Aux. Out – Re-Experiencing A Memory

I’ve never been there, but I feel comfortable declaring that Dartmouth is not a Rock ‘n’ Roll city. It might not even be a city.

Its name conjures images of Thermos flasks, warm blankets and plenty of comfy chairs for old people to wait for the sweet release of death.

I may, of course be wrong. I only mention this because of a nugget of info I found in the descriptive tags that accompany Aux. Out‘s music. They read:

acoustic ambient electronica instrumental lo-fi Dartmouth

It would be facile of me to disagree with any of the former words – they’re all true. They’re also pretty cool muso-words, which is why the word Dartmouth stuck on the end made me snigger childishly.

Anyway – here, in Aux. Out, is a rarity: a solo artist who makes loopy, lo-fi song-sketches who also provides us with a photo of his own face. So few of them are willing to show-and-tell these days.

His songs are an indicator that music is like a snake eating its own tail: ever-shortening, re-experiencing itself in an increasingly rapid feedback loop.

So Basic Geography may well have been made with guitars and drums and the like – you know, the old-fashioned stuff – but its direction is influenced by the fiddly coils of ambient electronic music.

There’s almost something lazy about the sounds, dripping in weird patterns, as if under the influence of a non-human hand. Basic Geography is recorded on what, from the warm swathes of fuzz, sounds like an old TDK90 cassette.

For this simple act alone, I recommend Aux. Out wholeheartedly – he has found a supremely non-ironic, non-faux-nostalgic use for the humble tape cassette. It fits his acutely precise/loose songs just so. A dreamy end to the week.


_+_; Lasers, Computer Love, and Frantic Asininity

If you ever wanted any more proof that there’s no accounting for taste, here’s a new fun game that will both pass the time and cause palms to be vigorously slapped against foreheads the world over.

Visit a website that streams music, and then go to the page of your favourite band – or your least favourite band. I picked Primal Scream, because of their maddening ability to occupy both those polar opposites simultaneously.

Then cast a lazy eye over the list of their most popular songs, as played by the general public, and prepare to commence the afore-mentioned forehead slapping.

Primal Scream‘s top three most-played songs on Spotify are Rocks, Country Girl and Jailbird. Not the brilliantly acid-flecked Loaded. Not the amphetamine-crazed ACCELERATOR. Oh no.

Not even the frantically asinine Swastika Eyes – the ones that people prefer are the most generically Stones-lite, most barrel-scraping moments in their career. Durrrr.

For the artist, performing this test might have an extra element of surprise – that track they always hated is the one the record buying* public like the most. So _+_ might simply hate his song Laser Beam, but I love it, so there.

_+_ // Laser Beam

If Laser Beam was a machine, it would be cut from a single pristine piece of mirror-shine aluminium. It’s that kind of song, reducing description to mindless hyperbole – such is the white-heat shimmer of the mechanical beats and the fuzzy keyboard washes.

_+_‘s website looks like it has been designed by a hyperactive, sentient robot. The music is made by someone all-too human, trapped in love with computerisation and rigidity. A calm, precise, trickle of crimson blood.

*OK, ‘mp3-illegal-downloading’

Mr G. and the Beautiful Art of Dreadfully Ugly Websites

The world evolves quickly, and the superseded are forgotten just as fast. So as the bulk of internet users flocks away from clunky old Myspace to Facebook, Twitter and the rest, take this opportunity for reappraisal and care to wonder if what’s driving the majority away isn’t the same reason that you ought to love it.

The innate beauty of Myspace is exactly what most people hate: rank flexibility – the terrible opportunity to entirely personalise an online space. What horrors!

Oh, please. Myspace is the only place to find the scrappy home-made creativity of ‘Zines on a large scale. Spooling through a bunch of Myspace band pages is a thousand times more fun than their equivalent anodyne Facebook ‘presence’.

