good ‘un: welcome, Dutch Uncles.

To be honest, I thought that their name was a euphemism for a scatological sexual perversion, though apparently it’s not. They told me that their name comes from the title of a play, and none of the band members have actual Dutch uncles. Such is life.

But their songs are great, quirky pop – hear Steadycam, soak up the megawatt-bright, chiming chorus and wonder where they’ve been all your life. Doppelganger is a curious, scratch ‘n’ sniff pop song; inventive, coiling and sweet.

Oh, and the band wear a range of truly heinous charity-shop clothing. Men after my own heart. Great. Watch them soar: listen here!

*kind of

Photography by Nina Kölle

>Today’s New Band – The Voluntary Butler Scheme

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If gentle and quaint are crimes, then Today’s New Band, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, are such career criminals they may as well be wearing stripey jumpers and carrying bags marked ‘Swag’. These traits are not the wishy-washy characteristics they might always seem. In the right hands, they become the perfect tools to squeeze the most basic and endearing feelings out of their audience.

The Voluntary Butler Scheme, then, are dexterous in the extreme. Crazed and cute love couplets, plus persistent handclaps, and a cheap ‘n’ cheerful guitar chunter appear in one song: Trading Things In is a song to warm your cockles and leave you charmed by the smallest things in life. Lyrics like”If you were broccoli I’d turn vegetarian for you” and “If you bought running shoes, as out of breath as I’d get, I’d buy running shoes too,” don’t grow on trees, you know.

Tabasco Sole, driven by a guitar jangle that hints at and out-shimmers ABC by the Jackson Five, skips and bounces with delight: a kitchen sink love song that’s so desperate to embrace the world that the sounds themselves spring out of the speakers and have a damn good go.

It’s further proof that The Voluntary Butler Scheme are incapable of writing songs other than breathless exhortations of the world itself. Fasten your belts tightly – they’ll charm your pants right off. Listen here!

photo by Mark Sherratt

>Today’s New Band – The Wendy Darlings

>A quick glance at the charts is enough to confirm the feeling that most pop music is awful. Over-hyped nonentity Lady Gaga is number one, with her entirely forgettable half-effort Poker Face. Here it is, if you can stand another lumpen slab of generic electro-pop sung by a Christina Aguilera tribute act.

25 years ago, Black Lace also hit number one with Agadoo, which is almost universally recognised as the worst song of all time. I simply insist that you listen to it if you’ve never heard it before. Here’s the interesting bit though: as will-sappingly dreadful as Agadoo is, it’s still being played at school discos and weddings, and will be forever.

Poker Face will be forgotten by this time next week. Perhaps bad pop can be enjoyed after all. It just has to inhabit a specific world of dreadfulness. Today’s New Band, The Wendy Darlings, aren’t dreadful, are entirely enjoyable, and as such, must now console themselves, as they can never be a novelty pop band.

In songs like Eins Zwei, we quickly learn that The Wendy Darlings are carefree but careful – a slender distinction. Their songs buzz with happiness; entirely un-po-faced and fun. But My Friend Ray has that mid-90′s tuneful naivety about it which suggests they know their way around a melody and aren’t afraid to get serious about the important stuff.

Predictably, Enormous Pop is aptly named and as joyful as a kids’ birthday party around the time mum brings out the jelly and ice cream.

So, the dirty truth is that Agadoo is entirely preferable to the majority of pop music. The Wendy Darlings are entirely preferable to the majority of yelpy, poppy rock, due to the absence of poseur-seriousness and the pushing of fun to the fore. They’re a blast, and neither push pineapples nor grind coffee. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Ono Palindromes!

>Unfathomable Human Brain-Wrongs Number 23,445: I can remember the number plate of my parent’s car that they had when I was seven (CRE 887K), but I just can’t begin to scrape useful information out of my woolly head – is Mother’s Day this month or next? What is my best friend’s phone number? When was Kung Fu by Ash recorded?

Actually, I can answer the last one – it was written on Boxing Day in 1994, and it took five minutes. It was recorded the next day. I read this information from the CD inlay, and it has stuck, forever. Such is the information-absorbing power of the music-obsessive teenage mind. From the excitable sounds of Today’s New Band, Ono Palindromes, they might have similar stories from their own youth.

Their songs are drenched with the love of rock music past and present. This sounds a bit glib – all bands love music, durrrrrr – but there are bands who love music for the beauty of the sound and how it makes you feel, and then there are bands who love music because it allows them to look moody and indulge in dubious sexual encounters in dingy dressing rooms. Ono Palindromes are firmly in the former camp, but I imagine would welcome some of the more mucky outcomes of the latter. Hey – they’re only human.

Or are they? Their songs are precise wafers of dreamy rock. Surely there’s a computer programme that can do this now. Kitty Magic has the sound of your whole record collection distilled into one furiously exhilarating yelp, and when you’ve stopped blurting out the great songs it sounds like, you’ll realise it’s actually an ace song itself.

The End is a coiling, swishing and foggy dive into the kind of wide, expansive rock sound which rarely works satisfyingly, but Ono Palindromes find the way to make it perky and lush. Beautiful Noise is a song whose title sets itself up for a fall, but struts on fearlessly, starting with a chorus, before launching into another one, and then another, all over a melody that is almost to chirpy for its own good.

Ono Palindromes have just changed their name from Young Sensation. I prefer the new name, for what it’s worth – which is very little, as the only thing that really matters is that Ono Palindromes are a band that’ll make your ears buzz with delight and your mind melt into a warm slurry of happiness. Listen here!

>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