Mr G. doesn’t have a Myspace page. I think he’s the first band ever on ANBAD without one. Instead he has a ‘Daily Grind’. Kudos, then, for shunning the norm, and further brownie points for making his own page an old-fashioned squelch around the inner workings of his mind.

Mr G. // Up On The Shoulder

What Mr G. does have is a toe or two dipped into the sweet, crystal-clear waters of wipe-clean pop. That the rest of his body is grubby and coarse is, of course, exactly the point.

Songs like Up On The Shoulder crave attention, which is gladly lent – ears pricked by the flailing, melted pop sensibilities that seem both far too simple and far to strange to work.

Mr G. makes songs occasionally. I don’t know his real name. I don’t know what else he does. He doesn’t want me or you to know. Here’s the only thing that matters: His songs are excellent, and are available to download, for free, here:

>Today’s New Band – Apple Eyes

>Innovators in pop are very rare. And when there is, a familiar pattern emerges: Proponent of new sound gets minor fame through aforementioned newness of sounds. Others quickly pick up new technique/style, and due to further innovation become even more famous. Then everyone else follows suit, and charts are flooded with dreary watered-down nonsense. Bad times. Such is the self-consuming nature of pop.

Like everything in pop music, the laptop ‘n’ traditional guitar-band combo is nothing new. But it was once. Today’s New Band, Apple Eyes, have grasped this idea and, with sticky fingers and mucky palms, squeezed a new shape from it – their shape.

Wild Beasts stands out by a country mile; a song of rare invention, an evolution of ideas and a candyfloss chorus on top. Bleeping and shimmering like an electronic song but infused with an old folk feel, giving warmth and humanity, it’s an example of making a song that is more than the sum of its parts.

Apple Eyes are new – duh – but that means even more is coming. If they can maintain this standard, we’re all winners. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Polychromatic

>Right now – right now – my favourite band ever is The Fall. I just can’t stop playing The Classical and its lyrics (“Hey there fuckface! Hey there fuckface!”) are rattling around my brain like loose bolts in a grumpy, sweary machine.

Last week, my favourite band ever was The Pixies. Two weeks before that, it was The Smiths. And so on. People who have an all-time favourite band that never changes aren’t to be trusted, or are Oasis fans.

Who, then, is Today’s New Band’s favourite of all time? Polychromatic‘s songs don’t really give it away. They take a bit of this and a bit of that to create songs that are sometimes dreamy, sometime deranged and sometimes both simultaneously.

Skitter-scattering and cascading manically, I Fell Through (Polychromatic Remix) could be the deranged offspring of a song from the Tron soundtrack. Diamonds Are For Never and Always shimmers like the glare off a lake in a computer-generated world; it’s sweet, warm and exhilarating. Songs like CSI crunch and swoosh assuredly.

Polychromatic takes a vague swipe at the 8-bit compu-sound ethos, but mainly incorporates his own sensibilities, which are, confusingly, both a deftness of touch and a love of manic beats. It works. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Semya

>If you’re like me (and if you are, please accept my immediate condolences), at any one given time, you’ll cite one particular band as the Nadir of Rock Crappiness. The band will change – at the moment mine is Scouting For Girls, but The Kooks, Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene have all sprung quickly to mind when searching for an example of awful music.

In the past, Shed Seven also fulfilled the wispy criteria for inclusion. Their name was clunky, their songs were mindless and/or overwrought and/or lightweight, they were from York, and they were unfathomably popular, in the UK at least.

Last night a friend took umbrage at this opinion. “They’re great live!” he panted. “They wrote some classic tunes!” he bridled.

He put on their dreadfully-named album A Maximum High, and… oh, crap. He was half-right. Some of the songs were OK. Some were enjoyable. Some made me long for lager, Ben Sherman shirts and Oasis albums playing in the pub.

So my judgement was wrong. Bah. But do trust me when I say that Today’s New Band, Semya, are an insidious, blinding flash of sonic creativity and focus.

Drumsandlilypads floats on its own warmth; light and airy, multi-faceted and complex. The sounds peak and fall, recycling and crumbling into themselves over and over. Tectonics shifts noisily, disturbing all around it, chewing up tasty sounds and leaving behind the remains in the fashion it sees fit.

Earth Ghost, the musical equivalent of finding a shadowy anomaly in a photograph of a loved one, is compiled from a scattering of sounds that oughtn’t make sense together. This song is the spot where they all overlap and work, like a sonic Venn diagram.

Lessons learnt: apologies to Shed Seven, and congratulations to Semya, whose music is organically un-structured almost to the point of tactility. Super. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Nevada Base

>My girlfriend has a new mobile phone. Now, every morning, its alarm sounds with the Log Song from Ren And Stimpy. The effect that this has is to introduce mild lunacy into your life every morning at 7 am, and there it stays, pinging ludicrously around your mind all day. Try it. You’ll go crazy, you iiiiiiiiidiooot.

So once again, today’s task has been to find a way of sluicing out unwanted noise in my head. Usual tactics failed and so Today’s New Band have more responsibility than usual.

Thankfully, Nevada Base are the required distraction. Actually, that undersells them mightily – they’re a slippery electro-eel. You’ll see.

Therapy keeps the shimmer of electro, but loses the aloofness; building into pummeling psycho-dance. When it mutates into semi-Talking Heads riff-ology at the end, you can’t help but smile. Stitches creeps with feline menace, the sound of sonic decomposition.

Nevada Base are lithe and venomous; smooth but barbed. Their songs creep and crawl to places that you, and I imagine, they, weren’t sure of. Can your skin crawl while you dance? Find out here.

>Today’s New Band – Cactapuss

>If you’ve ever procrastinated over anything at all, you’ll know that the associated frustrations of long-term hesitation envelops your mind like a big, stupid bobble-hat with the word ‘indecisive (or is he?)’ sewn on the front. ‘Paralysis through analysis’, the Manic Street Preachers sang on their ace ’96 B-side Dead Trees and Traffic Islands.

Something I find endlessly admirable is the verve and determination of young bands when they start out. Cynics, older minds and failures will label this as youthful naivety, and, if you cast a lazy eye over the sheer number of new bands all fighting for attention, it’s tempting to agree.

But that would be to side with the middle-aged, middle-management, MOR mindset and a tacit admission of the acceptability of mediocrity. Raise your glass, hat or an eyebrow to all the wide-eyed and ambitious youths who blunder over hesitance and shoot for the stars, however unlikely their journey may be.

Today’s New Band, Cactapuss, like their peers, presumably have one eye on the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of the now and one on the NME cover, number one album and Top Of The Pops appearance of the future. Good. If bands didn’t think like that, we’d end up with more Keanes.

If you were trapped in a lift, but were happy to stay entombed because the lift music was so good, then Cactapuss are all yours. Their music is unassuming, but clever and engaging; the gentle, kind and fun sound that you’d like soundtracking the film of your life.

Wigbar, complete with gentle bloops, doo-doo-doo vocals and a tune you’ll be humming as you’re cooking tea later this evening, is a breezy, light, whistling slice of whimsy. Theme From Stuart And The Ants starts as the bastardised car-chase music from a ’70s cop movie and then cranks up the urgency with funk organs, rolling drums and a driving bassline.

Cactapuss are another of those bands who can draw on 50-odd years of pop music tricks and hooks to create something new/old, sounds that’ll trigger memories you’d forgotten. Listen here, and enjoy whilst indulging in lovely C90 nostalgia (you’ll see).

>Today’s New Band – The Hopeful Spaztiks PLUS! Paranoia!


Isn’t it funny how things work out? Tupac Shakur started out as a bit-part player on lunatic funk-drenched hip-hoppers Digital Underground. Listen to their brilliant first album, Sex Packets, and you’ll occasionally hear bursts of the voice that went on to release a bewildering number of albums – most of them posthumously.
Tricky was once just a voice too – albeit a similarly distinct one – on the first two Massive Attack albums. He then left, in mild acrimony, recycled a couple of his lyrics from his Massive Attack days, added some awkward noises, and emerged with Maxinquaye – one of the most affecting, original slices of unusual, paranoid fuzzy noise ever.
It was drenched in mythical hype – stories of journalists being forced to make copies at gunpoint and the like circulated wildly in these pre-internet days. The review copies were supposedly robed in a velvet case which was in turn sealed into a miniature plastic bodybag. The album was set up for a huge, underwhelming fall. It didn’t come. It’s a woozy, confused masterpiece.
Hype is always a difficult card to play. Raving about a band too much, however truly you may mean what you say, makes you and them appear misguided and desperate. I may be both of those things, but I’d hate to drag a good new band down with me. So if praise isn’t too forthcoming about Today’s New Band, it’s not because they’re not super-ace (they are), but because I’m trying to under-hype them, if that’s possible.
The Hopeful Spaztiks round off an impressively diverse month on A New Band A Day in cranky style. They’re a band who can maintain five different musical points of view at once, and flit between them all. Song Aquatic sounds like a toy racing car, and swerves like one too, veering over a number of electro cliffs in the process.
Cup Of is deranged enough to summon up the spirit of Level 42, sneaking in the 80’s most estate-agent-friendly instrument – the slap-bass – and make it work. Hail ping-pongs appropriate noises off your confused brain, resetting your innate sense of rhythm to synchronise with their warped vision.
The Hopeful Spaztiks’ sound like the prettily naive work of complete novices given shape, coherence and funk by a mysterious guiding hand. They straddle looseness and tightness like a before-and-after photograph of a hanging. Dangle with them, here!

PS – Are you the kind of person that NEEDS TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE’S DOING ALL OF THE TIME? Then get yourself hooked up to the ANBAD Twitter feed!

>Today’s New Band – Large Number PLUS! MATHS DOOM!

>Here’s an opening line you don’t often read in music articles: Statisticians, please skip a few paragraphs right now, because you’ll already know this bit. For the rest of us whose uselessness with numbers is in direct relation to the length of the angry queue that forms as we struggle with a handful of coins to pay for the newspaper, read on.

So here’s a statistical fact – if you are in a room with 22 other people, there’s more than a 50% likelihood that two of them share the same birthday. No, I don’t really understand either. For a detailed explanation, complete with the kind of equations that makes my throat tighten and eyes boggle involuntarily, look here and weep at your pathetic grasp on the workings of the universe.

If this is the type of information that makes you suddenly realise how hopelessly equipped we are as humans to absorb our true unimportance in relation to life, the universe and everything, I apologise. But just think about how many times you’ve been in exactly that situation for a second. Then think about how many opportunities for big, fun, joint birthday parties you’ve missed.

This all leads me to conclude three things. Firstly, the Maths geeks you mocked at school already know this and so have been having a lot of carefully plotted fun that you’ve missed out on. Secondly, if you don’t understand this theory, it means that when the Great Nerd Revolution takes place, mouth-breathers like you and me will be first against the wall. Thirdly, this revolution will destroy the music that we love, because Maths + Rock = DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Or does it? Today’s New Band, Large Number, might be a sign that the Rise of Mathematical Aggression is already here. Large Number‘s songs might have been made by decoding the human genome, converting the code into one monstrously huge numerical sequence, and then letting a computer turn that number into sounds. But probably not. Large Number is actually a very talented woman called Ann, but I like the idea of computer-human hybrid auto-sound-production more.

Song Shy English Hitler is a warping, shimmering, electro-bizarro-creep, with a well-placed volley of verbal insults over the fabulously cranky sounds. It hops all over the place, the beat humming at different frequencies with crazed abandon, suddenly speeding up or slowing down on a whim. Hockenheim In The Rain, big and splashy, grunts and whistles with furious momentum, and keeps stepping up gears lazily until the pace is both languid and frantic.

Large Number: where we all began to realise our awful, algorithmic fate. Listen here!